A fervent plea to respond creatively and personally to environmental destruction.
In these urgent essays, all but one previously published, British novelist and essayist Kingsnorth (Beast, 2016, etc.), co-founder of the Dark Mountain Project, a global network of “writers, artists, thinkers and doers” responding to “the age of ecocide,” explains why he rejects environmentalism in favor of ecocentrism. Environmentalists, he believes, focus obsessively on climate change, “spend their time arguing about whether they prefer windfarms to wave machines or nuclear power to carbon sequestration” but fail to question “the Western model of progress” that relies on humans’ manipulation and pillaging of nature. Environmentalism, Kingsnorth argues, “is not about reforging a connection between over-civilised people and the world outside their windows. It is not about living close to the land or valuing the world for the sake of the world.” Once an environmental activist, the author has rejected “the urban consumer machine” by moving to rural Ireland, where he and his wife grow their own food, home-school their children, and use a composting toilet that he constructed himself. “I will fertilise my own ground with my own manure,” he writes, “and in doing so I will control an important part of my life in this world.” A Thoreau-vian spirit infuses these essays: “I feel a personal duty,” Kingsnorth writes, “to live as simply and with as little impact on the rest of nature as I possibly can.” Denying that he is a Luddite, romantic, or untenably nostalgic, Kingsnorth nevertheless suggests actions that underscore those designations: “withdrawing from the fray”; “preserving non-human life,” for example, by buying some land and rewilding it; “getting your hands dirty”; “insisting that nature has a value beyond utility. And telling everyone.” Through the Dark Mountain Project, he calls for “Uncivilised writing” to question the “myth of progress, the myth of human centrality, and the myth of our separation from ‘nature.’ ”
On the whole, a hard-hitting collection that shows why we need new stories to revise our perceptions of civilization, progress, and nature.