I have been reading two extraordinary and very different writers lately who are both engaged with questioning Modernity -the capitalist, industrial civilizational model which we are all so familiar with here in the West – and which can now be found just about everywhere in the world as a “modernization front,” as Latour terms it.
To demonstrate one small place where these writers overlap and yet are very different in their approaches, here are two quotations:
“The present global environmental malaise has come about, at least in part, according to the argument in the previous chapters, because we moderns, the people of the industrialized nations, no longer revere our world or engage communicatively with it. Over the last three hundred years or so, we have been taught to see the ground of being in materialist terms, as in itself void of significance and presence – as mere externality without an animating principle of its own.” Freya Mathews, Reconsidering Reality: Towards a Recovery of Culture, 49.
“It would not be wrong to define the Moderns as those who believe they are materialists and are driven to despair by this belief….When everything is submerged in matter there is no raw material, no accessible reality, no experience to guide us.” Bruno Latour, An Inquiry into Modes of Existence: An Anthropology of the Moderns, 105-106. Continue reading “Reading Freya Mathews & Bruno Latour”
Here in the crazy US it is Thanksgiving again, a holiday that, in its simplest form – taking some time to gather with family and friends to share a meal in the spirit of gratitude – is based on the most benign of impulses.
I am grateful today for the monarch butterflies that at least here on the ranch seem especially numerous this November. Continue reading “Thanksgiving”
It began with the article about the birds, the 2.9 billion missing North America birds, the 2.9 billion birds that disappeared and no one noticed. The sparrows, black birds, and swallows who didn’t make it, who weren’t ever born, who stopped flying or singing or making their most ingenious nests, who didn’t perch or peck their gentle beaks into moist black earth. It began with the birds. Hadn’t we even commented in June, James and I that they were hardly here? A kind of eerie quiet had descended. But later they came back. The swarms of barn swallows and the huge ravens landing on the gravel one by one. I know it was after hearing about the birds, that afternoon I crashed my bike. Suddenly falling, falling, unable to prevent the catastrophe ahead, unable to find the brakes or make them work, unable to stop the falling. I fell and spun and realized I had already been falling, that we have been falling, all of us, and crows and conifers and ice caps and expectations — falling and falling and I wanted to keep falling. I didn’t want to be here to witness everything falling, missing, bleaching, burning, drying, disappearing, choking, never blooming. I didn’t want to live without the birds or bees and sparkling flies that light the summer nights. I didn’t want to live with hunger that turned us feral or desperation that gave us claws. I wanted to fall and fall into the deepest, darkest ground and be finally still and buried there. Continue reading “A Letter to Mother”
About six months ago my friend and mentor Donna called to ask if I would be willing to give one of the keynote speeches at this yearʻs agricultural conference. Donna is one of those people with excellent people skills, which means that it is very difficult to say No to her: one because she will already have cultivated a relationship with you; and two, she will come armed with persuasions tailor-made to your psychology. She will appeal to your higher instincts for public service and your lower instincts for ego-gratification. Also of course it was an honor to be asked. So I agreed to give a speech. Continue reading “The Speech”
Here is Descartes, a founding father of the philosophy (myth, theory, story) of the modern world:
“And certainly the idea which I possess of the human mind inasmuch as it is a thinking thing, and not extended in length, width and depth, nor participating in anything pertaining to body, is incomparably more distinct than is the idea of any corporeal thing.” Descartes, Meditations
Continue reading “Cartesian Meditation”
There are two ways of addressing rising concentrations of atmospheric carbon; reduce the amount of carbon emissions or increase the amount of carbon removed from the atmosphere. Most of our efforts have been focused on reducing emissions. I’d like to shift the conversation to drawing down atmospheric carbon dioxide. Continue reading “Drawing down atmospheric carbon”
On July 19, 2019 WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). “It is time for the world to take notice and redouble our efforts. We need to work together in solidarity with the DRC to end this outbreak and build a better health system”.
Continue reading “Global Pandemics”
Some people may have caught a recent news story about animal abuse at Fair Oaks dairy farms in Indiana. The video was part of an undercover operation to show how animals are really treated at Fair Oaks Farms. “Fairlife was launched in 2012 as a partnership between Coca-Cola, which distributes its products, and the McCloskeys’ Select Milk Producers, a co-op of dairy farms that includes Fair Oaks. The product is a form of “ultrafiltered” milk that is lactose-free and has more protein and calcium and less sugar than traditional milk.” Fairlife and owners of Fair Oaks dairy are being sued by a consumer of Fair life dairy products who says he was deceived by claims it provided a high caliber of care for its animals.
Continue reading “How much does cruelty cost?”