How to speak of climate chaos brewing??

The more people are led to anticipate getting through the climate emergency all right, the more likely they are, I think, to turn their focus on other concerns, of which there are all too many these days, locally, nationally, and internationally. Broadly stated categorical statements predictive of the end of times will be largely dismissed or will in some folks validate their inaction. They will lead others to get active one way or another, locally or on a larger scale. Reductive oversimplification of the positions of scientists or commentators will also lead to inaction, for the most part, for instance when Deep Adaptation’s activists are inaccurately represented as hopeless doom-sayers. Publicity from advocates for terrific technological engineering of solutions to the climate crisis will likely reduce activism and problem-solving on a local scale or retard the challenging projects iunvolved in fundamentally different systems of economic, commercial, and political processes.

I firmly believe that all predictions are off, including predictions of just how collapses, unravelings, and catastrophes will occur and when, and how people will respond and when. The whole situation is truly unprecedented. We can only predict that it will get more severe. Will that lead to more citizen activism? I presume so.

Meanwhile, large scale national and international systems and customs seem to show little to no sign of transformation at this point. We don’t really need to decide whether humanity will go extinct or whether Wallace-Wells’ upbeat enthusiasm is justified. There are many fronts on which radical and urgent action is desperately needed and not happening, particularly to address the recent, current, and coming harms coming to the ecosystems and safe survival of people of color and the “global south” as climate chaos advances its mercurial designs. To focus on helping people in the NYTimes readership feel optimism and acceptance of our demographic’s hopes for less disruption and more safety in the coming era feels to me like a willing extension of the betrayal of our sisters and brothers around this home planet, a continuing exploitation we can’t easily fight our way out of.

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How do I deal with climate change anxiety?

I call our situation climate emergency, rather than climate change. The word and idea of change makes me anxious, emergency makes me want to swing into action and see others do so too, while looking out for one another as backup and protectors to one another. I understand that the emergency is already underway and getting more severe by the week; there’s no reason therefore to worry about whether it will happen or not. I also understand that I can’t stop it, and in fact that no one can stop it now. The scientific consensus has been clear on all this.

As a result of all this, I believe I feel much more grief than I feel anxiety, while I can admit also to feeling psychologically traumatized.

Grief may include fear, sorrow, guilt, shame, blame, fury, numbness, confusion, disorientation, and other sensitive and often intense feelings. Grief is a complex and instable discombobulation of feelings seeking acceptance and resolution, which is bound to be difficult to stabilize as long as the emergency is in its radically mutable unraveling, which I am obliged to assume will take far longer than I can stay alive to witness it. So I accept my grief reactions as realistic and acceptable, without anticipating their resolution or end. My emotions may or may not get more intense; I assume they will vary and take on different forms and characteristics in the years to come.

There isn’t a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) effect involved in my experience of trauma over the climate emergency, since we are not “post-traumatic” but within a developing trauma; also I feel it’s a common trauma for our entire ecosphere, including all humans, all feeling and overwhelmed, and all life forms and including Gaia as a whole. There’s a lot of suffering to consider in all this,. The climate emergency and the suffering and grieving that are entailed have the status of a hyperobject for me, in that it all happens in more dimensions and interrelated consequences than I can expect to be consciously aware of and it’s much much bigger than me and those people I happen to know.

I don’t read a lot of news of environmental changes, mitigation proposals, species extinction, or supply chain problems. I know I will not remember details on such news and hypotheses but will be likely to stoke up anxiety and stress by trying to stay focused on the constantly amassing news and fixers. I just try to have a significant general impression, which is gradually and increasingly that we are in for it, bigtime, on a global scale.

I acknowledge my good fortune and gratitude at living where I do, at being thrifty over the years, at my community’s manifest resilience and cultural sensitivity. I acknowledge my privilege as a white cisgender male born into the middle class in the most affluent nation on the planet, leading me to prepare mentally to allow my own precarity to emerge and my own standard of living to decline, hoping I will not freeze or starve in old age — unlikely, as some family members would likely seek to support me if danger accrues.

I encourage and permit myself to indulge in distractions, to walk in the woods, to swim in a cove, to listen to an historical novel, to see films that I feel will matter to me as films, as well as some that have sociopolitical or documentary analyses of issues that matter to me.

I show up for demonstrations and some online meetings. I don’t try to serve the movement(s) in ways I feel uncomfortable or inept at, knowing these are likely to lead me subjectively to increased stress, frustration, depression, and hopelessness. I am grateful to those who can work in those ways effectively without becoming debilitated.

Deep breath, long deep sigh. (This helps settle the central nervous system.)
Mindfulness practices: breath meditation, sensory attention to the present moment.
Walks outdoors, especially within view of sky, trees, waters. Noticing little things.
Physical exercise that’s a pleasure, finding definite ways to schedule this.

(I talk to myself, usually these days in an internal dialogue, silent to others. This allows me to calm myself at times, as a sensibly steady voice can counter an hysterical, frightened, or grievously overwhelmed voice, to calm it and reassure it in some ways.)

At my age I don’t worry about impacts on me personally, and not too much about my local community, since I think that direct effects on us in Downeast Maine will be minor until major supply chains and federal agencies fall apart, aside from the growing problematic effects on our local fisheries. (I don’t anticipate become a qualified analyst of the fishing industry’s entanglement with changing climate effects on the fisheries and laws, so I agree with myself to let others think this out.)

Personally, I worry about the terrible suffering of great numbers of current and future refugees and populations around the world without safe water or at the mercy of autocratic regimes, civil wars, and governmental collapses. I read and try to keep learning, but I don’t perpetually research all of these. I also feel a terrible deep concern for all the children and young adults of our time who contemplate their uncertain prospects and will face impacts of the climate emergency far worse than we have seen so far. I recognize that it may be helpful to voice support for some of these peoples or crises where I can and to donate the modest amounts of money I feel I can afford responsibly, to assist them in a focused way. So I sometimes do that.

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The Poetics of Extinction Rebellion

Our global physical environment is increasingly altered by the consequences of human conflict and economic growth, as a global consumer market drives short-term profits and prioritizes technologies of degradation throughout the ecological inheritance of living species. Generally, people have great difficulty accepting and responding to climate change and large-scale pollution (including plastics, antibiotics, airborne industrial wastes, mining, and insecticides, as well as radioactive materials scattered by military violence). Many potentially toxic materials now infest our bodies from the time of conception, as well as our entire global atmosphere and all aquatic environments. It seems so terribly out of control. Is anyone in even marginal control?

Does humanity control climate?
Does climate control humanity?
Does climate control itself?
Does humanity control itself?

The omnipresent global climate emergency, like its feisty little sister, coronavirus-19, is comprehensible as the outcome of innumerable impulsively pursued means of generating economic and military advantage among humankind. A response that might preserve intelligent life forms on the planet will require a displacement of human intentionality from primarily human-centered purposes and goals, into the field of mutual co-creation between human and non-human forms of life and other agencies of our ecological given on which all living beings depend.

Realizing a flexibly integrated and self-adjusting mutuality among this range of agents and circumstances calls for a shift in identification from the human individual and also from the tribe or nation to what Donna Haraway calls sympoesis. Sympoesis involves a making and becoming cooperatively between unlike species that may lead to radically different outcomes than would one species acting alone. Sympoiesis means “making-with” and can be applied to the functioning of specific instances of the natural world as well as “to complex, dynamic, responsive, situated, historical systems.” Haraway states as an underlying principle that “Perhaps as sensual molecular curiosity and definitely as insatiable hunger, irresistible attraction toward enfolding each other is the vital motor of living and dying on earth.” A paradigm inclusive of such a factor as universal co-creation and perpetual mutual adaptation of all features and facets of existence will have to be ascendant, if humanity is to adapt constructively to the conditions we are precipitating.

Given the magnitude, the velocity, the tipping points, the snowballing, and misunderstandings of the climate emergency as we hear of it, we may struggle to understand what it is or would be to understand it, beyond an assembly of continually evolving and revised findings of the latest from applied sciences. Kish and Quilley, of the University of Waterloo’s School of Environment, Resources, and Sustainability, believe that the “profound transformation required of material conditions of life and corresponding social characteristics . . . would increasingly engender paradigmatic changes at the level of ideas, linguistic and perceptual categories, average personality structures and socially sanctioned patterns of behavior.” In other words, don’t expect to know your ass from anyone else’s elbow.

The mind doesn’t know what to try to wrap itself around, beyond this encroaching and actualizing flood of overwhelming crises and disruptions. Is social collapse within the range of what we may formulate as real, and thus within the range of humanity’s potential to encounter and affect, or is it, more brutally, simply beyond reckoning? Is the reality of our situation beyond our capacity to frame its truth?

We humans are familiar with splitting in our apprehension of natural forces and resources – what we are used to calling “nature” is an idealized, bountiful, generous source of life and freedom and inspiration, and on the other hand sometimes it is an impervious danger and an obstacle to be defended against when it cannot be eliminated or exploited as an instrument toward human goals. This splitting in our views on nature tends to obfuscate any means of appreciating how non-human factors may exercise agency and sustainability in cooperation with one another and even with human beings.

In a paper in 1919, Sigmund Freud viewed the uncanny as one feature of an aesthetics of anxiety. The uncanny may appear when what formerly seemed natural, familiar, even a comfort, is recognized afresh as dreadful, imminently dangerous, or terrifying. He writes that “this uncanny is in reality nothing new or foreign, but something familiar and old-established in the mind that has been estranged only by the process of repression.”

To awaken to the uncanny involves seeing, or seeming to see, that which was perfectly present and possibly evident but unseen, occluded or avoided in apprehension, until this time. The eerie alarm at this sort of acute ambivalence may result in a virtual paralysis of inactivity, reminiscent of “that sense of helplessness sometimes experienced in dreams.” Freud writes that the uncanny’s “factor of involuntary repetition. . . forces upon us the idea of something fateful and inescapable.” He then postulates “the principle of a repetition-compulsion in the unconscious mind, . . . a principle powerful enough to overrule the pleasure-principle, lending to certain aspects of mind their daemonic character . . . [W]hatever reminds us of this inner repetition-compulsion is perceived as uncanny.”

