‘No time for poetry but exactly what is’
Aight then in the spirit of Jack Kerouac’s Essentials For Spontaneous Prose, I’m not going to waste time with an elaborate update of what’s been happening recently, it doesn’t matter. I just want to mention three things that I’ve written, which I’d like to invite you to take a look at if you’re interested.
Firstly, I was commissioned by Justin Wolfers to write a piece for the online journal Seizure, as part of his Alt Txt series. The series consists of works about the internet, many of which were in the Alt Lit style. I don’t know much about Alt Lit – hella ignorant finig – so I wrote a personal essay on a topic very dear to my heart: the ways in which we curate and personalise our computers and online identities.
There’s nothing here that hasn’t been said already, and more elegantly, by writers like Aleks Krotoski, Doug Rushkoff, Anab Jain or the New Aesthetic blog, but at the same time it was a pleasure to get all these thoughts out and in one place, and to have the privilege of working with Justin as an editor. It’s entitled I Have Friends Who Are Growing Gardens, and you can read it, if you like.
There’s a degree to which I try to scrub my online persona clean – at the very least, to try to be aware of the traces I’ve left online. But the worst of it is, it’s not even up to me. In a majority of cases where someone has been fired or arrested for an incriminating photo or an unfortunate anecdote that surfaced on social media, it wasn’t them that posted it but their friends.
We are implicating each other all the time, and it is harder and harder to opt out.
I don’t doubt that there’s enough material on my website and social media history for a sufficiently motivated muckraker to find a bit of mud to fling at me, but even if I vigorously scrubbed my online havens clean, my online presence is much more than just the data I’ve personally uploaded – I’m a node in a larger network. Each of us is a data point in the bigger picture of our community, referenced and located by the people around us as much as by ourselves.
Honestly, no matter how much I think and hear about it happening, I find it almost impossible to connect what I say to my laptop in the privacy of my own home to the idea that hundreds and thousands of people could end up reading it.
Secondly, I spent last week as a participant in a CSIRO workshop entitled Modelling Planetary Boundaries. As the only non-scientist in the room I didn’t have a lot to add, but it was thoroughly mind-blowing and really one of the best weeks I’ve had in years. What this group of physicists, ecologists, meteorologists and economists were seeking to do was to model the entire human-earth system. Not just that, but their aim was to include social processes in this model, so that human behaviour and society was intrinsically a part of the earth-system.
In response to that eye-opening experience, I wrote a blog post on the Boho website explaining (as best I am able) why you’d attempt to create such a model and how you go about it. This is especially exciting for me because of how it links into Boho’s Best Festival Ever: How To Manage A Disaster, which is about to kick off in London in just over two months’ time.
One idea which has been gaining significant traction in recent years is the idea that we have recently moved into a new geological epoch: the Anthropocene. This is a period in the earth’s history in which humankind has become one of the most significant drivers of the planetary systems. For decades, if not centuries, humans have been altering the composition of the earth’s atmosphere, changing the biosphere by driving species extinct and transporting new species around the planet, altering the activity of river systems and changing land use, all at a global scale.
In hundreds of million of years’ time, when humanity’s existence has been reduced to a thin smear of rock in the geological record, future species or alien visitors will still be able to detect our presence through the spike of radioactive minerals resulting from humanity’s nuclear weapons tests.
Finally, I recently stole (another) idea from Declan Greene. When we first met back in 2009, Declan showed me an early draft of a play he was working on entitled Pompeii LA. The 2012 Malthouse production was a stunning piece of theatre, but one of the things that most impressed me about the early draft was that Declan was quite consciously aggregating the content out of a project-specific tumblr, kind of like a digital scrapbook.
I decided to borrow the idea wholesale, and for the last few months I’ve been collating bits and pieces on a blog as the basis for a new script entitled Kill Climate Deniers. Evolving out of discussions with director Julian Hobba, the first draft had a reading at the Street Theatre last week, and it is ridiculous and overblown and badly written and yet, and yet I quite like it. So if you’re curious, have a glance at the blog. If nothing else, there’s a good selection of late 80s / early 90s club music on there.
What if we invited climate deniers to describe what piece or pieces of evidence it would take to change their mind on climate change? Make the criteria as loose as they like, they can name it. And if they can’t articulate any piece of evidence that could convince them, then they have to accept that they’re not debating?
Wouldn’t work. Not worth it. They’re not arguing a position, they’re arguing to make noise, to stall us, to prevent us doing what needs to be done. They need to be worked around.
And if they can’t be worked around, they need to be removed.
By ‘removed’, I don’t mean killed.
Get amongst it – killclimatedeniers.tumblr.com