Dec 3, 2021

Desert Notebooks: A Road Map for the End of Time

Desert Notebooks: A Road Map for the End of Time

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Desert Notebooks: A Road Map for the End of Time audiobook

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Review #1

Desert Notebooks: A Road Map for the End of Time audiobook free

This is a pleasant meditation. The author writes in Joshua Tree and Las Vegas and finds it hard to have faith in progress or, for that matter, writing itself. There are some vivid local color observations and interesting historical digressions.

In many ways, this book is exemplary Generation X — suspicious of Euro-centrism but incapable of imagining a robust alternative to capitalist realism. The author discusses, for example, the world views of some Native Americans, but has no real idea what to do with that information.

Generation X is really the in-between generation. The Baby Boomers (I generalize, of course) had a deep faith in capitalism and unregulated markets, and gave America Bill Clinton, George Bush and Donald Trump. Millennials, in turn, are actively grappling with the horror-show that Boomers have created.

Gen X came of age before the capitalist collapses of 2009 and 2020 and (I generalize again) the intellectuals of this generation do not seem really up to the challenge of the moment. There’s lots of healthy skepticism and anti-authoritarian sentiment, but no sense of direction or vision.

And that’s the general tone of this book — slightly dazed. The author comes across as likable, progressive, and irrelevant by habit of mind rather than opportunity or ability. I recommend this book to Generation X readers who look forward to a better future without quite being able to imagine it.


Review #2

Desert Notebooks: A Road Map for the End of Time audiobook streamming online

I found this book engaging, erudite, enthralling and inspiring. And it is fun to read, though you may want to take it in doses, as each reading will leave you wanting to pause and think a bit, perhaps even dream. Yes, this book is visionary, and way cool. Do your self a favor and buy and read this great book. It even inspired me to write this poem about it before I finished reading the last section.
The Epilogue to Eternity by the Stars
For Ben Ehrenreich, author of Desert Notebooks
(After Seamus Heaney)

Ill read it then, after this happens
Or perhaps before
As it could have happened
Many times
All of them later or prior
To this ever/ never now.

Louis Auguste Blanqui
Could not have known
Yet knew
He would die on the New Year
And lie among his comrade Communards
Who rose like dry-land wheat-sheaves
Up from their graves,
Ever to rise again
Ever rise again.

–Bill Nevins, August 24 2020


Review #3

Audiobook Desert Notebooks: A Road Map for the End of Time by Ben Ehrenreich

Ehrenreich has written the deepest and most important book of the year. It is an amazing collection of musings, history, philosophy,and myth all tied up in a deeply spiritual work of art. Must reading for any citizen of this planet.


Review #4

Audio Desert Notebooks: A Road Map for the End of Time narrated by David Bendena

While well written this book is scattered, tedious, and ultimately meh! Skipping across native cultures, sky watches, a homeless person over the hedge, lore, much more, and yeah even Hegel . . . this book is so too long in making a point.


Review #5

Free audio Desert Notebooks: A Road Map for the End of Time – in the audio player below

I dont believe I have ever read a book like Desert Notebooks before. It is part memoir and part meditation on a range of moral, philosophical, political, historical, sociological, and ontological topics. The book is about, among other things, the desert, creosote bushes, Native American history, language, time, creation myths, owls, Christianity, capitalism, the hegemony of European civilization, climate change, progress or its illusion, barbarism, Las Vegas, and of course, Trump, who is referred to in the book as the Rhino. The book reminded me of the work of English philosopher John Gray, who has written similarly structured books, which is to say not very structured books, about the false belief in the inevitability of human progress inherent in western humanistic and liberal thought, and the idea that history is much more cyclical than linear.

Ben Ehrenreich is a superb writer. As someone who lives in and loves the Sonoran Desert, I found his descriptions of the desert to be beguiling ([i]t shrinks you and puts eternity in the foregroundif you are open to it, and dont mind a diminished role in this drama, it insists, quietly, on the surging beauty of all things and non-things living and dead and not-formally-alive). I share his love for the smell of the wet creosote bush. But the book is only minimally about the desert, except to the extent the desert may be seen as a constant symbol of mans essential and inevitable subservience to nature, despite his best efforts to assert dominance over something that will always be larger, wiser, and more powerful than he is.

Ehrenreich is an iconoclast and a severe critic of America and western civilization generally. I am personally receptive to the kind of intense re-examination of received truths in which he engages. Our American society needs much more self-examination and skepticism about the sources and effects our own myths and what the continued prosecution of the American project is doing to the world and its inhabitants.

In the end this is not a hopeful book but it is a book that expresses urgency. One senses that Ehrenreich holds out little hope for some kind of redemption for America and at times he expresses the view that we are well past the point where redemption is even possible. Nonetheless, he can still locate in nature a kind of wisdom that is vanishingly rare in human society.

This book is most definitely not for everyone and I can imagine those of a conservative political orientation would find it quite distasteful. At times Ehrenreich seems too angry and even righteous. I sometimes felt that what seemed like disgust with his own culture detracted from the importance of his message and the brilliance of his writing. This is not to say that there isn’t much in our history to be angry about, only that tone can affect the ability of a reader to absorb content, particularly when it challenges orthodoxy.

If you can manage Ehrenreich’s intensity, are not of an overly reflexive conservative bent, and can tolerate the often arcane subjects and discursive style of the book, you should find it rewarding. I did.


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