Thursday, November 15, 2012

Ecofantasy II

(Continued from preceding post.)
The influence of Christianity is apparent from Quinn’s “fundamentally flawed” (is that original sin, Ishmael?) humanity to Berry’s new creation.  You can restate the thread developed in this thinking and see a humanity created in the image of a God, passing through cataclysm, transcending its sinful nature, and becoming part of a developing universal (or multiversal ) consciousness. 
The question has been raised so we have to ask, is it possible that humanity has arrived at a point in the human project so transformative that past patterns of behavior will be outgrown and we will find ourselves stepping toward a special era such as Berry’s Ecozoic?  These authors and their followers are  asking a lot of a species that has never demonstrated anything near this capacity and exhibits no substantial tendency to move in that direction now.  This is speculative thinking dosed liberally with hope and salted with a bit of bourgeois panic that has become a myth in its own time.  We are, however, what we demonstrably are.  We have a very long history of being us.  We need to encounter that reality and not hope for a mystical transformation.  If we’re going to survive what’s coming we’re going to have to start thinking about who we are and not who we wish we were. 

There is nothing particularly  magnificent or transcendent about humanity.  We are, however, a capable species and it is long past time that we apply those capabilities to reversing the environmental shambles we are creating.  Ecofantasy is not going to stop Ecocaust (1) , only difficult decisions and very hard work.
1. Ecocaust is a term reportedly coined by Mark Budz in his dystopian novel Clade.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Ecofantasy I

Those on the political Right, especially Christian conservatives, have for some time complained that various environmentalisms are actually religions.  They arrive at this conclusion through a variety of theological contortions that I have always rejected.  I still reject the contortions but a recent experience with an unfortunately mediocre and sadly outdated  university graduate seminar has caused me to wonder if the Christian radicals are correct about some of this. 
The seminar had a handful of required readings.  Included among those were Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael, David Suzuki’s The Sacred Balance, and Thomas Berry’s The Great Work. The students began with Quinn, then Suzuki, and finished with Berry.  All three authors stress their reliance on the thinking of aboriginal spiritual guides.  One didn’t have to look too hard to see white bourgeois ‘wannabees’ strutting around in loincloths, something that, although rejected by the mainline devotees of these gurus, has actually happened.
In terms of the seminar, if one applied a bit of deconstructive analysis a pattern began to reveal itself.  Quinn’s construct, the gorilla Ishmael, hints at a possibly transcendent humanity.  Suzuki  proposes a flawed but “magnificent” humanity.  Berry confirms that a magnificent, transcendent humanity is quite capable of creating a future history that will take us into a kinder, gentler, greener world.  Read in sequence, one author builds on another until we arrive at a proposed Great Work capable of implementing a new creation or a re-creation of the original creation. Where have we heard that story before? We have heard it from religious leaders throughout history. There is nothing new about this story.
(Continued in next post)