Full title: The Lay of the Land: Metaphor as Experience and History in American Life and Letters (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1975)
Audubon's roseate spoonbill, looking very feminine.
Author: Annette Kolodny, professor of American lit and culture at the University of Arizona, Tucson. She got her PhD at Berkeley in 1969, and she was in the middle of a lot of student protest, which lends new resonance to the People's Park intro to this book. Wikipedia says that after Lay was published, Kolodny was denied tenure (at UNH, as far as I can tell...damn unclear Wiki language) and sued on the basis of "sexism and the violation of academic freedom" (she won). She now lists her interests as "issues of gender difference in responses to the frontier, with a special emphasis on multicultural confrontations on the American frontiers"; also "feminist literary criticism and theory and American women writers, especially the colonial period through 1860." Her second book is The Land Before Her: Fantasy and Experience of the American Frontiers, 1630-1860 (1984). Her latest book is not one of literary criticism: Failing the Future: A Dean Looks at Higher Education in the Twenty-first Century (1998).
Argument: Kolodny argues that the relationship between the American man and the American land has been persistently gendered in our language and literature. The land has been seen as female, and described as either a mother (a life-giving, pleasant presence) or a sexual paramour (a "virgin" ready to be fertilized). Because of this, American men are caught in a double bind. If the land is your mother, and is prepared to deliver you into a pre-adolescent pastoral state where all your needs are met, then how could you plow/mine/dam/develop her body? If the land is a virgin, waiting to be fertilized, then how could you deny her the plowing/damming/mining/developing that she desires? The conflict between these two masculine imperatives creates a sense of guilt in the male psyche, and that guilt leads to ever-more destructive actions.
Kolodny is specifically politically motivated - she is an environmentalist, seeking to create new ways of relating to the land in order to change actions. She believes that this metaphor is not just literary, but controls daily life and creates ideologies which have real effects on events. Thus, she believes that we must choose between "allowing our responses to this continent to continue in the service of outmoded and demonstrably dangerous image patterns, or [placing] our biologically - and psychologically - based 'yearnings for paradise' at the disposal of potentially healthier (that is, survival-oriented) and alternate symbolizing or image systems" (159).
Germans love Leatherstocking. What does that do to this argument?
Engages with: Kolodny was a student of Henry Nash Smith (Virgin Land) at Berkeley; she engages directly with Leo Marx (Machine in the Garden) over the dead body of Robert Beverly (K. believes that Marx doesn't see that "pastoral is not a habit of mind, but a habit of action" ); she cites RWB Lewis' The American Adam; she says that a lot of her thought - but not all! - could be traced to Marcuse's Eros and Civilization (1955). Most of all, K. returns over and over again to a book by Joel Kovel, White Racism: A Psychohistory (1970), which was apparently a Freudian analysis of the topic.
Surveying the Virgin Land: The Documents of Exploration and Colonization, 1500-1740: Early colonists displayed a range of attitudes toward the land-as-woman. Some saw "her" as treacherous; some as a virgin waiting for her lover; some as a despoiled woman who had been treated badly by the first to arrive. Thus, "the new American continent had become the focus for both personalized and transpersonalized...expressions of filial homage and erotic desire" (22). Works cited: diaries and tracts of Robert Beverly, John Peter Purry, William Byrd, the "Planters Plea" (the 1630 complaint of a bunch of Georgia planters who thought that they had been sold a bill of goods by the transatlantic publicity about America), John Woolman.
Laying Waste Her Fields of Plenty: The Eighteenth Century: In this century, agriculture and the image of the yeoman farmer created "inevitable tension between the initial urge to return to, and join passively with, a maternal landscape and the consequent impulse to master and act upon that same femininity" (27). A short analysis of Thomas Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia (1782) forms the foreshadowing intro.
The Visionary Line: The Poetry of Philip Freneau: K. then discusses Philip Freneau, who she sees as a liminal figure who swung back and forth between celebrating the maternal/pastoral of the "new world" and fretting about the harbingers of destruction he saw in men's actions toward the land.
The Dubious Pleasures of an American Farmer: Crevecouer's Letters and Sketches: The second part of the section deals with J. Hector St. John de Crevecour's Letters from an American Farmer (1782) and Sketches of Eighteenth-Century America (1811). K. sees JHSJC's works as evidence of the conflict between the yeoman ideal and the actuality of American society. Speaking against those who have called JHSJC's later "Letters", such as the "dying slave" letter or the episode in which Farmer James is forced to leave his farm, as anomalies, K. locates the center of JHSJC's ambivalence and worry about the future of pastoralism in these violent interludes. K. says that Farmer James sees that "the total female matrix of attraction and satisfaction" (in agriculture, for example) "offers not only protection and nurture, but also arouses sexuality and the desire for exclusive possession" (in the frontier-dwellers or hunters who wish to live far away from their neighbors, for example) (58).
J. Hector St. John de Crevecour.
Singing her Past and Singing her Praises: The Nineteenth Century: Emigration continued the story, with the "American literary imagination forced to choose between a landscape that at once promised total gratifications in return for passive and even filial responses and yet, also, apparently tempted, even invited, the more active responses of impregnation, alteration, and possession" (71).
"The Country as it Oughtta Be": John James Audubon: In this chapter, K. first analyzes Audubon's Delineations of American Scenery and Character, a book of sketches (literary, not artistic!) which was finally published posthumously in 1926. Audubon's conflicted thoughts about the "opening" of America, combined with the destruction he himself perpetrated in order to complete his work (shooting birds, etc), make him a good example for Kolodny's explication of how these competing needs and desires were reconciled. In Audubon's case, K. writes, his response was to try to "stop time altogether, and preserve the static continuity of a soaring bird and a landscape 'before population had greatly advanced'" (88).
J. James Audubon in his later years.
Natty Bumppo as the American Dream: The Leatherstocking Novels of J. Fenimore Cooper: K. then moves on to look at J. Fenimore Cooper's Leatherstocking series, and particularly at the character of Natty Bumppo. Bumppo, Kolodny argues, represents the ultimate expression of the pastoral ideal: he is able to move in the life-giving wilderness with perfect happiness. But in order to do this, he must not only reject constant human society, but also stay pre-sexual by never marrying, and by remaining itinerant and non-agricultural, rather than forcing fruit from the earth. "Bumppo...was the first character in American fiction to at least promise entry without violation," K writes (104). Thus, his continuing popularity.
