Monday, August 22, 2011


The second volume of 'Dark Mountain' has been published as an exercise in 'uncivilized writing', edited by Paul Kingsnorth and Dougald Hine. The 'Dark Mountain' project was their conception of a movement or network of people, culturally preparing for collapse: the end of civilization as we know it.

Whether it be climate change or peak oil or general ecological overload (or a combination of these and other factors), the assumption either that it did not matter (solutions could be found) or it could be saved (we could unravel our living circumstances and make a more sustainable future without fierce encounter of limits) was misplaced. There was no great evidence either of technological salvation or ecological change of heart: we needed to begin weaving new narratives that allowed us to re-imagine our lives and societies that gave us the cultural resilience to endure and navigate the challenging realities of wholesale change.

The "Dark Mountain" manifesto was greeted with both anger and disdain. Anger from mainstream environmentalists for being defeatist and with disdain from those who imagine all environmental alarm is misplaced but it did for a small, but growing, group strike a real chord.

If the measure of value is not man but a viable nature: we cannot simply subsume the realities of the latter, under the needs of the former, even to apparently 'save it'.

I am I confess readily ambivalent about it. But I do think there is something here - more than a kernel of truth.

If we are to navigate change, there is a deep need for different stories of who we are and what essentially matters against which we need to measure our future choices.

I am reminded of the fundamental question in an Amish community: what will this (proposed change) do for the health of our community? We need to learn to ask that question of value about our world. Does a proposed change nurture or denude our natural home? Does it weave or unpick the ecological fabric of a sustaining?

In order to ask those questions, Dark Mountain proposes that we need more than technical assessments of environmental impact. We need to reanimate our 'animism': our sense that the world is alive (as a whole) and its health requires us to relearn a gentle touch, an ability to walk light. To do this we need different stories, new dreams - and that is the function of their writing.

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