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472427,996 (4.31)1
Dreams imagines replacing Western Civilization with epistemologies stemming from indigenous cultures and the knowledge embedded in our own dreams.

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I keep trying to read and like Derrick Jensen, and I keep failing. My last serious attempt was with Endgame many, many years ago; and here I tried again.

Again, I found I agreed with much of it, but the parts I disagreed with were as close to batshit insane as one can get within the printed confines of a book. As Dreams progressed it gradually became more and more repetitive, grandiose, bizarre and incoherent. By the end I was grimly hanging on with my fingernails just to be able to say I finished the damned thing.

In Dreams, Jensen argues that (literal) dreams (as in, stuff that happens in your head while you are sleeping) are actual messages from the Other Sides that tells you what you should do, especially if what your dreams are telling you is that you should dismantle and destroy industrial civilization, which is what his dreams tell him that he should do. Why this is what dreams ought to tell you, or what should be done with dreams that do not tell one to dismantle and destroy industrial civilization, is never made clear. He spends much time pondering these creatures on Other Sides, and wondering why it is they haven't intervened themselves to dismantle/destroy industrial civilization already; this also is never satisfactorily resolved, possibly because it's a ridiculous question. Assuming that, should these Other Sides exist, whatever lives there has the same values, perspectives, lifespans, perspectives on time, etc., as we do is surely among the most narcissistic of conclusions, and he has no trouble drawing it.

Now: in the 80% of the book where he urges people to take more seriously their own dreams, regardless of their source, act in accordance with their deeper values (particularly environmental), develop a meaningful spirituality that includes non-human nature, etc., he wrote beautifully and I found myself agreeing with his general points. Certainly his very pointed critiques of technology and techno-fetishism were well done, and he has some interesting critiques of science as well (though they, too, later foundered into incoherence and absurdity: there is no objective methodology to distinguish between his eco-warrior dreams of taking on the flesh-eating zombies and a fundamentalist christian's dreams of establishing dominion over the earth; if one is to evaluate them on the criteria he establishes for his own dreams, they are equally worthwhile and therefore neither provide any meaningful guide. Only science would provide such a methodology, and he has no trouble using and relying on it when it suits him, and then dismissing it as yet another religion when it comes to a conclusion he doesn't like). It's unfortunate that the 80% of the book that makes sense is so overshadowed by the end by all of the crap. I say this, incidentally, as a committed environmentalist who works and volunteers to do everything I can to "keep this culture from killing the planet," and who has no trouble listening to and relying on dreams etc. Interesting that my dreams do not tell me to start blowing up dams. I must be having the wrong ones.

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1 vote andrea_mcd | Mar 10, 2020 |
This is Jensen's best book since [b:A Language Older Than Words|60970|A Language Older Than Words|Derrick Jensen|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1170553915s/60970.jpg|2070741]. While it is long-winded compared to his first book, as his later books tend to be, it could be read as a sequel to it.

Contrary to what one unimaginative reviewer wrote, Jensen does not try to tell the reader what he or she ought to dream about, or that his own dreams as recounted in this book are the right kind.

To the contrary, this book is about being open to epistemologies other than the one narrow as the eye of a needle that we are supposed to believe.

There is no one else writing today who is more of an iconoclast. Jensen's passion is contagious.

(Perfect to read along with [b:Where the Wasteland Ends|22564|Where the Wasteland Ends Politics and Transcendence in Postindustrial Society|Theodore Roszak|http://www.goodreads.com/images/nocover-60x80.jpg|1265619].) ( )
  dmac7 | Jun 14, 2013 |
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Seven Stories Press

2 editions of this book were published by Seven Stories Press.

Editions: 1583229302, 1609801288

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