Every Mother's Son: The Revolutionary War Romances of William Gilmore Simms: The Southern writer Simms enjoyed "immense success in his day" (which is to say, the antebellum era), a success K. attributes to "nineteenth century America's fascination with its history and national identity" (115). Simms wrote both school histories and novels, and was crucial to the formation of Confederate identity. As for his relevance to this thesis, Kolodny uses Simms as an example of how the pastoral ideal shaped the South: "behind all the random historical data [growth of industry in the North, for example]...is the response to a landscape whose maternal embrace, once fixed and stylized on the plantations, was so all-enclosing, and apparently all-sufficing, that it defeated any possibility of progress or alteration, aesthetic or cultural" (132). This almost makes it seem like K. is blaming the pastoral ideal for the slave system, which I'm not sure she isn't.
A transitional section between the nineteenth and twentieth century chapters sets up the closing of the frontier as "the ultimate frustration," one which would be "finally expressed through anger", or the "singleminded destruction and pollution of the continent" (137).
Making it with Paradise: The Twentieth Century: This final section, which incorporates short analyses of Faulkner's "The Bear" (1942), the 1930 Southern Agrarian anthology I'll Take My Stand, Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby (1925), and Saul Bellow's Henderson the Rain King (1959), describes American literary imagination's continuing fascination with "the lone male in the wilderness," with a new strain of despair about the destruction that has been wreaked on the land.
Kolodny then moves into an extended theoretical meditation about the meaning of the metaphor, and the practical implications of analyzing language used to describe the non-human world. Here is where she gets prescriptive, calling for a new set of metaphors which might help us shape a less destructive attitude toward the earth.
Reviews: In American Literature, Russel Nye praised Lay for its provocative speculations, adding "One need not claim too much for her thesis, as she applies it to familiar materials, to discover new, unexpected, interesting insights." However, in the Geographical Review, David Lowenthal called her thesis "audacious but simplistic," described her interpretation of sexual metaphors as "literal and ahistorical," and then, to ice the cake, cited a sentence of hers in full, asking "Can anyone truly concerned about the importance of words write like that?" He then did an about-face to label the book "exciting and important" and to call for further study along these lines (using the writing of women - a project that Kolodny herself was to complete). In Signs, Nina Baym voiced the qualms that I also felt, which are the fundamental problems plaguing Virgin Land and Machine in the Garden as well: what is the relationship between these literary texts and "real life"? How did the people who actually performed the work feel about what they were doing? Baym also asked whether there were/are other controlling/dominant metaphors of the land (which Kolodny acknowledged there to be), and posits that one of these might be "the American continent as young male" (see: buffalo, Paul Bunyan, etc).
Other questions I have: how have the environmental ideas of more recent immigrants to the United States (aka, immigrants arriving after 1630!) changed this mix; how have ideas of the city/urban ecology influenced the metaphor; where do the economic imperatives of survival and questions of economic class fit into the question (surely, those who exploited the land for great amounts of money, such as the Hearsts or Vanderbilts, had a different attitude toward it than those who scratched out a living on the prairie...); how is this attitude "specifically American"?
New words: objective correlative ("the physical equivalent or manifestation of an immaterial thing or abstract idea; spec. (and usually, following T. S. Eliot) the technique in art of representing or evoking a particular emotion by means of symbols, which become associated with and indicative of that emotion"); transpersonal ("that transcends the personal, transindividual; spec. designating a form of psychology or psychotherapy which seeks to combine elements from many esoteric and religious traditions with modern ideas and techniques"); puer aeternus (Latin for "eternal boy" - Jungian concept); ergative ("a term used of a grammatical case marking the subject of a transitive verb in languages such as Eskimo, Basque, and some others" - come on, Kolodny); suzerainty ("supremacy").
Leads to follow up on: The Hakluyt collection!
Books to follow up on: Primary: Audubon, Delineations of American Scenery and Character (published 1926!); Saul Bellow, Henderson the Rain King (1959) (takes place in Africa); Mailer, Why Are We in Vietnam? (1967); Robert Penn Warren poem: "Audubon: A Vision" (1969); collective, I'll Take My Stand (1930).
Thursday, May 31, 2007
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Funnily enough, the person who posted this photo on his/her blog chose to scan an edited version of the cover, leaving these multiracial infants standing (sitting?) accused, once again, of savagery...
Full Title: Barbarian Virtues: The United States Encounters Foreign Peoples, At Home and Abroad (1876-1917)(New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2000)
Author: Matthew Frye Jacobson, American Studies and History at Yale U. He's interested in race, immigration, imperialism, and structures of citizenship. His other books are What Have They Built You to Do?: The Manchurian Candidate and Cold War America (with Gaspar Gonzalex, 2006 - looks great); Roots Too: White Ethnic Revival in Post-Civil Rights America (2005); Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race (1998); and Special Sorrows: The Diasporic Imagination of Irish, Polish, and Jewish Immigrants in the United States (1995). Right now he's working on a book about cultural memory and civil rights.
Argument: Jacobson seeks to create a new understanding of the American attitude towards "foreigners", within and without, during the era of Gilded Age industrialization and imperialism. In order to achieve this goal, he analyzes how political and public rhetoric went hand in hand with cultural production and with the nascent social sciences.
Jacobson has a clear motive here, one which accounts (I'm assuming) for this book being published by a popular press: the continuities between attitudes during this time period, and present-day American thought about immigration and foreign policy, are myriad, and Jacobson sees a huge danger in the complete neglect of this expansionist era in traditional history textbooks. "The stakes are quite high for Americans' national self-conception," he writes in the conclusion. "In expurgating the period of US expansionism that bridges the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Americans adopt a broken narrative that casts Manifest Destiny and continental expansionism falsely adrift from 'modern' US history, and obscures the extent to which the modern state was built, and modern nationalism generated, in close relation to the imperialist project" (263).
The central contradiction of Jacobson's story - both today, and during the Gilded Age - lies in the fact that the presence of these "disparaged peoples" is as "reviled in the political sphere as it is inevitable in the economic" (9). Taking a psychological turn, Jacobson claims that the confusion of American attitudes towards immigration and those who inhabit foreign countries lies in the fact that our capitalist system, which always demands more expansion, requires their presence as workers and as markets, leaving Americans feeling dependent and amplifying feelings of resentment and racist thought (15). During this turn-of-the-century era, elaborate structures designed to assert the inferiority of the non-"natural" American arose - structures that went about sexualizing them, designating them as less intelligent, and ultimately, as less fit for citizenship, leaving white Americans to take the reins.
