Reading Responses — ATN

Desert Solitaire

So the very first thing I noticed about this book, Dr. Krygier, was the choice to dot the latter “i” in “Solitaire” not with a tittle, but rather something reminiscent of a certain illegal cannabinoid. I’m sure this was just a choice by the publisher for a bit of artistic flair, and not the author (primarily because the author typically has little control over the cover of their books, though I’m certain Mr. Abbey reveled in the anti-establishment, and likely partook in this illegal cannabinoid for that reason, among others.) I do not look upon Mr. Abbey in a kind light; he is vehemently against nearly everything I adore or believe, it seems, but this is not an unforgivable sin. No, I found my disdain for him in his prose: the way he revealed his disbelief in my ideas, scorning them in his biting tone, but the biggest issue I took was with his own propositions, which to my mind made no sense at all – complete non-sequiturs. Take, as an example, the chapter titled “Polemic: Industrial Tourism and the National Parks.” Hell, the title alone says it all! A “polemic” is a strong attack against something, in this case “industrial tourism” and the pational parks. Why would someone possibly be against the national parks? Simple, Mr. Abbey feels that the national parks should be nothing more than landscape, cordoned off, not with a fence, but by property law, able to be entered only by the intrepid explorer because there is no infrastructure or any trace of modern life in the national parks. Mr. Abbey feels that the concept of a national park should be “preservation”, meaning thus that the park is not to be maintained in the fashion that it actually is. This seems nothing more than simple elitism to me. By making accessing the park difficult, it becomes the case that only those who are healthy enough and can afford the trip, in terms of both time and money, can enter the park; even then, it will be limited to those who desire to take a camping trip to see a national treasure. That’s what this boils down to, in my mind: the national parks “preserve” national treasures – fantastic monuments ingrained into the culture of the American. To deny any American the ability to view these treasures in person is an elitist prick.

I cannot go so far as to say that one of us is correct, much less which of us is correct, though I’d very much like to. Consequently, what I have to thank Mr. Abbey and his book for is the further solidification and articulation of my own beliefs.

Eating on the Wild Side – Veg

Krygier’s espousal of this book’s easy-reading nature set me up for the devastating realization that there was way more information in this book than I thought. Seriously, though, that’s actually pretty cool: I had no idea this much information could have even existed about the plants that people who aren’t me typically eat (I distrust vegetables). By no means should you mistake my enthusiasm for information with enthusiasm for the subject; despite the wealth of new information obtained on vegeables from this book, I am little closer to acknowledging the necessity of most vegetables, and that is considering only the common ones that this book’s decries. I am certainly not going to consider the fancy vegetables, despite all their nutritional benefits. These are the views only of this author. The book, opinions aside, is packed with a lot of information on rabbit food, as well as lots of advice for the budding cook who is thoroughly enthused about eating plants. It is, indeed a book I would very much recommend to one of those people. Graphs helpfully demonstrate some information; recipes are interspersed throughout. Interesting book. But I can’t think of anything else to say


I don’t really know what else to say about this book. I liked our dinner classes which sampled the recipes in this book. The apple crisp recipe I made was pretty tasty. I just don’t know that the information in this book is going to be pertinent to many people; the products are extra healthy, but cost extra money, and extra time – these foods won’t be purchased at your local supermarket where the average American shops. At least Robinson isn’t unsavory, as Mr. Abbey is.


I love this book. So much. It’s dry, factual, and humourless: truly everything I’ve ever dreamed for in a book. I’ll point out that unlike a textbook, this book is pleasant and easy to read, though a bit dense. The first part of the book includes a competent expose on the nature of the idea of “nature.” This first chapter is important, as it is impossible to frame any discussion of nature without being aware of the possible considerations that word includes. Thence, the implications are that no discussion of nature can be easy, no examination all-encompassing, no conclusion simple. It’s a philosophical wasps’ nest, and Coates decided to tackle the problem by relating an exhaustively detailed account of the attitudes toward nature of western civilizations/periods, including ancient Greece and Rome, the middle ages, and the renaissance, as well as the American history. Well, that’s the first half of the book, at any rate.

Part II

The latter half of the book begins, as I see it, with chapter 6, which examines the view nature as landscape, which examines the dichotomy of nature, which is never framed, and landscapes, those framed pieces of art representing nature. This problematic dichotomy leaves something to be desired in light of modern issues, and chapter 7 considers the evolution of the way civilization regarded nature through the romantic period and forward, through the creating of ecological science. The book then sums up, in chapter 8, all that it had said previously; namely that there is a multiplicity of views on nature, none of which seem to be very compatible. Then, in chapter nine, frames with this information the question of what we are going to do about the future of nature, given that we are a part of it and we need to ensure its continuation to ensure our own. It was a very interesting book and perhaps the most illuminating on the subject.

Environment and Society

It seems that Environment and Society is the preeminent textbook for environmental issues, and I do mean textbook. Nonetheless, it provides readers with an overview of the diverse conceptual tools and traditions used for consideration of the environment, and lists crucial environmental challenges facing society today. This text really builds off Coates’ Nature, because that book examines the relationship of society and the environment going back thousands of years, but this book takes that research, plus more, and demonstrates how that theory applies to current environmental problems with the most recent theoretical concepts. The book also realizes, and notes, that many different and conflicting conclusions can be reached about the environment, based on people’s philosophies. As such, I think this book is the quintessential foundation for any consideration of current environment events.

Eating Animals

The second half of this book is the one on which I presented, starting at the chapter “slices of paradise/pieces of shit.” I didn’t really put together much in the way of presentation material; I was hoping to lead a discussion eliciting my classmate’s thoughts on certain aspects of the book. Alas, they had little to say.

The chapter slices of paradise begins by telling of a daring (?) escape made by a cow from a slaughter plant. I wanted to know: “who did you root for in this story? Why?” The story for me was happy and sad; both parties lost and both parties won. I like the idea of a cow getting away, but I also like beef, and small businesses.

Even a hardened capitalist such as myself doesn’t like the idea of suffering. This is the issue with factory farms, from which more than 99% of meat comes in the US. These farms have bred animals to yield better meat, but often at the cost of a lot of suffering for the animals. “If these animals were bred to yield the great meat they do, but without causing them pain, would you still consider factory farming distasteful?” I don’t particularly. The animals would probably be happier with a bit more space, but I’m honestly not sure that that’s actually case, and I’m apathetic either way.

The first part of the book was something about which I was happy I did not have to present, because I simply was annoyed by much of it. Mr. Foer kept the sanctimony to a minimum, thankfully, but he used some literary devices that annoyed me. A small quibble, it may seem, but my biggest complaint has to be that passage wherein the text reads only “Speechlessness / Influence” repeated ad infinitum, seemingly.


Oh dear, was this book a joy ride. I was familiar, to some extent, of how much crap is thrown away each year, but the book was illuminating with its exhaustive detail. Beyond that, it provided amusing anecdotes about the trash-related activities of certain groups, including artists and a family which throws away a mason jar’s worth of trash a year.

One Response to Reading Responses — ATN

  1. […] Reading Responses — all except Meadlownads. […]

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