jeremy's Reviews > A Language Older Than Words

A Language Older Than Words by Derrick Jensen
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Feb 16, 08

bookshelves: nature
Read in February, 2002

it has been said, though i recall not by whom, that we do not find great books, that, in fact, they are the ones that manage to find us. having been found, it took me visiting a now-defunct bookstore in the east village of manhattan before i could see whether this book's promise (the promise, ever present yet rarely fulfilled, of every unopened book) were to be kept.

from the first paragaraph i knew this was to be a book so stunning that i would i confuse the wish to have written it myself with the ability to actually have been able to do so... "there is a language older by far and deeper than words. it is the language of bodies, of body on body, wind on snow, rain on trees, wave on stone. it is the language of dream, gesture, symbol, memory. we have forgotten this language. we do not even remember that is exists."

by the ensuing two sentences, i realized i was reading a book that i would later count among the very few that i'd ever describe as having been truly pivotal in shaping my thinking and feeling of the world... "in order for us to maintain our way of living, we must, in a broad sense, tell lies to each other, and especially to ourselves. it is not necessary that the lies be particularly believeable."

rare is the writer that can stir within their reader even a single emotion, rarer still the one that can rouse many. derrick jensen writes with a rigorous devotion to both an emotional honesty and intellectual clarity encountered very infrequently. his skill is evidenced by a fluid, patient, and poetic prose that, through its steadfastness, marks itself upon our perception indelibly. a language older than words is horrific yet beautiful, tragic yet touching, dispiriting yet invigorating. gasoline tears aplenty for the fire this book inflames.
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