Book Review: As Eve Said To The Serpent

As Eve Said To The Serpent:  On Landscape, Gender, And Art, by Rebecca Solnit

One of the more intriguing aspects of reading material from Rebecca Solnit is that one knows that it will be reliably rubbish [1].  It hardly matters whether she is writing about her travels, or the West, or the aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, or any other number of subjects, what she says will be ridiculous and untrue.  One gets the distinct feeling from reading this book that the author fancies herself far cleverer and far more insightful than she in fact is.  In fact, this book is a good book to hateread, an unfortunate habit of mine I suppose, in that I can tell whether or not someone’s opinion will be worth listening to based on how they feel about this book.  If they think this book is amazing, I probably will not respect or agree with much about what they say.  And the reverse is likely to be true as well.  The author and I are simply with opposite worldviews and disagree on fundamentally everything that she talks about in this book.  One has to be a particular sort of person to read a book like this unless you happen to believe in ecofeminism and view leftist tech companies as being too right-wing, and I would not consider that a good thing.

The author at least speaks about a wide variety of subjects.  She begins with a bird’s eye view of the west and her tastes in literature.  After that there is a discussion on the damage done to various areas, like Nevada’s great basin, due to the bomb.  Then there are some laughable ideas for a new landscape.  The author talks about the desert and her ideas about what kind of people appreciate them (I happen to myself, but I don’t think this makes me particularly special).  The author enjoys the thought of unsettling the west through photography, encourages various new landscapes, and has some scaremongering thoughts about technology being too conservative in its approach.  The author has some rubbish thoughts about immigration–apparently failing to recognize that even the Garden of Eden had an angel with a flaming sword to bar the way.  There are discussions about Noah’s alphabet, dirt, some art gallery show outside of San Francisco, the landscapes of emergency, caves, perspective, and even the aesthetics of nature calendars and some comments about aesthetics and how it relates to gender.

As a reader of this book, I was disappointed that I couldn’t even appreciate much of the photography because so much of it dealt with heretical ideas about the sacred feminine.  When an author has offensive religious views, political views, and views about aesthetics, there is very little to appreciate.  The author’s praise of the remote and the wilderness appears to have a high degree of hostility towards humanity in general, especially men, and a desire to be a recluse in a wilderness with only herself and those of like mind to spend time with.  Quite frankly, any world she viewed as a utopia would likely be viewed by most other people as a hell, and most worlds without her would probably be better than this one.  For most people who do not like to read books they know they will despise because the author has nothing of value to say about any topic, this book (or any other one she is involved with) will be easy enough to avoid, but I suppose I can spare some pity for those who do think her worth reading.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2018/11/07/book-review-a-book-of-migrations/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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