Derrick Jensen Marvels with Fast-Talking-Philosophizing


Derrick Jensen at Church of the Holy Trinity, Toronto, Canada. Copyright Njeri Damali Campbell.

We told you about the event last Friday, so here is a quick review of what we saw and heard when we attended Derrick Jensen's talk in Toronto. The venue was packed with approximately 350 people, which was impressive, especially given the dumping of snow that was ongoing at the time. The talk started off on a comical note with Jensen asking if he could give the "swear word version" being that we were gathered in a local Church. The crowd overwhelming voted for the non-polite version, which Jensen said would take an additional 25 minutes.

He then proceeded to tell us that Star Wars was originally written by environmentalists, with him telling us the alternate screenplay at a rapid-fire pace. Of course, according to Jensen's anecdote, the title was originally "Star Non-Violence, Civil Disobedience." He was so convincing that I believed him for a sec. Jensen continued to marvel with his fast-talking, quote-throwing, philosophizing about civilization and the way we live. He asked some poignant questions, such as "What will it take to call it an apocalypse?" Will it take an 80% decline in chickadee populations? Will it take the complete disappearance of Auks (North Atlantic Penguins)?

Jensen went on to describe the premises from his book The Endgame, which is written in two volumes. We couldn't take notes fast enough as Jensen speaks really quickly - probably because he has so many important things to say, but the website describes the two books:

"In Volume I: The Problem of Civilization, Jensen lays out a series of provocative premises, including "Civilization is not and can never be sustainable" and "Love does not imply pacifism." He vividly imagines an end to technologized, industrialized civilization and a return to agragrian communal life."

During the talk Jensen goes so far as to say that the only sustainable way of life existed during the Stone Age. It was perhaps a bit to pessimistic for my taste, but certainly the arguments were outrageously well-made. Another interesting point was, "How we perceive the world influences how we treat the world." The example made was, if you look at trees and see dollar signs then you'll treat them like goods, but if you look at trees and see beautiful, living things with which you need to co-exist, then you will treat them accordingly. This shift in thinking and consciousness for the natural world (that some refer to as the environmental movement) will only come along with a change in our perception of the natural world.

"If Volume I lays insightful framework for envisioning a sustainable way of life, Volume II: Resistance catapults this discussion into a passionate call for action. Using his premises as guidelines for exploring real-world problems, Jensen guides us toward concrete solutions by focusing on our most primal human desire: to live on a healthy earth overflowing with uncut forests, clean rivers, and thriving oceans that are not under the constant threat of being destroyed."

Definitely look at the link to the premises of The Endgame books. The premises are intriguing, profound, sometimes harsh, pessimistic, but at the same time thought-provoking.

Walking away from the event, my friend and I were discussing the breadth of Jensen's knowledge and what it must be like to effectively bring together (and understand) so many disciplines. Ironically, look at how he is described on The Endgame
Website:

"Jensen's intricate weaving together of history, philosophy, environmentalism, economics, literature and psychology has produced a powerful argument that demands attention in the tradition of such important books as Herbert Marcuse's Eros and Civilization and Brigid Brophy's Black Ship to Hell."

Need we say more? Special thanks again to Njeri, Alissa and shout outs to tipster Lloyd. Read about Derrick Jensen here or about The Endgame books here. Image credit and Copyright: Njeri Damali Campbell.

Tags: Activism | Canada