April 17, 2014

A Call to Action: Wake Up and Be Creative

Uncivilisation: The Dark Mountain Manifesto, calls artists to help people find a story that reflects not dominion over nature but a story that reflects we are not separate. Paul Kingsnorth and the others of this project hope to break through denial and help people respond to the irreversible changes that climate change has already caused. The core of this plan is to do that through art and storytelling. The NYTimes recently published an article about Kingsnorth, but unfortunately, they portrayed the Dark Mountain project as a fringe group that conducts strange rituals; actually they were merely employing theater art.  Theater is powerful, even transformative. As for the New York Times, I'd reply, "In much Madness is divinest Sense," to quote a poem by Emily Dickinson.

I suggest that everybody read the Manifesto for themselves. It acknowledges a fact--civilization is fragile and easily disrupted. Kingsnorth has a new novel that explores the dystopian universe in 1066, the Norman invasion of England. Many citizens were murdered, and some fled into the wilderness in order to survive. His novel explores the aftermath of such an event. The book employed what Kingsnorth called a shadow language,  a blend Old and Middle English.  "How moste i lif?" a character asks a deer, who answers; "thu moste be triewe that is all there is."  Rather sound advice, I believe. Kingsnorth critiques our culture's tendency to believe in endless progress (industrial and technological) and think that we can control the environment. It's folly, he thinks. We would be better off to recognize the reality and live differently. This is an excerpt from the manifesto:

"So we find ourselves, our ways of telling unbalanced, trapped inside a runaway narrative, headed for the worst kind of encounter with reality. In such a moment, writers, artists, poets and storytellers of all kinds have a critical role to play. Creativity remains the most uncontrollable of human forces: without it, the project of civilisation is inconceivable, yet no part of life remains so untamed and undomesticated. Words and images can change minds, hearts, even the course of history. Their makers shape the stories people carry through their lives, unearth old ones and breathe them back to life, add new twists, point to unexpected endings. It is time to pick up the threads and make the stories new, as they must always be made new, starting from where we are."
The Manifesto further says: "Keyboards should be tapped by those with soil under their fingernails and wilderness in their heads."  One of the great blessings of living in northern Minnesota is that we have wilderness, and we have people who do work with their hands. We have the opportunity to lead with creativity.  

Uncivilisation: The Dark Mountain Manifesto. 2009.  Retrieved 17 April 2014. Web. http://dark-mountain.net/about/manifesto/

Daniel Smith, "It's the End of the World As We Know It...and He Feels Fine." New York Times. April 17, 2014.  Retrieved 17 April 2014.  Web.  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/20/magazine/its-the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it-and-he-feels-fine.html?hpw&rref=magazine

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