10 September 2010

Day 167: The Witch of Hebron

The Witch of Hebron by James Howard Kunstler.  ISBN: 9780802116912 (uncorrected proof - published September 7, 2010).

There would be quite a few benefits to living in a world without electricity or oil.  We would automatically lead healthier lives with the necessity of traveling by foot or horseback.  We would probably eat heartier, but all of the food would be natural, with no chemical additives.  I imagine butter and bacon grease isn't so bad for us if you take away the preservatives and the leisurely lifestyle.

We would once again be force to rely on each other in a cooperative manner rather than a server-and-served capacity.  It's hard to treat someone as subservient or disrespectfully when you will rely on them to doctor your animals or your children, when you might rely on them to grow poppies for your laudanum supply since there are no longer more reliable anesthesia methods available.  At the very least you rely on them to help watch your property and protect your family from wild animals and outsiders.

We could see the stars again.  Bright.  Luminous.  More awe-inspiring because we have no hopes of reaching them again.

I had the privilege and misfortune of living without electricity for four months.  It was not a complete lack, we did have solar panels, which were used sparingly, and of course there were battery powered flashlights for trips to the bathroom and to light the kerosene lamps.  We were in an isolated area, the nearest neighbor was about a mile and a half and there was no light pollution to speak of.

It was not an easy adjustment for me.  There were moments when I sought refuge in the comforts of electric lights and hot running water and central heat.  But there was also a pleasure in learning to build a fire in the wood stove.  There was a romance in writing letters to friends by kerosene lantern or reading the works of Dumas, who probably wrote his work in similarly dim and cold surroundings.

I don't know that I want to go back to a life without electricity or automobiles, but I think I would be prepared to see the good, to revert back to a life where knowing my neighbor is a necessity rather than a pleasantry.

My review can be found on Goodreads.

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