Scorched Earth, a review of sorts

This is an excellent polemical argument–from the book Scorched Earth: Beyond the Digital Age to a Post-Capitalist World, which I suggested my local library get. In the book, which I was reading about on Lit Hub, Jonathan Crary argues: “All of the interconnected phones, laptops, cables, supercomputers, modems, server farms, and cell towers are concretizations of the quantifiable processes of financialized capitalism.”

I’m still not learning to use the WordPress editor, though I should, but hey, this whole post explains something of why I’m not quite bothering . . . but then I do bother to write . . . Hmm, skillful means? What that might be is the larger question I’m running up against, what fatal illusions might be carrying me along a certain trajectory, and for the first time I wonder, are these words, “tragedy and trajectory,” more than poetically akin? When they “rhyme,” suddenly appearing on stage with linked arms . . . well, whatever. Onward.

And Crary has another book, 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep–that looks quite interesting, as we sleep less and less and less well. Pretty soon AI devices will be available to keep us running past those troublesome time outs in the night? Soon enough, I suppose–when there’s money to be made, the only real motivation left to us, the only one that leads the individual soul to an earthly industrial paradise of plenty.

24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep explores some of the ruinous consequences of the expanding non-stop processes of twenty-first-century capitalism. The marketplace now operates through every hour of the clock, pushing us into constant activity and eroding forms of community and political expression, damaging the fabric of everyday life.” (from Los Angeles Review of Books)

It’s interesting, Crary’s arguments also remind me of one of my recent blog posts: “It Will Stay Awhile.”

There is, of course, the irony that I’m reading all this on the internet. What was it Audre Lord said: “For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. . . .”  But where to begin? I guess with the earth itself, letting ourselves be taught by the greater body we are, feeling our way back, letting our dissociated somatic network reconnect into the largesse of simply being here . . .

As I read about Scorched Earth it’s helps to feel there’s someone else out there who believes it’s time for a radical refusal to indulge . . . the earth is certainly saying, enough already! Time to stop engaging in converting everything in our life to more money and automation, the acceleration paradigm of more and more, faster and faster. But how?
Perhaps, I think, by beginning once again to tell time by the seasons of the earth, a nonlinear qualitative time? Perhaps even to think, the Sun now moves into Taurus. Where is that stable contiguous ground we can build on, a ground where is it is spring and day, in a season of burgeoning green and light, but what grows in us now? Step out of doors . . . Time to take a stand for the living ground beneath our feet . . . the eclipse season comes, the Sun and Moon conjunct Uranus, revolution sweeping the ground beneath us, even the most stable of things convulsing as these luminous hands arc darkly toward a horizon of change . . . when it’s time, it’s time.

The only thing I can think of for myself to is dedicate myself to fostering the return of the communities of the natural world on whatever small bit of the earth I can manage to serve, as best I can. (The Herbalism class I’m taking from Sajah Popham seems like one way to start that return, he’s quite amazing in the way he integrates old knowledge and experiential work–it makes me realize once again, how powerful gaining deeper knowledge by interacting with the natural world is. (As I sit at my computer in my house, still dreaming . . .) I heard a martial arts teacher say the other day, what is our original nature–? It’s our body and its networking awareness. Wake up. Which leads to Rumi:

“Sit, be still, and listen,
because you’re drunk
and we’re at
the edge of the roof.”

“The internet complex has become inseparable from the immense, incalculable scope of 24/7 capitalism and its frenzy of accumulation, extraction, circulation, production, transport, and construction, on a global scale. Behaviors that are inimical to the possibility of a livable and just world are incited in almost every feature of online operations. Fueled by artificially manufactured appetites, the speed and ubiquity of digital networks maximize the incontestable priority of getting, having, coveting, resenting, envying; all of which furthers the deterioration of the world—a world operating without pause, without the possibility of renewal or recovery, choking on its heat and waste.

Any possible path to a survivable planet will be far more wrenching than most recognize or will openly admit. A crucial layer of the struggle for an equitable society in the years ahead is the creation of social and personal arrangements that abandon the dominance of the market and money over our lives together. This means rejecting our digital isolation, reclaiming time as lived time, rediscovering collective needs, and resisting mounting levels of barbarism, including the cruelty and hatred that emanate from online. Equally important is the task of humbly reconnecting with what remains of a world filled with other species and forms of life. There are innumerable ways in which this may occur and, although unheralded, groups and communities in all parts of the planet are moving ahead with some of these restorative endeavors.”

And not a song, but another poem–I keep thinking of W. S. Merwin’s poem: “Thanks” though I just discovered that there is a slight two word discrepancy in the last section, second line, of the online versions, and I don’t have his book to check it, still here it is as it most often is–(if only I could resist quoting everyone I’m thinking of/reading–and trying not to let this discourage me from posting and adding this particular post to the dozens of drafts I start, but never finish . . . let imperfection rule–)

Thanks – W.S. Merwin
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
standing by the windows looking out
in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
taking our feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
thank you we are saying and waving
dark though it is

And I couldn’t think of a song at first, but then it suddenly appeared in my mind, of course–Tom Waits, “Step Right Up.”

P.S. I had not heard this version of Step Right Up before, but courtesy of youtube’s accidental on-purpose-controls the autoplay switched onto it, and my mouth fell open at the first two notes. It’s really worth listening to. From the album Live In Bremen:

PPS, And whoa, “Fumbling With The Blues” ! on that Live in Bremen album, at 7:56 minutes in.

One thought on “Scorched Earth, a review of sorts

  1. Growing up in the Sierra’s, Mom enrolled her little girls in all sorts of survival classes – avalanche, wilderness, first aid . . . Her way of saying be fearless but be smart about it.
    Decades later, I’m still surprised how much I remember. pine needle tea anyone?
    I’m sure that background inspires me toward herbalism and natural products but so do the radical changes I see all around me. We’re doing our best to grow a food forest – no till, no pesticides with plenty for the wildlife. The apple trees are popular with bear and deer, bees and birds. We recycle everything we can, but I’d rather have the opportunity to buy in bulk with reusable containers.
    It’s a relief to use electronics when not ruled by them, or consumerism.
    I’m a gifted sleeper. maybe the earth is soothing.
    I hope we all become active drops in the bucket to help heal our environment.

    Liked by 1 person

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