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:
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.
Following a week that modulated between the trivial and the tragic, we turn our attention to a brief excerpt from Per Espen Stoknes’ remarkable Landscapes of Soul, dating from 1996, in which he tracks various myths of apocalypse, wildness and the city through history and human psychology.
what is collected here in fields of broken color, excavated text, and tones of concealment are signs and relics; ordered as paper memorials to stones and plants, to animals and saints.
emblems of landscapes and lives gone from this world. they are laid side by side with care, almost botanically, and mostly on paper that is rarely larger than a page in an old book.
there is no wish to simulate or eclipse nature. embracing a slow alchemy of things, in drama without movement, these histories of last walks, epiphanies, and petitions are fragmentary by principle; their harmonies structured in silence.
We will explore his exceptional body of work more thoroughly in a future DP.