THE RESURGENCE OF THE REAL by Charlene Spretnak

THE RESURGENCE OF THE REAL

Body, Nature, and Place in a Hypermodern World
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 The well-trod ground of ecospiritualism is trundled over once again by Spretnak (The Politics of Women's Spirituality, 1981, etc.). Modernism is Spretnak's unoriginal bugbear: It can be found tattering the social fabric; it lurks behind the disintegration of the economy, health care, everyday life, ethnic and racial hatreds. Modernism is the deep structure repressing the ``real,'' imposing discontinuities ``between humans and the rest of the natural world, between self and others, between body and mind.'' Economic expansion and technological innovation, Modernism's frayed mantras, are little but the mechanistic blatherings of an ideology gone sour, Spretnak intones. The body is not a biomachine requiring external intervention upon breakdown; it is a self-correcting energy system. Nature is not simply matter to be acted upon; it is a dynamic, self-regulating cosmos. Place is not just where you are, but an influential ecosocial frame. Yes, yes. The mingling of body- mind/cosmos/place is where Spretnak situates the ``real,'' so she mooches about in the theories of chaos, complexity, and Gaia, and in the works of John Ruskin, William Morris, and revolutionary artistic movements to buttress her point. And they are points well taken but here made ponderously and without a whit of humor. The writing is lumbered, and Spretnak comes across as schoolmarmish and scolding: ``Ironically, the counterculture of the sixties was dismissed as romantic even though its ignorance of the Romantics was almost total.'' She is drawn to the dry, high-minded ``geologian'' Thomas Berry, reasonably enough, but her position is impoverished when she ignores the spirited intellectual high jinks of Paul Feyerabend and others who so nimbly eviscerated the notion of modernity. ``The gist of all this is that life is an interactive phenomenon of planetary and biospheric scale.'' Stop the presses.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-201-53419-3
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Addison-Wesley
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1997