Reading List Of Works Formative To Early American Thought

Medieval Works

  1. Ordinance of William the Conqueror (1072).
  2. Laws of William the Conqueror (c. 1066).
  3. Constitutions of Clarendon (1164).
  4. Assize of Clarendon (1166).
  5. Magna Carta (1215).
  6. De Legibus Et Consuetudinibus Angliæ (c. 1235).
  7. Summa Theologica (1265-1273).
  8. Marco Polo’s Travels (c. 1300).
  9. The First Manual of Parliamentary Procedure (c. 1350).
  10. The Declaration of Arbroath (1320).

15th & 16th Century Works

  1. Malleus Maleficarum (1486).
  2. Journal, C. Columbus (1492).
  3. Epistola De Insulis Nuper Inventis, C. Columbus (1493).
  4. Letter to the King and Queen of Spain, C. Columbus (1494).
  5. King Henry VII’s Commission to John Cabot (1497).
  6. The Prince, Machiavelli (1513).
  7. Temporal Authority: To What Extent it Should Be Obeyed, Luther (1523).
  8. The Bondage of the Will, Luther (1524).
  9. The Act of Supremacy, Henry VIII (1534).
  10. Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin (1540).
  11. The Journey of Alvar Nuñez Cabeza De Vaca (1542).
  12. From The Revolutions of the Heavenly Bodies, Copernicus (1543).
  13. The Council of Trent (1545).
  14. A Short Treatise on Political Power, John Ponet, D.D. (1556).

The list is a work in progress and will be continuously updated. Recommendations for the future inclusion of works is welcome.


Fiction Writer’s Compendium: Middle English

Below is a resource for writers, consisting of dozens of Middle English words paired with their modern-day equivalent meanings. The list is not meant to be exhaustive of all Middle English. If there are any words you wish me to add to the list, feel free to contact me and let me know (Middle English to the left, current English to the right broken by ‘-‘).

al, or, al be that – though

als – as

anon – at once

artow – art thou, thou art

atte – at, at the

aventure – chance

axe – ask

ay – always

been – are

bet – better

beth – are; (imperative) be

brenne – burn but,

but if – unless

can, kan – know, be able

canstow – can you, you can

cas – happening, chance

certes – surely, certainly

clepe (n) – call

clerk – scholar

cokewold – cuckold

coy – quiet

ech – each

echo (o) n – each one

eek, eke – also

er, or – before; formerly

everich – every; every one

fay, fey – faith

forthy – therefore

fro – from

gan, gonne – began

hastow – have you, you have

hem – them

here – her

hight – named, called

him lest (list) – he wants

hir (e) – her, their

ich – I

ilke – same

kan – know, know how to; can

konne – learn; know how to; can

koude – knew; knew how to; could

kynde – nature

lasse – less

le (e) ve – dear

lite – little

lystes – jousting or tilting fields; enclosed grounds for formal combat

maistow, maystow – may you, you may

make – mate, husband, make

mo – more

moot – may, must, ought to; so (also, ever) moot I: as I hope to

morewe – morrow, morning

mowe – may

muche – much, many

nam – am not, namo, namoore, no more

nas – was not

nat – not

nathelees – nevertheless

ne – not, nor

nere – were not

nolde – would not

nones, nonys – occasion

noon – none, no

noot – know not

nyce – foolish

nys – is not

o, oo, on, oon, that oon – one

of – of; off

pardee: (lit. “by God”), a common oath – certainly

prime, pryme – 9 A.M.

quod – said

rakel – rash

rathe – early, soon

rede – advise; interpret; read

seistow – you say

sely – innocent, simple

seyde – said

seye – say

shaltow – you shall

sikerly – certainly, surely, truly

sith – since; then

somdel – somewhat

sooth, soothfastnesse, sothe – truth

swich – such

syn – since

than (ne) – then, than

thilke – this, that, at that

tho – those; then

tweye – two

unnethe – scarcely

unwemmed – undefiled

verray – true, veritable

wantrust – distrust

wene, -eth – think, thinks

whylom – once, once upon a time, formerly

wight – person, thing

yaf – gave

ycleped – named

ye – eye

yeve, -en, -est, -eth – give, given

ynogh – enough

ywis – surely, certainly

Celebrations Of The Winter Solstice Through Cultures & Time

Myth bares a indelible connection to the changing of the seasons and the modulation of the land they harbing. Hercules contestation with the Hydra (a multi-headed water monster) in ancient Greece bares parallels to the struggles of Greecian water managers and their multi-faceted (ie. multi-headed) irrigation systems. The snake-god Apophis (Apep) who clashed every morning with Ra as he rode his resplendent barque across the sky, was slain at the beginning of the Nile flood season, but was immortal and eternally recurring (just like the interplay between dry and flooding seasons). The indo-European god Indra (Devendra) defeated the water-serpent Vrtra (which draws its roots in the word wrto/eh, meaning, ‘enclosure’) a victory which corresponds to the release of mighty floods; the beginning of monsoon season.

As with the Greeks, Indo-Europeans and Egyptians, so to with our modern holiday celebrations, chief among which is Christmas, which is, of course, connected to the Winter Solstice; the death of winter and the birth of spring; a renewal of life.

Origins of Christmas

Ritualized celebration of the Winter Solstice is an exceedingly ancient practice that can be traced back to the beginning of recorded history. Whilst many popular celebrations of the the solstice survive to this day, such as the Iranian Shab-e Yalda (a celebration of the triumph of Mithra), or the Chinese Dong Zhi (a celebration of the increase in positive energy concurrent with longer days), the Japanese Toji (practice intended to start the new year with good health and luck), or the Hopi rite of Soyal (night long festival of dancing and gift-giving, celebrating the solstice), none are as famous as the western practice of Christmas.

In modernistically recognizable form, Christmas can be traced back to the establishment of December 25th celebration of the Invincible Sun, Dies Natali Invictus (birthday of the unconquered) or Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (birthday of Sol Invictus), by the roman emperor, Aurelian in the 3rd century. Later, in 273. It was not, as might be thought a solstice celebration, but rather a religious ceremony. The Christian Church selected Aurelian’s date as the official birth of Jesus (which was also the birthday of Mithras) and by 336 the solar celebration was Christianized, with Christ having supplanted The Invincible Sun, as the singular focus of the event. The debt to the ancient cult of the sun has continued ever since. Will Durant, in his The Story of Civilization wrote, “Christianity was the last great creation of the ancient Pagan world.”

The Yule Log

The ancient nords annually burnt a great log in honor of the god, Thor. Upon coming into contact with Christians, the practice was adopted and syncretically incorporated into the broader framework of celebration.

The Tree

The fixture of the ‘Christmas tree’ is part of a broader meta-cultural phenomenon which is often expressed through a ‘tree of life’ or ‘tree of the world’ (such as the Eagle-Serpent Tree described in the Myth of Etana or Yggdrasil which also features serpent-eagle motifs) which acts as a nexus for mythological narrative within which are generally metaphors concerning diametrically opposing qualities (such as snake and eagle, land and sky, good and evil, the seen and the hidden, etc). Trees were central to ancient peoples for their fires, their lodgings and shade after a long days toil; additionally, the greening of trees after the passing of winter signaled a great revitalization, the conquest of life over the frigid reign of death, so it is understandable why trees have always been so central to celebrations and rites related to the Winter Solstice (and it is likely that man-made habitation will take up a similar position in the far off future; for example, it may be the space ship which is venerated by exomoon colonies, as the vessel of life). In The Book of Christmas Folklore, Coffin writes of the history of the practice: “Most people have heard that the Christmas tree originates in the tannenbaum and is some sort of vestige of Teutonic vegetation worship. THIS IS PARTIALLY TRUE. However, the custom of using pine and other evergreens ceremonially was well established at the ROMAN SATURNALIA, even earlier in Egypt” (p. 209).

