Category Archives: entropy

The Prophet Spoke Again

[thoughts from ~burning woman~ by Sha’Tara]

The Prophet spoke once more in the latter days, long after any had been and these be the things she said into the minds of those that would listen.

I am not bringing any good tidings, she said to them, therefore it is entirely up to you whether you listen, or fail to listen, for the message will be given even if only the stones of this world, the pavement of its streets or the girders of its highrises hear it.

You will have noticed that your world has changed once again, and in that change it has turned against you. You speak amongst yourselves of climate change; you debate whether it is the works of your own hands, of the world itself or perhaps a combination of both. You do not know and while you are confused, refusing to face the music you yourselves ordered to be written upon skies, seas and lands, you cannot dance. You but plod, and you weary yourselves with petty thoughts of greedy corporate executives and bankers, corrupt politicians and the endless charade of religion. Thinking yourselves wise, you have indeed made yourselves fools; the duck thinking to survive the winter in a child’s wading pool.

You seek answers where there are none! You deliberately ignore your history to fall ever and anon in the same trap your ancestors fell in and died in. You continue to believe that if you replace this puppet with that one; this god with another; this system with a more “environment friendly” one, you can carry on with just such light brush strokes on the old canvas; that you can carry on with no self-sacrifice, no purifying of heart, no transforming of mind, therefore no essential change.

But know this, if you cannot see it for yourselves: your canvas is rotten, even to the frame that holds it together.

That is the sum total of my tidings, to do with as you see fit. I did not come here to make the change for you, I came but to give warning. If you care about each other and particularly if you care about your own children, you will listen. If you do not, I may as well once again take the name of Cassandra and die in the fall of your great and impregnable city.

Is there any hope? I don’t “do” hope, but I am addressing people who believe in such things. So, look about you, anywhere, and see if there is anything truly new rising from your world; from within your many systems: anything you would bet your life and the life of your children upon? Anything that cannot be bought and sold in the global marketplace or corrupted beyond recognition in your high places of government, banking and worship?

Every prophet is mad, I as much as any other who has ever dared incarnate on this world and in my madness I dare imagine that some of you will ponder this and cry out, ‘Yes, we can see how it is coming apart,’ and add, ‘what should we then do?’

As I said, I am not here to give you answers, that was not part of my job description.

Let me remind you that everyone like myself who has come before and given you strict guidance and rules of conduct has been an abject failure because the teaching was imposed, it did not arise from within yourselves, thus it was powerless to change you. Go ahead, read your prophets, the full time, the part time, the ones you defamed, tortured and killed. You could do worse than re-reading “The Prophet” by Khalil Gibran. Read other way showers and rule givers and go as far as pondering the voices of those who called themselves saviours and see what you find these many years later.

I will give you hints though, even if it violates my strict self-imposed mandate. Simple hints. First, your civilization as you experience it and as you’ve known it throughout your very short history, is finished. Its days have been measures and found wanting.

Its very nature is inimical to the concept we call life. It has exceeded its limits to growth. It feeds entirely on bloodshed and destruction and many there are who profit from this and many more who rejoice in the results. That is its greatest sin from which it can neither be healed, or ever rise again.

Second hint: if you would do something that has a chance of bearing fruit, though it likely will be but for yourself as an individual, choose the path of the compassionate being. “How” is entirely up to you.

Quote: “A dominant myth is inclusive, in the sense that people feel lost without it. They can’t attribute any sort of human activity to anything else but the myth. They can’t see their way past it. They feel stymied without it.” (Jon Rappoport) and my added comment: “And what is civilization but a dominant myth?”

 

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Biological Annihilation-a Planet in Loss Mode

 How to introduce such an article? I copied it verbatim from TomDispatch (http://www.tomdispatch.com/) and although I am certainly aware of the devastations being caused by “climate change” I am most certainly not ascribing most of it to climate change.  Rather it is obvious that our standing on the cusp of  an “extinction protocol” has mostly to do with Earthians consistently refusing to consider changing their lifestyles, their obsolete traditions and their belief systems – all of which are guaranteeing the end of civilization.  I therefore must introduce it with these hated words: How about “you” taking responsibility for the state of the world? You will say, “How?” and I can tell you that there is an endless list of effective “hows” by which you can make a difference. But not one of these efforts will mean anything if you don’t become the change you wish to engender.  That’s right: the only way to make change is to become the change.  It begins by caring as if your life and the lives of your loved ones, depended on it.  *By the way, it does*

Obvious question here: How long can we condemn all other sentient life on this planet to massive dieback and not bring it upon ourselves? When does the “bad predator” realize that the prey he killed off was essential to his own survival?   ~burning woman~

Biological Annihilation
A Planet in Loss Mode
By Subhankar Banerjee

If you’ve been paying attention to what’s happening to the nonhuman life forms with which we share this planet, you’ve likely heard the term “the Sixth Extinction.” If not, look it up.  After all, a superb environmental reporter, Elizabeth Kolbert, has already gotten a Pulitzer Prize for writing a book with that title.

Whether the sixth mass species extinction of Earth’s history is already (or not quite yet) underway may still be debatable, but it’s clear enough that something’s going on, something that may prove even more devastating than a mass of species extinctions: the full-scale winnowing of vast populations of the planet’s invertebrates, vertebrates, and plants.  Think of it, to introduce an even broader term, as a wave of “biological annihilation” that includes possible species extinctions on a mass scale, but also massive species die-offs and various kinds of massacres.

