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Mineral Rites

An Archaeology of the Fossil Economy

Bob Johnson

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An archaeology of Western energy culture that demystifies the role that fossil fuels play in the day-to-day rituals of modern life.

Spanning the past two hundred years, this book offers an alternative history of modernity that restores to fossil fuels their central role in the growth of capitalism and modernity itself, including the emotional attachments and real injuries that they generate and command. Everything about us—our bodies, minds, sense of self, nature, reason, and faith—has been conditioned by a global infrastructure of carbon flows that saturates our habits, thoughts, and practices…

An archaeology of Western energy culture that demystifies the role that fossil fuels play in the day-to-day rituals of modern life.

Spanning the past two hundred years, this book offers an alternative history of modernity that restores to fossil fuels their central role in the growth of capitalism and modernity itself, including the emotional attachments and real injuries that they generate and command. Everything about us—our bodies, minds, sense of self, nature, reason, and faith—has been conditioned by a global infrastructure of carbon flows that saturates our habits, thoughts, and practices. And it is that deep energy infrastructure that provides material for the imagination and senses and even shapes our expectations about what it means to be fully human in the twenty-first century.

In Mineral Rites, Bob Johnson illustrates that fossil fuels are embodied today not only in the morning commute and in home HVAC systems but in the everyday textures, rituals, architecture, and artifacts of modern life. In a series of illuminating essays touching on such disparate topics as hot yoga, electric robots, automobility, the RMS Titanic, reality TV, and the modern novel, Johnson takes the discussion of fossil fuels and their role in climate change far beyond the traditional domains of policy and economics into the deepest layers of the body, ideology, and psyche.

An audacious revision to the history of modernity, Mineral Rites shows how fossil fuels operate at the level of infrapolitics and how they permeate life as second nature.

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Mineral Rites

Bob Johnson

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Reviews

Reviews

Literary and cultural critic Bob Johnson provides a language with which to make sense of these complex, embodied, everyday experiences of extracted energy.

The subtitle of Mineral Rites is particularly apt, for it truly is a work of rhetorical archaeology – Johnson peels back the layers of what we know (or think we know) about the fossil fuel industry to reveal the mind-bogglingly expansive scope of how the fossil economy reaches out and affects peoples' lived experiences in vastly different ways... As a cautionary tale, it is a veritable punch to the gut that leaves us gasping for air.

A highly original, imaginative book that offers an alternative history of modernity. Beautifully—at times, even poetically—written, Mineral Rites is animated by a clear sense of political urgency and a willingness to recast familiar stories in a new and original light. Creative and insightful.

An evocative and well-written cultural analysis of the fossil economy that combines rich examples with profound questions and tangled ambiguities. Johnson examines a number of different and fascinating cultural texts to uncover the energy transition from an organic muscular economy to fossil fuels.

Bob Johnson's Mineral Rites is a compelling and original take on fossil capitalism. With a historian's eye and writerly flair, he takes us on a fossil fueled journey through time and space. This book is an indispensable guide to our American addiction to fossil fuels—and possibly, how to extract ourselves from its deathly grip.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
256
ISBN
9781421427560
Illustration Description
14 b&w illus.
Table of Contents

Preface. A Postcard from the Birthplace of Oil
Acknowledgments
Introduction. The Mineral Moment
1. Mineral Rites: The Embodiment of Fossil Fuels
2. Carbon's Social History: A Chunk of Coal from the 1912

Preface. A Postcard from the Birthplace of Oil
Acknowledgments
Introduction. The Mineral Moment
1. Mineral Rites: The Embodiment of Fossil Fuels
2. Carbon's Social History: A Chunk of Coal from the 1912 RMS Titanic
3. Energy Slaves: The Technological Imaginary of the Fossil Economy
4. Fossilized Mobility: A Phenomenology of the Modern Road (with Lewis and Clark)
5. Coal TV: The Hyperreal Mineral Frontier
6. Carbon Culture: How to Read a Novel in Light of Climate Change
Epilogue. Carbon's Temporality and the Structure of Feeling
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Bob Johnson Ph.D.

Bob Johnson is the chair of the Department of Social Sciences and a professor of history at National University. He is the author of Carbon Nation: Fossil Fuels in the Making of American Culture.