Santa Claus

One of the most iconic of mythological figures associated with contemporary Christmas celebrations is Santa Claus, a fat, bespectacled jolly man possessed of magical powers who travels the word, sliding down the chimney of innumerable homes to give gifts to the deserving. This belief can be traced back to the norse goddess Hertha, who would appear in one’s fireplace to grant good luck. The practice of leaving gifts underneath the tree are also nordic, as Odin would leave gift beneath evergreens during Yuletide, a tree considered sacred due its association with the deity. Tony van Renterghem in his When Santa Was a Shaman, writes:

“In newly Christianized areas where the pagan Celtic and Germanic cults remained strong, legends of the god Wodan were blended with those of various Christian saints; Saint Nicholas was one of these. There were Christian areas where Saint Nicholas ruled alone; in other locations, he was assisted by the pagan Dark Helper (the slave he had inherited from the pagan god Wodan). In other remote areas…ancient pockets of the Olde Religion controlled traditions. Here the Dark Helper ruled alone, sometimes in a most confusing manner, using the cover name of Saint Nicholas or ‘Klaus,’ without in any way changing his threatening, Herne/Pan, fur-clad appearance. (This was the figure later used by the artist Nast as the model for the early American Santa Claus)” (page 96).

Celebrations of the Future

In my own personal capacity, I should like to see the celebration of the Winter Solstice focused upon a veneration of the ingenious human industry which girds us from the rending chaos of frostbite and frigidity, of all that turns against dissolution and all that revitalizes our commitment to our fellows, in sonorous mirth and joyous creativity, as we contemplate the return of warmth and growth and plan endeavours for the Spring.

This season, if you should find yourself warm and well-stocked, thank the local architects and engineers, the electricians and designers who have, through the powers of their mind, created the magnanimous shell which girds you from near-certain death.

Sources & Resources for Further Reading

  1. David C. Pack. (undated) The True Origin of Christmas. RCG.
  2. HOIM Staff. (undated) The Shocking Pagan Origins of Christmas. Hope of Israel Ministries.
  3. Klaus Antoni & David Weiss. (2013) Sources of Mythology: Ancient & Contemporary Myths (Two-Faced Solstice Symbols & The World Tree). 7th Annual International Conference on Comparative Mythology.
  4. Patti Wigington. (2018) History of Yule. ThoughtCo.
  5. Patti Wigington. (2018) Yule Wassail Recipe & History. ThoughtCo.
  6. Sarah Pruitt. (2016) 8 Winter Solstice Celebrations Around The World. History.
  7. Stavanger Writer. (1997) Christmas In Norway. Stavanger-Web.

The Citta Nuova and the Architecture of War

“Let us overturn monuments, pavements, arcades and flights of steps; let us sink the streets and squares; let us raise the level of the city.”

-Antonio Sant’Elia,  Futurist Manifesto of Architecture.

“I am at war with my time, with history, with all authority that resides in fixed and frightened forms.”

-Lebbeus Woods, War and Architecture.

Whilst the name of Antonio Sant’Elia is not widely known, anyone who has ever seen Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927), or Ridley Scott’s Bladerunner (1982) has beheld the striking power of his legacy as his imposing and gargantuan, yet highly plausible, architectural drawings inspired the architecturally dense worlds of both films. Elia’s most well known works all come from his Citta Nuova (New City) series which the American experimental architect Lebbeus Woods described as, “perhaps, the most famous and influential [drawings] of the early 20th century.”

Antonio Sant’Elia, Air and train station with funicular cableways on three road levels from La Città Nuova, 1914.

Lebbeus Woods is well positioned to critique and build upon the works of Sant’Elia, as he, more than nearly any other contemporary artist, embraced and carried forth the brilliant flame of Futurism which Marinetti first kindled in Italy in 1909 with his incendiary manifesto and which Sant’Elia further crystallized with his astounding architectural drawings and conceptual writings which brim to overflowing with the steel of mind and the light of purpose. Whilst, like most modern men, Woods certainly was not nearly so sanguine about the prospects of war as the Futurists (who glorified it as the hygiene of the world), he certainly understood its nature well, having dedicated many works to the torturous Siege of Sarajevo – the single longest concentrated attack on a capital city in modern history – which Woods witnessed first-hand. In 2011, Woods wrote of the conflict:

For anyone who saw the burning twin towers in Sarajevo, in the summer of 1992, which were attacked by terrorists bent on undermining the morale of the people of that cosmopolitan city, the attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, nine years later, with the same goals in mind, came as no great surprise. The fall of the Iron Curtain and the end of the Cold War had produced a new type of global struggle based not on vast armies clashing in the field, but on small-scale insurgencies attacking the centers of their enemies’ power, disrupting them, and thereby undermining their self-confidence and ability to dominate others. This new type of warfare was called terrorism. Its main weapon is creating fear in the enemy, both government and ordinary citizens, leading not to armistices, treaties, and other official instruments of reconciliation between legally recognized states, but to de facto victories, in which the insurgents hope to win economic or political concessions that strengthen them in their own domain or globally, in the sense that they are ever more feared and hence ever more powerful and influential.

One significant new feature of this new type of conflict is that opposing sides are not drawn along socio-political lines—one communist and one capitalist—as in the Cold War rivalry between two superpowers, but rather along religious ones. This is a throwback to the Middle Ages, and not Modern at all, except in terms of weaponry and techniques of command and control. The conflict now is primarily between Christians and Muslims. The attack on Sarajevo was carried out by a Christian insurgency against a Muslim majority. The attack on the World Trade Center in New York was carried out by a Muslim insurgency against a Christian majority. Both had the goal of degrading a way of life. Both attacks were attacks on the idea of the city itself.”

Woods’ sensitivity to the times, the city and to the cultural zeitgeists which shape it, is a attribution which he closely shared with Sant’Elia who in his Futurist Manifesto of Architecture, wrote:

“No architecture has existed since 1700. A moronic mixture of the most various stylistic elements used to mask the skeletons of modern houses is called modern architecture. The new beauty of cement and iron are profaned by the superimposition of motley decorative incrustations that cannot be justified either by constructive necessity or by our (modern) taste, and whose origins are in Egyptian, Indian or Byzantine antiquity and in that idiotic flowering of stupidity and impotence that took the name of neoclassicism.

These architectonic prostitutions are welcomed in Italy, and rapacious alien ineptitude is passed off as talented invention and as extremely up-to-date architecture. Young Italian architects (those who borrow originality from clandestine and compulsive devouring of art journals) flaunt their talents in the new quarters of our towns, where a hilarious salad of little ogival columns, seventeenth-century foliation, Gothic pointed arches, Egyptian pilasters, rococo scrolls, fifteenth-century cherubs, swollen caryatids, take the place of style in all seriousness, and presumptuously put on monumental airs. The kaleidoscopic appearance and reappearance of forms, the multiplying of machinery, the daily increasing needs imposed by the speed of communications, by the concentration of population, by hygiene, and by a hundred other phenomena of modern life, never cause these self-styled renovators of architecture a moment’s perplexity or hesitation. They persevere obstinately with the rules of Vitruvius, Vignola and Sansovino plus gleanings from any published scrap of information on German architecture that happens to be at hand. Using these, they continue to stamp the image of imbecility on our cities, our cities which should be the immediate and faithful projection of ourselves.”

How sharp and true do his words ring today! And, likely, well shall they ring unto the future. Both Sant’Elia and Woods share in their ruminations on architecture a delicate sensitivity to time and place, to the nature of the city and its shaping by the forces of a hundred thousand different traditions all vying for dominion (and nearly all ignorant or uncaring about meeting the needs of the evolution of human civilization). Sant’Elia, like all of his Futurist brethern, rejected these traditions as a supreme giving-in to decrepitude and decay, and instead opts to turn The City into a majestic symbolic representation of a “projection of ourselves as we are.” Reification of the present without delay! Woods doesn’t entirely agree (nor entirely disagree) as he writes in his piece War and Architecture,

“In going over what I wrote about this work [on Sarajevo] at the time—in 1993—I find it inadequate in its explanation of what inspired the designs, drawings, and models and what I hoped to achieve by making them. No wonder, I say in hindsight, that they were accused of “aestheticizing violence,” and merely being exploitative of a tragic human condition. I failed to put the work in the broader human context that it needed to be understood as proposals for architecture serving rational and needed purposes. I hope to correct—to the extent I can here—this failure.”

