This week, we return to our familiar motif of “inverted utopia”, a world wherein we cannot imagine the implications of our clever technologies. Such is the case in many reactions to climate catastrophe: fear not, we will invent new tech and engineer ourselves into a Green New Deal.
Yet fixes that leave deep structures in place will have the same result as wrapping infected wounds with bandages without treating the infection. Without a fundamental change in the relationship between Homo Sapiens and the whole of life, ever more clever tinkering will only serve to deepen the crisis while feeding the toxic delusion that we are in control as rulers supreme.
Concurrently, the CEO of one of the most toxic companies in history (Amazon) has announced his plan to “build a road in space”: “Do we want stasis and rationing or do we want dynamism and growth? This is an easy choice. We know what we want. We just have to get busy.”
Oh my. A man apparently addicted to “getting busy.”
In the midst of this death dance of neoliberalism, we turn to a historian who has devoted a lifetime of research to recuperating and celebrating histories of resistance to the commodification of every living and dead thing: Peter Linebaugh.
This week, with much sadness, we take note of the untimely death of one of the most extraordinary environmental activists of our times: visionary barrister Polly Higgins.
Higgins devoted her life towards establishing ecocide as a crime against the whole of life on Earth. The following tribute by Satish Kumar, editor emeritus of Resurgence and Ecologist , underscores the deep significance of her life’s work:
Below, her proposed legal definition, relayed from Eradicating Ecocide. We also link to two videos, the first recording a conversation with Charles Eisenstein dating from 2013, the second a recent interview with Real Media.
We note that as of this writing her death is still not mentioned on her website; that is as it should be, since her pioneering work will certainly be continued by her skilled and devoted legal team. Subsequent conviction of those responsible for the plunder and devastation of Earth’s ecosystems will be her lasting legacy.
Now comes Eskimo-Kalaallit Elder Angaangaq Angakkorsuaq, a traditional healer, storyteller and carrier of the Qilaut (winddrum). By his own account, his life mission and spiritual task, given to him by his mother, has been to “melt the ice in the heart of men”.
For more on the spiritual crisis of environmental unravelling, we highly recommend the below video of a recent program at Harvard Divinity School, featuring both Angaangaq Angakkorsuaq and Nainoa Thompson:
In full support of the extensive non-violent civil disobedience unfolding in London and throughout the world, we relay Extinction Rebellion’s Declaration of Rebellion, together with a few images from recent actions.
Time is running out; in fact, there is a large volume of data that suggests that time has already run out, and that we are now in the midst of an irreversible environmental unravelling. So-called elites must be pressured to rearrange their calendars, grasp the urgency of the climate breakdown, and declare an emergency. Even then, the challenges will be staggering and relentless.
Cheers to those thousands of extinction rebels for putting their bodies on the line, in the spirit of peace, and in ferocious love for the whole of life.
At this time of year, our thoughts drift to the North Atlantic in the year 1912. Steaming at top speed towards the American dream machine, RMS Titanic represents coal-fired energy; class hierarchy; technophilia; and unabashed hubris. Somewhere out there in the dark, floats a frozen antagonist, representing Deep Time and all those forces that elude human grasp.
Most art and poetry that reflects on her doomed voyage focuses on the behavior and disposition of passengers and crew; we prefer to contemplate the iceberg. Below, an excerpt from a longer poem by E.J. Pratt. Born in Newfoundland and a keen student of the Northern waters, Pratt knew a thing or two about large chunks of ice.
THE CLAW WAITS FOR MIDNIGHT
Needless to say, we learned nothing from that disaster, nor from any of the countless disasters that followed. As inverted utopians, we remain unable to imagine the implications of our clever tech.
As Jill Stauffer so brilliantly demonstrates in her pioneering book Ethical Loneliness, a false reconciliation does nothing but retraumatize the victim while further entrenching the moral sanctimony of the perpetrator.
Images link to Simpson videos, also worthy of deep listening.
Now comes Baffler columnist Maximillian Alvarez with perceptive comments regarding what happens, and who benefits, in a world “in which the stilled machine of history has rusted under the monstrous weight of the permanent now.”
The entire essay is available for consideration at the ever-engaging Boston Review; a few excerpts below, with images from the memory banks of Robert Rauschenberg.