CIVILIZATION: Its Cause and Cure by Edward Carpenter
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Edward Carpenter (1844-1929), an English poet and philosopher, friend and lover of Walt Whitman, is presented here in another wonderful Enemy Combatants pamphlet. As the introduction reminds us, visionaries like Carpenter are often relegated to the margins, labeled as eccentrics, or softened at the edges so their work is less offensive to the status quo. Carpenter felt that civilization is a stage and a disease humans must pass through that wreaks havoc on our bodies, minds and souls, before humans retreat inward, back to the garden, throwing off the shackles of self-consciousness before entering a final stage of primitive communism. Self-knowledge (which Carpenter believes is actually loss of the self) is the cause of the human fall and exile from paradise. An interesting critique of capitalism and progress laden with poetic imagery, Civilization: Its Cause and Cure is a must-read for anybody interested in utopias, disease, the body, and what it means to be human.