January 11 2022
Narrative Fracture in the Post-Exuberance Age
Happy 2022? We'll have to wait and see.
Finished up William Catton Jr's 'Overshoot' but decided to move on to
his followup book, 'Bottleneck', written nearly 30 years later, before
writing a review. Should be done in a few weeks.
The post title refers to a 3 part essay by Paul Kingsnorth, an Irish
writer probably best known for his ecological musings and involvement
in the Dark Mountain Project. Superficially the essay appears to
be yet another COVID-19 opinion piece, but it's much more than that;
it attempts to dig deeper into some unsettling truths the pandemic(?)
and the responses to it have revealed about the current state humanity
finds itself and the powerful role meta-narratives -- the stories we
adhere to as a framework for our reality -- play as cultural fabric.
Anyway, the essay(s) aren't terribly long but for those with limited
time this UnHerd interview is a decent substitute. Ironically this
contrarian corona virus discussion has NOT been banned, perhaps a sign
YouTube copbots have evolved enough to recognize elevated discourse?
What I liked about the essay was I could actually feel the power of the
shifting narrative as it jumps back and forth across the now all too
familiar lines of division surrounding everything COVID-19. That these
differing narratives predate the pandemic isn't surprising; this is
what the "culture wars" are all about. It's what these narratives are
revealing about our modern societies and industrial civilization that
clearly has Kingsnorth worried.
Certainly I share Kingsnorth's concerns about the awakening of barely
snoozing authoritarianism and it's coupling with intrusive technology.
I'm sure Catton would simply see all this as yet another manifestation
of ecological overshoot and the mega-machine's attempt to adapt via
various controls on individual freedom. Is this the real purpose of
the Zuckerberg Metaverse -- a venue for the exercise of virtualized
freedom in order to minimize its energy, resource and pollution impact?
Could be, but even a virtualized world runs on real energy and resources,
and both are becoming harder to get and harder to keep flowing as the
planet literally pushes back via fires, floods and more. Also more
and more humans are questioning the meta-narrative of material growth
and progress. It's all likely to throw a huge monkey wrench into any
techno-dystopian one-world plans the mega-machine attempts to impose.
Unfortunately the traditional responses to overshoot -- war, disease,
and famine -- are the probable alternatives. Re-localizing might help
but there isn't going any easy passing through the bottleneck, assuming
it's possible at all. All the more reason to really try to appreciate
each day upright; it's invariably later than we think.