I was going to write something about the impact of hurricane Katrina - on our collective consciousness, the "energy crisis", politics, humanity's relationship to nature and the land, comparisons to 9/11, and so on. Then I read Dave Pollard's article, "Do Events Like Katrina and 9/11 Make Us Crazy?" and he got most of my key points in there, so now all I really feel motivated to say is, "uhhh, what he said." Thanks, Dave. (But don't forget to find your sanity again - there's lots to be done.)
I was glad to find the site HappyNews.com, which publishes "up-to-the-minute news, geared to lift spirits and inspire lives." While I'm always a fan of balancing the good and the bad (or, in this case, the happy and the unhappy) and everything in between, there are plenty of sources out there for news stories framed in the context of all the things wrong with the world. This site appears to be making a good go at an alternate approach that focuses on the positive, and they even encourage paid citizen journalism.
This is the second year I've taken advantage of another great thing about the area, our local CSA (community supported agriculture) program through Boulder Belt Organics in Preble County, Ohio. Since I'm doing my own garden I'll probably just use it for a few months, but it's so nice to have locally and organically grown produce; and you can't beat that the "pick up point" for my share is at Mark's house one block away. One thing I especially like about CSAs in general is that the fees you pay to get the food more closely represent the "real cost" of producing it - when I shop at big grocery chain stores, I can't really tell if the price takes into account the oil and gas, foreign labor, and environmental resources/residual effects that go into producing those foods. When you use a CSA, all those things are pretty well laid out, and since the person handing you the food is typically also the person who cultivated it, you can always ask. Anyway, Lucy from Boulder Belt noted that USA Today recently had a profile of Community Supported Agriculture programs (printable/ad free version), which she thought might have been on the front page. I like that under the "cons" for using a CSA they list "vegetable variety" and "introduction to unfamiliar vegetables"...those are "pros" in my book!
This analysis necessarily discusses some plot and thematic details of the book After Dachau by Daniel Quinn. I have made every attempt to refrain from revealing too much or spoiling the experience of reading the book for the first time, but picky readers be warned.
After reading just the first sentence of After Dachau, I was sure I had identified the major themes, direction, and message-delivering vehicle that Daniel Quinn would use in his new book. This was slightly comforting; I'd read that his latest work was radically different, obtuse, and unrelated to its predecessors. Given that his other books had significantly challenged the way I look at the world, and that I'd become (too) comfortable with that challenge, my initial reaction was my own attempt to tie everything together, to find central, comfortable ideas that I could hold onto, nod and agree with, and make my own.
But that, of course, is not the point. Quite the opposite, actually, and the book is anything but formulaic.
Continue reading "Review: Daniel Quinn's After Dachau"