Woods is here throwing up a, “I would never aestheticize violence!” as if that were somehow criminal. We should hastily remark that aestheticizing violence is just as laudable (and potentially deplorable) as aestheticizing any other domain of significant human activity. Nevertheless, Woods, in a slightly less politicized context, writes of war:

Architecture and war are not incompatible. Architecture is war. War is architecture. I am at war with my time, with history, with all authority that resides in fixed and frightened forms. I am one of millions who do not fit in, who have no home, no family, no doctrine, no firm place to call my own, no known beginning or end, no “sacred and primordial site.” I declare war on all icons and finalities, on all histories that would chain me with my own falseness, my own pitiful fears. I know only moments, and lifetimes that are as moments, and forms that appear with infinite strength, then “melt into air.” I am an architect, a constructor of worlds, a sensualist who worships the flesh, the melody, a silhouette against the darkening sky. I cannot know your name. Nor you can know mine. Tomorrow, we begin together the construction of a city.”

Such vivacity, why Marinetti or Sant’Elia could well have written those words themselves and should surely laud them were they able! One sees here the convergence most starkley between Sant’Elia and Woods, the city is new because the city, to be a proper and well fitted city must always be new. Perfection is anathema for perfection is stagnation and stagnation is death. Thus they war with time and space itself, eternally, in, as Aaron Traywick once said, “The Endless Game.”

The Image of Man | Specter of Earth (VI)

(a.3) If We Do Nothing | Invariable Extinction (continued from part V)

Whilst it is obvious that the “the world” is not ending in any meaningful, immediate way, despite the doomsaying of catastrophists such as Al Gore and Stephanie Wakefield, the world will, eventually, come to disintegration given sufficient time. Nothing extant is without an end. Even stars perish at the last. Our own sun, no exception to this rule. By aggregate estimate, the average age of a star is predicted to be around several billion years; the precise number of these years is difficult to determine given that celestial burn-out is predicated upon the amount of hydrogen contained within the core of any given celestial body. Our own star – the sun – is classed as a “main sequence” body which describes the fact that it is currently in it’s most stable period wherein it continuously converts it’s hydrogen core into helium. After around 8 billion years of this process the hydrogen will have been exhausted and as a consequence, the helium still in the core will cause the sun to utilize hydrogen outside of the core as a heat source, as this occurs, gravitational forces take over from the burning process thus causing the shell to expand and the surface to cool from white to red; when a star enters this stage it is referred to as a red giant due to it’s sanguine hue and significantly increased size. Given sufficient time this process will bring the red giant into contact with the earth which will swiftly be disintegrated. Before that occurs, however, the heat from the rapidly expanding sun will boil the oceans, causing all water on earth to become trapped in the atmosphere where it will be molecularly splinted by the sun’s energy, causing it to bleed out into the void of space as hydrogen and oxygen, thus leaving a barren, desiccated husk1. Amun-Ra’s wrath. Given that our galaxy is 4.5 billion years old, our sun has exhausted around about half of its total, estimated lifetime, this is to say humans have around 5 to 6.5 billion years left to inhabit the earth before the sun reaches it’s red giant phase2.

Yet even abandoning any concerns about sun-death, humanity, whether collectively or in some portion, will still need to contend with what many environmentalists and scientists have begun referring to as the sixth great extinction event. A research paper published in Science Advances in 2015 by the well known American biologist, Paul R. Ehrlich, and others, comparing past extinction rates to modern extinction rates states that animals are vanishing at a rate unprecedented since the fifth mass extinction period3 which occurred over 66 million years ago4 and brought about an end to the dinosaurs (save for that which became avians). The problem with these studies (and assertions which echo the sentiments contained within such studies) is that it is incredibly difficult to determine, with any accuracy, the rate of extinction of species that no longer exist. Ehrlich notes as much within his study when he writes, “-biologists cannot say precisely how many species there are, or exactly how many have gone extinct in any time interval-5.” He further states what should be obvious to everyone in the proceeding page, “Population extinction cannot be reliably assessed from the fossil record-6” the study also abstains from making any statement on organisms other than vertabrates; “-we have not considered animals other than vertebrates because of data deficiencies-7.” The latter point should also be rather obvious, there are simply too many different species on the planet to plug them all into a extrapolatiing extinction matrix in a 6 page paper. It would be astounding if, say, tardigrades were on the verge of extinction (they aren’t). However, we should not wax whistful about the prospect of extinction as there are decidedly certain types of organisms which we would be better of without. Whilst it is still dubious to classify viruses as a form of life, there are numerous types of viruses, such as HIV8. HIV is but one of many of the genus lentivirus which are, across the board, harmful – and often deadly – to mammalians such as humans, apes, cows and goats. More terrifyingly, viruses of the genus lentivirus can become endogenous to the host, meaning that they can incorporate their genome into the occupied organism’s genome such that the virus will henceforth be inherited by the host’s descendants. Pathogenic bacteria (those types of bacteria which cause disease and death) also occupy a similar position in relation to humans.

A common rebuttal to such a position as that which we have sketched out above is to take aim at centering either one’s personal or societies collective concern on humans-as-such and attempt to deconstruct so-called anthropocentric thinking. But what would it mean to center one’s concerns on anything other than one’s species? At a certain point one would be forced to make the decision between expanding a settlement and displacing some wildlife and simply not expanding and settling at all. If this queer notion had been taken up from the first it is highly unlikely that humanity would share the masterful command over the world that it does to this day. If we had refused to slay a charging beast upon the plains, if we had refused to eat the feral herds, if we had refused to burn the forests and there kindle them a’fire, if we had refused to dam the rivers and drain the swamps and level the land how sleek our chances would have been! How like as not we’d have passed away into the dustbin of history like the Neanderthal and homo erectus before us!

1Nearly all animal species will die once the oceans boil with the possible exception of the tardigrade. Fascinatingly resilient organisms!

2See the work of Enjar Hertzsprung and Henry Norris Russel, specifically as pertains to the Hertzsprung-Russel diagram.

3K-Pg extinction event which occurred between the Cretaceous and Paleogene epochs and ended 75% of all life on earth.

4Time interval calculated from Time Scales of Critical Events Around the Cretaceous-Paleogene Boundary, Paul R. Renne et al, Science 339, 684, (2013).

5Ceballos et al., Sci. Adv. 2015, p. 3

6Ceballos et al., Sci. Adv. 2015, p. 4

7Ceballos et al., Sci. Adv. 2015, p. 4

8HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus.

The Image of Man | Specter of Earth (V)

(a.2) Death of the Specter | Man, Reborn (continued from part IIII)

Unrigorous conclusions are starkly evidenced by envirocrats, who, often regardless of the evidence in a given situation, advocate that human activity has caused, and is causing, one of three particular eventualities: catastrophic resource scarcity (from say, overpopulation), mass and devastating pollution (from factories, mines and energy production facilities) and, the mainstay, disastrous climate change (which is generally ascribed to CO2 emissions). All of these eventualities merge and blend into one another and are often grouped under the blandly melodramatic heading of those set of actions which are “killing the planet.” Putting aside literal claims of a “dying planet” (which doesn’t really mean anything and, again, places “the planet” – a vague anthropomorphization – over humanity or some portion thereof), issues of desertification, disappearance of plant and animal species and pollution of bodies of water are all important issues but what one should take pains to examine is whether or not such claims are actually true and, if so, to what extent.

Resource depletion

Let us tackle the first issue: resource depletion. This issue is somewhat vexed due to problems inherent in the language that is used to describe it; one of the most problematic of these pieces of language is contained within the phrase “natural resources” which is generally taken to mean something or things which exists independent of man but that can also be plucked from that natural spot wherein it lays to further some end. Apples, for instance, would fulfill this definition. But oil or coal bare very little similarities to an apple as they are not “given” but made. “Natural resources” is a vexed phrase due to the fact that everything which exists, whether wild apples or compressed hydrocarbons, require work to acquire. In the wilderness, nothing is given, everything is acquired, which is to say, labored for. One does not simply move out over an oil field and scoop the black stuff from off the ground into a bucket1, rather, one must drill, drain, remove, contain, refine (typically via fractional distillation or chemical processing), treat, combine and transport the fuel. Every step of this process requires some form of labor, whether man-powered or machine-powered, and this takes further energy, but more crucially, ingenuity. This is to say that the hydrocarbons laying in the ground are completely useless (to humans) until someone figures out how to utilize said resource.

