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Wild: An Elemental Journey Paperback – 1 May 2008
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Praise for Jay Griffiths' Pip Pip:'This is smart, edgy work, from an original and exciting mind. Jay Griffiths' voice is a light beam in the fog of twenty-first-century debate' Barry Lopez 'Like the seminal socialist, feminist and ecological works, Pip Pip articulates what thousands have felt but no-one has been able to put into words . . . Cheeky, intelligent, always gripping, Pip Pip will be the opening salvo in a new battle over the human spirit' George Monbiot
'Original and intuitive . . . amusing and erudite, fascinating and spirited. Bravo!' TLS--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Jay Griffiths is the author of Pip Pip: A Sideways Look at Time, winner of the Barnes & Noble Discover Award for the best new non-fiction writer in the USA (2003). Her writing has appeared in various publications including the London Review of Books, the Idler, the Ecologist, Resurgence, the Observer and the Guardian.
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In particular Griffiths' chapter on West Papua is an excellent example of her rigour in research, intellectual understanding and passionate empathy born of first-hand experience in a country where ignorance and arrogance are still threatening the indigenous people.
Griffiths reports on the experience which indigenous people have of Christianity in particular, and her book includes details of how Christian missionaries in the Amazon encouraged indigenous people to kill their shamans and how this was acted on. There, too, missionaries are still attempting to reach 'uncontacted' people, knowing that this contact can kill with diseases which uncontacted people have no resistance to. Indigenous activists in Peru specifically asked Griffiths to interview one of these missionaries and to write about the situation. There are also links between Christian missionaries and the mining and logging companies which steal the land and resources of indigenous people. Further, the widespread abuse of indigenous children in residential schools run by Christian missionaries has had terrible effects on children, traumatised into adulthood and in some cases committing suicide as a result. In West Papua, Griffiths reports that some Papuans say that they see Christian missionaries as one of the greatest threats to cultural survival. Perhaps some people don't think these things matter, but I would agree with Griffiths when she argues that they are of enormous significance to indigenous people. I suspect that recovering the sense of the importance of these things will also enable us to learn and develop the resources we will need for the difficulties this world faces.
Griffiths' book is not just good. It is important.
Books that I really like, I recommend, but am loathed to lend - for fear that they may never return. I'd been willing to lend this book!
Her style of writing is a mix of eloquence and honesty, and it can be very seductive. But it is not without its problems. Her political invective can sometimes feel a little over-done and personal. There are also frequent disparities between the language she uses and the ideologies she espouses. At one turn she will talk of nature as a dispassionate and unfeeling entity, and in the next sentence will extol the thinking and speaking powers of nature in flights of pathetic fallacy that go beyond the empathic points she makes. This made me lose trust in her convictions a little, and made me suspicious of her passion, because it sometimes gets used to hide her theoretical inadequacies. My last criticism would be that the issues she highlights with such alacrity in the first chapter, are basically repeated in the following chapters with a different natural element and location as the metophorical back-beat to her musings.
Despite all this, it is an enjoyable read, with some very valid points to make about nature, wildness, and environment. It should be treated with a little caution however, as once you have recovered from her salvos of passionate indignation, you are often left with a smouldering wreckage of problematic language and ideas.
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and here it is for me !