msb ~100 The first ninety-nine

The first ninety-nine  

ninety-nine

I hope you’ve been enjoying the first ninety-nine brief posts on my small blog. I’ve enjoyed bringing them to you, and will return in January. Do have a browse through some of the posts you might have missed. Have a peaceful Christmas!

 


Between the flame wars and the echo chamber
Pale Blue Dot syndrome (fable of a lost world)
“I hear those voices that will not be drowned”
Fitting our oddness into the scheme of things
Negative Capability revisited: not knowing 
Systems thinking: questioning boundaries
On leverage points & counterintuitions
Imagination: not just the mind’s eye
Problematic problems: predicaments
Knowledge that does not know itself
On the wild edge of what we know
Ecosystems and Boundary Objects
Prototyping Climate Museum UK
Terra Antarctica, terror incognita
“Let’s hear it for the vague blur!”
Beyond the background wild #3
Beyond the background wild #2
Beyond the background wild #1
Impact beyond the factory walls
Shifting baselines, new normals
Imagination, the key ingredient
Anthropocene foreshadowings
Landscapes written in the skin
Getting energetic with utopias
Technofossils, fuel for thought
Welcome to the snarge matrix
Making sense of weak signals
Mutually Assured Destruction
Breakthroughs from left field
The problem with awareness
Realigning managed retreat
Creating greener narratives
“We will grieve the glacier”
One foot through the door
Remembering Chris West
Future forest, plastic tide
Macroscopes of the mind
Tinker tailor soldier artist
Climate data: climate art
On edge and in-between
Connecting with change
Our Plastisphere future?
Creativity: a bright idea
In search of dark skies
On anticipatory history
Wasteland to wild land
Anthropocene objects
The Age of Loneliness
Through a lens clearly
Tune in, all senses on
Back to Tyger School
A duty to collaborate
On unknown knowns
Three faces of power
Quantum worldviews
Launching Waterlight
Our entangled future
Regard the disregard
The truth? Dream on
Rewilding the future
A war on simplicity?
The ghost of a flea?
Negative Capability
Room for comedy?
A feel for the place
The call to paradox
Reading the bones
Loss, light and ice
Evocative objects
Palliative curation
Mass annihilation
Shaped by stone
There is no away
Magical thinking
Earthrise, again
Brave ambition
Truth and story
Metamorphosis 
Hurricane bells
On rootedness
Rooted, again
A moral maze
Finding Blake
Only connect
Nature shock
Who speaks?
Climate hope
The haunting
First contact
Climate grief
Out of range
Safe space 
Picture this
Inheritance
Tell it slant
Waterlight
Naturalist
Expertise
Last call?

 

msb ~099 A war on simplicity?

A war on simplicity?  

Intractable conflict?
Intractable conflict?

Kate Yoder was surprised to find her language getting violent when she started reporting climate change. “Some ancient spirit took hold of me, and I found myself deploying the narrative of war … of the climate movement’s leaders who’d gone all out with the wartime cliches. The only way to overcome climate change inaction, environmentalist Bill McKibben once wrote, ‘is to adopt a wartime mentality, rewriting the old mindset that stands in the way of victory’.”

Oppositional vocabulary is attractive, powerful, often necessary. But focusing on conflict “limits our collective imagination about what we can do to fix complex problems.” Wars on poverty, drugs, terror? None has been won. Can you wage war on a predicament? Continue reading “msb ~099 A war on simplicity?”

msb ~098 On leverage points & counterintuitions

On leverage points & counterintuitions  

"Oh Wow! Paradigm shift!" Counterintuitions required
Paradigm shift: counterintuitions required

Observing that “the world’s leaders are correctly fixated on economic growth as the answer to virtually all problems, but they’re pushing with all their might in the wrong direction,” Donella Meadows identifies the perils of failing to understand complex systems as counterintuitive. The ‘leverage points’, where we can change systems, are also not intuitive. “Or if they are, we intuitively use them backwards, systematically worsening whatever problems we are trying to solve.” We need to develop our counterintuitions. And humility, as counterintuitons need room for contest and evolution: “complex systems are, well, complex.” Continue reading “msb ~098 On leverage points & counterintuitions”

msb ~097 Reading the bones

Reading the bones   

Anthropocene stories: reading the bones
Anthropocene stories: reading the bones

Some stories bear repeating. This one’s a nightmarish scenario worthy of the direst Sci-Fi blockbuster: a planet’s species controlled from birth in machine technologies, enduring rapid growth beyond natural limits, shunted to mass-engineered death for meat harvesting. Flash forward to a distant future: the hidden enslavers have gone; only countless bones, in vast graves scattered across the planet, tell that the enslaved creatures were ever there. Fantasy? Maybe not so much — if you’re one of the 23 billion chickens alive at this moment. ‘Dominant species’ might be a stretch, but maybe in the eyes of the mythical alien archaeologists – landing on Earth after humans have gone, shaking tentacled heads at the wonders in the rocks – chicken bones will dominate their reconstructions of what ‘on Earth’ went on here. Continue reading “msb ~097 Reading the bones”

msb ~096 Climate hope

Climate hope  

Greta Thunberg, climate hope - “Once we start to act, hope is everywhere."
Greta Thunberg – climate hope in action

