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The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins

av Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing

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MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
6771634,830 (4.02)11
Matsutake is the most valuable mushroom in the world-and a weed that grows in human-disturbed forests across the northern hemisphere. Through its ability to nurture trees, matsutake helps forests to grow in daunting places. It is also an edible delicacy in Japan, where it sometimes commands astronomical prices. In all its contradictions, matsutake offers insights into areas far beyond just mushrooms and addresses a crucial question: what manages to live in the ruins we have made? A tale of diversity within our damaged landscapes, The Mushroom at the End of the World follows one of the strangest commodity chains of our times to explore the unexpected corners of capitalism. Here, we witness the varied and peculiar worlds of matsutake commerce: the worlds of Japanese gourmets, capitalist traders, Hmong jungle fighters, industrial forests, Yi Chinese goat herders, Finnish nature guides, and more. These companions also lead us into fungal ecologies and forest histories to better understand the promise of cohabitation in a time of massive human destruction.… (mer)
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» Se även 11 omnämnanden

engelska (15)  franska (1)  Alla språk (16)
Visa 1-5 av 16 (nästa | visa alla)
Ethnographic view of matsutake mushroom and how it interacts with people, other species, the environment, and capitalism.
  BookyMaven | Dec 6, 2023 |
The structure is unlike anything else I've read; the chapters vary pretty widely in tone, length, and subject, and there is a worldview in there, but it emerges gradually through glimpses rather than through argument. This patchiness is a major theme of the book, given how the mushrooms grow and how economies spring up around them, so the approach is appropriate. The only drawback is that it dissipates any momentum that builds and makes it quite a difficult book to read.

That said, I would appreciate more of this type of book being written, and it's a refreshing contrast to something like [b:Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind|23692271|Sapiens A Brief History of Humankind|Yuval Noah Harari|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1420585954s/23692271.jpg|18962767] or [b:Outliers: The Story of Success|3228917|Outliers The Story of Success|Malcolm Gladwell|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1344266315s/3228917.jpg|3364437], which can feel a bit too polished. ( )
  NickEdkins | May 27, 2023 |
Tsing moves back and forth from the subterranean to the global, exposing patterns of human-botanical interaction in vivid four-dimensional context and reconsidering concepts in science and political economy from surprising angles. Rich in information and insight, this is a fascinating book of unexpected rewards.
  MusicalGlass | Jun 6, 2022 |
I heard about this book from three sources, including Adam Tooze's Substack, before deciding to get a copy.

I love fungi. I've been in the permaculture world for over a decade, where the kingdom has a strong presence. That said, this book is less about fungi, and more a social anthropology of people that harvest the matsutake mushroom in the Pacific Northwest of the United States for export to Japan.

I had heard the name a few times, but before reading this book, I knew very little about matsutake. The author goes as far as to say that white people don't like the mushroom, but after speaking to a few white friends, it sounds like this is an over-generalization. Now that I've heard so much about it, I am interested in tasting it someday.

The author latches onto to some themes in the book which I didn't find illustrative. The term that stands out to me the most is "indeterminacy." It seems like the author would like to make a point about hazard, about risk, about uncertainty and possibility. But in the context of this book, it felt so vague, slippery, and hollow so as to muddle her thesis as opposed to strengthening it. Yes—the world is fundamentally indeterminant, but that in itself is not much of a rhetorical foundation. The author my have been trying to contrast this with the determinacy of capitalism, but this didn't come through for me, and I'm not sure either.

As the subtitle suggests, the author is a subscriber to the Myth of Progress. Despite her statements to the contrary, even the term "capitalist ruins" assumes an arc of history (which says a lot about worldview, cosmology, etc.). That said, many authors write in reference to the Myth of Progress; it is one of the stories we fall back on to orient ourselves, even if it is just an abstract mental construction.

There were some entertaining bits on the way that the author stereotypes the American sense of "freedom." She describes Americans as wanting the freedom to gamble. Americans don't want stability, they want volatility, because it is only through volatility that there is the possibility of wild success.

I found it a slow-going book. I put it down a few times to pick up texts with more momentum to them. That said, if you like sociology and like mycology, you'll probably find this book worth reading. ( )
  willszal | Mar 3, 2022 |
This is the story of how a humble mushroom has transformed commerce and become an almost priceless commodity. It is also an exploration of how value can be so relative – how “stinky” to some can remind others of the smell of autumn. Through a unique combination of supply and demand, the matsutake mushroom has become legend. And it has become emblematic of a way through ecological disaster – a rare treasure that offers us hope. A wonderful book that can be appreciated on many levels, it also triggers seemingly unrelated thoughts. Highly recommended. ( )
  dbsovereign | Mar 21, 2021 |
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Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
Anna Lowenhaupt Tsingprimär författarealla utgåvorberäknat
Ericksen, SusanBerättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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Matsutake is the most valuable mushroom in the world-and a weed that grows in human-disturbed forests across the northern hemisphere. Through its ability to nurture trees, matsutake helps forests to grow in daunting places. It is also an edible delicacy in Japan, where it sometimes commands astronomical prices. In all its contradictions, matsutake offers insights into areas far beyond just mushrooms and addresses a crucial question: what manages to live in the ruins we have made? A tale of diversity within our damaged landscapes, The Mushroom at the End of the World follows one of the strangest commodity chains of our times to explore the unexpected corners of capitalism. Here, we witness the varied and peculiar worlds of matsutake commerce: the worlds of Japanese gourmets, capitalist traders, Hmong jungle fighters, industrial forests, Yi Chinese goat herders, Finnish nature guides, and more. These companions also lead us into fungal ecologies and forest histories to better understand the promise of cohabitation in a time of massive human destruction.

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