Tag Archives: books

Treasury of the True Dharma Eye

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Just bought this complete translation of the Treasury of the True Dharma Eye. Last year the publishers released a beautiful two-volume boxed hardcover edition of which I really regret not purchasing.

Three books environmentally aware parents should read with their children

The movie based on Dr Seuss’s The Lorax is coming out soon.

It’s a shame we are moving towards a world which spends more time “watching” books than reading them.

Here are a few more titles which I like a lot – Farewell to Shady Glade and The Little House. Both stories are tales of the encroaching human world upon the nature we depend upon for survival. But sadly both books seems to be saying the only solution is to find another place to live, far from humans. What happens when the world becomes too crowded (like it is now) and we have no more places to run to, to take refuge in?

An Inconvenient Attitude

This month David Suzuki has kicked off a year’s schedule of talks across Canada. If you are fortunate enough to be able to get to one of the venues and hear him talk it is well worth the while. I saw a televised speech of his in Australia and I was changed by it. It is statements like this following one by him that made me understand what is wrong with the way we are living:

The way we see the world shapes the way we treat it. If a mountain is a deity, not a pile of ore; if a river is one of the veins of the land, not potential irrigation water; if a forest is a sacred grove, not timber; if other species are our biological kin, not resources; or if the planet is our mother, not an opportunity – then we will treat each one with greater respect. That is the challenge, to look at the world from a different perspective. (From A David Suzuki Collection)

I think respect is the key word here. We simply do not treat the world with respect. He mentioned earlier in the same piece I quoted from that if we could see how the world has changed in four billion years to become a life sustaining planet for all life including ours then we will be humbled by what we have, and understand that is not for us to indiscriminately take as though we own it, but to share with all other life.

This week I also saw An Inconvenient Truth. It was a little late in coming to Japan (early this month, to my neck of the woods). I was also too busy with final reports to make the seventy minute drive to see it in town.

The film had stated much of what I already knew. So I do not think the film is there to convince people like me. But rather it was a film to preach to those yet to be convinced or have not heard the message yet. In that sense it is a necessary film. But why does it have to be from a former politician before we will listen? Anyone could have said it with the same evidence in hand. People are already saying it. People like David Suzuki have already said it. So it must necessarily say something about the culture of America, to whom much of it was aimed, that they will only listen if it is from someone important.

Mr Gore did make one point which I have always harped about here – that disinformation and deliberately confusing the public by false talk has prolonged the problem. We have not been playing on a level field when it comes to information dissemination. By scare tactics and other means the public has been split into two or more minds. And it comes back to the concepts of propaganda, advertising and commercialism.

So how do we deal with the agenda of others which are not the best for sustainability? In the West that is dominated by advertising, a kind of capitalist propaganda if you will, the highest bidder gets to persuade us that buying is good, not just their product but any product. This idea is therefore not about just one producer but about producers as a collective. I don’t want to sound Marxist but Karl Marx had a point. What scares me is not the fact we don’t have choices, but that we are only seemingly making free choices when we are not. So Capitalism is no better than Communism, if you look at it this way. Personally both systems fail. There are only two choices in our current paradigm so we must only choose between the two evils.

The pseudo-choice concept isn’t new of course, but it needs to be remembered or recalled. Those studies of the 1970s and 1980s on advertising have all but been forgotten. My favourite books from that period have to be Ways of Seeing by John Berger and On Photography by Susan Sontag. It has a lot to say about our use of images and imagery still relevant (if not more) to today’s advertising-polluted world.

And just a final note: the strategies used in Mr Gore’s “award winning” documentary also come from this same well-honed philosophical logo-technology (as in “logos” or “word”). It is slick, almost too slick, but you can notice its agenda if you look hard enough.

Books

Infrastructure – A Field Guide to the Industrial Landscape, by Brian Hayes. W. W. Norton, 512pp.
This 500-plus page book entitled Infrastructure documents and explains everything manmade from oil refineries to manhole covers. It will even explain things like why US telephone exchanges are windowless (because the were thought during the cold war to better withstand a nuclear attack). Sounds like more of a homage to human ingenuity than postmodern critique. gleamed from the 16 September 2006 print edition of the Daily Yomiuri

A Moment of Crisis: Jimmy Carter, The Power of a Peacemaker, and North Korea’s Nuclear Ambitions by Marion Creekmore Jr. PublicAffairs, 406pp.
A look at how Jimmy Carter’s diplomacy saved the day in 1994. Only available in hardcover. gleamed from the 16 September 2006 print edition of the Daily Yomiuri

Scientific American Special Issue: Energy’s Future Beyond Carbon, September 2006.
An excellent special issue on “how to power the economy and still fight global warming”.

New magazine on sustainability – “Sasutena”

Japan – On the local scene a new magazine on sustainability is being published and will be available for free at university coop bookstores from October. The magazine Sasutena, short for sustainbility in Japanese, will be a quarterly publication.

According to the Daily Yomiuri newspaper the magazine is edited by Prof. Akimasa Sumi, 57, director of the Climate Research Center at Tokyo University and is published by Integrated Research System for Sustainability Science a group formed in April this year by nine universities and organizations which includes Tokyo University, Osaka University and National Institute for Environmental Studies.

Its purpose is to expand the awareness of the general public of this field of growing importance.