What Stu's Reading
- I finished it a long while ago,
but I keep going back to it, because it makes so much
sense about how we are -- or are not -- getting along in
the world. "It" is the article "Connected We Stand," by
Philip Slater, in the March-April 2003 issue of the UTNE
Reader. Get the full article, online, for a fee. Slater divides the world into
two camps -- Connector culture, and Divider culture.
"Connector culture is characterized by a preoccupation
with linking &emdash; people, concepts, places. It seeks
to recognize commonalities and promote democratic
decision-making. It emphasizes process over product. The
emergence of Connector culture takes such diverse forms
as the euro, the ending of apartheid, the blurring of
gender roles and the increasing power and influence of
women, global communication and the global economy,
internationalism in music, cuisines and art, and the
retelling of old tales from the viewpoint of the
antagonist. Resistance to Connector culture has been most
visible in the rise of fundamentalist movements &emdash;
Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu -- throughout the world.
Paradoxically, it is strongest both in the world's most
backward areas and in its centers of great power. Osama
bin Laden and the Bush administration both exemplify
Divider resistance. Divider culture is marked by a
preoccupation with control -- over nature, over other
people, over our own bodies and feelings. It's
relentlessly dualistic -- splitting all of life into
warring opposites. It fosters rankings and hierarchies.
It exalts war and competition, and tends to see
cooperation as weakness. It seeks a fixed, static world
in which good perpetually battles evil. The clash between
Dividers and Connectors can be seen in every area of life
-- politics, business, science, art, personal
relationships, sexuality, relgiion, psychology,
medicine." I found particularly instructive the parallels
he draws between neocon militarism and environmental
extremism. "Though nominally antiwar, the radical left
tends to embrace the militaristic values of the right.
Environmentalists who try to help corporations move in an
ecological direction are stigmatized for fraternizing
with the enemy."
- "Downhill Slide," by Hal
Clifford, a book-length examination of the evolution of
the ski industry, its shifting demographics, and its
influence in mountain communities. A compelling case for
thoughtful and more moderate approaches to how, what --
and if -- we develop in alpine environments.
- "Cradle to Cradle," by visionary
architect William McDonough and equally visionary chemist
Michael Braungart. Also just started (detect a theme
here? Multiple books at once, always starting and never
- "The Backbone of the World,"
Frank Clifford, a look at the life and times along the
- "Breaking Clean," by Judy Blunt,
life growing up in hardscrabble circumstances in the
wheat country of eastern Montana.
- "Bowling Alone," by Robert
Putnam, on how we have come to lose our connections with
communities, of interest, geography, lineage.
- The Wall Street Journal, in
print, every day. Editorial policies that seem to pay no
regard to the marvelous, factual reporting that appears
elsewhere in the publication.
- The New York Times
- Commondreams.org -- for a
distinctly contrarian view of the message, mores and
actions driven by our increasingly fascistic government.
Am I being inflammatory in my use of the term? You