In 1595, the lauded English explorer, Sir Walter Raleigh2 – with the help of some natives – discovered3 the Pitch Lake of Trinidad4. The Pitch Lake contained around 10 million tons of bitumen (asphalt5) which could be distilled into kerosene6, however, no one had developed a the method of fractional distillation7 which would have allowed for the extraction of kerosene from petroleum and thus, the Pitch Lake was rendered useless as a fuel source (though Raleigh was able to utilize the tar to fix his ship). In the absence of a distillation process (and a technique to utilize it) black goo in the ground was just that and very little more. Until it wasn’t. Until men made it a resource. Thus, the transmogrification of raw material to resource is limited only by ingenuity and the means to implement the innovative processes which arise because of it. Thus, there is, in theory, really is no such thing as even the potential for “natural” (wild) resource depletion (given that energy is contained within everything) but only a scarcity of human innovation.


To tackle the second issue, that of pollution, we must begin by stating at the outset the glaringly obvious fact that conversations surrounding this issue are almost entirely one-sided; with the dominant view being that the aggregate effects of industrialized human impact are “polluting the planet.” Several things need to be said about this, the first of which is that phrases such as “polluting the planet” are quite nebulous; in the case of pollution it is more useful to examine the by-product or by-products of a particular form of energy-production and then critically examine their effects in the broadest possible ecological context given that every form of energy-production has some kind of by-product which could be described as “pollution.” Even the most “nature friendly” of fuel sources, the primordial bonfire, releases smoke up into the atmosphere and could be, if it was set up within confined spaces, be inhaled to the detriment of one’s health or the health of some allotment of other organisms.

Thus, it is not enough to talk of pollution-as-such, rather, to be clear-headed on this issue, we must looked to the particular kinds of pollution, their effects and the acceptable and unacceptable thresholds thereof. The first and most obvious negative pollution threshold would be any kind of by-product which reliably ended human life within human settlements; mass quantities of ceaseless bonfire smoke, for instance, in tightly confined and poorly filtered areas, would clearly be beyond the bounds of threshold acceptability as it would, given sufficient time cause all of the inhabitants to suffocate from cerebral hypoxia8. However, if there was a by-product caused by some energy production facility or machine that was unpleasent but considerably mild, one might judge the “pollution” to be worth it (as is the case for many with car exhaust). Thus, in summary, the correct way of viewing pollution is not whether or not there is any at all, but rather, is the amount of by-product produced by a given venture worth the venture itself.

Anthropogenic Catastrophic Climate Change

The claim of man-made global warming represents the descent of science from the pursuit of truth into politicized propaganda. The fact that it is endorsed by the top scientist in the British government shows how deep this rot has gone.”

-Melanie Phillips, Daily Mail, 12 January 2004.

Unlike the relatively simple issues of pollution and resource depletion, climate change is a considerably more complicated issue. At the outset it must be stated that the history of the discursive modalities surrounding this intensely politicized subject is frought with difficulties with those who believe humans are bringing about the end of the world through climate change declaring that any who deny their claims are “climate deniers.” Such a ridiculous phrase must be promptly rebuffed; obviously climate is real. One would be quite hard pressed to find a man or woman living with a fully functional brain who truly believed that the climate was an utter fiction. What is actually entailed in the phrase “climate denier” is denial of climate change, not the climate-as-such. The climate is obviously and observably changing, indeed, it changes every season, from warm to mild to cold and back once more to warmth and all that is gold and green and skittering. The crucial questions to be answered are what is the degree of climate change and is this change dangerous to mankind and, if it is determined that such changes are determined to be dangerous to mankind, what should be done about it? For example, every winter, one realizes the dangers posed to the human organism by frostbite and, to gird against it, one deploys additional heating within one’s domicile and without, one dons furs and gloves and all manners of coating to protect against the elements.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the world witnessed a surge in claims of impending catastrophic climate change in the form of global cooling; in the 90s & 2000s, global warming rose to fashion. To give a brisk listing:

  1. 1970, Kenneth E. Watt, noted ecologist of the University of California claimed that the global mean temperature would drop four degrees by 1990 and 11 degrees by 2000. He claimed this change would bring about another ice age.9

  2. Earth Day, 1970, Harvard biologist George Wald declared that civilization would come to an end in “15 to 30” years, barring “immediate action.”10

  3. 1970, May Bethel publishes How To Live In Our Polluted World. Upon the very first paragraph of the very first page she writes, “It is impossible to isolate ourselves entirely from this menace of civilization.”11

  4. 1971, Paul Ehrlich, ecologist of Stanford University prognosticated that by the year 2000 the UK would be utterly decimated and fragmented by famine as a consequence of anthropogenic “global cooling,” he further went on to say that were he a betting man he would put money on Britain not existing by the year 2000.

  5. 1971, John Paul Holdren and Paul Ehrlich wrote the 6th chapter for Global Ecology: Readings Towards a Rational Strategy for Man wherein they claimed that human activity, such as jet exhaust, pollution, drainage and so forth, would bring about a new ice age. Holdren would go on to become the “science czar” to the Obama Administration.

  6. 1975, Newsweek published an article entitled, The Cooling World, put forth the hypothesis that the earth’s aggregate temperature had been steadily dropping for decades due to human activity.12

  7. 1978, Paul Ehrlich, Anne Ehrlich & John Paul Holdren publish Ecoscience, a tome which calls for the creation of a “planetary regime” that would have dominion over nearly all resources on the earth and would also enforce population control via coercive sterilization and abortion to protect the ecology.13

  8. 2000, David Viner of Climate research Unit (CRU) claimed that in a matter of years snowfall would become so scare that it would be considered “rare” and “exciting” whenever it was beheld. He further went on to say that children would have no conception of what snow even was and that snowfall would be a “thing of the past.”14

  9. 2003, The Pentagon released a paper entitled, An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and its Implications for United States Security. The 22 page document, penned by Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall, laid out a hypothesis, based upon then-current research, that it was likely that climate warming would cause slowing of the thermohaline conveyor of the world’s oceans which would in turn cause increasingly frigid winters, soil desiccation and wild storms. In the view of the authors this climatic upheaval would be gradual and would leave North Europe, America and Russia relatively untouched for sometime, whereas Southern Europe, Africa and Central and South America would suffer from production shortages in short order.15

  10. 2004, the speculative science fiction film The Day After Tomorrow is released. Directed by Roland Emmerich (best known for Independence Day), the motion picture is based off of the book The Coming Global Superstorm, by Art Bell and Whitley Strieber, which warned of catastrophic climate change bringing about a storm that would amass around the Norther Hemisphere which would then freeze over. Many of the scenarios within the book are portrayed in Emmerich’s film.

  11. 2005, UNEP16 notified the world that in five years the world would face catastrophe due to anthropogenic warming which would bring about mass desertification and death. The claimed that the Pacific Islands and the Caribbean and various other coastal regions were at the greatest risk of this looming threat and would produce 50 million “climate refugees.” 2010 came and went with no records of any “climate refugees” fleeing either the Pacific Islands or Caribbean; rather, their native populations markedly increased.17

  12. 2013, The Friends of Science release a study concerning a predictive climate model created by the Canadian Centre for Climate Modeling and Analysis which was used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change18 to craft a narrative of climate eschatology; disaster, they proclaimed, was imminent. The Friends of Science study, however, found that the latter’s model predictions were incorrect by 590%. Ken Gregory, the director of Friends of Science noted, “Taxpayers in Canada should be appalled at how their money has ended up funding faulty science that has driven climate change terror around the world.”19

Every single one of the aforementioned proclamations and projections turned out to be false, often glaringly so (as with example xii). What this tells us is that though climate science is extremely important, the reliability of period climate modeling was (and remains during the time of this writing) highly unreliable. Thus, when such proclamations are made, it behooves one to ask first, cui bono? Who benefits? Secondly, one should ask the questions: What is the model and what is the data and how was the data obtained? Additionally, who is conducting the research, what are their motivations? What is their track-record?

To conclude: The prospect of ‘environmental catastrophe’ (almost invariably overstated, when not outright false) should be viewed as an exciting new challenge to be overcome rather than some gloomy and incontestable eventuality. The mentality of the doomsayer is that of a masterless slave, for that which is thought impossible is made impossible in the thinking.

