This thread is to list suggested books regarding rewilding, feral living, immediate return hunter-gatherers, primitive skills, etc. This thread is a wiki and will also be listed on the feralculture website.
Practical Philosophy/Material Animism:
Perception of the Environment by Tim Ingold
Soul Hunters by Rane Willerslev
Debt: the First 5,000 Years by David Graeber
Against the Grain by James C Scott
The Art of Not Being Governed by James C Scott
Original Affluent Society by Marshall Sahlins
On Kings by David Graeber and Marshall Sahlins
General Primitive Skills:
The Boyer’s Bibles I-IV
Deerskins to Buckskins
Wet Scrape Buckskin by Steven Edholm
Making the Attikamek Snowshoe
Pride of the Indian Wardrobe: Northern Athapaskan Footwear
To Please The Caribou
Snow Walker’s Companion
Anyone heard from Sea Weed lately? Nothing on my radar since they were booted from FB.
“The World Until Yesterday”
Two other I have not yet read but will probably be as good as those listed above: “Guns, Germs and Steel”, “The Third Chimpanzee”
“30 Theses” by Jason Godesky on the Anarchist Library: https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/jason-godesky-thirty-theses
All of the conversation below is good. I think multiple “votes” helps us move toward a better list.
From a technical standpoint, the entire contents of the original post at the top will be fed to a page on the main site. However, none of the subsequent discussion will appear there. So at some point, we’ll have to decide what makes the cut, and edit the OP accordingly.
Side-note: I added that Land and Freedom cover image only so there was something to populate the block when shared on FB.
If the list grows there will probably have to be different subject categories to keep it from getting confusing. I am working on some to add to the list.
-40 Celsius is a great time to bring out these books for another look
Paul Shepard Coming home to the Pleistocene
( all books of him are awesome )
Morris Berman Wandering God
Less about the project per se than the choice to head north.
Can I downvote “The Work Until Yesterday”? Jared Diamond kind if turned into a domestication shill.
James C. Scott, ftw
How to infer from this scant evidence our ancestors’ family structure and social organisation, their patterns of co-operation and conflict, let alone their ethics and cosmology?
It is here that Diamond makes his fundamental mistake. He imagines he can triangulate his way to the deep past by assuming that contemporary hunter-gatherer societies are ‘our living ancestors’, that they show what we were like before we discovered crops, towns and government. This assumption rests on the indefensible premise that contemporary hunter-gatherer societies are survivals, museum exhibits of the way life was lived for the entirety of human history ‘until yesterday’ – preserved in amber for our examination.
In the unique case of Highland New Guinea, which was apparently isolated from coastal trade and the outside world until World War Two, Diamond might be forgiven for making this inference, though the people of New Guinea have had exactly the same amount of time to adapt and evolve as homo americanus and they managed somehow to get hold of the sweet potato, which originated in South America. The inference of pristine isolation, however, is completely unwarranted for virtually all of the other 35 societies he canvasses. Those societies have, for the last five thousand years, been deeply involved in a world of trade, states and empires and are often now found in undesirable marginal areas to which they have been pushed by more powerful societies. The anthropologist Pierre Clastres argued that the Yanomamo and Siriono, two of Diamond’s prime examples, were originally sedentary cultivators who turned to foraging in order to escape the forced labour and disease associated with Spanish settlements. Like almost all the groups Diamond considers, they have been trading with outside kingdoms and states (and raiding them) for much of the past three thousand years; their beliefs and practices have been shaped by contact, trade goods, travel and intermarriage. So thoroughly have they come to live in a world of powerful kingdoms and states that one might call these societies themselves a ‘state effect’. That is, their location in the landscape is designed to help them evade or trade with larger societies. They forage forest and marine products desired by urban societies; many groups are ‘twinned’ with neighbouring societies, through which they manage their trade and relationship to the larger world.
Authors unlikely to make the cut:
- Jared Diamond
- Steven Pinker
- Napoleon Chagnon
Tip of the iceberg on these three:
Anthropologist and Director of Survival International reviews Diamond’s book (pop press version):
Annotated version [PDF]:
Critique in The Guardian:
Science journalist John Horgan’s further critique:
I was just given Our Boots, To Please The Caribou, and Indian Fishing yesterday! Such good books.
I know the general opinion of “permaculture” is lukewarm at best around here but I find David Holmgren’s ‘Permaculture Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability’ to be very insightful.
Seconding (thirding? fourthing?) everything by James C Scott.
Has anyone else read Steven Martyn’s books? More broadly – what role does spirituality play (if any at all) in the Feralculture mission? Martyn’s work offers a lot of food for thought in rewilding the spiritual landscape of humanity.
