This book makes us interrogate our lives: our lives of vehicles, white goods, supermarkets and jobs. An Australian Aboriginal man once remarked that we spend 40 or more hours a week at work so we can go hunting and fishing at the supermarket, whereas your average hunter-gatherer might spend an average of 10 hours work to keep body and soul together.
Boyle - the Moneyless Man - decided to do without modern trappings: no electricity, so no screens, no social media, no power tools. On a small holding in Galway, he built a cabin. His days are spent getting in wood, growing vegetables, foraging, fishing, bee keeping, making candles, hand washing clothes once a month, scraping deer skins and tanning hides with deer brains. And writing a column for the Guardian in pencil. Interspersed with short musings on his life and activities are pieces on the folk who used to live hard and rewarding lives on the island of Great Blasket, which they fled to to escape high rents and bailiffs. He reminds us of the devastation caused by our suburban way of living: the environmental cost of everything we do and have as well as the human cost of diabesity, depression, and alienation. His life is simple on one hand, but complex in the understanding required of the natural world. It’s a life where neighbours help each other, of getting together to make music, to sing and dance, and also one in which post offices close and young people leave for the cities. You can’t help but grieve for a wholesome, vibrant way of life lost, where rivers and soil were healthy and clean.
Obviously we would be healthier in body and spirit if we did likewise, and so would our planet. But I’m thinking that without ready access to ideas and solid scientific information, would ignorance and superstition thrive? We know that once Tasmania was cut off from the mainland, the Aborigines still living there went culturally backwards. They forgot some of their previous technologies. Perhaps that’s okay. But people who get hold of weird ideas like the Salem witch-hunters can make life horrible for their fellows.
Boyle doesn’t preach in this book. He admits to philosophical struggles, where sometimes pragmatism and the need to help another might win out against his determination to live without modern dross. It’s not great literature, but it is an important book for making us think.
- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Oneworld; (AIR/EXP) edition (3 June 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1786076020
- ISBN-13: 978-1786076021
- Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 2 x 22.5 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 422 g
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 145,256 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)