the alien occupation

Posted in Tales on May 21, 2015 by Christy Rodgers

Thank you for inviting me to speak today. I am pleased to present all of you who share an interest in Terran affairs with the most recent discovery made possible by your support for the Terran Archivist Group: this interesting multi-volume study whose title roughly translates as A Definitive History of the Alien Conquest and Occupation of Eusa. This compendious work, written roughly 300 Terran (approximately 40 Tlönian) years ago but discovered only recently during excavatory work on Terra, and apparently produced by an indigenous historian named Brandon Harbury Thorne, is a remarkable addition to our knowledge about the Galatean occupation of Terra.

As you are all aware, Terra was invaded and occupied by the conquering Galateans for approximately 1,000 of their years, and it has only been since the relatively recent (perhaps 25 Tlönian years) decline and dissolution of that enormous empire that Tlönian archaeological brigades have been able to visit Terra and try to reconstruct some of its fascinating and complex history under Galatean rule. We now have Thorne’s painstaking–and so far unique–work to thank for illuminating a previously obscure area of that history: The large land area of Eusa, which was only sparsely inhabited by seemingly primitive and fragmented tribal societies at the time of first contact with the Galateans, had previously revealed to our scholars only tantalizing hints of the traumatic experience of invasion and conquest. Now the picture is much more complete.

The indigenous population of Eusa was not even confirmed to have retained the capacity for written historical record until the discovery of Thorne’s work. It is evident to us that Thorne was probably a member of a select group of indigenous scholars who were trained in Galatean “thought-enclaves,” as their universities were called, and thus became skilled in advanced techniques for historical research and analysis, which would have been far beyond the capacity of the vast majority of the degraded and diminished indigenous population of Eusa.

With your courteous permission, I will now proceed to try to summarize some of the major revelations that this long-awaited Tlönian translation of Thorne’s work has produced in the field of Terran studies. First and perhaps foremost, Thorne indicates to us that the indigenous population of Eusa was already in severe decline from a series of centuries-long shocks at the time the first Galateans literally stumbled upon those shores. We can now confirm, thanks to Thorne’s corroboration of findings from our own initial excavations in several different parts of the Eusan land mass, that at least some of the scattered and disunited peoples of Eusa may have descended from a fairly complex cosmopolitan civilization of their own, of which they themselves had but scant memory, preserved mainly through some bizarre rituals whose origins were lost in the mists of time, and a scattering of oral histories. Current theory now has it that intractable and unending wars, famines caused by an unstable climate and mass deaths from a variety of forms of toxic contamination may have decimated the Eusan population and reduced its civilization to these degenerate remnants, perhaps even centuries before the Galateans arrived.

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why must we ask again?

Posted in culture shifts, Transformations on April 29, 2015 by Christy Rodgers

what happens to a dream deferred???

this.

eduardo galeano is irreplaceable

Posted in Transformations, visions with tags on April 16, 2015 by Christy Rodgers

Ella está en el horizonte -dice Fernando Birri-. Me acerco dos pasos, ella se aleja dos pasos. Camino diez pasos y el horizonte se corre diez pasos más allá. Por mucho que yo camine, nunca la alcanzaré. ¿Para que sirve la utopía? Para eso sirve: para caminar.

[Utopia] is on the horizon, says Fernando Birri. I move two steps closer; it moves two steps away. I walk another ten steps and the horizon runs ten steps further away. As much as I may walk, I’ll never reach it. So what’s the point of utopia? The point is: to keep walking.

RIP Eduardo Galeano

Quoted in a dialogue with Jose Saramago at the 2005 World Social Forum. Every Transformations post on this blog is a tiny tribute to his work.

at play in the comedy of survival

Posted in Essays on April 16, 2015 by Christy Rodgers

An Appreciation of Joseph Meeker

This essay first appeared on the Dissident Voice and Counterpunch webzines.

Many of our imaginations have been captured by the seemingly unalterable and suicidal trajectory of contemporary civilization. It feels like the story arc of one of the great tragic heroes: Oedipus, Macbeth, Faust – destined to rise to great heights, attempt unprecedented levels of power over matter and life, and then fall, leaving the world’s stage strewn with the dead. But the “tragic fall” is not just an affective state of mind or a poetic myth. It is, in fact, what individual civilizations have tended to do since humans began to create them seven thousand years ago (unless they were conquered and absorbed into other civilizations, which then fell).

And now, for the first time in human history a single civilization has gone global, touching every member of an unprecedentedly large and still growing world population. And also for the first time, we have all the tools: scientific, cognitive, historical – to see the seeds of its fall in development. Even the wonks at NASA have confirmed that this pattern exists and we are replicating it. And we still can’t seem to change course.

The posture advocated by some who understand this is a correspondingly tragic view, which to them means acceptance of the Faustian bargain, acceptance that the human story is inevitably a story of hubris, of overweening ambition, aggression, and final destruction. And that we are living now somewhere near the climax of hubris, and must brace ourselves for destruction.

The problem comes in what this posture represents: is it representative in any way of how other living systems work? Because if we really want to vindicate the ethic of living things, wild things, uncivilized things, and rediscover their resilience and their relevance to our human life, then the tragic story arc is not the rule.

This idea was first articulated by the US scientist and literary scholar Joseph Meeker, in a small book called The Comedy of Survival. It was published in 1974, when an ecological consciousness – meaning a science-based understanding of the world as a living system in which everything was connected and interdependent – finally seemed to be on the rise within the civilization that had been marked by its utter contempt for earth-centered religions and societies.

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the boojum

Posted in Transformations, visions on April 11, 2015 by Christy Rodgers

A boojum had appeared in the skies over earth, darkening the minds of many of its inhabitants with terror.

