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”

msb ~088 Remembering Chris West

Remembering Chris West 

Chris West, 1951 - 2018
Chris West, 1951 – 2018

Along with everything else, there’s that deep sadness when you realise you’re never going to have a conversation with someone ever again. I learned the other day that Chris West, my old boss at UKCIP, died recently and I immediately thought of his humour, patience and enthusiasm. And of a short passage in Nancy Campbell’s The Library of Ice, which I’d read last month and where I’d rediscovered Chris in this perfect anecdote:

“At a climate conference in London a few weeks ago I paired up, during the one-minute speed-meeting session, with an amiable, bearded scientist, who told me that he’d held a piece of the Vostok ice core in the palm of his hand. Chris used up his whole minute describing the experience. ‘The thing is, it fizzed,’ he said. ‘It was melting with the warmth of my palm, and the air was under such pressure that it exploded out of its ice pockets. It fizzed,’ he repeated, ‘then it melted, and I just wiped it on my shirt.’ He passes his hand across the checked cotton covering his chest, an expression of mild bewilderment on his face as he relives his Keplerian encounter with a 20,000-year-old piece of ice.” Continue reading “msb ~088 Remembering Chris West”

msb ~086 Rooted, again

Rooted, again  

Rooted, Juhi Saklani
Rooted, Juhi Saklani

Another rich vein of discovery in Dark Mountain’s new collection, TERRA: Rooted is Juhi Saklani’s short essay on the heritage and fate of India’s trees. In response to displacement and distress at relocating deep into Delhi’s congestion after years living in its leafier areas, “I started photographing trees. It was the most meditative and ‘at home’ I felt in my unsettled life.” Her images accompany the text, revealing the deeply textured interplay of living tree and decaying stonework, of (as this small blog keeps returning to) nature-and-culture. Continue reading “msb ~086 Rooted, again”

msb ~085 On edge and in-between

On edge and in-between 

Melancholia, by Lars von Trier: in-between states
Melancholia, by Lars von Trier: in-between states

Titling your Physics World post ‘This article is based on fictional events’ does make it stand out. And David Boyt describes an event I’d wish I’d been to; as part of London Mathematical Laboratory’s Science on Screen series, statistical physicist Valerio Lucarini discussed how Lars von Trier’s 2011 Melancholia “inspired in him a new way of thinking and provided the missing piece of the puzzle for his research.” Continue reading “msb ~085 On edge and in-between”

msb ~084 Hurricane bells

Hurricane bells  

Hurricane Bells, by Peter Shenai
Hurricane Bells, by Peter Shenai

I just posted this moving radio programme to ClimateCultures’ Views from Elsewhere, but there’s more to explore in artist Peter Shenai’s hurricane bells and stories of Hurricane Katrina. Cast in shapes reflecting Katrina’s evolving wind speed, they bring dissonant and consonant voices that turn data into art: nature, recast by human climate disruption, in turn, reshapes human artefacts: nature-cultures powerfully entwined. Continue reading “msb ~084 Hurricane bells”

msb ~083 Between the flame wars and the echo chamber

Between the flame wars and the echo chamber  

Feeding the flame wars? 'Someone is wrong on the internet' cartoon
Feeding the flame wars?

We’ve all had scarring (non)conversations with people who hold very ‘contrary’ views on climate change. Also, unchallenging ones with our own tribe. Flame wars vs echo chamber? Perhaps there’s a Map of Temperaments as to which type we each enjoy most in different company; but, more importantly, I like this handy guide from Karin Kirk at Yale Climate Connections, on a ‘spectrum of persuadability’ of those pushing back on climate change. Continue reading “msb ~083 Between the flame wars and the echo chamber”

msb ~082 Pale Blue Dot syndrome (fable of a lost world)

Pale Blue Dot syndrome   

Pale Blue Dot: Voyager image of Earth
Pale Blue Dot: Voyager image of Earth

(colloquial, ‘Blue’; archaic, ‘Sagan’s Pixel’): a malaise of Gaian-class consciousness, in legend derived from the ProtoGaian Terra before its first outwave. Though Terra’s existence is doubted, the term’s origin is implied in that fabled aquatmosphere’s supposed chromatocharacteristics.

According to the legend, ‘Blue’ malaise arose among Terra’s self-extincted Homosagans, a biosubstrate-component that developed protoawareness, dominance delusions and abortive fledgeflight. Their very first projectiletechnoproxysensorium view back from their solsystem’s margins (attributed to preconscious emissary Voya) fed mistaken notions of Terra’s solitary life-bearing status. Fabulists speculate that Homosagans sensed this one-dimensional image – their ‘pale blue dot’ – contained all their species had ever known, done or been; achievements, failings, experiences and emotional states which they soon after recited into the Blue List Library (now lost, except to legend). Continue reading “msb ~082 Pale Blue Dot syndrome (fable of a lost world)”

msb ~081 Out of range

Out of range   

Out of range: poems by Nick Drake
‘Out of Range’, by Nick Drake

Nick Drake’s powerful ClimateCultures post offers elegant object lessons in our Anthropocene derangement.

A light bulb looks back to our before (“the guttering candle, and the dish of oil / to thread the eye of a needle, read / or cast shadows on the walls”) and its after (“when with a quiet tick / the luminous spell of our filament broke / you cast us off; and now you wish / a light perpetual and free”), advising us in our bright exile: remember the banished constellations, “the antiquated powers of the moon.” Continue reading “msb ~081 Out of range”

msb ~080 Nature shock

Nature shock  

nature shock: wild applesJourneying further into Dark Mountain’s new anthology, TERRA, I reach Sara Hudston’s wonderful, powerful parable, Wild Apples. “Francis hated animals.” It’s not just animals. Francis — named ironically for that Assisi guy, of course — hates all evidence of the non-human, natural world. An ex-countryside refugee — “He’d escaped as soon as he could to the city where women liked to be looked at and men could talk intelligently of important matters” — he’s forced back into rural exile, singled out for unidentified duties by an unnamed bureaucracy with no apparent purpose. Continue reading “msb ~080 Nature shock”