Is acknowledging and accepting the end/decay of humanity——and having no intention or goal to continue/’save’ it and its inevitable/worsening environmental destruction—— inherently pessimistic? Could it be seen as optimistic/(even beautiful?) from a larger ecological/cosmic perspective? Could it be compared to a human accepting their own death nearing the end of life?
What do environmental experts intuit/feel in this moment? What do they think we can learn from global quarantine?
(My friend Chelsea had an idea I find brilliant: After COVID, we could hold an annual twoish-week global quarantine as a reminder that we’re all on this planet together, we can help/impact each other from close/far, and we can minimize our destruction of the Earth. A reminder to slow consumption, input/output, and focus locally to prioritize health and slowing down.)
… I’m more tree than woman. My limbs are old, mean branches. Occasionally a lost flower blossoms on my hand, but quickly withers and drops to the ground.”
-Sabrina Orah Mark
If psychedelics can help terminally ill people accept/face death, rather than deny/resist against it, then can’t they also help humanity accept extinction, rather than deny/persist against it—without it being seen as pessimistic? Could psychedelic states show people that there is something bigger than them, and that fighting solely for the continuation of the human race——rather than giving in to the planet’s needs and other species’ best interests——is anthropocentric/misguided? Could they inform us of the best way to preserve what’s left of our planet rather than altering it continuously for our own preservation?
Boy writes on air the way my old neighbour Gene Crimmins says Mozart played piano, like every word was meant to arrive, parcel packed and shipped from a place beyond his own busy mind. Not on paper and writing pad or typewriter, but thin air, the invisible stuff, that great act-of-faith stuff that you might not even know existed did it not sometimes bend into wind and blow against your face. Notes, reflections, diary entries, all written on thin air, with his extended right forefinger swishing and slashing, writing letters and sentences into nothingness, as though he has to get it all out of his head but he needs the story to vanish into space as well, forever dipping his finger into his eternal glass well of invisible ink. Words don’t go so well inside. Always better out than in.”
Boy Swallows Universe
There were old men climbing the rocks and lying in the sun with their hands folded. There were small boys stomping the wildflowers. And I saw the ancient days. There were bells tolling and wreaths tossed and women turning in circles and there were bees performing their life-cycle dance and there were great winds and swollen moons and pyramids crumbling and coyotes crying and the waves mounting and it all smelled like the end and the beginning of freedom. And I saw my friends who were gone and my husband and my brother. I saw those counted as true fathers ascend the distant hills and I saw my mother with the children she had lost, whole again.”
Year of the Monkey
Mental diagnosis felt like an act. A script I shouldn’t have played into. Some do. Some need to. Those whose function cannot find place. Like mine at the time. But I was passing through—turbulent heartbreaks, growing pains, clashes with Hims—and mistook role for reality. I overthought my relation to it, that joy and suffering, and tied it to a being beyond. I regret that now. Or at least can see it as it was: seeking, clenching, grasping. Am I nothing more than a need to reach? Maybe. I’m human. Some childlike essence that shows in contours when ignoring and blurring details of pores. Take off my glasses and focus on the obscure. The fuzz. That uncertainty between me and it. Subject in/to object. Still disoriented in space, lost along the way, I may trip a few times too many, but that’s okay. Because it’s only and not me at all.
And the question began to arise: What if I don’t have kids? Maybe this record is everything I want to say to my child whether I have them or not. And then, Who am I a parent to if I have no child? And maybe the point of what it really means — expanding, or working on yourself — is to begin with this one specific person you call “Mother.” And as you grow, you see Mother everywhere. You have a nonspecific feeling you call Mother. And it becomes very animistic — it becomes the ocean, it becomes the Sun, and it becomes other people. And for me, without a doubt literature has been a Mother, music has been a Mother. And art has been a Mother.”
-Devendra Banhart on Ma in the LA Review of Books
I think of beauty as an absolute necessity. I don’t think it’s a privilege or an indulgence. It’s not even a quest. I think it’s almost like knowledge, which is to say, it’s what we were born for. I think finding, incorporating, and then representing beauty is what humans do. With or without authorities telling us what it is. I think it would exist in any case. The startle and the wonder of being in this place! … Some of it’s natural, some of it’s man-made. Some of it is a mere glance. It’s an absolute necessity. I don’t think we can do without it any more than we can do without dreams or oxygen.”
-Toni Morrison on beauty in The Paris Review
on John Stewart’s Evolutionary Manifesto and his concept of ‘intentional evolution’ to propel humanity beyond current environmental/existential crises.
If all that came to be in humanity goes extinct, was it really for nothing if it created beauty? /// Can an individual be a ‘self-evolved intentional evolutionary’ and also refuse to procreate? What will happen if intentional evolutionaries refrain from having children and the masses continue to procreate ‘blindly via trial and error?’ /// What’s so bad about leaving no trace? Isn’t the goal of continuation selfish in some ways? Isn’t the desire to reach further into time and space another form of manifest destiny? Is it arrogant to assume human capability to advance so far beyond? /// Can anyone actually unfetter themselves from their biological past? Is that ability/inability to disconnect an illusion or encoded within us? Can it really be rewired? /// If more and more people begin to experience a mindful gap in their consciousness, some space between their embodied awareness and thoughts/reactions to others/the outside world, then won’t they become more robotic/mechanical? How will this impact human relations? Can’t this gap actually take people out of the moment and into a headspace of calculation and separation? Can’t people progress and evolve intentionally and still be completely immersed within direct sensation/reaction, even if that reaction can at times be ‘wrong’ or less than productive? Will the mindful delay in reaction further connect or disconnect humans? (If intervention in connection/disconnection is possible.)
on further thought… and why we should consider evolutionary history and trajectory…
Maybe the more we delude a tilt into the sheerly cultural, and ‘extract’ ourselves from our evolution/biology/environment, the more sick and disconnected we become internally and externally. And reliant on pharmaceuticals. Anyone who says ‘biological determinism’ as if it’s a bad concept is deeply disconnected from their origins, body, Earth. We were born! We are here! We have senses! We are not floating purely in culture, but deeply grounded in matter, in physical embeddedness. And what a relief. We are together in this. But right now: I’m okay with the oblivion. With some Earthly fever clearing humanity out.