Climate scientist Peter Kalmus writes about how “to think daily about climate change and any of its dire implications can be a crushing psychological burden. Each of us is just one mammal, with all our mammalian limitations — we get tired, sad, irritated, sick, overwhelmed — and the climate crisis wields the force of 8 billion humans with infrastructure, corporations, capital, politics, and imaginations heavily invested in burning fossil fuel.” Continue reading “msb ~096 Climate hope”

msb ~094 On the wild edge of what we know

On the wild edge of what we know  

On the wild edge of the wood wide web
On the wild edge of the wood wide web

Kathleen Jamie – renowned poet and also a great essayist, as her book Sightlines shows – joined forester Peter Wohlleben and others on today’s BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week. Together, they covered trees, air pollution, rewilding, language and other arenas of nature-culture.

It’s de-centring to confront Wohlleben’s evidence for the sensations and social liveliness of trees within their ‘wood wide web’; in host Andrew Marr’s words, this is “on the wild edge of what most of us know.” How are ‘culture’ and ‘nature’ so separated that these are such odd thoughts, immediately triggering fears of mysticism and anthropomorphism (both real enough risks)? Continue reading “msb ~094 On the wild edge of what we know”

msb ~093 Quantum worldviews

Quantum worldviews

Schrödinger's cat - quantum worldviews
Schrödinger’s cat

One aspect of ‘reality’ where the mind’s eye leads us astray is quantum worldviews. Quantum physics describes subatomic particles, but it’s contentious whether it goes much larger: microbes, cats, quantum physicists? People often look for analogies that seem to encompass consciousness, ecology and non-Western worldviews. I’ve found these attractive ever since reading Gary Zukav’s Dancing Wu Li Masters, though my physics degree then cautioned me to think inside the box. Part of the appeal? The quantum language — ‘duality’, ‘entanglement’, ‘many-worlds’, ‘non-locality’ — and the science’s radical forms of uncertainty appeal to the abstract mind and visual imagination: the paradox of Schrödinger’s cat-in-the-box, alive-and-dead-at-the-same-time (‘superposition’, not superstition), until the instant the curious observer opens its box and the cat becomes one-or-the-other. But visual imagination cannot go there, and the words don’t mean what they do in everyday talk. Continue reading “msb ~093 Quantum worldviews”

msb ~092 Imagination: not just the mind’s eye

Imagination: not just the mind’s eye  

A Mile in My Shoes, Katie Hodgkins on the mind's eye
A Mile in My Shoes: the mind’s eye?

I’ve been listening to the Empathy Museum’s A Mile in My Shoes podcasts. It’s refreshing to get these short empathy bursts: insights into others’ lives, in their own words. Katie Hodgkins’s podcast introduced an experience that maybe seems unimaginable. Katie herself couldn’t imagine it if she weren’t experiencing it. As she says, “I have something called aphantasia. It means I’ve got no imagination, and there’s no pictures in my mind … So I struggle with putting myself in other people’s positions, and I don’t have a very good memory because of it … I need to see something to remember.” As she says, “It’s really amazing that people have full-on images in their heads!”

Continue reading “msb ~092 Imagination: not just the mind’s eye”

msb ~091 Shaped by stone

Shaped by stone   

Shaped by stone - Tegg's scalping, Image by Tom Baskeyfield
Tegg’s scalping, Tom Baskeyfield

Tom Baskeyfield asks questions about stone that “focus on relationship to place and the stuff of place” and contemplation of “the slow and the local.” In Dark Mountain’s TERRA, he considers both the stones in his hometown, Macclesfield – “a cobble protruding through tarmac .. drystone walls hidden between newer brick buildings .. weathered surfaces of paving slabs underfoot” – and the town’s Welsh slate roofs. The local stone also migrated, in this case from a hillside quarry. Hillside and town were familiar to each other; “like a trickling stream, it is not hard to imagine the flow of stone from this hill shaping the footpaths and roads on its meandering descent, and pooling in the medieval streets in the valley below.” Continue reading “msb ~091 Shaped by stone”