Someday, such a planetary winnowing may prove to be the most tragic of all the grim stories of human history now playing out on this planet, even if to date it’s gotten far less attention than the dangers of climate change.  In the end, it may prove more difficult to mitigate than global warming.  Decarbonizing the global economy, however hard, won’t be harder or more improbable than the kind of wholesale restructuring of modern life and institutions that would prevent species annihilation from continuing.   

With that in mind, come along with me on a topsy-turvy journey through the animal and plant kingdoms to learn a bit more about the most consequential global challenge of our time.

Insects Are Vanishing

When most of us think of animals that should be saved from annihilation, near the top of any list are likely to be the stars of the animal world: tigers and polar bears, orcas and orangutans, elephants and rhinos, and other similarly charismatic creatures.

Few express similar concern or are likely to be willing to offer financial support to “save” insects. The few that are in our visible space and cause us nuisance, we regularly swat, squash, crush, or take out en masse with Roundup.

As it happens, though, of the nearly two million known species on this planet about 70% of them are insects. And many of them are as foundational to the food chain for land animals as plankton are for marine life. Harvard entomologist (and ant specialist) E.O. Wilson once observed that “if insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.”

In fact, insects are vanishing.

Almost exactly a year ago, the first long-term study of the decline of insect populations was reported, sparking concern (though only in professional circles) about a possible “ecological Armageddon.” Based on data collected by dozens of amateur entomologists in 63 nature reserves across Germany, a team of scientists concluded that the flying insect population had dropped by a staggering 76% over a 27-year period. At the same time, other studies began to highlight dramatic plunges across Europe in the populations of individual species of bugs, bees, and moths.

What could be contributing to such a collapse? It certainly is human-caused, but the factors involved are many and hard to sort out, including habitat degradation and loss, the use of pesticides in farming, industrial agriculture, pollution, climate change, and even, insidiously enough, “light pollution that leads nocturnal insects astray and interrupts their mating.”

This past October, yet more troubling news arrived.

When American entomologist Bradford Lister first visited El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico in 1976, little did he know that a long-term study he was about to embark on would, 40 years later, reveal a “hyperalarming” new reality. In those decades, populations of arthropods, including insects and creepy crawlies like spiders and centipedes, had plunged by an almost unimaginable 98% in El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest within the U.S. National Forest System. Unsurprisingly, insectivores (populations of animals that feed on insects), including birds, lizards, and toads, had experienced similarly dramatic plunges, with some species vanishing entirely from that rainforest. And all of that happened before Hurricane Maria battered El Yunque in the fall of 2017.

What had caused such devastation? After eliminating habitat degradation or loss — after all, it was a protected national forest — and pesticide use (which, in Puerto Rico, had fallen by more than 80% since 1969), Lister and his Mexican colleague Andres Garcia came to believe that climate change was the culprit, in part because the average maximum temperature in that rainforest has increased by four degrees Fahrenheit over those same four decades.

Even though both scientific studies and anecdotal stories about what might be thought of as a kind of insectocide have, at this point, come only from Europe and North America, many entomologists are convinced that the collapse of insect populations is a worldwide phenomenon.

As extreme weather events — fires, floods, hurricanes — begin to occur more frequently globally, “connecting the dots” across the planet has become a staple of climate-change communication to “help the public understand how individual events are part of a larger trend.”

Now, such thinking has to be transferred to the world of the living so, as in the case of plummeting insect populations and the creatures that feed on them, biological annihilation sinks in. At the same time, what’s driving such death spirals in any given place — from pesticides to climate change to habitat loss — may differ, making biological annihilation an even more complex phenomenon than climate change.

The Edge of the Sea

The animal kingdom is composed of two groups: invertebrates, or animals without backbones, and vertebrates, which have them. Insects are invertebrates, as are starfish, anemones, corals, jellyfish, crabs, lobsters, and many more species. In fact, invertebrates make up 97% of the known animal kingdom.

In 1955, environmentalist Rachel Carson’s book The Edge of the Sea was published, bringing attention for the first time to the extraordinary diversity and density of the invertebrate life that occupies the intertidal zone.  Even now, more than half a century later, you’ve probably never considered that environment — which might be thought of as the edge of the sea (or actually the ocean) — as a forest. And neither did I, not until I read nature writer Tim McNulty’s book Olympic National Park: A Natural History some years ago. As he pointed out: “The plant associations of the low tide zone are commonly arranged in multistoried communities, not unlike the layers of an old-growth forest.” And in that old-growth forest, the starfish (or sea star) rules as the top predator of the nearshore.

In 2013, a starfish die-off — from a “sea-star wasting disease” caused by a virus — was first observed in Washington’s Olympic National Park, though it was hardly confined to that nature preserve. By the end of 2014, as Lynda Mapes reported in the Seattle Times, “more than 20 species of starfish from Alaska to Mexico” had been devastated. At the time, I was living on the Olympic Peninsula and so started writing about and, as a photographer, documenting that die-off (a painful experience after having read Carson’s exuberant account of that beautiful creature).

The following summer, though, something magical happened. I suddenly saw baby starfish everywhere. Their abundance sparked hope among park employees I spoke with that, if they survived, most of the species would bounce back. Unfortunately, that did not happen. “While younger sea stars took longer to show symptoms, once they did, they died right away,” Mapes reported. That die-off was so widespread along the Pacific coast (in many sites, more than 99% of them) that scientists considered it “unprecedented in geographic scale.”
Baby Starfish, Olympic National Park. Photo by Subhankar Banerjee, 2015.

The cause? Consider it the starfish version of a one-two punch: the climate-change-induced warming of the Pacific Ocean put stress on the animals while it made the virus that attacked them more virulent.  Think of it as a perfect storm for unleashing such a die-off.

