Sunday, June 30, 2013

Reading as a Revolutionary Act

Taksim Square Book Club, reading as revolution, great environmental books

Just over a month ago we all watched as Turks in Istanbul and elsewhere protested the demolition of Taksim Gezi Park and the increasing authoritarianism of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. The protest has evolved from sit-ins, strikes and demonstrations, some of which were harshly squashed by the Turkish authorities, to silent vigils and book-reading.

According to Aljezeera, a new form of resistance is emerging, known as the "Standing Man". Initiated by performance artist Erdem Gunduz, who stood with his hands in his pockets facing the Ataturk Cultural Center in Taksim Square for eight hours, the Standing Man has now merged with public reading and education to become the Taksim Square Book Club. Now we have individuals standing in the square and simply being a presence or reading a book. Those reading books chose some of the 20th Century's classics, including Orwell's 1984 and Camus's The Myth of Sisyphus, along with modern works of Turkish and world literature. View a terrific slideshow of this revolutionary act here.

This summer we could all take page from the actions of Taksimites and gather to read Thoreau's Walden, Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac, Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, or any other number of environmental classics to protest climate inaction, fracking on public lands, overuse of pesticides and lack of leadership on biodiversity loss. We could gather and read, and educate ourselves and each other. The revolution is ready and waiting -- all it needs is us.

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