Snuff It #3
1984, by George Orwell. The ultimate Dystopia bears an uncanny
resemblance to the United States, though of course coercion is now largely
unnecessary, due to the overwhelming acceptance of television. Even if you
read it in high school, it's worth reading again; follow it up by watching
All's Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque, is
"neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure,
for death is not an adventure for those who stand face to face with it. It
[tries] simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have
escaped its shells, were destroyed by war." Follow this one up by
watching Paths of Glory, Stanley Kubrick's wrenching film about the
W.W.I troop mutinies. Yes, the French generals really did give orders to
fire on their own troops.
Biodiversity, by E.O.Wilson. Even by conservative estimates, we
have already lost one-third of the species on this planet, but the
good news is that if anything survives, ants will. Wilson likes ants, and
argues convincingly that they are the best-adapted social creatures on Earth.
Long live the ants.
Breakfast of Champions, by Kurt Vonnegut. Any novel about a dying
planet in which the male characters are introduced by their penis size is
okay by us. The illustrations are priceless, and the book is worth reading
for the first chapter alone, in which Vonnegut describes the "discovery"
of America: "The chief weapon of the sea pirates...was their capacity to
astonish. Nobody else could believe, until it was much too late, how
heartless and greedy they were."
The Decade of Destruction, by Adrian Cowell. An astonishing
first-hand description of the heroic but doomed efforts to save the Amazon
natives from approaching "civilization," during the mammoth
Brazilian development projects of the 60's and 70's. Many had never seen
another tribe, let alone a white person, and the conversations with them
are like messages from another planet. Cowell hits home when he says that
"the difference between the Indian and the civilizado...is the
chasm between the man who lives in the forest and the man who lives in
civilization--the system of the city." Cowell also writes about his
personal friendship with labor leader Chico Mendes, who was later assassinated
by the UDR (the rancher's party).
Entropy: Into the Greenhouse World, by Jeremy Rifkin, the revised
1989 edition. This is one of the most shocking books we've encountered; it
turns the "Age of Progress" completely upside-down, with incredible
force and precision, and concludes that "The only hope for the survival
of the species is for the human race to abandon its aggression against the
planet and seek to accommodate itself to the natural order." Amen.
Rifkin grimly applies the second law of thermodynamics to every aspect of
the modern world, and demonstrates that life is negative entropy.
After reading this, you'll understand our slogan "Efficiency =
Final Exit, by Derek Humphry. The founder of the Hemlock Society
gives us a handy, compassionate, and very practical how-to guide that covers
a variety of "self-deliverance" methods, as well as legal issues
such as "living wills." He includes drug dosages, and it's even
set in oversized type for the older folks. If you can't find it anywhere
else, you can order it directly from Hemlock (see contacts). Have a
Gravity's Rainbow, by Thomas Pynchon. There's really no way to
describe this novel; let's just say it's worth the considerable effort.
Some of its numerous characters also appear in V. (his first book),
and even though it's (mostly) set later, you might want to start with
V. just because it's shorter. If you decide to tackle Gravity's
Rainbow, we've compiled an index which will make it somewhat easier to
follow; we'll be happy to send you a copy. If you get to the end, you'll
also enjoy The Crime and Punishment of I.G. Farben by Joseph Borkin,
which subtantiates many of the historical details.
A Guide for the Perplexed, by E.F.Schumacher. A very thorough
if somewhat tedious explanation of the Four Levels of Being. Like all
Christian theology, it can be (and is) easily misunderstood; in the wrong
hands it leads directly to humanism and the elitist notion that we are
superior beings. Know your enemy.
Howl, by Allen Ginsberg, our sacred poet and the world's greatest
living sodomite. Part III invokes the Ammonite god who eats his children;
strap on your skull mask and "howl" it to a captive crowd for
The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair. A classic, perhaps overly
melodramatic, but still gripping account of the Chicago meat-packing
industry around the turn of the century. This book contains the oldest
reference we've found to the Octopus (the second oldest is in Gravity's
The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss. Yes, it's a children's book. Get over
it. The Lorax speaks for the trees.
Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, by
Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky. If this book doesn't cure you of
reading newspapers, we don't know what will.
The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, by Rainer Maria Rilke.
An anecdotal, obsessive journey into private and public hell. The
descriptions of turn-of-the century Paris are frighteningly familiar; the
characters are vivid and haunting.
