The Wayfinders Paperback – Oct 1 2009
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Quill & Quire
For many years and over many continents, anthropologist Wade Davis has chronicled the lives, languages, and customs of the globe’s last remaining aboriginal peoples. The outlook is bleak on all counts. Of the approximately 7,000 languages presently spoken, 3,500 face extinction in our lifetime. When the last speaker of a given language vanishes, so will the last vestiges of a culture. In The Wayfinders, this year’s instalment of CBC’s Massey Lectures, Davis describes several groups he has come to know, peoples who live so closely with the natural world that they can hardly discern a border between the human and the non-human, animate and inanimate. Their art and myths afford outsiders a glimpse of an alternative to the dominant social paradigm that began with Cartesian thought in Europe and eventually spread around the globe. Today, this way of seeing the world is so pervasive that most people probably aren’t aware alternatives exist at all. Such ignorance could prove damaging to the future of life on this planet. If biodiversity and the peoples best equipped to understand it disappear, alternative sustainable lifestyles may vanish along with them. The earth’s ongoing viability requires a spectrum of wildlife and a wide range of human perception. Or, as Davis puts it, “The ethnosphere is humanity’s greatest legacy.” The author of The Serpent and the Rainbow and The Clouded Leopard, Davis writes powerfully and emotionally. Our materialistic worldview unwisely marginalizes spiritual and intrinsic values, he says. “We take this as a given for it is the foundation of our system.… But if you think about it, especially from the perspective of so many other cultures … it appears to be very odd and highly anomalous human behaviour.” It’s this very behaviour that has created depleted fisheries, toxic pollution, and environmental refugees. Davis argues persuasively that our curent patterns of thought and behaviour could do with input from elsewhere. He urges us to assimilate some valuable lessons from the planet’s ancient cultures before it is too late.
...[Davis] does a solid job of debunking the notion that Western rationalism, espoused from the Enlightenment through to the present, is the only-or even the best-model for humanity. (Walrus 2009-11-01)
...cogent, fierce and provocative... (Montreal Gazette 2009-10-09)
Davis writes powerfully and emotionally. (Quill & Quire 2009-09-01)
In The Wayfinders, Davis presents an eloquent and persuasive case for the contemporary value of these ancient cultures, not least because of what we might learn about how human societies can live sustainably on the planet. (Canadian Geographic 2009-10-01)
This year's Massey Lecturer presents his refreshing view, of examining ancient wisdom and indigenous cultures to help us find our own path, and it demands to be read. (National Post 2010-01-10)
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Every Wade Davis book is like having a box o my favorite chocolates all to myself. Except better, because reading doesn't have calories. Read morePublished 9 days ago by Michelle Beauchamp
Wade Davis is my professor at UBC and bores the hell out of me....Published 12 months ago by Amazon Customer
A book which should be read by everyone who cares about the past and future of this planet and its inhabitants.Published 14 months ago by jean Waymark
A very impressive book which champions the knowledge and cultural practices of non-Western societies. Read morePublished 16 months ago by John Anderson
Wade is capable of rational thought and even incisive, biting, categorical academic criticism (as evidenced by his recent and probably partially justified trashing of Jared... Read morePublished on June 24 2014 by ogilvie
"It is neither change nor technology that threatens the integrity of culture. It is power, the crude face of domination. Read morePublished on Oct. 7 2013 by VG
Very interesting. I used this book for a recent college course. It was thought provoking and a very interesting look at past history and present day experience.Published on March 21 2013 by Ranae H
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