1Settled ground oil – or, bubbling crude – is a naturally occurring phenomenon but it is so rare as to be unreliable and even were it reliable one would still have to process the oil before utilizing it.

2Sir Walter Raleigh was a English spy, man-of-letters & explorer who popularized tobacco in his homeland.

3The natives knew well of the lake. “Discovered” here means, “The English discovered.”

4See, Paul R. Sellin, Treasure, Treason and the Tower: El Dorado & The Murder of Sir Walter Raleigh. 2011.

5A black, semi-solid form of petroleum. Also referred to less commonly as asphaltum. Popular in waterproof roofing.

6Kerosene is a combustible liquid-hydrocarbon which can be created from petroleum widely used as jet fuel.

7Fractional distillation is a old technique for the separation of useful hydrocarbons from crude oil which involves heating the crude substance to boiling point & then collecting the differential vapors (which are referred to as ‘fractions’).

8Condition characterized by the complete oxygen deprivation of the brain.

9Ronald Bailey Earth Day, Now & Then, May 1, 2000. Also see, Alex Newman, Embarrassing Predictions Haunt the Global-Warming Industry, New American, 2014.

10Ronald Bailey, Earth Day, Now & Then, May 1, 2000.

11May Bethel, How To Live In Our Polluted World, Introduction, p. 6

12Peter Gwynne, The Cooling World, Newsweek, April 28, 1975.

13See, Holdren et al. Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment. 1978

14Alex Newman, Embarrassing Predictions Haunt The Global-Warming Industry, The New American, 2014.

15Peter Schwartz, Dough Randall, An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and its Implications for United States national Security.

16UNEP stands for the United Nations Environment Programme.

17Alex Newman, Embarrassing Predictions Haunt Global-Warming Industry, The New American, 2014.

18Also known more simply as ‘IPCC.’

19Canadian Climate Change Predictions Fail by 590% Costing Global Consumers a Bundle Says Friends of Science Study, October 31, 2013.

The Image of Man | Specter of Earth (IIII)

(a.2) Death of the Specter | Man, Reborn (continued from part III)

  1. Nature doesn’t give us a stable, safe climate that we make dangerous. It gives us an ever-changing, dangerous climate that we need to make safe.”

    • Alex Epstein

We have hitherto concretized the specter of earth; recognizing it as that aggregation of views which subtend the view that man has separated himself from nature (Sjoo’s patriarchy, the abandonment of nature, the nurturing mother) and has thus – through horrific machinations (Ellul’s technique) – become nothing but a virus, crawling out upon the face of all the world, mindlessly consuming and destroying; endlessly; pointlessly. Forever unsated. It is the summation of all beliefs that posit man-as-locust, a ceaseless, rapaciously chthonic being which has, through the acquisition of forbidden knowledge and it’s ruthless implementation, cut himself off from some predetermined essence; the key, according to the cultists of the earth, to right and proper being (harmonic accord with some idealization of “nature”). We, however, recognize this idea for what it really is, anti-human philosophy and nothing else besides. But why should philosophy even be utilized for the advancement of humanity in any wise? In section a.1 we posed the question: “Should Man continue the process of reifying his immanence, thus synthesizing the manifest and scientific images or doing away with one or the other or should he cease and desist altogether?” The answer to the question lies in a sound understanding of whether or not one cares for all that one can conceivably care for within and of oneself, first and foremost. The answer, in short, is to be found in one’s standard of evaluation, one’s hierarchy of values (elseways there can be no values but only a value); that is, to interrogate the placement of humanity (or some portion thereof) as the highest value, or, the placement of some other notion as the highest standard, such as “the good,” or “god,” or “the goddess” or, “nature.” Ellul’s declaration that, “Life in such an environment [technological society] has no meaning,”1 is symptomatic of his belief that all meaning can only come from god who made the natural world, thus, man’s dominion over nature (in effect, over god) is somehow “unnatural” and thus, meaningless, or worse, evil. This is a consequence of his hierarchy of values; which, it needs to be said, everyone implicitly possesses (for instance, everywhere is wanton and ceaseless slaughter condemned), whether they are aware of it or not. The task of making such implicit values explicit is a useful one, given that a proper cognizance of one’s values thus allows one to re-evaluate them. Failing this, one will be, by and large, at the mercy of his passions, his drives and the passions and drives of the crowd and the cognizized philosophies of those that conduct them. Upon reflection it is clear that one must hold some value, for even the most contrarian and extreme of philosophical systems of non-evaluation require it. For instance, nihilism is widely considered to be the greatest expression of negation, but this position is not actually one which can be logically held, for in declaring that everything is meaningless one is also, simultaneously, declaring that that very proclamation is itself meaningful, as the statement “everything is meaningless” is itself a statement of meaning. This is true of many such positions which attempt near or total value-negation; for instance, total relativism, just as with nihilism, is not a position which can be logically held due to the fact that the statement “everything is relative,” is, itself, a non-relativistic statement. One could continue on at length but the picture is well and clear enough. Thus, if meaning is inescapable it is merely a question of where best to allocate such meaning (the allocation of meaning being the basis of value). If a man is to allocate, at the first, his significance towards anything other than survival of the organism and it’s propagation, then he has made a grievous mistake and is likely not long for this world, for it is survival of the organism which must, of necessity, take precedence over all other values for any other values to, of necessity, be at all possible, for the dead are afforded no valuations of their own. This axiom bares no circumnavigation, for if no humans were to exist, no value (at least no human generated value) would – or even could – exist. What, after all, would it mean to say that a world which consisted of nothing but hydrogen sealed within a radiation filled vacuum had value or meaning? What would it have meaning to? If a given thing is to have meaning it must, minimally, be meaningful to some thing. There are no values without a valuer. Therefore, a world without something(s) which could establish realization(s) (thus implying qualia) would be unable to initiate intrinsic valuation and thus would also be barred from creating extrinsic, normative conceptions of value-relation (to themselves or other things), hence, meaning-as-such would be rendered impossible. Therefore, meaning-as-such, can only be found in the (self)relational dynamics of qualitative entities (organic or otherwise). The originary grounding of being then can only be found in, not consciousness itself, but in sufficiently complex2 consciousness which is capable of realizing itself as conscious. Given that humans are the only animals who we can be certain are conscious of their consciousness (due the fact we possess it), anthropocentrism must be taken up and vigorously defended against the agrestic advances of the anti-humans3if there is to be any valuation at all; which is to say, if the organism is to survive. Thus, if one’s highest value or values are contained within survival then one is also for the promulgation and spread of humanity (or some portion thereof) for that, as well, is part of survival, as the concept is not one whose interests are confined solely to the present. The application and continuation of meaning into the future then, is the ratification of those actions at a latter point in time. To further this end, to solidify this value, then, we posit the project of reifying anthropocentric immanence4. We reject and decry those who should attempt to sabotage this project by pathetic appeals to “nature” or some deity or deities. They are the whining baggage of a desiccated age that has passed them by. Away with all of them. We, in contrast, affirm that unity subordinated by intelligence and it’s direction of theoretical exploration towards practical application, is the basis of all earthly power which man has hitherto achieved and that this is a laudable undertaking but that it’s magnification and ultimate terminus is to be found in the consolidation of celestial power. We affirm that we do not exist for the earth, but that the earth exists and thus is to be used or discarded or destroyed should we so declare. Our whim alone decides its fate. We affirm that there is no harmonic accord to be found within the natural order of things in relation to the dynamics of species on the whole; it matters not how many times you fawn and praise and aid a centipede, it will, given sufficient proximity, bite you all the same; it will tear into your flesh with it’s terrible mandibles without hesitation, without empathy and, were it of comparable size to a man, would think nothing of tearing your head free of the rest of the body, swallowing it and ripping open the abdominal cavity to better feast upon the marrow. One may bow at the altar of the willowy wood or the babbling brook with ceaseless adoration, it matters not to the yellow-fanged and dark-shrouded denizens of the former and the slithering, parasitic assassins of the latter. Be not seduced, there is seldom any living organism which will hesitate to slaughter and devour if a sufficiently exigent situation arises. It has been said that dogs are “man’s best friend,” yet this friendship is so tenuous that it is discarded the moment that pangs of hunger echo throughout the gullet. Were one to fall ill before their pet-dog and that pet was sufficiently hungry, it would think nothing of sinking its fangs into the face of it’s former master and devouring his flesh. Man, the whole of nature turns against you! Know this and rejoice! For what do you owe the holos? “You owe it all,” says the envirocrat, that slavish whipping boy of the specter, “and, given our safeguarding thereof, you owe us likewise, we the heralds of the new law!” We shall reply: We owe nothing to the savage ceaseless vortex, to the endless gnawing void; we owe our allegiance to all who share our dream of overcoming and suborning it.

