I spent Earth Day 2014, April 22, enlarging my carbon footprint and contemplating mass extinction. I didn’t manage to write anything that day, as I was exhausted from the red-eye flight overnight from New York City to Geneva, Switzerland — hence the heavier footprint — and distracted by apocalyptic visions. And not a metaphorical apocalypse, with yet-more zombies overrunning TV and cinema screens worldwide. Now we have frank discussions of “the end of the world” in mainstream media. And by “the world” we tend to mean not the planet but self-obsessed human civilization, which a growing number of people believe the Earth will eventually shake off like a human shakes off the virus that causes the common cold.
I brought The New York Times Magazine from Sunday’s paper to read during the fuel-intensive flight. It contained an article about the English environmental activist and author Paul Kingsnorth and his conclusion, six years ago, that the environmental movement had failed and societal collapse had become inevitable. That led to a thoughtful manifesto written by Kingsnorth and Dougald Hine, “Uncivilisation,” which became the starting point for a network of writers and artists called The Dark Mountain Project. Its name comes from the last line of American poet Robinson Jeffers’ “Rearmament.”
The project’s primary goal is to provide cultural responses that reflect the realities of our ecological, social and political crises rather than deny them. It holds a popular annual festival in August and regularly publishes anthologies of “Uncivilised writing and art” that take an ecocentric view of the world and reject “ephemeral promises of growth, progress and human glory.” (Not to be too glib, but only humans could come up with such anti-human sentiments … as well they should, to remind us that not everything is about us, and to effectively promote environmentalism by implying it’s dead, or might as well be, in what amounts to an “age of ecocide” that is our doing and will be our undoing.)
It’s the End of the World as We Know It … and He Feels Fine – The New York Times Magazine
The Dark Mountain Project website
Uncivilisation: The Dark Mountain Manifesto
Annual Uncivilisation festival
At the Point of ‘Peak Water,’ Our Foreseeable Future Grows Shorter