It will take years to figure out the true scope of the aftermath, since starfish occupy the top of the food chain at the edge of the ocean and their disappearance will undoubtedly have cascading impacts, not unlike the vanishing of the insects that form the base of the food chain on land.

Concurrent with the disappearance of the starfish, another “unprecedented” die-off was happening at the edge of the same waters, along the Pacific coast of the U.S. and Canada.  It seemed to be “one of the largest mass die-offs of seabirds ever recorded,” Craig Welch wrote in National Geographic in 2015. And many more have been dying ever since, including Cassin’s auklets, thick-billed murres, common murres, fork-tailed petrels, short-tailed shearwaters, black-legged kittiwakes, and northern fulmars. That tragedy is still ongoing and its nature is caught in the title of a September article in Audubon magazine: “In Alaska, Starving Seabirds and Empty Colonies Signal a Broken Ecosystem.”

To fully understand all of this, the dots will again have to be connected across places and species, as well as over time, but the great starfish die-off is an indication that biological annihilation is now an essential part of life at the edge of the sea.

The Annihilation of Vertebrates

The remaining 3% of the kingdom Animalia is made up of vertebrates. The 62,839 known vertebrate species include fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.

The term “biological annihilation” was introduced in 2017 in a seminal paper by scientists Geraldo Ceballos, Paul Ehrlich, and Rodolpho Dirzo, whose research focused on the population declines, as well as extinctions, of vertebrate species. “Our data,” they wrote then, “indicate that beyond global species extinctions Earth is experiencing a huge episode of population declines and extirpations.”

If anything, the 148-page Living Planet Report published this October by the World Wildlife Fund International and the Zoological Society of London only intensified the sense of urgency in their paper. As a comprehensive survey of the health of our planet and the impact of human activity on other species, its key message was grim indeed: between 1970 and 2014, it found, monitored populations of vertebrates had declined in abundance by an average of 60% globally, with particularly pronounced losses in the tropics and in freshwater systems. South and Central America suffered a dramatic loss of 89% of such vertebrates, while freshwater populations of vertebrates declined by a lesser but still staggering 83% worldwide. The results were based on 16,704 populations of 4,005 vertebrate species, which meant that the study was not claiming a comprehensive census of all vertebrate populations.  It should instead be treated as a barometer of trends in monitored populations of them.

What could be driving such an annihilatory wave to almost unimaginable levels? The report states that the main causes are “overexploitation of species, agriculture, and land conversion — all driven by runaway human consumption.” It does, however, acknowledge that climate change, too, is a “growing threat.”

When it comes to North America, the report shows that the decline is only 23%. Not so bad, right? Such a statistic could mislead the public into thinking that the U.S. and Canada are in little trouble and yet, in reality, insects and other animals, as well as plants, are dying across North America in surprisingly large numbers.

From My Doorstep to the World Across Time

My own involvement with biological annihilation started at my doorstep. In March 2006, a couple of days after moving into a rented house in northern New Mexico, I found a dead male house finch, a small songbird, on the porch. It had smashed into one of the building’s large glass windows and died. At the same time, I began to note startling numbers of dead piñon, New Mexico’s state tree, everywhere in the area. Finding that dead bird and noting those dead trees sparked a desire in me to know what was happening in this new landscape of mine.

When you think of an old-growth forest — and here I don’t mean the underwater version of one but the real thing — what comes to your mind? Certainly not the desert southwest, right? The trees here don’t even grow tall enough for that.  An 800-year-old piñon may reach a height of 24 feet, not the 240-feet of a giant Sitka spruce of similar age in the Pacific Northwest. In the last decade, however, scientists have begun to see the piñon-juniper woodlands here as exactly that.

I first learned this from a book, Ancient Piñon-Juniper Woodlands: A Natural History of Mesa Verde Country. It turns out that this low-canopy, sparsely vegetated woodland ecosystem supports an incredible diversity of wildlife. In fact, as a state, New Mexico has among the greatest diversity of species in the country.  It’s second in diversity of native mammals, third in birds, and fourth in overall biodiversity. Take birds.  Trailing only California and Arizona, the state harbors 544 species, nearly half of the 1,114 species in the U.S. And consider this not praise for my adopted home, but a preface to a tragedy.

Before I could even develop a full appreciation of the piñon-juniper woodland, I came to realize that most of the mature piñon in northern New Mexico had already died. Between 2001 and 2005, a tiny bark beetle known by the name of Ips confusus had killed more than 50 million of them, about 90% of the mature ones in northern New Mexico. This happened thanks to a combination of severe drought and rapid warming, which stressed the trees, while providing a superb environment for beetle populations to explode.
Dead finch on my porch. Photo by Subhankar Banerjee, 2006.

And this, it turned out, wasn’t in any way an isolated event. Multiple species of bark beetles were by then ravaging forests across the North American West. The black spruce, the white spruce, the ponderosa pine, the lodgepole pine, the whitebark pine, and the piñon were all dying.

In fact, trees are dying all over the world. In 2010, scientists from a number of countries published a study in Forest Ecology and Management that highlights global climate-change-induced forest mortality with data recorded since 1970. In countries ranging from Argentina and Australia to Switzerland and Zimbabwe, Canada and China to South Korea and Sri Lanka, the damage to trees has been significant.

In 2010, trying to absorb the larger ecological loss, I wrote: “Hundreds of millions of trees have recently died and many more hundreds of millions will soon be dying. Now think of all the other lives, including birds and animals, that depended on those trees. What happened to them and how do we talk about that which we can’t see and will never know?”

In fact, in New Mexico, we are finally beginning to find out something about the size and nature of that larger loss.

