Complacency and Hubris: Our true environmental holdups

             The issue of climate change to me is of truly great importance. I feel as if this issue is, if not on the top, near the top of what will come to define how we advance in the next century. Our society, our civilization is at a crossroads of what will be either a global dark age or the creation of a neo-enlightenment period, and it hinges on the state of our climate. Well the real factor that will determine our course is how we have/will deal with this global flux. I am hesitant to compare our culture to the Roman Empire in this regard, but the analogy acutely is effective in the American consciousness.  
            What stands before us is the question of change now or change later. Soon enough there will be a threshold when those two become one and then it will turn into change now or perish. In the case of the roman empire, and I am by no means a historian, but conceivably it happened like so: change now a little, change now a little less, change now only a little, and then perish. Perish into a dark age of feudal systems and mindless warfare. Humanity continues in this story, of course to refit itself with a society that can change up faster and better to perpetuate itself, and we see this in the early stages of what became the Roman Empire. Soon enough along this path the change that was once faster and better is complacent in comfort, and comfort overrides hard fixes. This is where we are now. This is what we need to learn from. I am very much supporting that history repeats itself, but only it’s worse every time. This time it isn't only external barbarians and internal moral decay, but external environmental decay (with relations to the biosphere) and internal hubris in our ability to solve our issues.
            This hubris is that somehow, technologically we can ‘solve’ global climate change. The joke is that technology is one of the prime sources of the issue. I present this metaphor: You are in a lifeboat, and there is a small hole in the bottom of the boat filling the boat with water. In order to keep the boat afloat, you devise a plan to remove a section of the hull from another part of the boat to fix the initial hole. The only problem is that the wood used to fix the hole created another hole in the bottom of the lifeboat. Now the hole that had a makeshift fix is still leaking water, at a slower rate albeit, but the solution to the problem left a hole in the boat, undermining the initial fix. In this metaphor, it would be far more intelligent to take wood from maybe the side of the boat to fix the hole, not the bottom. The analogous answer for climate change isn't as easy a fix. Neither is committing to change for an unforeseen future easy, nor accepting that the comfort we have comes at an ultimate price for our (and every other) species on the planet. Difficulty isn't the problem; it is complacency that will drive us towards darkness, both on our electric grid and in the advancement of our species. 


Reflection 5

Shifting through the embers is absolutely haunting. It is I guess a metaphor for our wanton destruction of nature and the ultimate cost of this is not the gold but all that was lost.
I am hesitant to buy into Gary Snyder’s argument so quickly. His idea of what rethinking our geo-political boundaries sounds nice but I don’t know if this alone would be so firm as to reaffirm a sense of community in specific areas. Especially in urban areas where this “connection” to the land is so heavily obscured by what are literally sepreating people from the land underneath them. I feel like what he is saying is that small rural to suburban communities need to come together to “protect”, really to defend against non-locals, areas that sustain them. This is true, but I don’t know if a redefinition, even a paradigmal one is entirely necessary on a geologic scale. Rather I think the separation is purely on a social scale, the trajectory of interactions is increasing in the meta-physical realm and this hurts the physical connection people have with one another, and subsequently the physical connection people have to place.
I’ve indirectly connected physical interactions with people to a connection to a physical place. Taking a step back I’d like to flesh this out further. Is it the social interactions we have in a physical place that contribute to a connection to the place itself? Or can a strong connection to a physical space be attained solely on the basis of non-social interactions? I have had plenty a sojourn into the woods by myself and contemplated the beauty of the natural aesthetic, thought it quite nice to see the trees and birds and insects. But can one truly be connected to a place that one spends their time completely alone within? Of all the places that hold the most importance it is of those I’ve spent time with people in that are crucial, that come before the places I’ve only gone into by myself. I don’t think that a place alone with you is enough, maybe for Thoreau; he found enough merit to write so eloquently for the places he’d stay by himself. But even then I’ve read that Thoreau insisted on frequent visits from his friends during his stay at Walden, and along each of his journeys it includes descriptions of interactions he has had along the way. I think maybe it would appear at first to not be important, or even that the places we engage with alone would come out on top. Maybe the places where we can have the most opportunities to reflect and appreciate the subtly of nature and land are the places that rank the highest on our lists of that which twist our sinews. Or maybe it is the time spent with other people in these places that capture the importance of the place itself, a respect for the space which provides the setting and atmosphere for our complex and rewarding and awful human social interactions to happen within. It even provides a temporal net to capture these fading collisions of dynamic egos and growing pains, so that one day in deep nostalgia you can recede to this places (physically or meta-physically) and relive that which has transpired.
            Maybe in the ashes of those burnt books of lore are where all of these stories have gotten lost to.


