msb ~066 Who speaks?

Who speaks?   

Who speaks? Cow sculpture“Hi, Selene. Thanks for this. How about a series on killing vegans, one by one. Ways to trap them? How to interrogate them properly? Expose their hypocrisy? Force-feed them meat?”

A good joke for William Sitwell, senior food editor, to make? Fellow journalist Peter Oborne thought so on BBC’s PM. ‘Vegan educator’ Ed Winters didn’t, but agreed Sitwell needn’t have lost his job; the sacking was “more to do with a business perspective than a moral perspective. Waitrose are worried about their profits dropping.”

Oborn fears that “if minority groups are going to create offence every time somebody jokes about them it’s going to mean we are all on edge … ‘identity politics’, it’s called and it’s suppressing free speech.” Continue reading “msb ~066 Who speaks?”

msb ~064 Beyond the background wild #3

Beyond the background wild #3  

Cat and bird, by Paul Klee
Cat and bird

Thinking about times I’ve really encountered wild animals, I realise there are very few true moments beyond the ‘background wild’

My landlord’s cat, years ago: a frequent hunter, whose humans shrugged and waited until her prey was ready to go under the flower beds. She sauntered in and dumped a large thrush on the kitchen floor. The bird flapped about until I threw a towel over it, waited a moment for its movements (and my heart) to quieten, and scooped towel and bird back into the garden. It sat dazed on the grass and, minutes later, was gone. Continue reading “msb ~064 Beyond the background wild #3”

msb ~061 Anthropocene foreshadowings

Anthropocene foreshadowings  

Edge of Darkness: ‘stop the Anthropocene or the teddy bear gets it..’

I may need to spend time tracking down TV classics from the 1960s to 80s. Adam Scovell’s excellent survey of British TV fictional alarm calls reminds us how Anthropocene warnings have been with us for almost as long as the Great Acceleration itself. “It’s not that these programmes were ahead of their time: it is more frustratingly, that we have moved on so little in how we deal with the monumentality of ecological issues and their increasing scarring of the strata of our planet; the danger has been growing but with far more fervour than our willingness to address it.” Continue reading “msb ~061 Anthropocene foreshadowings”

msb ~059 Only connect

Only connect  

Path: space to connect

Louisa Thomsen Brits’ Path narrates place and personhood through poems that make ‘a short story about reciprocity’. This small book treads lightly through wide scapes of spirit and land; beginning with a quote from Robert Macfarlane: “paths connect. This is their first duty and their chief reason for being.” Perhaps all beings (human/non-human) are also paths: expressions of particularity and process; routes and roots to our essential connections.

I am footfall and track,
trail and trace,
thread of passage and possibility.

Trodden-through with a region-specific ‘word hoard’, Path is both intensely local to those paths Brit walks and universally translatable to our own natural geographies, histories, biographies.

I offer to make sense of the world,
to unravel tangle to intelligible thread,
I am your next natural step,
a silent, sinuous course stretching ahead of you... Continue reading “msb ~059 Only connect”

msb ~048 Earthrise, again

Earthrise, again   

Earthrise frame

There’s an overfamiliar-yet-fresh feel to the film Earthrise, documenting the moment humans first photographed Earth appearing behind the moon. Familiar because, raised on images and imaginations of manned space exploration as it happened, I’ve seen this photograph so many times: the small, watery rock teeming with invisible life. Fresh because the film lets us see back through the eyes of three elderly men who were there then, alone: emerging from profound blackness never experienced before, after hours scanning endless, dead grey dust no one had yet walked on – and feeling their eyeballs flood with the only colour to be had anywhere: first sight of distant home. It moved them then, fifty years ago this December, and you can see it move them now, looking back. Continue reading “msb ~048 Earthrise, again”

msb ~046 “I hear those voices that will not be drowned”

“I hear those voices that will not be drowned”

I hear those voices that will not be drowned

I wanted to pick up where I left off in Evocative Objects, which omitted what I’d ‘brought’ for that ‘Show & Tell’ workshop on objects with personal resonance in our changing climate. Maggi Hambling’s massive, 4-metre high steel seashell, Scallop, stands on Aldeburgh beach in Suffolk, resolutely dividing opinion among locals and visitors. I love it, and wrote about it in ClimateCultures’ A History of the Anthropocene in 50 Objects: “Being in its presence was to experience very direct communication with both environment and history, and an unsettling encounter with the future. Aldeburgh has been disappearing from the map for centuries … the sea moving in by stages.” Where Scallop now stands on shingle, were once homes and streets, lives and livelihoods. Continue reading “msb ~046 “I hear those voices that will not be drowned””

msb ~041 Beyond the background wild #2

Beyond the background wild #2

Street fox, Brighton 2018

Thinking about times I’ve really encountered wild animals, I realise there are very few true moments beyond the ‘background wild’

Southampton in the 90s: heading to the station for the last train home from work, the main road silent, empty of traffic and people – and a fox sauntered up the path. We both stopped, inspecting each other. Then she moved closer, slow but not especially cautious. I’m unsure how cautious urban foxes should be… More than this. I stood. She kept coming, reached out her snout, sniffed. Continue reading “msb ~041 Beyond the background wild #2”

msb ~039 The truth? Dream on

The truth? Dream on

Mapping certainties

Following Philip Dick, here’s another favourite speculative writer: Christopher Priest. I just finished the Ordnance Survey ‘Britain’s islands’ quiz after rereading Anticipatory History‘s Dream-map entry, so it’s no surprise that Priest’s Dream Archipelago came to mind. There’s a slipperiness to his decades-long project of stories set on these fictional-but-familiar islands on a world (un)like ours. In a 2011 interview ahead of The Islanders he’s asked, “Creating the climate, topography and various customs of the islands must have been quite challenging … Did you use a map or some other technique?” Priest: “No map is allowed. Not even to me … Living in the islands, or trying to travel through them, you almost always get lost. No one knows the way, everyone is a bit muddled.” Continue reading “msb ~039 The truth? Dream on”