Earlier this year, Los Alamos National Laboratory ornithologist Jeanne Fair and her colleagues released the results of a 10-year bird study on the Pajarito Plateau of New Mexico’s Jemez Mountains, where some of the worst piñon die-offs have occurred. The study shows that, between 2003 and 2013, the diversity of birds declined by 45% and bird populations, on average, decreased by a staggering 73%. Consider the irony of that on a plateau whose Spanish name, Pajarito, means “little bird.”

The piñon die-off that led to the die-off of birds is an example of connecting the dots across species and over time in one place. It’s also an example of what writer Rob Nixon calls “slow violence.” That “slowness” (even if it’s speedy indeed on the grand calendar of biological time) and the need to grasp the annihilatory dangers in our world will mean staying engaged way beyond any normal set of news cycles.  It will involve what I think of as long environmentalism.

Let’s return, then, to that dead finch on my porch. A study published in 2014 pointed out that as many as 988 million birds die each year in the U.S. by crashing into glass windows. Even worse, domestic and feral cats kill up to 2.4 billion birds and 12.3 billion small mammals annually in this country. In Australia and Canada, two other places where such feline slaughters of birds have been studied, the estimated numbers are 365 million and 200 million respectively — another case of connecting the dots across places and species when it comes to the various forms of biological annihilation underway on this planet.
Dead piñon where birds gather in autumn, northern New Mexico. Photo by Subhankar Banerjee, 2009.

Those avian massacres, one the result of modern architecture and our desire to see the outside from the inside, the other stemming from our urge for non-human companionship, indicate that climate change is but one cause of a planet-wide trend toward biological annihilation.  And this is hardly a contemporary story.  It has a long history, including for instance the mass killing of Arctic whales in the seventeenth century, which generated so much wealth that it helped make the Netherlands into one of the richest nations of that time. In other words, Arctic whaling proved to be an enabler of the Golden Age of the Dutch Republic, the era when Rembrandt and Vermeer made paintings still appreciated today.

The large-scale massacre and near extinction of the American bison (or buffalo) in the nineteenth century, to offer a more modern example, paved the way for white settler colonial expansion into the American West, while destroying Native American food security and a way of life. As a U.S. Army colonel put it then, “Kill every buffalo you can! Every buffalo dead is an Indian gone.”

Today, such examples have not only multiplied drastically but are increasingly woven into human life and life on this planet in ways we still hardly notice.  These, in turn, are being exacerbated by climate change, the human-induced warming of the world. To mitigate the crisis, to save life itself, would require not merely the replacement of carbon-dirty fossil fuels with renewable forms of energy, but a genuine reevaluation of modern life and its institutions. In other words, to save the starfish, the piñon, the birds, and the insects, and us in the process, has become the most challenging and significant ethical obligation of our increasingly precarious time.

Subhankar Banerjee, a TomDispatch regular, is an activist, artist, and public scholar. A professor of art and ecology, he holds the Lannan Chair at the University of New Mexico. He is currently writing a book on biological annihilation.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Books, John Feffer’s new dystopian novel (the second in the Splinterlands series) Frostlands, Beverly Gologorsky’s novel Every Body Has a Story, and Tom Engelhardt’s A Nation Unmade by War, as well as Alfred McCoy’s In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power and John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II.

Copyright 2018 Subhankar Banerjee

 

After listening to Lakme, the Flower Duet

[thoughts from ~burning woman~ ]

I like beautiful music and although I prefer music over song, either can be from any era, just as long as it is beautiful to my ears and it moves me. So I was listening to Lakme, part I, The Flower Duet (in this case performed by Anna Netrebko and Elina Garanca – See YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vf42IP__ipw)

…And I was thinking, again, about Earth and about “Man” as Earth’s current lord and master. I was thinking of a line by Carl Sagan in “Contact”: ‘You are capable of such beauty, and such horror.” (Quoting from memory but the gist is here)

Whenever I engage myself, mind-wise, on Earthian matters, I get confused as to how I should approach it. Is it “you” and me as the cosmic observer, or should I include myself in among the observed? How do I decide this? First, I must be sure it isn’t a matter of hubris; that if my observation runs into negative judgment, that if I remove myself it isn’t in any way because I think I’m superior to the rest of Earthianity, but because I no longer think, speak or act as most of “you” do. This process, this judgment, must be impeccable on my part.

I believe it is, therefore I am going to be the observer and use the “you” though certainly in the generic sense. I do not know “you” as individuals, therefore it will be according to your conscience whether you “fit in” or can truthfully remain outside the picture. For you, today, I will once again take up the role of the Trojan prophetess Cassandra and say things you will not find acceptable.

You are capable of great beauty… certainly, and the piece of music I mention above proves it even by itself. You don’t have to be able to write, play or sing such, you just have to be able to listen to it and have the capacity to let it enter you and fill you and for the three or four minutes it takes, let it displace all other thoughts, feelings and emotions. Simple, really.

The problem however is that too often it seems impossible to let go. The “immediate” presses upon the mind and demands full attention. That immediate could be anything from the most pleasurable to the greatest pain or loss. The mind-heart refuses to let go of its current obsession driven by anticipation or the immediacy of physical or mental pain.

Earth is not a place conducive to an overall sense of peace, comfort and wholesome satisfaction. Even in the most remote corners, surrounded by nothing but nature, unless one is blind, the reality of the turmoil taking place in the skies, the seas, the trees, the soil, impinges on one’s awareness: predators, everywhere. You see, your world’s natural motive force is based on predatorship or perhaps I should coin a word here: predatorism, because in fact that is the concept that rules Earth. Some are born to kill, many, many more are born to be killed, eaten or absorbed into the natural fabric, their lives cut down long before they can complete their natural cycle. Even your great mountains are worn away by waters and passing winds.

