Posts Tagged ‘drought’

I’ve let this concept slide for a while, so it’s time to get back on track.  I’m going to try to shift my focus to include more bloggers, small websites, and positions I disagree with from now on.

“Batman and the Problem of Constituent Power” – David Graeber (guest post at De Dicto 10/28/2012)

I’m a fan of David Graeber as a critic of capitalism; as a critic of film and pop culture, however, I’m much more ambivalent.  This is his take on The Dark Knight Rises (and superheroes in general) vis-a-vis the Occupy movement.  The main problem with the essay is that it starts out with cliched and at times incorrect or overstated claims about the superhero genre. To put it bluntly, Graeber comes across as someone who is not well-read enough in the existing criticism of superheroes to be writing about them.  Because of this, I’m guessing this essay will lose (or enrage) most comic fans and critics early on as he seems to be appropriating something without studying it thoroughly, and doing so in order to make a point about one specific film that he could have made without such overgeneralizations.  That said, the concluding arguments about how The Dark Knight Rises ends are worth pushing through to the end and considering.

“The Myth of Meritocracy” – Christopher Powell (The Practical Theorist 11/14/2012)

Powell is one of those relatively rare, practicing academics whose public writing is written clearly, with a minimum of jargon, and without arrogance.  He often deals with difficult theory but doesn’t try to make concepts harder than they need to be.  I’m a big fan of that.  In this essay he lays out the structural inequalities that affect student academic success.  Upon reading it, the points he makes seem so obvious that you tend to just nod your head like you knew this all along, which you probably did even if you never articulated it clearly.

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Back in 2006, Derrick Jensen wrote,

A few years ago I began to feel pretty apocalyptic. But I hesitated to use that word, in part because of those drawings I’ve seen of crazy penitents carrying “The End is Near” signs, and in part because of the power of the word itself. Apocalypse. I didn’t want to use it lightly.

But then a friend and fellow activist said, “What will it take for you to finally call it an apocalypse? The death of the salmon? Global warming? The ozone hole? The reduction of krill populations off Antarctica by 90 percent, the turning of the sea off San Diego into a dead zone, the same for the Gulf of Mexico? How about the end of the great coral reefs? The extirpation of two hundred species per day? Four hundred? Six hundred? Give me a specific threshold, Derrick, a specific point at which you’ll finally use that word.”  – Endgame Vol. 1 p. 3 (excerpt available here)

This question of statistics, degrees, and thresholds is an important one, and the gradual nature of the changes we are living through is part of why so many have been so complacent for so long.  Rhetorically, the inability to covey the seriousness of the problems in a powerful way without sounding like one is over-reacting is part of why thinktanks and energy companies have been so successful at sowing mistrust of climate science (and all science), and how the financial industry and their media mouthpieces have hoodwinked people into the ongoing belief that they are what John Steinbeck supposedly called “temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”

The ongoing, multi-faceted crisis, which will lead to a dramatic change in how we live, lacks a singular event and, therefore, doesn’t feel apocalyptic the way we have been taught to expect it to.  This apocalypse, and I’ll use the word, lacks the theatrical, dramatic elements that make everyone stop and pay attention.  However, this doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

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