Along with anyone’s awe and admiration for the constructions and applications made possible by advanced technology, there may persist, under repression, the primordial infantile ferocity of anyone’s will to dominate, to destroy, to ravage any given space or relationship. Winnicott found it “necessary to describe a theoretical stage of unconcern or ruthlessness in which the child can be said to exist as a person and to have purpose, yet to be unconcerned as to results. He does not yet appreciate the fact that what he destroys when excited is the same as that which he values in quiet intervals between excitements.” Once this psychic appetite becomes abhorrent and unacceptable, it may be denied and projected onto the non-human world in a variety of ways.
I suspect such a will to power and violence may underlie our acquiescence to the global climate emergency, the extinction of countless other species, the horrors of war, and the persistent degradation of our environment. To come to terms with our share in and collusion with death and destruction on a global ecological scale may entail first our adjustment to “a feeling of the uncanny,” before we can surrender our habituated premises and identities enough to join in formulating well grounded paradigms for a livable future.
This road through and beyond the burgeoning calamities and catastrophes of climate change throws into radical uncertainty any premise of ‘control’ based in human agency alone. In a recent paper in response to the current pandemic, Jill Gentile offers an ambivalent acknowledgement that “the weird had been training us for [. . .] a break in the conventional ordering of knowledge, conditioning us to bear and possibly even acquire a taste for the uncertainty, precarity, and tumult of being alive. [. . . I]n this altering space-time, we must listen between orders of the familiar and dis/orders of the strange. [. . .] We can also inscribe into our theory such a new imaginary, a new (dis)order [. . .] a democratic, contradictory, uncanny Strange. This novel conceptual space would be a ‘position’ beyond the depressive position, that reliable old ‘final outpost’ of healing and ‘postoedipal’ living.” Haraway’s model of sympoesis may offer a template for this new position.
The activist movement Extinction Rebellion, from its choice of a name for itself to its worldwide simultaneous street happenings, has for nearly two years been applying principles of an innovative, improvisatory poetics to the contemporary conundrums, contradictions, and compromise-formations that keep our society stuck barreling down the track for eventual exhaustion of the conditions of life. Extinction Rebellion attempts to face the emergence of our uncanny predicament head on, disrupting the face and alliances of conventional contemporary continuities and the seeming reliability of an everyday model of business as usual.

Extinction Rebellion advocates and stages mass urban demonstrations that facilitate and structure episodes of civil disobedience, in order to disrupt the steady flow of commerce and rationalization, utilizing imaginative forms and props to draw attention to and encourage interest in the devastating climatic and social disturbances that are coming to alter everything. Roger Hallam, a co-founder, writes that “Direct-action design has to create desirable symbolic interruption – the meaning structures through which people interpret whether the disruption is justified.” Primary examples of such design are large-scale gatherings of young and old in public parks, in which creative and expressive activities can be generated, and in major thoroughfares and intersections, blocking the transit on which a “manic society” may depend.

Freud notes that under the conditions of fiction that normalize the supernatural and unpredictable, as do legends and fairy tales, fantastic occurrences do not appear uncanny to either characters or the reader. They are taken instead as magical, illusory, surreal, dreamlike, or otherwise accounted for within the logic of the story’s development. Extinction Rebellion’s major interventions are radical, showy, disconcerting. Their pageantry and spectacle may shift the frame of interpretation toward privileging the art within a non-violent confrontation to recontextualize what might have felt stultifyingly uncanny, so that it might be acknowledged and integrated instead as part of a fantastic, prophetic, and scientifically sound account of our impending future.

Legislative reforms addressing the climate emergency have been largely rhetorical and unenforceable, lacking decisive measures and programs to realize their goals. A series of strategic symbolic disruptions, evocative of a potentially graver and cumulative disorganization, may call ever greater attention to the need for radical adaptive adjustments that would otherwise seem impossible.

To allow truth an adequate time-and-space to realize itself in our attention, Extinction Rebellion displaces the grief and terror associated with our global climate emergency into celebratory drama and dream revelry. A polymorphous perversity of human wildness conjoins in Extinction Rebellion with a disciplined concentration on each action’s strategic goals to displace the climate emergency from its conventional conceptual frameworks. Extinction Rebellion theatrics and nonviolent aggression rewires competitiveness and domination into a polemic as play, as fussing, as goofing, as breakdown. Extinction Rebellion orchestrates metaphor, metonymy, magic, and disruption, surrendering as called for to its members’ potential arrest, as it derails prosaic patterns of linear stabilization.

Paul Hoggett affirms the need for the public to join in “forms of conversation which engage the imagination, make use of imagery and metaphor, elicit stories and narratives, and give recognition and respect to the inconsistencies, paradoxes, and contradictions of our efforts to engage with the ethical challenges posed by climate change.” Arousing such a conversation is the primary project of Extinction Rebellion, eventuating in civic assemblies that could be mandated by our governments to deliver enforceable programs, to be implemented immediately by each government, utilizing every resource available. Such conversations, small and large, can assist us in grounding and integrating the reality of changes to our planet and to our paradigms, dissolving their disorienting and thought-stopping qualities, which otherwise feel so nebulous, enigmatic, and uncanny.

[Steve Benson delivered this paper on 10/25/2020 at the annual conference of the Association for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society, on line.]

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Listening and Disruption

I read this aloud as part of a “round table” at the zoomed annual spring meeting of the society for psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy (division 39 of the american psychological association), scheduled for march 2020 and finally delivered in march 2021:

I was growing up in suburbia with white college-educated Goyish parents, and the perpetual “Arab-Israeli conflict” seemed to me an inscrutable hyperobject, stressful, threatening, hurtful, and far away. Why wasn’t this conflict sorted out and stabilized into the tranquility I presumed of the world, with or without mediation? A half-century later, the diabolical onset of the Iraq war had led to me toward more active initiative in sociopolitical analysis. I began to realize how much I didn’t know of either current affairs or their contradictory histories. Learning with others and on my own, I could retain enough details to begin to connect some dots, linking problems and phenomena with systems of diverse kinds, such as capitalism, colonialism, militarism, patriarchy, white supremacy, abusive resource extraction, degradation of the planet’s ecology, and other complex forms of domination.

I still couldn’t understand what motivated the increasingly oppressive, violent, expansionist occupation. I also wondered how Palestinians cope with its challenges to their daily lives and psyches, as well as family and community security. How do they deal with having lost their homes and living more than half a century in refugee camps, within what had once been their undisputed territory? How do they maintain sanity through the humiliations, arrests, home demolitions, tortures, and fatalities meted out by the Israeli Defense Forces? How do they support one another through ongoing trauma, re-traumatization, pulls toward depression, mistrust, paranoia, and rage?

Three years ago I saw in the Division 39 Section IX list serve an invitation to join in an affordable educational tour of the West Bank for mental health providers. I made this my vacation travel plan for 2018, to see for myself, as well as I could, some of life on the ground there and how at least a handful of Palestinians and Israelis articulate their circumstances and responses.

To listen attentively was the crux of this learning. Visiting several cities over ten days, we heard from a wide variety of speakers, respected professionals and working people. I took in diverse experiences and points of view, along with conceptions I might synthesize as to how this human crisis is kept in deadlock even as it continuously escalates. Acknowledging my own fears and sympathies, I did not have to demonize anyone in particular. I tried to question with compassion and interest, how various parties’ needs were recognized and addressed across perspectives. Despite a mind unsuited to scholarship, my learning persists. Biases and assumptions persist as well, which I must question and keep in mind while learning.

When we share in dialogue and thinking-together, breakdowns are discouraging, sparked by misunderstandings, triggerings, and instances of naivetee. Erupting conflicts often lead to self-righteous and competitive dynamics. Mistrust and splitting ensue. Defensiveness spurs counter-aggressions and fight-or-flight reactions that shut down our prefrontal lobes, foreclosing our reflective, sympathetic capacities.

Ideally, listening deeply, attentively, could foster among us a psychoanalytically-informed receptive processing, empathic, intuitive, relational, informed by reverie, sensitive to one’s countertransferential entanglement in any encounter, no matter the medium. One might observe closely one’s own reactions, projections, biases, distractions, and assumptions, as well as those of the writer or speaker in dialogue, without presuming to know all of their motives, background, vulnerabilities, or needs.

The sustained, mounting terror, damage, and precarity within Palestinian lives and the conflicted defenses rampant in Israeli culture against acknowledging such existential anguish burden any conversation on this crisis. Along with implicit intergenerational traumatic legacies of both Palestinians and Israelis, these emotional stresses will continue to result in dissociative enactments such as we have struggled to acknowledge and reconcile on listserves and in discussions with our familiars.

In the culture of clinical psychology in contemporary Palestine, a virtual diagnosis of “perpetual traumatic stress disorder” is often considered normative, rather than pathological, in its legitimate reaction to unrelieved systemic and situational stressors so difficult to cope with. Treatment for perpetual traumatic stress disorder (which is not to be “healed”) is most effectively pursued there through community-based group interventions, wherein discussions and psychoeducation lead to mutual recognition and solidarity in programs and activities to address community-wide crisis conditions and political realities.

If dialogue and shared attention among psychotherapists in this country and internationally are to develop toward a conjoint potential for reconciliation across conflicted identifications, sympathies and alliances, I believe we must devote mutual attention to enactments as opportunities for acknowledgement, witnessing, and repair. Disruptions and stalemates will have to be identified as openings to shift gears, breathe deeply, and discover possibility, wherever a standoff or radical misrecognition occurs. Taking anything for granted will be fatal to such a project of shared understanding. Assuming the authority or good intentions of our ostensible leaders will undermine our resourcefulness in making common cause. This project requires commitment and imagination, as well as sacrifices by those empowered by the status quo. A stable reconciliation may or may not be possible.

I question whether such dialogue can take place on the ground either within Israel or within the United States, which overwhelmingly serves and partially shapes Israel’s military and political dynamics. Both these settler-colonial states depend on arguably continuous state policies of genocide and racial supremacy throughout their respective histories into the present. Both nation-states pursue abruptly shifting prejudicial policies on visas and immigration that can endanger or exclude clinicians from many predominantly Muslim or Arab states, jeopardizing their access to international conferences held in person. Protest against locating an IARPP conference in Israel without likewise protesting locating them in the United States now appears ethically untenable and defeatist. What is to be done?

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Notes for 02/10/2018 reading in Amherst revised


new year

short for triumph? truncation of triumph? realization of the deficient, ingrown, self-cancelling nature of triumph?

time stops, backslides, craps out, resorts at random
we do need to learn to live with it while also wondering whether and how we can

‘make time’ do its more practical thing of orienting us to steps and process toward goals we sincerely and energetically choose, hope to pursue, doubt, recast . . .

once he became known as the President, the scale of time became of paramount significance

The meaning of a year’s time got redefined again and again

whereas time has traditionally been useful for regulating services, including labor, oppression, rationing, limiting, coercing – time has not been designed, when standardized, in order to adjust and correct the status quo but rather to secure it

hence listing, leaning, listening to myself speak today, I must wonder how I can accept and admit both development, as possible, and recursiveness, as inevitable.
recursiveness a word I never used before.
• self repeating
o repeating itself, either indefinitely or until a specific point is reached
• repeatedly applying function to itself
o involving the repeated application of a function to its own values

I can’t go on I go on.
The impossible indicates the direction of possibility by negating it.

I thought about not shaving for this poetry reading. I thought about shaving only one side of my face, so I could demonstrate my split personality, as a Gemini. I forgot about these ideas until now, reading it aloud. I thought about rehearsing and practicing this mélange of gestures and attitudes and improvisations and readalouds. I wondered if I would sound better, look better, become more appreciated or celebrated, if I rehearsed assiduously. If I used bigger words. If I hired a director, to work out more of the tone, pacing, choreography, mannerisms, timing, persona, presentation. A director might contribute to a better coordinated, more harmonicaly alive and complex and compelling poetry reading. I wondered whether that would improve the reading in relation to my own aesthetics, compared to what I might presume and expect the aesthetics of most poetry reading audiences might be. I wondered whether I would be asked to read at the New York City YMCA if my director is good enough. I wondered whether if I had a good director I would be invited to international arts festivals as a poet or as a performance artist and paid by the festivals for my airfare and expenses for the trip as well as an honorarium to take home with me, and I wondered whether my director’s airfare, expenses and bonus pay would be included. I wondered how long the director could make do on a salary composed of my retirement funds before they are exhausted. I couldn’t quite think of whom to ask to takevolunteer to direct my performances so I continued shaving and splashed aftershave across my neck and chin and cheeks and upper lip and went into the other room to type.

read the lines backwards from bottom to top of the page,
one at a time.
alternate this with pages where I read the lines in order from top to bottom
but I read the words in reverse order from right to left.