1. Export Markets: The World's Peoples as Consumers: During this time period, United States manufacturers, facing a surplus of production, began to demand expansion of American markets (a "new frontier"!) They were very interested in places such as China and Latin America. In reality, in China, there was very little market for American products. This thwarted desire to sell led to an angry attitude toward the recalcitrant foreigner. Ultimately, the Chinese were denominated "uncivilized" because their wants were not as expansive as those of people living in the West. Meanwhile, in Latin America, in a realm of "pure imperial power and its deployment", United States policymakers created a "strategic infrastructure for an export economy whose requirements included canals, harbors, coaling stations, and naval bases all beyond the proper borders of the nation itself" (26). (See Panama, filibusterers, United Fruit, etc.)
Here Jacobson introduces the concept of "temporality" which was deployed in order to create room for an American "civilizing mission." Under Social Darwinist thought, certain peoples were ahead of others in a linear timeline of civilization, usually based, as Jacobson says, on "a hierarchy of evolutionary economic stages" (50). By using this "timeline," with Western Anglo-Saxons at the "top," Americans could argue that by providing trade goods, they were "helping" the less civilized gain ground - and, moreover, that the "less civilized" were incapable of self-determination.
2. Labor Markets: The World's Peoples as America's Workers: Because Americans wanted to be economically advanced, they required vast amounts of cheap labor. Ironically, they then feared the effects of the people who would do that labor on the body politic (and, literally, on the bodies of future Americans). Like the Chinese, these immigrants were seen as un-American because they did not possess the habits of purchasing of naturalized Americans. Jacobson examines John Commons, sociologist EA Ross, and historian Frederick Jackson Turner's attitudes toward immigration, pointing out that the three saw these incoming races as "degrading" to American labor. This chapter also covers the anti-Chinese movement and labor radicalism, pointing to the irony of the era's reception of the latter (immigrant workers were damned for being "fiery" if they belonged to unions; damned for being "submissive" if they accepted poor labor conditions). Immigrants in this period, Jacobson sums up, were seen as barbarians; relics from earlier epochs; "human draft animals whose brawn could be enlisted to carry out the designs of the Anglo-Saxon intellect"; visitors from the premodern, "whose accustomed deprivations threatened to bid down the American standards of living"; or Old World incendiaries whose dangerous politics "had no proper place in a self-governing republic" (96).
From Jacob Riis, How the Other Half Lives (1890)
3. Parables of Progress: Travelogues, Ghetto Sketches, and Fictions of the Foreigner: Here Jacobson draws parallels between travel writing and literature about ethnic enclaves in American cities, pointing out that the people described often share the same characteristics: positive ones of childishness, innocence, honesty, gaiety; negative ones of sloth, animality, criminality, and lustfulness. These people were always seen in the aggregate, not as individuals "who might speak for themselves and whose recognizable humanity might make a claim on our sympathies" (125). And, of course, writings such as these eliminated any analysis of how the economic system might create structural conditions influencing the lives of the peoples under examination. Discussed: Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan books (see Markley's Dying Planet); Jacob Riis' How the Other Half Lives (1890); Upton Sinclair's The Jungle (1906); O. Henry's Cabbages and Kings (1904); Charles Dudley Warner's Mummies and Moslems (1876); Theodore Dreiser's Jennie Gerhardt (1911).
4. Theories of Development: Scholarly Disciplines and the Hierarchy of Peoples: The developing disciplines of the social sciences - psychology, sociology, anthropology - did their part to create categories of humanity which could be used to exclude immigrants from the country, or to justify the paternalistic government of other countries. Jacobson points out that these disciplines had a "complex and often paradoxical" relationship with the travelogue - often taking "evidence" from the writings of those who had "been there," in an era before the time when anthropologists viewed field work as essential (141). Once these anthropological works had been published, travelogue writers incorporated elements of their theories, thereby perpetuating the cycle. Also examined: intelligence testing and its relationship with immigration policy; the eugenics movement.
5. Accents of Menace: Immigrants in the Republic: This chapter examines the way in which American racialist thought constructed images of the immigrant as "unfit" for the duties of independent American citizenship. Included in the analysis are reactions to Irish machine politics; immigration restriction movements; and the responses of immigrants like Mary Antin, who sought to prove that immigrants were capable of assimilation into the American body politic (this is an interesting point of view on assimilation - in this situation, Jacobson points out, proclaiming the capacity to Americanize is a defiant act, as opposed to a sad "erosion of cultural tradition" ), and the Silesian Jewish immigrant and student of William James, Horace Kallen, who argued that immigrants should be included on the basis of their difference.
Photo of Emilio Aguinaldo, leader of the Filipino independence movement.
6. Children of Barbarism: Republican Imperatives and Imperial Wards: This chapter details the thought process which led Americans of the time to believe that American intervention in foreign lands - Puerto Rico, the Phillipines, Cuba, etc - could be seen as a divine mission to civilize and "spread democracy" to the residents. Imperial desires extended to the lands to be acquired, argues Jacobson, but definitively not to the peoples involved, who were seen as dangerous additions to the American citizenry, to be kept out of suffrage rights at all costs. (He points to the name of a popular pamphlet of the 1890s- "Our New Island Treasures and Their Peoples" - which neatly delineates this division.) Jacobson goes into detail regarding how this mechanism worked during the war with the Phillipines, and also includes reactions from immigrant and black groups inside the United States, who opposed imperial expansion in their presses, and immigrant and black soldiers involved in the war, who had sympathy for the Filipino independence movement.
Reviews (significant flaws?): In the American Historical Review, James Barrett praised Jacobson's synthetic vision, while writing that nothing in the book will be a surprise to historians of imperialism or immigration. Barrett viewed the book's inclusion of cultural material as a major strength, while wishing that Jacobson had situated the scientific racism chapter within a greater international context. In the Journal of American History, Edward Crapol called the book a "masterly synthesis" and a "brilliant refashioning" which achieves its goal of creating a new narrative about the time period, and "deserves a wide readership."
New words: congeries ("a collection of things merely massed or heaped together; a mass, heap"); houri ("a nymph of the Muslim Paradise. Hence applied allusively to a voluptuously beautiful woman" - ironically, in this context this word was used by a "travelogue" writer to describe young Jewish women in the inner city); bailiwick ("one's natural or proper place or sphere" - comes from the old meaning, the jurisdiction of a bailiff); latitudinarian ("allowing, favouring, or characterized by latitude in opinion or action, esp. in matters of religion; not insisting on strict adherence to or conformity with an established code, standard, formula, etc.; tolerating free thought or laxity of belief on religious questions"); pecksniffian (a "Pecksniff": "an unctuous hypocrite, a person who affects benevolence or pretends to have high moral principles; (also) a person who interferes officiously in the business of others"); poltroon ("an utter coward; a mean-spirited person; a worthless wretch" - good thing I looked it up, because I thought it meant "pirate." Or perhaps "brigand"?).