I realize that most of you do not engage your world this way. You do not sense this, though you may be vaguely aware of it, and you generally shrug it off, or use it as an excuse for indulging in what Sagan called, “great horror.” You call it the food chain, and that’s that, as if somehow that explains it away. As if that same nature you want to wax poetic about can also be the brutal barbaric entity that supports your convenient food chain. As if there is no unacceptable dichotomy here, no problem.

That’s the problem, you see, the fact that you don’t see a problem with how nature works. You don’t see a problem because you don’t realize the direct relationship with your own social failures: your wars, genocides, social injustices of every possible kind juxtaposed with those of the world you happen to be temporarily using as a base because… you have no choice: you can’t get away, and if you could, you would have no clue where to go. Some of you feel that your species is a failure, but how many see your world’s “procession” as an equally and connected abysmal failure?

I feel both, the horror that is the working natural system of this world, and the greater horror that is an intelligent, sentient, self aware (ISSA) species calling itself “mankind” that refuses to question the modus operandi of its natural world; refuses to question its own modus operandi; refuses the simple expedient of connecting the dots in order to realize why things are as they are and why no lasting (real) solution to man’s social problems has ever come forth. The only times some significant change has ever happened was through the exercise of violence. That true statement should make any rational being stop and take note: why must it require violence to make significant change within the social structure, and why is it that any and all such changes have failed and are in the process of failing right now?

To me that would be the “why?” question of all the “why?” questions. Why do you always fail? Look, even now, while shooting off on all kinds of tangents based on IT and AI, you are helplessly realizing that this technology is quite likely going to supplant you, perhaps destroy you as ISSA beings. Barely has the technology begun that already you know without a doubt that some way or another it is going to bite you in the ass, and that severely so.

You see? There is no win-win here, not under the current hegemony; the current “force” or “power” that operates this planet. You, people of earth, are not that force or that power, but its slave species. There, I’ve said it, and but for rare exceptions, that is not something you will find acceptable, therefore you will find it necessary to reject the thought outright. If you did not, guess what? You would be forced to look into this in depth and who knows where that would lead? To confront your real nemesis?

No. I can easily tell you where it would lead: back to organized religion. Without self empowerment; without the power to cancel out all input and replace it all with your own thoughts, your own self-made ISSA reasoning, the forces or powers I speak of, will seem to smile in your brain. They will prod you along, with fine words or goads, down the chute into a ready-made religion that will, of course, explain it all. You will then accept the “new” ideas this “new” religion programs into your mind and who knows? It could explain how the AI is a divine power, or it could just as easily make you believe that the time has come to launch a “revolution” against science and technology and you will go off to destroy all vestiges of science and technology, mindlessly following the dictates of a few madmen who will tell you they are “making the Earth great again.”

Either way, you see, you’re not your own person: you are an actor, a puppet, a robot because you are not in control of your own mind. So you will go along (or you will be of those who will violently oppose the barbarians) and indulge in much, much more horror and under your feet, in the seas, in the trees and in the air, predators will continue to kill and eat, and billions of lifeforms will die premature deaths in attempts to sate the hunger of an insatiable system – as Costello would say, “Same as you!”

Quote: “Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty- five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.” (Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt)

The Move

a sci-fi short story,   by Sha’Tara

“They’ll never know.”  Voice intoned.  “They must never know.”

“Some suspect…” 

“Hypothesis; conjecture — we’ve always encouraged that.  We’ve also encouraged the opposite: belief that physical proof is necessary to acceptance.  They’ll follow the pattern.  Those who do not, who “see” will be disparaged and disbelieved.”

Council dissolves.

In their private chambers, Orthon and Agria discuss the matter. 

“We are manipulating their minds, Orthon.  This goes against the Teaching.”

“This is a very primitive race, Agria.  We must prevent global panic at all cost.”

“The move will create great disruptions, as the Council has been made aware.  The tips of the spirals will overheat and some of the smaller worlds will be burned up.”

“The Generators are working on the psi shields, are they not?”

“They won’t be ready in time, and there is no way to test their resilience to such a move.”

“Erthe is a minuscule entity.  Surely we can produce a powerful enough effect to shield it while it is being moved?”

“We… ahh, hope.  Why is the Council so concerned about Erthe?  Why not let it burn?  The Biologons from Elgir scanned it and found nothing remarkable, except for two unalterable facts:  one, it contains the greatest diversity of life forms anywhere and two, the Erthes are destroying their own living space on it.  Why would the Council want that world spared, particularly?”

“It has deep reasons, Agria.”

“Convince me, Orthon.  Impress this truth upon me.”

“You have my trust, Agria.  I will share with you.”

And as Agria opened herself to his mind probe, she began to sense why the Council would be duly concerned by Erthe’s fate.  Deep under one of her oceans the Biologons had recorded the existence of  an Anomaly.  The recordings described an intelligence unlike any other on Erthe,  expressing from within the magma.  The Council had attempted to have the expression analyzed but every available transponder/decoder had failed to translate the anomalous expression.  It remained the only unreadable expression emanating from any of the known Universes.  Even the great Lotharias Logos could not make any sense of it.  In fact, when the recorded expression entered its logic fields, the Logos temporarily froze.

