Tag Archives: Ecocriticism

Drought: The Material Immaterial

This post first appeared on the Penn Program for Environmental Humanities Blog, which can be found here: http://www.ppehlab.org/blog/

By Eckard Smuts

Fixing the number is not an easy matter. One media report claims that it is the worst drought in South Africa “in thirty years”;[1] another mentions 1992 as the previous benchmark.[2] The title of a third piece announces, rather puzzlingly, that the current lack of rainfall comes in the wake of the “third driest season in 80 years”.[3] A story in Al Jazeera summons 1982 as the former driest season. That piece goes on to present the thoughts of Lennox Mabaso, a spokesperson for the local government in Kwazulu-Natal (one of the worst hit areas), who reveals, simply but effectively, that the dams are at an “all-time low”, and that we are indeed in the midst of an “epic drought”.[4]

The South African Weather Service appears to have picked up on the media’s difficulty in ascertaining the comparative severity of the drought. In a report that presents the annual total rainfall in South Africa since 1904, they affirm (in bold – in a subheading, in fact) that “2015 was indeed a very dry year in South Africa”.[5] It gets worse: at 403mm of precipitation, 2015 was the single driest year over the “full 112-year period” (the yearly average is 608mm). It is not clear why “the full period” should begin 112 years ago. One imagines that earlier rainfall records for large swathes of the country are rather spotty. Nevertheless, 112 years is a substantial period of time, one against which fluctuations of a few years this way or that in various media reports seem to diminish in importance. The numbers – unsettled, wavering – conspire to tell us what we already know: it is very dry.

Comparative rainfall statistics is, however, not the only numerical paradigm along which the drought pipes its forbidding tune. Food, and the vast amounts of food that will have to be imported this year (5.67 million tonnes of grain is a conservative estimate)[6] – and more precisely, the cost of these imports (R14 billion for maize, a staple grain in South Africa)[7] as a figure in a fiscal budget that is already buckling under the strain of a number of industrial, political and socio-economic crises over the past year – means that the drought has begun to weave its sombre incantations over a whole different set of numbers, namely the numbers expected at the polling booth in the upcoming municipal elections (“Weather presents political challenge to ruling ANC”, reads a subtitle in one article).[8] Agricultural doom prophets have gone as far as comparing the pending food shortage in South Africa to the conditions that preceded the regime-toppling events of the Arab Spring.[9] (Is that a fair comparison? Difficult to say – most likely not. Things never do seem to ramify quite as catastrophically here as everyone expects them to.)

What is clear is that behind the swirl of numbers – the lists and statistics that attempt to map out and ratify this slow-moving, diffuse yet fearsomely implacable climatic event – there lurks a sense of the abysmal: a panicky premonition that some kind of standing order between society and the environment has been withdrawn, or that the collective bill for our climate debt has arrived, and there is nowhere left to shift the “unpaid costs”[10] (“It’s like a person in the distance. We can see him coming towards us,” says Hambaseni Mncube, a stricken farmer from Kwazulu-Natal, about the effects of the drought).[11] A drought is an insubstantial, drawn-out event (or precisely a non-event: drought is, among other things, another name for when it does not rain). It does not announce itself with a flash or a bang. Instead, it makes itself known through a series of diffuse effects that shift and ripple through the various systems that have evolved to accommodate our interactions with the world. These shifts and ripples accumulate, of course, into consequences of massive devastation and personal tragedy (more numbers: 1 353 980 cattle, 308 573 sheep and 969 275 goats in the Eastern Cape are said to be “rendered vulnerable” because of the drought;[12] in the Free State, a cattle farmer committed suicide one day before the first rain of the season)[13]. And that is precisely why drought is, I think, a suitable metaphor for our environmental thinking: it forces us to grapple with the relationship between systemic dysfunction and tangible suffering in the immediate world of things.

It does not seem possible enough water can ever again fall to damp or even to cool this parched and cracked earth and to fill these moats of burning sand. Optimism suggests it is only the great tidal swing of nature exemplified; that we are at the lowest point of the periphery, and that from now onwards it must rise steadily to better things. But at the back of one’s mind remains the pessimistic conviction, apparently borne out by every fact observed, that the oscillations of the pendulum are gradually lessening round the dead point.