Pieces of history I need to know more about: the Monroe Doctrine. The Opium War. The Sino-Japanese War. The Russo-Japanese War. Jose Marti. The Platt Amendment. Mugwumps.
Facty bonbons: Filibusterer William Walker, who took over the government of Nicaragua from 1855 to 1857, was actually unseated not by the people of Nicaragua or any other governmental entity, but by Cornelius Vanderbilt, "whose Nicaraguan steamship line was threatened by Walker's ambitions" (39). This is probably not news to anybody else, but I did not know that Panama was part of Colombia (45). My ignorance on matters Latin American will hopefully be remedied by this orals reading process. Meanwhile, back in racist old USA, Henry James once wrote, worrying about immigration, of that "terrible little Ellis Island" (62). During World War I, Henry Fairfield Osborn, who once had sung the praises of the Germans, revised his racial thought by doing new research that would "trace the blood of the Kaiser back to the 'Wild Tartars,' exposing the Germans as round-headed Tartar imposters to Nordic greatness" (162). The formula used to arrive at the IQ number is as follows: mental age (as determined by the test), divided by chronological age, times 100 (165).
Leads to follow up on: On p 139, Jacobson mentions a scene of 1900s schoolchildren being asked about "lower races." The primer used: John Fiske's 1907 A History of the United States for Schools.
Books to follow up on: Because Virtues
was published by a popular press, the footnotes are in the mildly frustrating semi-academic form (where the notation system at the end of the book gives you the page number and then the string of words at the beginning of quote and then the citation...is there a technical name for that?) However, there is a really good bibliographic essay, one that it would behoove me to return to if/when I write more about any of these topics. Some initially interesting books:
Primary: Mary Antin -The Promised Land (1912), They Who Knock At Our Gates (1914); a list of African travelogues to be found on p 117; Melville - Typee; books by Charles Dudley Warner.
Secondary: Michael Adas - Machines as the Measure of Man: Science, Technology, and Ideals of Western Dominance (1989); Melissa Banta and Curtis Hinsley - From Site to Sight: Anthropology, Photography, and the Power of Imagery (1986); Elizabeth Edwards, ed. - Anthropology and Photography, 1860-1920 (1992); Curtis Hinsley - The Smithsonian and the American Indian: Making a Moral Anthropology in Victorian America (1981); Richard Hofstadter - Social Darwinism in American Thought (1944); Michael Hogan and Thomas Patterson, eds - Explaining the History of American Foreign Relations (1991); Daniel Kevles - In the Name of Eugenics: Genetics and the Uses of Human Heredity (1985); Stefan Kuhl - The Nazi Connection: Eugenics, American Racism, and German National Socialism (1994); Nicholas Mirzoeff - Bodyscape: Art, Modernity, and the Ideal Figure (1995); Jan Nederveen Pieterse - White on Black: Images of Africa and Blacks in Western Popular Culture (1992); Frederick Pike - The United States and Latin America: Myths and Stereotypes of Civilization and Nature (1992); Mary Louise Pratt - Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (1992); Edward Said - Culture and Imperialism (1993); David Spurr - The Rhetoric of Empire: Colonial Discourse in Journalism, Travel Writing, and Imperial Administration (1993); everything by George Stocking, Jr., esp. Victorian Anthropology (1987); Michael Taussig - Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Man: A Study in Terror and Healing (1987); Nicholas Thomas - Colonialism's Culture: Anthropology, Travel, and Government (1994).
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Full Title: The Ecological Indian: Myth and History (New York: Norton, 1999).
Author: Shepard Krech III, anthropologist at Brown. Also has appointment in environmental studies. Writes in his research profile: "I conduct research on the intersections of (1) anthropology and history, and (2) humans and the natural world; on material culture and the development of museums; currently, on time in indigenous cultures, as well as the relationships between birds and native people – all informed by ethnography in and a general geographical focus on native North America." (Note: James Clifford talk at HI last year focused on concepts of time in indigenous cultures...surely I will know more about this if/when I read a cultural anthropology list.) According to his intro to this book, Krech gained many of his research questions through ethnographic work with the Gwi'ichin during graduate school. (This is the Northern tribe who opposed drilling on ANWR on basis of the threat to caribou breeding grounds.) Although his work initially focused on the fur trade in the North, after Ecological Indian he wrote Spirits of the Air: Birds and American Indians in the South, which seems to have not yet been published.
Argument: The cultural sterotype of the romantic-environmentalist Indian living in balance with the earth is ultimately dehumanizing, because it suggests that the Indian 1) is a monolithic entity, not a multiplicity of tribes 2) does not have the ability to live in a full range of ways with the earth, as Europeans do, but instead is locked into a sort of pre-technological stasis, living within ecosystems much like animals do. Krech's mission is to complicate this stereotype - not to brand all Indians as either conservationists or as exploiters of the land equal to whites, but instead to point out that Indian use of wildlife and land varied according to local conditions, tribal values, political position of the Indian vis a vis white interlopers, etc. - in other words, to give the Indian a full and flexible environmental history. In this intent, Krech self-consciously aligns himself with "new Western" historians William Cronon and Richard White. Krech points out that present-day Native stance on the environment often embraces this "ecological" stereotype, which makes it even harder for historians to examine. Methodologically, Krech writes that his aim in this book is not to be "encyclopedic," but to examine the problem through a number of selected historical cases (27). Krech's conclusion examines the present-day interactions of native groups, the government, and environmental groups, in the light of the historical evidence he presents.
1. Pleistocene Extinctions. Discusses controversy over palynologist and geochronologist Paul Martin's idea that the newest New World residents - Indian tribes recently arrived over the Bering land bridge - caused the cataclysmic extinctions of the end of the Pleistocene era. Krech believes instead that climate change might have also been the culprit ("multiple causes provide the best explanation" ), but uses the case as a paradigm to explain how historical and scientific evidence about the topic became politicized (objections from Vine Deloria, Jr).
