Easter readings

Today I am sending a new “postcard from the shelves” : doing my duty at the reference desk last friday, this book came to my hands :

colibri

 

“La stratégie du colibri”, which you can translate in english by “The strategy of the hummingbird”. It’s not exactly a new book, since it was released in 2008 in France, but it’s still strongly topical at the present time. It’s about acting for the planet at your own local level : reducing your waste, limiting your carbon footprint by organizing ridesharing, and all those things you can do to humbly contribute to a better environment.

Ok, I did not read it, I casted an eye over its pages, let’s say it’s an excuse to organize a triptych in the garden : the book, a postcard showing a hummingbird that my friend Denis sent me from Cayenne, french Guyana, and our cat Isis in the background. Picturesque, isn’t it ?

So, what is the “strategy of the hummingbird” ? It’s an ancient tale told by Pierre Rabhi in the foreword of the book, but what Rabhi doesn’t say and what the author of the book doesn’t say is where they found that tale. I discovered the real story behind this hummingbird tale, and it certainly doesn’t come from France : have you heard about Wangari Maathai ?

Founder of the Green Belt Movement in the 70’s, that kenyan women was the first african women to receive the Nobel Prize in 2004 for “her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace”, you will learn more about her on her wikipedia page.  That was her that told us about the story of the hummingbird, check the full tale here :

 

 

Of course these topics are serious matters in 2015, but before pretending to be “ecocitizens”, Séverine Millet and Pierre Rabhi should well tell us about their source of inspiration, isn’t it ?

Last days, an important book came on the shelves, I hope it has or will be(en) translated in a great deal of languages, I want to talk about Naomi Klein’s last book : “This changes everything”. After “No logo” & “The shock doctrine”, the canadian journalist continues her fight against capitalism and its mechanisms, and it’s precisely about the involvement of the big firms in the destruction of nature. We all know that, it’s well and constantly documented, and this time she shows again how some huge companies deliberately carry on promoting fossil fuels, as well as everybody knows it’s time for a change if we want to save the planet.

That leads me to the book I am actually reading this week-end : from ecology to ecology versus capitalism, we logically arrive to capitalism at its core, it’s the subject of one of the best contemporary mexican writer : Jorge Volpi.

Volpi

Apparently, and surprisingly, it has not yet been translated in english, that’s a real pity. The fantastic work of Roberto Bolaño is very well known in the United States, Volpi does not seem to encounter the same enthusiasm. “Les bandits”, the bandits, who are they ? You said it : the underhand gamblers that quicken the financial crisis in 2008. Those working for JP Morgan, Lehman Brothers and some other…charitable organizations.

This novel is organized on various plans : from the Bretton Woods agreement to the last scientific financial tools, it’s a dive in the mysteries of the last century’s economics. My reading is underway, did not finish it yet, but this novel is already one of the best I’ve read this year so far.

EDIT : April 9th, late afternoon, I just finished the book, it really is an incredible novel, I highly recommend it. I cannot resist to display an excerpt…in french :

” (…) Une contagion sans précédent ou, plus exactement, le plus important transfert de capitaux jamais orchestré, de la classe moyenne aux multimillionaires. Parce que, au-delà des faillites et des banqueroutes, du spectaculaire suicide d’un cadre supérieur et de la dépression de quelques fonctionnaires du Trésor, les magnats ont à peine senti l’onde de choc, s’ils  l’ont sentie. Je dirais même qu’ils ont tiré profit de la crise comme ils avaient tiré profit de la bulle et – excepté quelques bouc émissaires tels que moi – conservé leurs primes astronomiques, leurs parachutes dorés, leurs demeures dans les Hamptons et sur la Riviera, leurs bacchanales hollywoodiennes et leurs voitures de sport. Repêchés in extremis avec notre argent – bon geste de l’Obama socialiste – ils survivent aujourd’hui dans l’abondance.

Non, lecteurs appauvris, pour eux la fin du monde n’a pas eu lieu, et ce n’est pas pour rien qu’ils sont les plus forts, les plus aptes ; d’autres ont payé pour leur ambition et leurs erreurs : vous. Tous ceux qui pendant une vingtaine d’années ont vécu à crédit, tous les pauvres diables qui ont cru au conte des petites maisons hypothéquées changées en châteaux princiers. Et qui ont tout perdu. On vous a d’abord retiré vos masures et vos maigres économies, puis votre dignité, et, pour finir, jusqu’aux infâmes services publics qui vous tenaient lieu d’obole. “Nous sommes désolés, mesdames, messieurs, mais il faut maintenant vous serrer la ceinture, vous assènent les hommes politiques de droite et de gauche. Vous avez vécu et rêvé au-dessus de vos moyens, il faut maintenant en payer le prix.” Et vous les avez crus, malheureux, et vous êtes retournés voter pour ces canailles de droite et de gauche, qui vous accusent d’être les véritables responsables de la crise.(…)”