cover image Wisdom of the Elders

Wisdom of the Elders

David T. Suzuki. Bantam Books, $22.5 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-553-08862-5

In this low-key, capacious study, Suzuki, a professor of genetics at the University of British Columbia, and science writer Knudtson (coauthors of Genetics ) compare primitive, aboriginal modes of perceiving the natural world with ``Western culture's ecologically destructive worldview.'' Chapters focused on humans' relationships with, for instance, animals, vegetation and the universe begin with brief summaries of scientific explanation and continue with relevant myths and accounts of daily rituals of such societies as the Chewong in Malaysia, Alaska's Inuit and the Kayapo of the Amazon. Overpopulation, deforestation, solar energy and cyclic and linear approaches to time are considered; of particular interest are essays on the !OK Kung Bushmen's understanding of mammals' physiologies and the Australian aborgines' mythical prehistory, ``Dreamtime.'' Although students of indigenous cultures may find this text basic, it presents an eloquent plea for modern society to more considerately interact with nature. (July)