Despite the elucidation of such realizations, the opinion of man-as-locust is – and likely will remain – a common one. Consider the words of research biologist for the National Park Service, David M. Graber, who, in his Los Angeles Times review of The End of Nature, a book by the American environmentalist, Bill McKibben, describes mankind as “a plague.” Graber begins his piece ominously, “If you feel a wrench in the gut when both American and Soviet astronauts remark that from their space perches the Earth today appears pockmarked with deforestation, dulled by smoke and everywhere marred by human activity-”5

That last portion is really quite revealing about Graber’s rabid anti-human attitudes. “Marred by human activity.” What of all the activity of the ants or the beavers? Both species are possessed of those destructive and constructive elements held by humanity at large; both take from their constitutive environments all that is necessary to build their domiciles, the ant-hill and the beaver-dam, because it services them. Yet to the envirocrat, such deconstructive/reconstructive processes are not decried, not even remarked upon; it is not to be supposed that they do not object due to the scale (though the crucial issue should be principality), for there are many examples of ecologically transformative species who are far more numerous than human-kind. Beetles, which account for approximately 40% of all known and cataloged arthropod species, can be incredibly destructive to many inhabitants of their local environments. Take, for instance, the Mountain Pine Beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae), small and black they burrow into and hollow out trees, dispensing fungus which, given time, degrade and ultimately kills the occupied ligneous plants. According to the science-writer, Daniel Strain, the Mountain Pine Beetle has been responsible for the destruction of 13 million hectares6 of forest in British Canada in the past decade7. Every year this voracious little creature decimates 16,000 hectares of mature timber in the Kamloops of Canada alone, the primary victim being lodgepole pine, though, where it can, it will also invade and destroy poderosa, whitebark pines and western white pines8. The FIDS annual report with ancillary MOF data for the Kamloops region shows that from 1987 to 2000 tree mortality rates incurred by the beetles has remained relatively consistent, sometimes falling slightly lower than average (1990, 6000 trees destroyed) and sometimes rising much higher than average (1999, 30,700 trees destroyed). The timber loss effectuated by the pine beetles invariably proceeds to effect the entire ecology, often having profound effects upon fisheries due to the change-ups in the watershed brought about by the destruction of so many trees. This type of ecological transformation might be bad for the fish and other wildlife which rely on particularities of water-flow, but it is certainly in the interest of the pine beetles and those creatures that have formed parasitic and symbiotic relationships with them, who, through the construction of bore-tunnels, create what are referred to as brood galleries, elaborate tunnel-systems which are made within the phloem tissue of a given pine which are so distinctive that they can be used to differentiate the work of Dendroctonus ponderosae from various other types of wood-boring beetles, such as the Ips pini (whose tunnel architecture is considerably less daedal). Yet one is very, very unlikely to hear – with any regularity – environmentalists calling these beetles “a plague.” Why? The answer is either that such green-dreaming meliorists are not familiar with D. ponderosae or they are familiar with them but they simply consider the actions of the beetle to be “natural” and thus “good” (in contrast to Man who is “unnatural” and thus “bad” – a typical dogma borne out of the tradition of the specter).

Later in his piece, after quoting a tract by McKibben9 bemoaning man’s self-imposed separation from the “sweet and wild garden” of nature, Graber notes,McKibben is saying that we have crossed some invisible line in our relationship with the Earth10. For better or worse, we now are living on a man-made planet11. Until anthropogenic global warming, the changes we wrought on the landscape were local, however grand. Whether we hunted and fished, cleared land and farmed it, or built cities, planetary forces continued to operate as they always had. The seasons, the wind and rain, the sunlight operated beyond the scope of human meddling. If, God willing, a tract of land was abandoned, nature reclaimed it. Nature was boss.

If here nature is meant to mean “all that is” or “all that can be perceived” then it is pertinent to remind Graber and McKibben that man is a part of it. But the fact that he writes “nature reclaimed it” gives us pause, surely, by his usage of “nature” he is not referring to “all that is” but rather to “all that is outside of the immediate purview of man” (in essence, the wilderness). In one of the most ridiculous passages in Graber’s review, he notes, “Our growing skill at genetic manipulation may enable us to tailor the life forms we wish to survive our altered planet. ‘What will it mean to come across a rabbit in the woods, once genetically engineered rabbits are widespread? Why would we have any more reverence or affection for such a rabbit than we would for a Coke bottle?12‘” At the first, we can readily remark that a Coke bottle differs from a rabbit in several important factors, the first and most stark of those factors is that a Coke bottle is not alive, it can not feel pleasure or pain, or indeed, anything at all. A piece of plastic is not cognizant of itself, thus there is no reason to have any concern whatsoever about the Coke bottle whereas there is reason for concern for the rabbit due to the fact that humans intrinsically understand that rabbits are alive and are sufficiently cognizant to exhibit behavioral characteristics which we recognize in ourselves. Fear, for instance, being chief among these emotions (like many other small mammalians, rabbits can literally be spooked to death). Furthermore, one must take into consideration precisely how the rabbit has been genetically engineered; this is crucial, for the value of the rabbit is extrinsic (since we cannot evaluate the rabbit on it’s own terms), thus, the nature of the changes wrought upon it are not trivial. If, for instance, these hypothetical rabbits had been modified such that they bolstered the strength of the critters to better pull sleds loaded with human goods with ease, their extrinsic value would be markedly improved over that of the common rabbit. Whereas, if the engineering made the rabbits rabid and violent, their value would be lowered, as they would become a potentially dangerous pest to human beings. But to Graber and other envirocrats who think like him, to evaluate how other species in our ecosystems actually effect us is irrelevant and to evaluate them in such a fashion is not just bad, but somehow vile.

In his next paragraph, Graber gets rather conceptually messy, “Books like this [McKibben’s] are supposed to end with an escape hatch. If we should all agree to use less energy and pollute less and . . . and then nature will survive. But as McKibben points out, it is too late. Global warming is already entrained; we are in for the ride, ready or not, and so are our innocent fellow travelers. Of course, as bad as things are, we always can make them worse. Nature may be finished, but there is still our own goose to cook. The climate will continue to heat until we sharply curtail the production of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Barring cold fusion or other nonexistent technologies, that requires a “reversal–not a cessation” of industrial growth.”13

Graber’s ending paragraphs are the most disturbing, “That makes what is happening no less tragic for those of us who value wildness for its own sake, not for what value it confers upon mankind. I, for one, cannot wish upon either my children or the rest of Earth’s biota a tame planet, a human-managed planet, be it monstrous or–however unlikely–benign. McKibben is a biocentrist, and so am I. We are not interested in the utility of a particular species, or free-flowing river, or ecosystem, to mankind. They have intrinsic value, more value–to me–than another human body, or a billion of them.”

