"An iconoclastic sociologist"


In his review of Jim Stiles’ book Brave New West, Brian Kevin attempts to defend the “Lycra-clad masses” and wonders why Stiles doesn’t address more print to erosion and species loss (HCN, 4/16/07). Stiles does discuss erosion and species loss, but that is not his focus in this book.

Kevin fails to appreciate the fact that Stiles is not your run-of-the-mill environmentalist jumping up and down about the promise of new technological fixes to solve all our problems. Stiles is an iconoclastic sociologist making the incontrovertible connection between human self-absorption and the destruction of both the natural world and older, slower ways of life. Kevin may dislike “yesterday’s below-code single-wides,” but at least somebody other than the wealthy could live in them. I remember the old Moab, and I liked it the way it was, too. I shouldn’t have to apologize to anyone for feeling this way and neither should Jim Stiles. In the tradition of both Ed Abbey and Mark Twain, Stiles is one of few these days offering the unvarnished truth.

Kevin writes as if he is himself a humorless member of the Lycra-clad mass that continues to ignore the ever-growing horror of industrial tourism. I’ve been visiting Moab since 1981 and I’ve seen first-hand the changes and damage that Stiles discusses. Nothing to worry about? Fat chance, my friends.

Evan Cantor
> Boulder, Colorado<B>
High Country News Classifieds