ECOLOGY FOR ALL OF US
Back to the cleansing of the Shire, and the Pythons
(If you like chewy bits like this one, check out Daring economy my piece on the sharing economy link;
It´s the economy stupid, Clinton´s proverbial campaign slogan, is harder to apply as one goes over into the foundation of economy, the spot on which economy stands after all is biology and ecology (whatever this catch-word is supposed to mean - It is so wide that much pales in comparison). At times taking a step back is my trick in the event that it can establish a kind of idea, instead of many and conflicting ones. It is simpler, yet has those many conflicts in it. It is not necessarily true in the scientific sense. In hind-sight I can explain why I organised a protest against a humongous bridge project in 1996 — the bridge between Denmark and Sweden. You see if you build roads you get cars. But saying, these many yrs later, that that is what I thought when I took on two governments single-handedly is perhaps silly — I do not regret doing it. The thought is appealing — time gives us THE BIGGER PICTURE. Yes I am an ex. But we are all part of the BIG story. All of us are.
There is a sketch by the Monty Pythons, in which some thugs go into the offices of an army official and start intimidating the man.
How do we go about explaining ecology and its proverbial importance? One cannot cajoule people into understanding the ecological dilemma, and I believe, much as Messr. Python that coercion does not cut it either. Fun. This what makes us giggle. So neither easygoing simplifications, nor fascism is the key here. But to some nature is a trash can, to some a sacred shrine. Rachel Carson went Zany with proposing (cf. The edge of the sea) how the present is linked with the future and the past, and with every living creature, who in-turn is connected to all that surrounds it. I want to go down that same path, but slow. In more sociological terms, it shows how Daniel Bell, an American thinker was able to point out the direction back in the 60s of how parts of society go it alone. Well if the sketch in the army-office is a wake-up call. Then, thugs ofcourse cannot say; Watch it, or we will take your nice little tanks! So impossible. But it makes one laugh, sadly it is true when it comes to the environment. It is not like we can chase around like we used to, letting regulation go out the window Trump fashion. That is what we are here to discuss. How do we get about being green, right? That a toad on my back?
It is ecology and yet we have a hard time being simple about it. And as it now stands it is just as simple as it used to be, some things do not change. In 1846, before he became a recluse, Thoreau had seen the taking of ice from Walden lake; (the ice King) Mr. Frederic Tudor ran that company — they were not acqainted. As we will see the Ice can symbolise our relation to consumerism and the “taking of ice” from Walden lake is very clear-cut (pun intended). Making a fuss about not making a fuss with history takes on a false mask as I relate to history. But my defence is meagre. I follow my logic but also that of the biologist Stephen Jay Gould (cf.Rocks of Ages) who in his book thinks of how human life must contain many experiences and have multiple sources, and says “..that would delight any modern advocate of diversity.”(p.4, 1999). My logic follows the muse of Historia, and as Gould points out this discipline was srengthened by theology for most of its time, and any science finds giving dominion up, hard to do. Theology and history are both humanities, which is another excuse.
Ecology turns up in writing in wicked ways, the Gilgamesh Epos is the single example we all have of its most tangible Uhr-form. Forward to our time. The litterary world is full of “nature your friend” stories, most people will not see e.g. how J.R.R.Tolkien might be one of them, but bluntly, his whole work as a writer is about coal mining in his patrimonial Worcestershire — the home of that not-so smokey sauce. Thoreau is another, earlier example. A friend of the natural. Now to the hard bit. How is ecology misused? To back-track how ecology predates economy, the books you read all depend on nature, and ironically only some of it takes place in space — and to quote Lem (Stanislaw Lem, who wrote Solaris); there is no love in space! Lem was interviewed as the latest American version of Solaris hit theatres. The question one might ask is is this a valid point? Nature is love, no green no nothing. Love is to some rather large per centage point green. Lem teases us. There is a bitter sweetness about this. Everyone knows this deep down, the greasy man from Walden himself, was not your average desert father — his writings are all swell, I am not saying that — but Emerson, Poe or Thoreau were unaware (albeit the 1830s was an economic down-turn) of the idea of EVIL. The coal story was a non-story. Neither should you, nor should I. I think we are confused because we forget. My argument revolves around how we must be part of some bigger to belong and care. Resources that devastate is not really a clear concept in the 1850´s. We know about it. This all points to high-flying ethics or deep philosphising — nah, it doesn´t have to. So why was Thoreau innocent to evil? And why should we too? We indeed deem ourselves as accomplices, hence our focus on sin and morality. I will not go into meta, or physics, nor even metaphysics — let us take a rock solid approach here instead. And I might say that from the 17th century onwards an increasing complexity of societies led to where we are today (in essence Daniel Bell´s proclamation of the separation of spheres), and that this is the issue, but I will not. We must not avoid the issue at hand. Nature is your buddy. But shame is just another threat to befriending Nature. No history lessons please! To sum it up, in time men got to understand each-other less and less. But we are in it together, so we need people like Thoreau (cristology I know.. but who cares right). Divested we stand. God is probably a diversion, his existance is beside the point, for now. I follow Gould here. The increasing number of conspiracy theories we see in our present timescape, are in a sense fighting the principles Gould puts up for us, or rather it is their starting-place. The whole is whole but has principles.