But the times had come.  The Galaxy had to be moved to a new location or it would fall prey to the black hole caused by an imploded star know as Sol Dallin.  Already there were signs of great instability among the larger systems. The ripple effects were spreading as more and more matter-beings were sucked into its giant maw, destroying balance.  Soon the entire Galaxy would be beyond saving.  But if it could be removed from the vicinity, the danger of a Universal melt-down to anti-matter posed by the black hole could possibly be averted.  There were no alternate options in the mind of Council.

“Ah… my dear Orthon, I thank you.  We stand to lose much if we do not act swiftly.  So, Council would first move Erthe to Galaxy Eleven, then move Galaxy 58 to Sector P19?  There is more to the Anomaly than you have shared with me then?”  

“The Logos believes the Anomaly may be the Source of All Life.  It fears the implosion of Sol Dallin was caused by the Anomaly in a move to destroy itself.”

“But why would the Source seek to do such?”

“The Logos suspects a malfunction within the mind of the Anomaly triggering a self-destruct sequence.  It believes the All Life desires to terminate.  The Logos cross-referenced all its available data and concluded the activities on Erthe were the trigger.”

“Tell me more, Orthon.  Why, for example, would All Life be located in Erthe, particularly — or why did the Logos reach this conclusion?”

“Facts about Erthe herself, my dear.  Well-known facts.  For example, diversity of life, despite Draconian attempts to control, has continued to expand and mutate exponentially on its surface and in its atmosphere and oceans.  The resultant complexity has apparently caused overloading in Source Mind.  Such otherwise unknowns clashing with each other – fear, hate, violence causing physical terminations on scales unimaginable; these juxtaposed by passionate explosions of love and protection.  Predators met with ever-adaptive means of evasion and defense.  Violent rejection, violent attraction.  Wars between Erthes themselves.  Life birthed in blood and pain, sustained by death, giving way to laughter,  turning to dust.  A maelstrom of organic dysfunction.”

“It frightens you to look into these things, friend.” 

“Yes, it does.  And do you see?  Fear was never a part of our psyche Agria.  This fear we now feel, it was generated from our brief, accidental contact with the Anomaly.  As to its location, logic dictates that wherever the All Life is located such a place would become endowed with more life than any other.  Erthe, if truly the heart of creation, would pulse with an over-abundance of creative energy.”

“Yes my dear.  But the All Life chose Blessed Rest after the Completion.  Is that not the Teaching?”

“It is.  But the Logos believes the All Life was Binary.  When the One chose rest, the Other was forced to enter the process continuation.  It was inevitable.  Life demands continuous involvement, change, expansion.  The Other tried to limit its input and involvement, withdrawing, hiding within the core of Erthe but even this was too much.  Life’s needs increased over the billennia.  The Other served life with compassion, all the while accepting the need for the destruction to prevent over-building and collapse.”

“What will happen if the All Life located in Erthe’s core is destroyed, then?”

“Entropy, Agria.  The Logos believes this will apply to all known worlds.”

“And what will happen to us?”

“We will experience termination.  Without fresh input the extant will fall into stasis and cease.”

“Well my dear, let us continue with our plans to build our psi shields.  I do not think they will suffice but it will keep us focused while we contact the One who chose Blessed Rest and re-unite the All Life Binary.”

“My dear Agria, there is no Teaching even hinting that the One could be brought out of retirement and reunited with the Other.  If such was possible, would they not have done so?”

“As below, so above Orthon.  What the Teaching does not say is “why” the One chose Blessed Rest, leaving the Other to carry the burden of All Life.  But we, the female energies of Om, know intuitively what happened.  Simply put my friend, there was disagreement in the Binary, resulting in the Split. 

If I can approach the Anomaly and am allowed to enter her Mind it may be she will share her fear, anger and feelings of rejection with us .  She may yet choose to live, Orthon.  She may have learned the lesson that all of life has yet to learn: that no part of life is greater than any other, not even the All Life, and that any part can be friend with any other part.”

“Well said, friend, but where would you begin to search for the One?”

“Not necessary.  If I can make her aware her loneliness and desolation are caused by her separation from the Twin, it may be she will allow us to contact the Blessed Rest and speak to the One on her behalf.”

“Have we come so far that life would have the wisdom to speak for the All Life?  That we, the created, could bring peace within the realm of the All Life, thus bringing peace within all of life?”

“They made us in their own image, Orthon.  It is time we made use of this awareness.”

“Ah, Agria, please consider this before you proceed: the Logos predicted our conversation to Council.  It asked:

{What will you do if the All Life, instead of coming out of retirement or ending the self-destruct process, confers its powers upon you?  What does Agria-Orthon choose if offered the power of All Life?} 

“What do we choose, Agria?”

“Life, Orthon.  Always life, whatever it entails.”

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~   ]

This morning there’s a burning in my heart to express something, but it wasn’t until I received the following in my mail that I realized where I was walking once again.

Quote: “Despair is the state in which anxiety and restlessness are immanent to existence. Nobody in despair suffers from “problems”, but from his own inner torment and fire. It’s a pity that nothing can be solved in this world. Yet there never was and there never will be anyone who would commit suicide for this reason. So much for the power that intellectual anxiety has over the total anxiety of our being! That is why I prefer the dramatic life, consumed by inner fires and tortured by destiny, to the intellectual, caught up in abstractions which do not engage the essence of our subjectivity. I despise the absence of risks, madness and passion in abstract thinking. How fertile live, passionate thinking is! Lyricism feeds it like blood pumped into the heart! ― Emil M. Cioran, On the Heights of Despair – 1933)

Some of us exist as bog fires. We burn, winter and summer and we are impossible to extinguish. Why? Because no one understands the source of our fire.

