Standing beneath a cloud

NOTE: I wrote this in the context of a conversation with Abq artist and visionary Michael Young.

“Last night I had another bout of depression+Climate Change thinking. So your message about Tess Houle’s reaction feels like a Universe connection, a clarion call. As in, perhaps this is the work! The work is about naming the depression that arises inside kind-hearted, intelligent folk upon taking some Climate Change information into the heart. And having named it publicly, it’d be about addressing it directly, from a non-depressed place. So I’m disagreeing with your statement, “I want to avoid reactions like that.” And agreeing with “just get folk talking… salt it with generosity, artistic amazement, seduction…”After our dialogue here at the Embodiment Center I too got so depressed that I wasn’t functional for a while. It didn’t show when we were talking; it came up later that night. And yesterday the influence of Trump’s tribe spread over the world like a vast cloud of swamp gas, infecting us all with a miserably foul dullness. I.e. depression. These phenomena are not unconnected, and they aren’t purely the result of my own clinically significant problems. 

We can’t avoid these interconnected issues. We can’t understand them, and we can’t avoid them. We all need to hear it, again and again–our impulses are to scurry about, propelled by the fantasy that Reason can surmount this stuff, or wilt into a pit of depression. Neither of those impulses produce the energies of our greater values–joy, compassion, beauty, vigor, well-being, community. But they can be gateways to expressions of those things, if we can transform our relationship to this stuff.

So. How? we ask. Because the raw power of the collective is enslaved to global capitalism now, and into the foreseeable future. So what we really mean is, “how, given that our national community is paralyzed by extremely clever manipulation and extremely dull ignorance? How, given that we only have the power that our actual communities have?”
For me it is and will be through IMAGINATION. It’s a creative process. Not an empirical one. We begin by IMAGINING a future that embraces the facts, and yet still shivers with beauty and desire and mystery.

Prescient artists have been doing this imaginal work for some time now. Frank Herbert’s Dune was a powerful vision of the way climate creates culture. How do humans live in the Gobi Desert, today? How do humans sustain cities in low-water environments today? There’s so much I don’t know. And we are so distant here from anything like that… 

A whole thread of Jean Giraud–the incomparable French Bande Dessine artist who named himself Moebius–takes place in a distant-future Bedouin world. “The Airtight Garage” and later work imagine a future full of odd flying birds and placid civil servants. Vivid Tangier sunlight invoking deeply saturated colors. Clothes that seem to combine dignity and sensibility with magical technologies. And of course, desire, radiating like heat from everything there. We could see that world as a beautiful place–a violent one, but a place with a bit more Utopia than we have here–a place we long to visit. A place we long to create. 

So much of my fantasy life takes place in old growth forests. I have always longed to go back. Perhaps through art we can long to go forward–INTO the maelstrom of climate change, and thus through it. 

Climate change will teach us humility. Violently, if need be. Climate change will teach us simplicity. By ripping unnecessary things out of our grasp, if necessary. Humility and simplicity… these are powerful values, to me. These values are part of my core. Why wouldn’t I want to live in a world that supported me in practicing them? Why wouldn’t I want to live in a world where those values were held in common by my community? If you’re in Trump’s tribe of reavers and barbarians set loose by glitterati manipulators, where do you think we’re heading? How will you and yours survive climate change? And what do you imagine awaits you as humanity reconstructs itself?”

Do you get depressed when you think about climate change? How do you deal with that depression? Are you an empath? Are you an artist? How do those native traits impact the depression you experience when you let a bit of the magnitude of climate change into your heart? What are you doing to prepare? How do you keep your sense of humor alive?

Let’s talk!

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