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Reviews 81 What he shares then is not a memoir, nor is it an autobiography. Corder, known in the scholarly world as an expert teacher of rhetoric and composition, examines instead the process of remembering. Mistaken that reading old news­ papers can reveal an individual life, he finds the past-seeker must compromise and create his history from inferences drawn from fragments of unreliable memory. His conclusion is poetry: “We’re transients, ghosts, mere interpreta­ tions somewhere else, already forgotten. We’re transients, brother, and that’s all right.” If this exploration of a personal past is not a memoir, then how can we classify it? Against the background of small-town life captured here, the writer superimposes the images he remembers of his boyhood and sometimes creates poetry. Repetition of the image of the child calling in the distance and of the brother lost in a dust storm, who can see his shadow walking beside him, provides the narrative’s connecting motifs. If readers sometimes become impa­ tient with the cataloguing of grocery and cotton prices and weather reports, they soon forgive. The mysteries in remembered pasts puzzle all of us. What the memoirist seeks is what Corder discovers finally: “You are real, and I am real. We remember. We aren’t shadows in the air.” LOU RODENBERGER McMurry University The Dream of The Earth. By Thomas Berry. (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1988. 247 pages, $18.95.) In his lifelong study of human cultures, from his own hill country in North Carolina to India, China and the Philippines, Thomas Berry [no relation to Wendell] has had ample time and opportunity to learn much about humanity’s presence on the earth. As we all know, the news is not good, especially since the Industrial Revolution has hastened the destruction of the landscape world­ wide. Berry’s The Dream of The Earth is a philosophical meditation, in the tradition of Sand County Almanac, on the dreams and stories that brought on such destruction; it articulates the need and means for creating a new story to take us out of that destructive mode. Berry looks at the late 20th century as the turning point, as the end of what he calls the “scientific-technological phase” (which followed the “Neo­ lithic, Paleolithic, and classical-traditional” phases). We are entering what he designates the “Ecological Age.” It is “all a question of story. We are in trouble just now because we do not have a good story. We are in between stories.” So now more than ever the dreams of poets, artists, shamans, philosophers, scientists and ordinary citizens must take into account the numinous qualities of the earth, while abandoning the anthropocentric dreams of industrial society. Berry sees our Western cultural coding as so imbued with man-centered biases that it offers little help in discovering the new dream. In our genetic coding, he says, lies the means to create a new mythology that can heal and sustain the planet. 82 Western American Literature The Dream of The Earth covers a lot of familiar philosophical territory. But this book contains much wisdom as to how we let our dreams and myths drive us to the brink and how new ones can lead us from it. And even though Berry’s book will not be read by those who most need to—the editor of The Wall Street Journal, the president of Dow Chemical, the heads of the advertis­ ing industry—it should have special interest for college teachers and adminis­ trators looking for new approaches to general education. In his chapter, “The American College in The Ecological Age,” he outlines a radical but rational alternative to traditional courses of study. His six-course, integrated program would ground itself “in the dynamics of the earth as a self-emerging, selfsustaining , self-educating, self-governing, self-healing, and self-fulfilling com­ munity.” If implemented nationwide, this course of study would not only alter American education, it would help reshape the way we dream of ourselves on the earth. And that is the most urgent issue of our times. I recommend this book. JIM ATON Southern Utah State College Time’s Island: The California Desert. By...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 81-82
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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