Telling Strength from Power

A useful image occurred to me. Strength is what we use when we break free of a rut. Power runs us harder along the same old trail, bouncing through the ruts until we destroy ourselves.

Strength is a capacity. Power is an external source of energy.

Power seduces. It gets “results.” It’s just that they tend not to really achieve our aims, let alone what might be a best outcome.

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Misplaced Hygienes

So many of our self-inflicted disasters and catastrophes are the result of misplaced hygiene. A series of instances, and whole segments of our habitual hygienic responses, are wrong. Our inability, unwillingness more like, to see this and adjust is perhaps the final layer of catastrophe, the route to the true Enormity of what we are bringing about.

These misplaced hygienes range from squeamishness concerning various kinds of foods, from insects to organ meats, and our insistence on boneless fillets-of-fish, for example; right on through to our segregation of what is left after we eat into what has grown to be a whole panoply of instances where throughputs are considered wastes and removed from any possibility of actually returning to the cycles to which they belong.

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The Search for Hope without Control

“The Search for Hope without Control”

The title of this post is a quote from the most recent entry on the Dark Mountain Project’s Blog. Dougald Hine’s conversation with David Abram is a treat to watch and a treasure trove of insight. You’ll have to see the video to find out which one of them made this statement. I didn’t keep track in my notes. One of the wonders this kind of conversation brings us is the way its “results,” its language and the insights held within its light touch, are shared and seem to shimmer in the air between the conversants. This is so unlike the points and digs and barbs clunking to the ground to pile up at the feet of debaters as spoils in some polemic battle.

It strikes me that it is only in our time that so much emphasis must be placed on the distinction between hope and wishing. Most people living at almost any other time knew, and will know, that hope has nothing to do with control. Desire seeking its fulfillment by grasping at control is the definition of wishing. Hope has been tied to an intersection between the human and the truly divine. Wishing has always been connected with stories of djinns and the lesser divinities with whom we want to enter into bargains, pleading for their intercession.

Imaginations have shriveled today when faced with the question of hope. A similar dynamic can be found in the lame confusion  – a willful misunderstanding – between less and fewer. The distinction between integrated quantity and aggregated amount has been brought into doubt and finally overwhelmed, creating a willed ignorance held with a combination of unease and pride. As with the current attitude towards security where security is evoked as a talisman of “pure goodness” over “evil;” discussion is couched and limited to a binary opposition ignoring any responsibility for tempering its absolutist demands with other values. Certain privileged categories of risk are held in keening awe within a ritual of human sacrifice in which the surrender of one’s life – played out in creeping authoritarian encroachment or in bursts of institutional or individual self-immolation, replace any nuanced view or measured response.

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