- Books: Wild – An elemental journey
- Wild: An Elemental Journey
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- Wild: An Elemental Journey by Jay Griffiths
For light sleepers, it might provide a life-changing wakeup call. Griffiths was born in deepest, darkest England, a devastated island that was once a magnificent rainforest. She was blessed with the precious curse and gift of having an active mind. She excelled at asking penetrating questions that were not proper for young ladies or lads to ask. The wardens were not amused. During her teen years, she hung out with fundamentalist Christians, but what they were teaching could not survive rational scrutiny, and her mind was highly allergic to blind faith.
Painful clashes inspired her to run away. She abandoned the normal life for which she had been trained. I never regretted it. One day, the phone rang, and a friend invited her to Peru, where she could hang out with shamans, use powerful medicine, and recover her lost soul. So she did, and it worked. The heavy black clouds soon dispersed. She spent the next seven years working on her book, travelling from the Amazon to New Guinea, Australia, and Arctic Canada.
We routinely teach our children that wild people are primitive, and that their way of life is inferior and undesirable. In so doing, we erect a brick wall that prohibits fresh wild notions from flushing the crud out of our wheezing, slobbering imaginations. Griffiths understands that the brick wall must be smashed, for the sake of all life.
Her mind is a sledgehammer. She takes us on visits to wild ecosystems that stood in the path of the all-devouring global economy. She listened to the wild people, in a caring and respectful manner, hearing their pain, rage, and despair. They had a healthy way of life before the invasion. They needed nothing from us.
They simply wanted to be left alone. She took long treks through the jungle with wild people who possessed immense knowledge of the plants and animals. They perceived that all flora and fauna have spirits except for domesticated plants. They saw that all wild beings were animated by the same life force, but different species appeared in different forms.
We were all equal. After days of hiking through a perfectly healthy land, a treasure of abundant life, they stumbled upon the town of Maldonado, the cash economy, the modern world — electric lights, pop music, abundant booze and drugs, discarded syringes, splatters of puke, and overflowing outhouses.
Everyone seemed to be mad. The surface of Mars is better known to us than the floor of our oceans. The underwater world is a realm of immense beauty, and diversity. Cetaceans, like whales and dolphins, are incredibly intelligent, and they live in an incredibly intelligent manner, exactly as evolution prepared them to live, wild and free, without technology a brilliant strategy for long-term success.
The ocean is a place where primates have little business, beyond the shoreline. Civilized primates have become abusive, ravaging the sea life, and filling the waters with toxins, sewage, garbage, and noise. Climate change is making the oceans so acidic that catastrophic harm now seems very likely. Missionaries were high on the list of people that Griffiths most resented, because their mission was to destroy wild cultures, and convert wild people into literate, employed, Christian consumers.
In Peru, four different missionary groups, using helicopters and speed boats, competed to find uncontacted tribes. In some places, half of the people died within two years of their arrival. The priests blamed female shamans for the illness, and the angry people killed the shamans. Common gifts for the converts included axes, tobacco, clothing, and mirrors. Mirrors enabled people to see their own faces, and become more aware of their individuality.
Jesus saved individuals, not communities. Missionaries built roads into the jungle, which were soon used by miners, loggers, and other destroyers. Separated from the family of life, the modern heart gets hard. Missionaries forced the natives to surrender their sacred objects, which they burned. Within two generations, traditional knowledge becomes extinct, because it is no longer being passed down to the young, who spend their days in classrooms. Cultural genocide is emotionally shattering. In one Brazilian tribe, over natives committed suicide. In Australia, the invasion of civilization has been devastating for the Aborigines and their home, but the elders maintain a sense of patience, for the noxious cities are nothing more than ugly scabs.
Whites have never possessed the spirit of the land, which remains alive beneath the parking lots and shopping centers.
Books: Wild – An elemental journey
With time, the disease will pass; the land will heal and thrive once again, to the best of its ability. Humans are not domesticated, we are genetically wild animals, but so many have been tamed. So what? If we cannot find a way to return to our humble place in the family of life, we will have no future. Jul 24, M rated it did not like it Shelves: abandoned. Twenty pages in, I decided that this was utterly unreadable. Will not finish it. View 2 comments. Jan 27, Dan rated it liked it. This book exhibits strong language and sexual references and my review contains one example of that towards the end.
Although I apologise for any offence this may cause, I believe it is necessary to meet this author on her own ground, as I hope will become clear as you read on. In her teens Jay Griffiths had an experience of a strongly co This book exhibits strong language and sexual references and my review contains one example of that towards the end. In her teens Jay Griffiths had an experience of a strongly conservative form of Christianity that left deep scars.
It is hard to tell from her brief description pp. Like many who are wounded in this way, she has a very strong but incomplete and therefore inaccurate picture of what Christianity is. Sadly much of what she suspects is then reinforced by her encounters with other fundamentalist Christians as she travels to different parts of the world. Seeing first hand much of the tragedies brought about by the spread of Europeans, including aggressive capitalists and missionaries sometimes in an unholy alliance , confirms her in her belief that it is a harmful faith. There are painful, essential conversations to be had here about the appropriateness of Christian interventions in other cultures.
