The list of our disagreements with David Gelernter would run to many pages, yet we whole-heartedly agree with his central thesis in The Tides of Mind, that human understanding of the mind must be a subjective process, and thus engage our emotions as well as our ideas.
Of course, this is not a particularly fresh insight within numerous non-Western traditions, nor even in European philosophy; recall Heidegger’s emphasis in his later years on the importance of “meditative” thinking. Nonetheless, given the floods of mind-numbing enthusiasm for the Imminent Singularity and other “inverted utopian” delusions, Gelernter’s ebbing and flowing tides provide welcome relief.
Below, a lucid excerpt from a much longer and frequently baffling conversation with Gelernter published in The Atlantic. Images are from explorations of subjective being, as conducted by artist Natalia Arbelaez.
Now comes Courtney Mattison, with her large-scale glazed stoneware, porcelain and terracotta installation titled Our Changing Sea I, currently on display at the Art of Science & Technology Gallery in Washington; those who deny the reality of climate change would do well to visit the gallery and meditate upon the evidence as captured in calcium carbonate.
Below, photographs of the work are interwoven with passages from Mattison’s Artist Statement.
An update on the status of global coral reef bleaching from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration paints a grim picture (click for link to larger scale):
A WORLD OF STRESSED CORAL
Amazon, providing endless cash flow to support the delusional aspirations of CEO Jeff Bezos to “civilize” the universe with “trillions” of humans, offers an exceptionally revealing case study for what happens when a republic of citizens deteriorates into a national mall of consumers.
Olivia LaVecchia and Stacy Mitchell, on behalf of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, have analysed multiple dimensions of Amazon’s tightening stranglehold on American economic and civic life. The entire report is worth close reading; below, a few brief excerpts from their analysis of Amazonian impacts on the social fabric of urban life, with images and editorial captions added by DP.
TWO FLIES CAUGHT IN A WEB OF FULFILLMENT
SKINNY DIPPING NOT PERMITTED
WHERE MR. BEZOS REALLY STORES HIS CHIPS
THE FUTURE OF CIVIC ENGAGEMENT
Now comes Deborah Bird Rose, professor in the Environmental Humanities Program at the University of New South Wales and a founding member of the Extinction Studies Working Group. Her brief essay appeared inside the fascinating Multispecies Salon; images from Washed Ashore added by DP.
Below, a photograph of a crab on Henderson Island, where the phenomenon of double death appears in full swing, amidst an estimated eighteen tons of plastic waste, the highest concentration of plastic pollution yet documented, though we suspect the worst is yet to come.
Jennifer Lavers, from the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania commented on the fate of crabs inhabiting the plastic beach:
“This plastic is old, it’s brittle, it’s sharp, it’s toxic. It was really quite tragic seeing these gorgeous crabs scuttling about, living in our waste.”
Tragic, possibly, though another word also comes to mind: criminal.
LIFE EMBODIES ART
Two highly significant environmental justice victories over the past year flow from courts extending legal rights to two rivers: the Whanganui in New Zealand, a living ancestor to the Maori people; and the Ganges, together with its main tributary the Yamuna, sacred to all Hindus. The decision in favor of the Maori emerged from one hundred and forty years of negotiation, and was cited as a critical precedent by the court in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand.
Extending from Thomas Berry’s ideas of nature-based jusrisprudence, we excerpt the 2011 manifesto for earth justice, Wild Law, by Cormac Cullinan:
In a related story, we take note of a clueless tourist and former Playboy model named Jaylene Cook, photographed in her birthday suit in front of Mount Taranaki, considered a sacred burial ground and ancestor by the local Maori. We will not compound Ms. Cook’s naked ignorance by reproducing the image here; it has gone toxic-bacterial in the meme-swamp formerly known as the world wide web.
With a loud shout-out to those assembling throughout the world to deliver a sharp rebuke to those who live in the delusional world of alternative facts, we continue our exploration of the deepening environmental crisis as a crisis of spirit and imagination. The below excerpts from an essay by Thomas Berry date from 1990, though the subsequent years have done little to diminish the significance and urgency of Berry’s message:
Now comes the voice of Paul Kingsnorth, with an excerpt from an essay recently published in Orion magazine, The Axis and the Sycamore:
Paul Kingsnorth is a co-founder of the Dark Mountain Project, with its strong emphasis on conceiving new forms of storytelling as a way of reimagining the world, outside the toxic bubble of human supremacy. The word-coupling “dark mountain” descends from a Robinson Jeffers poem:
Man is not in the persons but in the
Disastrous rhythm, the heavy and mobile masses, the dance of the
Dream-led masses down the dark mountain