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Archive for the ‘Manifestos & auguries’ Category

When we look back at this time a few decades hence, what changes will we take the pandemic of 2020-21 to have ushered in? How will it have transformed work, recreation, travel and transportation, food, politics, and everything else? The following are some initial thoughts toward a hopeful eco-justice based perspective on how the world […]

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Fans of Mark Rothko’s color field paintings frequently comment on the spaciousness, immersiveness, and liminality of those works: the way you can stand in front of them and feel as if you are being bathed in some transcendent force that is irreducible to anything else. Great art is (supposed to be) like that: it simply […]

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Here are a few thoughts coming out of the five weeks of readings in decolonial theory that I’m doing with my Advanced Environmental Humanities class (which has been online and open to the interested public). The course is centrally concerned with the present “global moment,” and the following can be considered a short take on […]

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Equinoxes and solstices are geometrical phenomena. They mark the passage of time in ways that are easy to understand and more or less universal. I understand people’s desire to watch for them, to mark them out, and to even reclaim them as somehow more primordial than other kinds of temporal passage points. But changing seasons […]

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Manifestos are back in style (if this one, this one, and this one are any indication). Here’s my latest crack at a fairly simple statement of principle. The lesson of the field of environmental studies, to which I’ve dedicated more than three decades of my life, is that there’s a civilizational task ahead of us. […]

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One of the things I study is spiritual practices – which I’ll define (for simplicity’s sake) as the things people do to enhance their capacity to live in accordance with chosen ideals. Those ideals can be defined in religious terms (for instance, as salvation, enlightenment, or unity with God) or in more secular and philosophical […]

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Rather like the Airborne Toxic Event in Don Delillo’s 1980s novel White Noise, these days seem, to many of us, suffused with a kind of Generalized Floating Dread. I’ve picked this sense up from students, from colleagues, from friends and neighbors. It is as if there is a cloud of dark matter around us, whose […]

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On day one, I poked an eye open. And shut it tight. On day two, I tried again, looked around, grasped for something, clutched it tight. Then I ate it. On day three (a lot of things happened between days two and three), I started thinking.

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See how far you follow my line of thinking here: (1) Democracy (institutional and not just majoritarian/representational) is better than the alternatives. Let’s live with it (and defend it). (2) Democracy as practiced in the U.S. today is partial, compromised, and somewhat muzzled, but still better than the alternatives. Let’s fix it up. (3) Democracy, […]

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Yesterday was a perfect illustration of how exciting (and bewildering) it can be to read the U.S. national news. Here’s a multiple-choice quiz about it. Which of the following occurred yesterday?

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A social media conversation prompted me to dig up something I had written in my notebook years ago after reading Serhii Plokhy’s masterful book on “premodern identities” in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. Which in turn prompted me to realize that coronavirus provides an answer to the question I had just finished writing an article about […]

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The “reopening” of the world’s economies, locally and nationally, piece by piece, after the sudden and massive stoppage of the entire economic system, is raising important questions about whether the system can be put back into motion selectively and into a more viable direction than it had been moving beforehand. Some observers have suggested, optimistically, […]

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