EROSION – Essays of Undoing by Terry Tempest Williams


Well, how to begin. This book has left me searching for words. It is devastating. It is uplifting. It is exhausting. It is insightful and wise and enlightening. It is terrifying.

EROSION is both a deeply personal and a deeply political book. A collection of essays which orbit around the ideas of erosion and evolution; which address the need for, and participation with, wild places; which expose the violence visited upon landscape and all who inhabit it – both flora and fauna – by our acquisitive and aggressive western culture. Terry Tempest Williams is a fierce advocate for landscape and for the need to inhabit this world responsibly and with deep respect. Her essays touch upon the undermining of democracy, environmental protection, and political representation. She writes of the power of a spiritual connection to place, the power of landscape to alter us, make us better. And especially, she writes of the power of love. She includes some very personal stories that focus on family and she discusses the danger and risk posed by narrow thinking and the current political climate.

Here is a taste for you –

“Whatever I know as a woman about spirituality I have learned from my body encountering Earth. Soul and soil are not separate. Neither are wind and spirit, nor water and tears. We are eroding and evolving, at once, like the red rock landscape before me. Our grief is our love. Our love will be our undoing as we quietly disengage from the collective madness of the patriarchal mind that says aggression is the way forward.”

And one more –

“If we are to flourish as a species, an erosion of belief will be necessary, that says we are not the center of the universe but a dynamic part of an expanding contracting future that celebrates and collaborates with uncertainty.”

At the risk of too many quotes from the book, I will bring this to a close. I checked this book out from the library but see myself heading to the bookstore to buy several copies. I suspect this is a book I will reread and I find myself wanting to get it in as many hands as possible.

6 comments on “EROSION – Essays of Undoing by Terry Tempest Williams”

  1. I have read and re-read your post a few times, JNaz. I have been working with some of the same concepts/elements in my own art and writing, especially as they relate to migration (immigration). I don’t really know what to say because I think there is a lot of synchronicity happening at the macro level but here on the ground floor in the day to day muck of it all it all seems very chaotic. Gonna have a look for this at the library once I finish my stack that is staring at me!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks for the post. The book sounds like a very powerful read. Intuitively I know there is so much wisdom in the quotes you provided, but personally it is so hard for my linear analytic mind to wrap itself around phrases like we are “a dynamic part of an expanding contracting future that celebrates and collaborates with uncertainty,” and translate them into my own day to day life. While counter intuitive, I tend to fight for control rather than embrace and collaborate with uncertainty. I keep trying. Thanks for sending along more inspiration!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Please, do not take this the wrong way Barbara, but what you said made me laugh. Only because of the familiarity of what you say re your linear analytic mind. I suspect that, much like I said to borkali, there is much in here that would speak to you. Much of it is more concrete, especially the essays re activism.


      1. I absolutely agree. I just have a constant debate between head and heart. They don’t always agree or know how to communicate with each other. Reckoning the spiritual with the injustice of the world is very hard for me. It’s a difficult for me to hold the tension; that’s why I need therapy! The book is definitely on my to read list. I’m grateful to know you are familiar with my dilemma.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This book is in my public library system, so onto the list it went. Terry Tempest Williams has a website filled with interviews, which I have, for now, pulled myself away from.


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