We have — some of us — learned our lessons the hard way.
Others have learned nothing at all. The strength of this book is therefore also its weakness. Griffiths writes passionately. She is not afraid to take sides. But this wholeheartedness blinds her to some of the nuances that exist in the world as it is today.
Wild: An Elemental Journey
But this never amounts to a proper critique of Christianity, based as it is on supposition and lies. She therefore sabotages her own argument. For me this feeds two fears: first that the thundering machinery of ignorance and prejudice continues to desecrate the human spirit; second — and far more important — that the real evils of colonialism go unabated, for an ineffective challenge is as bad as no challenge at all. Griffiths is at her best — as most of us are — when she concentrates upon what she loves.
Her command of English is impressive: flowing, poetic, at times transcendent. She demonstrates that the flint-hard Saxon so often exiled from polite publication has its place and must not be ignored. She gives voice to the profundity and profanities of nature in so many of her manifestations, and I found myself transported time and again, scanning whole sections so that I can revel in the sensuous, vital, living power of her words.
She is hardest to take when she is attacking the things she hates, mostly because her weapon is a scattergun: everyone who looks like part of the problem — whether they are or not — is mown down. I think I saw Jesus among the dead. Where I believe her to be wrong is that wilderness and wildness is not a problem for those who follow Christ unless — and this is a human trait, we all do it — we make it one. Jesus went to the wilderness. He was even offered the opportunity to change it, to tame it, to bend it to his will — which he refused.
But the wilderness is frightening. Many of us shy back from it. The devil appears there, certainly, but more surely in the cities. For those of us who believe, Jesus is the face of one who, in love with the world, gives all he has.
These things can be from God however you choose to name them, and they are good. Yes, like their creator, who is also their lover. It is not about making everyone a sheep, it is about himself and his fierce passion, an intense fire. We see his image in the West Papuans who become heedless p. Where do we read of Jesus taming, or advocating the taming, of any creature? To whom indeed do those freedom fighters pray pp. Wild was a book that chose me: winking across a crowded library, causing me to change tack.
Endorsed by one of my favourite authors, Robert Macfarlane, I promised I would read it and have kept my promise. It has been one of the most profound, vital and difficult books I have ever read, and I will not be the same again. Jul 10, Maria rated it it was amazing Shelves: travel. It took me a year and a half to finish this, simply because I didn't want it to finish this book. It lay beside my bed as a Bible. I have swallowed every single phrase out of this book, chewed it and dived into extreme details, wishing that kids learn all this in geography classes.
The author uses great figurative language and if you are not a native speaker, you can learn so much from her. She uses words beautifully and has a coherent research for writing this novel. I awe her attempts to find It took me a year and a half to finish this, simply because I didn't want it to finish this book. I awe her attempts to find wilderness in the most remote places on Earth and elaborate on the destruction of wildlife by modern society. Nov 05, Angel Cowgirl rated it did not like it.
While I enjoyed the stories of her global travels and descriptions of other cultures and customs, I was intensely repelled by Ms. Griffiths has a way with words and can weave beautiful, poetic images… yet often resorts to crude slang. If you enjoy odd philosophical meanderings and radical ideologies, pseudo-intellectual eco-socialism, and scathing attacks on the moralism and ethics o While I enjoyed the stories of her global travels and descriptions of other cultures and customs, I was intensely repelled by Ms.
Feb 28, Sinead rated it it was ok. Wild - a very confusing story should be the title. I found the author jumped around alot in the book and although some of the description used in the book was very awe-inducing, I found that she repeated herself quite alot.
I did not finish this book because after a while I found her writing to be annoying and she was a little bit condescending and patronising. I can't remember being so turned off a book so quickly. It felt like it was written by a teenager. The essence of wildness in peyote! Aug 19, Maria Da rated it liked it. I've just recently finished reading this book - after eight months. I really laboured through it, and only finished it because I don't like starting a book and not finishing it.
It came highly recommended by someone I admire, but I have a few quibbles with it. Jay writes exquisitely, which I truly admire and envy her for. Please re-enter. You must select a newsletter to subscribe to. Sign Up. You will receive emails containing news content , updates and promotions from The New York Times. You may opt-out at any time.
Wild: An Elemental Journey by Jay Griffiths
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Can rollicking rhyme roll through our souls like wayward waves, the motion of the ocean, the snake baking in the sun, the sound of the round sun beating in our ears? Can sentences with syntax, parallelism, modifiers, and proper grammar mountain lake invigorate, storm cloud startle, or Osprey awe? Until recently I might have said no. I would have said words can attempt to explain wild but words can never be wild. Jay Griffiths has proven me mistaken. In her book Wild: An Elemental Journey , her words spill across the page like a violent violet sunset, they crash around in the mind like a stamping elk herd thrusting across a field to find water or food or joy or to dodge a wolf attack.
Her words are a wild journey. It is.