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How Do You Imagine the Coming Collapse?

Here are the words of two different artists, Alexander Pope and David Byrne. They portray mixed feelings about the potential for a more natural future after the collapse of the fossil fuel industry. Where along the spectrum do you fall?

Ode on Solitude

by Alexander Pope

Happy the man, whose wish and care    A few paternal acres bound, Content to breathe his native air,                             In his own ground. Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,    Whose flocks supply him with attire, Whose trees in summer yield him shade,                             In winter fire. Blest, who can unconcernedly find    Hours, days, and years slide soft away, In health of body, peace of mind,                             Quiet by day, Sound sleep by night; study and ease,    Together mixed; sweet recreation; And innocence, which most does please,                             With meditation. Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;    Thus unlamented let me die; Steal from the world, and not a stone                             Tell where I lie.

Nothing but Flowers

by David Byrne of Talking Heads

So beautiful and strong

Birds in the trees

Are smiling upon them

Where? Where have they gone?

Now, it's nothing but flowers

There was a shopping mall

Now it's all covered with flowers

You've got it, you've got it

You've got it, you've got it

That I was a billboard

Standing tall

By the side of the road

This used to be real estate, now it's only fields and trees

Where? Where is the town?

The highways and cars

Were sacrificed for agriculture

You've got it, you've got it

You've got it, you've got it

We used to microwave

You've got it, you've got it

You've got it, you've got it

I can't get used to this lifestyle

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댓글 4개

2020년 7월 15일

Great offerings, commenters -- thank you. Jeanne, I have that book of Berry's and continue to find things I like in it. Djf, wonderful quotation; I'd read some of Lin Yutang's Christian writing but not his translation of Lao Tzu. Taoism has a lot of wisdom in it.


2020년 7월 11일

I liken collapse to water because it is natural. We fight collapse when we should embrace it. The natural succession of things is the basis of life as such one can only live by change. If that change is destructive it is still change. It will be those who behave like water that will adapt to what is ahead.

The best of men is like water;

Water benefits all things

And does not compete with them.

It dwells in (the lowly) places that all disdain –

Wherein it comes near to the Tao.

In his dwelling, (the Sage) loves the (lowly) earth;

In his heart, he loves what is profound;

In his relations with others, he loves kindness;



Jeanne Melchior
2020년 7월 10일

I've always liked Pope's Ode to Solitude, but while such a future is still a distant possibility, and one I'd like to live in, it's hard for me to imagine it these days. Wendell Berry's imagined future about the "second coming of the trees" seems more fitting to me. I think of this poem often, especially those times I notice the flowers growing in the cracked asphalt of the street in front of my house, and the trees popping up in the corners of the yard. I see this wild untamed world of undiscovered intelligence still waiting to return in the landscape, and the human species, for the most part, having none of it, lost in a virtual high-tech construct…


2020년 7월 10일

This was an audacious post. I'm reminded of Huck Finn and the Friendship's Offering book he found at the widow Douglas' house. ("Full beautiful stuff and poetry. But I didn't read the poetry.") But, anyway, here's my answer:

Ton arrière-arrière-grand-père, il a défriché la terre

Ton arrière-grand-père, il a labouré la terre

Et pis ton grand-père a rentabilisé la terre

Pis ton père, il l'a vendue pour devenir fonctionnaire

Et pis toi, mon p'tit gars, tu l'sais pus c'que tu vas faire

Dans ton p'tit trois et demi bien trop cher, frette en hiver

Il te vient des envies de devenir propriétaire

Et tu rêves la nuit d'avoir ton petit lopin de terre

Ton arrière-arrière-grand-mère, elle a eu quatorze enfants

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