Chelsea Green Publishing

Being Salmon, Being Human

Pages:368 pages
Size: 6 x 9 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Paperback: 9781603587457
Pub. Date October 25, 2017

Being Salmon, Being Human

Encountering the Wild in Us and Us in the Wild

By Martin Lee Mueller
Foreword by Stephan Harding

Availability: In Stock

Paperback

Available Date:
October 25, 2017

$25.00

In search of a new story for our place on earth

Being Salmon, Being Human examines Western culture’s tragic alienation from nature by focusing on the relationship between people and salmon—weaving together key narratives about the Norwegian salmon industry as well as wild salmon in indigenous cultures of the Pacific Northwest.

Mueller uses this lens to articulate a comprehensive critique of human exceptionalism, directly challenging the four-hundred-year-old notion that other animals are nothing but complicated machines without rich inner lives and that Earth is a passive backdrop to human experience. Being fully human, he argues, means experiencing the intersection of our horizon of understanding with that of other animals. Salmon are the test case for this. Mueller experiments, in evocative narrative passages, with imagining the world as a salmon might see it, and considering how this enriches our understanding of humanity in the process.

Being Salmon, Being Human is both a philosophical and a narrative work, rewarding readers with insightful interpretations of major philosophers—Descartes, Heidegger, Abram, and many more—and reflections on the human–Earth relationship. It stands alongside Abram’s Spell of the Sensuous and Becoming Animal, as well as Andreas Weber’s The Biology of Wonder and Matter and Desire—heralding a new “Copernican revolution” in the fields of biology, ecology, and philosophy.

REVIEWS AND PRAISE

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Mueller, a naturalist, philosopher, and storyteller from Oslo, links his fate to wild salmon in a remarkable work that doubles as poetic treatise and a broad environmental critique. He migrates across many waters—including ethnography, genetics, and linguistics—but throughout his focus remains the coho, sockeye, and other river-spawning salmon species with which humans share an intricately woven history. Anthropocentrism comes in for harsh criticism in this account. So does the Norwegian fish-farming industry, which boasts of providing 12 million salmon dinners a day; AquaBounty Technologies, a Waltham, Mass., biotech company that in 2010 applied to the FDA to market a genetically modified supersalmon; and René Descartes, the early modern philosopher whose separation of mind from body (and thus of the human from nature), Mueller argues, is responsible for the “suicidal” course on which humans have put the planet. Here, Spinoza and philosopher David Abram (Mueller’s mentor) offer alternate “narratives” for survival, an ecologist investigates how the fungal networks in tree roots help forest communities survive, a geomorphologist studies modern humans’ dysfunctional relationship with dirt, a microbiologist espouses Gaia theory, and an ethnographer asks Quinault elders for their “side of the story” regarding Capt. Robert Gray’s 1787 “discovery” of the Columbia River. This is a powerful book about what it means to be human in the “more-than-human” world."

“Here is a philosopher who has learned to think not only with his head but with his whole body. A keenly aware human animal, Martin Mueller dreams himself salmon flesh. Gill slits open along his neck as he glides between mountain streams and the broad ocean currents. His scales glint and ripple in the moonlight, their reflections posing ever more penetrating questions for our species. This is a game-changing culture-shifting book, ethical and eloquent, opening the way toward a more mature natural science—one that’s oriented by our own creaturely participation and rapport with the rest of the biosphere.”—David Abram, author of The Spell of the Sensuous and Becoming Animal; director, Alliance for Wild Ethics 

“The salmon farming industry is not only cruel and environmentally damaging; it threatens to corrode wildness itself. No one has made a more compelling argument to support this fact than Martin Lee Mueller. Philosophically, scientifically, morally, and artistically, Mueller blows the industry guys literally out of the water. If you care about the future of salmon, you must read this essential, rigorously documented book.”—Sy Montgomery, coauthor of Tamed and Untamed; author of The Soul of an Octopus

“What if looking at a salmon brought you into deep meditation, and at the end of that meditation you realized that you were looking at yourself, that the salmon was you, you were the salmon, and all is one? That realization is the greatest story on Earth. This book is that crucial meditation.”—Carl Safina, author of Song for the Blue Ocean and The View from Lazy Point

“We are slowly realizing—in our dramatic cultural epoch—that dualism has come to an end. Humans do not stand above the Earth; we are but one of its ways of imagining itself. The thinking and feeling of the coming era won’t distinguish between imagination, matter, theory, and desire. Martin Lee Mueller’s book is one of the first works to radically imagine this new world that is dawning. He shows that reality is a weaving of yearning bodies expressive of innumerable existential stories. Here, outwardness and interiority, humans and salmons, physical descriptions, historiography, and memoir are continuously intertwining. They are equally important aspects of a multifaceted whole that calls for scientific descriptions as well as for personal expressions. Mueller’s work is a fine example of the new renaissance slowly gaining momentum, in which we understand our humanness as one strand of the world’s manifold desire to become.”—Andreas Weber, author of Matter and Desire and Biology of Wonder

