The Long Slow before the Quickening

Before it takes shape, as it gradually gains hold, the transition to consuming less – basically, what sustainable neutrality reverse is all about, no matter how specifically construed – is happening painfully too slowly. That ‘pace,’ if that’s the right word, explains part of the associated pain that feels all around, as though it were the the only thing accompanying the shift.

News media – ‘legacy’ is a very generous modifier at this point – have little at their disposal beyond the language of cost, suffering, loss, giving up, change in the context of deprivation. We can say this is the wrong framing, but acknowledging the limitation is important, especially if we are going to progress beyond it.

No magic button here, but a recognition of a kind of system-wide failure, of education, articulation, creativity. But that limit is shading another, broader system-wide failure unfolding right in front of us so slowly, slowly as it can and gradually as a massive system/combination of overlapping massive systems does, that it can seem invisible, not believable, deniable.

Maybe it has slipped the bounds of deniability, as several big things begin to occur at once and more quickly. The need to reckon with the slowness and the quickening, while not seeming to be our major challenge, is the key to unlocking all the other challenges. The cognitive dissonance of a world on fire/drowning will lead to despair absent the ability to think our way out of it.

In some quarters, that is indeed a dark thought. But that’s what we’ve got to do. As I’ve written here and elsewhere over the years, the Earth is still a kind of lady in waiting, with waning patience for us to get our act(s) together. She’s going to start touching herself soon and we’re still not close to ready to think about that.

A stage play about climate change

Is it possible? Thanks to Flagpole for the coverage of the readings for my new project:

Suppose you, unlike most people, start taking climate change seriously. Suppose, too, that your skills lie in areas having to do with communication—you’re a writer, a publicist, a blogger; you interview people on television. So when you start taking something seriously, something as all-encompassing as climate change, you naturally begin thinking about how to share your climate concerns, which, you realize, should concern us all, but which you know are far from most people’s consciousness.

Climate change is so far from our everyday lives (and so near) that it is almost impossible for the finest scientific and academic minds to wake us up. But if you’re Alan Flurry, who has all the communication skills mentioned above, plus more (he’s a drummer), you’re still going to have a go at finding a vehicle that tries to bridge the wide gap between everyday and everywhere.

Alan’s solution is to write a play. You say that’s more likely to put them to sleep than wake them up. Nevertheless, a communicator communicates, and Alan has written a play about climate change, which will have a staged reading a couple of times next week, directed by Alexis Nichols.

Flurry uses the device of a play within a play, or actually several plays within a play. The main through-line belongs to the character known as “Director.” Director, you see, is staging a play and is at the point of read-throughs when he begins musing with Adam, one of the actors. In fact, Director, thanks to split staging and multiple time frames, is staging several plays, but the one foremost in his mind is about climate change. So, we’ve got all the plays in the process of production, but Director continues to bring us back to the main event—his preoccupation with climate change.

Continue reading…

Hopefully coming to stage near you in the near future.

Water in Holy Lands

The Khaju Bridge (above) is one of the five historical bridges on the Zayanderud, the largest river of the Iranian Plateau, in Isfahan, Iran. Both a bridge and a weir, it links the Khaju quarter on the north bank with the Zoroastrian quarter across the Zayanderud.

The Khaju Bridge was built around 1650, under the reign of Abbas II, the seventh Safavid king (shah) of Iran, on the foundations of an older bridge. The existing inscriptions suggest that the bridge was repaired in 1873. There is a pavilion located in the center of the structure, inside which Abbas II would have once sat, admiring the view.

Beneath the archways are several sluice gates, through which the water flow of the Zayanderud is regulated. When the sluice gates are closed, the water level behind the bridge is raised to facilitate the irrigation of the many gardens along the river upstream of the bridge. Because of a sustained drought, and of course related management issues, the sluice gates and riverbed are now the site of gatherings of people worried about these many gardens, as well as crops and more general concerns about sustenance. Compare and contrast

Pictures, 1000’s of words, etc. 2022 is on the way and we need to do better. Soon.

Trans-substantiation

Far be it for me or anybody to tell you that you must take the train, walk to work, know or care anything about the food you buy and feed your kids. I mean, what’s the difference between a choice and a mandate? I can’t get you to consider spirituality when you insist on being religious; we’re talking past each other. The same goes for precious arguments about whether or not the climate is changing – more immediate concerns are either much more important or hardly matter at all. We can’t see rising oceans, after all – wait.

Nonetheless, just because something doesn’t look the same way to you as it does to me does not mean we are not seeing the same thing. The idea of parallax, where an object’s changed appearance is actually due to a change in perspective, is perhaps instructive. As we move through time, embracing or putting off measures to insure (either way) certain outcomes, our relation to, and hence our view of, the world we live in likely will change. Indeed this is the basis, for some, of waiting until conditions are sufficiently dire and all doubt is erased that we are &^%*ed before any remedies are attempted. I’ll leave this absurd fear of doubt for another time. But how to engender changes of perspective, if that is agreed to be one of the keys to planetary-preservation?

In the parallax, example
Parallax.gif

objects in the foreground appear to move very quickly, while those in the background much less so.  In the case of how our lifestyles impact the planet, what would be some of the objects in the foreground? The methods we use to move about, keep warm or cool, eat, for amusement; when we visualize our lives in a mind’s eye, is it about sitting in a car on a crowded road? Walking up to a school in the morning with your child? A lot of people would be appalled with a mere confrontation with how much time they have spent sitting at a drive through window, without ever considering what they were even buying there. Just that image, and a subtotal of minutes, and its reflection of the priority and our acceptance of it might be enough to create a pause.

Because that, a pause – any pause – seems to be what we strive to avoid. You don’t have to get dystopian about it to see the relation. When we take the time to prepare a meal, for example, we become concerned about ingredients, kitchen implements, the preference of those we’re feeding… the list goes on. Whether see this as a pleasure or a hassle, and the faster you condense the overall activity, the less you need to think about the different elements. Until you skip cooking altogether – and here we are again, sitting in the drive through.

So there’s no reason to demonize ordering a number 4 (again), in order to see it as another object between us and the background of the world we live. It moves quickly, alleviating us of certain concerns maybe, meanwhile our ideas about whether the world is changing seem to move so slowly as to not affect us. But creating pause, with the danger of a change in perspective, is perhaps the only way we ever become concerned about any of the ingredients to our lives, the ones that determine our perspective, the only ones we can change.