July 30, 2015

“Better late than later.”


I've been thinking about this paragraph:

In 1915, as the American economy boomed, the huge supply chain that supported horse-drawn transport—harnesses and horseshoes, wagons and buggies makers (13,000 of them), farriers and blacksmiths, hay balers and feedmills—looked like a robust and vital segment for deploying capital. 1920 was the year of “Peak Horse” in the U.S.. By 1940 it was gone. This was not “low-cost”, incremental progress. It was an economic disruption so fierce that the phrase “buggy-whip maker” became a business simile for loser.

(It's part of the conclusion of Carl Pope's article: Get Ready for Ugly as "Free Markets" Begin to Deal With Climate Crisis.)

1915 was one hundred years ago. Is it possible that by 2040 oil will seem like a thing of the past?

There is this feeling that things are moving too slowly, or not at all. But, at the same time, I also have the feeling that when things do change sometimes they can switch really fast, like rats fleeing a sinking ship.

I don't think this change will in any way save us. Wars over oil will be replaced by wars over water. And the environmental degradation that is already underway will bring along with it more flooding, hurricanes, typhoons, migration, famine, disease, mass species extinctions and, as previously mentioned, war. But if oil were to become out of bounds, or even greatly reduced, in my lifetime it would be really be something to see.

The phrase “Better late than later.” comes from a Christiana Figueres speech. And whenever I hear people say 'It's already too late' I think the exact opposite is true in any given situation. The true motto of all activism is that there is always something to be done, it is never too late. And you don't yet know what is or isn't possible until it happens.

Arthur Ashe: "Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can."

Albert Camus: "One must imagine Sisyphus happy."

+ + + +

As an addendum I thought I'd return to a section from an earlier post entitled Stories I started but couldn't finish:

I have been thinking so much about solar energy, about how much of what I read, especially from a mainstream perspective, seems misplaced. When I read that we will not be able to generate enough energy using solar and wind, I feel they are completely missing the point. The points are:

1) That these new, sustainable technologies will force us to use less, will demonstrate – on a real, lived, experiential basis – that resources are renewable but not infinite.

2) That there is more autonomy, and less greedy profit, in a decentralized power grid.

3) That the many exorbitant expenses of polluting the air and water are simply not being factored into the standard calculations. Environmental devastation is expensive on every level.

But it is mainly the first point I obsess over. Let’s say you have solar panels on the roof of your house. Each day, you will use only as much energy as these panels generate. When it runs out you go to sleep and wait for the sun to come up tomorrow. The energy is not infinite, not available twenty-four hours a day. There are limits and you learn, out of necessity, how to live within them.

This, for me, is the main lesson of sustainable technologies. They would force us to live differently, to be aware of daily limits, to find solutions that acknowledge real limitations. They do not make life easier in every way. They make life harder in some ways, ways that force a fundamental shift in how we see the world and our place within it. I also suspect that working within a series of concrete, reasonable limitations would bring along with it a kind of reality and even joy.


July 29, 2015

Renee Gladman Quote


I wrote a book whose title I withheld from the book for a long time as I wrote it and slept on it and not because I didn’t want the book to know itself (I had no influence on that), rather, because I feared that once I put the two together they would go on without me.

- Renee Gladman, Ana Patova Crosses A Bridge


July 16, 2015

My Apologies


This book is not reality. No book is reality but this book especially so. Things that happen in reality are often extremely obvious and just as often utterly counter-intuitive. This might also well be the case within the pages of this book but this fact for some reason does not bring this book any closer or farther away from the reality which it is not. Even as I write that this is not reality I have to admit to myself that I don’t actually know what reality is, I don’t know what freedom is, if it is something I want or something I’m only afraid of. I don’t actually know how to change anything but suspect so many things so deeply must change.

When I think what exactly is the problem, I always, almost immediately, have the opposite thought: that there is in fact no problem. There are social climbers, people of unfortunate integrity, people of great efficiency and others who are able to generate so much space around themselves. There is as much devastation as we can bear and there is always more. There are so many problems and in the same way there are none. There is a fairly specific idea I wish to express as well as a fear I might never exactly get at it and also a fear that I might yet do so badly.

+ + + +

In one hundred years it will be 2222. That is the first side of this mirror. On the other side: one hundred years ago it was 2222. This year has been chosen at random due to its repetitive beauty. The iconic year 1984 was famously chosen by reversing the last two digits of the year it was written: 1948. But this book has all taken so long that I can no longer guess when it began or finished. I have already missed the year I wanted to catch, perhaps in the same way that one misses the future when you try to predict it, or the way one has already missed or forgotten the past. At different moments we are different creatures, or not, I don’t know. Or I do know, what I don’t know is if this is the most helpful or useful way to describe it. There might be a more simple way: at different moments we are different, from ourselves and also from others, also from the other that is the self. There are others and others and others and others, and all of them are also us, if you want it, or if we try. I’m the other and everything I do is adding others.

