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 ~087 Our entangled future

Our entangled future  

AdaptationCONNECTS: Our entangled future
AdaptationCONNECTS: Our entangled future

“To access and activate our most radical potentials as a storytelling species,” the AdaptationCONNECTS project has issued an innovative call for short stories of ‘our entangled future’: stories to engage our imaginations with ‘quantum social change’ in the face of our accelerating climate crisis. “We need stories that confront the limitations of a dualistic, deterministic, and inanimate worldview and instead offer insights into a reality that is connected, entangled, uncertain, and ripe with possibility – a world of complementarity, non-locality, and potentiality.” Their call places an important emphasis on “the power of language, meaning, and metaphors to create a new reality.” Continue reading “msb ~087 Our entangled future”

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 ~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”

msb ~077 Landscapes written in the skin

Landscapes written in the skin  

Hereford Cathedral's Mappa Mundi
Hereford Cathedral’s ‘Mappa Mundi’ – world dream-map

Maps hold me. The collection I marked during my ‘sabbatical’ exploration of personal unknown England. My afternoon with the Hereford Mappa Mundi’s medieval worldview squashed onto a sheet of vellum. First Nations hunters’ dream-maps, recalled in Anticipatory history: “a piece of moosehide as large as a tabletop … ‘Up here is heaven; this is the trail that must be followed; here is a wrong direction; this is where it would be worst of all to go; and over here are all the animals. They explained that all of this had been discovered in dreams.'” My own dreams of floating above unreal landscape-map hybrids, still real years later. Continue reading “msb ~077 Landscapes written in the skin”

msb ~075 A feel for the place

A feel for the place 

Geoff Dyer: 'a feel for the place'
Geoff Dyer: ‘a feel for the place’

Am I wrong to want from a programme called ‘Travel: is it worth it?’ some focus on the climate implications of a lifetime travelling to write? I agree that, while we travel with our preconceptions, travelling opens them to disruption; travellers’ accounts shake and reshape my worldview. But what of my prejudice: mass travel wastes the world faster than it makes it? Who can deny there’s a mass of travel writers? Continue reading “msb ~075 A feel for the place”

msb ~074 Negative Capability revisited: not knowing

Negative Capability revisited: not knowing  

not knowing: youths clashing with police, Paris
not knowing: “located somewhere at the edge of the world”

I’ve enjoyed this article where Paul Tritschler revisits poet John Keats’ idea of Negative Capability via psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion. “Bion said that one discovers truth, the ingredient essential to psychic growth, on the cusp of knowing and not knowing. On the cerebral map, not knowing is located somewhere at the edge of the world.”
Continue reading “msb ~074 Negative Capability revisited: not knowing”

msb ~069 Loss, light and ice

Loss, light and ice  

Library of Ice by Nancy Campbell
Loss and light in the Library of Ice

I published ClimateCultures’ latest post this morning: Sally Moss’ review of The Library of Ice: Readings from a Cold Climate, by Nancy Campbell. Both are fine pieces of work! I’ve just started listening to The Library of Ice audiobook and am enjoying Nancy’s vivid imagery, her thoughtful reflections.

Early on in the introduction, she describes her day job at a manuscript dealer prior to her artist’s residency in Greenland – a formative experience for the book. A photographer bearing a box of transparencies of an abandoned and ruined family house invited Nancy to write for the exhibition. “How do you write about that kind of loss?” Nancy wondered and found herself researching the science of photography as a way in. Continue reading “msb ~069 Loss, light and ice”