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April 13, 2013 on 3:33 am | In Dream Types | 3 Comments

Jensen’s furthest-reaching book yet, Dreams challenges the “destructive nihilism” of writers like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris who believe that there is no reality outside what can be measured using the tools of science. He introduces the mythologies of ancient cultures and modern indigenous peoples as evidence of alternative ways of understanding reality, informed by thinkers such as American Indian writer Jack Forbes, theologian and American Indian rights activist Vine Deloria, Shaman Martin Prechtel, Dakota activist and scholar Waziyatawin, and Okanagan Indian writer Jeannette Armstrong. He draws on the wisdom of Dr. Paul Staments, author of Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World, sociologist Stanley Aronowitz, who discusses science’s lack of accountability to the earth, and many more. As in his other books, Jensen draws heavily from his own life experience living alongside the frogs, redwoods, snails, birds and bears of the upper northwest, about which he writes with exquisite tenderness.
Having taken on the daunting task of understanding one’s dreams as a source of knowledge, Jensen achieves the near-impossible in this breathtakingly brave and ambitious new work.

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3 comments on “Dreams

  1. deena metzger on said:

    Dare to Read This Book – Then Live on Behalf of the Earthh At a time when our culture systematically and consistently threatens all life, might there be means to resist and even overcome these deadly forces? Determined, rigorous, desperate, exacting, passionate lover of the earth and beauty, Jensen is determined that we accompany him as he examines, with the stated intent of undoing, every activity, theory, belief, assumption, illusion and delusion of this dominant omnicidal culture. He insists that we bear witness to our own destructiveness, ruthlessly and broken-heartedly face these patterns, and, finally, act and live on behalf of the earth. In his precise and painstaking investigation of what is real and true, Jensen sees the possibility that lies in thinking, again, according to the indigenous wisdom traditions that prevailed over millennia and gave more to the earth than they took. Dare to read this book. Scrutinize your life and the culture. Change! Become a fierce ally of life and so open yourself to the guidance of dreams and the intelligence of non-human beings. Commit yourself to the vitality of all the myriad creatures – salmon, bear, caribou, redwood, frog, fungi, bat, bee, waxwing, whale ­ river, ocean, mountain, cloud and stone. Live ardently on behalf of the earth.

  2. Guttersnipe Das "Guttersnipe Das" on said:

    Wrestling with Derrick Jensen A few years ago I began to read books about ecology and climate. First I read books like Thomas Friedman’s Hot Flat and Crowded, that claims we can use a “green revolution” to save the earth and get rich. It’s embarrassing to think that just four years ago this seemed to me a reasonable idea. Then I read the more serious books, that argued that profound sacrifice would be necessary: Orr, Brown, McKibben.Meanwhile, natural communities are destroyed at ever-increasing pace. Meanwhile, government and business are wholly unwilling to make real changes to avert destruction. They can’t even manage hollow gestures and window dressing! Meanwhile, many of the smartest and best people I know — who appear otherwise thoughtful — say they can’t be bothered or hide themselves away in easy nihilism or nauseating New Age vapidity.People act as if they had someplace else to live. They appear to be waiting for an new iphone application that will save the Earth in just one click.Now here is Derrick Jensen, every cell in his body radiating outrage, kicking in all directions in his fury. I think Derrick Jensen is wrong about plenty of things. I only wish that he was wrong about the things that matter most. He’s not wrong. He’s right: there is no reason to believe that the system of which we are a part, and which is destroying the Earth, is going to voluntarily dismantle itself for the good of all. It isn’t going to happen.I groaned aloud when Jensen related yet another zombie nightmare but the zombie metaphor is hideously apt: what are we doing but moving in stunned lockstep toward the destruction of the basis of our own lives and spirits?Naysayers will find this book effortless to dismiss. On page 9 he talks about how pet dogs communicate with him in dreams after their deaths. And on page 12 he’s back calling for the end of civilization as we know it.I’ve spent enough time in Cambodia and China for my blood to run cold when I hear someone calling to remake society but – there is no other option that I see. We are headed off a cliff.Derrick Jensen’s style is extremely casual. The chapters invite us to think and fume and dream along with him. Sometimes it seems that he can write about as fast as I can read. At one point in the book he provides times. I often wished that, since I had to spend so much time, he’d spent more time too. Is Jensen so revered that someone is afraid to edit? The strongest chapters are brilliant: Extinction, Fungi, The Bear, Reciprocity, Wisdom. Others could have been condensed or cut entirely. Sometimes he sounds like a visionary, other times like a peevish eighth grader. He is often brilliant. He is often downright snarky.I am very glad I spent many days reading this book and taking notes. I wrestled and sighed, complained — and learned a tremendous amount. I hope that portions of the book can be edited and tightened and made available to people who cannot or will not read the entire book.As for me, I’ve taken to hauling the book around and begging people, “Could you just read the chapter `Reciprocity’? Please! I’ll make you tea. I’ll rub your feet. I’ll wait. Please, please! Read `Reciprocity’.”

