Poetry for the Anthropocene

Slow violence cooks frogs in pots of warming water
While the violence of attrition whittles our reality away,
our parents’ transtemporal agression
replacing the tree with a matchstick.

Solutionism lays down carpool lanes for our thoughts,
walling in our thoughts,
sublating all our projects in the grand, radical compromise.
We move forward.
Blindly striving forward,
reaching out to fix.

But slow art responds instrumentally,
a string resonating to the pluck of the real.
Build what you want, what you can, what you must.
Speak with the world
in a voice of contingent resilience,
embracing the ecoambiguity
of a world that isn’t ours to destroy, preserve, or repair,
that is merely the one that we have.

A few weeks ago I attended a conference called “Approaching the Anthropocene: Perspectives from the Humanities and Fine Arts.” I was the only physical-natural scientist in attendance, I think, but I just kept quiet.

Why a humanities conference? Well, I taught a class this spring called Science/Fiction, in which the idea of the Anthropocene figured prominently. Also the colleague who turned me on to the conference was presenting. Plus it was on a Thursday. Perfect storm of reasons to cancel class, and reconvene it with some of the sub-discipline’s best thinkers!

But I went, and I’m so glad I did. I was exposed to some provocative ideas, unfamiliar methods of presentation, and weird terminology.

First, humanities presenters mostly read their own papers to the audience. Took me a few talks to get beyond this format, as I’m accustomed to scientists giving ad-libbed TED-sytle talks about data. The ideas were pretty exciting, though, but I’m exploring those a little bit in my next post…

I assembled a poem from my conference notes. The title might be considered the title of my future conference paper. The title of the poem is:

A radical new epistemology resolving ontological ambiguity by employing a dialectical approach to the hermeneutics of the intersectional and interstitial

Slow violence cooks frogs in pots of warming water
While the violence of attrition whittles our reality away,
our parents’ transtemporal agression
replacing the tree with a matchstick.

Solutionism lays down carpool lanes for our thoughts,
walling in our thoughts,
sublating all our projects in the grand, radical compromise.
We move forward.
Blindly striving forward,
reaching out to fix.

But slow art responds instrumentally,
a string resonating to the pluck of the real.
Build what you want, what you can, what you must.
Speak with the world
in a voice of contingent resilience,
embracing the ecoambiguity
of a world that isn’t ours to destroy, preserve, or repair,
that is merely the one that we have.

—–

Sorry, I’m not a poet, but it does require a certain concision, which is a challenge for me.

 

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