Sunday, March 04, 2007

Stewart Brand showed up in NYT

Good to see Stewart Brand showed up in NYT science pages last week. The founding editor of The Whole Earth Catalog has never been quite the harmonist in the church choir, and there’s no sign that’s changed on reviewing the piece: An Early Environmentalist, Embracing New ‘Heresies’. What are the heresies here referred to? Well, Brand is ready to accept a renewal in nuclear plant building. I am ready to agree with him: The risk of global warming, and the planet’s inhabitant’s tendencies to want electricity, warmth, and individual mobility at this point mitigate in favor of the certainly risk-encompassing nuclear solution.

As a viewer of earth phenomena Brand is non par. Twas Stewart who retrieved the Apollo program from cultural insignificance as he forwarded the conception of the importance of seeing the earth in whole in a photo.

I have been largely entertaining and often much influenced by Stewart Brand over 30 years now. Since the day I first saw the Whole Earth Catalog at Dave M.’s. He was on to Weiner and McLuhan, and people I didn’t know, like Buckminster Fuller. Cybernetics as some type of system view on technological evolution, seemed in the offing here, as well as saunas, mulchers and kayaks. All the things to escape from the Nixonian Brain Police State!

The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Technicians of the Sacred, bungee chords .. how much did Brand’s pubs hip me too?!

All this became just as pointed and convincing in the CoEvolution Quarterly [The compendium I still have of that is aptly titled News that Stayed News]. Ginseng in Wisconsin, R. Crumb’s history of America .. the list goes on. The special key was that he was not afraid of computers as were a whole lot of the barricade stormers of the same eras.

In the Times piece it’s noted that Brand used Weinterian principles in his original “America Needs Indians” light shows with the Merry Pranksters. Fuller is discussed. The times I’ve been wrong is when I assume there’s a brittleness in a complex hsystem that turns out to be way more resilient than I thought.”
He now looks at the rapidly growing megacities of the third world not as a crisis but as good news:

To look at Brand’s publications today is to find many notions that are now ‘new’ again. All somehow more illuminate in the light of first principles. Yoiks away, Stewart!


1 comment:

James Aach said...

FYI: Mr. Brand has also been kind enough to endorse my novel of nuclear power, which is based on my twenty years in the US nuclear industry and is designed to provide a good overview of the real world of nuclear for a lay person. It's much different than what pundits, politicians and the press on all sides of the issue portray. "Rad Decision" is available free online at and is also in paperback via online retailers.

"I'd like to see Rad Decision widely read." - Stewart Brand

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