In the latest instalment of Bedside Table, the Wild Culture team run through what we're reading this month and why - from site-specific literature to the ethics of eating meat.
Connecting Nothing with Something
Brilliant, young, independent publishers Influx Press (of whom co-founder Gary Budden is a jWC contributor) unveil their latest book this month, and it looks both fascinating and timely. Subtitled “A Coastal Anthology”, Connecting Nothing with Something continues the Influx focus on site-specific literature via an exploration of the landscape, history, culture and politics of the south east English coast. Spanning fiction, poetry and illustration, the collection includes contributions from the likes of Iain Aitch, Dan Cockrill and Rowena Macdonald. “Trudging slowly over wet sand” and much more besides...
Standart Thinking – FIELDS
We came across this little chapbook at the annual Kaleid Editions fair for artists who do books. Written and published by art duo Javier Rodriguez and Lise Hovesen (aka Standart Thinking) and limited to an edition of just 100, FIELDS is really an extended essay that traces the emergence of monoculture – across agriculture, socio-economic policy etc – to the origins of mechanistic science at the time of Descartes. Following arguments laid out by Rupert Sheldrake and others, the book posits a move towards multidisciplinary permaculture, taking into account Sheldrake's brilliant (but highly controversial) biological theory of morphic resonance.
Gillian Darley – Villages of Vision
First published in 1975 but recently revised and updated, Gillian Darley's Villages of Vision is a quirky account of the many planned villages dotted across Britain and Ireland. Tracing a history that dates back some 250 years, and covers enclosure, the picturesque, the industrial revolution, and large-scale philanthropy, Darley does an excellent job of unpicking the egotism/ideology/upheaval that so often lay beneath what we now think of as “picture postcard” English villages. But Darley is also a sensitive narrator, whose exhaustive, but lightly worn, research enables a nuanced history, attuned to the individual eras, geographies and personalities in question.
Gilbert White – The Natural History of Selborne
A hundred years before Darwin, “parson-naturalist” Gilbert White recognised the crucial role of works in the formation of the soil and understood the significance of territory to birds, with their songs acting as a form of communication. Taking the form of a number of letters written to other contemporaneous naturalists (although many were written for the book and never posted), The Natural History of Selborne combines relentlessly detailed analyses of animal behaviour, personal anecdote, and evocative descriptions of a place and time. A seminal text in both ecology and phenology, and a rich, rewarding piece of writing.
Rob Hopkins – The Power of Just Doing Stuff
Activist, teacher and writer Rob Hopkins is best known as the founder of the Transition Towns movement, which he started in 2005 in order to build local resilience in the face of peak iol, climate destruction and economic instability. The movement quickly went global, forming a grassroots network of communities engaged in building sustainable living practices. This year, Hopkins has published his third book, which argues for the power of local action to change the world by outlining the success of the Transition movement and providing practical suggestions for individuals and communities working for a new economic future.
Simon Fairlie – Meat: A Benign Extravagance
With new, Sergey Brin-funded, developments in synthetic biology grabbing the headlines this week, this 2010 book by farmer and writer Simon Fairlie seems increasingly relevant. In contrast to those such as Brin who seek solutions in technology, Fairlie argues that our problems lie in industrialised food production processes. What is needed, he argues, is wholesale social change in order to engender a direct reconnection with the land. Interestingly, Fairlie is not opposed to the eating of meat, and advocates a measure of livestock farming as a key component of his forward-looking vision.
Image credit: azrasta