Pascal Bruckner shares with us a collection of thoughts, ideas, and quotes on the ideas behind human and their impact on the world they live in. What is somewhat vague, is the main idea that he is suggesting, as this might have been lost in translation. Overall, the book made me very angry at times, but then again anger is at its core a reaction to fear. So it is possible that his writing style has invoked me to stop and think more deeply on issues that would otherwise fall into the, but I am just one person mentality. The fact that he stirs this in so many readers suggests that he has poignantly expressed himself in such a way that continues a dialogue of human and the impact on environmental issues, from many different concepts such as political boundaries.
Once the reader can stop hating themselves long enough to look though the satire of the book there are plenty of really interesting thoughts and ideas about the future of humanity.
Persecuting Societies. General ideas are that as a western culture we always need to be at a war with something. Concept is that we have chosen a war with the planet. We feel overwhelming guilt, but yet stay frayed in fear unable to do anything at all.
We are parasites on the planet that we all basically drum on to the beat of capitalism. We no longer need to define or find evil in this world because we are the evil itself. It brings up ideas of Flagellants, beating themselves, except this time as the say the end is near the religious vernacular is simply replaced with environmental banter.
p. 14 “whenever human chooses to stop breed, Earth’s biosphere will be allowed to return to its former glory”
p. 18 “the end of humanity will probably arrive sooner than expected, around 2060, as a result of the generalized sterility of male sperm by pesticides and other persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and carcinogens, mutagens, and reprotoxics (CMR)… we are all heading for disaster”
Also this has always made me wonder why we use end of the world. I think to myself do we really think that the planet will blow up into a million pieces, like a scene from Star Wars? The planet will not disappear. It will survive. Should we not say that it is the end of life as we know it? Furthermore, like any species on the planet that has out grown itself, maybe human extinction should be allowed to run the course. It would allow for the potential evolution of a new species, one that then can continue to mess things up. (I jest)
It also seems like the more we try to control the environment the worse we make things. Under this falsehood of being “Green” or “protecting” the planet. Think of the west America forests and squelching forest fires.
p. 20-23 interesting idea of the freedom of the car, though now that everyone has them it causes long cue lines and increased time to get to places actually driving us further apart. This is offset by another highway, the internet that surely will bring us closer, along with all the new technologies. However this is all done with a faceless sharing that happens. Makes me wonder about the phenomenon of how people “troll” victims for pleasure because they never have to see them face to face, or the military that kill with drones, and have to be reminded they are not playing video games.
p. 29 the idea of self-fulfilling prophecies, and if so why do we not focus on a future of hope. What is built into the human psyche that continues to be obsessed with the worst case scenario? If we live in fear then we live paralyzed to take action.
I think this gets to one of Bruckner’s main points. If the end is near and we have no options, why not stand stoic in the face of the disaster and at least have some dignity. If we truly wanted to reduce our impact on the planet that means getting rid of ourselves. If we are beyond repair and the end is imminent, then why not continue on, why not speed up the process, why prolong the agony.
It gives rise to the idea of what happens when one passes a wreck on the highway, I mean I don’t want to look, ok maybe I will, I have to see what has happened. In a way this plays out on media daily. We see horrific events, especially when huge storms come we brace, we watch, and most of the time find comfort in the idea that we are not a part of it, but safely watching on the HD TV, in our extra comfy PJS, eating the food we just had delivered. Though somehow, we feel relief and triumph as we endured this with the victims.
p. 43 “the fact that this flood of bad news seeks only to demoralize us and bring us to heel, like children with a scolding solicitude. The point is to overwhelm us, to deprive us of any capacity for action.”
p. 46-48 A brief Contemporary Lexicon goes on to show the way that language infiltrates the ways of thinking. Brings up ideas of who is projecting the ideas, the ruling ideas.
How many times has the end been predicted? It makes me wonder how if any correlations could be made to the perspective of time. The book makes me wonder why through age it is more plausible to see the end was near. I find in my personal experience that when we are younger and full of hope we see the world through an optimistic lens. Why is it that as people age they perceive the past as good and the future more and more negatively. Comments like the world is going to hell, the youth is out of control, our future is doomed, and alas the end is near. What is it about the cycle of life that tends to have this discourse? Is it that we start to project our own mortality?
Maybe it is not that the end is near as much a new beginning is coming.
p. 90 “Our age lacks a fundamental virtue: the ability to celebrate.”
p. 91 I really loved the quote from Native American chief Seattle, though this part stood out to me, “Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself”. To me this idea becomes the separation. We often think we are outside of the system, we are in god’s image and therefor the gods of the planet (to some). Somehow separate. These thoughts allow for the separation. We pick and choose and take what we want. Save some let others die.
Understanding: So if you were to only have 24 hours left what would you do?
Science and understanding the concepts behind what we know. Do all scientist get a fair share of air time? Are all scientist without flaw?
p. 99 ideas of domestication and bestiality.
p. 129 the Lisbon Earthquake. This was a fascinating idea of about god being “either terribly cruel or totally powerless” and blaming humanity for the loss.
p. 152-153 Gia’s womb
p. 159-161 Robinson Crusoe the sequel, some interesting thoughts about returning to the savage.
Epilogue: Here is where I found most of Bruckner’s ideas without embellishment. He proposes that with the amazing mind and human ingenuity that we will once again overcome peril. So in a book that exacerbates the inevitable apocalypse has he given enough rise to the thought of prevention? or do we simply wait and see.