Lessing in her youth. A somewhat compelling novella. Verging on caricatures, and rather derivative and arrogant. Not unlike Orwell's Burmese Days. TheLessing in her youth. A somewhat compelling novella. Verging on caricatures, and rather derivative and arrogant. Not unlike Orwell's Burmese Days. The brief references to religion as a drug are crude and unnecessary, and even ironic given her later turn to Sufist philosophies for inspiration. The Golden Notebook (published only a decade later) is a much more mature and balanced read....more
Comprehensive and illuminating. There have been advances in the field since its publication, but as an overview goes it pretty much is as good is it cComprehensive and illuminating. There have been advances in the field since its publication, but as an overview goes it pretty much is as good is it can probably get for now....more
Little of this, I suspect, will be new to anyone familiar with the brief explosion of literature on peak oil and transition movements since the 1970s,Little of this, I suspect, will be new to anyone familiar with the brief explosion of literature on peak oil and transition movements since the 1970s, but this is nevertheless an excellent updated introduction to the genre, as well as the reality we are already facing in various forms. It has some warts (both factual and conceptual), but these are minor blemishes on what is generally a well balanced and thoughtful exploration of imminent de-industrialisation in the face of depleting resources, chiefly petroleum. I say well-balanced because everything in Greer's book flows from the view that complex societies do not implode instantly from resource overstretch. Historically it has tended to take several centuries at a time, to the point that it is actually impossible for any one generation or individual living in it to even grasp the sheer scale of the ongoing process (see Tainter 1988 and others).
Once one has accepted this premise, and as well the implications for how much suffering this is still likely to involve on a personal and societal level, Greer's suggested ways to cushion this slow decline are correspondingly sensible and reasonable. We can still make choices within decline, but those choices may become increasingly narrow and painful, depending on how our elites and local societies navigate the early stages of the transition. To speak of peak oil having been pushed back by several decades because of the commercialisation of shale deposits, tar sands, heavy oils etc, is less a sign for optimism than a failure to recognise that industrial societies are burning through the dregs of dense liquid energy carriers. These could be instead helping us to retool our overbuilt, overstretched and dysfunctional infrastructures into systems that will actually endure more than a few decades without a constant need for fossil fuel inputs. This involves not just reorienting transport and distribution systems for food and shelter provision, but weaning entire systems of public health, energy and sanitation provision off fossil fuels, and reintroducing (and learning) older, intermediate technologies that will make more sense in such a world. The longer these processes are delayed, the sharper the decline will be, and the more lives will be lost enroute.
One has to be in the right sort of space to read this. I had been looking for a work that summarily discussed both the impacts of peak oil and the tools we would need to weather de-industrialisation. This has both. To be frank, I am not sure what else there is left to read in this regard, except to get on with things really, and start re-learning the basic but complex (thus labour and time-intensive) skills needed for use in re-localised economies. If this involves reading a book of sorts, so be it. But most of it will be hands-on work from here on.
This is a keeper, and it has the potential to be epiphanic....more