Nov 1, 2021Liked by Adam Lerner

"Wiser in years and practice, Johnson realizes that the idea of “fixing language” is an impossibility. " Although France has certainly tried! :-)

Thanks to Della Duncan's recommendation, I have been spending time with UK bard and wilderness rights of passage guide Martin Shaw. https://www.chelseagreen.com/writer/martin-shaw/ Both his book Scatterlings and the audio version of Courting the Wild Twin get to many of these same issues you are raising, through the doorway of hyperlocal, land-based storytelling from his Dartmoor region. No different, in some fashion, to how Robin Wall Kimmerer, and (as you mention) Tyson Yunkaporta and other similar authors are inviting us to try on the vocabulary and way of being that is couched in a different cultural lens, Shaw grabs us by our vivid imaginatory construct and throws us bodily into the underworld journey. There to find and court our own wild twin. We emerge from that journey healed and wholed, and able to make choices and to act from that reconnected wholeness.

We agree that it is not sufficient to merely be sustainable, even were such a thin knife's-edge situation of both "meeting needs" and "preserving" be achievable, but instead to do as nature intends and overshoot that into endless regenerative cycles - as Roshi Joan Halifax constantly admonishes: "Give life to life."

Daly's three rules still seem to operate within the 'less bad' rubric of the current paradigm, what your diagram of two loops illustrated, though his rule one is getting closer. It's still a fragile house of cards to say we continue with any toxic, extractionist, and similar approaches. The new frame needs to be consistently life-positive throughout its cycles. It's not enough to render something harmless, waste from every cycle must be food for the next stage of the cycle or we're still moving around deck chairs on the Titanic. Recall that the best way to pick sweetgrass wasn't the least bad, it actually promoted more growth.

Vandana Shiva's thinking must have evolved a bit since that article in 1992. I was on a call last month with Shiva when she asserted, "The most recent IPCC report is titled 'Code Red for the Planet.' The planet is literally on fire. This is not something we should be sustaining. Regeneration is the only way forward." She would agree with Meadows that what we need is a revolution of radical innovation that recaptures what was trampled of the past, knowledge and ways of being that are still available to us now.

Vocabulary and definitions are hard as long as we operate purely in the realm of the intellect. But as Pat McCabe asserts, "Our best thinking got us into this situation. Maybe we should begin to use other faculties, not just the mind?" Richard Strozzi and many others have rightly pointed out that we need to heal the Cartesian split in ourselves and our cultural disconnection from the Earth. Once we are deeply reconnected with Self, each other, and Gaia, we can begin to make decisions *as* the planet, and things become much simpler.

Expand full comment

Thanks for the ever-thoughtful comments, Peter. Since moving away from the Reflection post format, I wanted to share a few comments here in gratitude and inspiration.

Your reflection on Daly's Three Rules is interesting. Indeed, they may have been fit for purpose when written back in the late 80s. In the three decades since, we have amassed so much new harm, while compounding existing harms dating back to the early 19th century, that any position short of promoting the regeneration of new life is insufficient to our current challenges. I recently attended this excellent book launch on Daly's life by Tim Jackson's CUSP and wish that I had thought to ask him the question of how he would revisit the Three Rules if written today https://cusp.ac.uk/themes/aetw/herman-daly-24-nov-2021

Per your comment about Vandana Shiva, undoubtedly here thinking has dramatically evolved; however, I see no discontinuity with the statement she made then with her positions today. What I thought was particularly interesting about her point is to ask people to identify which sustainability they are indeed referring to when talking about the topic. By saying that there is a sustainability of the natural world AND a sustainability of the markets/economy, she recognizes the long-standing cultural separation of the two, while acknowledging how rarely anyone is discussing sustainability outside a market-centric frame. This is one of the many examples that David Graeber cites about how financialization has colonized nearly every concept and metaphor in our ways of thinking and understanding.

In the latest New Works conversation on Regenerative Cultures, Melanie Goodchild beautifully articulated the point that you are making about knowledge. We've tended to favour the intellect as the singular form of knowledge creation thereby negating how we might access knowledge that comes from land, "the place of spirit", in Melanie's words https://youtu.be/dDVDYw0-6jM?t=2045

Wonderful to share together...

Expand full comment

Thank you! How cool you could ask Tim that question. And can't wait to catch the New Works convo with Melanie.

Expand full comment