“This eloquent, impassioned, and often poetic book offers something remarkable: a coherent philosophical and spiritual vision for this era of ecological fragility. Marked by clarity and compassion, Being Salmon, Being Human is a beautiful, important work—and a necessary one.”—Judith D. Schwartz, author of Cows Save the Planet and Water in Plain Sight

“With this beautiful and important book, Martin Lee Mueller has written a love song to the salmon, and a love song to all life. This book deserves to be read and understood, as an important step in helping us to remember how to love this wonderful planet that is our only home.”—Derrick Jensen, author of A Language Older Than WordsThe Culture of Make BelieveEndgame, and many other books

“Mueller’s book carries both erudition and urgency secreted within its silvery scales. He understands the hour is late, and his intelligent push towards across-species storytelling is to be taken seriously. Bless his steps, and may his work carry its nutritional goodness far, far over the green teeth of the sea.”—Martin Shaw, author of Scatterlings: Getting Claimed in the Age of Amnesia

“A marvelous exploration of what it means to belong within life’s community. Mueller integrates imagination and analysis to produce a book of rare and important insight.”—David George Haskell, author of The Songs of Trees and Pulitzer finalist The Forest Unseen; professor, The University of the South

“What a fantastic gift from the nation that has given us both deep ecology and farmed fish. Martin Lee Mueller is the first to explain how strange this pairing can be. From Descartes to Naess, he knows his philosophy. But no one before Mueller has dared to ask our gravlax itself, ‘Who are you?’ This is the wildest salmon book ever written.”—David Rothenberg, author of Survival of the Beautiful and Thousand Mile Song; distinguished professor of philosophy, New Jersey Institute of Technology

“How refreshing to read a book on human–fish relations that actually considers the fishes’ own perspectives! With lyrical, empathic prose, Mueller beautifully expresses both the sensual world of a salmon and the tragedy of our self-absorption.”—Jonathan Balcombe, author of What a Fish Knows

“In these pages you will find a well-referenced eco-philosophical story about some of the confounding origins of our separation from both self and all that is nonhuman. Martin Lee Mueller’s words are a song of celebration, offering a shared sense of salvation to see salmon and humans, as Haudenosaunee Faithkeeper Oren Lyons might suggest, as relatives rather than resources. Read this book as a clarion call and homecoming for a vision of a new ‘Theory of Relatives-ity’ with the mantra being: ‘Bring the Salmon H.O.M.E. Bring the Humans H.O.M.E. (Here On Mother Earth)!’”—Brock Dolman, director, WATER Institute, Occidental Arts and Ecology Center

“In Being Salmon, Being Human, Martin Lee Mueller brings the abstract categories and arguments of eco-philosophy vividly to life by using them as a lens through which to examine the salmon feedlot industry in Norway. Weaving together narrative, poetry, science, natural history, and economics, while contrasting Indigenous and modern perspectives on the meaning of salmon, he creates an eloquent, multi-layered terrain of thought and story that exposes the abject depth of wrongness that this industry represents. By implication, the whole of modern industrial civilization, and the forms of nationalist identity to which it gives rise, are revealed as equally in error.

“The beauty and passion of the writing made my own ancestrally Nordic bones ache with longing for the still enchanted, still poetically charged landscapes and seascapes of this ‘small kingdom in the far north,’ this ‘Way to the North’ that has long been a beacon of ecological consciousness and may now, under Mueller’s tender tutelage, help to point a Way towards a more bearable future.”—Freya Mathews, professor of environmental philosophy, Latrobe University, Australia

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Martin Lee Mueller

Martin Lee Mueller, PhD, received his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Oslo in 2016. Before that, he received his master’s degree in culture, environment, and sustainability at the University of Oslo’s Center for Development and the Environment (SUM). He has previously helped build teaching centers in rural Mongolia, worked as a kindergarten teacher, been an elementary school librarian, and led a wilderness school in the Norwegian forest. Recently he has also been touring as a storyteller to festivals in the U.K. and Scandinavia, with a stage performance inspired by this book. Salmon Fairytale weaves together philosophy, traditional storytelling, and Samí joik music. He lives in Oslo together with his partner and daughter.

AUTHOR VIDEOS

Salmon Fairytale

With joik, philosophy and stories from Sami and North-American indigenous tradition we wonder with salmon, both the wild and the farmed.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

What We Think About When We Try Not To Think About Global Warming

What We Think About When We Try Not To Think About Global Warming

By Per Espen Stoknes

Why does knowing more mean believing—and doing—less? A prescription for change

The more facts that pile up about global warming, the greater the resistance to them grows, making it harder to enact measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare communities for the inevitable change ahead.

It is a catch-22 that starts, says psychologist and economist Per Espen Stoknes, from an inadequate understanding of the way most humans think, act, and live in the world around them. With dozens of examples—from the private sector to government agencies—Stoknes shows how to retell the story of climate change and, at the same time, create positive, meaningful actions that can be supported even by deniers.

