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njms@books.theunseen.city

Joined 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Computer/environmental scientist who doesn't like computers and who's lost faith in the scientific method. Amateur farmer. Sheep software developer for all eternity.

Some topics I like to read about: critical theory, marginalized ways of knowing, postmodernist fiction

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Italo Calvino: If on a Winter's Night a Traveler (Paperback, 1982, L&OD Key Porter) 4 stars

I've become so accustomed to not reading that I don't even read what appears before my eyes. It's not easy: they teach us to read as children, and for the rest of our lives we remain the slaves of all the written stuff they fling in front of us. I may have had to make some effort myself, at first, to learn not to read, but now it comes quite naturally to me. The secret is not refusing to look at written words. On the contrary, you must look at them, intensely, until they disappear.

If on a Winter's Night a Traveler by  (Page 49)

Kohei Saito: Marx in the Anthropocene (Hardcover, 2023, Cambridge University Press) No rating

Facing global climate crisis, Karl Marx's ecological critique of capitalism more clearly demonstrates its importance …

‘Metabolic shift’ is a typical reaction of capital to the economic and ecological crisis it causes: ‘For only the reactive and retroactive manipulation of symptoms and effects is compatible with the continuing rule of capital’s causa sui’ (Mészáros 2012: 87). Metabolic shift, however, cannot solve the problem as long as it cannot stop its insatiable process of accumulation.

Marx in the Anthropocene by  (Page 29)

It seems obvious in hindsight but I think this clarifies what a lot of people are actually talking about when they equate capitalism with progress. Sure, capitalism does provoke progress, but it's progress in as much as it solves the immediate, short-term problems that capital causes.

The example Saito gives shortly after is the industrial production of ammonia to compensate for soil exhaustion. Putting chemicals into the soil doesn't solve the core problem of industrial agriculture exhausting the soil, it just deflects it onto other peopl

Kohei Saito: Marx in the Anthropocene (Hardcover, 2023, Cambridge University Press) No rating

Facing global climate crisis, Karl Marx's ecological critique of capitalism more clearly demonstrates its importance …

Today, at least the existence of Marx’s ecology – its usefulness and scientific validity put aside for now – retrospectively appears so obvious that one may wonder why it was neglected for such a long time. Here one can point to one reason. [..]. It did not occur to [researchers] that Marx, especially in his later years, quite intensively studied the natural sciences and left behind a large number of notebooks consisting of various excerpts and comments related to environmental issues

Marx in the Anthropocene by  (Page 16)

Having been born after the collapse of the USSR, I've never seen any of this in my lifetime. Basically since I've been interested in both Marxism and degrowth, I've seen the two ideas intertwined. It's fascinating to think that this, as a development, is at most 30 years old, and if I had grown up at any other point in history it's likely that I would have understood "Red" and "Green" to be ideologically opposed.

reviewed Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler (Earthseed, #1)

Octavia E. Butler: Parable of the Sower (Paperback, 2000, Warner Books) 4 stars

In 2025, with the world descending into madness and anarchy, one woman begins a fateful …

This felt like it was published last year

4 stars

Which feels like a cheesy thing to say in a review about dystopian fiction, but I genuinely didn't realize this book was published in the year 1993 until I read Butler's biography at the back and realized she passed away in 2006. It feels... pertinent

Others have said this is a pretty grim novel. I agree. It hurt to read, quite often. I feel like I've mostly moved out of my dystopian fiction era but this one hooked me a lot harder than most I've read. I haven't finished a book this quickly in quite a while.

I think Parable of the Sower has a lot to say about eco-fatalism, as well as the many "fatalisms" of neoliberalism in general, which it delivers on very well. I also felt like it would have a lot to say about the value of religion, divorced from the way people in my life …

Robin Wall Kimmerer: Braiding Sweetgrass (Hardcover, 2013, Milkweed Editions) 5 stars

As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer has been trained to ask questions of nature with …

A strong argument for other ways of knowing

4 stars

Kimmerer spends a lot of time in this book comparing and contrasting Western science to indigenous ways of knowing, specifically from the Potawatomi tradition. As she's someone formally trained in western science, I understood her thesis being that indigenous ways of knowing can coexist with western science, but more than anything, I felt that this book did a really good job justifying why we shouldn't treat science as the end all be all of knowledge.

On one hand, I think this book reintroduced my very secular mind to the ways in which having a spiritual connection to nature can be extremely enriching and can add to our collective understanding of the natural world

On the other hand, it provides a basis for understanding where exactly science falls short in its attempt to catalogue the universe, as well as exposing its "objectivity" for the many ways in which it is actually …