Here are a few nuggets from the celebrated Margaret Atwood, who read in Tofino last Saturday from her new dystopic book, Year of the Flood. Still a lively and witty lady, and it was a good West Coast crowd that gathered to see her.
What most impressed me, though, was the co-reading given by her partner Graeme Gibson from his book, The Bedside Book of Beasts. What sounds from the title like a whimsical tour of the animal kingdom (real or imaginary) — and looks, at first blush, like a picture book of animals through the ages — is actually a meaty read, full of surprising thoughts and connections. There’s some deep thinking in it about the human characterizations of animals, and what that says about us. I came away wanting to buy a copy.
From my random, chicken-scratch notes of the evening:
Tree-hugger? Why not a tree-lover?!
Quoting someone: “The whole of Nature is a conjugation of the verb ‘to eat,’ in the active and the passive.”
“Forest bathing” (a.k.a. walking in the woods) … Nature Deficit Disorder…. Some interesting revelations about how time spent in wilderness eases behavioural disorders. People heal faster when they have a scenic view — even just a painting — as opposed to a relentless cityscape.
If you don’t have predators, you don’t have a forest. The predator-prey relationship informs everything about the forest.
Humans domesticate any number of other species, but we ourselves are the only evolved domesticate.
Some of Graeme’s recommended books: Thinking Like a Mountain (Otto Leopold); Last Child in the Woods (author?); Rogue Primate (John Livingston)
This is a book, and these are its covers. The advantage of a book is that you can close the covers and what’s in the book stays in the book. The job of everyone here today is to make sure what’s in the book doesn’t get out of the book.
Ecology as potential religion…? It’s here. Check out The Green Bible.
Once everything is owned by governments and corporations, there will be no neutral third party left to say “No, you aren’t allowed to do that.”
Do I have hope? Hope is built-in. Back in the paleolithic, if you were too bummed out to get out of bed in the morning to find something to eat, you weren’t around for long. We are evolved to hope.
Writing a book is a hopeful thing to do, in and of itself. You hope that you’ll finish it. You hope someone will publish it. You hope it will find readers, and you hope they’ll like it.
I want everyone here to make a pledge today. Coffee is the second most traded commodity worldwide, after oil. It has a huge impact. If you’re only going to do one thing, I want you to pledge that you’ll only drink shade-grown, organic, fair trade coffee from now on.
I’m about a third of the way through Year of the Flood. Tain’t timeless lit’ra’chure, but it’s interesting.