TITLE: The Fall of the Wild: Extinction, De-extinction, & the Ethics of Conservation
AUTHOR: Ben A. Minteer
EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE:
4 December 2018
FORMAT: ARC ebook
NOTE: I received an Advanced Readers Copy of this book from NetGalley. This review is my honest opinion of the book.
"The passenger pigeon, the great auk, the Tasmanian tiger—the memory of these vanished species haunts the fight against extinction. Seeking to save other creatures from their fate in an age of accelerating biodiversity loss, wildlife advocates have become captivated by a narrative of heroic conservation efforts. A range of technological and policy strategies, from the traditional, such as regulations and refuges, to the novel—the scientific wizardry of genetic engineering and synthetic biology—seemingly promise solutions to the extinction crisis.
In The Fall of the Wild, Ben A. Minteer calls for reflection on the ethical dilemmas of species loss and recovery in an increasingly human-driven world. He asks an unsettling but necessary question: Might our well-meaning efforts to save and restore wildlife pose a threat to the ideal of preserving a world that isn’t completely under the human thumb? Minteer probes the tension between our impulse to do whatever it takes and the risk of pursuing strategies that undermine our broader commitment to the preservation of wildness. From collecting wildlife specimens for museums and the wilderness aspirations of zoos to visions of “assisted colonization” of new habitats and high-tech attempts to revive long-extinct species, he explores the scientific and ethical concerns vexing conservation today. The Fall of the Wild is a nuanced treatment of the deeper moral issues underpinning the quest to save species on the brink of extinction and an accessible intervention in debates over the principles and practice of nature conservation."
This book focuses on the ethics, pros and cons, of a variety of conservation methods. Ben Minteer makes use of several popular examples to make his point. Examples and topics that make an appearance in this book include the Passenger Pigeon, Great Auk, Thylacine, Elephants, American Bison, Condors, specimen collecting of marginal species, captive breeding programmes, the future appearance of zoos (think Jurassic Park without the dinosaurs), species translocation, assisted colonization of endeangered species outside their usual range, resurrection science, and the limits of technological "fixes" to problems.
What the author has tried to promote in this book is an alternative environmental ethic, what he calls "pragmatic preservationism". This concept captures two core ideas regarding conservation" (1) the growing need to intervene more aggressively to save species in a rapidly changing environment; and (2) an acknowledgement of our resonsibility to preseve a convincing sense of the wild and a respect for nature as we implement (or not) these interventions.
While this isn't a particularly original or detailed examination of the topic, it does make for an interesting, well-written, thought-provoking, enjoyable and short introduction to conservation ethics, with no irrelevant biographical side tangents.
I'm now going to allow myself to see this film, now that I've read the entire book, including the redemption/change final chapter that was so gallingly removed from the US versions for so long. I've never seen Kubrick's film because I knew I wanted to read the book first. This is marked as "dystopia" and I'm having a bit of trouble differentiating it from regular old life.. Not sure what that says about me.
For some reason the entire time I read this - from the very first scene, I kept thinking "what if these were girls?," "What if Alex was an Alexa?" (or just a female Alex, actually.) Every section I saw both the way Burgess wrote it and then I'd sit back and wonder how it would be perceived if the narrator was female. Would this be a classic novel if Alex was a 17/18-year-old girl? And what would we think of the Ludovico technique if it was used on a girl? I mean, we do use this technique - not exactly, but some very similar techniques, for various reasons still (as troublesome as that is.) I'll let you all play that little gender game on your own, but I couldn't stop doing it (which is sort of maddening, actually.)
I've only read two other books by Anthony Burgess (Earthly Powers and A Dead Man in Deptford.) From what I've read, he could probably easily have written this with a female narrator - he was versatile. His introduction to this corrected American edition is pretty awesome all by itself, and he shares that this is not one of his favorite works.
I'm actually just sort of gobsmacked by this novel. I have no idea how much I liked or disliked it. I don't know that I felt like or dislike, but I'm really really glad to have read this story because it's just amazingly original -- despite having read many rip-offs, and the ethical questions are overwhelming. I'll be puzzling through them for quite some time, actually.
I'm glad the final chapter was included in the version I bought (I'd been trying to buy it for a while and kept ending up w/ old copies that lacked the final metanoia.) I've had a period of life-change come from pure exhaustion myself. I wasn't murdering people, but I was not doing good things either. There is a point when the trouble to make trouble (for oneself or others) actually can just be too much.
Oh, I have so many thoughts on this & I'm too beat to write more tonight. I wanted a place-holder b/c I finished another book too, and this needs to come before it in my blog. I'll try to rent the film by next week, & maybe I'll amend this with a book/film review.
Description: This book aims to make an earnest endeavor to reconcile the different aspects and realms of the cosmos. It is a compendium of original philosophical ideas presented in the most practical way. From comprehensively defining God - De-cluttering the disarray that surrounds it to classifying human nature , categorizing instinctual behavior of individuals and elaborating pertinent theories and proposing new ones - this book beautifully touches upon all those aspects with simplicity and clarity. The book also gives ample illustrations to make concepts clear and tangible. Focusing on Morality and virtue, it explains logically as to why that is the best choice there is for individuals - systematically proving the same. It explains righteousness in the light of several theories including the Karma theory.
It also compares and contrasts - logic, instinct and intuition and the validity of each of those under different circumstances. The author also speaks of the importance of progressive thinking and lucidly explains aspects like evolution of the soul.
To quote Socrates - " All right conduct depends on clear knowledge, that not only does the definition of a virtue aids us in acquiring that virtue, but also that the definition of the virtue is the virtue." This book is an attempt at doing just that.
The Animators struck a deep chord with me on two levels: as an artist and as best friend to a fellow artist. If you are either, you'll likely love this novel as I did.
Funny and engaging from the first page, The Animators starts with our narrator, Sharon, in college, where she meets the charismatic Mel Vaught. Both are aspiring animators who are into the same shit and share an aesthetic; both come from poor, rural southern U.S. backgrounds. Many of us in the arts could identify that time when we learn we're not actually outsiders, that others share our interests; college tends to be a place where we find our tribe.
But this is not a novel about being a college arts student. The narrative quickly brings us to a present where Sharon and Mel have made a successful indie animated feature that centers on Mel's life. They live together in New York City. Mel drinks and does a lot of drugs; she's the life of the party. Sharon...is not. She spends a lot of time and emotions angsting over her latest romantic interest, of which there are many.
Tension develops between the two, much of it, from Sharon's perspective, owing to Mel's lifestyle. There's a blowout, followed by a shocking, life-altering health crisis for one of them. It's a reset that leads them on a path to mining Sharon's childhood for their next project. This raises very real questions artists face about using their lives in their art in ways that may hurt loved ones. I wasn't quite satisfied by the resolution to this issue, but I appreciated its being seriously considered.
This book excels at depicting partnerships between women, their working lives as artists, and craft. The prose is engaging, the characters vivid, and there are some heartbreaking and harrowing moments. Even if you're not an artist or friends with one, I can't imagine Whitaker's (first!) novel not winning you over from page one.