Humankind has not woven the web of life.
We are but one thread within it.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
All things are bound together.
All things connect.

~ Chief Seattle, 1854 ~

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

South Tyne Gorge

My mistress was sparkling for me at dawn today as I walked down to her quiet banks. Her necklace warmed in the early sun, now much stronger, and clear jewels of water dripped from her pearls of ice into the river.

I entered into the darkness of her gorge. I smelt the musky fragrance of moss that flourished in the dark places along her glistening sides. I stepped with slow deliberation, releasing my senses to enchantment.  This is such an intimate space, and in it and amongst it I was absorbed and possessed. Above, the sky and the sun looked down and seemed to approve, reflecting a shimmering disc that shifted its shape on the water,  slowly slipping over and around the smooth round stones. For now, the winter weather had ceased its ravishing, giving time for the earth to heal and rest awhile, giving me time to visit her temple and to dally at her altar.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

culture? heritage? ligitimacy?

WTF are we stuck with a monarchy in most of the British Isles?

We are still regarded as subjects first and citizens second. All this deference to one dysfunctional family that inherited its power makes me feel physically sick. We've got a stupid and irrelevant national anthem foisted upon us that bangs-on about God saving the Queen. Like millions of my fellow 'subjects' I don't believe in God and I don't believe in the monarchy. I shout at the TV at the start of a rugby match when England is playing. All the other nations have inspiring and uplifting anthems that inspire their players. England, on the other hand, is at an unfair disadvantage; God Save the Queen is neither inspiring or uplifting. It's cringingly, toe-curlingly embarrassing.

Many English people have inspired me, living and dead, from Ellen MacArthur to Horatio Nelson, from Charles Dickens to Geoffrey Chaucer, from Ken Livingstone to J S Mill - I could go on. With perhaps the exception of Alfred, none of them has been connected to a royal line. Yet the History taught to me at school up until about the age of 12 was one long boring litany of kings, queens and other in-breds, their bastard offspring and their bloody acts to retain their power. They were no more glorious than Mugabe or Saddam Hussein.

The rich and the powerful around the globe blunder from crisis to catastrophe, piling on more and more social and environmental injustice. For humanity to survive, their discredited systems absolutely need to be overthrown. The opening paragraph of Chris Hedges article, (Zero Point of Systemic Collapse), Adbusters, reads:
Aleksandr Herzen, speaking a century ago to a group of anarchists about how to overthrow the czar, reminded his listeners that it was not their job to save a dying system but to replace it: “We think we are the doctors. We are the disease.” All resistance must recognize that the body politic and global capitalism are dead. We should stop wasting energy trying to reform or appeal to it. This does not mean the end of resistance, but it does mean very different forms of resistance. It means turning our energies toward building sustainable communities to weather the coming crisis, since we will be unable to survive and resist without a cooperative effort.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

front on front

Episodes of snow, rain, sleet, ice, thaw, sun, cold front and warm front, north wind and west wind, and the passage and foraging of animals have created a deep patina on the fellside. Where the snow has drifted and frozen there are great white icebergs where human tread leaves the slightest of footprints. Others, where water springs from the ground, thinner coatings of ice are fragile and brittle.

Over every exposed feature, top coatings of dazzlingly white crystals conceal dark, compact layers of ice. Features have lost their lumpen appearance and seem to be responding and adapting to the seasonal vicissitudes. This current state, where the thaw has been arrested, new coats added and slight drifts formed, has drawn different and new lines and textures on the land, where every yump and bump can be picked-out. I like to speculate on why they are there.

The land looks beleaguered; remains of grass and moss are scuffed, scraped and covered in droppings from sheep and rabbits. Stems and bark are gnawed away. Frost and ice shatter clumps of clay. At Ashgill Gorge a tree has come away from the rock on which it has grown for the last few generations, sliding down a good 30 feet, crashing against and smashing a footbridge.

Everywhere there are signs of hysteresis, like the piece of birchbark I collected. Having lost its original function, it has become a host for moss and lichen.