Reflection 4

          The relationship between landscape and storytelling is one of context. What the landscape provides to a listener/reader/viewer is the adequate support frame to process and evaluate the story. Whether the landscape depicted is a physical, some architectural or aesthetic, or a metaphysical one, a state of mind or emotion it generates an entrance ramp so to speak to the narrative. It creates a baseline that the individual participating can join in on and begin an empathetic connection to the tale with.
            What is fascinating about this to me is how even the most remote and or removed topics from an individual can be brought into focus of the participator wholly by context. The reading is a good example of this, where I am not familiar with any of the places he describes but through the act of describing them and their relevance (which may or may not need to be) I can begin to understand what exactly he is trying to say. Try writing an engaging story without the use of context, I’d imagine it impossible, mostly to achieve the engaging aspect. That is really what makes stories come alive, is our imaginative complex to see not who ever is being described as the main character but to see ourselves in that role. We become the characters we read about, or rather the characters become us and for us to be engaged as the character we have to perceive what is going on, around or within us.
            With that being said I felt a little underwhelmed with Lopez’s description between landscape and narrative, maybe I missed his point somewhere. I think rather that I didn't feel connected enough to his own narrative to embody what he was saying and to evaluate it properly.
            Although I really connected with an observation of his, that after we leave the confines of a good narrative we feel renewed. “The stories had renewed in me a sense of the purpose of my life.” I've experienced this numerous occasions but not until reading it had I thought about it at all. I’m still not sure what to take from it, often when this feeling comes on after a story it will recede just as quietly, and kind of bitterly, if I don’t do anything. Maybe there is some other function of storytelling beyond just abstract separation and fantastical happenings. Lopez I get is alluding to some healing purpose, which I don’t agree with per se but I can see where that would come into play. I certainly feel in a way healed when a fictional happening somehow resonates with my actual life and can create a momentum of purpose.  

The Beta Tester

This blog is now going to be overrun with assignments for my writing course EWP 290. I encourage anyone reading to check out our course blog here or to look up the #nifkin on twitter to see our environmentalist takeover. Most of the posts will be reflections on reading assigned in either of our texts Saving Place and Net Smart, when I can I'll include external links to anything not referenced in either of these two books.


Recent Babble

No Solace Tonight

The last breath of winters creak,
the silence filled between throbbing thumbs
once the thought gets to linger.

Wafts of breath in air,
the smoke drifts and dissipates
there is no solace in the last cigarette of the night.

The world weighs heavy,
When the ledge grows thin
And our grasp shutters is last hope.

The last cigarette of the night.
There is no solace in the silence,
The overwhelming silence.



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Hashtags and why i am bound to them

Its apparent to me that we have come very far as a race, as sentient creatures, as people, as anything you wish to deem us as. I have made this assertion from maybe not-so-keen observations of my surroundings but still sound observations in their own right. We are, as a people, devoting more of our life currency day in and day out engaging in the social media revolution. I may be putting on a boot too large for my foot by calling it that but in all regards the advent of websites like face book and twitter have undeniably changed the way we interact with, well, everything. I am very much a part of this, and am subscribing to many of its different iterations as I speak, and by iterations I am referring to all of the different playgrounds of communication that are at our literal fingertips. What I am acutely interested in in this sentiment is how the social media revolution, or whatever you’d like to refer to it as, is affecting the way we communicate. A topic that I am afraid is yet again to broad for me to cover in this passage, but shall attempt to poke fun at the tip of this proverbial iceberg.

I have recently taken a liking to twitter, a website I had once thought utterly superfluous I now visit very often in a day posting updates and Hashtaging to my lives’ content. Why is it that I should now be attracted to this way of communication where in the recent past I was just satisfied with face book or eons ago it now seems myspace? There are probably numerous reasons, one of which may be my new possession of a glorious and face stealing device known as the iphone, a device that lets me stay connected to every and all forms of communication I know with the exception of the postal service. But the iphone serves as only a catalyst for the reaction it has no preference for what social media I use, it is supremely happy with serving me a buffet of options of ways to connect. So why now twitter? It may be that inane hipsterism that drives me to stay ahead of some imaginary curve we are all suspect to, and ditch things that have become muddled with the likes of everybody (I’m looking at you face book). Or yet it may lie on some deeper resonance for my inherent need to communicate on all non ordinary levels of communication. (and on a side note I by describing social media as “non ordinary” communication  may be drawing a line in the sand but for arguments sake let us consider “ordinary” communication be within the realm of face to face interactions of the human senses.)

What I have devised, as a manor of conceiving this inherent resonance of communication is the now insanely popularized hash tag some live by it others eyes’ swirl like toilet bowls flushing by it, but I have become entranced by it surviving somewhere in between the swirling and the living. There lies within the placement and creation of a hashtag some form of communication unseen, or rather unspoken in language and idiom prior, at least to my knowledge. I hesitate to compare it to poetry, or prose but in some lights I can seen the family ties. There is some crystalline truth, some ephemeral utterance, a shimmer of reference to what goes into and subsequently what comes out of a hash tag. It speaks volumes to whatever is being said and connects scores of otherwise unconnected people through the use of itself. It serves as some mutant poetic touch to an otherwise bland and pointless comment that will get read by few or thousands of eyes but will resonate on and replicate whenever another feels the necessity to hash tag something similar. It not only serves to purify and make lucid what is being said as well as connect the multitude of people through random arrangements of characters but to the individual, and maybe just this individual speaking it presents itself as a medium in its own right as a way of communicating. Err that is yet still too vague, it is its ability as a medium of text based communication to ascend from the base level of just being text, the way poems become poems through verse and the way a song becomes a song when its sung to music.

