book review: how to do nothing by jenny o'dell07 Mar 2021
What are the main ideas?
- capitalism, colonialism, loneliness, and environmental abuse/destruction “coproduce” each other
- most things currently classified as “production” are actually “destruction” of some other system that was, before human intervention, producing just fine
- “doing nothing” isn’t possible; the question is what is more directly about the end of goal of the things you/we are doing. are we doing things for the purpose of engaging in the processes of life and living on the earth? or are you/we doing things to avoid the processes of life?
- in light of ever diminishing profits from earth-based physical extraction, attention economy corporations extract our attention because it’s (for now) a profitable frontier
- when individuals lose their ability to direct their attention, they give control of their lives to external forces. when society, that is, collections of individuals and groups, collectively loses its ability to direct its attention, civilization collapses.
- refusing the attention economy is hard but simple: pay attention to where you are, physically and emotionally. as you do that and begin to see yourself as just another part of your ecosystem, it becomes clear pretty quickly how to resist (corporate) extraction of your attention (and your life)
If I implemented one idea from this book right now, which one would it be?
be bioregional. pay attention to the life all around me.
if i could implement two, the second would be manifest dismantling, the reverse of manifest destiny. it is possible (necessary?) to discreate what manifest destiny created by removing disruptions to life. this doesn’t mean doing nothing, but it does mean paying attention to and working with the intellgience of life rather than ignoring it or trying to be better than it.
How would I describe the book to a friend?
this is a philosophy book that reads like art history. because i don’t like art history, at first i didn’t dig it. but as i got into its meandering, flowing arguments, i found myself seeing these truths everywhere and how critical they are. this book is definitely art but, like most good art, if you really are present with it, it’ll shake you up real good.
reminder: book review structure