Tapered To A Claw

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.

Full speed ahead.

 


An Ecology of Intimacy

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Permanent Now

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.

 

 

SCANNING

 

EXPRESS

 

STONED MOON DRAWING

 

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Scaffoldings of Care

This week, we relay a passage from a remarkable conversation between two of the most indispensable writers in North America: Leanne Betasamosake Simpson and Dionne Brand.

Images link to videos by Simpson.

 

 

HOW TO STEAL A CANOE

 

 

UNDER YOUR ALWAYS LIGHT

 

 

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One of our (many) favorite passages from Brand’s searing Ossuaries:

 

 

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In the Fullness of Time

On this day when global youth join Greta Thunberg on strike to demand that inept elders terminate their oblivious fixation on short-term metrics like GDP growth, metrics that have become irrelevant within the rhythms of the Sixth Extinction, we turn to geologist Marcia Bjornerud in a recent interview about themes explored more thoroughly in her book, Timefulness: How Thinking Like A Geologist Can Help Save the World.

Images are sculptural drawings relayed from the studio of Phyllis Ewen, from a series titled Deep Time & Terrain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Not Afraid To Look

Now comes activist and historian Nick Estes, citizen of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, with excerpts from an interview following the publication of his compelling new book, OUR HISTORY IS THE FUTURE.

Images are from an essay by Charles Rencountre, outlining the genesis of the powerful carved sculpture he and his partner Alicia created for Standing Rock, from which we borrow this week’s title.

 

 

LOOKING STRAIGHT AHEAD INTO THE EYE OF THE STORM WITH NO FEAR

 

 

NOT AFRAID TO LOOK FACES THE LAUNCH PAD OF THE DAKOTA ACCESS PIPELINE.

 

 

ON THE HILL ABOVE THE FORMER SITE OF THE SACRED STONE CAMP AT STANDING ROCK

 

About the sculpture, inspired by a pipe that shows a similar figure on the prow facing the head of a white man that serves as the pipe’s bowl, Rencountre writes:

 

 

As for pitting a pipe against the pipeline, he writes:

 

 

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Alive and Ensouled

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.

We are grateful to DP correspondent Allen S. Weiss for directing our gaze to the work of Herbert Pföstl; two images below.

 

 

WILL NEVER RETURN

 

 

THE SKY STILL FARTHER AWAY

 

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Pföstl offers the following vita:

painter of animals, plants, and saints.

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.

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We will explore his exceptional body of work more thoroughly in a future DP.


Small Talk of Swallows

During times when the lethal addiction of human supremacism becomes ever more acute, we turn to the regrettably departed (2018) philosopher Mary Midgley with her response to the question, “What does it mean to be human?” Her title: On Not Needing To Be Omnipotent.

Images are from the studio of Olive Ayhens, with prophetic visions of New York City that date from the 1990s.

 

 

THE STREAMS RETURN (1997)

 

 

EDGE CITY (1997)

 

 

AESTHETICS OF POLLUTION (1996)

 

In closing, a poem by Ursula Le Guin within which we found this week’s title phrase:

 

 

With or without us, there will be the silence…

 

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An Exuberant Multiplicity

A rate of extinction estimated at “up to 100 times higher than the background rate” should provide adequate motivation to reconsider the deep ruts of human supremacism.

A DP correspondent steered us to an excellent online resource curated by the Center For Humans and Nature, including essays from a wide range of writers and thinkers invited in response to a series of key questions such as “What does it mean to be human?”

David Abram begins his response with a quote from Robinson Jeffers: “I have fallen in love outward.” Further excerpts below, with images from an Art & Extinction series by the Irish artist Diarmuid Delargy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a Postscript, Abram adds:

 

 

What ails us can also obliterate us; extinction events slowly but surely work themselves up the food chain to the alpha predators. In this progression, our connection to and dependence on the whole of life will become painfully evident.

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The Jeffers poem also spins these lines forth from the mind of Cassandra, o force of the earth rising:

Plant the earth with javelins? It made laws for all men, it dissolved like a cloud.
I have also stood watching a storm of wild swans
Rise from one river-mouth . . . O force of the earth rising,
O fallings of the earth: forever no rest, not forever
From the wave and the trough, from the stream and the slack,
from growth and decay: O vulture-
Pinioned, my spirit, one flight yet, last, longest, unguided,
Try into the gulf,
Over Greece, over Rome, you have space O my spirit for the years 

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House On Fire

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

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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.