2. The Hohokam. This chapter discusses controversies over the people known as the Hohokam, who disappeared before Americans or Spanish got to their lands in Arizona (by the Salt River, near present-day Phoenix). There are a couple of explanations: the Hohokam, who built canals (just like Markley's Martians), "irrigated themselves to death by delivering saline waters to saline fields and destroying crops too salt sensitive for the man-made environment" (45). The alternate explanation focuses instead on their hundreds of years of success in living with a difficult environment. Krech points out that these interpretations are flexible depending on the cultural needs of the age (Frank Cushing, obsessed with the Zuni, thought that the Hohokam were like the Zuni and that an earthquake caused the Hohokam to die; when American farmers in the Southwest witnessed the destruction of oversalinated fields, explanations turned to oversalinization [70-1]).
3. Eden. Central question: "How can America [the historical, pre-colonial land] be simultaneously paradise seemingly untouched by human hands and - as archaeologists and other scholars have often proposed - inhabited by people who, prior to the arrival of the Europeans, exploited lands and animals in order to live, cut down forests for fuel and arable land, and perhaps oversalinated fields and helped animals to an early demise?" (76) Krech points to work such as William Cronon's Changes in the Land, which sought to re-emphasize Indian manipulation of the New World's forests and wildlife. Krech concludes that Europeans were able to view the land as virgin (Krech wittily calls it "widowed," pointing to the fact that smallpox and other epidemics appear to have already killed off many Indians before the arrival of Europeans) because of the small populations of Indians, which forestalled visible destruction. (See Isenberg's comment in review below - doesn't population control count as environmentalism/ecological thought?)
4. Fire. Indians' use of fire - to manage forests or control wildlife - has been condemned "either because they could not set fires with significant consequences or because they could and did" (101). Indian ability to control fire was used in the 1940s-on as way to convince the public to be careful with fire in parks and forests, but the historical evidence does not necessarily show that they were always able to do so. Conclusion to this chapter points out that debates continute over whether Indian fires were an inherent part of the "wilderness" ecosystem (which would indicate that Indian activity is equal to animal activity, instead of human activity...) This is an interesting commentary on the "humanizing" nature of technology - "the tension is between those who think that Indians were somehow nontechnological or pretechnological, had no impact on the environment, and were therefore 'natural,' and those who disagree" (122).
5. Buffalo. This chapter glosses the debate over how much Indians had to do with the destruction of the buffalo (discussed in more detail in Andrew Isenberg's The Destruction of the Buffalo). Here Krech begins a theme which he develops over the next couple of chapters: the question of whether Indian ecological values perhaps were not exactly the same as our current environmental ethics. Example: Plains Indians believed that buffaloes came and went from underground or under lakes, and reemerged in great numbers from these places every spring. Krech points out, "Such a belief would have fundamental consequences for how an ecological 'system' is conceptualized...Plain Indian ecological spaces would not be within the parameters of a Western ecologist's ecosystem" (149).
6. Deer. This chapter concerns itself with disrupting the interpretation of markets for deerskin in the American South, challenging scholars who "argue that Indians who participated eagerly in the exchange were seduced by new technology and alcohol" (152). Instead, Krech writes, these were people who "in the short term actively created choices for themselves, defined new roles, found paths in the new order in myriad and sometimes contradictory ways, and did not become dependent either rapidly or predictably" (152). As he will in the following chapter on the beaver, Krech points to Cherokee beliefs in deer reanimation as a reason why these hunters might not have seen the mass killings as transgressive.
7. Beaver. In this chapter, Krech describes conflicts between white traders interested in perpetuating the beaver population and northern Indians who wished to gain as much as they could through trapping. Krech points to Indian beliefs in the beaver's ability to reincarnate as a possible reason why Indians might not be concerned about beaver extirpation from their immediate area, and also says that the unevenness of conservation efforts meant that Indians competing with others for trade might see no choice but to use the most lethal and effective trapping methods. Krech moves into his conclusion here, arguing that the historical evidence of the First Peoples' destruction of the beaver should not be used as a rationale for current tribes being forced to give over management of their resources to outsiders ("no one doubts that native people who spend their lives hunting, fishing, and trapping possess the ability to understand animal behavior and population dynamics" ).
Reviews (significant flaws?): Dan Flores, in the Journal of American History, writes that the book has been called "propaganda" by Native publication Indian Country Today, and adds that the fact that this is the case shows that "modern scholarship is on a collision course with the pop culture understanding of history" (a weird sentence, considering that the Indian interpretation might have a bit more significance than the claims of simple "pop culture"?) Flores continues: "Because the book does not say what it is expected to say, it is seen as anti-Indian, or racist, but nothing could be further from the truth." Flores points out that much of the book is bibiliographic, which he says is fine; he points out that Krech often opts for caution instead of over-interpretation (hence all the paragraphs that read something like this: "there were many different kinds of tribes, many different locations, many different instances, and thus a definitive answer is elusive"). The only instance in which Flores feels the book does not go far enough in "picking a side" is in the chapter about Pleistocene extinctions. In the American Historical Review, Andrew Isenberg approves of Krech's impulse to dismantle this stereotype, but thinks that the chapter on pre-Columbian resource management downplays Indian "intentionality" by failing to mention evidence of Indian population control and by describing Indian technology as "low-impact," while failing to consider that said technology could be very destructive when deployed in service of market forces, as it was when Indians in the eighteenth and nineteenth century hunted bison and deer for trade. By Isenberg's lights, this proves that Indians did have a conservation ethic which kept the killing capacities of their technologies in check.
New words: periglacial ("characteristic of or designating an area where the influence of an adjacent ice sheet or glacier, or the action of freezing and thawing, is or has been a dominant factor in forming or modifying the landscape; designating the processes or conditions which prevail in such situations"); cucurbits ("a cucurbitaceous plant; a gourd" - grown by the Hohokam); amaranth ("a genus of ornamental plants (Amarantus, family Amarantaceæ) with coloured foliage, of which the Prince's Feather and Love-lies-bleeding are species"); chenopod ("a book-name for the plant genus Chenopodium or Goose-foot, family Chenopodiaceæ"); treponematosis (disease caused by the type of "spirochæte of the genus of this name, the members of which are parasitic or pathogenic in man and warm-blooded animals and include those causing syphilis and yaws").
