Before I Begin

rogue-primateBefore I begin reading Rogue Primate, I want to record some thoughts.

  1. I hear it’s misanthropic. I assume that’s because humans are just animals with big brains, which might be an evolutionary dead-end. Is there any hope proffered? Is Livingston’s analysis purely mechanical, deeper yet still Darwinian, and so we must rely on non-mechanical things to get us through…to what? Things like love or friends or the kindness of strangers or meditation or a spiritual yearning–if so, which is it, love or friends or the kindness of strangers or meditation or a spiritual yearning, or all of the above? Or are they all the same, really? ‘All will be well,’ said Julian of Norwich. Or maybe that’s just the way things are. Or we are both smarter and dumber than we look–dumb enough to get deep into trouble, smart enough to be able to get/climb/crawl out of it. Or maybe it’s the other way around: smart enough to get deep into trouble, but too dumb to be able to get/climb/crawl out of it.
  2. The book is famous–Winner of the 1994 Governor General’s Award: ‘If you buy only one book this decade let it be Rogue Primate.’- The Toronto Star (1994)–Is this the Cdn version of the NYT Bestseller label? IE, famous, well-known, but people behave as if they are ignorant of it (see #5)?
  3. Wikipedia quote–‘In an interview with Thomas G. Philpott, he [Livingston] once said that a person is lucky to have one or two truly original ideas in his or her entire life and that the thinking that led to Rogue Primate was his.’–What is his ‘truly original idea’?
  4. John_Livingston_1980_rd-from-laclegs.caLivingston (1923-2006)–birdman; Faculty of Envtl Studies at York; voice of Hinterland Who’s Who (with its distinctive flute-call)–‘The hunt for possible narrators was a long one. “I thought they all sounded too commercial,” Eagles [Darrell Eagles, then head of editorial and information services for CWS] explains. Then Eagles remembered hearing John Livingston, at that time executive director of the Canadian Audubon Society, speak at a wildlife conference. His rich, deep, baritone voice and relaxed speaking style proved to be ideally suited to the series.’ ;  The Nature Of Things producer (1962-1968); introduced David Suzuki to deep ecology [DE]–‘the actual reality of humanity’s relationship with the natural world;… a philosophical basis for environmental advocacy which may, in turn, guide human activity against perceived self-destruction’–that’s hardly misanthropic, for it’s one for all, and all for one; you know, ‘tous dans l’même bâteau(‘We’re in the same boat’). image of jal from laclegs.ca.
  5. However, the majority of humans seems to be unaware or not heeding this (or any) position; eg, how many have been killed in the name of Jesus, or Allah, or …? So, you gotta take a longer view–not just 7 generations, but 7,000, maybe 7,000,000 or 70,000,000–in the meantime, what do you do now? The last DE principle is more of a commandment: ‘Those who subscribe to [deep ecology’s principles]… have an obligation directly or indirectly to try to implement the necessary changes.’ There are changes, deep ecology principles are spreading. Is Rogue Primate Livingston’s attempt at implementing ‘the necessary changes’?
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