A People's History of the United States, by Howard Zinn. This
is the best alternative history of the U.S. we've seen; it's comprehensive,
accurate, and readable. The first chapter on Columbus should be
required reading in every school. You will feel ashamed (and lied to),
or your money back. Americans must die to save the planet.
Our Plundered Planet, by Fairfield Osborn. Who better to describe
Humans objectively than the president of the New York Zoological Society?
This book might be hard to find, but it's a real gem. Our copy's
dust-jacket includes glowing recommendations from Aldous Huxley and Eleanor
Roosevelt, and says that "no nation in the long history of civilization
has been more violently destructive of its life-supporting resources than
the United States of America--that 'country of the great illusion,' the
country that can 'feed the world.'" Remember, this was in 1948!
The Population Explosion, by Paul Erlich. If you're reading
Snuff It, this book is probably "preaching to the choir,"
but if you have any nagging doubts, it's all in there. Written ten years
earlier, The Population Bomb is shorter, less resigned, more passionate,
and very quotable. Needless to say, the "bomb" went off.
Secret and Suppressed: Banned Ideas and Hidden History, edited by Jim
Keith, attempts "to create doors...where once there were walls."
How can the media be both free and controlled at the same time, and why?
The questions are pure subversion, and the answers are terrifying.
Electromagnetic weapons. Remote mind control. J.F.K.'s assassination as
a Freemason "Killing of the King" ritual.
Jim Jones, Waco, the Vatican, even a draft of Danny Casolaro's
Octopus manuscript proposal! We checked on the subliminal images in Oliver
Stone's J.F.K. and they're in there alright. This one wins Highest Boggle
Factor Ever. Follow it with Apocalypse Culture, edited by Adam
Parfrey; highlights include John Zerzan's The Case Against Art,
which could easily have inspired the Unabomber's manifesto.
The Sixteen Satires, by Juvenal, translated by Peter Green.
It's amazing how little urban life has changed since ancient Rome. Folks
pushed paper all day, worked out at the gym, dined at restaurants, read
about scandals, and longed for holidays. The satire is vicious,
perverted, and utterly hilarious; all roads lead to sodomy.
Satire IX features an aging gigolo: "Do you suppose it's easy, or
fun, this job of cramming my cock up into your guts till I'm stopped by
last night's supper?"
Tales of Power, by Carlos Castenada. "Only if one loves
this earth with unbending passion can one release one's sadness,"
Don Juan said. "A warrior is always joyful because his love is
unalterable and his beloved, the earth, embraces him and bestows upon
him inconceivable gifts...sadness belongs only to those who hate the
very thing that shelters their beings."
The Tarot, by Paul Foster Case, founder of The Builders of
the Adytum (BOTA). An excellent overview of the history and construction
of the esoteric Tarot and the Qabalah, including exquisite
renditions of the Major Arcana by Jessie Burns Parke. A chapter is
devoted to each Trump, and the errors of the popular "Rider"
pack are explained, and corrected. BOTA distributes Parke's deck, in
black-and-white only; they recommend you color it in (using their detailed
instructions) while studying the book, thereby personalizing the cards and
imprinting them on your subconscious. We did this, and are well-pleased
with the results.
The Technological Society, by Jacques Ellul. The grandfather
of the Situationists dissects technique, with "monumental calm and
maddening thoroughness." Rifkin's Entropy is cheerful by
comparison; abandon all hope, ye who enter here. If you finish it without
killing yourself, check out Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes,
in which Ellul reveals that "The fundamental myths of our society...are
Work, Progress, and Happiness," and that "successful propaganda
will occupy every moment of the individual's life."
Theosophy: An Introduction to the Supersensible Knowledge of the World
and the Destination of Man. by Rudolph Steiner. This extremely formal
and typically German book on the "occult science" of Goethe covers
more or less the same ground as A Guide for the Perplexed, though with
much longer sentences and a much higher boggle factor; the chapter on
"Spiritland" is way out there. Steiner later went on to found the
Waldorf schools, among other things.
Worlds in Harmony: Dialogues on Compassionate Action, by the Dalai
Lama. A long line of people ask interesting questions, and His Holiness
answers them, with wisdom and compassion. Our favorite answer? "I
think that our basic nature as human beings is to be vegetarian--making every
effort not to harm other living beings."
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert Pirsig.
Pirsig combines an incredibly moving personal story with a rhetorically
flawless refutation of Western philosophy all the way back to Socrates.
More pertinent now than ever, this is one of those books that just keeps
getting better. Highly Recommended.
More Recommended Reading...
index #3 ·