Guilt is conservative. We are all implicated in more ways than we will ever know but shouldn’t feel guilty. We should be angry, must become open to an anger that experiences possibilities everywhere, that opens towards genuinely other ways of seeing our predicament and where it might first or most crack.

Most of the changes that might concern the contemporary reader took place many ages before my time. One of these changes concerns the fact that time is no longer so carefully measured, therefore I can no longer accurately state how long ago each of these changes took place. But knowing how many years, decades or centuries have passed since a given event no longer seems of primary importance. More immediate concerns dominate. Another change: the further in distance one travels the less it is possible to know. There might be other places, on this continent or further, living as we do or living in completely other ways. We don’t know. Some have set out to find more but either found nothing or have no way of sending their findings back. Very few set out. We live here, in the ways that we live, and find other ways of travelling, movement both more and less precise, each movement an echo from somewhere else. In writing this down, in this way, I am directing my energy towards maximum clarity, whether or not you notice or noticing means anything. The steps taken that brought us here are steps we all took together.

+ + + +

Clarity, to speak clearly, to convey what I experience in ways in which it might timidly be met by your experience, neither one overpowering the other, in which reality might shift through and within this meeting. The year 2222 has been suggested, but closer might be 3333 or 4444. We are in the future which is also a past. This is the thing I’m most trying to understand, the trance I wonder if I’ll ever be able to properly express. The repetition of a single number, three or four times, or five, is a way of suggesting other, more confusing, repetitions. But when you experience them they are actually not confusing at all. They are timeless. I wanted to write something completely different than I’d written before and instead I’ve hit this dead end that doesn’t yet know in what way it may or may not be the future.

Here, when we travel we transform. That is a kind of trick, where you trick yourself to experience other sets of knowledge, becoming a meeting place where diplomacy might occur, in the same way these words might become a meeting place between you and some shade of exhaustion, the exhaustion of the reality which this book is not. Every trick has a place to hide and a truth on which it might snag.

+ + + +

We don’t count the years but we do count each other. There are about two hundred of us not including children. This writing is a trick, a trance, a song and a game that at least all two hundred can play. It is a book in a room. You go into the room and you write in the book. You go in alone or with others. You take turns writing or you write together. You read what came before or you start from scratch. When the book is done we will read it aloud and then start again. We have made a life for ourselves that we now want to share, speak as clearly as possible, also further mystify. Later I might edit it, or I might not let you. This might be one book or it might be many. It is not reality.

+ + + +

I did things that I knew were wrong. That I knew were wrong as I was doing them and that I still know are wrong today. Why did I do them? I actually believe I know why, know why with such an intense precision that as I think it cuts me in two. Yet each time I formulate these reasons they fall short. There was a meeting. I believe all of us were there, everyone I’ve ever met and everyone I’ve ever known. At the meeting I was asked to explain myself. I was told first I must change, then I must apologize to each of those I hurt, then they must each agree to forgive me. Over time I must continue to change. At any point I could be asked to leave and never come back. All of this was explained to me before I was allowed to explain my reasons. But of course there was no true need to explain it. I had been at these meeting, been a part of them. They do not happen often and I had not been to many. But I had been, and as I was doing the things I knew were wrong I also knew that this was the possibility. That there would be another meeting, I believe only the third or forth in my time, and that I would be its sole focus.

As I started to explain, those around watching and listening with such muted intensity, I hear my own voice as if it were a voice from somewhere else carefully speaking to me. The voice is saying that something came over me, a desire or a terror,



July 14, 2015




Reading article after article on Greece and thinking the reason for Thatcher’s ‘there is no alternative’ is that alternatives are continuously crushed.

A few of the better articles I read:
Why I’ve Changed My Mind About Grexit by Daniel Munevar
Yanis Varoufakis full transcript: our battle to save Greece
Alexis Tsipras: Hero, Traitor, Hero, Traitor, Hero by Alex Andreou
Zoe Konstantopoulou: Nο to ultimatums, Nο to the Memoranda of servitude
Greece and the EU: a macro and micro mess up by Mariana Mazzucato
Slavoj Žižek on Greece: This is a chance for Europe to awaken

I still can't get over this line: “Well, the Eurogroup does not exist in law, there is no treaty which has convened this group.” It can be found here.


July 13, 2015



Mohammad Mosaddegh
Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán
Patrice Lumumba
Salvador Allende