The end is near! they cried to one another. They spent time in desperate conferences arguing about what should be done: try to forestall the end, meet it with stoic dignity, or barricade themselves in a cellar full of supplies and hope it overlooked them somehow.

Interestingly enough, however, most of the inhabitants of earth were unable to see the boojum. This appeared to be the case at least in part because they covered their eyes tightly with their fingers or dark glasses and jammed small devices in their ears that played soothing music nonstop.

Meanwhile, as the boojum hovered overhead making dreadful noises and stirring up gargantuan storms that swept houses into floods, piled snow to the rooftops, and tore up the land, plunging it into darkness for extended periods, most people went on with their usual activities. And most people died as they had before the boojum arrived: from illness, age, or at the hands of other people.

Those who could see the boojum kept waiting for it to do something definitive that would reveal it to those who could not or would not see it. But the boojum seemed to be utterly indifferent to their desires and, in fact, to their existence. It didn’t have an easily definable shape; it would morph oddly or fade away at the edges whenever they tried to look straight at it or take pictures of it.

The ones who kept looking the other way whenever anyone else pointed at the sky managed to go on about their lives with relative ease, clucking their tongues at the TV news when it showed another house floating on storm waters, great fires burning unchecked in distant forests, or cars piled up for miles in a blizzard. They worried instead about the usual monsters with which they were more familiar: criminals, and People Who Stop You from Getting Ahead.

By the time the boojum left again, a thousand years had passed. In the quiet eons that followed, a small number of people (there were, in fact, not so many overall as there once had been) tried to figure out why it had come and what life had been like before it arrived. But it must be said that most people simply didn’t want to know. One thing they had learned was that regardless of whether reason was awake or asleep, it seemed to breed monsters. Another thing they had learned was how to lace their fingers over their eyes just tightly enough so that the sun still shown through, and to be apologetic and polite when, as often resulted, they bumped into one another as they walked.

the absurdity awareness support group

Posted in culture shifts, Transformations on March 3, 2015 by Christy Rodgers

This piece first appeared on the Dissident Voice and Counterpunch webzines.

It would be in a place you’d recognize immediately: just another dark, clean, church basement, in an old church near a bus stop. With fluorescent lighting and folding chairs. Cool and quiet inside, with a reassuring, but somehow melancholy feel. Only the ones who’ve dropped out of the light, become invisible to the rest of the fast-paced, forward-racing world, would go there. The losers, the ones who’ve fallen in the race and sit on the sidelines as the others speed on out of sight, holding their sides and gasping, baffled and exhausted and sad.

Generally sparsely attended, with perhaps a few extra members showing up on those particularly difficult days of national obligation, like Super Bowl Sunday or the Oscars.

You’d come in out of the bright, generous sunshine (35 days straight with no rain this winter, the fourth year of a worsening drought the like of which has not been seen in over a thousand years – but on the upside, what great weather we’ve been having! It’s been like moving to Mexico without ever leaving town.)

The others sit quietly in the circle of chairs. You nod to the ones you know as you take your seat.

This week’s facilitator starts the meeting off. (All the names have been changed, of course, to preserve anonymity.)

Hi, he says, I’m Andy, and I’m a green anarchist. It’s been about seven years since I was active in any collective.

Hi, Andy, you all respond.

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a life in deep time

Posted in culture shifts, Transformations on February 3, 2015 by Christy Rodgers

I just watched a documentary about continental drift and how it is projected to change the structure of land on earth in the next 250 million years. Current science suggests that if they haven’t already disappeared long before for other reasons, the last ruins of the major cities of today’s civilization will be buried under hundreds of miles of rock as continents collide.

Afterwards, for some reason, I thought of a man I know, who desperately wants to make his mark in the “alternative energy” business, and at 83, after many imperfectly realized attempts, is despairing of doing so in a system of finance that cannot think past the next quarter of a year, while the age–old biosphere that created and sustains us is becoming more hostile and chaotic as a result of our degradation of it, and the writing of the inevitable end of the current energy regime is already long on the wall.

This man exuberantly and somewhat carelessly rode the wave of a generation that unleashed a sense of unlimited individual possibility never before seen in human history, racked up many sexual conquests while engendering a large number of children from different partners, and acted as if it were all a great game: politics, human relations, and finance. But he thought finance had the most power to shape reality, and ultimately he cast his lot there.

And then I think of how he is more emotionally invested in his attempts to leave a lasting legacy in enterprise (admittedly of a sort with some putative social value) than of the fact that he abandoned his first children and as a result is now hopelessly estranged from a sad and troubled middle-aged daughter, a friend whom I know was once his favorite, and that he may well die without ever seeing her again.

And then I wonder: what is the value of a human life? Of what does its real quality consist? And I try to believe that it matters if we dedicate our little match-flare to acts of connection, affirmation, and respect towards our fellow beings and to these beautiful and complex systems that gave us life.

Still – deep beneath the skin of the earth we skitter around on so frenetically now, the massive and implacable ground is always shifting. And in a few million years – a cosmic heartbeat – there may be no sign left for any intelligence to find that any of us – Jesus or Shakespeare or whoever, and whatever we thought, sang, wrote, built, loved, birthed, did, or didn’t do – ever walked this earth.

It’s not a new question, but it’s been given a new cast by scientific knowledge: In the silence of the eons, will our species have been just a momentary dissonance, the whole arc of our existence elided to a single shriek of hubris? Or will we leave our chaos-generating past behind and become something worthy of our unique and fantastical birthplace for at least a while before we go?

And if the chaos we are producing now alters our home beyond recognition first, what chance will we have to adapt ourselves to the new paradigm? What is it that we will find to live in harmony with?

One thing I can pretty safely guess is that like everybody else who’s ever existed so far, I won’t be around long enough to find that out.

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