Sticky anecdotes: Sabre tooth tigers could open their jaws to a hundred degrees (34); Narragansett Indians speculated that the English came to American because they had a wood shortage (based on their intense interest in timber) (76); Plains Indians sometimes preferred drowned buffalo or buffalo that had been buried in the ground "over all other types of food" because the flesh was tender - out of this meat, a bottle-green soup was made (133); after the buffalo were mostly killed by the end of the nineteeth century, "buffalo bones littered the prairies so thickly that in places it was impossible to walk without rattling against their skeletons," but because buffalo bones were useful as fertilizer and a "carbon-filtering agent in sugar refining", entrepreneurial buffalo bone pickers got them all up off the ground and sold them for profit (no word as to whether these pickers were Indian or white) (141).
Books to follow up on: Primary: Charles Eastman - The Soul of the Indian; Black Elk Speaks.
Secondary: Vine Deloria, Red Earth, White Lies; William Glen, Mass Extinction Debates: How Science Works in a Crisis (Amazon link).
Friday, May 25, 2007
Title: Late Victorian Holocausts: El Nino Famines and the Making of the Third World (London: Verso, 2001)
Author: "Marxist environmentalist" Mike Davis, he of Ecology of Fear (2000), City of Quartz (1990), and a million other books with subjects including slums, car bombs, avian flu, San Diego, and Las Vegas. Believer mag called him "LA's sole public intellectual." He sometimes teaches at UC/Irvine, but doesn't hold an "official" PhD. He has sometimes been assailed for lack of accuracy, but this story in the Nation says that a lot of these attacks come from people who have interests in development in LA (NB: Davis sometimes writes for the Nation).
Argument (in 150 words or fewer): This is, self-consciously, a work of "political ecology." Famines in India, China, Brazil, the Philippines, and Africa, which hit hard in the end of the nineteenth century, had as their proximate cause the variations of a climatological phenomenon called "ENSO" ("El Nino - Southern Oscillation"), but were exacerbated and prolonged by the mismanagement of governments which were either colonial (India), or facing huge pressures from imperial powers (China, Brazil). People in these nations were being forced to integrate into a global capitalist system, and as a result, there was a tragic breakdown of traditional structures - both material, as in well irrigation systems, planned grain storage, and systems of sustainable farming; and social, as in protective governments, patrimonial obligations, and mutualism - which had been in place to mitigate earlier ENSO-related events. Imperial powers, which in Davis' argument means "Britain," turned a blind eye to the sufferings of the people who died in gruesome numbers - not only from hunger but from epidemic diseases preying on weakened refugees (Davis estimates 30 to 50 million dead) - refusing substantial relief and sometimes even exacting increasingly onerous taxation. Davis writes that the pictures he uses in the book - most of which were taken by missionaries - were intended as "accusations, not illustrations" (22).
Chapter-by-Chapter: The first section of this book - parts I and II - "take up the challenge of traditional narrative history," describing in detail the processes of the famines of the late nineteenth century, "providing dozens of examples of malign interaction between climactic and economic processes" (12). Colonialism, Davis shows, followed and exploited famines and social disruptions, meaning "each global drought was the green light for an imperialist landrush" (12). Davis also, in this section, points out that many uprisings and rebellions of the late nineteenth century, including the Boxer Rebellion and the Brazilian War of Canudos, were precipitated by these famines.
Part III is almost entirely scientific, explaining the process of discovery of the ENSO system. There is a short moment when Davis explains the stakes of a scientific explanation for famines - if, as Victorians believed, sunspots caused stoppage of monsoons, how could the British be responsible for crop failure? - but the chapter is generally technical.
Part IV returns to the historical, grounding itself mostly in a review of the most current scholarly literature about nineteenth century economic processes, attempting to situate this structural information within the context of the ENSO events. These chapters cover "the perverse logic of marketized subsistence, the consequences of colonial revenue settlements, the impact of the new Gold Standard" (I never even thought about how that would affect global markets...) "the decline of indigenous irrigation, informal colonialism in Brazil, and so on" (15). And so on! This section also covers the ways in which new crops and ways of cultivation created massive ecological problems, especially in northern China.
There's no conclusion. Consequently, this book feels incredibly emotionally front-loaded.
Illo from Kipling's short story "William the Conqueror," published in Ladies' Home Journal in 1896. Note the rosy, happy Indian children.
Reviews (significant flaws?): Holocausts won the World History Association Book Award for 2002. The Journal of World History gave it a positive review, while acknowledging that historians of India, China, and Brazil may find flaws in the highly sprawling synthetic treatment of those histories. The Pacific Historical Review noted that "the notion that Britain governed India in its own interest, with scant regard for Indian peasants, will surprise few readers" and wrote that although it's crucial to Davis' argument to establish that indigenous governments managed famine better than imperialist ones, Davis has trouble directly proving this (and didn't even try to do so in the case of Brazil). The Journal of Economic History praised Davis for his ambitious world perspective, and added, "Although Davis necessarily relies on secondary sources, he has the ability to identify the best of the recent scholarship." This reviewer, like myself, wished that Davis had added a conclusion in order to tie all of the pieces together, characterizing the work that the reader is forced to do as "heavy lifting" (this, at least, makes me feel like I'm in good company in my confusion - if an Economic Historian had difficulty, I am not going to feel badly about my own constant back-flipping of pages to figure out where in the world was Carmen San Diego). Science called the book "ideological and misleading" and said that Davis tried too hard to pin the blame for all of this suffering on "a small band of theologically zealous and murderously scheming Londoners", when in actuality China, for example, bore a lot of the "blame" for its own suffering. To my mind, this reviewer was overly invested in simplifying Davis' argument - it was clear to me that Davis tried very hard to show how the pressure that the Chinese government was under from imperialism was partially what caused their system to fail. Science calls this government "an imploding, spent, and irresolute civilization," a definition which smacks to me of the very same Western racism which Davis describes.