In fact, I don’t understand it either, it just is. Perhaps I should use the term “burning bush” because the more we burn, the more we have to burn. Nothing is consumed. No entropy here, quite the opposite. The world and its desires may well pass away, over and over, but this struggling thing I call “me” remains, dies, returns, again and again.

Why? If ‘nothing can be solved in this world’ (see above quote) why return? In those nebulous times in-between endless strings of lives, do we forget? Do we re-arrive here all innocent, a tabula rasa, having no remembrances of having walked through vales of tears and mountains of glory, in bare feet or harsh armour? Of hunger and surfeit? Of enslavement and mastery?

Passing through, surviving (to what end?) and perhaps fixing a few little things, I know I will not solve, nor resolve any of this world’s major and obvious problems. For those solutions I must defer to greater aspects of life than me. When I was young and my fire burned on the surface I would not have accepted this truth but now that I have gone underground and the burning is steady and controlled, I realize it is how it should be. I am not the conscience of this world, or any world or reality. Suffice that I am my own and that I have the power within myself, finally, to understand how to control that tiny part of all that is.

As Victor Frankl wrote: “Who would bring light must endure burning” Passion is burning. Some time back, feeling my burning, I wrote the following. Perhaps another in similar pain will receive validation; take comfort from these words, they are not empty utterances:

Where Hope fails Despair will Serve
[a poem by ~burning woman~ ]
There, I’ve shown you:
No hope, no hope left
Not for you, not for them.
Your children are dying
Don’t you see? Are you blind?
I’ve taken away every strand
Of your pitifully weak hope
And what can you do now
But admit my power,
And bow to the inevitable, to me?

She looks upon her foe as he gloats over her,
She turns and stares ahead
At a land stretching before her tired eyes
Dark, menacing, parched, dead.
She hears the incomprehensible,
The language of the damned, tortured screams
Rise from places she cannot name.

She looks down at the children
Cowering at her bloody feet
Whimpering, hungry, frightened,
Shivering in their bits of rags;
Her own clothes in no better shape.
She feels the hollowness
Of her own body and tired mind
Dragging her down to yield,
To sleep and to forget.

This must be the end she reasons once again,
And I’ve been misled, lied to, to take this way
Try to lead the children and find a way of escape:
I cannot go further; I have nothing left.

Her enemy laughs again.
You’re done then, hey?
Say yes, give up, give up!

“No!” she says turning to face him,
Her cracked lips bleeding:
This isn’t our end, this is our beginning.
Hope there may no longer be;
No comfort may be waiting
When we walk from here but know this:
Where hope fails, as it often must,
There is always despair.

Rousing the children
She leads them into the darkness:
We shall not be his slaves
She tells them,
Let death take us then if that’s how it must be.

But it wasn’t death that waited there,
It was freedom earned
From courage to say “No,”
Taking that last resolute step
Where he could never follow.

Despair is the end of all power usage and as rawgod said to me commenting on another post, “Non-use of power IS the ultimate use of power. To have it, and refuse to use it, that is powerful.”  I am just beginning to understand what that means, and the personal costs associated with it.

What’s it Like – a Lesson from the Anthill

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~   ]
 
What’s it like when an age-old and more-or-less trusted, definitely believed-in system begins to unravel, and as it does, it reveals that neither the emperor, nor those who bow before the august personage, have any clothes on despite having spent fortunes to convince themselves they had the best clothes any age, any society, any nation, any empire, ever wore? 
 
The system I’m talking about is capitalism. For most, capitalism is the best way if not the only way, to handle economies and satisfy the desires of the go-getters.  It’s bloody competition, but instead of lions in a savanna, or sharks in an ocean, this is done with money and the blood isn’t actually food, just collateral damage. For the believers, such damage is not only acceptable, but necessary to keep the system going. How else could it work? Capitalism’s first need is war, and it’s health depends entirely on perpetual war.
For those who doubt this, show me a true period of history that does not involve some form of war or conquest; an era concerned solely with the welfare of people and the planet during which there is no war at all. Please!
 
Capitalism, for those rare few in the know, aware, and sensitive to things that really don’t work, is a system designed solely to create the mass illusion of scarcity in a world of plenty.  The pretend competition is what gives meaning to the illusion of monetary motion between individuals and/or large collectives. Another word for manufactured scarcity is debt. 
 
According to the Gospel of Capitalism, every nation on the planet must, of necessity, be hopelessly indebted to organizations invented strictly to create the illusion of debt. International banking houses, organizations like the IMF, the Fed, (watch these replicate as time tightens the rope around the capitalists’ necks) these dictate who loses and who wins as they are forced to participate in gambling casinos they call international trade deals. First rule of gambling: the house always wins.
 
Think for one moment: why should those who sit on, and own by right, national, natural and labour (the only real resources), be indebted to institutions because these institutions say they are entitled to all of it, and entitled to distribute the spoils as they see fit?

Hello, out there?

“Beam me up Scotty, there’s no intelligent life down here!” 
 
Again, why should a native of El Salvador live in abject poverty, fear for his, or his family’s lives, or slave for some multinational corporation that has nothing to do with his country and is nothing but a vulture sitting on a carcass it claims for itself?  Can anyone explain the justice in that? If not, why not? If unjust, then why is it accepted as normal? Is injustice so ingrained in the Earthian brain that it no longer matters… maybe never has mattered until it slaps that brain across the face when it expected a handout and a silly and meaningless revolution results?  
 
“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves that we are underlings…” And yet it fascinates me to see, in the current times, reasonably intelligent underlings scatter about each time someone or something kicks the anthill of civilization, to repair and rebuild, despite the fact that each repair and rebuild leaves the edifice in less working order than before the first kick and the ants much worse off. 
 
