Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Dark Mountain

In these times of uncertainty, when the cult of personality replaces reason and compassion, we look to false leaders to solve problems we have created for ourselves. Hubris becomes Nemesis. I know many young people who are nihilistic, to the extreme of anarchy, terrorism, and destruction. I offer that there is a different solution, one that embraces change, by which I don't mean a return to some idealized past, but openly embracing the opportunity for a future as yet unimagined. For your perusal, I offer the following polemic:

"The pattern of ordinary life, in which so much stays the same from one day to the next, disguises the fragility of its fabric. How many of our activities are made possible by the impression of stability that pattern gives? So long as it repeats, or varies steadily enough, we are able to plan for tomorrow as if all the things we rely on and don’t think about too care- fully will still be there. When the pattern is broken, by civil war or natural disaster or the smaller-scale tragedies that tear at its fabric, many of those activities become impossible or meaningless, while simply meeting needs we once took for granted may occupy much of our lives.

Human civilization is an intensely fragile construction. It is built on little more than belief: belief in the rightness of its values; belief in the strength of its system of law and order; belief in its currency; above all, perhaps, belief in its future.

That civilizations fall, sooner or later, is as much a law of history as gravity is a law of physics. What remains after the fall is a wild mixture of cultural debris, confused and angry people whose certainties have betrayed them, and those forces which were always there, deeper than the foundations of the city walls: the desire to survive and the desire for meaning.

Increasingly, people are restless. The engineers group themselves into competing teams, but neither side seems to know what to do, and neither seems much different from the other. Around the world, discontent can be heard.

Today’s generations are demonstrably less content, and consequently less optimistic, than those that went before. They work longer hours, with less security, and less chance of leaving behind the social back- ground into which they were born. They fear crime, social breakdown, overdevelopment, environmental collapse. They do not believe that the future will be better than the past.

And so we find ourselves, all of us together, poised trembling on the edge of a change so massive that we have no way of gauging it. None of us knows where to look, but all of us know not to look down. Secretly, we all think we are doomed: even the politicians think this; even the environmentalists. Some of us deal with it by going shopping. Some deal with it by hoping it is true. Some give up in despair. Some work frantically to try and fend off the coming storm.

Ecocide demands a response. That response is too important to be left to politicians, economists, conceptual thinkers, number-crunchers; too all-pervasive to be left to activists or campaigners... Artists are needed... We believe that artists — which is to us the most welcoming of words, taking under its wing writers of all kinds, painters, musicians, sculptors, poets, designers, creators, makers of things, dreamers of dreams — have a responsibility to begin the process of decoupling. We believe that, in the age of ecocide, the last taboo must be broken — and that only artists can do it."

‘We must unhumanise our views a little, and become confident
As the rock and ocean that we were made from.’

  1. We live in a time of social, economic and ecological unraveling. All around us are signs that our whole way of living is already passing into history. We will face this reality honestly and learn how to live with it.
  2. We reject the faith which holds that the converging crises of our times can be reduced to a set of ‘problems’ in need of technological or political ‘solutions’.
  3. We believe that the roots of these crises lie in the stories we have been telling ourselves. We intend to challenge the stories which underpin our civilization: the myth of progress, the myth of human centrality, and the myth of our separation from ‘nature’. These myths are more dangerous for the fact that we have forgotten they are myths.
  4. We will reassert the role of storytelling as more than mere entertainment. It is through stories that we weave reality.
  5. Humans are not the point and purpose of the planet. Our art will begin with the attempt to step outside the human bubble. By careful attention, we will reengage with the non-human world.
  6. We will celebrate writing and art which is grounded in a sense of place and of time. Our literature has been dominated for too long by those who inhabit the cosmopolitan citadels.
  7. We will not lose ourselves in the elaboration of theories or ideologies. Our words will be elemental. We write with dirt under our fingernails.
  8. The end of the world as we know it is not the end of the world full stop. Together, we will find the hope beyond hope, the paths which lead to the unknown world ahead of us.

From the Dark Mountain Project


robert.ditterich said...

I knew something was brewing in your head....I'm going to have to digest this thought-provoking post, thank you! I've been brewing too, but in the end it just came out as a short bleat for science when the world seems full of leaders who 'know better'.

doryman said...

Many among us despair at the turn the so called civilized world has taken. The misery we humans can cause each other seems to have no bounds. I fear our tolerance for abuse, one to another, is soon to be tested to it's limits. We have only ourselves to blame. Once all one sees is enemies behind every rock and tree, even the rocks and trees themselves, we are doomed.
I have compassion for a baby, of any race or creed, born today or tomorrow. Life for them will not be as pleasant as today's political rhetoric would lead us to believe.

Perhaps there is hope - we humans are resilient and adaptable. But fighting and bickering over who should be on top will not work out to our advantage, those of us who end up on the bottom of the pile. And that includes the vast majority of us, my friends.

Simeon said...

Thanks for your posting. You've opened up a trove of material for me to work through.
As WC said, "Keep Buggering On"


doryman said...

Precisely my friend. Have we any other choice?
Thanks for checking in, Simeon. This conversation has just begun. I'll be interested in what you find and how you feel about it.

Bruce Gregor said...

What great thoughts to share. More like a mountain of light rays of hope than Dark.

doryman said...

Welcome, Bruce. I see even our most pragmatic thinkers falling short of finding a clear path forward. Possibly the paradigm that saves us from extinction by our own hand has not been imagined yet, though some very great minds cry foul from the wings.