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Looking at how scientists like Andrew Weaver, James Hansen, Stephen Schneider (and, more recently featured on ES, Mike Hulme) have ventured on to the public scene (with their general audience books) and have also had to “dig into” domains other than what their academic position titles denote, one finds reason to argue that these are all examples of deconstructing

1) disciplinarity (e.g., climate scientists going into economics, energy production), and
2) the idea of science, and academic scholarship in general, as a social-political recluse.

Are the above Western incarnations of the Confucian scholar-official concept, where those who have knowledge also have the social obligation to participate in the management of the state?

More interestingly, is the epistemological fluidity parallel to and independent of, or even licensed by the contemporaneous ubiquity of communication technologies?

Even more curiously, are these epistemological flows simultaneously a symptom of and a conduit for the flattening of hierarchical societal structures, which have been the norm for most of recorded history?

Ultimately, what part of the processes at work is expressible/perceivable through overt discourse? And what part belongs to a kind of “collective non-conscious” channeling human history, theorized more or less indirectly through concepts like Aristotle’s–Bourdieu’s “habitus”, Cornelius Castoriadis’s “imaginary”, and I’d tag likewise what underlies the Peircean a priori (what-feels-right) method of attaining to belief/resolving doubt?

previous ES post on McLuhan: Does the McLuhan itch persist at 99?

A York University event: Douglas Copeland and B. W. Powe in conversation about everything McLuhan, and in particular, his 2009 biography by Copeland (which is quite a read to experience, playing with layout, text, genres…, in Copeland’s suitably customized signature style; but more importantly, unfolding an ecosonically “related” view of the McLuhan bio scene)

What gave this blog its title is a quote from the book Powe highlighted–it really presents (to my knowledge & mind) the most generous and (hopefully) rewarding interpretation of what McLuhan’s message and its medium were/are about.

This is how the YorkU community gives campus directions when you ask!!!
[hand of Steve, hand-drawn map by same; shaky hand taking photo mine–was in a rush, and only made it on time for the beginning because sb got snow-bound]

The book titled (frugally or/but right on, depending on the p.o.v.) Marshall McLuhan, in the appropriately named Series “Extraordinary Canadians”, is to be published by Atlas & Company in March 2011 in the US as “Marshall McLuhan: You Know Nothing of my Work!”

The American title uses part of the lines prof McLuhan-as-himself utters in Woody Allen’s movie Annie Hall. But IMHO he also says something much more mcluhan: “you mean my whole fallacy’s wrong? …”

youtube credit: drkatzjr27 | July 29, 2009

I say “utters” because he comes across somewhat un-McLuhan compared to so many recordings of him: see&hear for yourselves–re hot & cool media; ecological responsibility for effects of technology; prophecies, etc.–from the site built with the participation of one of his daughters, Stephanie McLuhan (credit for the reference: McLuhan Legacy Network).

The pleasure is both the e-publishers’ and the viewers’, I’d expect; one can see-hear what they mean by saying that McLuhan took after his “piece of works” actress-elocutionist mother, Elsie Naomi McLuhan (née Hall).

Note that climate scientist Mike Hulme‘s book is a view from the University of East Anglia. Chronologically preceding the CRU (apologies for quoting the monikin) “climategate”, just before the Copenhagen Summit in December of that year, 2009.

Why We Disagree About Climate Change:

Understanding Controversy, Inaction and Opportunity

Publisher’s description:

Climate change is not ‘a problem’ waiting for ‘a solution’. It is an environmental, cultural and political phenomenon which is re-shaping the way we think about ourselves, our societies and humanity’s place on Earth. Drawing upon twenty-five years of professional work as an international climate change scientist and public commentator, Mike Hulme provides a unique insider’s account of the emergence of this phenomenon and the diverse ways in which it is understood. He uses different standpoints from science, economics, faith, psychology, communication, sociology, politics and development to explain why we disagree about climate change. In this way he shows that climate change, far from being simply an ‘issue’ or a ‘threat’, can act as a catalyst to revise our perception of our place in the world. Why We Disagree About Climate Change is an important contribution to the ongoing debate over climate change and its likely impact on our lives.

10 pages excerpted from Chapter 1 (grace a U of Cambridge Press “look inside”)

The Social Meanings of Climate Change

CC sociology articles by him:

Cosmopolitan Climates: hybridity, foresight and meaning


Disciplines, geography and gender in the framing of climate change

(2010, collaboration between 2 U East Anglia and 2 U of Melbourne scientists)

Climate Change: what do we know about the IPCC?

(2010, with Martin Mahony)

AND another UCP book, edited by Bjørn Lomborg, Copenhagen Business School

Smart Solutions to Climate Change:

Comparing Costs and Benefits

Publisher’s description:

The failure of the Copenhagen climate conference in December 2009 revealed major flaws in the way the world’s policy makers have attempted to prevent dangerous levels of increases in global temperatures. The expert authors in this specially commissioned collection focus on the likely costs and benefits of a very wide range of policy options, including geo-engineering, mitigation of CO2, methane and ‘black carbon’, expanding forest, research and development of low-carbon energy and encouraging green technology transfer. For each policy, authors outline all of the costs, benefits and likely outcomes, in fully referenced, clearly presented chapters accompanied by shorter, critical alternative perspectives. To further stimulate debate, a panel of economists, including three Nobel laureates, evaluate and rank the attractiveness of the policies. This authoritative and thought-provoking book will challenge readers to form their own conclusions about the best ways to respond to global warming.

More re the Navajo Beauty Walk Prayer:

Many variations on the web, but judging by the overlaps, the core of the traditional prayer seems to remain:
beauty before me
beauty behind me
beauty above me
beauty below me
beauty all around me

A fuller version below:

In beauty may I walk.
All day long may I walk.
Through the returning seasons may I walk.
Beautifully will I possess again.
Beautifully birds . . .
Beautifully joyful birds
On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.
With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk.
With dew about my feet may I walk.
With beauty may I walk.
With beauty before me, may I walk.
With beauty behind me, may I walk.
With beauty above me, may I walk.
With beauty below me, may I walk.
With beauty all around me, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk.
It is finished in beauty.
It is finished in beauty.

(A Navajo Indian Prayer of the Second Day of the Night Chant–anonymous)


Cross-cultural ecosonance site:

More research:
Back in December 2010, I came across a 5-year project for a university-level program. Learn in Beauty Navajo Nation Project (1995-2000)
(Contact: Northern Arizona University)

So looking for(ward to) the continuation–in beauty 🙂


January 2011


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