Re-inhabiting Darkness: A Conversation on Art + Environment with Paul Bogard and Christopher Cokinos
As the third in a series of cross-posts with the University of Arizona's Institute of the Environment's Proximities, Terrain.org features a conversation between environmental writers and Terrain.org contributors Paul Bogard and Christopher Cokinos. Paul: I remember I was up in Quebec at the Mont Megantic National Park, and one of the folks there said to me that closing off our view of the universe isn’t the worst thing we’re doing environmentally, but it is symbolic of the worst things we’re doing...
Guest Editorial by Priscilla Long Every day, every 24 hours, dozens of species of plants, insects, birds, and mammals become extinct. Seven out of ten biologists consider that our current massive loss of species (the Sixth Great Extinction) poses a major threat to human existence in the next century. We know what the problem is: Global warming. Pollution. Loss of ecosystems to agriculture and to urbanization. Excessive harvest. Invasive species. There you have it. We know it.
By Lauret Savoy Not long ago I attended a day of talks given by internationally respected activist-writers working to curb climate change, species loss, and “run-amok capitalism.” A vocal, fairly affluent audience of a few hundred filled the New England village’s lecture hall. Hybrid cars filled the parking lot. I was the only brown-skinned person there.
By Elizabeth Dodd In the Amazon basin, you feel you are in the center of everything. You are not, of course. But for a while it feels that way. Wet heat above the rivers, trees lifting the water as high as leaves can reach, samaúma, ceiba, kapok, 300 feet up. All around you, moisture rising: more than half of the rainfall along the Amazon returns to the sky, to turn again, falling—warm rain.
By Kathryn Miles My partner and I recently moved into the first floor of a grand old Georgian house. Above us live three beautiful girls and their equally beautiful mom. Together with my dog, Ari, we make an eclectic but happy household. This is not to say that this living arrangement has not been without its struggles.
By Emma Copley Eisenberg I slept alone in the truck for nearly ninety nights – except for the eleven I slept next to a cowboy made of metal and wire, who held a pistol in each hand, and who I bought on the side of the road outside Amarillo to give my parents for Christmas. I loved the way the bench seat in the cab of the truck slid forward so I could stuff the extras behind my back as I drove. My cowboy boots. My cute jeans. Then, it was more important to me that I be pretty. In a 13,000 square-foot Wrangler store in Cheyenne Wyoming, I bought brown Carhartt work pants in the men’s section. I wore them and I wore light brown aviator sunglasses like Connie Britton’s character on Friday Night Lights. I had the costume. Now, to become the person. To become the person, I drove that 1997 Toyota Tacoma more than ten thousand miles through thirty-two states.
The future is now, at the Salton Sea. By Joni Tevis After World War II, speculators promoted the Salton Sea as a resort destination. At just sixty miles south of Palm Springs, it seemed like a sure bet. Boomtowns like Salton City Beach, Desert Shores, and Bombay Beach—where we’re standing now—grew up along the waters edge. Boaters raced across the water, setting world records. Frank Sinatra and Guy Lombardo played shows at the Yacht Club just down the way. But over the next twenty years, the boom faded, and then the storms hit.
Guest Editorial by Raymond Welch Somewhere along the ramifying pathways of the possible, I became an energy consultant. I’m not sure how that happened. Part of me thinks it’s because life proceeds haphazardly. Another part of me thinks it’s because I’m passive, irresolute, cowardly, and amoral. Now I analyze utility tariffs, natural gas prices, carbon emissions, and all the other glyphs and runes by which the hidden world of energy communicates with we who scuttle on its filmy surface. There is no refuge from my secret here.
By Ken Pirie My favorite transition is at the end of Thurman Street in Portland’s Northwest District. The street begins at railroad tracks along the Willamette River, and is initially fronted by old industrial buildings, some converted to restaurants, in the shadow of an overhead freeway that severs the street for several blocks. It then re-emerges as a few blocks of some of the most delightful urban streetscapes in the city.
Angels and demons at the most infamous dive in the city. By Brent Hendricks The idea is that things speed up as the world hurtles towards an end point. Not just the felt pace of life and communication, but time itself speeds up as the significant signs of the past crash into the present. Typology and Recapitulation. Old Testament and New Testament. Like you’re swinging from a rope and your whole life flies before you—all the figures of your life, your culture, even history itself. All the signs of the past fire by and then it’s over. And after that someone you don’t know tells a story about it: about you, about the world, about the end of the world… “She hanged herself,” he says. And it takes a while, but the ground opens up beneath me and I’m falling right through.