Uncertainty on the Move
The Instability of Knowing
The Mutability of Being
What I think I don’t know
What I don’t know I think

Explaining is not Poetry – . . . Right?

I do not insist that I will not speak without reading

If I read more
I would have a bigger

the work itself

Does its being on the website make it questionable?

It’s come to be that it’s painful to have an idea

When I am all
I am my own best

Is the way it sounds at an author’s poetry reading the way it is supposed to sound in you when you read it?

hypnotically induced boredom

You’re sitting
I’m standing
Making faces and
striking poses
adds a degree of
difficulty that
arrests your attention
to how deficient
the poetry may be

Poetry reading :
I have never been to one I have no preconceptions

We compulsively answer our own Questions, once we speak them,
thus turning them from genuine questions into rhetorical quesitons
that we already pretend to know answers to

Name your feelings is a
truism of contepmorary psychotherapy
I feel like
a word

In effect, I invite you into my zone state
my would-be zone state
as would a movie
Is this
Collective agency?
pause to reflect –
to reflect

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The Doctrine of Discovery

The Doctrine of Discovery, based in a Papal bull of 1493 and the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494, was used throughout the colonial imperialist period to justify the ownership of lands by whatever Christian government’s representatives first set foot on them to claim them, so long as they were previously not occupied by any people subject to a European Christian monarch. The doctrine’s utility does not appear to have required that such a government be specifically pledged to Christianity nor to have a monarchical governing power, as it was extended. In 1792, as Secretary of State for the United States of America, Thomas Jefferson declared the Doctrine would apply to his newly founded nation as it had to European powers. The United States Supreme Court of 1823 agreed that the doctrine justified USAmerican settler colonialist taking of land from indigenous peoples, who were recognized as occupants rather than holders of the land, if and when they were recognized as human. Typically, indigenous occupants of lands subject to such European or settler discovery were regarded as subhuman, savage, or barbarian. Chief Justice John Marshall wrote for a unanimous Supreme Court in Johnson vs. M’Intosh to the effect that land titles obtained from Native Americans should not be recognized by U.S. courts. Marshall himself had considerable real estate holdings that would have been affected if the case at hand had been decided otherwise. In other cases, the Court also used the Doctrine to justify “the concept that tribes were not independent states but ‘domestic dependent nations’” and to prohibit any tribe from legally prosecuting anyone not a member of that specific tribe. Despite recent decisions to repudiate the Doctrine by the United Nations Economic and Social Council Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues’ and several prominent U.S. churches, it remains foundational in the establishment and continuity of legal and property rights in the U.S. and has never been disavowed or overturned by the U.S. government. In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the state of Israel appears to re-enact this principle in its relations with the Palestinian peoples (including Christian Palestinians), compounding its methodology with the principle of the right of return of the Jewish peoples, stemming primarily from Europe and the United States. The lack of a formal Palestinian state formation prior to the development of Zionist settlement following the break-up of the Ottoman empire in the first World War has been drawn on to suppport the premise that there never was a Palestine, nor a Palestinian people. Those native to lands intended for settlement or appropriation, whether still now subject to military occupation or actively colonized by Jewish communities with state support, are typically regarded by high officers of the Jewish state as, without exception, nothing but terrorists, non-existent, or less than fully human. Palestinians employed as workers in cities and towns in Israel are subject to strict conditions that disempower the labor force and contribute to instability and vulnerability of working Palestinians. Human rights as recognized by Israel and other democratic states as essential to the protection of citizens are not acknowledged as pertinent to Palestinians in Israel or its occupied territories. The Israeli state’s methods of dislodging, degrading, terrorizing, evacuating, and restricting a great many diverse rights of the Palestinian population sustain a process of gradual genocide. This process closely resembles the management of relations with the indigenous peoples of territories the United States has chosen to colonize, settle, and lay claim to and govern, often in violation of treaties previously established with various tribal authorities. The imperialist conquests and the violent and oppressive impositions of colonial power they reputedly validated continue to be enacted in Palestine and elsewhere, despite consequences easily identified as catastrophic and profoundly inhumane, except by those who do not regard the indigenous in fellowship as sentient, intelligent human beings. To this day, religion is in many cases cited as authority for one power’s or people’s superiority of authority and rights over another. (The secular faith in an “invisible hand” of commercial markets, wiser than any state or person, appears to have evolved into playing such a role on demand in some instances, in support of state or corporate powers over the indigeous people of a region.)
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Writing Through Raw Materials 7



[It occurs to me to wonder as I sit down to listen again to RW7 and keyboard my responses to it as it goes along that I wonder whether there will ever be a transcript of this or other RM posts. It certainly doesn’t seem desirable or interesting to try to enjoy or learn from a transcript of an RM post, as they are so deliberately concerned with speaking and with writing as that which can be read aloud, as if verbatim (compared to a painting or some other material that can’t literally be read aloud without supplying words that do not appear in the original).]


It begins in the middle of a sentence that doesn’t seem to be important.

I didn’t know about diet coke and gay men. I have been out of the loop. I don’t like the taste of coke so

I don’t like being born on the same day as other people. It actually seems like it hurts. But if only I were born on Benjamin’s birthday.

I love this quotation from Benjamin, and I immediately want to emulate his alleged practice as much as possible, just to hurry just about everything into print. Did he keep track of these himself, where and when what was published?

Did he leave it with someone or have it with him when he died? Did he disappear in death or is his body somewhere?

Displace your own thinking? What does that mean? Did you then do this?

Why should there be a distinction between experimental or avant garde poetry and the rest of poetry? Does it help aside from in academic learned credentialing and pedagogy?

The discipline of encoding, of composing, of amassing material. Let us consider what the discipline consists of and how to practice it. How can we consider this, together, or separately but leaving a record of it.

I am friend and comrade. Yes. Likewise are you to me.

Just trying to keep going was one thing he was able or ready to write just then but he may have been trying to do other things in Biotherm as well.

Do we have recordings of Zukofsky reading his own work? I felt your reading of it sounded like reading your own work, which wasn’t so notable to me when you were reading Benjamin. But and I like how you read this Zukofsky material too. It’s fast enough I don’t know what I am hearing but every word and phrase is clear, and there’s a powerful sense of trajectory and of my difficulty imagining any sort of graphic representation for it.

Orchards and horses. Airs, no birds.

In your reading I feel an urgency I might not sense in reading the original in “A”.

Barry had a big thing always about Zukofsky, and many thoughts and passions, critiques and values for Zuk. So I can hardly think of Zukofsky without thinking of Barry, even more than thinking of A-24 although I rehearsed and performed that repeatedly with Carla and Bob and Lyn and Kit and Barry. It was thrilling and silly and fine to work hard on it and still present it a couple times and not know just how good or bad this result might be.

Horses, manes, words, yeah, fuck that shit. I love the momentum. Would I feel that momentum without this reading? It is a different momentum in A-7 than when you read from your own work, although in the lectures you get up a lot of steam like this too.

Now good Friday, he employed are we back in Zukofsky or on to something else. The goat, what are you saying. Goat, I’m not going to stop the recording to look it up. Goat.

An interesting person to think about in O’Hara brain spasms. Structural similarities? I’m not sure you say a thing about these similarities here. But they both look at the relation between speech and poetry as a problem of interest. Is that structural? Should I question such word use at all? The improvisational then you say is not much in Zukofsky. But a play with words and time that feels very akin to improvisation and may be based in it I suggest, I mean anyone might just start writing or typing and come up with something as good as that individual can write and it might be

DWP self publishing I like this. Does it mean you make a pdf file and let people know that they can download it if they want?

Are you saying the poetry magazines want the lyric so much that your and my own gets harder to publish? Do they admit this? Is it a closeted passion?

Bob Gluck indicates how versatile the term ‘lyric’ can be in its accurate uses as a word rather than just as a genre. He doesn’t seem to hold it down to ‘style,’ does he? You don’t need to answer any of these questions.

Who is maligned within the poetry world, there are so many ways, aside from being torpedoes by the milquetoasters. People avoid gossip blame each other poet to poet to poet among poets.

There are careers though, people have academic careers that keep their poetry careers going and vice versa, interdependently, I think. And there is a wiling continuing to be writing and using and accessing poetry in one’s life which is a career in a meaningful sense whether it’s at all professional or not.

I don’t know what Poetry Foundation publishes. On its website? It doesn’t occur to me that it might be interesting so I don’t find out.

I tend to think the ‘good lyric poetry’ would be a way of understanding and notice something sort of songlike in some respect within any writing that one finds to be really good.

Written on July 4 Independence F+Day but we don’t call it that becaUSE we don’t think of anything as independent or an independence day. And not the whole day anyway but just a part, from midmorning to the time one says Fuck it.

I like it that you read titles. and who wrote it. The epigraph is so hard to hear and think about aside from as every word is perfectly clear and resonant and frastinating. Monarchy. Louis. Hegel’s philosophy in defense. I guess I was.

You don’t have a reading voice, when reading aloud or silently?

Your mind is permanently stuck in busy networkings of transition, on the move, linking, relinking, changing course. This may relate to throwing out legal tender, which seems to establish linkages only according to the principles of exchange of capital.

Desire to throw it out. A passion. Not getting around due to fear to exchanging actual things through the postal services. Not if you know what to expect from me, did you know then what you were writing, did you mean to write something in particular or only to frame a shift, a transition in the thought being framed at the moment. Money. Debt. To make the mind transform the world.

Maybe mind transforms the world to realize how the world actually is rather than to turn it into some magical thing that we think we want.

Coy and self-reflective also predates postmodern, viz. Sterne. Even Catullus.


[At this point I turn off the recording and pause and run spellcheck and decide which typos to leave in and reflect on how demanding and difficult this is after all compared to the fun and easy prospect of my doing this, it’s hard on my fingers, hands, neck, head, and patience with myself. I can’t decide if I missed enough on the recording to make myself back it up again a little, and that sort of difficulty was never something I wanted to entertain in this project, so mostly I just don’t stop the recording or back it up. I sometimes correct typos as I’m going along if I don’t have something I want to respond to at the moment on the recording. The first half hour of it prompted the previous two full pages of reactive and reflective commentary, presumably of no use whatsoever, which thus renders it available for any use one might happen to decide on, including eliminating it permanently in some way but I’m not likely to do that, at least not today. But I don’t know if I can bear to go on, even on another day. There are so many things to do, generally.]


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Sharing Relational Space with Earth

Our key definer of adulthood may have been our dedication to staying responsible (enough) to others and to ourselves to foresee and protect ourselves and others from dangers in the immediate and more distant future. But our greatest challenge is not even learning from our mistakes, which we often do if we identify their patterns. It is to retain somehow the sensitivity, vitality, imagination, versatility, and ready wakefulness of a child.

Anyone grows up someplace, but first in a unique mother’s womb, beginning to sense whatever, without names for it, without knowing anyparticular way what one is doing. This may be the basic “natural” state for any of us human beings, in a perpetual immediate present, before we live in relation to a self and distinctions. If we could hit reset on our brain-computer, we might discover this again. As we grow week by week into our external environment, meeting it on whatever terms we are given there, we find ourselves defined by other humans and their language. They treat us in certain increasingly familiar ways, and they give us names for ourselves and our actions and attitudes. We encounter and gradually stabilize relationships to time and space and feelings and needs. We set up terms for these relationships that we have to cope with to survive in this world. All this is certainly socialization. Isn’t there something else we are also constituted by as selves, as conscious respondents to our world, perhaps unnamable in our Western discourses?

In a panel on climate change at IARPP in June, Susan Bodnar told about an intervention she has tried in workshops and psychotherapy. She asked people to recall their earliest memories of spaces and places in their natural world. What smells and sounds do they recall from the world around them? What colors? What sounds and motion? How did it feel against the skin – that breeze, that humidity, that grass, that clay? What sense experiences were known there, and what did they remember of it? She found that people tended to have deep, lasting impressions they often had forgotten about and were relieved, often deeply moved, to recall. They found words for what they felt they had experienced there – ease, freedom, belonging, joy, wildness, comfort, danger, security, trust.

Our sense of what’s natural may change across our lifetimes. So may that which we find around us to call nature. In rural Downeast Maine, where I’ve lived the past 21 years, I’m learning that the local forests were different, even a couple decades ago when I got here. Conifers are gradually disappearing, resulting in far fewer sorts of butterflies and more sugar maples, owing to changes in the climate. The woods, as we know them, now, are not as natural as when the Wabanaki tribes governed these territories, even though that human culture must somehow have impacted nature too.

We were brought up – I was brought up – many of us were brought up to be tctful and reserved about our feelings and appetites, to observe discretion in the pursuit of our passions, to opt for security, conformity with the known world, and autonomous achievement, to avoid indulging in risk, weirdness, and idleness. One result was to accept a distancing, a quiet alienation, as the favored ground of surviving manageably and proving ourselves acceptable to others.

As a boy, around ten or twelve, living in a suburban New Jersey township, before the years I would bicycle far enough long afternoons to get lost in the farmlands outside of town, I used to walk into a small woods of just a few acres across the street from our home to find my way into what I took for the heart of unspoiled wilderness. Or I allowed myself to think of it that way. There, beside an old tree along the bank of a shallow stream, as though to embrace a possibility of freedom from civilized norms, sometimes I would remove my clothes, lie in the warm sun freckled by the leaves, dip my toes into the slow-running water, defecate into a glass jar I’d brought there, and twist the lid closed to save my feces in a hidden place rather than despoil the environment or carry them home.

I believe this was a sort of erotic experience, sensual, even amatory, but not specifically sexual. It was an idyll, a respite, not an obsession. I didn’t know anything about masturbating. I hadn’t known a lust for anyone. This hideaway was a place of peace, and of an undemonstrative power, but also threatened – threatened by my own idea that just being there, naked, was transgressive, making me vulnerable to observation, judgment, and attack. My behavior was abnormal, un-called-for, and obviously pointless.

Still I can wonder, as I may have then, what all was I seeking there, and how much of that did I find?

I’m sure I’d seen photographs at home in National Geographic magazine of primitive people, scarcely dressed, in tropical places, almost as naked as I made myself. I may have wanted to be them or commune with them. What did they know that I didn’t? Or that I didn’t want to forget? Or to have already forgotten?

I think my aim was to access and preserve something unnamable, unspecifiable, a possibly universal quality of living that might be and feel simple and essential. My intuition suggests that, within the erotic pulse of prepubescent self-observation, bathing in the terpenes exuded by all the vegetal growth around me, I was seeking to enact or know my own true self and confirm an identity within the context of a non-verbal ecology, independent of human distinctions and judgments, of societal implications and expectations, of language and structure as I had learned it.

We haven’t found terms to analyze how our early emergence into a uniquely grounded and responsive selfhood are affected by vital relationships with the non-human world around us, including pets, prey, pests, and errant critters, including life forms without a heartbeat, and other unliving stuff they all live in relation to as well – rocks, walls, watercourses, boxes, pollens, UV rays, 4G broadband, stars. The non-human doesn’t relate to us through words, and it seems rarely to express expectations of us. For all we know, these animals, things, elements, all composed of energy, all love us unconditionally in some underlying sense. But we tend to take them for granted as we mature. We forget how vital and intimate, how dynamically alive, our relationships with them still always are.

Without our noticing it much, the non-human environment still responds to us, even as it is now impacted by the human in most every respect. In any given moment, I sense and know myself in part through junctions of connectivity with the non-human environment. This wooden table, this flat-screened laptop, this swiveling wooden owl stool I rest my bottom on – these function as prostheses, extensions. They coordinate my body and mind, facilitating certain functions, whether I notice them consciously or not. They affect and qualify how I am feeling and thinking. How can I describe what changes when I hear the sound of a propane heater’s fan coming on and off? How am I made, or unmade, differently by the ticking of the wall clock? Or the sunshine on the periphery of my vision? A cloudy day would find me different.

I know that my sense of self is adjusted by internal physiological changes and states, too, many of them enigmatic to me, undiscovered territories and unexplained events. My nonverbal human body makes every other aspect of attention and action and sensitivity possible, while my understanding of all that is still pretty sketchy. Like my car, if it works, I needn’t pay much mind to how it works. Our frequent obliviousness to the states and constitution of the body contributes to a disregard for our relationships with everything around us.

We can work on bringing our intimate, caring relationships with animals, plants, and other forms and forces into focused attention through here-and-now mindfulness exercises, through journaling and conversation, through slowing momentarily to take stock of the sensation or perception of a moment. This may support and strengthen our wilingness to ally with the earthly, interdependent environment on which we and other living forms of sensate energy depend. If I stop to observe and notice and feel, I can better ask: What matters to me here? What supports me? How do I support it?

We humans have an intimate, interactive, reciprocal relationship with the nonhuman world, including its underlying natural laws and energies. The nonhuman world affects our functioning, and we affect its functioning, constantly, asleep or awake. Any one moment’s attention may affect our nonhuman world, if only by delaying some other action that might affect it differently. These active, changing relationships occur within an irreducible dynamic network of innumerable other relationships between all nonhuman entities on this planet, as well as all the other humans, nearly all of whom we will never know in name or circumstance.

As humans, perhaps uniquely, we can shape and frame conceptions of relationship. Our sympathetic intelligence can appreciate the liberating power of responding with care to an other. Symbolic language supports our remarkable powers to do so, as well as compromising their intimate realization.

Exploring our capacity for a warmer, more tender, affirmative quality of occasional or continuous attention to these relationships may reframe our despair and anxiety over climate change into loving care and curiosity as to what is present, changing or threatened, and what we may do, individually or collectively, to support our world’s wellness and survival, and our own. I am not speaking of pity or charity but of realizing more viscerally and immediately our actual, mutually contextualized relationships with environmental particulars as integral to our survival and wellness along with that of other life forms and their contexts on this earth. Can I look into the eyes of the fern, the cloud, the gulley, and say sincerely, “I see you”? We are all in this together.

These reciprocal relationships function whether remarked on or not, without words or naming, and largely unconsciously, for us, and perhaps also for the life forms and materials around us. These unconscious relations may to a great degree be explored as unfamiliar territories and welcomed into our personal acknowledgement. Do they flourish already in a collective unconscious?

We are and have been nurtured always by the unimaginably complex interconnected dynamic functioning of all aspects of material existence that we can identify.

Human circumstances are not routinely prioritized in the workings of nature, nor of natural catastrophes. A wildfire might support a forest’s long-term growth and the planet’s life forms without benefiting people living or holding property or planning to harvest in the area affected. In effect, the nurturing of which we can speak here happens indifferently to humans as a particular species or life form. But the planet’s ecology and development, prior to any human influence, made our development as a species possible and our tribal and individual lives capable of their peculiarly refinements of development. 

We have been given, in effect, the grounds of our existence as homo sapiens through our relationships with the nonhuman. Without our reciprocal relationships with the nonhuman we certainly cannot continue to survive, individually or as a species. Contemplating contemporary climate change along with its natural and humanly inflected consequences, including its genocidal function with respect to many species of living organisms, we humans have occasion collectively to feel remorse and guilt, along with our grieving. 

Meanwhile, we continue to coexist with everything else that currently exists, and we continue to experience its interactions with us, however little we notice. We are due to wonder how other forms of life and other entities of the natural world may experience our actions, in their own diverse means of sensitive responsivity. 

We may notice smog, for instance, changing the air in major cities. Although we have technical devices to measure air pollution in detailed ways, we primarily notice it when we sense that it changes our own condition for the worse. We are not often likely to reflect on how air pollution renders the sunsets more colorful, deep and vibrant; we are more likely to notice how visibility is reduced, the sunlit skies get hazier, and our breathing becomes compromised. The degree to which diverse humanly engineered changes in air quality contribute to autism, Alzheimers, and cancers are rarely discussed and disgracefully under-researched. We are even more unlikely to assess the effects of variable air quality on the health and habits of other animals. As humans, we learn how to empower ourselves to choose what to know — to our peril, and that of our co-residents on earth.

Significant, worrisome increases in anxiety, depression, self-harm, and suicide are appearing in regions marked by severe increases in heat levels. This stqte of Maine sees relatively modest effects of global warming. I may resent erratic weather, damn the invasive plants, fear a flooded basement, curse bothersome insects, frost heaves breaking through my country road and deer jumping to a stop just short of my car. I can observe that every way I feel any selfish antipathy is uncomfortable, in me. Yet I can get used to it. Such attitudes condition us to accept as normal many aggressive interventions and deliberate neglect toward the health of our nonhuman environment that are, cumulatively, deeply destructive and deregulating. Acculturation has led us to prioritize our opportunities to do what we think we want.

Negative emotional reactivity between people often urges on consequences as dangerous to oneself or one’s own tribe as to the other. A fight-or-flight moment disables us from cooperative problem-solving and mindful care for a relationship, provoking instead a patterning of reciprocally destructive harm. If the nonhuman does not fight back, we can feel our aggression is harmless, even justified. Ignoring such relational dynamics reinforces our careless, oblivious complicity in an accumulating and reactive annihilation of the networking of shared needs within which we can live. Our legacy of self-aggrandizing, colonialist, genocidal relations toward the indigenous peoples of this American continent conditions us unconsciously toward the subjugation, exploitation, and destruction of the life forms around us and of the conditions that foster their survival.

We could do worse than deliberately admit them into our attention. We have done worse. We can do better. With pleasure.

October / November 2018

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Poetry is where you find it

As usual

not knowing

I don’t know how to

deal with

accept, embrace, relax, let go

so much pleasure

so much awareness

so much joy, so much sorrow, so much hurt

in myself and others, in us

in myself

and others

in us

I don’t know

I don’t

know how to

stay with, to integrate, I don’t know how

anymore, to stop, to go back, to stop

I don’t want to stop

I don’t need to stop

and I think I can’t stop


I’m here moving

on my feet

The novel I am listening to

when I drive

as absorbed in the novel as I can be

without losing authority

for conducting the car safely through

highways, roads, lanes, traffic

other drivers’ choices

behaviors of the roadway and the other drivers

and walkers and bicyclers and motorcyclists



about or concerned with

the deepening of spiritual awareness

the spiritual in some big sense

that includes the uncanny and unknown

the bigger than me, the bigger than us

and mystery, and power, a bigger power

that itself is full of surrendering

letting go

letting be




the age 70 transition

even planning ahead

involves more letting go



things to not happen

than it does

what can or might happen


the child in me

or the dog in me

makes frequent stops

to pee, to check the map, to take a little drink, to

wonder whether this or this is a trail I would rather go on

and even to just stop and notice something

a little more





trees, young and old

plants, underbrush






branches, fallen trees


nourishing one another

through the soil

and the atmosphere


Age 70 Transition

                                                                        (09 01 2019)

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excerpts from summer 2019 emails to a psychoanalyst-globalclimateemergency activist:

8 22 2018

 the basic idea that totalitarian, exclusivist, and authoritarian societies tend to demonize or expel or ‘cleanse’ away some demographics in favor of others, thus depleting the synthetic dynamics of how civilizations actually develop and thrive, seems sensible to me and the hypothetical parallel between that premise and the concern over species extinctions (and the rationales for their occurrence today) seems loaded with meaning and significance. 

  in a relational psychoanalytic light, i think this is an important potential for construing positions toward and possibly approaches to change what is happening in, for instance, the usa, australia (viz. the NYTimes today), and elsewhere regarding climate change. i believe the current tendency across many nations toward exclusivity, privilege-reinforcement, and insularity is an express route to doom for their cultures, politics, and economies, and it mirrors (and i believe is in a reciprocal relationship with) the exploitation of the earth’s resources for human gain with disregard (and careless exclusion and termination) of non-human living beings on our planet, and the result will be the demise of humanity as it tries to survive on artificial food substitutes while droughts and fires, floods and viruses sweep across the overheated surfaces of our world. so it goes, as vonnegut wrote repeatedly in, i think, cat’s cradle

4 25

I had a related thought now while reading other things relating to trauma and world politics. There seems to me to be a similar dead zone, blind spot, or lack of interest in developing awareness, whether it’s dissociative or not in the terms of your definition, in what I can only presume is the vast majority of the USAmerican public, in relation to some other topics that don’t necessarily lead to extinction (but could): with respect to the risk of nuclear bombs going off (2 minutes to midnight, is the current, lowest-ever assessment by the scientists); with respect to our national policy of rising militarism, maximizing arms sales, and making wars abroad while tightening our alliances with autocratic state leaders around the world; and with respect to the nation’s and culture’s dependency on pesticides, antibiotics, and other profitable chemicals that increasingly undermine our health and that of our future generations. I find it perpetually alarming, but at least part of what I believe is responsible for this obliviousness is the steady hyper-focus on materialist, consumerist, careerist concerns and just plain entertainment in USAmerican culture. Stories, typically with high emotional and visceral impact, seem to supersede facts and information, not to mention reflection, while deterioration of our entire population’s security and health proceeds with little notice. Somehow, in this country we have been in continual training along these lines at least since the decade following WW2. From the Korean War on, our wars have occurred at great distance and generally without much understanding of how horribly aggressive, violent and destructive they have been. Madison Avenue’s (and psychology’s) undermining of science in the days of lung cancer’s linkage with smoking seems a good example of this awful phenomenon. The APA remains steadfast in its affirmative alliance with the US military, to score the bucks, despite its vague stance of distancing since the Hoffman Report was released. (Roy Eidelson published a strong article on this within the past week or so on Common Dreams website: Well written and organized, and demoralizing indeed.) My impression is that such comprehensive training of the USAmerican electorate is partly responsible for the lack of responsibility to the nation’s and the world’s people among those at the top of industry and government, and for the people’s lack of will to demand it. It’s terribly worrisome. 

It seems to rhyme with the brain-dead/reluctant/avoidant/oblivious response to the GCE.

4 26

the point of my lengthy paragraph in that email was to contemplate how this process of dissociating or foreclosing reflection on and remediation of devastatingly big dangers or harms has been going on, at least in the US, for at least a few generations. 

When we consider how thoroughly most USAmericans appear to believe in the righteous virtue and manifest destiny of the settler colonialist development of a European population on this continent, simply unable to connect with the massive processes of genocide and betrayals that underlay our occupation of this land, we see another instance of not-knowing or not-taking-it-seriously that, for the generations of indigenous peoples that otherwise would have lived here in a culture congruent with their history, has indeed meant a terrible, disabling, decimating kind of harm – dissociated by the great majority of the caucasian population. I would say it’s been a piecemeal holocaust, from which a very very few survivors continue to pull together a history and a will to protest. . . .

The circumstances, work, decisions, and solvency of small farmers involves many difficulties. It’s wondrous when things go well, but it’s very devoted and labor intensive work. An organic farm undertakes stewardship in a far more comprehensive and sensitive way than industrial factory farming, and the vulnerability of USAmerican farmers is enormous and troubling. What do the Congressional farm bills do for them? I suspect they rather favor the big interests behind monocultures and massive pesticide use.

4 28

I think anyone will likely have to oscillate, between hope, despair, fear, numbness, and other states, whether in the course of grieving or in other responses of abject foreboding and incipient or ongoing loss. I wouldn’t want people to feel guilty about feeling hope, but I don’t want to urge it on people either. 

Doppelt’s work seems to propose something to be both actively invested in and hopeful about, a transformative resilient community/way of life; I find this both reasonable and disturbingly individualist and localist. But one has to focus sometimes on what one can actually make a difference on, and that is going to be almost always the personal and the local. And his thoughts do point toward reasonably sound ways to coping – with grief as well as with tension and hardships – in the course of the GCE.

I find this thoughtful writer, Mr. McPherson, sometimes hard to follow, logically, especially at the point when he’s talking about the aerosol layer and he follows one sentence I don’t understand with another linked to it by “In other words,…” This drives me up the wall because it’s part of his argument that our planet’s life systems are doomed, it sounds like a really important part, but I can’t tell if he’s even making sense consistently with any scientific findings. So maybe I will try to look that stuff up. [Now I looked it up, at the 2019 article cited  in Science magazine, and I can’t understand it either.]

I am alarmed that he is so certain that humankind will die. He doesn’t say whether he understands this will happen within 20 years or 300. It’s not a shocking thoughts, but his certainty does not conform to most of the clearer science-based discussions I have read. He might say they are papering over the realities of what will surely come. His more radical stance on this contributes to my doubting him. But I have no quarrel with what he says about working through grief to become more pragmatic and imaginative in response to a crisis that isn’t ending anytime soon.

The Palestinians offer a very useful example of a lot of people who are undergoing perpetual conditions that are psychologically traumatic, without relief, for generations, along with and partly because of unpredictable physical violence and rapid arbitrary displacement. Although there is widespread depression and there are other heightened psychopathologies in the population, there is a commonly held acknowledgement of why and how the traumatic conditions are being imposed and perpetuated, and there are shared understandings of how steadfastness and focusing on shared values matters to everyone concerned there. Mental health providers in these territories don’t expect to heal anyone’s PTSD; they don’t conceptualize these problems as PTSD but as continuous traumatic stress conditions, for which group treatment, social and political engagement and involvement of family and community in systems of conjoint care make a much bigger difference to help contextualize psychological and behavioral problems and remediate them.

4 29

I don’t think it’s ever good to assume an audience will have the same point of view, ideological mindset, or primary concerns as oneself, especially when it’s a multicultural, multiracial, and/or international or multi-class group or one of diverse sexual orientations. Who knows how many think Greta should be in school on Fridays? The thing is, you can’t tailor your presentation closely to people you don’t know, and as the org is international, my own suggestion would be that you aim it at a huge wide diversity of people, all of whom know that there is some issue in the air these days about the climate and humans’ responsibility for its seeming peril. In other words, at least minimally informed, but one can’t say by whom or how much. Analysts in IARPP are likely to be a fairly liberal group, all the same, so if you’re looking for the center of your focus, I suggest it might be something like a poorly trained psychoanalytic version of Hilary Clinton. 

I feel everyone sees the GCE or climate change their own way, anyhow. It becomes sort of a Rorschach, as it’s so wildly chaotic, mutable, upsetting, and complex as a topic. And everyone comes from a differently constituted familial and cultural matrix.

5 5

The USA and its various peoples are not about to be over racism in the course of our lifetimes, or our children’s. It’s so deep and it continues to mutate, like bacteria that lives within us and mutate to evade extinction. Therefore, it’s vital to learn and reflect on and question racism and its presence and history whenever we have the mindful attention and courage to do so, which is hopefully going to be often. 

This is to say, I don’t think problems of inclusion and solidarity can be expected to get resolved and to go away, but I feel strongly that they can be addressed and worked on, in effect to be worked with like koans and relationship issues, as opportunities for healing and growth. 

5 14

I don’t know what the British people in general knew or cared about the establishment of an Israeli state in what had formerly been the British mandate, at the time it occurred. I can send you a copy of something about that piece of history if you like. My recollection of it is that Britain realized it had better get out or it would be patrolling and enforcing order in an increasingly polarized society, with no particular benefit to the British state or economy, and that without a designated, seemingly remote and ignorable space to create a nation of their own, a lot of Jews would try to immigrate to Britain, which preferred (as did the US and many other Western nations) only so much, just a little, charitably, but not too much. It served as a means to contain the massive flow of Jews from the most venomously persecutory and hateful areas of Europe. How well contemporary Brits share this impression of that history, I appear to have no way of knowing.

I think you are right that Jews of a particularly Zionist stripe (nothing close to all Jews of the time or of the present) felt in the 40s at liberty to follow whatever vision of a possible Jewish state and law they might collectively envision and comprise, once given the green light by a deserting British imperialist authority. Rather than feel abandoned and less-than, it is sensible that many may have preferred to focus on their “chosen people” role as inheritors of their righteous path and place. This must, I think, have accentuated and even necessitated their impression that Palestine as a state or as a people had never existed and did not need recognition, although various people who identified with the place as Palestinians were indeed in the way. Since Palestinians were considered virtually non-existent (this seeming to the conquerors a far more benign attitude than seeing them as a legitimate people struggling for their own homeland), Israel could take over their land in the course of defending itself from reputedly conspiratorial enemies beyond their territories and then maintain overall authority in defense against the Arab states surrounding them. It worked. The West saw Israel as its baby and its military outpost, holding the Arab, Muslim states at bay and asserting a contained and containing military dominance in the region. 

5 16

The main thing that interested me in the article about flooding in Davenport – which I myself only skimmed – was the ways that reference to and discussion of the personal and civic costs of carbon concentrations in the atmosphere was foreclosed by the impression that this would inevitably precipitate a “political” reframing of the challenges for recovery and future security within the city. 

    To me, this indicates that the right has maneuvered effectively to intimidate civic leaders (who are sometimes supposed to be themselves effective “politicians”) from addressing global warming in any way, including with reference to scientific consensus. I thought it would interest you as an example of how recognition of climate change is forestalled. 

  When such foreclosure of reference becomes widespread, it affects all pathways in society, and so we find now that to recognize the GCE as an actuality requires acts of rebellion, even when most of the USAmerican public agrees it’s a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

Overwhelm is coming to be a norm, I think, for people in advanced Western and other societies. Certainly to read and study things with an expectation of fully understanding and formulating a constructive response to them all is bound to lead us to overwhelm. 

  I see and feel and take myself to be a world citizen, a healthcare provider, an artist, a Buddhist, and an activist. All these self-empowering frames are also compromising in a variety of ways, within any social context I know of. I certainly cannot assume I will master my functions and potential in any of them. Nor do I assume I would do better at any of them if I had fewer such identities and pursuits. I can’t even keep abreast of what’s new and important to know in any of them. So it goes.

5 26

The afternoon training I went to on May 1 was set up by a Bar Harbor group called Climate to Thrive. They arranged for Tyler Kidder, the lead trainer for Maine Climate Table, to present to whoever would come. There were a lot there from Acadia Nat’l Park and from Mount Desert Island hospital. Only one person from Climate to Thrive wasn’t too busy to show up – I commented to him, as well picked up chairs at the end, that this was rather odd, and he said well, everyone’s very busy. The training focused on how to communicate effectively if trying to address decision-making leaders and other people to address the GCE seriously. She didn’t focus on the science of climate and carbon but on the science of communication in this field and with a Maine population – pretty sophisticated, then, in its focus. Key ideas I came away with is 

  • tell stories, use narrative, to engage interest and empathy
  • don’t refer to “believing” at all
  • address the conflict underlying resistance, whether internal or social or both
  • consider the mental templates people already have ingrained, which people use to develop a reasoning chain
  • “message frames” are terms that reflect attitudes and moral templates, etc. “carbon pollution” is such a frame, which has gone over better than “climate change” or others, in the Maine population
  • approach discussion through “adjacent possibilities” which can be entry points of interest or value, and then can precipitate recognition and discussion of global climate problems
  • one good starting point: “It can be hard for people to talk or think about climate change, and folks have a lot of questions” and then ask where they are at with it, if they have any questions

The primary handouts at that training were a Communications 101 booklet and a tool kit for communicating with Mainers on Climate Change. I will attach pdfs that she sent us after the training. It all adds up to be a lot to read and I don’t have any expectation that you will or should – but you may like to browse around in it. I wonder whether many other states have this sort of an organization actively developing such guidance. 

The day-long “4th climate action conference” from Sierra Club Maine was called Building Thriving Communities. It had short talks in rounds for the assembled, as well as simultaneous panels off and on to choose from. Chloe Maxmin was spirited and inspiring, a young activist politician fired up on the issues of GCE. The psychologist Richard Thomas said he was going to contact everyone who left their email on his yellow pad but hasn’t seemed to write to me yet – he wanted to start a climate action team within the profession – of healthcare providers or something. I didn’t feel very confident he would get much headway or even get started seriously. He cited Joanna Macy as his primary influence and led a guided meditation that I would gladly have skipped, as I usually feel about them. But he also advocated for speaking more vulnerably to one another (in groups, most helpfully) about these issues and accepting the emotional intensity of the grieving process involved in solastalgia. I liked better a psychiatrist focused on neurological trauma and resilience  named Janis Petzel. She cited a PSR Maine report called Death by Degrees (available at their website, it focuses on health risks and then on what one can do, personal lifestyle and investment planning and sociopolitical advocacy) and referred to various ways GCE contributes to ill health. Other speakers dealt with various sectors or siloes, on both negative impacts of GCE and various initiatives to counteract the symptoms and effects of it. Generally these were intelligent and interesting presentations on matters I personally feel no particular need to know, but can feel an active interest in at the moment. I left an hour or two before it all finished, as I felt full up, with nothing else on the agenda I particularly wanted to check out. is the only article I can find on line covering it as an event. I haven’t read it in full yet, but so far I give it my seal of approval as affirmative, interested, detailed reporting. Go, Maine!!!

6 6 2019

I really think that all refugees now, from now on, are climate refugees, even if that isn’t the primary presenting problem. Because our climate crisis exacerbates all the CNS and interpersonal tensions and violence that promote all other injustices, it is predictable that all sorts of aspects of the world order and of its peoples’ loss and harm will be effectively enhanced by climate emergency effects.

6 14

Personally, and as a psychologist too, I just don’t believe in trying to motivate change through blaming, shaming, or angering. (You know this from one or two of the slides in my talks in Surry.) XR’s events haven’t struck me that way. I see them more as trying to awaken and broaden awareness and interest. If they sometimes blame or shame elected representatives of the people or major corporate chieftains, they are calling them out on their willing betrayal of their promises, pledges, and responsibilities. If this is a XR tactic, I don’t think it will specifically work — treating anyone as an antagonist, getting them uptight and defensive, only escalates the combative and heels-dug-in stance and CNS functions. This shuts down empathy, compassion, and rational thought. Not a good plan for solving profound systemic problems.

If we are in an emergency (or, although we are in an emergency), psychotherapists in general are not the key to addressing it effectively. Psychoanalysts in particular are perhaps by temperament generally unlikely to rally to activism and vigorous, intensive advocacy. Some are, but most perhaps are not. 

How strong and active do you think psychoanalysts have been in their efforts to end the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the risk of nuclear war, which are a constant glaring and rising emergency (this year the famous nuclear clock has advanced as close to nuclear midnight as it’s ever been) that could end our civilization far faster and with far greater immediate death, injury, and disability than the climate crisis? Nuclear war, whether regional or worldwide, could begin at any minute, given the degree of global tension, nationalist and autocratic leaderships on the rise, and potential for technical and diplomatic errors. What good does it do us to maintain these weapons and engage in escalating competitions to develop and produce them?

6 7

My sincere impression, based on speaking with Palestinians, based on reading a variety of sources, based on my observations, is that Palestinians are afraid for good reason of the Israeli Defense Forces as well as the Palestinian Authority Police and other officials who coordinate with the IDF. 

If you read some recent statements for Israeli administration top dogs, you can find that all Palestinians are considered terrorists, without exception, when they are regarded as human at all. They can be quickly imprisoned, beaten forced into false confessions, locked up for many months, as well as abruptly shot dead, without having committed any crime. Children are as vulnerable to this as adults, if not more so, in the West Bank. 

However, Palestinians do not appear to have such one-sided reductive ideas about Israelis or USAmericans. Many Israelis, I believe, are afraid of Palestinian terrorists, and some are likely agree with Bibi and others that all Palestinians are terrorists, barbarians, inhuman, or that any might become or surprise them with terrorism. Many Israelis have never met a Palestinian and are protected from knowing anything about their culture and concerns, and Palestinians are generally treated within Israeli mainstream culture as non-existent. The ways that state media and information and commentary have profiled the conflict is that Israelis are perpetually at risk of violent subjugation by the Palestinian people. However, Israelis have not been evicted from their homes, their libraries seized and stolen, submitted to humiliating laws and repression, denied freedom of movement, and reduced to poverty and inability to utilize their native traditional resources, as have the Palestinians. 

Israelis are not subject to military occupation forces since 1967. Palestinians are. Can you imagine what that’s like to live with? Israelis are not limited by a system of checkpoints and cages, interrogations at gunpoint, when they try to drive from one city or town to another. They do not find new settlers destroying their farms, chopping down their generations-old olive trees, bulldozing their homes. The fears of Israelis are well-fanned to keep this system in place. 

6 13

Us-them, ingroup-outgroup thinking has been common among homo sapiens for a long time. A basic factor in group psychology, which you probably studied for a licensing exam. The emotions drive cognitions and are easily conditioned and exploited by social context and programming, of which we like other groups have had a lot, enough to saturate people who are more prone to react than to question. A very interesting interview reflecting on this sort of thing is at

 I read tonight the article “What would it mean to deeply accept that we’re in planetary crisis?” I thought it was really good. The alternation between the two writers helped open it up well. I think you saw this, but in case you lost or never read it, it’s at

If time permits among so many other things, I may read more by these people.

6 14

To engage in a more loving, affirmative relationship to the lives we lead and share as we continue in skedillions of ways to encounter everyone’s GCE seems to me really important. 

The challenge is, in part, to deliberately practice a kind of deep self-realization and become the people we want to know and meet, as well as helping to base our living on earth day by day on a new, more progressive, inclusive, kind and generous sort of ideological orientation that we can encourage in others by modeling and acting on, in innumerable ways. 

This is part of how I understand transformational resilience and why I think it’s worthy of engagement and development, even though in the ways that ITRC does this it may appear very dry and programmatic. A formula is not a living being in development. There is a quest involved, no matter how many answers people feel they already have, life will present more questions, dilemmas, and frustrations to encounter with our most vital, caring nature.

7 4

I got disgusted early in the day hearing it referred to on NPR as ‘Independence Day’ and thinking about what an outrageously stupid idea it is to celebrate ‘independence’ that is nothing but myth and chimera…  

7 7

I also read what I found a very engaging and meaningful article by Paul Hoggett, “Climate change and the apocalyptic imagination,” which I urge you to sit down with if you haven’t before. It seems to offer responses to some of the issues raised in your IARPP paper and in our dialogues on line. Sensibly enough, if offers more warnings of emotional, rhetorical, and political traps any of us may succumb to than clear-headed definitive advice on how to proceed, but I feel one can use it to sort of clear the chakras as one does one’s best to address the emergency. I can’t find or figure out how I found a copy to read. Foolishly I didn’t download and save it.

I decided to send my APCS essay to ROOM, after I got a very warm belated response from Jill Gentile, whom I’d sent it to incorrectly thinking she’d asked to see it, after she rather said at the APCS last day that she’d been sorry to miss hearing it. 

I sent this message to Division 39 Section IX on 6 20:

Last night about 16 of us in Section IX had a caring, meaningful, sensitive, and dynamic set of conversations revolving around questions about reparations for all the kinds of injuries stemming from the history of slavery in our nation and from its legacies, aftermaths, and resistances to becoming forgettable history. It felt to me like the first of innumerable conversations that may go on for generations, if humans are to respond to this horrific moral and political violence responsibly.

This evening I read a paper, published March 2019 in Ecopsychology, devoted to reckoning with the Global Climate Emergency as not only a material roiling and devastation but also an ongoing, gathering, and perhaps perpetual global experience of psychological trauma. Basing her thinking on psychoanalytically informed trauma theory, Zhiwa Woodbury argues clearly and brilliantly for our coming to terms with the specific and unprecedented nature of Climate Trauma and its relationship with other phenomena of epigenetic, personal, and cultural trauma in ourselves, our clients, our communities, our media, and world populations. 

The best papers and articles I’ve read in recent months on why we don’t respond more proactively to the general crisis (which this work analyzes tellingly and afresh) tend to draw a blank on just what is needed from us to move into it and to survive as well as we can, collectively and individually. This article does powerful, stimulating work on both. The kind of conversation we initiated last night, concerned with a shared legacy and perpetuation of a terrible and alarming injustice and dehumanization over many generations, is an example of the kind of cooperative, integrative sharing of awareness toward solidarity and reconciliation that is vital in this period, during which many repressed, unresolved collective traumas of relational violence and dehumanization are in various, vital ways erupting and demanding healing through acknowledgement, learning, and a democratically embodied empowerment through solidarity.

This article may be accessed for $51.00 at or in a free pdf from, which is easy to join and can lead to happy surprises, as well as offering you an easy way to make your own papers more widely accessible. Or ask the author for a reprint, at [email protected]

I recommend this article particularly strongly to Section IXers.

7 11

I am pretty squarely on the side of anticipating extinctions increasingly widespread, non-linear programming, and generalized chaotic unpredictability, even if things go as best they may from now on – but of course the USA, Brazil, and many other nations and conglomerates will not help and will hinder things going well. 

I wish I could trust talking to anyone frankly about it, but it’s so overwhelming to address and so amorphously impossible to time events and their sequencing that I hesitate to broach the topic very directly, aside from just to say not infrequently that it’s something I’m thinking about myself, with my kids and most other people. The time when we all speak of it more directly is fast approaching, and perhaps it’s best, with most folks I come into contact with, just to offer an open door to discussion by letting them know it’s on my mind as a concern and investigation – so that later they can bring up feelings or broach questions.

7 11

This evening I read the article attached (from the Mondoweiss website) on the challenges for people who’ve grown up in Gaza coming to the US or France and considering psychotherapy for help to their OTSD (explained in article). I send it on to you not only because it’s interesting and meaningful on its own terms, but also because you are committed to considering roles for psychotherapists in relating to people suffering through the OTSD that is likely to develop more and more deeply and widely in response to ongoing GCE phenomena and their relentless and uncertain future course. It seems to me there are similarities or overlaps between what Gazans deal with – living in Gaza or as temporary or permanent emigrants – and what we increasingly face as world citizens living through this overwhelming, unstoppable, and unthinkable development in our environments, societies, identities, and loved ones. 

7 12

To the degree, significant but relatively minor, that my mother shared her grievances and private matters with me growing up, I don’t think it ever occurred to me that I ought to be able or even permitted to solve or fix them. I felt that at most I was recruited as a “good listener,” and a bit of a love substitute for my dad, and I think really she then hoped I would forget whatever I had listened to. She used my next younger brother more intensely and less cautiously in this regard, and I believe it has been an abiding injury that he has felt gravely through his adulthood. This is very different than the challenges you faced as an only child with your mother’s severe disability and your father’s dismay and troubles in supporting her. That they even allowed you to carry a hope or belief that you might solve their problems seems terrible and deeply harmful, as I understand such matters. 

I would just further state that I don’t believe I can ever comprehend or learn, emotionally or cognitively, about all the pain, distress, and sufferings in this world. I know that I have my convenient and privileged means of buffering and compartmentalizing, as well as of channeling into use sometimes, the horror, anger, and grief that can get stimulated by reading or hearing about some of them. Thus, I don’t actually feel it all, intimately and effectively. I am generally able to feel some and then respond – even to respond by turning the page to a different article, or opening an art book or watching some film to relax my mind – without obsessing and making unmanageable demands on myself. I can easily accuse myself of not doing enough or not taking things seriously enough, as a result, but over time I manage to accept that I am not about to quit work to move someplace I can get arrested for blocking a pipeline or otherwise change my life course and security in a radical way – but that I am still willing to join in solidarity and be some part of an awakening to the need to address injustices and catastrophes, especially ongoing and accumulative ones. 

7 14

It was a warm lovely day with a late afternoon thunderstorm. I went to the zendo for a sitting and an annual business meeting, which was interesting. I don’t remember attending one before – though I likely did at least once. Then I went to a place called The SEED Barn in Blue Hill, on a gorgeous isthmus, where the daughter of the man who bought it (I think) is working with schoolchildren, local organizations, and other organizations in Haiti, to restore native botanical life, to develop renewed access to medicinal plants, and to express artistically the spirits of nature, ancestors, dignity, and strength. I thought to go upon hearing about a small collection of Haitian sculptures she has arranged in her garden – they are wonderful, powerful, evocative bricolages of materials found wherever, easily lost among the bounteous plants in her gardens in Maine, as they might have been before they were pulled off the street or out of trash heaps in Port au Prince. It was an inspiring visit, with her offering a tour of her gardens – plants and sculptures – and answering questions, primarily about her botanical projects. Dinner with my daughter tonight was very good and warm and calm, too.

7 19

Major cities are extremely dependent on reliable transportation systems, efficient construction projects, continuous energy and communications flows, so it’s an extremely uncommon thing that major disruptions on these would be tolerated without regular law enforcement and without advance agreement on permits. 

XR will do what it will do, with many persons willing to accept arrest, but huge masses of people are unlikely to risk facing toxic sprays, police aggression, and worse, whether on a work day or a day off or a day of deliberate defiance of corporate powers. The governing authorities have their own priorities. Strategies are key in developing activist plans. I doubt that XR is surprised at this news story.

7 28

Our GCE not something I seem to formulate clinical questions about, but I do think about it and how it may relate to clinical processes. 

I mention it when I mention it, and the emphasis varies a lot (like everything else does) depending on who I’m talking with (in clinical work and outside of it). I even suggested it as a significant contributor to a vague uneasy sense of anxiety that  a returning client told me about – as an aspect of vulnerability, which I feel has been growing as a developmental achievement in him (in his 70s), also I think due to a new terrific love relationship that now involves co-domesticity, as well as his reflecting more on his age and mortality. 

Your accounts of 3 cases with this issue embedded in them are interesting. I feel that sometimes just a little mention is enough. If and when the patient is ready, it will come up again, maybe front and center. I wouldn’t want to focus a patient on making definite short-term decisions in relation to it, but I am more likely to comment in passing on the big unknowable state of things to come, if we’re thinking about grandchildren, about legacy, about long-term planning. So far, there haven’t been any episodes in which I sense a major conflict or overwhelm emerging as a result. But I don’t yet share the collapse of society idea with my clients. I want to be respectfully sensitive specially with those who have children.

The whole thing is a whopper. I try not to get the discussion going, so far, so much as acknowledge it seems likely to be an issue, over years to come, as well as now already.

7 28

Lately I want the world to know one of the ways in toward the realization of how we are becoming subject to the global climate emergency is through listening to 46-year-old British organizational analyst Jem Bendell, whom I first heard conversing at length with psychoanalyst/activist Ro Randall in a two part video. I find it helpful, though some may find it just desperately depressing. Bendell published a year ago a calmly, abruptly thrilling 20-page paper titled “Deep Adaptation” (at that stepped just outside conventional academic norms and unexpectedly blew up all over the internet, sparking affinities and controversy over its discussion of the coming societal collapse. He maintains a website blog (at and also works with an on-line forum for those highly active on these questions (at and a facebook page one may join to participate in more broadly democratic discussions (at In a new paper (at, he summarizes a number of the past year’s peer-reviewed scientific papers that reinforce his convictions that we’re on the accelerating pathway to radical disconnection with systems and expectations we have come to rely on, (which he then comments on at I encourage starting with a recent podcast interview that allows breadth and time to a conversation touching on personal as well as scientific and social facets of his emerging and morphing thoughts and experiences (at .

To me it’s not painful reading. It’s honest reportage, from him as a person and on the planet as it’s changing. We don’t get enough of that, although occasionally a leak occurs in the wall of information management, giving us a flooded sensation. 

7 29

This isn’t the end of the world, just of the world as we’ve known it. It seems to have been predictable, but I don’t know whether this particular phenomenon was predicted or by whom. I don’t keep track of that, as my memory would make a hash of it, but I do expect diverse alarming trends, extreme weather events, fires, and floods, releases of methane and stored carbons, and a developing planetary alterations of everything short of geographic structures, and I think these alterations will be faster and less manageable than anyone has a capacity to compute, due to combinatory effects. 

We will be grieving from here on out, especially those of us who’ve been able to appreciate any degree of security, affluence, comfort, and routines over the years. So, for my mind, the “deep adaptation” agenda, always under development, is crucial to finding my bearings as things unravel and become less recognizable and tolerable, while also pressing the powerful to address strategic planning with scientifically informed foresight and to exercise compassion for the world’s growing number of homeless, hungry, thirsty, and under-informed. 

7 29

My supervisor when I was first doing therapy at the Wright Institute clinic later wrote an outstanding paper on the manic society. I was thinking of it earlier today as well. Mania would put us on route to hype up our psychotic decision-making increasingly to the point of exhaustion of all means to execute them; it seems a more worrisome analogy or paradigm than addiction, which we might manage to recover something from after hitting bottom. But these are all analogies and stories, anyway. 

7 29

I totally agree that male childhood development deserves attention in our recognition and understanding of patriarchy, which can include some compassion for the oppressor and traumatizer. Anyone inflicting trauma on others is experiencing trauma himself, as I see it. What a horrible experience of one’s life and love capacity. 

I think it was Juliet Mitchell who also write some powerfully suggestive theory about early male development. Not remembering the course of it too well, it did involve something about early divorce from identification with the maternal caregiver, promoting the boy’s experience of existential isolation, alienation, false-self machismo or self-sufficiency (consider how the neoliberal and USAmerican stereotypes are typified). The male child, per Mitchell, would be obliged to discount the power of natural life and of the planetary interdependencies, in order to preserve and develop a sense of  personal survival and integrity. Grim, isn’t it?

Some of us pansies didn’t really grow up that way, but it wasn’t easy being so different as all that, no matter how safe or toxic our mothers were. 

I will read this article. The British “public school” system, through which the affluent and distinguished process their children, is notorious for bullying, hazing, class prejudices, etcetera. I can hope it’s watered down better nowadays, but I wouldn’t wish anyone to go through it. I had enough of that sort of thing, in a less severe form, through attending, as a day student, a renowned prep school that had long been a feeder program for Princeton University. I was fortunate enough to discover a few other boys who were odd enough, creatively independent enough, and/or unconventional and easy-going enough to become friends to me. I miss them!

I’m in touch with some of those friends. Another for mysterious reasons won’t speak to me or communicate at all since I last saw him 30+ years ago. Another died with his wife, murdered in their small home on the Meher Baba commune in coastal India years ago, after we had renewed contact and had a marvelous correspondence for a couple years. He was a very kind, resourceful, unique fellow.

7 21

I read two blogposts by Bikkhu Bodhi intended to rally Buddhists to engage in some form of activism when they can, and I appreciated his resolute and clear thinking and expression. I didn’t really enjoy them, perhaps because the ideas were second nature to me and because the style was rather impersonal and starchy, but basically I felt that they were good and they certainly deserve to be read. I imagine listening to him in person would be very different, and I still hope I make time to listen to a talk or two of his on line. There is so much I hope to make time for!

I read a few short blogposts by Ro Randall this morning, and I plan to read her “Loss and climate change: the cost of parallel narratives” from about a decade ago, after reading a two paragraph summary of it in her blog.

The local small group that met to discuss an article reflecting on the GCE from a myth-oriented frame of mind elicited a very active, dynamic, moving, and meaningful discussion from the 8 of us there. 

Today two board members at the zendo took about a half hour each in place of sitting and walking meditation to talk and elicit comments on the GCE, hope, despair, and deep ecology. These were two people I have trouble listening to, although their intentions are okay, and it was a struggle to tolerate these presentations, which to me seemed vague, simplistic, short-sighted, academic, and self-important. Life goes on.

The one-day climate convergence conference transpired yesterday from 9 to 330 at the local high school, which lacks air conditioning and as usual sitting in the gym was weird and oppressive. There were some good speakers, including some college and high school students and one 8th grader. I went to breakout ‘workshops’ on the emotional processing of GCE, on teaching undergraduates about this in a cross-disciplinary course (a philosophy and a physics professor), and about the latest summary of global changes and what to expect (good but very limited in fact as a composite account of all aspects and challenges entailed). 

My reading and the small group that meets on Thursday evenings are my primary resources for coping and learning how to accept and reflect on GCE as well as to learn about what to expect. 

After reading his essay from 7/1/19, Don’t police our emotions, I signed up for communications with Jem Bendell’s various on-line stations, a quarterly report from a Forum and a Facebook page and his blog and maybe another group. To the essay I mentioned, he linked to a 7/26/18 List of emotional support resources, which I also read. I hope to read and listen to some of the things he refers to there. Then I also read just now his rather devastating but clearly reasoned Compendium of research reports on climate chaos and impacts, 7/7/19. I feel he is both reinforcing his own committed belief in the strong likelihood of societal collapse and also manifesting enough peer-reviewed scientific analyses to fully justify it.

As he typically notes, we have become very used to the dire, injurious effects of government, military, and corporate policies being minimized, soft-pedaled, and diverted from discussion. It makes complete sense to me that the chickens are coming home to roost, and the future of life on this planet will need to accommodate very different structural and adaptive qualities than we have become used to. 

On interlibrary loan I borrowed a copy of a coffee table book called Genesis, made of photographs by Sebastio Salgado, which are beautiful and deep. He made these in the previous decade all over the world, focusing on the natural world as he anticipates the loss of many current qualities to be found there. I’m just looking through it a few pages at a time, fascinated.

I wanted to give you some account of what I’ve been up to. I’m not obsessing, I believe, but I am thinking about all this, a lot lately. Meanwhile, grateful to be alive and to have many benefits of good fortune at hand. 

7 28

various THINGS have somehow come up that seemed to require immediate attention, including deciding in a rush saturday morning to send off an application for a residency of a month or less in alabama as a poet person. which i will probably not get.

and reading bruno latour’s recent book down to earth, which my old friend jonathan lethem (somewhat notorious as a novelist who actually sells books) had just ordered and read and wanted to loan me so we could talk together about it. it was a real page turner and helpful, to my mind, in contemplating a political framework for understanding how politics has been working, particularly in europe and the usa, and how the GCE may stimulate a very different and more compellingly adaptive sort of political struggle and alignment. it is only 100 pages though i often had to stop and think about a sentence or reread it, as i do also with arendt, which has all been very worthwhile to me. you may find it interesting too. i read the first half on wednesday while sitting in shade and sun at schoodic head, a favorite place of power a bit over an hour’s drive from here. 

our thursday reading group is going to shift into discussion of race/racism this week and the reading is interesting and brief but i will be at a contemporary music concert in an old mill that a bassoonist (who is also a water surveyor and a restorative justice leader, since she moved here from the nyc avant garde scene 3 years ago) lives in and turns into a space for electronic and improvised musics, so I will skip the reading group this time. 

7 29

Yes, the burden is going to be enormous, on young old and in between, in the years to come. Greta Thunberg is starting in on it early, and at least can see (and model a sense of) making some difference, although not yet on the persons who are still bent on destroying the planet’s life forms or trying to retard rather than accelerate methods of reviving and stabilizing them. 

I feel you are fortunate to have been to Alaska. I want to travel more outside the 48 but wonder increasingly whether I ever will again. It feels increasingly difficult to conscience air travel without a strong and specific socially redemptive purpose.

I’m on a kick of idolizing GT, rather wantonly. So thanks for sending these links, most of which are new to me. She is, to my mind, a sort of genius – her ability to speak purposefully, meaningfully, in a compelling and strategic way, to great emotional effect (enhanced no doubt by her history of mental health challenges, including years of mutism), as well as to make clear cut distinctions and choices. It helps me to collect experiences of her appearance and speaking voice, to help keep my inner gyroscope in some degree of balance day to day. (I could say the same of Arendt, whom I read rather religiously once a week, or Bendell, whose speaking voice I find really comfortable, although I don’t feel any of these people are trying to comfort or please any of us.) Like others put maxims on their bathroom mirror, I put photos of younger persons I admire and feel encouraged by (to keep my pluck, energy, and spirits up) here and there on my walls at home. 

I also find good fiction, set in times before an acknowledged onset of the GCE, in audio recordings, a big help. 

Buddhist is all inclusive, as I understand it. And you write with various elements of sympathy and compassion here. I can understand wondering about Bendell’s personality, male privilege, potential follow-through. He does seem to have taken great risks with his life course in order to experience himself sharing what he sees as honest truth and connect with others with such integrity as he can, and that can’t be accomplished perhaps with some (hopefully healthy) narcissistic investment. 

Our air, our waters, everything is full of strange chemicals by 2019, and so our bodies and our fetus’s bodies are to some degree permeated by alien toxins and chemistry. I have a hard time doubting this problem increases incidence of autistic disorders and dementias too. So there could be any one of a thousand reasons that a lung cancer gradually began to develop.

8 9

You ask whether I think that climate action needs to be larger than, say, the U.S. mobilization for World War II? I don’t feel I’m a person to know about such things, and maybe no one does, but all in all, I expect the adjustments that accommodation and adaptation will require and/or that preventative measures must require will be at least as great as that. I don’t really know what people went through in the late 30s early 40s, but the situation was entirely different – the danger and enemy were palpable, and the USA waited quite a while before getting involved (aside from our national commerce getting pretty damn involved in transactions with the Third Reich to its advantage). 

USAmerican powerhouse finance and industries are well oriented to taking advantage of disasters and social collapses in order to take over and turn a profit and extend their empires, but this is a different situation from that too. They are perhaps pathetically resistant and under-prepared for a growing overwhelm that hasn’t changed their own life styles or supply chains too much yet. 

8 9

I am already among the overcommitted, by my own reckoning. I didn’t mean to give up reading poetry or psychoanalysis to wrestle with climate change, and I’d like to correct the balance in how deeply that’s happening. It’s very hard to do. It seems to me that the inessential reading, doing, seeing occupies very little of my weekly life at this point. And but I do try to keep active in ways that matter to my soul and nature.

8 10

The best way to discuss it is to meet with people who are also recognizing their doubts or despair about a habitable planet. They generally do not need convincing, and they are capable of empathizing and sometimes of reflecting with us. Other people we can alert to the fact that we’re continuing to learn and worry and even stay active on this front, and they can ask more or share more when they are ready. To try to get them to listen or talk about it, if they haven’t asked to or begun the conversation as a real exchange seems a frustrating and futile use of energy. So it seems to me. 

The “community healing discussion group” that Benjamin and Lori started in East Blue Hill is of the former kind. It has now refocused on white fragility in the context of USAmerican racism, but the group members are now knowable as people who get it about potentials for massive disaster, shortages, societal collapse, and possible extinction. And the linkage between white male supremacy and global climate emergency is so tight as to make them pretty much the same thing, it seems to me. 

The other day on the way to this group I was thinking about the expectations of societal collapse and the world and national news I receive, realizing that such collapse is already well underway. In the USA and elsewhere we have a rise in authoritarian political leaders and formations, divisiveness and intensive conflict between elements of the general population, exercise of violence to address differences and misunderstandings, disrepair, damage and decay of outmoded infrastructures, gridlocked governmental decision-making about vital social issues, severe separations between science and policy, and mistrust of those traditionally expected to keep the status quo manageable. The authoritarian may be chosen by a voting majority as the strong man leader who will take care of all this chaos, and he then typically incites more of the same. Whether the 2020 election in the USA will simply heighten this tendencies or lean effectively into resolving them (somehow!!) inspires gathering suspense to the point of near breathlessness . . . Holding our breaths for another 14 months seems dangerous, however. 

8 12

 There are many rising outrages, including those against injustice and those against dark-skinned people. 

I’m not sure I would care to invoke rising tides of outrage so much as awakenings of interdependency consciousness and love of life and its home.

8 12

Human life on planet earth is not going to survive in a post-industrial period based on hunting and gathering, or not until the population is radically diminished and wildlife has miraculously flourished across populated zones, so farming is going to be necessary in one form or another for the indefinite future. Some farms do enrich the soil and its ability to not only support healthy organically grown edibles but also to sequester carbon and generally serve a healthier atmosphere with less carbons getting released. All farms occupy land that might otherwise be taken up with deciduous or other trees and forests, and perhaps other sorts of effective carbon-management vegetal life. But there’s not point in proposing that all farms be destroyed and outlawed. Farms that practice intelligent management of the soil and produce foods not troubled by chemical fertilizers and pesticides are perhaps the most worth preserving. And I believe that they can increase in share of the planet’s farmland while the farms that ruin and abandon the soil in various ways can become fewer and disappear over time. (Over a lot of time, probably. I don’t think we’re talking about saving the spectrum of life forms on the planet fast in this discussion about farms.) If some of the ruined or badly exploited farmland were to return to wilderness or forest, that might help, eventually, with our carbon climate issues. If it were all lost, I think there would be tremendous increases in social disruption due to starvations. Empty lots and parking lots and dead malls, etc., are especially great candidates for new forests and wild plants, in my estimation. 

Meanwhile, with Greta Thunberg, I see the virtues and values of a vegan diet, in its refusal to depend on sentient animals as food source, as an intelligent plan for as many as will embrace it, or to whatever expect people will lean that way, with respect to conserving the best in our atmosphere’s capacity to support life. I understand that both the depletion of trees and other natural growth to allow for grazing, etc., and the radical proliferation of methane gasses resulting from animal husbandry on a vast factory-farming scale contribute very significantly to global heating. 

9 2 2019

I have the sense that the more people are engaged, even if only in the struggle to recognize the imposing impending reality of the GCE and to respond with some degree of love for themselves, for one another, for the providence of our ecosystem, a great deal is accomplished. Most people may take a long time to move from getting it as an unparalleled dilemma to getting active and pursuing activist methodologies. But the more our social worlds resonate with love and compassion, actual thought and curiosity, the better our outcomes as a set of communities will be. 

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