The burnersPosted: November 3, 2021 Filed under: desert, Fate Leave a comment
What if our purpose, humanity’s purpose, is to burn up the Earth? To take all the burnable materials and burn them up, fast as we can, and reduce the planet to ash, or to a hot burning volcanic rock with a carbon-filled atmosphere, like Venus?
If you took a step back, looked at all the species on Earth, and tried to conclude what the function of our species, in particular, could be, you might conclude we are the burners. We’re the only species that uses fire. We’ve been using it for let’s say 1.5 mill – 100,000 years. A blip in geological time. We’ve gotten amazing at it, astonishingly advanced, to the point that we can bend fire to our will, dredge up ancient organic matter and refine it and put it to light. We can even invert the heating power of fire. When we want to cool ourselves, we turn a dial that sends signals that leads to the burning of coal, oil, gas. In our dim conscious minds we may be thinking “we’re making ourselves comfortable,” but perhaps on a deeper level we’re fulfilling our galactic mission to burn up planet Earth. Most of us only rarely deal with fire fire, outside of the occasional campfire or fireplace fire (which by the way we are drawn to and love). We don’t even need to. We’ve gotten so good at fire that every house has a refrigerator in it that works from something, somewhere, down the wires and at the end of the pipelines, burning.
Maybe burning is our function, the way the carrying away of dead matter is a function of ants.
What if the use and control of fire goes together with consciousness? As soon as a species becomes conscious, anywhere in the universe, they turn to the passion of burning. Quickly (within a few million years or so) they extinguish themselves and their planet and return it to glowing gas, rock, and dust? From a consciousness perspective, this seems sad, because everything we care about, our history, our arts, it’ll all be “extinguished” (to use a word that resonates with our burner culture, signifying loss). But we already know on a long enough scale it’s all temporary.
What if the light of consciousness is meant to burn hot and then extinguish itself, as stars do in their own time?
Couldn’t that be kind of beautiful? Sure, in the late stages of speciatic consciousness maybe we’d come to contemplate this end, even worry about it or attempt to wish it away. But perhaps after that stage, then we’ll reach a kind of smiling acceptance. In this scenario, all the fuss about climate change and so on is just the panic of an anxious toddler learning about death for the first time. It’s natural to be upset, but we need to progress through it and get back to burning up the Earth as quickly as possible.
Perhaps then Exxon executives, wildcatting frackers, really all of us as consumers and burners, are spiritually whole, leading purpose-driven lives that will lead soon to our ultimate fulfillment, if we can just accept that’s what we’re doing. The more we’re burning and consuming, the better. That’s why we keep doing it, even if neurotically we scream to ourselves that we have to do something about it.
Maybe traveling some rotten stretch of interstate you spy blackened stacks, raveling smoke, and wonder, What’s burning? We ought to ask the same each time we step into a comfortably warmed or cooled room, each time we click on a reading lamp or plug in a phone.
writes Joe Wilkins in a thoughtful essay in High Country News. More or less every article in that publication these days is about burning: natural gas drilling, abandoned oil wells, literal fires, or the first, second, third order effects of burning: changing rivers, drying forests, altered farming patterns. But maybe the fire we fear as demonic is calling to us for a reason.
When you lied on your CVPosted: October 12, 2017 Filed under: animals, Fate, writing Leave a comment
The source of that photo is Tasmanian sheep farmer Charlie Mackinnon, who said of the dog:
She was an absolute legend, worked all day.
Funny story told in Jay McInerney Paris Review interview:
I felt like I had really arrived because—well, it was The New Yorker. But it was the fact-checking department. I wanted to be in the fiction pages, but still. It actually paid pretty well, and I was seeing great writers like John McPhee and John Updike coming to visit William Shawn. J. D. Salinger was still calling on the phone. There was a terrific buzz about the place. But it was also a little depressing. There were all these unwritten rules. Like, for instance, if you were a fact-checker, you didn’t speak to an editor or writer in the hall—it just wasn’t done. Also, it turned out I wasn’t very good at it. And ten months after I got there, I was fired, and left ingloriously with my tail between my legs.
How bad were you?
My biggest mistake was to have lied on my résumé and said that I was fluent in French, which I wasn’t. So when the time came to check a Jane Kramer piece on the French elections, it was assigned to me, and I had to call France and talk to a lot of people who didn’t speak English. That was really my downfall. And of course I couldn’t admit to anyone that I had this problem. Jane Kramer discovered factual errors just before publication. Nothing earth shattering, but you would think that I had . . .
Sitting Bull Part 2Posted: May 11, 2012 Filed under: books, Custer, Fate, from wikipedia, history, Indians, photography, pictures, the American West, writing Leave a comment
That detail about the meadowlark is from Nathaniel Philbrick, The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull and The Battle of The Little Bighorn. At best the second-best book about the Little Bighorn battle, first of course being:
but that image is amazing. Good on Philbrick.
What is amazing about “Son Of The Morning Star” is Connell doesn’t just tell the story, he follows the meandering lines that lead to it and out of it, and the people who traced them. He demonstrates that as soon as you focus on any particular incident, you can keep finding new dimensions of weirdness in it.
Take, for example, this meadowlark warning Sitting Bull. Philbrick cites that detail as coming from the recollections of One Bull, Sitting Bull’s nephew, found in box 104, folder 21 of the Walter Campbell collection. Walter Campbell was born in Severy, Kansas in 1887. He was the first Rhodes Scholar from the state of Oklahoma. He wrote under the name Stanley Vestal. Why? I don’t know. According to the University of Oklahoma, where his collection is kept, he was adopted by Sitting Bull’s family, and “was named Makes-Room or Make-Room-For-Him (Kiyukanpi) and His Name Is Everywhere (Ocastonka). Kiyukanpi was the name of Joseph White Bull’s father, and Ocastonka is a reference to the Chief’s great fame.”
Here’s a picture from the Walter Campbell collection:
That’s Young Man Afraid Of His Horses. Here’s another:
Regrettably OU won’t let me make that any bigger. Campbell/Vestal/His-Name-Is-Everywhere died of a heart attack on Christmas Day, 1957.
There’s also a Walter CAMP who is very important in Bighorniana. Camp worked for the railroad, and so could travel all over. An unsourced detail from Indiana University’s Camp collection is that this is how he “spent his summers,” finding lost battlefields and interviewing old Indians and soldiers. Here is a picture from Camp’s collection:
As for One Bull, here he is. This is a photograph by William Cross (which I found here):
On wikipedia’s page for One Bull, however, they illustrate him with a picture of his spoon:
This spoon is now in the Spurlock Museum, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaigne, where they also have collections of Japanese wood carvings, Arctic artifacts, and Babylonian clay tablets.
“Hello Stranger” (1977)Posted: April 4, 2012 Filed under: Fate, music 1 Comment
from the heroes at Art Decade I learned of Emmylou Harris and Nicolette Larson covering The Carter Family:
What became of Nicolette Larson, I wonder, whose voice is certainly too pretty for this world?:
Larson died on December 16, 1997 in Los Angeles as a result of complications arising from cerebral edema triggered by liver failure. According to her friend Astrid Young, Larson had been showing symptoms of depression and her fatal seizure “was in no small way related to her chronic use of Valium and Tylenol PM”
(album cover lifted from a French blog)