The Whole Earth Catalog
Stewart Brand, editor
The Whole Earth Catalog is a publication full of marvels that reveals a time in the world when a generation was seeking and creating all the implements for living. While it was being published, it was about how to live and make a new world on planet Earth – with a vision that arose from the alternative ideologies and DIY zeitgeist of the 1960’s in California and elsewhere. The catalog called itself a “tool for living.” Its goal was to open up all the esoteric, folk, or professional knowledge in the world so everyone could learn how to create whole, sustainable lives.
It is a catalog in the sense that it has products, contact information, and vendors and publications small and large, but it’s maybe really a dream for everyday people seeking to learn how to do everything from living off the land to hunting mushrooms; to building dome houses; to handling emergency childbirth; to buying a space clock; to how to open communication with other intelligent life in the universe; or where to find cheap government surplus pickup trucks. It had mailing addresses for absolutely everything, like where to send away for earth for building houses; where to order a copy of The Très Riches Heures of Jean, Duke of Berry, or a copy of Man’s Role in Changing the Face of the Earth, etc., etc., etc. It also contained insets of short essays (by Ken Kesey, for one), and funky illustrations (by R. Crumb, for one) written by idiosyncratic people about the new kind of living. The catalog’s products and illustrations are magical for people chasing a world of love and food and machinery and freedom and…everything. Quoted purpose of the Whole Earth Catalog: “We are as gods and might as well get good at it.”
Slavic, E. European, and Central Asian Catalog & Metadata Librarian
This book is part of the 2022 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!