These words were written by the South African poet and prolific amateur naturalist Eugène Marais somewhere near the start of the twentieth century, based on his observations of the effects of extreme drought in Waterberg, an area in the far north of the country.[14] If they are true, then we have by now graduated to somewhere well beyond the “dead point”: we are living, as it were, in a new, arid reality. We can stop worrying about the kind of world we will bequeath to the next generation, because we are already living in it. It is not clear yet what the full implications of the drought will be for the millions of South Africans who are already struggling to afford food.[15] It is probably time, however, to accept that our environmental thinking needs to adapt itself to what has been called the “new normal”. The challenge for the humanities, I think, is to figure out what that means.

 

1 “South Africa grapples with worst drought in thirty years,” BBC Africa, November 30, 2015

2 “First it was electricity, now water,” Mail & Guardian, November 1, 2015.

3 “SA drought follows third-driest season in 80 years,” Moneyweb, November 10, 2015.

4 “South Africa in midst of ‘epic drought’,” Al Jazeera, November 4, 2015.

5 De Jager, Elsa. “South Africa – Annual Total Rainfall.” South African Weather Service, January 13, 2016.

6 Willemse, Strydom and Venter. “Implications of the lingering 2015 drought on the economy, agricultural markets, food processors, input suppliers and the consumer.” December 11, 2015.

7 “Report: Fighting the Great South African Drought”, Daily Maverick, February 23, 2016.

8 “SA drought follows third-driest season in 80 years”, Moneyweb, November 10, 2015.

9 “Farmers bear brunt of South Africa’s severe drought: ‘All we can do is pray’”, The Guardian, November 17, 2015.

10 I am borrowing rather freely here from Canavan, Klarr and Vu’s fascinating re-interpretation of the idea of “ecological debt” along the lines of K. William Kapp’s notion of capitalism as a system of “unpaid costs” in their introduction to Polygraph 22: Ecology and Ideology (see pp3-5).

11 Hornby, D. and Vanderhagen, Y. “After the Drought: The rains have come to Msinga, but the devastation still remains. ” Daily Maverick, February 25, 2016.

12 “Op-Ed: SA Government’s numbers game”, Daily Maverick, February 8, 2016.

3 “Drought: Farmer commits suicide a day before rain falls”, http://www.news24.com (http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/drought-farmer-commits-suicide-a-day-before-rain-falls-20160101)

14 Marais, E.N. “Notes on Some Effects of Extreme Drought in Waterberg.” Versamelde Werke Deel 2. Ed. Leon Rousseau. J.L. van Schaik: Pretoria, 1984. p1217.

15 “In 2012, the general household survey found that 14-million South Africans did not know where their next meal was coming from. Another 15-million were on the verge of this, and were one shock away from not having food,” writes Sipho Kings in the Mail & Guardian (“Full horror of drought emerges,” January 16, 2016).

Advertisements

Stephanie Dabrowski On Nature and Connectedness in A Monster Calls

The Concept of Nature and Connectedness in Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls – Stephanie Dabrowski

The term “Nature” has famously been described by Raymond Williams as “one of the most complex words in the English language” (in “Post-Secular” 287). This is an observation enforced by Lorraine Datson and Fernando Vidal’s assertion that “nothing even approximating a full-dress account of the multiple meanings and histories of the word ‘nature’ and its cognates (or lack thereof) [is to be found] in other languages”, emphasising instead the significance of the term’s “varied and complex meanings” (5). The value of this term lies precisely in this complexity as it becomes emulative of the character of humankind’s relationship with the natural world it occupies, a relationship more than ever in need of interrogation since the onset of modernity and particularly in consequence of the current ecocrisis. Significantly, the word ‘environment’ which has come to supersede ‘nature’ as the term of choice since the onset of this crisis obscures much of the meaning that was once inherent in the conception of the natural world. Various literary critics have focused on the significance of the loss of the word nature, citing in particular its coincidence with the disenchantment of the natural and the consequent exploitative practices that have led to the plight of the environment (see Marx). Within this context literature emerges as an important tool not only for drawing attention to specific environmental concerns and powerful imaginings of the future consequences of such practices but, moreover, as a forum for reconnecting with some of the lost meaning previously intrinsically connected to the concept of nature. One such literary example is Patrick Ness’s young adult novel A Monster Calls which, although not primarily concerned with environmental issues, evokes interesting thoughts on nature by embodying it as an ancient, shape-shifting monster which comes walking in the modern day world in the form of a yew tree. The monster, which comes to help an isolated thirteen-year-old boy, Conor O’Mally, confront his feelings about losing his mother from cancer in the absence of any other familial or social support, can be argued to represent a return to older mythic relations with nature as well as highlighting the disconnectedness which pervades modern society, a disconnectedness from nature which extends to a lack of connection between people.

Continue reading Stephanie Dabrowski On Nature and Connectedness in A Monster Calls

Louis Roux on Nine Inch Nails and the Politics of the Apocalypse

Living in the End Times: Year Zero and the Politics of the Apocalypse – Louis Roux

Introduction

To say that Nine Inch Nails is a band is a bit of a misnomer: it is in fact the brainchild of one artist, Trent Reznor, who writes all of the lyrics, composes most of the music and plays most of the instruments. Coming mostly from a single artist, then, it is easy to see a unified vision in the albums that are for the most part concept albums, following direct story lines. The Downward Spiral (1995), for instance, tells the story of a man descending into madness and isolation, building an emotional wall between him and everything else. The Fragile (2005), released a decade later, follows on this album by exploring the consequences of tearing down this wall.

Year Zero (2007) takes place in the year 2022. After an unprovoked atomic attack by the USA on the Middle East, and the resultant conflicts and terrorist attacks on American soil, the world is in chaos. Global warming has reached crisis point and the weather has become more destructive than ever, especially after the nuclear holocaust. Resource scarcity is the biggest factor in international warfare. The American government has clamped down and renamed the year to year zero, the year America was ‘reborn’. Elections are no longer free, the draft has been instituted and there are tranquilizers called Parepin in the water supply to keep the populace calm. The most powerful authority is the U.S. Bureau of Morality, an NSA-like organization that keeps tabs on the people, apparently to combat terrorism, but also abducting, interrogating, torturing and executing dissenters, communists, homosexuals, Muslims, and any other ‘deviants’, under the auspices of an extreme version of the Patriot Act. Reports and rumours about ‘the Presence’, a ghostly hand reaching down from the sky, are beginning to circulate and no-one is sure whether it is God, aliens, a weather phenomenon or the hallucinatory effects of the medication in the water. The album shows, in my view, that ecological disaster can never be divorced from political, religious, class or gender concerns, and although much of the album focusses on technology, religion, violence and imperialism, it is always against the backdrop of a ruined earth.

Year Zero is the first Nine Inch Nails album to have an overt political message, and its story is also much looser, following several characters instead of the usual lone protagonist. What makes Year Zero truly special, though, is its use of an Alternate Reality Game (ARG) for promotion, allowing listeners to become directly involved in the story of Year Zero through websites, secret codes hidden in merchandise, USB flashdrives dropped at strategic locations at concerts and other interactive materials. This makes the story of the album highly personalized for every user, since no-one will follow the same chronology. Due to the fluid, transient nature of the ARG, I will not try to follow the plot, or to construct a specific storyline, I will rather isolate motifs, themes, phrases, characters and other aesthetic elements from the album and its associated media and subject them to a close reading. In short, I will not be analysing the work as one would a traditional novel, but rather as a rhizomatic,[1] open-ended artwork. It is difficult to grasp, to tame, but all the more valuable for that: if the rhizomatic creates confusion in the ‘normal’ homogenous order of things, it also creates the space for dissent and rebellion in the gaps left by that confusion – spaces that Year Zero makes full use of. I will enter the work through the songs and attempt to link them to some of the websites and other media found in Appendix A, Exhibit 24,[2] a collection of many of the websites and other media, collected as evidence against someone only known as [SUBJECT CLASSIFIED].

Continue reading Louis Roux on Nine Inch Nails and the Politics of the Apocalypse

The missing R’s: The ideology of recycling

The missing R’s: The ideology of recycling and waste management in consumerist culture

– Taryn Bernard

Like many cultural practices, recycling has deep historical and ideological roots. As a modern practice, recycling originated in America in the 1970s when there was growing awareness of environmental issues and a strong uprising of environmentalist activists who later coined the 3 R’s: “reduce, reuse, and recycle”.  In contemporary globalised and consumerist society, recycling is framed as a way to protect the environment, a “moral” activity, but also a trendy one – a middle-class and elitist activity, ranked high on the “hip hierarchy” along with purchasing organic products from weekend farmers’ markets. Deconstructing the act of recycling might look like this: search out the arrowed triangle, and once the stamped product has been consumed, sort through your waste and throw it in the appropriate bag for collection. But the activities of “searching” and “sorting” don’t seem to curb production, nor do they prompt us to reduce consumption, two variables fundamental to the neoliberal capitalist system, to the continued dominance of big businesses and to environmental degradation. The “recyclable” stamp is not only a contemporary sign, but a modern myth so steeped in cultural ideologies and practices that it’s hard for us to recognise it as such.

