Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Dreams and Motive



"This was the longest conversation he'd ever had with a female apart from Ladyship and Miss Healstether and he hadn't even said anything."

["It's international book week. The rules: Grab the closest book to you, turn to page 52, post the 5th sentence as your status. Don't mention the title. Copy the rules as part of your status."]


Just thought I'd mention that. Hat-tip to Katrina Messenger for alerting me to it.

And talking of books, I have just finished two which bear commenting on. (That quote above is, for those who haven't guessed, from Terry Pratchett's "Unseen Academicals", which I'm re-reading as a break for my soul).

A slow reader I am, and it has taken me a good couple of weeks to finish Derrick Jensen's Dreams and  John Douglas' Anatomy of Motive in that order.

The Jensen book was a delight - if you can describe being constantly reminded of how Western Industrial Civilization is murdering the planet a delight - and afforded me a better understanding of Derrick Jensen's Being.

Despite his acknowledgement of entities such as his Dreamgiver, the Gambling God and his Muse, Jensen holds off from plunging directly into the Shamanic world view.

This I can understand. Derrick Jensen, like me, is a product of a Western Scientific education (as well as being the same age as I am), and it's hard to let go completely of the rationalist, materialist paradigm you were brought up with. Hel, I can't manage it totally, and I have realised my calling to Shamanism.

In Dreams, Derrick takes pains to point out that the other sides - as he calls those dimensions we humans don't normally experience in waking reality - may not actually exist. And if they do exist, that they may not be entirely powerful enough to help stop this insane culture from killing everything on the planet off. Or that they may not be completely benign towards humanity. He stops short of saying that these other sides are as real as we are, and constantly uses the what-if-science-is-right argument in this book.

This works for me, and may do for many readers, in that it shows that Jensen is not totally lost to sensibility of the culture he lives in. But it made me realise my own depth of commitment to the Shamanic world view. I have largely let go of being afraid to be labelled as woo and have been falling for years more deeply into acceptance of things unseen being as real and potentially present as this morning's coffee.
A good read, especially for those of us already familiar with Derrick Jensen's body of work.

I then picked up a book Warren had just finished. It says a lot about The Anatomy of Motive that my partner was able to completely finish reading it - he's not as big a book nerd as am I. And yes, it was absorbing.

John Douglas is an ex-FBI profiler, likely one of its finest, and in this book, co-written with Mark Olshaker, he lays out some of his most successful cases of criminal profiling.

I, too, found it gripping reading, and I welcomed the chance to see into the criminal mindset -I have been in the Fraud department of an online vendor for 11 years now after all. But after a while, the insights grew repetitive. Douglas comes across - at least to me - as a bit of an arrogant civilised human. He never misses the chance to denigrate utterly the perpetrators, often using terms such as pathetic and inadequate to describe them and/or their lives. Towards the end of the book, this started to annoy me.

There was no real attempt to figure out how people become this way - although it could be argued that this is outside of the realms of the book and Douglas' profession - and I found myself comparing his view on civilsation - that of a given order of righteousness in which humanity features almost to the exclusion of all - with Jensen's.
No need to state which view I prefer.

So now, having secured a whole week off work in which to laze around the house and garden, I am entertaining myself with Terry Pratchett - a wise man, practically a Sage, who never fails to make me laugh my silly head off.