Ladue High School's student news site

The Panocene Reviewed: The Anthropocene Reviewed

November 15, 2021

It’s May.

By that I mean that it’s been six months since then — months that passed like May, June, July, Augseptembocto — and now it’s November and I think I’m still afraid of beginnings. In sophomore year, I was afraid to start junior year; in junior year, I was afraid of senior year. I rarely visit new restaurants or try new foods; I don’t start new TV shows or movies. 

And sitting at my desk (the clock reads 11:20 – sorry, Web EIC), I think I’m afraid to write the opening sentences of a review whose beginnings I first conceived of in September (sorry, Panorama Managing EIC #1).

But for now, it’s still May. I’m one person in a tangle of limbs and conversations on the carpet on one of the last dwindling Fridays of junior year. The audio of some Zoom class or another is a backdrop for laughter and a Just Dance video – Waka Waka by Shakira, Versión Futbolera – playing from a computer balanced precariously on top of a book that one of my friends is currently reading.

“It’s called ‘The Anthropocene Reviewed’,” she tells me. “You should read it – you’d really like it.”

“Okay,” I say. 

And then I proceed to not read it.

Or at least, not for four months. When I finally do get over my fear of beginnings and my inability to navigate libraries and finally start the book, I finish it in five days, including one night spent reading until my first alarm went off.

The Anthropocene Reviewed distilled down to its barest bones is a collection of essays in which John Green (author of “The Fault in Our Stars”, “Paper Towns”, etc.) reviews topics ranging from humanity’s temporal range and our capacity for wonder to Canada geese and scratch and sniff stickers. Each essay is only a few pages long (between 4-8, for the most part), a bite-sized format that makes this book easy for even the short attention-spanned to consume in servings – and reviews hidden in the most unexpected pages make for fun Easter egg finds.

However, what makes this book truly stunning is not only Green’s beautiful usage of language, but also his ability to form connections between the topic he is reviewing, its history/context, and his own personal experiences. The first two provide clear, effective factual background, but the latter establishes a moving level of relatability. There is a deeply emotional, familiar, vulnerable aspect to each of Green’s anecdotes and narratives that transcends language. And in drawing these connections, Green ultimately imparts his messages on the unique human experience and the contradictions and capabilities within our species, as well as his understandings of love and falling in love with life and the world. 

How can we find meaning in wintry mix? What can Canada geese teach us about mankind’s limitations?

Why not revel in a sunset? 

We all know how loving ends. But I want to fall in love with the world anyway, to let it crack me open. I want to feel what there is to feel while I am here.”

— John Green, The Anthropocene Reviewed (pg.7)

Five pages into his book, John Green writes that “…in the Anthropocene, there are no disinterested observers; there are only participants.” I think there are times when I think it would be better to be a disinterested observer in the time of the Anthropocene – how else does one cope with the world we have created?

But that isn’t possible; it simply isn’t feasible. Like it or not, willing or unwilling, I am a participant in the Anthropocene; I am opening my emails to headlines of COVID and climate change, and I am at the dinner table listening to the news in December 2019 and worrying for my family in Shanghai. I am one person in a global tangle of narratives; when tragedy tugs a few strings, the whole yarn unravels. 

In his book, “Cosmos“, astronomer Carl Sagan writes that “For small creatures such as we, the vastness [of the universe] is made bearable only through love.” In the “Anthropocene Reviewed”, John Green writes that “I want to fall in love with the world anyway, to let it crack me open.” And in a review that I am still afraid to start (sorry again, Web EIC and Managing EIC #1), I (Danielle Zhang) am writing that I too want to fall in love with the world. I want to fall in love with the world and I want to fall in love with the universe and I want to bash my senioritis to smithereens with a stick and several nasty choice words. I want to take a five hour nap. I want to revel at a sunset and rejoice at a sunrise.  I want to start watching “The Good Place”; I want to try tonkotsu ramen. And I think most of all, I want to walk home on an autumn afternoon, curl up in my favorite chair, watch wind and gravity tug leaves from the trees, and reread “The Anthropocene Reviewed”.

With that, I give “The Anthropocene Reviewed” by John Green five stars.

(So, here is a review from one of many, many participants in the Anthropocene. Here is a new beginning for one small creature loving the universe in the vastness of the universe.

Here is the Panocene Reviewed.)

Ladue Publications • Copyright 2021 • FLEX WordPress Theme by SNOLog in

Comments (0)

All Ladue Publications Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *