Days often begin with a meaty email message from John, always spiky with pithy observations, lively questions, pointers to interesting sources and resources. Following up on his links is just the beginning of the day’s fun, because there’s always a trickle of blog postings coming through as well (sometimes tucked away for later viewing, sometimes sucked right in, and maybe passed along to others), and often enough the various messages complement each other.
wood pellets marketed as “sustainably sourced biomass”
“…counting biomass as carbon-neutral…”
est. 60,000 acres of trees burned every year to supply the growing pellet market
…It takes between 40 and 100 years for a new tree to pay down the carbon debt racked up by logging and burning an old one…
supposedly “residue from the timber industry, made out of scraps and sawdust…”
but trees harvested in US and Canada to make pellets for export
supposedly “sustainably sourced forest thinning and low-grade wood”
“…if a government or private entity cuts down a forest but doesn’t redevelop the land, it has not officially engaged in deforestation”
no one has figured out how to capture and store enough carbon to make any difference
The problem is “the economy”, which is required to produce profits and reproduce itself, and which requires large energy inputs to do so…
The truth is that if the economy is not entirely remade, the debates over the folly of biomass, over what counts as renewable, over whether or not a tree can grow back faster than it burns —all of it will vanish into a great silence.
John goes on to note the Smugth with which he piloted a biodiesel car for a decade, shudders to think about other things done or considered, and observes:
I’ve been struck during the pandemic that everyone draws their own line of what is a reasonable precaution and what is an unwelcome intrusion, and there are people who staunchly defend their particular stance along the spectrum of public health (collective gain) vs personal liberty (and economic gain). The same spectrum is clearly in place on the environmental plane…and I see the mixture of cognitive dissonance and preachy self satisfaction at work in myself and in so many others.
…Mayer died in 2014. She continued to make work through the last decades of her life, but was largely left behind by the art world, a casualty of proliferating commercial galleries and a fervid market that had little use for her ephemeral works.
We live in a world where capitalist states and giant companies largely control science. (Just consider the moral insanity and capitalist logic of global vaccine apartheid.) Some of the biggest backers of technology to capture carbon and store it underground are oil companies like Exxon. Yes, we need to consider technologies with an open mind. That includes a frank assessment of how the interests of the powerful will shape how technologies develop.
A week or so I was wondering to myself ??What does one do when one recognizes that one is caught in a Contradiction? When one realizes personal implication in something that one deeply deplores? ?When one wishes to at least be consistent… ?? …which of course happens all the time, trivially and grandly. When one reads about water in the San Joaquin Valley and learns about the structure and depradations of the almond industry, is it thinkable to keep buying almond milk? And what about that 2 cord of wood we burn each winter, just how much better or worse is it than, say, propane in our wall heaters… and so on. Such thoughts are pretty small potatoes in comparison to the Big Delusions of our society and culture, our nation, our species…
the in-built addiction to Growth that underwrites pretty much everything we do, and that we have been pretty much constantly reminded of since The Limits to Growth (1974; 2004 30-year update), which I’m starting to re-examine.
A sense of the relevant is the ability to identify and detect those things that have consequences beyond themselves.
creativity is connecting things
spaces and linebreaks create poetic meaning
Photography is alright, if you don’t mind looking at the world from the point of view of a paralyzed Cyclops —for a split second (David Hockney)
models sanctified and celebrated by insiders can evolve into uncontested, lucrative, congealed monopolies/specialties/cartels/cults/disciplines —which in time become self-centered and selfish, more and more about themselves, and less and less about their original substantive content.
It’s interesting to trace a stream of morning activity, if only so that I might be able to get back to sources too briefly examined, and of course it’s useful to dip a toe into the slipstream of my Attention from time to time.
I’ve been reading Mark Arax The Dreamt Land: Chasing Water and Dust Across California, on the recommendation of Robert Glennon, and got wondering about all the concrete that went into the aqueducts, then recalled reading a New Yorker article about sand (May 22 2017) … which inevitably led to the google for other bits of the Tale of Sand. Here’s some of what I found:
In September 1945, the short story “The Aleph” was published in the Argentine journal “Sur”. It is written by Argentine writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges to narrate his fictionalized character’s experience as he saw the Aleph, a point in space where all points in the universe can be seen. Reprinted as the title work of Borges’ 1949 collection “The Aleph and Other Stories” … a matter of literary craftsmanship to explore “infinity”. With its varying theme, the literary piece argues that the universe is ineffable, time is inexorable, experiences shape perception and rationality. … According to the narrator, the Aleph is a “small iridescent sphere with unbearable brilliance” where all places on Earth can be seen from every angle without distortion or confusion, simultaneously.
…the Aleph or “Alef” is the Hebrew alphabet’s first letter and in Jewish Kabbalah, it is the “En Soph” that signifies the nameless being called “YHWH” who created the world.
In his first set theory article in 1874, Georg Cantor outlined that the Aleph is the representation of transfinite numbers.
…Aleph is a representation of how unpredictable, indescribable, and unconscious life can be for the human-animal as unseen forces move him/her.
And quite by chance a couple of links to our sort-of neighbor when we lived in Lexington VA, Sally Mann:
“What do you know about this business?” the King of Hearts asks Alice during the trial at the end of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. “Nothing,” she replies. “That’s very important,” responds the king. The scene continues: ” ‘Unimportant, of course, I meant,’ the king hastily said, and went on to himself in an undertone, ‘important—unimportant—unimportant—important—’ as if he were trying which word sounded best.
Some of the jury wrote it down “important” and some “unimportant.” Alice could see this, as she was near enough to look over their slates; “but it doesn’t matter a bit,” she thought to herself.
At this moment the king, who had been for some time busily writing in his notebook, cackled out, “Silence!” and read out from his book, “Rule forty-two: All persons more than a mile high to leave the court.”
Everybody looked at Alice.
“I’m not a mile high,” said Alice.
“You are,” said the king.
“Nearly two miles high,” added the queen.
“Well, I shan’t go, at any rate,” said Alice, “besides, that’s not a regular rule; you invented it just now.”
“It’s the oldest rule in the book,” said the king.
“Then it ought to be number one,” said Alice.
The king turned pale and shut his notebook hastily. “Consider your verdict,” he said to the jury in a low, trembling voice.
“No, no!” said the queen. “Sentence first—verdict afterward.”
“Stuff and nonsense!” said Alice loudly. “The idea of having the sentence first!”
“Hold your tongue!” said the queen, turning purple.
“I won’t!” said Alice.
“Off with her head!” the queen shouted at the top of her voice. Nobody moved.