Some Stuff I'm Reading

All right everyone, I said was going to expand beyond formal essays here on Substack, so here are some reflections on things I’ve been reading, hearing, and watching.

(1) To Speak for the Trees, by Diana Beresford-Kroeger. This is the extraordinary memoir of an academically-trained botanist and lineage holder in the Druidic tradition of Ireland. She left academia early on to become an independent researcher and activist, collecting and growing thousands of threatened species on her farm in Ontario. Her writing eloquently weaves together threads of Celtic wisdom with scientific discovery. I especially love the way she makes trees come alive as multi-dimensional beings. While she writes a lot about their contribution to carbon sequestration, she clearly understands and conveys that their value cannot be reduced to just that. They anchor entire ecosystems and weather systems. Even marine food webs depend heavily on healthy forests. While she doesn’t mention the issue head-on, the horrible trend toward monocrop tree farms (often garnering carbon credits) cannot stand against the nonlinear, irreducible sacredness of trees and forests that shines through this book.

In my view, environmentalism needs to decouple from the carbon-reductionistic global warming narrative. I am sure Diana agrees with me that even if temperature rise were to pause or reverse, that the forests are worth saving, are worth healing. Not only because they are epicenters of biodiversity, life, and beauty, but because they are sacred in their own right. In my view, the instrumental utilitarianism that has infiltrated environmental discourse subverts the true spirit of environmentalism. We do not love nature because of the benefits that accrue to ourselves, just as I do not love my children because I think they’ll support me in my old age. That isn’t what love is. We will not save the world if we do not love the world. This book will help you love the world even more.

(2) Tessa Fights Robots, a column on Substack, by the musician Tessa Lena. As someone who grew up in the Soviet Union, Tessa brings an interesting perspective to current events. Her recent post, Killing Nurses of the Third Reich, was especially poignant. It was disturbing, but not quite in the way that you might think from the title. Indoctrinated by Hollywood movies, people tend to assume that acts of evil are committed with malice: twisted, diabolical villains cackling with mad glee as they enjoy the humiliation and suffering of their victims. That stereotype should have been retired with the work of Hannah Arendt, who wrote of the banality of evil. This post takes it even further, offering an image of good-hearted, caring people committing heinous acts. I suggest reading this piece without too much of an effort to interpret it or make meaning from it. Just let the story work in you subconsciously.

(3) Rocketman, the film about the life of Elton John. It is beautifully constructed, well acted, and of course the sound track is amazing. Without being moralistic, it stirs compassion for those we might normally condemn; without new age psychobabble, it demonstrates the power of inner child work, forgiveness, and trauma healing.

(4) What Women Must Know, a podcast with Sherrill Sellman on the Progressive Radio Network. I’ve only listened to a couple of them. One was about trauma caused by modern birthing practices. If any of you are planning to have a baby, please listen to this and follow it down the rabbit-hole. So much of what is normal in modern birth, such as ultrasounds, is actually harmful. The other one was an interview with Dr. Peter Breggin, a Harvard-trained psychiatrist who has been a lifelong crusader against lobotomy, electroshock treatment, and pharmaceutical psychiatry. He has been called “the conscience of psychiatry,” and, by his detractors, a lot of less flattering names. I don’t agree with all he says here, but I don’t dismiss any of it out of hand either.

A flaw I’ve noticed in this and other Covid dissent materials is that the authors often present speculation and circumstantial evidence as if it were provable fact. For example, in the Sparticus Letter,1 another piece I read recently, Klaus Schwab’s writings on machine-human interface as part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution are taken as confirmation that the pandemic and Great Reset are a plan to implement machine-human interfaces through neural links. But that kind of thing has been a staple of futurism for quite some time. The Sparticus Letter has some solid scientific information and raises legitimate questions, but leaps like that make the whole thing susceptible to quick dismissal. Breggin too makes some dubious assertions (especially regarding the “Chinese Communists”) but he also brings up some disturbing truths that at least deserve serious consideration.

(5) The podcast Voices of the Victims. Well, actually I just listened to this one, Ona, A Wife’s Story. A woman whose husband died shortly after receiving the product-that-shall-not-be-named-here-or-this-post-will-get-censored-from-social-media-if-the-link-itself-is-not-already-enough-to-censor-it. It is gut-wrenching. The fact that the coroner said it was coincidence and that her story was removed from Instagram underscores my concern that the extent of you-know-what damage is hidden from public view. However great or small it is, is impossible to know.

(6) Finally, What is Life? This academic paper on the philosophy of biology applies the linguistic concept of generalized context-dependence in semantics to genetic coding. In linguistic communication, who is doing the communicating is inseparable from the meaning of the words. This paper argues that the same is true of genetic coding. The essence of life is relationship. This paper represents a deeply significant and in my mind necessary paradigm shift in biology, part of society’s evolution aware from the story of the separate self.

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I’m not going to link to it, because it will just get this post removed from social media. You can find it easily enough with an internet search. Sometimes I have to rub my eyes in disbelief that we live in a time where we have to choose our words carefully to avoid censorship. In my youth we used to deride the Soviet Bloc for that.