from Nest by Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge


Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge c/o DMF at synthetic zero

Originally posted on synthetic zero:

I want to tell you what’s difficult to admit,

that I left home.

Change of mother tongue between us activates an

immunity, margin where dwelling and travel are

not distinct.

Artifacts throw themselves toward light without

becoming signification.

Telling you is not an edge of the light.

There’s no margin of a shadow to imply interior.

In my childhood house was a deep porch covered

with vines.

Look past our silhouette to silhouettes (like shadows)

of guests arriving in a bright yard.

Light in the next room falls on her, as she bends to

kiss you.

Skylight pours down, then covers the mud wall,

like cloth.

I observe a lighted field seem to hang in space in

front of me.

Speaking, not filling in, surface intent, is a cabinet

of artifacts, comparisons, incongruity.

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Filed under Affect and Ecology, Art, ecologies, Humanities and Ecology, immigration, Refugees

What are the Connetions Between Culture and Conscience?

Upcoming New York and radio event sponsored by The Center for Humans & Nature:

“Explore the relationship between culture and morality: How do humans discern between right and wrong? How do these decisions shape our communities and cultures? How does culture influence our values? Melvin Konner and Jonathan Haidt kick off the conversation, with new voices added weekly.

Join us in New York City on October 26 for a live event with Jonathan Haidt, Melvin Konner, and Krista Tippett. This conversation on culture and conscience is a partnership with the On Being radio and podcast.”

See original post here.

Note from C. Skolnik: These issues may be somewhat tangential to Environmental Critique, but they are central to conversations of the blog’s sponsoring organization, the DePaul Institute for Nature and Culture.


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Filed under Affect and Ecology, brain science, Climate Change, commons, corporations, ecologies, economicss, Environmental Ethics, environmental justice, Equity, Humanities and Ecology, Nature, Social Justice

Brian Massumi & Jane Bennett (Virtual Ecology / Process Philosophy)

Source: Brian Massumi & Jane Bennett (Virtual Ecology / Process Philosophy)


Filed under Affect and Ecology, Art, Literature, ecologies, poetry, Brian Massumi, Jane Bennett

Bird Beak (by Kay Read)


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Remarks by Pope Francis to Congress

Pope Francis spoke before a joint session of Congress on September 24, 2015, the first time a pope has spoken to Congress. He discussed immigration, poverty, and care for the environment, quoting parts of his encyclical released in June 2015.”

See here.

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Filed under Catholic, Christianity, Climate Change, commons, corporations, ecologies, economicss, Encyclical, environmental justice, Equity, Humanities and Ecology, Pope, Refugees, Social Justice

Global Crisis?

Randall Honold


The historian Geoffrey Parker, in his recent book, Global Crisis: War, Climate Change & Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century, describes the truly awful time humanity had of it the world over in the sixteen hundreds. “The Little Ice Age” spawned extreme weather events and severely destabilized agricultural output. Wars over natural resources were vicious and protracted. Communicable diseases ran rampant. The estimate that one third of humanity perished doesn’t seem to be out of line.
In the midst of this prolonged hardship, many authorities came to realize that the scale and duration of these phenomena were unprecedented. Explanations for their occurrence were mainly theodical, that is, based on the assumption that one or another god was punishing people for doing evil.
It’s an illuminating exercise to compare the world today with that of three hundred fifty years ago. Are we in the midst of a catastrophe, too? Will we see billions fewer people on the planet a century from now? Even as I ask these questions, knowing that neither I nor anyone knows the answers, we are witness to events whose causes and effects are not impossible to comprehend, when it comes down to it. Our more materialistic explanations have replaced religious ones, even among prominent figures such as Pope Francis, Patriarch Bartholomew I, and the imams behind the Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change. Causes of current events are, ironically, harder to imagine.
There are approximately sixty million forcibly displaced people at present. I know this figure, I see the images of refugees, I watch video of sprawling camps. How do I imagine their lives ought to look instead? Certainly not like much of the twentieth century, when 160 million people were casualties of war alone. The carbon dioxide humanity has been pumping into the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution is changing the planet’s climate. What do I image the world should look like at pre-industrial levels of 270 ppm of CO2? Surely not like the seventeenth.
Parker closes his study with a call for governments around the world to put more resources into measures that would prevent another period as calamitous as the seventeenth century. I’d like that too. I’ll even pay more taxes for it. Plus give up meat, drive a car much less, and stop buying so much stuff. But I’m suspicious of my own ability to imagine a globe that isn’t in crisis. What if my imagination is conjuring up an even worse world?
Let me be clear: I am not saying we humans are not in multiple-crisis mode. I am saying that any “crisis” is a decision to make a “cut” from the whole and foreground something. All crises, like all decisions, forget (sometimes temporarily, sometimes for longer) their context. Perhaps we can start calling that context what it is – an ecology. Whereas we can get by in the current mode of operation, lurching from crisis to crisis, we probably can’t keep getting by forever without thinking and acting (same diff) ecologically. Being ecological isn’t replacing a shallow, contingent, temporary reality with something larger, deeper, and contextual. Real human beings are suffering at the border of Croatia today. Real sequoias are being consumed by fire in California. And real contexts are likewise under threat.
Global crisis? When not, back then? Where not, nowadays? In the future? Of course, everywhere. So let’s not wait for an historian to tell us what we should have done, three centuries from now.


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blackwater woods by mary oliver


Via *synthetic zero* . . . must-see visual at original site.

Originally posted on synthetic zero:

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it
to let it go.

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