  3. John Locke on said:

    A Brilliant Masterwork of Environmental Philosophy In Dreams, Derrick Jensen is laying the foundations for a new way of life, for a new society, for a new approach and for a new way of thinking and perceiving the natural world and doing it first and foremost with philosophy. We can’t do anything without philosophizing about it first, just as the Europeans couldn’t de-land the natives without first having ideas and concepts of private property, capital versus production, might makes right and patriarchy. And in doing so, Mr. Jensen leads the way to how we are to create a new world and to manifest these philosophies as we interact with the natural world and work to save it and defend it against the destructive forces of industrial capitalism and Western civilization.Firstly, the book’s title, Dreams, is indicative of this new way of thinking about our lives and experiences. The modern scientific view teaches us that dreams are meaningless, just random neuron firings of the subconscious. But Mr. Jensen points out by spending many pages describing and analyzing his own dreams and their meanings, that this is not true. Dreams are powerful tools and meaning filled lessons given to us by the land, by animals, by the stars, the galaxies, by supernatural forces and by those who inhabit other sides. Only after taking our dreams and their messages seriously will we then wake up and realize our own individual power, our own volition and realize our right to live in a natural world not polluted by giant chemical corporations, not denuded by logging companies, not raped, not scarred and not controlled by distant rulers for their sole benefit (think retail stores at your local mall and their far-flung headquarters in Houston or Dallas).To start with an effective movement, there must be a clearly defined philosophical and intellectual thought to back it up before ideas are put it into action. This book is the starting point. A movement cannot go forward without a clearly defined direction. There has to be more than an underlying discomfort of the underclasses to make an effective movement. There must be thought before action. There must be vision and projecting before reality manifests itself. There must be planning before a new world can emerge. This book is that plan. There must be leadership. There must be organization. Otherwise, there is only ineffective chaos banging up against industrial civilization and getting nowhere.For instance, the book clearly indicates that Western ideas of progress, and this is key, are clearly false and serve only those in power and those who already have money, industrialists and their bought-off politicians. The idea of progress itself is simply a philosophical tool designed by those in power to justify their right to rule over poor humans, over nonhumans, over trees, over native peoples. Each step of progress, says Jensen, is designed to deafen the rulers against the pain and suffering of those they exploit simply as a tool in order to exploit and torture more effectively thus rendering the torturers more power and material gain. By employing science, those in power claim to prove that nonhumans do not have subjective existence and neither do human beings for that matter, so it doesn’t matter of corporations clear cut and destroy natural communities or rivers are polluted because the trees and wildlife that inhabit the destroyed forest didn’t exist anyway, nor does the river and the fish.Imagine you are running under a canopy of trees. You are naked. You are comfortable. You are thirsty. You bend down and take a drink straight out of the river. You are hungry, you bend down to take a root right out of the ground where you stand. You are sick, you have medicine on hand. You have your loved ones with you, those who have been with you for your whole life, your mother, grandmother, sisters, children. You are finally and at long last free. You are powerful. This is the heaven talked about in the bible and heaven is originally on earth. This is the future that starts with thoughts. This is Dreams. Read it out loud tonight under the stars, on the banks of the river to your loved ones.

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