Friday, March 23, 2012

"Laugh in Dismissal"

From Curtis White's essay "The Barbaric Heart", published in Orion, May/June 2009:

"We ought to discover that there is something superior to the Barbaric Heart, a Universal that is not only Nature but human capacity and creativity as well. We ought to discover that we are a part of this One, an animal among animals. Ours should be a Dionysian world that refuses the cold comfort of both the capitalist manager and the ecologist technician. The Dionysian does not so much refuse these worlds as laugh in dismissal. Its world is indulgent and ecstatic and curiously impersonal. It is not an animal lover; it is simply happy among animals. It is not a nature lover; it is nature. It doesn’t pity the plight of the polar bear; it romps in the snow. It is a thoughtful and beautiful animal, but it is an animal. The Dionysian fucks, eats, looks for the ecstasy of transcendence, and worships the same gods that the animals worship. Not the God that gives laws, but the gods that encourage living things to thrive. 
We are that strange and wonderful animal that has the metaphysical comfort of knowing that she is part of the tragic chorus of natural beings. We are members of that faith that knows that life is indestructibly powerful and pleasurable. And the mark that we will leave upon the world will not be the mark of brute force clothed in the false virtues of the barbarian but the mark of the ultimate realist, he who makes his own world, demanding the impossible and calling it Beautiful."

Has your day been Apollo's?  Has he recorded your keystrokes, fined you for that overdraft, docked your pay for forgetting to punch your time-card?  Laugh in dismissal!  He falls at sunset.

Curtis White Essay

Please follow this link to an excellent essay on the unity of human work and environmental destruction:
I recommend you set aside some time to read this carefully.

Notice how all endeavors based on the myth of isolation and separateness are unsustainable?  Any action taken in hubris, which is to say in ignorance of its connection to everything, is likely to cause harm.  Our duties as workers start with facing the depth of ecology with profound humility, then vowing to do no harm.

"I'm just doing my job.": an excuse enabled by specialization.

Also note that White uses the inevitable two examples of the depths of our current specialist ignorance: we don't know how to grow and preserve our own food, and we don't know how to build our own shelter.  I will continue to insist that our most fundamental human condition, as naked, omnivorous apes, ties us to shelter and food production in the deepest way.  I think this depth is where White's "spirit" is located.