After a day in London when the city was strangely quiet except for the ominous thudding of a military helicopter over the Thames, a chance meeting with a friend on the train returning to Lewes led us into conversations about music, the spirit and the environment. Oliver, editor of the intensely beautiful and sometimes obscure Fourth Door Review, was waxing lyrical about Bjork’s latest album. I was sharing my enthusiasm for the extraordinary Ikon of Eros of John Taverner which seems about as direct a path to ecstasy as I can imagine (only available on CD – not downloadable). Somehow we got on to the work of David Abram, whose Becoming Animal eyes me beadily from a shelf beside my desk, chastising me for still not reading it. It turned out that Oliver had helped to film Abram in Scotland and had the DVD with him. Tonight we watched Abram articulate eloquently and humorously why we so need stories in this world – a message dear to Bards and Druids.
Roaming cyberspace for more on Abram I came across the Uncivilsation Festival that has just happened in August, and the group that runs it: the Dark Mountain Project. This is stirring stuff: Read this description of their work and follow the link if it speaks to you:
THE DARK MOUNTAIN PROJECT
These are precarious and unprecedented times. Our economies crumble, while beyond the chaos of markets, the ecological foundations of our way of living near collapse. Little that we have taken for granted is likely to come through this century intact.
We don’t believe that anyone – not politicians, not economists, not environmentalists, not writers – is really facing up to the scale of this. As a society, we are all still hooked on a vision of the future as an upgraded version of the present. Somehow, technology or political agreements or ethical shopping or mass protest are meant to save our civilisation from self-destruction.
Well, we don’t buy it. This project starts with our sense that civilisation as we have known it is coming to an end; brought down by a rapidly changing climate, a cancerous economic system and the ongoing mass destruction of the non-human world. But it is driven by our belief that this age of collapse – which is already beginning – could also offer a new start, if we are careful in our choices.
The end of the world as we know it is not the end of the world full stop.
Deeper than oil, steel or bullets, a civilisation is built on stories: on the myths that shape it and the tales told of its origins and destiny. We have herded ourselves to the edge of a precipice with the stories we have told ourselves about who we are: the stories of ‘progress’, of the conquest of ‘nature’, of the centrality and supremacy of the human species.