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Exploring the "Mental" in "Environmental": Notes Towards Day 23 (Tues. Nov. 22)

Anne Dalke's picture

Mental: fr. Latin mens, ment- ‘mind.’
Environmental: fr. “environ” (“round about”) +
“ment,” from Latin –mentum, result or product of an action

I. coursekeeping
Francesca's placing us in Denbigh Common Room
next Tuesday, Amanda's hosting us in Merion Common Room


When we return, I'll start the last round of writing conferences:
(Morine only one coming before our next class--she/all should come
having reviewed your writing portfolio, and ready to suggest one paper for revision.)

For Tuesday after Th'sgiving break, read LONG (30pp.) "short" story by Ursula LeGuin
(who also wrote "The Ones Who Walk Away"): Vaster than Empires, and More Slow--
and two very short articles about porosity/lack of boundaries between our bodies/the world
(all linked to from syllabus).

Also, just looking toward the end: what are the chances that we could
ALL get together @ 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 8, for a course finale?
(last day of classes: what conflicts will you have?)

II. For today,
we asked for "webby" posts about our readings:
Jensen and McMillan's graphic novel, and Elizabeth Kolbert's essay on "Greening the Ghetto":
[what do you think of this format: helpful, focused, limiting....?]

A sequence of postings focusing on questions of mental health and therapy:

Penguin18: One aspect of the book that I think we should look at further is the idea of living in denial.  Especially in the scene with the therapist…The therapist tells the girl that she would be happier of she just set aside all of those problems….

Calliope: I love how the young girl persists even when the other characters think she is crazy.

LiquidEcho: I agree with Penguin18 in that the therapist represented a figure who proposed denial was a good way for Kranti…to live happily….in a way, the therapist had a point….. Kranti’s passion about global warming was more of an obsession. It was something that kept her awake at night and caused her to be unable to function normally in society.

…both sides are shown to be less than perfect in terms of mental health. In the activist side, its shown how reality either drives you to depression or how depression can cause people to embrace activism as an outlet and distraction. On the flip side, we see an unhealthy addiction to various substances, power, and money.

mpan1: I agree that…when Kranti visits [the therapist] and discusses her worries about the environment he does not address those issues at all. Instead, he asks things like how her relationship is with her father which has nothing to do with her concerns....The therapist acts as if she is the one with the problem for caring about the environment. He even labels her as depressed and paranoid… and advises her to ignore the growing problems….Caring about the environment…adds additional stress…

Kcweiler: Honestly, I believe that the root of the problem is that people, collectively, just can’t get over themselves…we need to realize this and stop putting our wants and needs first.

panda: in As the World Burns…the therapist categorized Kranti as a mentally-ill patient because what she was saying did not match his own views or the norm.

The book is a warning to us that we are all ultimately gonna be a single unit. All the animals, humans and the environment, because we share the earth. Hurting other is hurting youself.

Read aloud in the large group, then write for a few minutes:
what does mental health looks like, in the
world described by the sci-fi and graphic novels?
(Find examples from the texts.)

Talk to one another, then in large group.

III. Turn to "Greening the Ghetto"--go through it, looking for
words/phrases/paragraphs describing mental distress, illness, health.
Share these aloud.
How might we re-read this as a narrative in search of mental health?

What might problematic about this question? (re-formulating a
political/social/environmental issue as one of individual health?)
Reading Notes from "Greening the Ghetto":
We could see underneath all of it was the idea of disposability....The idea that you've got disposable people, a disposable planet."

"The green economy should not be just about reclaiming thrown-away stuff. It should be about reclaiming thrown-away communities."

"Let us connect the people who most need work with the work that most needs to be done."

"I think Van Jones is a big part of the future of environmentalism…He is bringing together a concern about the environment and a concern about social justice.”

“…something really bad has to happen before something really good can happen. It's when you …have to look at yourself and figure out,
What am I going to do now? And we're at that moment. Sometimes a breakdown can lead to a breakthrough."

See also Van Jones' work @ "The Messy Truth about the gulf between Trump and Clinton voters":