Book Reviews: Going ‘off the grid’ — what it means and what it takes and why


From LA TIMES

Eight books about moving away from the city and living without power, running water, cars and in some cases, companionship.

It’s all Thoreau’s fault. In the whirring, churning American imagination, that vast and lovely virtual world — fed by books and stories — with territory one can still “light out” for, Thoreau is the guy who showed it was possible to get off the merry-go-round, the constant forward movement, and still walk into town from time to time. Plant yourself within spitting distance of civilization, refuse to participate in the orgy of commercialism, refuse to pay taxes if you don’t agree with how they’re spent. You don’t need everything they tell you that you need. You can do more for yourself than they tell you that you can. The message was political, spiritual, practical and environmental. It contained a fine amount of humor, a pinch of self-doubt and a smidgeon of hypocrisy. Today we would call Thoreau’s move to the banks of Walden Pond going off the grid.

Although books about carving out your own piece of the pie have been written ever since the Transcendentalists took issue with the direction that American democracy was taking, never before have I seen the current deluge of books on how to escape the American Dream. I grew up in New York City in an apartment full of them — my mother spent her short life trying to get out of Dodge and into the hills, though the schools she attended surely did not teach survival skills. I’ve chosen seven new tomes that represent various approaches, or should I say escape routes, but there are at least a dozen more. Why? Why now?

Nick Rosen sees going off the grid as a political choice. In “Off the Grid: Inside the Movement for More Space, Less Government, and True Independence in Modern America,” he writes that corporate greed, massive layoffs, healthcare wars, ecological disasters have caused many true believers to question the American Dream. “Most of the people I met on my tour of America,” writes the British Rosen, “are losing faith in the grid, both in its literal and metaphorical sense. They don’t feel a sufficient advantage to being inside the fabric of society.” The grid was created…  more here
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See also Why Thoreau Is Still Relevant
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