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Invisible Nature: Healing the Destructive Divide Between People and the Environment Paperback – 15 Sep 2013

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Finally, a book that makes sense of the environmental crisis 14 Aug. 2013
By shawn rowland - Published on
Format: Paperback
Invisible Nature: Healing the Destructive Divide Between People and the EnvironmentThis is an amazing book. I've been thinking along these lines for a while...why does it seem like no matter what we do, environmental problems just keep on getting worse, and new ones keep popping up, like tar sands oil and fracking? It's so frustrating. The problems seem so "out there," except the news keeps bringing them back. This book taught me how decisions I make in my own life are connected to problems like superfund sites and people working in cell phone and computer factories getting cancer and having oppressive jobs. I was deeply touched by the observation that our ability to follow our own ethics has been taken away by corporations, governments, and others who stand between us and nature.
I don't know any book, environmental or otherwise, that does a better job of merging all sorts of fields and disciplines to give a truly encompassing perspective on a problem, like this one does for the environmental crisis. The author presents a lot of shocking information about the toxic pollution from high-tech electronics, and ties that in to the psychology of decision making and how not seeing the damages we create greases the skids to more destruction. There's also philosophy and phenomenology and geography and anthropology, explaining how fragmented thinking is embedded in Western culture. Most of it is pretty engaging, too, though some people might want to skip some of the philosophy, which should work fine.
The last chapter was my favorite because Worthy puts together a slew of practical remedies to tie us back together with nature, so we can see how we're affecting the natural world and react. I've heard of some of these ideas before, like better urban layouts for walkability and more urban gardening, but they make more sense to me now, and I can see how they help. Also, there are new ideas in here--ecology deeply embedded in grade school curriculums, fields trips to factories and sewage treatment plants, and a set of guidelines to apply to decision making at various levels. They give me hope that we can turn things around.
Really, everyone should read Invisible Nature. Highly recommended.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Well written, clear analysis 14 Aug. 2013
By Mimi Prather - Published on
Format: Paperback
I feel the first reviewer had an incomplete understanding of the underlying thesis, to the extent of demonstrating the dissociative thinking described in the later chapters. This makes me question if he actually read the entire book.

I never felt the author was advocating doing away with all modern conveniences or technology. Only asking us to become more aware of what impact our use is having on nature (which includes we humans).

Drawing from history, science, philosophy, and personal experience the book was easily readable explaining the concepts in a clear and interesting manner. I recommend reading it.

Healing the destructive way of thinking, that is this book's subject, might save the earth, your mind, and best of all; your soul.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Can we overcome the environmental destruction that we cause by being a part of a modern, technologized society? 15 Jun. 2015
By prairieS - Published on
Format: Paperback
If you’ve been feeling despondent about how we seem to be lurching unstoppably towards a 21st century planetary crisis of climate chaos, toxic pollution, and oceanic collapse, and wondering what could possibly inspire a shift in attitudes and action, then you will want to read this book.

Recent massive oil spills, in the Gulf of Mexico (2010) and in Santa Barbara (2015), which have forced us to confront the reality of toxic pollution up-close, have spurred much hand-wringing and heartache across the country. More commonly, toxic outcomes of the modern production system are hidden from us, and sent to distant places—where powerless, poor people, whom we never encounter, handle them.

Dissociation from the destructive consequences of our lives and actions on nature; hence, ‘Invisible Nature,’ is the brilliant crux of this book.

I found a fresh, unique, voice in ‘Invisible Nature’ which focuses, as surprisingly few other books on the environment do, on human beings as the key players in a destructive enterprise of planet-domination. Human ingenuity has created and positioned us squarely within gargantuan systems of technology and economic organization that have reshaped not only the planet, but also, ourselves.

Kenneth Worthy puts a mirror on the modern soul, torn as it were between (1) a historical context as one of many species which have evolved together on the planet, intertwined in nature, and (2) a contemporary existence removed from nature and situated amidst bureaucratic, technological, urban, and economic systems through which societies are run. We surely can’t return to a pure, unadulterated Eden, but does our technologically-driven planetary domination have to be so devastating?

Kenneth Worthy feels that we can strike a better balance, if we, individually and societally, are more sensitized to our inherence in nature. If we were (symbolically) to look nature in the eye every time we were to trash it beyond countless warning signals and tipping points—as we do in the production of modern life—he posits that we would at least moderate our destructive actions.

Uniformly, indigenous and frontier societies, both in modernity and in history that live and work close to nature, are conscious of its limits. They also acknowledge nature’s power, infinite complexity, and mystery as a force in its own right. What obstructs us 21st century people from behaving similarly with regard for limits and humble respect for the realm of nature? Worthy's diagnoses of dissociation—physical, spiritual and psychic remove from nature—is onpoint.