I have succeeded in doing what I wished really not to do, That being to over glorify twitter and the hash tag. I am not necessarily saying that you can compare hash tags to great poems and songs but instead that they achieve some curious level above just plain textual communication into a frontier realm of communication. Other frontier realms such have been well mapped and colonized and conquered as with music and literature and art, they are tried and true and in no means unsatisfactory in their deliverance of communication, some of which verbal, but that with the hash tag and all of its other siblings in this daily bombardment of social media we are stretching our levels of communication verbal and non verbal into ‘lands’ yet uncovered. With all that being said I am still attracted to twitter and the use of hash tags, and I intend to continue to ponder why it is so, and possibly if I am lucky to refine that answer into something possibly shorter and more to the point…


On Cool

First its very clear to me that what is “cool” inexplicably is that, inexplicable, it cannot be defined for several reasons. The first being that it is entirely relative and subjective and thus being without a doubt transitory and nonstatic. And also it is because even amongst the individual perspective, untangible and ephemeral. But aside from this first assertion I intend to, with the best of my abilities draw certain parameters and a general grasp of what I believe to be “cool”. this is solely for my own benefit and completely selfish. At the same time it is imperative that I try, for what is cool or what is uncool are what guides and dictates a very many of my choices and expressions. You may find a serious lack of certainty in the following description and a definite paradoxical stand point but that is the reason and sole benefit of this piece to extrapolate and synthesis into something much cooler.

The static cool

There are times when I reflect and despair. And it is a genuine despair for something not to be despaired. A nostalgia that seeps and reeks from my memories. Times I wish I had been fully present, or in the right mind, or just somewhere else entirely. This is possible a regret, and I may agree. I was told never for that to happen, to never regret but I am certain that is not possible, I agree if you are in a position where you regret something to be done than you have the ability and likely hood to change what is to happen but when things are past, they have past, we are trapped in three dimensions and thus ruled by the ebb and flow of time. Although unless your actions are in the extreme degree unfavorable, chances are given enough time it will wash away to the vastness and utterly unnavigatable depths of the past. But before I stray too far off track there are experiences I have had that whilst in the mist and torrent and confusion of the present were unfavorable to me I have come past them into a period of still waters of present times beyond with an eye of reflection and wished that I was more aware of how wonderful and very cool they were. Some experiences were unequivocally mundane and for those reasons appeared to be a vacuum of anything substantial and in retrospect were virtually ripe with what I see as cool. Other times the experiences were rapid and confusing and beyond a present awareness of coolness. And of those times I have regret which is uncool, but happens non the less, regret for the absence of the necessary mind set to appreciate. The desolate streetlight corner past midnight, the lonely walk through the late night abandoned town. Snapshots of my experiences that elicit my desire for presence. The orange glow of a streetlight in a vacant parking lot. The static coolness, the there for an instant and gone, the photograph of an silent road following a high stone wall and a chained link fence. Black and white realities, the static cool is unreal realism, the utter ;perfection of a world devoid of perfection, the simplicity of a tree just yearning and stretching its limbs out against the dirty sidewalks and graffiti walls of apartment and studio buildings standing erect for not a single use than the absence of useless space. Whatever is cool it resides there, somewhere, clawing and rapping and growling and glaring at me for ephemeral instances where sometimes I can make eye contact and realize. The setting sun, the rising moon, the setting moona nd the rising sun. they all appear to be static period in time but are ever changing yes, but at these times you can witness, you can tell, ah yes here there is something cool, yes here I am within it, it is within me, there is coolness to be found. What underlies this is that at the moment of subtle awareness of the static cool it is gone. It is only there long enough to be thought of and called out. It disappears, it finds somewhere else where someone is not aware of what is happening to them. It resides in the abcense of your appreciation, and for as long as that abcense remains gone. If you can look onto the static cool without selfish desires I hypothesis it may stay and linger on, if you wish not to fathom how cool it may be, of course you will never fathom it, but you may be able to observe it for just a bit longer, and strangely enough it appears to me that the longer you can gaze upon this static moment of cool the greater understanding of it may come, whereas you may have a better recognition and with that a lesser recognition of what is happening, what is cool. But alas the static cool can never be achieved in the present, because we are only in the present long enough to say to ourselves that is cool, and thus that ultimately becomes that was cool. It is done it is past, it is memory. But in that quickness of understanding and appreciation there is something cool onto itself the ability to just aware oneself briefly of the cool and continue on whithout total recognition of the cool so as to call forth it upon yourself again sooner. Very stoic in nature I suppose.