Germaine Greer and her new book, “White Beech”

La-ca-jc-germaine-greer-20140713-001David L. Ulin at the LA Times:

What Greer is arguing for is a kind of environmental absolutism. In her view, the country, the planet even, is not beyond saving, but only if we open up our way of thinking. We need to know more, so we can understand where we are and how to move ahead. To highlight this, she spends much of the book crafting a series of capsule histories — of the ecosystem, the settlement of Cave Creek, the timber industry, Australian botany — that offer context that is both immediate and longer term.

“Every day, as we write labels for the boxes where we sow our freshly gathered seed, we do homage to dead white men,” she writes, a deftly ironic double entendre meant to comment on both her efforts at propagation and the hegemony of generic names for plant life.

A similarly pointed bit of humor emerges in her account of the discovery, in 1893, on what would later be her property, of the biggest cedar anyone had then seen. “Confronted with this botanical marvel,” she writes of the two men who found the tree, “the only thing they could think to do was cut it down.” The joke, however, was on them; sent to the Crystal Palace in London, where it was to be displayed “for perpetuity,” the tree was destroyed when the structure burned in 1936.

more here.