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Have you heard of The Dark Mountain Project? It is a network/collective of writers, artists and thinkers who feel that contemporary literature and art should reflect the reality of impending ecological collapse and social and political unravelling. Author Paul Kingsnorth is one of the founders. There is a website, blog, and a print magazine. They do good stuff.

I read a great blog post the other day, Clothesline at the End of the World, in which the author, Charlotte McGuinn Freeman, talks about clotheslines and why she hangs her clothes out and the physical and mental satisfaction it gives her. Now, I use a clothesline too which pre-disposed me to her side. But the article is about more than that. You’ll have to read it to find out.

However, she says a couple things that really got my attention:

Apocalyptic stories are sexy in their drama. The end of the world as we know it will be big and dramatic and everything will change, and we will be living in some mythical landscape where we’ll be freed from all the boring conventional aspects of our daily lives. My instinct, however, is that this is not how things are going to unfold. More likely it’ll entail the slow chipping away of things we’re accustomed to, changes like our fruit trees dying. We had a frost three years ago, a freak freeze in October that killed every cherry tree in town. We didn’t find out until spring, when they didn’t come back. Here in Montana we get much of our fruit in the summer from Utah. Orchardists will drive up and set up roadside stands where they sell raspberries and plums and currants and peaches. Beautiful peaches. They were late this year, and my first thought was, ‘Is this it? Is this the year they don’t come? Is this the year we’ll look back on and say, “Remember when there were peaches?’

[…]
 
Apocalyptic stories about of the end of the world are sexy, in part because they allow us, in much the same way as fantasies of past lives do, to cast ourselves as important players in grand historical dramas. They strip us of boring domestic chores. They set us free from our stuff and give us a blank slate with which to start over. However, I think our job is going to be more complicated than that. My hunch is that we’re not going to get a big, sexy, end-of-the-world do-over. What we’ll be faced with is more ordinary. A series of diminishments. The loss of one thing we thought we could not live without, and then another, and then another yet.

A world without peaches. Or bananas. Or coffee. No more chocolate. No polar bears. Or pandas. No rhinos. Monarch butterflies. What a sad and diminished world. It made me think of T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Hollow Men.” Sure his intention is not quite the same, but it all meets up in the end:

Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm 
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow

For Thine is the Kingdom 

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but with a whimper.

The glaciers aren’t going to suddenly disappear, here one day and gone the next. Nor will the oceans rise dramatically and wash away islands and coastal cities. It will all happen incrementally, so slowly you don’t notice until years have passed and you realize the lilacs that used to bloom at the beginning of June are now blooming at the beginning of May. Or the pine trees are all dead. Or there are no more peaches. When did that happen? How could I not have noticed?

No bangs. Nothing dramatic. Just a diminishment and a whimper.

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