In holistic ways of seeing wholes make wholes. Let´s not forget once again every pen in the whole universe has an audience, every writer a piece of paper. Bees need honey, as doth Emerson. In a sense Thoreau was very much a well-earned rip-off on wisdom, and most wisdom is. Nature was his canvas. All I am saying is a wisdom teacher needs willing students, and the smell of wisdom will attract bees like coca-cola attracts money´d investors. A strange thing about doors is they go both ways, that is students and wisdom have an affinity towards each-other. Do all proffessors drink water? Are birds high-flyers? Do camels have bad days? All I am saying is — going with simple things is very helpful, like water. Should I quote Bruce Lee? No, I will stop there. We are apart of nature, this is the gist of it. Simple yet complex. Now on to the morality of it all. Nature is a budding friend.
How was Thoreau not good? He was not a real naturalist, it is said, and the walk he had to do to reach his favourite Walden, was two miles. At this place he stocked up on wine and bread, and “went out again” into the wild. We apologise him. Sadly we are like Thoreau, we are mere humans.
Accepting the opposites
To cite Boorstin (The first Major Reinterpretation of American History since Turner, Parrington and Beard. Francis Parkman prize in 1965);”The rapid growth of cities put more and more people farther from sources of fresh milk, meat and vegetables, while the increasing number of household refrigirators enlarged the demand for ice. New Orleans, which in the late 1820´s consumed less than 400 tons of ice a year, in one decade increased its consumption tenfold, in another decade twentyfold, and before the Civil War seventyfold. Within the same period ice industry provided a staple New England export which helped save the port of Boston and incidentally revived Boston´s commerce to the East and West Indies.” (and I will add, that we may find it strange today, how steam transportation/coal made it a viable business, an impossible prospect today, but aren´t we up to the same maneuvres?).
Bob Dylan, Max Weber, Bob Marley — are creatures of change, or of opposites if you will — this made them who they were (Bob still is). Or, Steely Dan, Deacon blues. Do you see how this could become bitter(?), yet at the surface it is just dandy soul! (destructiveness in I wanna … die behind the wheel). Counter-logic is a kind of logic too. They (people who accept and live with opposits) are “good guys” I think. So being good means you weigh in different things. Going back to Thoreau, I think he was a lazy layin´ and wine-drinkin´ and so on — but we are too… If we try to understand the “enemy” (to the sociologist Max Weber religious tenets/cultures, to Bob Marley white vs black, to Bob Dylan — hippie vs orderly, after all Bob had three kids as he smoked all those joints and did not fail his family, see addenum in the post script). We must be like Henry David Thoreau in all the squalor of it all, the blaring oppositions, the jarring understanding that winning at wounded knee would be (and was) a pyrrhonic victory, and lastly that opposing nature is BAD— some things are parts of wholes — Man/Nature is of this same sort of “quality”. Phui! Not too hard was it? That´s it, thank you for your time, and thank you for reading! As for J.R.R. Tolkien´s cleansing, he had a couple of cleansings to do himself, which might point to why embracing nature should come highest of all of our priorities. You figure out what Tolkien had to do with fascist groups such as the Soil association, J.R.R. Tolkien too was complexity on tap, a man of opposits. Mobsters fighting the army, yep, good luck! Start today by buying some of those green labels. Being grown-up is seeing both sides, and we tend to forget where ice comes from. And finally, about the ice then, H.D. Thoreau saw how; “They divided it into cakes by methods too well known to require description. … The pure Walden water is mingled with the sacred water of the Ganges.” This cite from 1846 (see above). Yes, they sold it in far-off India! Internationalism was born. We may marvel at it yet again. A kind of second coming. History´s lesson is that nothing changes, nothing at all. Well yes before Frederic Tudor, but we are not talking deep time (Gilgamessy it doth become, but I develop my deep time angles elsewhere) here, just expoloring how history stays the same, seeing how that strengthens the idea here presented of “response” as we see how we and nature are joined at the hip. Taking turns at being friendly and accepting dark and white, does improve our lot. It is helpful, yes it is. We can still have our ice and melt it too. We are starting to see how all human activity has an ambiguous aspect, or rather a human aspect, and that Nature is not science — as long as we see that we are saved. Karen Armstrong makes the point about science ending up as just that, a wish more than a real stab at reality.