In What We Think About When We Try Not To Think About Global Warming, Stoknes not only masterfully identifies the five main psychological barriers to climate action, but addresses them with five strategies for how to talk about global warming in a way that creates action and solutions, not further inaction and despair.

These strategies work with, rather than against, human nature. They are social, positive, and simple—making climate-friendly behaviors easy and convenient. They are also story-based, to help add meaning and create community, and include the use of signals, or indicators, to gauge feedback and be constantly responsive.

Whether you are working on the front lines of the climate issue, immersed in the science, trying to make policy or educate the public, or just an average person trying to make sense of the cognitive dissonance or grapple with frustration over this looming issue, What We Think About When We Try Not To Think About Global Warming moves beyond the psychological barriers that block progress and opens new doorways to social and personal transformation.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

What We Think About When We Try Not To Think About Global Warming

Per Espen Stoknes, Jorgen Randers

Paperback $24.95

The World According to Monsanto (DVD)

The World According to Monsanto (DVD)

By Marie-Monique Robin

Monsanto's controversial past combines some of the most toxic products ever sold with misleading reports, pressure tactics, collusion, and attempted corruption. They now race to genetically engineer (and patent) the world's food supply, which profoundly threatens our health, environment, and economy. Combining secret documents with first-hand accounts by victims, scientists, and politicians, this widely praised film exposes why Monsanto has become the world's poster child for malignant corporate influence in government and technology.

Also on the DVD:
Your Milk on Drugs—Just Say No!, A film by Jeffrey M. Smith

Dairy products from cows treated with Monsanto's genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST) may sharply increase cancer risk and other diseases, especially in children. Already banned in most industrialized nations, it was approved in the U.S. on the backs of fired whistleblowers, manipulated research, and a corporate takeover at the FDA. This must-see film includes footage prepared for a Fox TV station—canceled after a letter from Monsanto's attorney threatened "dire consequences."

Bonus CD:
"Don't Put That in Your Mouth," a speech by Jeffrey M. Smith

You'll want to stop eating genetically modified foods after you learn how they're linked to toxic and allergic reactions; sick, sterile, and dead livestock; and damage to virtually every organ studied in lab animals.

Available in: DVD

Read More

The World According to Monsanto (DVD)

Marie-Monique Robin, Jeffrey M. Smith

DVD $19.95

Search for the Golden Moon Bear

Search for the Golden Moon Bear

By Sy Montgomery

Sy Montgomery--acclaimed author of The Soul of an Octopus and bestselling memoir The Good Good Pig--has shared with readers her amazing encounters with intelligent octopi, great apes, man-eating tigers, and pink river dolphins, but here her muse is an animal whose name and appearance evoke another world altogether. Southeast Asia's golden moon bear, with its luminous coat, lionlike mane, and Mickey Mouse ears, was unknown to science--until Montgomery and her colleagues got on the trail at the dawn of the new millennium.

Search for the Golden Moon Bear recounts Montgomery's quest--fraught with danger and mayhem--to reconstruct an evolutionary record and piece together a living portrait of her littleknown subject. This beautiful animal is not just a scientific eureka! It is also a powerful symbol of conservation. Search for the Golden Moon Bear is a field report from the frontiers of science and the ends of the earth, seamlessly weaving together folklore, natural history, and contemporary research into fantastic travelogue.



Available in: Paperback

Read More

Search for the Golden Moon Bear

Sy Montgomery, Gary Galbreath

Paperback $19.95

The Zero Waste Solution

The Zero Waste Solution

By Paul Connett

Waste is something we all make every day but often pay little attention to.  That's changing, and model programs around the globe show the many different ways a community can strive for, and achieve, zero-waste status.

Scientist-turned-activist Paul Connett, a leading international figure in decades-long battles to fight pollution, has championed efforts to curtail overconsumption and keep industrial toxins out of our air and drinking water and bodies. But he’s best known around the world for leading efforts to help communities deal with their waste in sustainable ways—in other words, to eliminate and reuse waste rather than burn it or stow it away in landfills.

In The Zero Waste Solution, Connett profiles the most successful zero-waste initiatives around the world, showing activists, planners, and entrepreneurs how to re-envision their community’s waste-handling process—by consuming less, turning organic waste into compost, recycling, reusing other waste,  demanding nonwasteful product design, and creating jobs and bringing community members together in the process. The book also exposes the greenwashing behind renewed efforts to promote waste incinerators as safe, nontoxic energy suppliers, and gives detailed information on how communities can battle incineration projects that, even at their best, emit dangerous particles into the atmosphere, many of which remain unregulated or poorly regulated.

An important toolkit for anyone interested in creating sustainable communities, generating secure local jobs, and keeping toxic alternatives at bay.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

The Zero Waste Solution

Paul Connett, Jeremy Irons

Paperback $24.95