One day last fall I went
shuffling thru cold fire
shaped like fallen leaves and thought
after all these years I still don’t know
what they are.
Clearly existence is the dance of inconceivably marvellous matter.
Back in the days before the system crashed physicists used up their their days searching for a fundamental theory about the ultimate nature of space, time and the atom.
Near as I can tell the subject is a rabbit hole into which vast sums of public money and time disappeared while most of us starved. The search sometimes resulted in interesting technology like nuclear weapons and positron emission tomographic scanners but the bottom of the universe was never found and I doubt that it actually has a bottom, or a top.
Which means that no one will ever conceive or even coherently imagine what this universe of matter and energy is, certainly not me.
Turtles all the way down eh? Probing the depths of anything we always find something but probing that we find another something, another turtle.
And that’s cool with me.
How boring it would be if my universe was closed and bounded like the ones so many think they’re living in, if you can call that living.
The laws of marvelous matter are the laws of physics.
Anything which is physically possible is ok with the universe, tho it may not be ok with you or me. Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder and there’s nothing that is beautiful to every mind. I once told a man that the Holocaust made me aware of how evil humans can be.
The Nazis, he replied, did not go far enough.
Humans naturally hold conflicting perceptions of what is beautiful, good and desirable. And this is the basis of all conflicts, from schoolyard spats to genocide and the present war of terminal capitalism against all other visions of social order and ultimately against all life.
Based on the fact that the beauty or moral qualities of a thing or act do not inhere in anything outside the mind of the beholder some assert that all perceptions of moral goodness or beauty are entirely subjective (which is true) and equally valid (which is false). If all views were equally valid there would be no grounds for saying that some views or viewers are informed or uninformed, wise or foolish, beautiful or ugly. But this relativism ignores the fact that the validity of a perception fundamentally depends on how closely it corresponds to the facts it claims to perceive.
All views and perceptions are to some extent filtered or biased by various factors. But some of us know that the last holocaust was not a myth but a fact, not a good thing but a colossal crime against humanity and we know that minds who think otherwise are blind to the truth, the facts.
Likewise we know that the present holocaust of unfettered industrial depradation of our biosphere is not some weak minded misperception or conspiracy propagated by more than 97 percent of climate scientists in league with left wing liberals. Like most conspiracy theories that one is widely supported by light minded folk who read blogs and websites produced by minds who share their fantasies and also see them as suckers for click bait. Some conspiracy theories turn out to be true but when I look at this one I ask two questions: Who supports climate crisis denialism and who benefits from it?
If you look at prominent sites like Infowars you find that they cater to a perfect zoo of haters, eagerly venting their hatred of women, aboriginals, people of different colours, liberals, intellectuals, gays, refugees from “shit hole” countries and those refused full personhood in the affluent lands of the West: the poor, houseless, jobless, the inadequately schooled and all for whom the fantasy of trickle down capitalism has become a never ending struggle for the rudiments of survival.
Once you see who supports climate crisis denialism it’s easy to see who benefits. You need only ask who is creating this global nightmare. In a world where the vast majority are losers you need only look at the winners. And their servants, the wanna be winners. You know who they are and you know where they are, especially if you live in a place where beautiful vistas command the highest prices such that only the few can ever own a house and most of us spend half our incomes on rent.
You know who they are because, if you have a job, you probably work for them. Maybe you build or sell their lavish homes, log their forests or mine their earth even tho those forests grow on land that supposedly belongs to all citizens. Maybe you make your living running oil pipelines under fragile ecosystems on unceded aboriginal territory or work as a lawyer or banker facilitating the movements of the exploiters’ money and property, perhaps as a civil servant making sure that the wheels of resource exploitation and your palms are constantly oiled.
And all the way down the chain of command mums the word. You have a mortgage to pay, kids to feed and send to college. And you’re haunted by the slimy things you see but you also see your less quiet colleagues let go, out of work or working for far less than you and somehow you begin to think that the top predators aren’t so bad. They were just like you, kept their heads down, worked their way up. You learn to keep your head and hardly notice that you’re slowly losing your soul.
Maybe you once had dreams of becoming a better person but now they seem naive. Once you thought like a child but as you became a man you put aside childish things. Now you seldom remember your nightly dreams but when you do they spoil your morning. The crack in the tea cup leads to the land of the dead.
Maybe you try to paint or write but it doesn’t flow and when it does it scares you. It looks or sounds subversive. You paint over the image or shred the rant.
You hear someone talk about a global crisis, coastal flooding, refugees coming in, socialists turning your world upside down. The fools, you think, why don’t they understand that it’s just change. The weather always changes, always has.
Maybe you’ll save enough money to buy a villa in some well guarded secret place. Maybe you’ll get a licence, buy a gun.
2 The Vision
Most of us are more or less awake to the fact that our house is burning and fitfully or fervently ask what, if anything, we can do to save it.
We cannot know how many humans and other animals will survive but we must do what we can to save as many as we can. Our first priority must be to save the children and leave them in a world with a healthy and ever evolving diversity of species. This means we must give them the tools and weapons they will need to wage the war for life after we are gone.
The tools/weapons they will need are of three primary kinds: physical, intellectual and moral or spiritual. The physical tools are widely discussed in any catalog of wilderness survival gear. There will obviously be some occasions when physical combat tools and strategies will be needed and these are also widely discussed. In a world where small and large wars are already constant the techniques of war making and negotiation are widely available and the above are not areas of which I have more than superficial interest. But there is a tool to which I have given some thought and I see it as the foundation for a world worth saving. That foundation is a spiritual, moral and intellectual vision of the world we most fervently wish for our children and all other forms of life.
I can only offer my own vision of that world and you must decide for yourself whether any part of it is useful for the work of creating the world you want to become.
In the world I want to become there will always be both poets and philosophers, sometimes embodied in the same person or in couples and groups where some love more wisdom and others live for beauty. By poet I mean a worker in any medium whose intent is to explore and illuminate the tragic absurdities of the present and celebrate the creative possibilities of a mortal but open mind on a fragile but fertile planet in an unbounded universe of beginningless and endless change.
In the world I want to become there will also be books, artifacts and other records of the best and the worst of which humans are capable because only our knowledge of darkness enables us to fully appreciate the value of light and only our records of luminous moments and minds can show us the beauty we have been and may become again.