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It's unfortunate that the available YouTube documentation of this conversation is so short, although it does highlight some of the most thematically notable and important parts; the entire conversation, however, may be viewed here.

Rebecca Solnit here discusses, in conversation with Peter Coyote, much of what led her to write A Paradise Built in Hell, her newest work; it is an exploration of what community and independence mean in the contemporary United States, and she explores this through the social effects of five different disasters in North America.  In the conversation, she explores such notions as how independence is viewed as distinct from interdependence, the role that disaster plays in entertainment, and how post-disaster environments create what she describes as a certain kind of social utopia, as well as how this utopia is lost or soon after forgotten.  There is a lot here, and, particularly as Coyote proves a well-meaning but not particularly provocative interlocutor – more willing to agree than to determinedly explore the implications of her arguments –, much of it is left somewhat unfulfilled, and somewhat unfulfulling.  That said, it is a treat to listen to the tremendously resourceful and insightful Solnit expound upon what she has taken from her research and studies; I have not yet read A Paradise Built in Hell, but this conversation – no doubt coupled with her remarkable track record for locating acutely telling details in unexpected ways and places – has made this a mandatory one-of-the-nexts on my list.

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