Derrick Jensen in Los Angeles:
A review and analysis of an evening in reality
I usually don't attend these types of events anymore.
Political gatherings of folks who think that they are going to change the world when they can't even hear one another's arguments over their own wind bagging - it's just too much of a farce for me to stomach anymore. But this time I decided to make an exception for an exceptional author - an author who is able to look the death culture in its face and see deep into its soul and live to tell (and write) about it.
I gathered up my tolerance, and hope, and got into my car to drive across Southern California to see Derrick speak. I was extremely surprised to see a very diverse (and overflowing crowd) packed into Sand Paper Books where the speech was held. The crowd ranged from youth to elder, represented many different ethnicities, and spanned the political spectrum from vegan straightedgers to seasoned anti-imperialist activists.
I have read all of Derrick's major works. Books like A Language Older than Words, The Culture of Make-believe and Welcome to the Machine are lucid accounts of the inherent destructiveness and death urge that fuels Western Civilization and they articulate a world view that just might help us save ourselves from our impending doom.
Derrick does not flinch from indicting all that needs to be indicted, and he refuses to fear or despair at the realization that it ALL needs to go. Western Civilization is a culture based upon an anti-social death urge - a cannibal culture that will not stop until it devours every living thing it can convert to its own uses. There is none of the usual leftist denial to be found in Derrick Jensen's writings - just an honest look at the reality that faces us.
More than anything, I went to see Derrick speak to get a feel for him as a real person - to see what kind of vibes he shot out and to see him as an individual rather than an abstract author. Is Derrick Jensen just a gloom and doomsayer? Is Derrick Jensen a misanthropic sociopath? Is he just another author that likes to hear his own voice? Is he just plain crazy? I already felt like I knew the answers to these questions were in the negative after reading his works but I still wanted to see the person in the flesh to get a more direct human feeling from him.
No. Derrick Jensen is not any of these things. From what I could see from his demeanor and his responses to the audience, he seemed to be a gracious, intelligent, caring and well grounded individual. He is not a man who hates humanity; he is a man who cares so much for all life that he feels compelled to do the one thing that most of us cannot bring ourselves to do.
That is to hone up to the reality that Civilization itself, with all its technology and promises of progress will never save us from ourselves. That it is time to abandon the delusions of historical progress and to return back to where we came from. We must turn back to the Earth and a natural earth based life way. We must move forward to the Stone Age once again.
As Derrick would say, the denial of the destructiveness of our present civilized culture grows from the reality that we will need to abandon nearly everything that we have been taught that we need to survive, in order to survive.
But as Derrick teaches, no matter the ideological opposition one might receive, that is exactly what we are going to have to do.
In metaphorical language, Derrick would say that our relationship to western culture is like that of an abused woman to her violent husband. She knows that she is being abused yet she feels that she is dependant on her abuser and although she wants to leave, she feels she cannot. She feels unable to make that break and dive into another reality that is free from domination and oppression.
Self reliance can be a frightening proposition to one who is trained by their abusive spouse, or their abusive culture, to feel dependent. But in order to liberate ourselves and our planet it will be necessary to look that fear in the face to reclaim our freedom.
Derrick is a very articulate advocate for a world view that is increasingly going to be making more sense to people in the industrialized world in the very near future. This world view has been labeled many things, from primitivist, to anti-civilizationist, to green-anarchist to autonomist. Whatever one chooses to call this world view, it is becoming more and more obvious to more and more people that this 10,000 year experiment in Western Civilization has been one of the worst disasters to have befallen humanity in the history of its existence on this planet.
The evident truth is that this civilization will collapse - as all civilizations do - whether one likes it or not. The question is whether or not you or I will be prepared when this happens.
Derrick would tell us that given this reality, the sooner civilization collapses the better, as each and every day lived in this civilization makes its hold over us, and our dependence on it, that much stronger.
Derrick asks us all; how long will you wait to do something? At what point does reality necessitate action? At what point does one realize that they are that frog slowly boiling alive in a scientific experiment? When will we bail out?
These are his questions to us, and we had all better take notice.
We are now witnessing the final days of Western Civilization. As this civilization decays around us - as the wars spread and the natural disasters increase in frequency - and as those trapped by western culture slowly break from their cognitive dissonance and open their hearts and minds, a new reality will begin to reveal itself.
Our task is to let this transformation take its course, and to speed it along where we can.
Derrick reminds us all that it's time for us to stop trying to re-arrange the chairs on the titanic and bail off this ship of fools before we all go down with it.
The sooner the better.
- Jeff Hendricks
I urge everyone to go out and get themselves a copy of one or all of Derrick Jensen's books.
If you would like to support a D.I.Y book seller, you can purchase many of Derrick's books from Tiamat Publications.
Or, if you would rather save a few dollars and order the books from a corporate giant they are all available on Amazon.
Some of Derrick's best books:
Endgame Volume I: The Problem of Civilization
Endgame Volume II: Resistance
Welcome to the Machine: Science, Surveillance and the Culture of Control
The Culture of Make Believe
A Language Older than Words
Strangely Like War: The Global Assault on Forests