Turning Signs (Contents) References blog


Turning Signs (Obverse)


1·     Beginning: Apocalypse

January 2021, Little Current, Ontario, Planet Earth. January, month of Janus, is a traditional time for looking back and looking ahead. For over a year now i've been blogging about the transition. Some have called this time ‘the Great Unravelling,’ which is less forward-looking, and indeed the future seems less predictable than ever. I had vaguely foreseen this in the first chapter of Turning Signs as published in 2015:

Although very little space is given here to the author's biography, placing it in historical context might begin to explain why beginning is here entangled with apocalypse. I was born exactly one month after The Day the World Ended. That was Kurt Vonnegut's name (in his novel Cat's Cradle) for August 6, 1945 – the day when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. So you might say that mine has been a post-apocalyptic life.

40 years later Paul Ehrlich (author of The Population Bomb), speaking at the local university, told us that we humans had a choice: we could render the Earth unfit for human habitation in 50 minutes, by using nuclear weapons; or we could achieve the same result in 50 years by simply carrying on with ‘business as usual,’ that is, with trashing the planet. – Or we could change the way we live.

Skip another score of years, into the 21st century CE, and things have changed, as usual. For one thing, the world has been taken over by alien beings from another dimension – we call them corporations. Meanwhile it's projected that the human population of the planet will peak (at around 10 billion) within this century, and then start to decline. (If it doesn't collapse more suddenly, that is.) I suppose the rest of the biosphere, or whatever is left of it, will breathe a sigh of relief at that point, though i can hardly imagine what the place will be like by then. Indeed it's getting hard to imagine with any confidence what the place will be like next week.

The next five years seemed even more apocalyptic to those of us living through them, with the raging wildfires, storms, floods and droughts brought on by global heating, the rise of surveillance capitalism, the outrages of the Trump presidency and other political pathologies, and then the pandemic of 2020. Richard Heinberg referred to 2020 as the year consensus reality fractured. But if we look through the cracks and read the signs, we might discern a deeper reality. This crack of doom can be a wake-up call. Apocalypse (ἀποκάλυψις) is Greek for discovery. What we discover may not be a solid consensus or a “sustainable future” but a fluid and living Presence.

This chapter was originally addressed to you, dear Reader, in 2015. The five years that followed made a difference to the context in which you are now reading it, whenever that now is in history. Even in 2021, the context of my own ‘mission’ as a writer is changing, along with my notion of what that mission might be. So it's a good time to

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