We are indebted to a DP correspondent for nudging us towards a new book by Susan Neiman, provocatively titled Learning From The Germans: Race and the Memory of Evil. As we await the book’s arrival to our local independent bookstore, we relay the below excerpts from the publisher’s website. Images are from the lifelong researches of Christian Boltanski into, through and against the darkness.
TABLEAU NOIR 2007
ENTRE TEMPS 2004
SHADOWS FROM LESSONS OF DARKNESS 1987
In an early DP post, we identified the transport of Chiricahua Apache to Florida as a prequel to the more fully articulated transport and concentration camp network that would emerge fifty five years later. So it goes.
As we have noted previously, surely Jeff Bezos occupies a cosmic category all his own within the Annals of Hubris and Delusion. The below excerpts are from a February 2019 interview; images, from the website for this spectacularly toxic and dystopia vision of the future, with captions added by DP.
WOW, LOOK AT THAT COOL DESOLATION WE CREATED DOWN THERE!
THE ULTIMATE INVERTED UTOPIAN
We do not pretend to know the future here at DP. Yet the above nonsense reminds us of the famous lines from Tacitus in Agricola: Auferre, trucidare, rapere, falsis nominibus imperium; atque, ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant.
In the Peterson translation: To plunder, butcher, steal, these things they misname empire: they make a desolation and they call it peace.
And then there is the passage from Gunther Anders to which we return again and again, and that we recommend to Mr. Bezos for his evening meditation as he gazes ad astra:
Now comes Ronald Purser, author of the recently published McMindfulness: How Mindfulness became the New Capitalist Spirituality. His recent “long read” essay in the Guardian summarizes the central thesis. The entire essay is worthy of serious consideration; we find the below excerpts particularly compelling, including a lucid description of neoliberalism’s most pernicious ideological mantra. Images are relayed from the studio of Greg Dunn.
Longtime DP readers will be familiar with one of our central themes: of all the “isms” that plague us, Human Supremacism surely excretes the most virulent toxins.
The below image shows what has previously been described as a “human snake” — a clot of consumers lining up to complete their purchase of a coveted “conquest”.
QUEUE FOR THE ULTIMATE SELFIE
As Ralf Dujmovits put it, way back in 2012:
People nowadays treat the mountain as if it was a piece of sporting apparatus, not a force of nature. It really makes my soul ache.
Everest has been pushed to its limits, and a complete change of mind needs to take place otherwise we’ll see many more tragedies taking place. We need to debunk the myth of Everest.
It’s spoiled for me now. And it’s too dangerous. There are simply too many people on there who should not be there.
Alas, during the subsequent seven years, nothing has changed: the shoppers huff their oxygen, and wait their turn to attain the pinnacle of their deluded monomania.
As an “adventure consultant” pitches the “experience” online:
Today, shares in a dystopic “gig economy” company (Uber) will be offered to a public apparently willing to swallow even the most outrageously distorted narrative.
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.”
Earlier this week saw the release of a report documenting abundant evidence of accelerating extinction rates while craven officials licked their chops over the opportunity to drill drill drill; busy, busy, 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.
Excerpts from a recent interview below, with images from Doris Salcedo’s “Shibboleth”.
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.
This week, we return to the voice of Leanne Simpson with excerpts from a longer essay published in 2016, critiquing the pseudo-reconciliation process launched by the “liberal” Trudeau government in Canada.
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.
As at COP24, that shamefully inert gathering inside a former Polish coal mine towards the end of last year, the only person who made any sense whatsoever during the annual Davos Festival of the Exalted Egos: Greta Thunberg, as she broke the stupefying complacency with a concise call for urgent action towards the creation of a radically new political and economic paradigm.
The panel to which Thunberg had been invited had been scheduled to discuss “Responses to Climate Disruption”. She rejected that theme out of hand, and instead held a roomful of leather-loafered feet to the fire. Much media hubbub was generated by an economic historian who dared to suggest that the world’s ultrarich should pay their fair share of taxes; Greta’s words were treated as if someone had released a methane burp beneath the lavish buffet table.
Excerpts below, with images from a series of Scorched Earth paintings by Lynn Christine Kelly.
SCORCHED EARTH 13
SCORCHED EARTH 32
WE MUST CHANGE EVERYTHING
We took note of a quote from Hermann Hesse used by Lynn Kelly on her home page, relayed below:
There is the heart of the new paradigm,
in the heart of the trees, now scorched:
the ancient law of life.
During a week when the most mindless power struggles distract attention from fresh evidence of a climate breakdown endgame for which few are prepared, we turn to a lucid essay by Costica Bradatan, author of Dying For Ideas: The Dangerous Lives of Philosophers. The essay is worthy of close reading in its entirety; excerpts below, with images from the studio of Richard Kurtz, whose sublime visions are on display this weekend at the NYC Outsider Art Fair.
The next sentence in the cited text from Simone Weil strikes us as even more important:
“Unless one has placed oneself on the side of the oppressed, to feel with them, one cannot understand.”
Among the oppressed, we would include the countless non-human species of life that disappear each day from the biosphere. Do we really think that we are exempt from the rhythm of erasure, incarnate within the Sixth Extinction?
Let us place ourselves
on the side of all life forms facing elimination
as a result of toxic human supremacism.
Only then will we be able to navigate
with deepest humility
into a viable future.
All the flap about the abysmal behavior of a pouting POTUS obscured deeper meanings surrounding the centennial of an armistice for a war that was supposed to end all wars. Of all the writing marking the occasion, an essay by William Vollmann in the Smithsonian best conveys the horrors of those years.
Brief excerpts below, with details from — and a source photograph for — John Singer Sargent’s painting, Gassed.