When we imagine the polar regions, we see a largely lifeless world covered in snow and ice where icebergs drift listlessly through frozen waters, like solitary wanderers of the oceans floating aimlessly in total silence. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Thinking Like an Iceberg takes us into the fascinating world of icebergs and glaciers to discover what they are really like. Through a series of historical vignettes recalling some of the most tragic and most exhilarating encounters between human beings and these gigantic pieces of matter, and through vivid descriptions of their cycles of birth and death, Olivier Remaud shows that these entities are teeming with many forms of life and that there is a deep continuity between iceberg life and human life, a complex web of reciprocal interconnections that can lead from the deadliest to the most vital. And precisely because there is this continuity, icebergs and glaciers tell us something important about life itself – namely, that it thrives in the most unexpected of places, even where there seems to be no life at all.
At a time when we are increasingly aware that the melting of ice sheets, glaciers and sea ice is one of the many disastrous consequences of global warming, this beautiful meditation is a poignant reminder of the interconnectedness of all life and the fragility of the Earth's ecosystems.
Prologue: They are coming!
Chapter 1. Through the looking glass
Chapter 2. The eye of the glacier
Chapter 3. Unexpected lives
Chapter 4. Social snow
Chapter 5. A less lonely world
Chapter 6. Thinking like an iceberg
Epilogue: Return to the ocean
Olivier Remaud is Professor of Philosophy at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Paris.
"How can an iceberg be alive? By being perceived as an active partner by other living beings, be they autochthonous peoples from the Far North or scientists, explorers, writers, painters. Leafing through a variety of sensible experiences of these floating mountains, and reflecting poetically on their philosophical implications, Remaud draws a lesson: indifference to the death of glaciers reflects the incapacity of most Modern humans to think themselves as mere parts of a greater whole."
– Philippe Descola, author of Beyond Nature and Culture
"Invites you to look at the link between humans and nature in a completely new way"
– Sally Hayden, The Irish Times