This is really quite something! It’s pure Singerism through and through. He lays out quite plainly and concisely that he does not believe that neither he nor McKibben care very much at all about “another human body or a billion of them.” If we are to take Graber at his word (and there is no reason not to) then he clearly believes that he, you, reading this now, and indeed the whole population of the United States of America is no more valuable than the ecosystem of a small tributary in Missouri. He continues,

Human happiness, and certainly human fecundity, are not as important as a wild and healthy planet. I know social scientists who remind me that people are part of nature, but it isn’t true14. Somewhere along the line–at about a billion years ago, maybe half that–we quit the contract and became a cancer. We have become a plague upon ourselves and upon the Earth. It is cosmically unlikely that the developed world will choose to end its orgy of fossil-energy consumption, and the Third World its suicidal consumption of landscape. Until such time as Homo sapiens should decide to rejoin nature, some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along.”15

Up until this last line, one might have reasonably assumed that Graber meant well, but he reveals here that he means anything but; when he writes that “some of us” should hope for “the right virus to come along” he is taking a genocidal stance, however fanciful. What a disgusting thing to wish for; indeed, if one did not know anything of Graber’s philosophy one might think him completely mad. Both McKibben and Graber display a very odd kind of overactive empathy which, if taken seriously, if acted upon, would mean the deaths of millions, possibly billions, of people given that their plan for deindustrialization would be worse – far worse – than all out nuclear war. Then there is the muddiness of it all, the self-defeating ambiguity; for instance, what is it that he means when he writes that “until such time as Homo sapiens should decide to rejoin nature”? What does rejoining nature entail, precisely? Deindustrialization and the cessation of any and all reliable forms of energy is certainly a part of this vague, propositional process, but, in detail, what would it mean to rejoin nature? How have we been removed therefrom? Graber does not give us answers to these questions and neither does McKibben, both only mouth blackened doomsayings and anti-human drivel.

What is further important to note is that Graber and McKibben are in no wise peculiar in this regard, indeed, what is truly disturbing (or rather, what should be) is the fact that these ideas have so permeated and saturated the public discourse of almost every western society that they no longer elicit a sustained, negative response. To elaborate, consider a scenario wherein a public intellectual declares that he hopes “the right virus” comes along for any reason other than climate change; there would assuredly be a public outcry. What is the matter with that guy? Is he crazy? The public would inquire and rightly so. But when a public intellectual makes it known that he hopes that some millions or billions of people die in a catastrophe, it is considered not just permissible but noble if such a insane statement is made in defense of “nature.” This is the power of the specter.

The specter seems to owe allegiance to neither the political left or the right, to neither the rich nor the poor, to neither the faithful or the skeptical, to neither the intelligent nor the mentally lame. Further complicating the issue is the fact that the envirocrats who worship the specter – most of whom, it should be said, are fine and upstanding people – are not principally driven by logos, but by pathos. This pathos isn’t just reactive, but idealized and speculative, which makes it all the more stubborn and potentially dangerous. For example, one of the envirocats favorite issues is climate change. What is important to disentangle is not whether or not climate change is real (the climate is and always has been changing) but rather whether or not the climate change which is occurring will be – or has become – catastrophic. That is to inquire: How precisely is the climate changing and what will be the effects? What constitutes catastrophe? Here framework is crucial, for the lack of a rigorous structure for how to think about any given issue will invariably lead to unrigorous conclusions.

1Ellul, The Technological Society, p. 5

2This term is meant to denote the minimum level or levels of cognition required to form concepts of meaning.

3We stress ‘anti-human’ as opposed to ‘post-human’ as those are not necessarily in opposition to man, though they are both opposed to man-as-is, though not, man-as-such; man, after all, is an idealization (ie. “be a man!” – “man up!”), a goal; not to be conflated with ‘humanity.’

4The word immanence means, some presence which is manifested in, and encompassing of, the material world. We utilize this word to distinguish our project from that of transcendent philosophy which, at base, always seeks to flee the word.

5Graber, Mother Nature as a Hothouse Flower, p. 1

6A hectare is a measurement of area equivalent to 2.47 acres or 100 ares. For further context, 1 sq. mile = 259.0 hectares.

7Daniel Strain, Climate Change Sends Beetles into Overdrive, Science (journal), 2012.

8Furniss and Caroline, 1980.

9McKibben is from Vermont. Explains much.

10The fact that McKibben states the line which has been crossed is “invisible” implies that he doesn’t really know what “the line” even is, else he’d be able to articulate it.

11Good! Would McKibben and Graber prefer a solely Cheetah-made planet or perhaps a ant-made planet?

12Italicization my own.

13Graber, Mother Nature as a Hothouse Flower, p.1

14We’re supernatural apparently!

15Ibid., p.2

The Image of Man | Specter of Earth (III)

(a.1) The Image of Man | Specter of Earth (continued from part II)

The realization of the trend-association between The Feminine, The Masculine and The Earth1, from prehistory to (post)modernity, is important in so far as it stands in opposition to synthetic union of the two (male and female) and vice-versa, for no stable and self-improving social ordering (if that is to be the project) can be achieved in the midst of such an eventuality. Thus, a firm understanding of such concepts will allow those who are so inclined to shape the synthesis of these battered, archaic and spectral excogitations.

The Feminine and The Masculine aspects of the manifest image which we have hitherto excavated should not be thought of as mere aesthetic conventions but rather as mutably valid descriptor-encapsulations; that is to say, non-static and continuously snapshoted (and updated) groupings of normative gender behavior. Thomas Haigh’s Masculinity and Machine Man: Gender in the History of Data Processing2 here is useful for the purposes of reifying the validity of our basic conceptual structure. It is a widely held belief that women are rarely to be found within STEM3 work due to the instantiation of exclusionary norms initiated by the western (white) Christian patriarchal monastic system upon which modern universities are based4; whilst there is some truth to this, such a schema can not account in the slightest for gender parceling in science work which has risen up outside of the university system (nor can it account for any other field of work which arose outside of the monastic influence, either past or present). One science field which is not deeply tied to the university system is data processing. In Masculinity and Machine Man, Haigh illustrates the fact that women were present but scarce in STEM computing fields since the inception of the field, citing a 1960 survey conducted by Business Automation which looked at 500 data processing company’s and discovered that out of that number only two companies had female managers and only one company reported a female as a programming supervisor. Slightly under 15% of all programmers in the survey were women. Structural reasons account for the mass of male labor in the field, given that both forerunnering fields to administrative programming – punched card operation and system analysis – were staffed primarily by men; hence, a preexisting gender surplus. Yet, the fact that there are so few women in STEM cannot be adequately explained by only looking to one environmental factor in one particular field at one particular time, especially since women have, in more recent decades, proceeding the 60s, been highly encouraged and incentivized to take up positions in the sciences which were primarily the domain of men. Though the body of research on this issue is vast, much of it ignores potential or realized biological inclinations as a possible reason why, though roughly equally present in high-school science classes, women tend to pursue STEM majors in significantly lower numbers than their male counterparts5. As a general rule, women tend towards people-oriented fields whilst men tend towards mechanically-oriented fields; this is clearly a biological impulse with a number of evolutionary advantages but it is upon the issue of biology that many past and contemporary scholars falter. The aforementioned Mr. Haigh, for instance, only looks to environmental explanations (pay differentials, gender discrimination due to traditionalist attitudes, ego-spatial issues, corporate culture, etc) to account for why so few women in the 60s were to be found in elevated positions within the field of data processing.

For females on the plains of our ancestors, a proclivity towards people-orientation would be required for child-rearing and the mitigation of inter-tribal strife (proto-counseling); for males, a proclivity towards machinic invention would invariably aid the development of hunting, defense, warfare, foraging and domicile construction techniques. Then there is the matter of childbirth; women can get pregnant, men cannot, thus, in so far as a given population has sexual intermingling there will always be coupling and thus pregnancy and thus less women in the workforce, as they will need to take time off to have and care for their nestlings. Before proceeding we must deal with the false binary commonly referred to as “nature vs. nurture” when both attributions are part of a more complex whole; that is, genes express themselves differently in disparate environments6 (hence, race and along great timescales, species), but do not markedly differ along short-timescales. Consider the famous study of mono-zygotic identical twins Harold and Bernard Shapiro, both of whom went on to become the heads of major universities, Princeton for former and McGill for the latter7. Then there is the case of Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren; not only did both take up careers in newspapers, both specialized as advice columnists and bore remarkably similar political opinions8. Why these cases are so compelling for the purposes of demonstrating the centrality of the composition of the organism is through the fact that mono-zygotic twins are those who developed out of a single sperm which fertilized a single egg, which means they share the same genetic makeup. We shall not belabor the point; the biological expresses itself in tandem with its environment but the biological is the locus of any and all changes which can conceivably take place, whether it is expressed or not. Those who would contest this conclusion can only do so by spuriously trancendentalizing the mind (or biology generally), by reconceptualizing the human brain and it’s production (thought) as something nebulous which is, at most, only tangential to the organ.

1Here deployed as concept, not “as is.”

2Chapter for ‘Gender Codes,’ ed. Tom Misa, IEEE Press, 2010.