Explanations — afterword
The first addenum is that Daniel Bell was right, in that as he says in the introductory to his CONTRADICTIONS; he stays on different grounds in different aspects of life — so morality (or ethics) is not politics, but politics may well be politics (in that sense be ethical). This is my defence of any detractors of my holistic logic. Morality changes over time, which is why Bells says he is conservative in culture and a socialist in politics (in different spheres). I see his point. I share some of his faiblesse for Berger and Luckmanns relative psychology in social science.
In more concrete terms — what were the moral arguments?
(this may be said to be part of this essay) — If we assume something crazy — let us see what it is in its various parts. CAN WE AS HUMANS ACCEPT OPPOSITS? We assume the Indians won at wounded knee, and I for one find it hard to spell it with a capital W. But we all know we lost at wounded knee. Pipe, no pipe, lines or no lines. We all know we did not, problem solved? Yes, and No. Let us look at people who became moral and were the better for it. What do Bob Marley and Max Weber have in common? You do not even have to know who they are to think of the answer, you see children know the answers to all of these questions, so they are the only adults in the room. Children can answer that question for you, they say Marley is black and Weber (let us assume they have photos) is white. They would say they shared a common interest, yes you might answer, but they are children so they would take the next critical step; both good guys right? Right answer! What does this mean though? Clue; nothing at all.
Dumbing down? No. But at one level we could use the child to clarify.
Max Weber was (much as Luther and J.S. Bach) caught between catholicism and protestantism — it was his life-long quest to solve this that made him into him. He had to see both of the cultures to understand them (much like J.S. Bach, Luther we know about, and if you don´t look him up! Luther indeed was a product of two cultures, but the word protestant did not yet exist). Let us now look at Marley — both good guys, right? Adults are now starting to have a role in this; who is this Mr. Bob Marley? His father was a wasted asset of the Empire, a drunkard and a dreamer, the mum (like many of her kind) did all the work. In the case of Bob Marley we have the same kind of problem as we saw with Max Weber — psychology supposedly doesn´t matter in the quest for ECOLOGY as against ECONOMY — but I think it might — and Bob Marley (and Max Weber) proves it. (think about it; could psychology matter more in this?) So what the argument is here is smallness is great.
If we take on the role of caring (as Marley, and Weber did, and you really do not have to know who they are at all at this point!) there are choices, not taking “caring” choices about the environment is “evil” — got it? All the children got it, did you?? To adultness this is ambiguity, yet we do not accept ambiguity and still we are the adults. Is life not just one big balancing act?
I will now introduce a third wavebreaker. Let famous people be, they have nothing to do with green issues, right? I agree, they are metaphorically suited to prove some point, and arguments are spurious at best you may say. Like many fabled people they cease to live ordinary lives, but to give you an example that brings this home, I´d say Bob Dylan is a similar “entity” as Marley and Weber — Bob Dylan faced oppositions in life with poetry and became big because of it. At this point you do not have to know who Dylan is, and no I am not dumbing down anything once again, nothing in fact. At one level it all makes sense accepting bigger chunks of existence than smaller ones. The quest for the right “balance” or weight might just be a fallacy. The race to the bottom is Nature as industial work-bench.