The books keep coming! Just given Cedar and Stone, Bone, Antler, and Shell! Hilary Stewart books are so good.
The second book currently runs $130-260 but I got it for $5!
From Cybertracker.org, books that explain the origins of tracking (and how it’s also the origins of science). Free!
@samuelsycamore, i would be really interested in hearing a brief synopsis of your thoughts regarding Steven Martyn’s books. when i first heard him on the Permaculture Podcast i put them on my book list. finances have been tight around here for a while, so books have not been something we have put our money into the past year or so.
also, i feel like your question regarding the role that spirituality plays in the feralculture mission is a great one to consider. i do not recall ever seeing much discussion around the topic here. i am gonna dig around and see. @andrew, do you have any idea?
i personally have a pretty fat distaste for new-age-y philosophies and overly woo-woo mentalities. only because i often perceive it as being un-grounded and out of touch with reality, and most often very out of touch with place. these types are also sometimes perceived by me to not have a very clear idea of boundaries as well. however i do have a spiritual side, of course, and i basically define this as a sort of mostly un-ritualized eco-centric animism. anyway now i feel like we have officially hi-jacked this thread. i’m gonna shut up now.
Ask and ye shall receive! In fact I am working on audio commentary on ‘Sacred Gardening’ for people who contribute to my podcast on Patreon, but I would be happy to pass that along to you when it’s done, free of charge.
In brief, I feel that Steven’s work elegantly bridges the ideological and philosophical gaps between permaculture, rewilding and this emerging post-civ (but really pre-civ, of course) animism that more and more of us seem to be arriving at. I too am very wary of New-Agey stuff, but in reading Steven’s books and now having had the opportunity to speak with him, I trust that he is speaking from a place of direct experience.
Where permaculture is most lacking is in its reason-based, mechanical-engineer mentality and in its positioning of humans at the center of the universe. Steven speaks and writes of the left-brain/right-brain dichotomy, and how many of us born into the dominant culture have difficulty accessing our intuitive senses located in the right hemisphere, except through drugs usually. (I know I can relate to that.)
So Steven’s approach is that of the artist and the shaman rather than the scientist, and that’s perhaps what I appreciate most about his work. I think our collective consciousness is sorely in need of a reintroduction to animism, and I hope that more rewilding types will begin to explore and embrace this way of viewing the world.
thanks @samuelsycamore. definitely interested in the audio commentary. my personal hang-ups with the modern expression of permaculture definitely resides in those two you mention: prevalent anthropocentrism and the reason-centered/mechanical/human design-orientation that emerges from that.
for my first installment, here are two rather different books (but also rather similar in that they relate to perception)
botany in a day by Thomas Elpel was one of the first books i bought when i began to learn to identify plants many years ago. along with a good regional field guide, this book is recommended by me in all the classes i teach related to the subject. it greatly increases the budding forager’s/gatherer’s/wildcrafter’s ability to identify plants by introducing them to “the language of patterns”, which our brains are already wired for.
spell of the sensuous by David Abram (involved in the Deep Ecology movement) was a great read for me many years ago, and at just the right time. it largely explores animist/ancient ways of perceiving, and how human cognition has evolved on an earth where all is animate and alive. there is something about the way he writes about it makes the topic come so alive, because, i believe, he is tweaking that ancient part of our minds through stroytelling and magic. i will add that i tried reading his later-published book Becoming Animal twice, with great enthusiasm both times. i still have not finished it, and i won’t!
What about books to break the domestication mindset?
The Situationists, particularly Debord’s The Society of.the Spectacle and Vaneigem’s The Revolution of Everyday Life remain more influential to me in day-to-day praxis than most explicitly anarchist or rewildy type books.
@andrew i’m gonna check these out. they seem like what i might need to get me to actually want to go down a road of reading what you might call political philosophy again. at this point in my life i have a tendency to loathe it, at times intensely blocked against the thought. but this is coming from someone that used to be a street protestor (jaded/waste of my time), was in the RCP/USA youth brigade (beaucratic bullshit), and whose father was a founding member of the Atlanta branch of the RCP/USA (what a control freak he was!). i was a huge reader of Marx philosophy in my early 20s. and my father was a rigid MLM communist, to the point that it ruined our relationship. loooong fucking story. eventually i aligned my values with anarchism. and over a decade later, i still do.
oh, and i do believe that Spell of the Sensuous did an incredible job of helping me to break free from elements of domestication as it relates to our perception of the world, particularly the natural world.