I used to do that to anthills in the north, there were lots of them, and watch what happened, week after week, after each time I flattened their hill. They’d swarm out and immediately set about rebuilding. As long as there was a queen in there, the rebuilding happened, though it looked less and less like a “hill” as the ants were too busy rebuilding to seek out food and tired themselves out in their useless labour. If I got the queen, the anthill was abandoned and reverted to grass. 
 
I see “the economy” and “climate change” and increased population with associated disorders, kicking “the living shit” out of civilization’s anthill, and I see those frightened, angry, brainwashed ants immediately rushing about madly plugging, patching, repairing the worst holes. They live in the “hope that springeth eternal in the human breast” that a younger queen (say, alternative energy, a “green” government, even perpetual motion machines – call it what you will)  will be able to prevent the final disaster: the end of the collective, for ants, being ants, cannot imagine life without the anthill. 
 
Collective madness: that’s what it’s like at the moment on earth’s kicked anthill.

“Say, ants, have you thought that perhaps it’s high time to imagine and implement an entirely new type of interaction with the environment, with each other, one that doesn’t require the maintenance of an entropic anthill?”

Injustice is ingrained
in my Earthian brain.
I struggle in vain
hoping for some gain
but the system’s a bane
in which I but wane
to an end which is pain.  (File that one under truly bad poetry)

 
Quote: “War is the only true industry capitalism can produce.” (Comment by Sojourner on TubularSock, WordPress)
 
 
 

Is Nature Man’s Enemy?

[thoughts from    ~burning woman~    by Sha’Tara]

“His little fleet was indeed going into battle, against the enemy that Man would face to the end of time. As he spread across the Universe from planet to planet and sun to sun, the forces of Nature would be arrayed against him in ever new and unexpected ways. Even Earth, after all these aeons, still had many traps for the unwary, and on a world that men had known for only a lifetime, death lurked in a thousand innocent disguises.” (A Fall of Moon Dust, Arthur C. Clark)

How many times have we read quotes like this?

I will admit that we do not as easily sync with such sentiments as we did, say, even fifty years ago, but overall, has anything regarding man’s relationship to nature actually changed?

Much has been ballyhooed in recent years about anthropological climate change; about the long-term, perhaps irreversible negative effects of large scale logging of rain forests, fracking, open pit mining, deep sea drilling, pipeline building, but based on electoral results, how much of that has even made a dent in the thinking of the rank and file Earthian and its rulers who put power and riches at the top of their list of priorities?

Even as the planet is showing serious signs of stress and weakening from over-extraction, over-use and over-consumption of manufactured “goods” most of the news media remains focused on entertainment, whether from organized sports and/or global political buffoonery.

There is some seriousness being expressed, but that remains marginal at best. Some entrepreneurs who would, or could, make a difference have to play the game according to capitalism’s rules, and that “Power” is only concerned about profits, couldn’t care less about life.

What I mean to express, once again, is that for real change to happen, people have to develop not only a counter, just and peaceful system to capitalism, but a whole new nature. That’s right: nature. Up until now, man has considered nature to be his enemy, to be conquered, plundered, poisoned, that is, to be endlessly warred against. That is the foundation of the current civilization and however much that is denied, it remains a fact. This civilization has been constructed from war after war, conquest after conquest, enslavement after enslavement and the inexorable extraction of any and all natural resources that could be sold for a profit in the market place which has become a global super market.

Until now Homo Sapiens has chosen not to exhibit any sense of oneness with his natural environment. Whether that came about through fear or hubris (from bad design or faulty evolution – I’m being satirical!), it came about and we are reaping the results in exponential terms. We are facing the truth about depletion of non-renewables in a finite environment. Man’s earth struggling in the stranglehold of unchecked capitalism has developed a cancer called entropy.

What is entropy, and why should we be very seriously concerned about that?

Definition of entropy:
1 a measure of the unavailable energy in a closed thermodynamic system that is also usually considered to be a measure of the system’s disorder, that is a property of the system’s state, and that varies directly with any reversible change in heat in the system and inversely with the temperature of the system; broadly: the degree of disorder or uncertainty in a system
2 the degradation of the matter and energy in the universe to an ultimate state of inert uniformity, or towards death and disorder. (gleaned quotes from Merriam-Webster web dictionary)

Death and disorder. If we think wars, population displacements, refugee crises and the dangerous political trends that support a new rise of dictators, we see death and disorder. Such trends lead to global war. Can this world survive a third world war and resultant levels of entropy?

We go to war because we do not value life and couldn’t care less about nature except to provide our smart phone cameras with colorful sunsets caused by environmental pollution and cute animal antics. We are, as history will record if there is a history, the last generations of the terminally entitled. We may pay lip service to nature’s plight but our wants continue to take priority.

From complaints about weather and bugs, yes, nature remains considered as man’s number one enemy.

Why is that? Simple: man is not, never was, a product of natural evolution. Nature is not man’s enemy, man is nature’s enemy and in the end, one will win over the other. If nature wins, Homo Sapiens disappears. If Man wins, everything dies.

Third and final option, if it isn’t already much too late: a full and complete reconciliation of man and nature, with man, being the perpetrator of the evil that is being done, agreeing to abandon his anti-life predatory ways and live simply, that all may live. That requires more than a change of system or even a change of mind, it demands a change of nature, meaning that Homo Sapiens must morph into a new species entirely. There’s the challenge.

“Extremes invariably lead to disaster. Only through balance can we fully harvest the fruits of nature.” (Kevin Anderson: Sandworms of Dune)