According to Barthes, the sign derives its value from its surrounding context. On a macro-level, we understand the sign in a consumerist context. On a micro-level, individual instances of the sign contextualise and frame our interpretation of it. When situated on a consumable product, the recycling sign tells us “this company cares”. When visible in their corporate social responsibility report, the company says “we are doing good things” and “the corporate citizen is a moral citizen.” Cloaked in the green robe of sustainable development, neoliberal corporations appropriate environmental discourse of the 70s and declare their love for the environment, while simultaneously whispering “most profit for the least cost”. Companies clean up the environment, engage in “waste management projects”, because dirt and waste bottleneck their economic growth, not because they want greener pastures, and this leads to the production of more waste. The politics and rhetoric of recycling merely mask the problems of overproduction, overconsumption and resource-depletion, all of which can be addressed by the first two R’s – reduce and reuse –  and by halting the production and consumption process, rather than simply disguising negative externalities with modern recycling processes.

Recycle_Logo_copy

Conspicuous Destruction

– Dr Megan Jones

When we think of waste, we imagine opportunities missed, lives ruined or environments polluted. “What a waste” we say, and we mean despair, destruction, desolation. Eliot’s clean, austere lines, the “vacant lots” of the dying city, shape our words in the throat. Rarely does waste conjure economies of affect or resilience, or the possibilities of forging counter-publics. For Achille Mbembe, the neo-liberal pursuits of post-apartheid South Africa have exacerbated the production of poor bodies as socially elided detritus, set adrift in no-man’s lands between the spectacle of consumption and rigorously defended privatization. In a landscape of excess —excess wealth, excess consumerism, excess security— the poor are rendered admissible, and so they remain below the horizon of social visibility. But what are the ways in which we think about waste as a means of articulation? How might waste offer opportunities to pressurise the distribution of wealth and well-being in South Africa and beyond?

I want to linger briefly on recent images of waste surfacing in urban communities in Mumbai and Johannesburg. Go to Youtube and watch Nandos’ recent ads, and you’ll see how the company has appropriated the stylings of izikhothane, a youth practice emerging from Johannesburg’s townships. Izikhothane’s participants, mostly men, burn expensive clothes and designer goods in a display of apparent indifference to the commodity. The idea behind this performance of wastefulness is that one has so much, one needs nothing—we might call it conspicuous destruction. Responses in the media and public discourse online have been scandalised; how dare people with so little behave in this way. What the responses miss is how practices like izikhothane push for a presence in the public domain and resist invisibility. Is there is a limit to which modes of consumption are able to provide their practitioners with agency? Yes, of course. Its appropriation by Nandos signals exactly the triumph of exchange value. Burning clothes and cars will not shift structures of power and privilege. Nonetheless, the reaching for presence that izikhothane attempts has rich symbolic and psychic value.

Refuse and Refuge

Published last year, Katherine Boo’s book Behind the Beautiful Forevers charts the difficulties endured by the Hussain family in the slum of Annawadi, located next to Mumbai’s expanding international airport.  The airport is a sleek symbol of India’s economic successes; the inhabitants of Annawadi survive by picking through its piles of discarded junk. On one level, the book is about the vast inequalities shaping the city’s spaces and the social and political injustices this often produces. Yet there is another facet to these lives lived through and in waste. The focaliser of the book is the Hussain’s eldest son, Abdul, who makes a living as a collector and seller of waste. Let’s not sentimentalise: Abdul dreams of escape from the slum’s desperate conditions – filth, disease, crowding, persecution by the authorities. But waste is also the site of his resilience and aspiration, is a cage and a refuge. Thus Boo asks us to read the inhabitants of Annawadi not only as victims but also as actors, and the waste-filled landscapes of their homes as home.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers

The value of waste

– Dr Tilla Slabbert

Ten years ago I moved to a small coastal village in the Western Cape where I now live within walking distance from the beach. One of the rituals that came to form part of my life is a diligent gathering of washed-up and discarded garbage whenever I walk the dogs. For most of these years, my immediate neighbour was a seventy something Dutch man who immigrated to South Africa in the late 1950s. I say was, because he sadly passed away less than a year ago. Jan was a real character; a positive and vibrant man who managed to banish one’s own fears of growing older. A true raconteur, he could capture his audience with colourful anecdotes, always ending on a humorous note. He used to laugh heartily at his own jokes. Two years ago, Jan and his wife sold their house and moved to another part of town. In packing up—and to my great disgust—he promptly dumped a load of unwanted waste across the road amongst the fynbos; in the vicinity of one of the footpaths leading to the beach. Broken garden tools, old buckets, a huge fifty gallon drum, and other junk littered the area. My partner and I later removed most of the garbage, but the drum, filled with bags of dog poop, we left behind for the time being, intending to collect it at a later stage, once the stench has faded a little.

Life carries on, one postpones, and after a few months the drum was covered by the resilient vegetation.  Two weeks after his birthday, and the day before his death, I had the honour of hugging Jan’s tall but faded body for the final time.

Recently the municipality removed some of the rooikrans in the neighbourhood and the hacking once again exposed the drum. It now lay rusted and eroded. Walking past it the other day, I thought: Jan is gone, the drum remains. I suddenly realised how self-righteous and selfish one can be when you become selective about what seems precious. Inorganic waste supposedly outlives humans, but could it not serve a purpose when it unearths nostalgia about those no longer visible? Or does it merely become valuable because it has been aestheticized by time? Once it has acquired a kind of weathered appearance, faintly resembling its previous form, like the murky outlines of a memory. The reflection brought another of Jan’s tales to mind.

During his youth on their farm in Holland, he was kicked in the face by a horse, losing all his teeth; he ended up wearing dentures before he turned twenty. On his arrival in South Africa (by ship), he was so pleased with the sight of Cape Town in the distance that he cheered madly, knocking his own dentures from his mouth. The set promptly plonked overboard and disappeared beneath the waters of Table Bay. As I stood staring at the rusty drum, I imagined hearing the teeth clicking with muffled laughter, lolling about somewhere at the bottom of the Atlantic. I envisaged them covered with nettle and sea slugs or swaying gently beneath the flux of oceanic silt: out of sight. On the other hand, perhaps there is a sea nymph somewhere on a rock, grinning widely and knowingly at those huge fishing trawlers, harvesting their loot.


1-IMG_2914 1-IMG_2915

Waste, ideology and nature – blog assignment #1

The theme of our first blogging assignment is waste and who better to introduce the subject than Slavoj Žižek. In the following video clip, Žižek discusses “the ecological problematic” by considering the ideological dimensions of waste and nature:

Remember the ideal length for your written piece is between 300-500 words and it can be creative or critical. Please try to include at least one image (more than 700 pixels wide).

A garbage dump near Johannesburg

Philip Aghoghovwia on Nnimmo Bassey’s We thought it was oil but it was blood

Poetry and Activism as (New) Modes of Eco/Environmental Inflections in Nnimmo Bassey’s We thought it was oil but it was blood – Philip Aghoghovwia

In We thought it was oil but it was blood Nnimmo Bassey walks through a thin line between poetic commitment and socioenvironmental activism in bringing into the public sphere issues of sociocultural and environmental justice. The poetry collection carries the tone of subversion and defiance and the mood of anger provoked by a deep sense of denial, a collective deprivation of the people from access to the commonwealth which the oil brings. And the environment too, which suffers pollution as a result of mindless drilling of pipes into what he calls “mother earth”. Bassey creates a text that is at best poetic activism and at worst an environmental rights manifesto. His call for environmental justice at this conjuncture of on-going conversations on climate change indicts the oil extractive industry. The anthology, which Vanessa Baird describes as “dedicated to campaigning for environmental justice” (39), is a creative effort to capitalise on Bassey’s already established stature as an environmental rights activist. He poetically draws attention to corporate lawlessness and environmental crimes inflicted on local landscapes that bear fossil fuel for the oil extraction industry. His account of these spaces of environmental scrubland in the oil industry is concrete, for he has travelled throughout these parts to see first-hand how oil and other big businesses have destroyed local landscapes.