New words: "sublated" ("to remove or take away" or "to disaffirm or contradict"); "brigandage" (highway robbery, pillage, piracy); "rinderpest" ("a virulent, infectious disease affecting ruminant animals, esp. oxen, characterized by fever, dysentery, and inflammation of the mucous membranes"); "sand jiggers"; "bastinado" (verb, meaning "to beat with a stick, thrash, or thwack"); "transhumance" ("the seasonal transfer of grazing animals to different pastures, often over substantial distances"); "hecatombs" ("a great public sacrifice (properly of a hundred oxen) among the ancient Greeks and Romans, and hence extended to the religious sacrifices of other nations; a large number of animals offered or set apart for a sacrifice" - Davis uses this to indicate the number of famine victims, interestingly); "Noachian" (from the age of Noah - Dying Planet uses this word too, in a fine example of synchronicity); "loess" ("a deposit of fine yellowish-grey loam which occurs extensively from north-central Europe to eastern China, in the American mid-west, and elsewhere, esp. in the basins of large rivers, and which is usually considered to be composed of material transported by the wind during and after the Glacial Period"); "geomantic" (from "geomancy", or "the art of divination by means of signs derived from the earth, as by the figure assumed by a handful of earth thrown down upon some surface...hence, usually, divination by means of lines or figures formed by jotting down on paper a number of dots at random"); "calumny" ("false and malicious misrepresentation of the words or actions of others, calculated to injure their reputation; libellous detraction, slander"); "ultramontane" ("a strong adherent or supporter of the Papal authority"); "entrepot" ("temporary deposit of goods, provisions, etc."); "dipole" ("a pair of non-coincident equal and opposite electric charges or magnetic poles (usu. but not necessarily close together); an object, esp. a molecule, atomic particle, etc., having such charges or poles; dipole moment, the product of the distance between the two charges or poles of a dipole and the magnitude of either of them; the electric or magnetic moment of a dipole"); "orographic" ("relating to the physical features and relative position of mountains"); "thermocline" ("a temperature gradient; esp. an abrupt temperature gradient occurring in a body of water; also, a layer of water marked by such a gradient, the water above and below being at different temperatures"); "multidecadel" (belonging to several decades); "antipodean" ("of or pertaining to the opposite side of the world"); "chernozem" ("black earth or soil (see BLACK a. 19), a type of soil, rich in humus, characteristic of natural grassland in cool to temperate semi-arid climates, as in central and southern Russia, central Canada, etc"); "swidden" ("an area of land that has been cleared for cultivation by slashing and burning the vegetation cover"); "autarkic" ("(economically) self-sufficient"); "debenture" ("a certificate or voucher certifying that a sum of money is owing to the person designated in it; a certificate of indebtedness"): "monopsony" ("a state of the market in which there is effectively a single buyer or consumer for a particular product, who is therefore in a position to influence its price; a consumer in this position"); "littoral" ("of or pertaining to the shore; existing, taking place upon, or adjacent to the shore"); "dreadnaught" ("a fearless person").
Facty bonbons: Lord Lytton was accused of plaigarism twice - once by his own father (45). Conspiracy theories about Westerners during famines included the idea (this from Korea) that Westerners would cut off women's breasts to fill the cans of condensed milk that they lived off of (125). A "Maxim gun" was the first self-powered machine gun.
Leads to follow up on: 1) Missionary photographers used advances in photographic technology to take pictures of famine victims (pp 52, 147). 2) There was a lot of talk about the selling and eating of children during famines, but Davis does not analyze British or American use of this information - was it intended to condemn the victims for their actions, or to highlight the difficulty that the victims faced? 3) Many correspondents said that a particular horror of the famines was that wild animals, themselves starving, came out in droves to eat victims (pp 132, 137, 202). 4) Julian Hawthorne, son of Nathaniel, reported on famines in India in 1897 for Cosmopolitan magazine (155). 5) Included among American organizations that sent famine relief: Native Americans, Kansas populists, and black church groups (165). 6) In 1965, a scholar named Esther Baserup "inverted Malthus," arguing that population growth was an engine, not a brake, to economic success (307).
Books to look for: Secondary: Gilbert Fite - The Farmers' Frontier, 1865-1900 (1987; Amazon link); Richard Grove - Green Imperialism: Colonial Expansion, Tropical Island Edens, and the Origins of Environmentalism, 1600-1860 (1995; link to Google Books).
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Book Title, in Full Glory: Dying Planet: Mars in Science and the Imagination (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005)
Author: Robert Markley, English, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Interests: “Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century Literature; Media and Cultural Studies; Literary Theory; Gender Studies; the Relations between Literature and Science; and Science Fiction.” Much of Markley’s other work is Anglocentric. Other books: The Far East and the English Imagination, 1600-1730 (Cambridge University Press, 2005); Fallen Languages: Crises of Representation in Newtonian England, 1660-1740 (Cornell University Press, 1993); Two-Edg'd Weapons: Style and Ideology in the Comedies of Etherege, Wycherley, and Congreve (Oxford University Press, 1988) (yeesh!).
Argument, in 150 words or so:Markley argues that because so much about Mars has yet to be proven, ideas about the red planet, both in scientific and literary manifestations, have instead centered around humanity’s anxieties about ecology, use of resources, and the end purpose of the human race. Mars and Martians have represented utopian (Mars as a place where beings have learned to cooperate to share scarce resources) or dystopian (Martians as “the skull beneath the skin” , or the specter of full-scale war during times of scarcity) imaginings of an alternate future for the human race and planet Earth. Of course, says Markley, these fictions fluctuated depending on the historical and social events of the zeitgeist. Meanwhile, science’s continuing fascination with the possibility of life on Mars is a good example, says Markley, of the way in which scientists’ objectives and goals are shaped by their cultural locations.
Engages with: Critics of science fiction (Suvin, Franklin, Hayles); Latour; Derrida; Carl Sagan (more as a primary source, though).
1. "A Situation in Many Respects Similar to Our Own": Mars and the Limits of Analogy: Eighteenth and nineteenth century speculations about Mars. These ideas focused on questions of habitability - can the inhabitants of Mars perform agriculture? Western criteria for what counts as "intelligent life" are established: "'intelligence' is defined implicitly and explicitly in terms of resource extraction, agricultural production, and energy consumption" (32). Examined: Daniel Defoe; Johannes Kepler; other early astronomers; ends with Schiaperelli's introduction of the idea of the "canali".
2. Lowell and the Canal Controversy: Mars at the Limits of Vision: Percival Lowell, a rich-man astronomer operating in the US in the late nineteenth century, bought himself a site in New Mexico from which he believed he could see Mars like no one else. He believed that Mars was crisscrossed by canals, which, when combined with the theory of Martian polar ice caps, spoke to him of intelligent life on the planet which had banded together in a desperate struggle for survival. Lowell was highly contested by other astronomers of the time, including Alfred Russel Wallace, but the public loved his theory, in part, Markley says, because people were trying to figure out what exactly Darwin meant to them - and to process information about disastrous famines in India and China (see Mike Davis, Late Victorian Holocausts). Some people saw the canals as evidence of need for socialism and more equitable resource distribution, but Lowell believed that the canals were proof that Martians had gotten over the pesky drive to help the downtrodden and let their elite take over matters in order to save the planet.
