While political events continue to serve as massive noise generators that obscure the deeper stories unfolding around us, stories that may eventually enfold and envelop us — among them, the slash & burning of the Amazon rainforest — we listen to a pure cry of visceral pain transcribed into the body of an essay by writer and climate activist Elisabeth Peredo Beltrán.
A few excerpts below, with images from an installation by Ai Weiwei, using roots and trunks from ancient Pequi Vinagreiro trees, gathered by local artisans in the Bahian forest.
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.
Now comes a bit of quacking from a lame duck president; Barack Obama speechifying from the well-watered White House Rose Garden.
If Mr. Obama had the spine to truly “make America a leader in this mission”, he would stand together with the brave members of Blockadia, such as those presently blocking the North Dakota pipeline; he would exercise his vaunted intelligence and come to grips with the relationship between ecocide and neoliberalism; he would spend less time in senseless signing ceremonies that accomplish nothing but ego inflation for discredited global elites, and more time listening closely to the words of grassroots tribal leaders such as Judith LeBlanc, director of the Native Organizers Alliance.
In a recent interview, LeBlanc puts the Blockadia case directly, without tiresome political spin and hollow propaganda:
These are the true “turning points of history” — not the scribbled agreements of politicians splashing about in their bubble baths. The frenzy to extract fossil fuels and build toxic pipelines not only heats the planet past the tipping point; it destroys the very essence of life — all life.
WATER IS LIFE
We have recently finished a novel that in time will be considered a rare American masterpiece: Barkskins. In graceful prose that expresses what must be expressed and nothing more, Annie Proulx — whose work we have long admired here at DP — chronicles the violent eradication of the boreal/acadian forest in North America, together with the eradication of the people who lived in harmony within those ancient woods. Through the richly detailed lives of dozens of characters, Proulx conveys the heavy personal and cultural price exacted by that most vicious counterpoint, between ecocide and genocide.
The novel begins with two epigraphs, the second of which is taken from an essay by the historian Lynn White, dated 1967: The Historical Roots of the Ecological Crisis. We were curious about the context for her selected passage (which is highlighted below in bold italics). The fact that the essay reads like it might have been written yesterday prompts us to post two long excerpts, though it is certainly worth close consideration in its entirety. The image (added by DP) is relayed from the studio of Peter Randall-Page.
For the curious, the first epigraph for Barkskins descends from George Santayana:
Why shouldn’t things be largely absurd, futile, and transitory? They are so, and we are so, and they and we go very well together.
Turning to the the Annals of Human Ecocide, we take note of a massive coral bleaching event along the vast expanse of the Great Barrier Reef, as reported by the Guardian. Among those who have witnessed the facts at close quarters with eyes (and nostrils) wide open, diver Richard Vevers recounts his recent experience surveying one section of the reef:
Marine biologist Justin Marshall, who has studied the reef in the vicinity of Lizard Island over the course of many years, meticulously documents the two stages of coral death: bleaching followed by seaweed proliferation.
Now we turn to the inevitable deniers. Most conspiculously, consider the words of a man named Col McKenzie, who presently serves as the CEO for the Australian Association of Marine Park Operators. Mr. McKenzie simply dismisses the overwhelming empirical evidence while taking cheap pot shots at the messengers:
Perhaps Mr. McKenzie might consider partnering with Leo DiCaprio in developing a new sort of monomanical marine park, one that would feature the genesis of a man-made environment so spectacular that we would never miss the disappearance of the Great Barrier Reef.
We close with the honorable Justin Marshall, who urges individual action in the face of government and corporate indifference, dereliction and turpitude:
A correspondent has alerted us to the recent republication of a manifesto for possibly the most significant body of writing, creating and thinking to emerge from the financial chaos of 2008: Uncivilisation. Worth a close reading in its entirely, the manifesto concludes with a statement of principles that resonate strongly here at DP:
Robinson Jeffers serves as something of a muse for the Dark Mountain Project, as he does here at DP, and we note the citation from his poem, Carmel Point:
Yes, as we enter into yet another chapter of the ongoing and deeper financial crisis that will shake our shallow notions of civilization to the core, we must uncenter our minds from ourselves.
We salute our friends on their voyage into uncivilisation, for they are trying to “think like a mountain”, and so are we. They have created, and absorbed, a good deal of heat via their manifesto, yet we commend them for having bravely faced the appalling facts of the deepening ecocide, and for having drawn their own autonomous conclusions.
As they write in their introduction to the 2015 edition:
Creative engagement and dialogue with the core ideas of Uncivilization will be an ongoing process for DP, as we venture ahead into a gravely uncertain future. We may stumble, yet we do so confidently, confident as the rock and ocean that we were made from.
For now, we close with a poem from another of our favorite poets, Jon Swan: