"Our greatest responsibility is to be good ancestors."

-Jonas Salk

Friday, September 4, 2009

Stewart Brand Interview at Seed

Stewart Brand has an interview at Seed, pitching his new book "Whole Earth Discipline". As usual Stewart has a lot to say. Don't miss it.

h/t @BoraZ


Hank Roberts said...

Bravo. Thank you.

David B. Benson said...

Right up MT's alley:

Nobelist Krugman eviscerates macroeconomics

with a fine cartoon strip thrown in for free.

Hank Roberts said...

Citation where citation is due:

("... and might as well get good at it" was the older text)

Here's an excerpt, but clickety link for the whole thing, still worth reading:

----excerpt follows---


* By Stewart Brand
* Whole Earth Catalog
* Fall 1968


As unexpected and ungrammatical as a clap of thunder on a sunny day was the opening line of that first Whole Earth Catalog in 1968:
"We are as gods and might as well get good at it."

Credit where it's due: I stole the line. Page one, chapter one of A Runaway World? by British anthropologist Edmund Leach (Oxford, 1968) begins:

Men have become like gods. Isn't it about time that we understood our divinity? Science offers us total mastery over our environment and over our destiny, yet instead of rejoicing we feel deeply afraid. Why should this be? How might these fears be resolved?

Leach's book was based on his 1967 Reith Lectures broadcast on the BBC. With their bold optimism, the lectures were highly popular and also ferociously criticized in academe and the press. Alistair Cooke predicted in the Chicago Sun-Times, "Leach has suddenly come roaring up in England and no doubt will soon explode here, as middle-aged hero of the rebel young." So far as I know, I was the only rebel youngster (then age 30) to respond, but my rebroadcast of Leach's line did have a certain explosive effect. The Whole Earth Catalog also borrowed some of Leach's attitude, evident in paragraphs of his such as:

By participating in history instead of standing by to watch we shall at least be able to enjoy the present. The cult of scientific detachment and the orderly fragmented way of living that goes with it, serve only to isolate the human individual from his environment and from his neighbors they reduce him to a lonely, impotent and terrified observer of a runaway world. A more positive attitude to change will not mean that you will always feel secure; it will just give you a sense of purpose. You should read your Homer. Gods who manipulate the course of destiny are no more likely to achieve their private ambitions than are men who suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune; but gods have much more fun!

Where the Whole Earth Catalog diverged from Leach's admirable program was in an area which Student Stewart Brand (1960s) scopes out a California grass. still distinguishes America from England and Europe. Leach wrote, "We simply must take charge of our own fate. We must somehow see to it that the decisions which have long-term consequences are taken by men who understand what they are doing and not by bewildered amateurs." By contrast, the rest of Whole Earth's purpose statement went: "So far, remotely done power and glory as via government, big business, formal education, church has succeeded to the point where gross defects obscure actual gains. In response to this dilemma and to these gains a realm of intimate, personal power is developing power of the individual to conduct his own education, find his own inspiration, shape his own environment, and share his adventure with whoever is interested."

In other words, Whole Earth embraced the amateurs rather than deplored them. We rewrote Leach's line to: "We must somehow see to it that the decisions which have long-term consequences are taken by amateurs who understand what they are doing." ....

david lewis said...

Stewart Brand has published an online Afterword to update his book Whole Earth Discipline.

Brand is now touting the gibberish of the climate denier Garth Paltridge, a man who Brand tells us is a "sensible skeptic". An example of how sensible Paltridge is can be found in the introduction to his book The Climate Caper where he says IPCC scientists are the worst thing that has happened to science itself in the last several hundred years, because they are so corrupt and their work is so shoddy.

Brand's most trusted scientific source on climate, i.e. Lovelock, apparently now believes global warming has slowed or even stopped. I wrote up a post with more details on this for The Energy Collective Stewart Brand: Fearless Follower of Lovelock, not science.