Sunday, May 25, 2008
Important, hopeful reading
I expect to be in Paris when you read this, taking many pictures and storing up adventures to tell you about when I return. While I may find a computer and Internet access to post occasionally, I'm concentrating on just being there and enjoying Paterfamilias' company. But I've taken advantage of Blogger's delayed publishing feature to leave some posts so that you don't forget me while I'm gone.
I once hoped that I'd use this blog to write a bit more about my reading, but I've done very little of that in any kind of sustained and meaningful way. That's partly a result of simple arithmetic: 14 waking hours in a day divided by ever-so-many competing interests; any single blogging hour divided by attention to knitting, family activities, gardening, fashion, and reading, among other interests. Also, franchement, I'm rather reluctant to do even more public analysis of books/literature, given that I do so much of this in the classroom. And, frankly again, it's also because my academic standards for writing about reading demand much more work than I'm prepared to do here, and I'm not keen to represent myself with hasty, superficial, perhaps banal assessments.
I do find it useful, though, as a record of my year's reading, and occasionally, I'm motivated to share a quotation or a thought or even a brief survey of a book. Just before we left, for example, I finished reading Paul Hawken's Blessed Unrest, having heard about it from the keynote speaker at a conference on aboriginal education. Hawken's premise is that the current "movement of movements," focused on social justice, environmentalism, and indigenous rights, represents an immune-system response on the part of humanity as organism. It's a compelling and hopeful argument. The book offers dismaying evidence sufficient to invoke despair. It also arms the reader with facts to support righteous indignation (particularly, for me, around commoditization and commercialization of the most basic requirements for life -- water, especially). But rather than allow resignation in the face of these conditions, Hawken suggests that the diversity and apparent formlessness of the seemingly ragged coalition of activist movements represent an awakening spirituality on the part of humanity, a blessed unrest which may impel us to change the world, one individual action at a time, organically, the way that life always proceeds.
It's a book that, while promoting sustainable use of resources as the only way for us to live on this earth, remembers that hope is also a resource, and works to sustain that hope. I recommend it to you.