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From My Modern Met


Animistic sustainability is performative. It always requires a dialogue with a real other, a tree person, a jaguar person, a river person. Sustainable actions cannot be done without the etiquette of relationship, and without enacting the simple rites of reciprocity: Before we can save a place, we need to ask it to receive us in grace and to allow us to get in touch. And we need to express gratitude in words and in actions. Kosmos Journal


Granting others life as a key command of organising one’s own existence, and of building society, was never a concern of market thinking. To the contrary, it is deemed a hindrance. Reality here is construed as a dog-eats-dog world (according to the “natural state”, described by Thomas Hobbes in his book Leviathan). Reciprocity with the living world in this thinking is denounced as a naïve dream. — Kosmos Journal


“These two dimensions — enacting the world as a commons through reciprocity with all beings, and experiencing this sharing relationship as my own and others’ aliveness, and hence the cosmos’ true character — cannot be separated. Only when we understand that the metabolic process through which we participate in the ongoing life is an emotional experience for all who are implied in this, can we proceed from the attempt to efficiently distribute objects to truly engage in an exchange with kin. Only then can we belong to family. — Kosmos Journal

If we can’t have a mystic relationship with the world, we will kill it, and in killing it we will commit suicide. Our kinships are invisible to us. Our way of being is deaf, dumb and blind to how we are connected to the world. Unless there is a “great turning” from our self chosen isolation, this prodigious creation will give up the ghost.

I’m not an expert in ecology or native cultures but I think our dominant culture has a lot to learn there. Being an artist gives me an appreciation for the manifest world but no special knowledge. I think a lot of people go by some inner gyroscope, as I am doing. The puzzling thing to me is how some inner gyroscopes direct people to destroy the world and to hate people they don’t know.

It seems that some folks are not enjoying their stay on the planet.

If the dog eat dog world is the one you live in, you’re missing the main pleasure of being alive. You’re using your imagination to make yourself small and miserable. Animism gets a lot of criticism from believers in rationalism. Jung himself talks about the night terrors of primitive folk. We congratulate ourselves on taming nature and making things more predictable, at least until now.

All of a sudden the night terrors are back. Nature doesn’t look so harmless any more. Our “leaders” refuse to believe what we’re seeing is actually happening. They falsify statistics to fit the old vision of us versus nature. As much as their beliefs are firm, reality will dismantle it. A new, more comprehensive vision will take its place, a belief system that allows love, connection of all life — spiritual values.

The tough ones will be sorely tested. The ones who believe in survival of the fittest and the overriding power of self interest are tempting fate now. They always have been, but that worldview is being tested and will continue to be tested until we humans recognize our consanguinity with all beings.

We need a humane vision and humane voices to talk about the world differently. World-as-mechanism is dying. Not a moment too soon.

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