Tag: localism

[dispatch] fossil fuels and thought

Out of Your Car, Off Your Horse – The Atlantic – Wendell Berry

I. Properly speaking, global thinking is not possible.

Unless one is willing to be destructive on a very large scale, one cannot do something except locally, in a small place.

Consequences for the internet and blockchain technology?

III. …The right local questions and answers will be the right global ones.

The Amish question “What will this do to our community?” tends toward the right answer for the world.

XXI. [The question then becomes]…how do we begin to remake, or to make, local culture that will preserve our part of the world while we use it?

…The locality, by becoming partly sustainable, would produce the thought it would need to become more sustainable.

This last thought (the last line of the essay actually) interests me. The claim that place—the milieu of material things one lives among—can produce certain thoughts, and subsequently cultivating material environment may be the first step to having certain thoughts. I think Berry would also make the stronger claim that there are parts of a person’s non-material aspect which are *only* available after living in certain external(!) material situatedness. It’s a claim about Incarnation.

“If we wish to understand.. it must not be as tourists or inquirers, it must be with the loyalty of children and the great patience of poets” Chesterton1

VIII. …Rome destroyed the balance with slave labor; we have destroyed it with “cheap” fossil fuel

Fossil Fuels have always been produced at the expense of local ecosystems and of local human communities.

Both this and the previous point (about the developmental necessity of parochialism for the human spirit) are connected to “the power of science and technology to provide.. the myths we live by”. The material things we live among “press with great force upon our ideas”; incarnation works both ways.

Being embodied means physical things can (and do) work back up the chain in ways our executive functioning often seems disconcertingly blind to.2.That all applies specifically here as thinking about A Grand Unified Theory of Modernity™ Berry seems to be giving (for me) unexpected weight to the pure physical artefacts that are coal, oil and gas themselves. How much is the simple existence of fossil fuels responsible for?

The existence of (seemingly) unlimited material energy mainlined into a society for several centuries; bathing its streets, heating its homes, fuelling its war machines, touching the pages of every book, firing the horizon of every artist, stoking the dreams of every child.

in the desert: exodus and purgatory and apocalypse

Paul Kingsnorth:

In the desert, strength is needed, and prayer too. But the desert, perhaps, is not a bad place to be. Civilisations come and go, but nature keeps renewing, and God is eternal. There are things higher than our cultures; there are things higher than the Machine. If we are in the desert – if this is our Exodus – then we can work to understand how we got here and we can wonder, as we wander, about what the Promised Land might look like. As one cycle ends, another begins. The dead leaves of one culture fall to cover the seeds of another, already sown beneath. The more things fall apart – the more the centre cannot hold – the more new centres are seeded on the margins, which is the only place they can ever grow.

The Desert Fathers of the early church went into the sands and the caves and the tombs not to look for culture, but to be purged of the self. The Faustian people of the West – us – have spiralled far down into the self, all the time believing we were rising up towards liberation. We forgot what the hermits learned and taught: that liberation of the self is just another form of slavery.

But the desert is a place of purging, and of revelation; an apocalypse and a purgatory. Sometimes an Exodus is needed. It is never easy. Perhaps you come to the desert when you lose yourself. Perhaps we have been sent here to learn again what culture means – what being human means – and where it starts: in the small places, under the gaze of God and the wide sky.

  • Many of the same themes as Thomas (in his first poem), “but nature keeps renewing, and God is eternal”
  • The melding of so many different transitions from revelation; Exodus, Purgatory, Apocalypse, Exile is interesting, do they up actually saying anything though?
  • It really all does come back to Christ and Culture.
  • Every three score and ten must learn again what culture and what being human means.
    • How much does that truth paired with the Great Acceleration account for all the negative stuff that gets filed under “Apocalypse”, then once that assumption is in place we retroactively do a search and destroy on Mammon, Liberalism, Luther, Calvin, Ockham, Plato; who or whatever is ‘the cause of it all’? Essentially what Kingsnorth’s project on substack is.
  • As one cycle ends, another begins”, what is the place of cyclical histories in the world? Cristians seem to have a real love/hate relationship with em.