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Culture/Cognition

K. Ramachandran: Literature in the age of climate change

Literature has always conditioned our philosophical understanding of nature. Likewise, ecology as a way of seeing and reading the world has irrevocably changed the study of literature itself. We must examine literary/cultural production in relation to questions of environmental impact, ecological thinking and the implications of revising conventional ways of articulating human with extra-human nature.

Anthropocene now: influential panel votes to recognise Earth’s new epoch

From NewsClick: The Anthropocene Working Group (AWG), a panel that consists of 34 scientists and academics, has voted in favour of making the Anthropocene a formally defined geological unit within the official geological time scale. The term ‘Anthropocene’ denotes the current geological period, where many conditions and processes on Earth are altered by impacts of human activities.

Caretaking: A conversation

Wendell Berry and Helena Norberg-Hodge discuss human nature, experiential knowledge, technology, happiness, wildness, and local food systems — topics which they have always commented on, but which have taken on a new urgency. They offer a critique of our economic system and show how the caretaking of the natural world and local communities are one and the same.

Paul Kingsnorth: Dark ecology

Ted Kaczynski, known to the FBI as the Unabomber, sent parcel bombs from his shack to those he deemed responsible for the promotion of the technological society he despises. Is it possible to read someone like Kaczynski and be convinced by the case he makes, even as you reject what he did with the knowledge?

Why technology favors tyranny: Yuval Noah Harari

Artificial intelligence could erase many practical advantages of democracy, and erode the ideals of liberty and equality. It will further concentrate power among a small elite if we don’t take steps to stop it. “We’re facing not just a technological crisis but a philosophical crisis,” says the author of ’21 Lessons for the 21st Century’.

Arturo Escobar: Farewell to Development

Over the years, ‘development’ has undergone multiple modifications, such as sustainable development, participatory development, development with gender equity, integrated rural development, and so forth. All these approaches stay within the conventional understanding of development: they don’t constitute a radical departure from the prevailing paradigm. What we need to do is get rid of ‘development’ itself

As Kerala’s sacred groves disappear, the Theyyam art form loses a vital link

There has always been an unmistakable umbilical link between the dance form of Kerala called Theyyam and nature. The unique pantheistic art form of the Theyyam now faces increasing threats of gentrification and Brahminisation, thus paving the way for the destruction of the sacred groves where it was born. Text and photographs by Thulasi Kakkat.

Getting to the heart of democracy’s decline

The crisis in democracy is much discussed these days, but almost entirely in political terms that ignore its deeper causes. It’s the continuing failure to have this deeper discussion that has led to the democratic crisis we have. In this sense, the mainstream news media can be considered ‘enemies of the people’, peddling ‘fake news’.

Seeing Wetiko: An interview with Alnoor Ladha

From Gaia Foundation: Alnoor Ladha, a founding member of the activist platform The Rules, which tries to “connect the dots between the various issues that are happening in the world to reveal the underlying antagonist: the economic operating system itself.” Here, he speaks on culture, technology and the cannibalistic economic system consuming life on Earth.

Carbon Ideologies: ‘The most honest take on climate change yet’

From Vox.com: “For a long time I was a climate change denier,” says William T. Vollmann, the award-winning American author, journalist, and war correspondent. Yet, he has just completed a sprawling, two volume polemic called Carbon Ideologies, which explores the ideology of energy consumption, and is addressed to humans living in a “hot dark future.”

Hope and mourning in the Anthropocene: Understanding ecological grief

From The Conversation: The eminent American naturalist Aldo Leopold described the emotional toll of ecological loss thus: “One of the penalties of an ecological education,” he wrote, “is to live alone in a world of wounds.” Ecological grief reminds us that climate change is not just some abstract scientific concept or a distant environmental problem.

J.C. Bose: Why the great scientist’s legacy remains astonishing a century later

Stefany Ann Goldberg writes: Famous for his plant-response studies, J.C. Bose was also the first scientist to study inorganic matter the way a biologist examines a muscle or a nerve. Bose performed his plant experiments on rocks and metals, too. Remarkably, he found that the “non-living” responded when subjected to mechanical, thermal, and electrical stimuli.

Charles Eisenstein: Initiation into a living planet

Most people have passed through some kind of initiation; a crisis that defies what you knew and what you were. Societies can also pass through a similar initiation. That is what climate change poses to the present global civilization. A key element of this transformation is from a geomechanical worldview to a Living Planet worldview.

Re-reading Tagore in the age of development gone mad

Aseem Shrivastava writes: Tagore’s play Mukta-Dhara foretells the manner in which people across the country have been losing their freedom— those uprooted by development quite obviously so, those ‘benefitting’ from it (mostly living in cities) more subtly and invisibly. This is the ecologically fatal price of ‘progress’, which Rabindranath anticipated in much of his work.

Engineered for Dystopia

David A. Banks writes in The Baffler: Engineering has not strayed far from its military origins… Engineers are trained to “plug into chain-of-command decision making structures… In times like these it is important to remember that border walls, nuclear missiles, and surveillance systems do not work, and won’t even exist, without the cooperation of engineers.

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