With great insight, Worthy gives us tools to help pierce through this dissociation. What paths have we taken in our thinking, culture, and language that have led to these modern conditions of planetary-scale destabilization? Worthy slices through the silos of traditional academic disciplines using unusually accessible narrative, yet rich intellectual rigor to craft a story—about human cultural evolution, philosophical traditions, and psychology—that you will likely not have encountered before.

The story draws from the Greek philosophical underpinnings of modern western culture and science, linguistics, and written text. It draws from the study of human psychology (with incisive and novel application of Stanley Milgram’s experiments on cruelty and torture to the human-environment relationship). The story covers the modern concept of phenomenology which critiques the privilege given in the western tradition to ‘intellect’ divorced from the sensuous context of lived experience, as if 'conceptual knowledge' is more valuable than 'place-based, empirical knowledge'. The story covers behavior, design, and language games that influence how we construct a reality about ourselves and the world around us.

Going along on Kenneth Worthy’s journey with a critical lens on our intellectual and cultural history is incredibly rewarding. Having viewed the modern human enterprise in relief, it becomes easier to visualize alternative paths and imagine the human business on the planet with fresh eyes. The latter part of the book does exactly that.

Personally, the book has helped me connect the dots between disparate concepts in human psychology, culture, and language which delineate-- and limit-- modern humans’ relationship with nature. It opened my eyes to the possibilities for a re-envisioning of our connection to nature.

Kenneth Worthy is incredibly gifted in distilling arcane and difficult concepts into very palatable, digestible form. I read this book with a co-worker who self-identifies as an engineer--not even remotely philosophically inclined. We discussed concepts in the book on our lunchtime walks. We both constantly felt like we were learning hidden meanings and concepts in traditional treatments of concepts in history, linguistics, philosophy, and culture. Reading the book was incredibly intellectually stimulating and the writing style offered clarity and elegance.

The book’s takeaway for me was a sense of empowerment, in that it offers better tools with which to explain people’s apathy, dissociation and indifference to the environment in the modern context. I’ve also tapped into a deeper personal transformation of my own connection to nature. I find myself better able to access the richness of all my intuitive, sensual, spiritual and intellectual faculties in how I see myself and my place in the world. I now sense the possibilities for a re-enchantment and respect for nature more profoundly.

If we can't force people to do the right thing by the environment (we can't!), then hope lies in individual personal transformation, so that we can become more sensitized to our impact on nature and shift our actions. Reading this book is a great first step.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Refreshing, novel and insightful take on sustainability & environmental issues and ethics 23 Jan. 2014
By L. Byrne - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As an environmental educator and sustainability advocate, I have read a lot of books about environmental problems, solutions and human-environment relationships. Often, books on these topics give slightly different takes on the same issues and rehash the same basic statistics and concerns. Rarely, after one reads a few of these, is it possible to come across an author that provides a whole new take on the issues.
Thankfully, Kenneth Worthy has accomplished some very novel and thought-provoking analysis and commentary on human-nature relations. I highly recommend this book as an introduction to the issues but also as an advanced treatise for those who are already well versed on sustainability thinking.
The book contains a lot of unique perspectives and is well grounded in historical references. It is written very well and accessible, especially for a text that is generally philosophical rather than scientific in its approach (I have read other environmental philosophy books that were so dense as to be unreadable for anyone without a PhD in philosophy).
I cam away with a set of new valuable concepts to discuss environmental issues with including slow violence, fields of force, invisible others, and, the main focus of Worthy's thesis, dissociation. Although these are seemingly "jargony", this book is not heavy with jargon. Rather, Worthy uses these phrases effectively to encompass complicated ideas and issues which he then explains well.
My only critique of the book is that the subtitle's focus ("healing the destructive divide between people and the environment") was only the focus of the last chapter; it would have been nice to expand more on this healing with more chapters. All the other chapters dealt with explaining the historical causes of the divide (i.e., dissociation). But those chapters were compelling, and as suggested above, made the book well worth reading even for those who are already knowledgeable about sustainability and environmental philosophy.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Reconnecting in a disconnected world 18 Dec. 2013
By russell moore - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is incredibly interesting. I have been studying environmental science and environmental thought for a few years now and this book really helped fill in a lot of the gaps in my knowledge. This book does a great job of combining ideas from many different disciplines from anthropology to philosophy to create a better understanding of our current environmental issues. Worthy explains that many of our environmental problems are caused from our dissociation with nature. We rarely see the implications of our actions these days and this is why we allow the environment to be destroyed, because we often don't even know it is happening. The book seeks to explain how we got here, where we are going, and how to solve some of these issues. I personally believe he does an incredible job of explaining this. He also does so in a very entertaining and easy to read way. Great book and very enjoyable if you are interested in the environment and understanding your place within it.
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