3. "Different Beyond the Most Bizarre Imaginings of Nightmare": Mars in Science Fiction, 1880-1913: Martian science fiction in this time was "a favored site for thought experiments about sociocultural evolution" (115). H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds was a dark vision, but there are also feminist utopias (Alice Ilgenfritz Jones and Ella Merchant, Unveiling a Parallel: A Romance, 1891) and utopian socialism (Politics and Life on Mars, anonymous, 1883; Alexander Bogdanov, Red Star, 1905, and Engineer Menni, 1913).
4. Lichens on Mars: Planetary Science and the Limits of Knowledge: The end of the canal theory comes, courtesy of photography, but, as Markley says, there are still significant portions of the public who believe in life on Mars despite the disproving of Lowell's pet idea. Also, "a good deal of the scientific literature...of the period discloses a nostalgia for the possibility of intelligent life on Mars and a hunger for hard data that might answer questions about the planet once and for all" (151).
5. Mars at the Limits of Imagination: The Dying Planet from Burroughs to Dick: The bulk of the chapter examines Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom series, and its complicated Mars, "a heroic version of the vanishing American frontier, but one interlaced with strains of chivalric medievalism, technological romance, social Darwinism, Lowellian planetology, and sword-and-sorcery adventure" (183). Also examines Mars in pulp fiction. Makes links between Depression-era Dust Bowl scarcity and nightmare images of Martian desertification. Ends with Philip K. Dick's political criticism of 1950s technological triumphalism, then a section on Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles, a bestseller highly critical of human ecological practices.
6. The Missions to Mars: Mariner, Viking, and the Reinvention of a World: The Mariner missions, which were flown in the 1960s but didn't successfully land on the planet until 1976, and the Viking missions, which were flown in 1975, reveal very little hope of life on Mars, but do provide interesting material for geologists to analyze. The bureaucratic establishment reacts by ceasing funding to Martian exploration (public support is not there, without the possibility of discovering life). Some scientists continue to try to prove the existence of possible past life on Mars, in some distant past or in some radically diminished form (terran "extremophiles", or forms of life which thrive on extremely little subsistence, are used as possible evidence of lurking Martian microbes). Major theoretical problems exist: how do you use Earthly chemistry to test for Martian life forms?
7. Transforming Mars, Transforming "Man": Science Fiction in the Space Age: Nostalgia for non-dead Mars proliferates. "Mars assumes a paradoxical significance in science fiction between 1960 and 2000: it is both a dead world that resists human efforts to understand, colonize, or transform it and the site of humankind's next giant leap in its technoscientific, and even spiritual, evolution" (270). Included: Philip Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968); Robert Heinlein's brawny, masculinist Stranger in a Strange Land (1961); Luduk Pesek's pessimistic juvenile fiction, The Earth is Near (1975); Paul Verhoven's terraform fantasy "Total Recall" (1989).
8. Mars at the Turn of a New Century: Scientific questions about Mars remain open. The search for life continues to drive experimental strategy. The question of water and its possible past (or present, in the form of subareological seas) existence on the planet takes primacy. Also covered: the Pathfinder mission (1997) and the Mars Global Survivor (1996) and Mars Odyssey (1998). The Mars Direct group, which wants to get to Mars ASAP and begin possible terraforming or colonization efforts, operates under a "new frontier" ideology which sees Mars as a great outlet for humanity strained to the breaking point by capitalistic needs for expansion.
9. Falling into Theory: Terraformation and Eco-Economics in Kim Stanley Robinson's Martian Trilogy: KSR's books are examined as a complex middle point between exploitative utopian terraformation last-frontier ideology and dystopic visions of humanity's destruction of Mars. Markley sees the novels as heavily promoting the concept of eco-economics, or the theory that ecological impacts should be figured into cost-benefit analyses when planning development, and using Mars as a platform for developing this idea.
Reviews (significant flaws, strengths?): A Jstor search turns up no reviews. Hopefully this doesn't mean that this book got unfairly passed over. Highly ambitious in its correlation of scientific advances and the literary imagination. Provocative ideas about public desire to engage with issues of ecological scarcity, resource depletion, and environmental destruction - either by using Mars as a cautionary tale, or by employing the planet as an escape valve or imagined new front for resource exploitation, a la the Mars Direct project. Effectively historically grounded - through the lens of Mars-thought, Markley follows the evolution of human ideas about the end purpose of the human race from post-Darwinian anxiety through the nuclear age through the era of supposedly enhanced environmental awareness.
New words (linked defs from OED, password needed): Areology (the study of Mars); areography (guess what?); exobiology (occuring or working outside the atmosphere); maieutic ("relating to or designating the Socratic process, or other similar method, of assisting a person to become fully conscious of ideas previously latent in the mind"); regolith ("the unconsolidated solid material covering the bedrock of a planet"); spectrograph ("An instrument used for photographing a spectrum. More widely, any apparatus for producing a visual record of a spectrum (optical or otherwise)" -significant in this book because astronomers of the late 19th century, like Lowell, used the spectrograph to make assertions about the constitution of Mars' atmosphere); suborn ("to bribe, induce, or procure (a person) by underhand or unlawful means to commit a misdeed"); terraform (to make something more like Earth).
Facty bonbons: Firstly, people in the 1960s used to use the word “grok” to mean “get” or “understand,” because that was what supposedly superior Martians in the 1959 book Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert K. Heinlein, did instead of speaking. “To grok was to experience, believe, and know simultaneously” (275). Secondly, the Pathfinder expedition, landed in 1997, had a little foot-tall mechanical robot that it sent out to gather data about Mars’ surface. Name of the rover? Sojourner Truth (311). Thirdly, author Alexander Bogdanov died in 1928 after exchanging all of his blood with that of a student suffering from malaria and tuberculosis (to prove that blood transfusion works) (136).
Books to follow up on:
Primary: Philip K. Dick - Martian Time-Slip, Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch; Luduk Pesek - The Earth is Near (juvenile fiction from the 1970s); the works of Kim Stanley Robinson; Donald A. Wollheim – The Secret of the Martian Moons (juvenile fiction from the 1960s, cited p 218); genre of early 20th-c sci fi produced texts called "edisonades", which focused on human technological advancement and superiority, a la Thomas Alva (see Suvin, below).
Secondary: H. Bruce Franklin – Future Perfect: American Science Fiction of the Nineteenth Century; Katherine Hayles – How We Became Posthuman; Kim Stanley Robinson, ed. - Future Primitive: The New Ecotopias; Darko Suvin – Metamorphoses of Science Fiction: On The Poetics and History of a Literary Genre.