cave_painting

Conservation and Cosmology

Modernity’s manic disposition—its constant teleological fluctuation between dread and excitement—owes to the anticipated arrival at the summit of two slopes: technological emancipation and ecological ruination. The pinnacle of these inseparable edifices marks the completion of humanity’s schism with nature, and invites us, from the loneliness of our remove, to contemplate the precipice. Presuming we forego the temptation to step into...

Copernicus

The Great Adaptation

When Nicolaus Copernicus published his model of heliocentrism (positing the Sun as the centre of the universe) in On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres just before his death in 1543, he accomplished what amounts to the literal moving of heaven and Earth. He also politely informed his five hundred million planetary (human) cohabitants of their mediocrity. The “Copernican Revolution” then,...

Muir

“Whole and Uninjured”

“To be is to do – Socrates. To do is to be – Sartre. Do Be Do Be Do – Sinatra.” The above tripartite from Kurt Vonnegut’s 1982 novel Deadeye Dick, traces originally (in longer form and with different attributions) to graffito in bathroom stalls in the late 1960s. Its modern re-emergence as Facebook meme proves once again—both in content...

Ecotourist

The Eco-Tourist

“One pair of pants, two t-shirts. If I need more I just buy it when I get there,” said the diminutive, grey haired man on the forward deck, as he held the front seam of his wind-whipped T-shirt conspicuously in front of his groin. His introduction, by way of unsolicited advice, was quickly followed by a necessarily loud boast over...

Boat

The Birkenhead Protocol

If the image of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, washed lifeless upon the Turkish shore, personifies the humanitarian crisis in the Middle East, we might also consider the last images Aylan himself ever saw as symbolic of humanity’s greater moment of peril. The biblical proportions of climate change—the storms and rising seas, the mass migrations of dispossessed—distill to Aylan’s lone wooden boat,...

Trudeau

Waiting in the Wings

It’s not only Justin Trudeau’s deservedly vaunted oratory that rebuts his detractors characterizations of him as a dilettante of theatre, but his command of foreshadow, as witnessed in the unfolding drama of his ministerial ascendence. He is, after all, the lead character in his own self-fulfilling bedtime story. A national lullaby whispered into the ear of Canada’s tolerant and Harper-weary...

smoke_stack

Fatalism from a Distance

It might yet prove all by grand design: a stream of worsening predictions about our planet’s future, and a mass media leading us in an orchestrated fatalism with the plaintive hymnal, “But what can I do?” It plays to our strength as managers. If the climate is indeed about to tip, we’ll need an efficient means of crowd control, and...

Narcissus

Myths Old and New

In the spirit of circular logic that governs our age, I submit: It is an old idea that there are no new ideas. And since we also live in an age of irony, allow me to update the story of Narcissus for my own humble advantage. There are several variants of this Greek myth of the beautiful boy who died...

Hedges

A Culture Without a Rebel

If, in these first years of the new millennium, there has been a more important speech than Chris Hedges’ “Calling All Rebels”, I for one haven’t heard it. In characteristically unflinching rhetoric, Hedges describes the spiral of environmental and cultural collapse issuing from under-regulated corporations, and the frightening cohesion of multi-nationals with national security. It’s a sobering address, but perhaps...