Radical Wisdom

Digging more deeply into the theme of the sentient forest, we turn to an essay by ecologist Suzanne Simard published in 2015 by SGI Quarterly, excerpted below. The images are from the studio of Jorge Mayet.

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The Sentient Forest

Despite copious evidence to the contrary, many technologically advanced humans cling to the belief that they embody the pinnacle of evolutionary biology. Once we accept the possibility that such deadly arrogance is misplaced, we might open our selves to the living world beyond and beneath us, and learn from far more evolved beings such as trees in their forests, or what survives of them after hundreds of years of human extraction.

Consider the following excerpt from Peter Wohlleben’s pioneering book, The Hidden Life of Trees. Images are pinged from the trailer for the important new documentary, Intelligent Trees.

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Many humans suffer from the delusion that whatever they senselessly eradicate can be replaced with clever inventions, like — in the most recent perverse iteration — robobees. Scientists like Wohlleben and Suzanne Simard blaze a different path, one long embraced by surviving remnants of indigenous cultures, those the “advanced” humans have not obliterated. Guided by a deeper understanding of our living world, can we find the courage and wisdom to follow it?

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From Spirals to Bunkers

Among the vast troves of scientific data and analysis threatened with deletion or exclusion by those who prefer to live in a fantasy world, we single out the below animation created by Jay Alder of the U.S, Geological survey, with its accompanying caption:

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This animated spiral portrays the simulated changes in the global averaged monthly air temperature from 1850 through 2100 relative to the 1850 – 1900 average. The temperature data are from Community Climate System (CCSM4) global climate model maintained by the National Center for Atmospheric Research. The simulation is for the IPCC Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 (RCP8.5) emission scenario. RCP8.5 is the most aggressive scenario in which green house gases continue to rise unchecked through the end of the century, leading to an equivalent of about 1370 ppm CO2, which is roughly four times the concentration at present. The CCSM4 simulation is part of the 5th Climate Model Intercomparison Program (CMIP5) and the data can be downloaded at https://pcmdi.llnl.gov/projects/cmip5/. The 21st century animations are an extension of the graphic (http://www.climate-lab-book.ac.uk/2016/spiralling-global-temperatures/) for the 1850-2010 observed air temperature created by E. Hawkins at Reading University, UK.

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We are indebted to a DP correspondent for steering us to a second graphic death spiral, depicting changes in arctic sea ice volume:

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And from our friends at Arctic News, we receive the following updated projection and analysis:

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“Above forecast for February 6, 2017, shows that temperatures over parts of the Arctic Ocean will be as much as 30°C or 54°F higher than they were in 1979-2000. How can it be so much warmer in a place where, at this time of year, little or no sunlight is shining? The Arctic Ocean is warming particularly rapidly due to a multitude of feedbacks, some of which are illustrated on the image below.”

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Feedback loops are accelerating, leaving very little wriggle room for alternative facts. At some point, the feedback spiral turns into a target for a species that will not be able to escape.

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JASPER JOHNS, TARGET, 1974

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Finally, we note that building bunkers in faraway places has become fashionable among the “Future Forward” billionaires who would rather cut and run then face the implications of their various hubristic fantasies.

Former Reddit CEO Yishan Wong comments, “The tech preppers do not necessarily think a collapse is likely.They consider it a remote event, but one with a very severe downside, so, given how much money they have, spending a fraction of their net worth to hedge against this is a logical thing to do.” Oh my, how far the mighty shall fall….

HOW FAR DOWN DO WE HAVE TO GO?

HOW FAR, THE DOWNSIDE?


That Crazy Darkness

Taking note of unhinged draft executive orders regarding increased use of Guantanamo Bay for renewed extrajudicial detention and torture of unspecified “bad dudes”, we turn to the voice of Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a detainee from 2002 until his release this past October due to the lack of any evidence beyond unsubstantiated statements made to interrogators while undergoing torture.

Below, an excerpt from Slahi’s extraordinary memoir, Guanatamo Diary, with two images from Jenny Holzer’s series, Dust Paintings:

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As reported in the Guardian, Steve Kleinman, chairman of the research advisory committee to the High Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG), thus with access to actual facts and not to “alternative” (read: delusional) facts regarding torture, stated:

“If the US was to make it once again the policy of the country to coerce, and to detain at length in an extrajudicial fashion, the costs would be beyond substantial – they’d be potentially existential.”


Now Comes the Reaper

Within the cacophony of tirades, recriminations and apologia regarding the next inhabitants of the White House, the voice of John Pilger stands out for its unsparing reckoning of how all this has come to pass:

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The Simple Disciplines

On February 28th 1954, Martin Luther King delivered a sermon – the earliest sermon for which we have an audio recording – to a large Baptist church in Detroit, just a few weeks before Boston University approved his dissertation outline.

King began with the biblical story of Joseph and Mary who set out for Nazareth only to realize that they had left Jesus behind in Jerusalem. He then describes those core values, or “simple disciplines”, that we need to rediscover before we will be able to move forward.

Always best to listen to MLK, though we follow the audio link with an abbreviated transcript, with congregation interpellations in italics.

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[…]

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[…]


Written in the Night

Now comes the gentle yet fierce voice of John Berger, who died this past Monday, in excerpts from a 2003 essay written for Le Monde Diplomatique. The image is from the Rothko Chapel.

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For all his literary gifts, Berger was most at home in conversation, his thoughts closely tied to his limitless capacity for dialogue, and to his vigilant ears. The below conversation with Susan Sontag highly recommended.

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Bugs in the Scaffolding

We begin our navigations through the year 2017 with the voice of Douglas Thompkins, via excerpts from his acceptance speech for the 2015 Global Economy Prize, awarded by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy. Thompkins died in a kayaking accident not long after delivering these remarks.

The images are from the work of Cornelia Hesse-Honegger, whose research we wil be exploring more fully in a future post.

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Between Two Worlds

We close our DP journey for 2016 with a few words from John Luther Adams, followed by a link to his exquisite composition, The Light That Fills the World.

With thanks to our readers from around the world, whose engaged and enlightening missives in response to our humble offerings bring ample light to our world, as we seek to find a voice for new truths.

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THE LIGHT THAT FILLS THE WORLD


Surveillance Capitalism

Now comes Shoshana Zuboff with an important essay in the Frankfurter Allgemeine; apparently she concluded that a German readership is more attentive to the profound issues of personal sovereignty and privacy raised by her analysis, excerpted below. The images are from the artist SpY.

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Deeper into the essay:

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And finally, in her closing paragraphs:

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What can we summon as a properly indigant response to those who wish to impose their coup des gens, a vicious assault on self-determination and on freely-expressed subjectivity?

Resist and disrupt the behavioral algorithm.

Refuse “smart” technology.

Strike the data mine. 

We look forward to Zuboff’s book, Master or Slave? The Fight for the Soul of Our Information Civilization, forthcoming in 2017.