In the 21st Century’s “new climatic regime,”(1) when even in cities nature has become a wildly creative force that can’t be held back for long by building higher bulwarks or insulating and air-conditioning structures, the historian Dipesh Chakrabarty wrote: “It is only recently that the distinction between human and natural histories…has begun to collapse.”(2) In the debris of this fortuitous event we are confronted with untold challenges, all of which at bottom are: How do we gain a sane footing on a planet we’ve spent thousands of years as a geophysical bully wielding ever more clever tools, weapons, and powerful machines in a mad quest to drain its resources and domination of its non-human species?
We are not only approaching the limits of the planet’s largesse, and how much of our waste it can metabolize, “it is (also) possible that the earth delimits the infinite of language.”(3) While the poet’s need for adequate metaphors is as urgent as the scientist’s need for accurate data,“is poetry still possible...at a time of suffering and hatred?”(4) A poem now is like an unfinished life, or a restless corpse.
Being Earth treks with the presocratic philosopher-poets “who knew no distinctions between physicist, philosopher, biologist and poet, each in his own way.”(5) Surrounded by a ring of mountains the loop suddenly opens, and we move on to where life rededicates itself to the ordination of its depths.
1. B. Latour, Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime. Cambridge UK, 2018.
2. D. Chakrabarty, The Climate of History in a Planetary Age. Chicago, 2021.
3. J. Davie, Under the Dome: Walks with Paul Celan. San Francisco, 2020.
4. P.E. Gordon, “Poet of the Impossible: Paul Celan at 100.” Boston Review, Nov 23 2020.
5. R. Bringhurst. The Beauty of the Weapons. Port Townsend, 1982.
Bear paws pressed into the earth, a small plane roars behind a ridge. The bear is
The Green Man, with vegetal hair and virtual eyes is a non-site, but for the continuum of
Turning a corner we’re confronted with walls on which the spirit of animals
On a frosty autumn morning Gaia wraps the mountain's peak in a scarft of red light.
Cloaked in black clouds, rain’s racing toward landfall. Venus and moon hang close
I fill the canteen and climb
to where the mountain and I are hidden in clouds cloaking
Near a mound of bearshit laced with berries tiny insects have bored deep into the
Early versions of some of these texts were published in: Rhizomes #38, and RIFE: Revista Interdisciplinar de Literatura e EcocritIca.
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For: Susan Alison Rowland
University of New Mexico, Center for SW Research
Portland State University, Department of Philosophy
Pacifica Graduate Institute Faculty, Students & Staff