Collapsing Consciously: Transformative Truths for Turbulent Times was written by Carolyn Baker and published by North Atlantic Books a few weeks ago. Baker’s seventh book is a reasoned, reasonable follow-up to Sacred Demise and Navigating the Coming Chaos.
Collapsing Consciously delivers its message in a compact, tightly edited 175 pages. The book is pleasantly devoid of distracting grammatical or editorial errors. Actually, the book’s message is delivered within the initial 109 pages, which are followed by 52 weekly meditations. Each of the meditations is preceded by a relevant quote (e.g., “Crisis is the time for truth,” from Chellis Glendinning).
The book takes the reader on an emotional and psychological journey. As a result, the journey will be uncomfortable for most Americans. After spending our early years in K-12 indoctrination facilities, we graduate into the incarceration camp known as industrial civilization. Few spend any time or effort contemplating their own roles in the universe. For the most part, teaching and learning focus on skills that further the ongoing omnicide, not intrapersonal intelligence that might lead to personal contentment or a decent sense of community. As a result, one of the two primary audiences for this book is the individual unfamiliar with the concept of intrapersonal intelligence.
The second major audience I envision for this book is the person relatively new to the notion of collapse. Because Americans surely lead the world in ignorance and denial, this book has great appeal to the masses. I know only a handful of people willing to seek broad-scale knowledge or personal introspection, much less both phenomena.
I can pick nits, of course. Baker foresees a continuation of the relentless grinding down of industrial civilization, as well as a long period of human recovery after collapse is complete. For example, Baker wonders “what kind of culture we will construct from the rubble of this one.” Considering the virtually certain near-term demise of our species, Baker’s concern about “centuries of … domination by the shadow” (aka patriarchy) in the wake of collapse seems quite optimistic. Rather, as she points out in the following sentence, “we must … confront patriarchy whenever it attempts to ‘rein us in’ and carry out its hostile takeovers.” Sadly, we’re several millennia too late to rein in patriarchy. Ergo, our dire straits.
On the other hand, Collapsing Consciously goes beyond the typically arrogant perspective of humanism by drawing attention to the consequences of industrial civilization for non-industrialized humans and non-human species. The associated treatment of these topics is relatively light, which is consistent with this relatively brief treatment that is instead focused on introspection.
Minor quibbles aside, Baker’s treatment is broadly consistent with the perspective I have reached within the last 18 months or so. For example, in a chapter titled, “Hospice Workers for the World” is found this final sentence: “Make death your ally in order to more passionately savor your life and to become a more skilled hospice worker for the world.” It’s a great finale to a fine chapter.
In summary, I recommend Collapsing Consciously, especially for the very large number of people who have avoided the topic of collapse or the process of personal introspection. Unfortunately, people in the latter group deny they’ve avoided introspection or, worse, believe the journey of knowing themselves has reached completion (in which case, sadly, it probably has). Further, many of the ignorant in both groups have selected ignorance as the path to personal bliss.
My latest essay for The Good Men Project was posted Monday, 28 October 2013: Protecting the Common Good.
Thanks to ulvfugl for pointing out a technical fix to the problem of the disappearing comments: “I’m using Chrome browser. Go to top right corner, click three horizontal bars, says ‘new incognito window’, get NBL, and everything is immediately updated. Can’t advise for any other browsers, but I assume it’s something to do with cookies and being tracked, etc, because being anonymous fixes it.”