Continue reading Philip Aghoghovwia on Nnimmo Bassey’s We thought it was oil but it was blood

First reading of 2013 – The Natural Contract (1990) by Michel Serres

the-natural-contract

Welcome back to the members of our reading group. The first reading for 2013 consists of two chapters from Michel Serres’ book, The Natural Contract (1990). If any of our blog readers know Serres’ work or has read this book specifically, share you thoughts in the comments below.

Here is the blurb from the publisher’s website:

“Global environmental change, argues Michel Serres, has forced us to reconsider our relationship to nature. In this translation of his influential 1990 book Le Contrat Naturel, Serres calls for a natural contract to be negotiated between Earth and its inhabitants.

World history is often referred to as the story of human conflict. Those struggles that are seen as our history must now include the uncontrolled violence that humanity perpetrates upon the earth, and the uncontrollable menace to human life posed by the earth in reaction to this violence. Just as a social contract once brought order to human relations, Serres believes that we must now sign a “natural contract” with the earth to bring balance and reciprocity to our relations with the planet that gives us life. Our survival depends on the extent to which humans join together and act globally, on an earth now conceived as an entity.

Tracing the ancient beginnings of modernity, Serres examines the origins and possibilities of a natural contract through an extended meditation on the contractual foundations of law and science. By invoking a nonhuman, physical world, Serres asserts, science frees us from the oppressive confines of a purely social existence, but threatens to become a totalitarian order in its own right. The new legislator of the natural contract must bring science and law into balance.

Serres ends his meditation by retelling the story of the natural contract as a series of parables. He sees humanity as a spacecraft that with the help of science and technology has cast off from familiar moorings. In place of the ties that modernity and analytic reason have severed, we find a network of relations both stranger and stronger than any we once knew, binding us to one another and to the world. The philosopher’s harrowing and joyous task, Serres tells us, is that of comprehending and experiencing the bonds of violence and love that unite us in our spacewalk to the spaceship Mother Earth.”

Petrie Meyer on Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide

Selling Nature to Humanists and Humanity to Environmentalists: Existence and Co-existence  in Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide

Petrie Meyer, University of Stellenbosch

Smile O voluptuous cool-breath’d earth!

Earth of the slumbering and liquid trees!

Earth of departed sunset—earth of the mountains misty-topt!

Earth of the vitreous pour of the full moon just tinged with blue!

Earth of shine and dark mottling the tide of the river!

Earth of the limpid gray of clouds brighter and clearer for my sake!

Far-swooping elbow’d earth—rich apple-blossom’d earth!

Smile, for your lover comes.

-Walt Whitman – Song of Myself

The indeterminate, fluid space of the Sundarbans in southern Bangladesh, where land and sea constantly yield to each other in a daily, elemental cycle, is the space Amitav Ghosh chooses to situate his 2005 novel, The Hungry Tide. This river delta, consisting of innumerable islands which appear and disappear according to the whims of tides and seasons, “a terrain where the boundaries between land and water are always mutating, always unpredictable” (18), is a landscape in which the sea, the river, the land, humans and animals all co-exist – sometimes in harmony, but often in competition. Within this space Ghosh, with the same beautiful sensitivity and balance with which he brings together cultures in An Antique Land, presents an environmental issue which has come to be recognized as one of the fundamental problem areas in conservationism – an issue Robert Cribb calls the “acute conflict” between conservation and human rights (Huggan and Tiffin, 4). In this conflict, a battle line has come to be been drawn between environmentally conscious groups fighting on the side of non-human nature, and human-rights groups on the side of the poor, the dispossessed and underdeveloped peoples of the world, with precious little middle ground  being acknowledged by either side. The Hungry Tide, with its complex mixture of people and landscape, steps into this conflict with an implied plea for moderation to both sides – a plea for the acknowledgement and understanding of the plight of the poor by environmentalists, and that of animals and nature by human-rights groups. To achieve this, Ghosh uses human history, human relationships and the desperation of human survival in a hostile natural environment to highlight the ‘humane’ in humanity and remind environmentalists of their own human nature, and myth and descriptions of the landscape, together with the plight of the endangered Ganges dolphin and tiger, to highlight the elemental, beautiful and fragile in Nature, in that way reaching out to the innate sense of connection that humans have with nature.

Continue reading Petrie Meyer on Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide