We’re stuck, or so it seems

“We have to entertain the possibility that there is no reason for something existing; or that the split between subject and object is only our name for something equally accidental we call knowledge; or, an even more difficult thought, that while there may be some order to the self and the cosmos, to the microcosm and macrocosm, it is an order that is absolutely indifferent to our existence, and of which we can have only a negative awareness.”
Eugene Thacker

It feels (at last) that I’ve found something that interests me — and for all the wrong reasons:

the age of the Anthropocene.

And that’s shorthand for saying: I’m deeply under-persuaded about why the human species has evolved to a point where rather than being the crown of creation (I don’t buy it), it’s slowly killing itself.

Oh. Yes. It. Is.

What, you want to debate the extent of the problem, the loss of species or the warming planet?

Go on.

I dare you. In fact, nothing would give me greater pleasure right now than someone, anyone, bobbing up and saying:

“Youre wrong Summerhayes, on so many levels.”

But that’s the streetfighter lawyer instinct coming out and truth be told, the days of arguing my case seem well and truly over.

I mean, what’s the point?

I won’t be here for much longer. Thirty years or so, and at least part of that will be, I’m damn sure, spent wrestling one health issue after another before my time is eventually up.

And in the meantime…?

Well, at least for now, apart from life in the slow lane of work, I’ve been seized by something I can’t escape and, for better or worse, I’ve got no choice but be troubled aloud, even if or especially if no one wants to hear my brand of, if not nihilism, at least a less positivist outlook than all the hope-seeking junkies seem hardwired to pursue.

As to the rubric, I’ll make it short.

We’re stuck right now, not knowing what we should do with our lives with the overarching and overbearing Anthropocene unfolding before our very eyes. And it’s getting worse. Only yesterday did I read another scientific report that said we’ve passed the point of no return across so many earth-affecting boundaries. Did it register on the Richter scale of action by government or any of the behemoth companies that continue to gobble up the earth’s resources? I very much doubt it. Instead, if it went anywhere it was at the bottom of the bulging in-tray marked: I don’t give a shit. I’m being facetious of course, but hopefully, you get my not-very-well-crafted point.

I do understand, as I’ve said so often, that in using the dreaded we I’m generalising like hell and, in truth, I’ve got no business doing so. But it sure does feel like we’ve got a massive problem in moving the hearts and minds of a sufficiently large number of people to make even the smallest dent in our anthropocentrically-driven outlook, which explains so much of the current mess. And please don’t get me started on COP26 or any of the other myriad groups that have sprung up over the last few years, each with a unique brand of green exhortation, namely there’s plenty of time to sort out the mess. No there’s not; and I’d be much more impressed (a favourite saying of mine) if someone would say:

“It’s too bloody late to do anything. Instead, it’s time to make the most of the time left and help those less fortunate than ourselves with the coming apocalypse.”

But of course, unless it’s not already obvious, that’s hardly going to scale as a business model, is it?

One last thing before I get down from my slightly wobbly, speak-my-mind horse. Please can we think carefully about the putative solutions that are being talked up as if the fix is already in. The problem (i.e. the climate emergency) is, at least in my bailiwick, too vast, too out of control, too random for any one group or even an intercontinental group of governments to deal with. You only need look at the extreme weather events that have begun to unfold to understand that no amount of CO2 reduction — and that’s not the only problem — is going to stop something that’s already baked in and will be for a long time to come. This means that even if we stopped fouling the nest now, we’d still have to deal with the significant consequences of, inter alia, food and water shortages, civil war and parts of the world that are or will become uninhabitable (which will give rise to migration on an unprecedented scale), all whilst dealing with an ever-increasing population.

For the record, I’m not saying that the situation is so dire and so hopeless that there’s nothing we can do but given, as a species, how slow we are to change or even be changed (think of the plague that’s still in our midst), I have this unerring sense that it won’t be a case of being prepared to be stopped by the unfolding calamity but we’ll simply have no warning and KABOOM!, millions of people will be blown off the face of the earth that or face a slow, painful death.

Anyhow, and apologies for the slightly jarring end but I’ve got a puppy to find (“Eddie!”), a long walk around the village to take in and lots more reading to undertake before day’s end.

Enjoy your day.

Take care.

— Julian

Spiritual and cultural activist