der Schinken des Glücks (toebiter) wrote in lost_woods,
der Schinken des Glücks

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The Island Within

"The decaying stump is now a witness stand, where I pass judgment on myself. I hold few convictions so deeply as my belief that a profound transgression was committed here, by devastating an entire forest rather than taking from it selectively and in moderation. Yet whatever judments I might make against those who cut it down I must also make against myself. I belong to the same nation, speak the same language, vote in the same elections, share many of the same values, avail myself of the same technology, and owe much of my existence to the same vast system of global exchange. There is no refuge in blaming only the loggers or their industry or the government that consigned this forest to them. The entire society--one in which I take active membership--holds responsibility for laying this valley bare."

--Richard Nelson, The Island Within

I've just started reading this book for my Visions of Environment class, and the above quote really struck me. It's so easy to sit in class, taking my notes down with pen and paper and feeling smug and outraged at what we do to the world. But I use resources too, and since I'm writing here, I definitely benefit from the technology my society makes readily available to me. It provided a good "pause and think" moment.

I'm only three chapters in to The Island Within but I'm already enjoying it deeply. The author is (or was) and anthropologist who studied with several groups of Alaskan natives. He speaks frequently and specifically of the Koyukon people, and the book is fascinating for providing a glimpse into their worldview as well as amazing descriptions of coastal Alaska. (He's purposely vague on where in coastal Alaska his island is.)

I'd definitely recommend this book, if you haven't read it already, and if any of you have, I'd be really interested to here what you thought.
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