Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Thoughts on Derrick Jensen

This essay is published here:

Thoughts on Derrick Jensen
23 Sept 2008
by Bill Huston

I saw Derrick Jensen last night at Binghamton University.
I am a big fan of his for many reasons,
but I've also got some issues.

What I love about Derrick Jensen:

I love Jensen because he states the severity of the environmental
problem with great passion and shocking clarity,

Because his models of civilization, cities, and class violence
are, in my opinion, brilliant.

Because he unashamedly admits to talking to trees,
rivers, rocks, and God... The metaphor seems powerfully
Native American, and really moves me,

Because his logic seems impeccable, and his prose
and oratory skills, captivating,

And because he makes a call to radical action, which is
so very rare to hear in America in any forum...

(it is so rare, it seems that it must be censored speech
in the commercial/mainstream/corporate press)

What I don't like about Jensen:

But there are some things about his presentation
I find quite disturbing...
  • Lots of blame / external enemy
  • Language of ego/separateness

    e.g., name calling -- called two people in the audience "stupid!"
    They just were raising points I raise myself.

    I spoke out that Jensen might benefit from a class in Non-Violent Communication (NVC), as taught by Marshall Rosenberg.

    Rosenberg clearly states how blame, name calling, and enemy images create the separateness which are the roots of violence and exploitation.

    • all exploitation and violence begins with seeing separateness
    • Jensen ridicules this point of view:

      "So dualism is bad, and non-dualism is good? Checkmate!", jokes about being chased by Buddhists, etc...

    • He asks "what will it take for man to stop hurting woman?", but doesn't answer it. Of course the answer is for man to consider violence he does to woman to be violence to himself. The problem is ego/separateness, yet he ridicules people who suggest this.

  • Lots of fear.
    • Fear of jail, fear of death, fear of people in the audience.

  • fails to accept individual responsibility
    • He eats meat
    • says it's OK to shop at Walmart
    • OK to use Weyerhauser toilet paper
    • OK to use guns
    • OK to use violence as tool for change

      Wait... what are his values?

  • fails to see usefulness of creation / "inner work", in fact ridicules it

  • focus on destruction

  • He first rants that people should be able to identify local edible plants,
    then (indirectly) suggests people can get enlightened motivation by eating Amanita Muscaria.

    I happen to know a bit about psychedelic mushrooms. And while a few texts
    say that you can on Aminatas if picked and prepared expertly...

    but many many more books say
    "Don't mess around with Amanitas! They are highly toxic!
    For tripping, stick with cultivated psylocybin varities."

    I told him that telling people to eat Amanitas is a really bad idea.
    He responded "it's a joke".

    Would it be a joke when Jensen's followers take his advice and have liver/kidney failure?

  • "I will DO ANYTHING IN MY POWER TO SAVE THE SALMON!" is not exactly true.

    He tells people to blow up dams, but refuses to do this action himself.
    There may be a good reason for this, but I'm just pointing out a huge
    inconsistency. He will "do anything" jt seems, short of practicing what he preaches.

  • His premises are not objective facts, but evaluations/judgments/predictions
    • "This culture will not undergo a voluntary transformation",
    • "This culture is not redeemable", etc.

All that being said, I am very happy to live in a world
with Derrick Jensen in it
. I love his radical passion,
and I think it is necessary to have it available to people.

Derrick says, "I want to believe there to be a voluntary
transformation, with every bone in my body."

I want to believe that Derrick Jensen, with his powerful and shocking
call for destruction, may actually be a catalyst towards this
voluntary transformation.

Thank you, Derrick.

Bill Huston
Binghamton NY
607-321-7846 c

email: WilliamAHuston at gmail

1 comment:

Man-O-Man said...

Yup, anyone who tells someone to "shut up" and creates a 'fight' out of nothing has problems. The way Derrick said "write your own book" came across so unbelievably immature. Hard to believe the man is nearly 50 yrs old with that level of growing up to do. I'm embarrassed for him. He has such a good message (I thought) but some serious personality problems. I make no excuses for him (he is flawed with problems making him less credible by far).