3STEM stands for: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathmatics.

4Some worshipers of the Mother Goddess believe that neolithic societies were completely gender-egalitarian due in part or whole to the nature of their religion. Due this belief; they thus look to such societies as models for the future.

5Catherine Hill, et al.,Why So Few? Women In Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, p. xiv

6For further reading on this subject see, Garland Science, Chapter 8, Control of Gene Expression.

7Twin Studies: What Can They Tell Us About Nature & Nurture. p. 1

8Ibid., p. 1

The Image of Man | Specter of Earth (II)

(a.1) The Image of Man | Specter of Earth (continued)

Assignation of The Feminine1 to The Earth2 and The Masculine3 to that-which-is-machinic is not to ascribe some intrinsic negative value to The Feminine, nor to ascribe some intrinsic positive value to The Masculine, for the Masculine has also become subsumed into the specter as well. Consider the work of the Marx and Kierkegaard inspired Christian anarchist4 and sociologist, Jacques Ellul, who, in his The Technological Society (henceforth referred to as TTS) lays out a broad and emotionally charged description of modern industrial society and elaborates on (and often decries) what he believes to be the principal flaw in the system: Technique. Ellul’s technique is distinct from both its folk-psychological and scientific usages as it is, in brief: a collection of mental processes which arose from the utilization of machines which is implicit in every aspect of society that works through men only to further efficiency of ordering. Ellul describes technique in his own words as:the totality of methods rationally arrived at and having absolute efficiency (for a given stage of development) in every field of human activity.”5

In the aforementioned work Ellul states, “It will not do for him [the reader] to challenge factual analysis on the basis of his own ethical or metaphysical presuppositions6. The reader deserves and has my assurance that I have not set out to prove anything. I do not seek to show, say, that man is determined, or that technique is bad, or anything else of the kind.” This is rather contrary to declarations he makes later on in the TTS which clearly show that he believes technique to be the very root of all the ills of modern (or postmodern), civilized society.

Furthermore, there is the issue of Ellul’s peculiar and non-individuating sociological methodology which must be taken into account before further examinations can be made. He writes, “I do not deny the existence of individual action or of some inner sphere of freedom. I merely hold that these are not discernible at the most general level of analysis, and that the individual’s acts or ideas do not here and now exert any influence on social, political, or economic mechanisms. By making this statement, I explicitly take a partisan position in a dispute between schools of sociology. To me the sociological does not consist of the addition and combination of individual actions. I believe that there is a collective sociological reality, which is independent of the individual.”7 This laying-out of methodology is instrumental in understanding all that follows (as well as in understanding Ellul’s followers who we shall touch upon in later texts) given that he never states as to why he believes this in any truly cogent way; it would have been immensely helpful to his case if he had made, at least, some small effort to sketch out and concretize his methodology in his book. Speaking of this methodology, Ellul’s “partisan position” relies on attuning his representations to but a single strata of analysis; that of the crowd. Yet, a crowd is nothing without it’s constituent parts; without the individuals which make it up. To say that a group can be a group without individuals is the same as saying that capitalism can exist without capitalists or that an army can fight without warriors. One need not eliminate the individual altogether in pursuit of a clear and concise method for broad-range analysis of social phenomena, yet Ellul does just that; indeed, he goes even further than the mere elimination of the individual and eliminates individuation altogether in strange outpouring of poetically vague dialectical materialism (which he likely took from Karl Marx who he noted as one of his principal inspirations). This is clearly demonstrated in the line “I believe that there is a collective sociological reality which is independent of the individual.” What does this even mean? Ellul himself does not really say. It is one thing to say that there is a sociological reality which is co-dependent upon the individual, but it is rather another to say that the individual contributes nothing to the crowd. Ellul effectively postulates that there is some reality which simply emerges from the ether, unmoored from any given individual, solely existing upon, but separate from, any given group; this essentially positing technique as a self-replicating emergent process borne, not of consciousness, but of the machine. If you should be skeptical of the veracity of our assessment so far, if one is of the mind that Ellul could not possibly have believed that a human conception was created by machines, consider the following, “-let the machine have its head, and it topples everything that cannot support its enormous weight. Thus everything had to be reconsidered in terms of the machine. And that is precisely the role technique plays. In all fields it made an inventory of what it could use, of everything that could be brought into line with the machine. The machine could not integrate itself into nineteenth century society; technique integrated it. Old houses that were not suited to the workers were torn down; and the new world technique required was built in their place. Technique has enough of the mechanical in its nature to enable it to cope with the machine, but it surpasses and transcends the machine because it remains in close touch with the human order. The metal monster could not go on forever torturing mankind. It found in technique a rule as hard and inflexible as itself. Technique integrates the machine into society, It constructs the kind of world the machine needs and introduces order where the incoherent banging of machinery heaped up ruins. It clarifies, arranges, and rationalizes; it does in the domain of the abstract what the machine did in the domain of labor. It is efficient and brings efficiency to everything. Moreover, technique is sparing in the use of the machine, which has traditionally been exploited to conceal defects of organization. “Machines sanctioned social inefficiency,” says Mumford8. Technique, on the other hand, leads to a more rational and less indiscriminate use of machines. It places machines exactly where they ought to be and requires of them just what they ought to do.”

Here we come to the crux of the issue; when Ellul writes that “it [technique] places machines exactly where they ought to be and requires of them just what they ought to do” he is saying that technique itself is controlling machines! Technique has requirements of machines? To place this argument, this bizarre claim, into a concrete and real-world context, it would be analogous to saying that chiaroscuro controlled a paintbrush which, in turn, controlled a painter. Now a painter might well adopt different techniques based upon different kinds of brushes but it means absolutely nothing at all to say that such techniques are controlling those instruments which are, in turn, controlling the aforementioned painter. The most you could say is that the painter is constrained by the techniques available for the design, manufacturing and dissemination of his instruments as well as by the number and variations of brushes available to him. To conflate acting and constraint, will and pure conditions of possibility is to render all as agents, which is to eliminate the world of man when man himself, as such, is the object which Ellul wishes to safeguard (even if it is from his own devices).

This methodological quandary, this profound anthropomorphization, then, cannot help but lead our erstwhile hand-wringer astray as he is looking at machines as agents who created yet another agent – technique – which then proceeded to overtake it’s creator and rule over mankind like some kind of conjured demon. Somewhat later Ellul writes, “It is said (and everyone agrees) that the machine has created an inhuman atmosphere.”9 No context is provided for this, it is merely asserted that everyone already agrees with him, well, let us politely disagree, for the machine is, in brief summary, the tool for the transformation of the world in the image of man himself. Later still he let’s further cats out of the bag and exposes the whole of his game, “Think of our dehumanized factories, our unsatisfied senses, our working women, our estrangement from nature. Life in such an environment has no meaning.”10 Like as not you saw this coming. It was only a matter of time before “nature” reared it’s ugly head! How woesomely predictable! How dreadfully tiresome to ever wear these shackles of naturality! Whilst Ellul, in his rambling and effete introduction to TTS, goes to great lengths to assure the reader that it is not his intention to prove or even make a point, insisting that the text is merely a sociological survey which is meant to awaken the sleeping, yet what then is with all this talk of dehumanization and estrangement from nature? He goes so far as to refer to industrialized society as a “metal monster” – such an emotion-laden pronouncements and references can hardly be described as merely descriptive, quite the contrary. In the text we also witness a integral feature of the specter – the enclosure of the future. Given that the specter is conceived of as that which is eternally commensurate with the design of the earth, the field of possibility is intensely and rationally whittled away with ever increasing regularity. In defense of The Earth or Nature or The Natural, its defenders must always hew away at man’s potential, his will must be tempered, his creativity must be tamped down, his innovations, discarded, and so on and so on until every future project which is not ratified as aligned with the “needs” of Gaia are declared verboten. Yet, the natural is not given, it has no intrinsic qualia (least not that can in anywise be discerned – and that is a crucial thing), no externality beyond the mental landscape where it has grown and grown and now looms titanic, overshadowing and threatening to entomb all futurity by hemming man into one and only one modality of being: concordance with “the planet.”

If the cult of The Mother Goddess (qua Sjoo & Mor11) defines the promise of the specter (earthly paradise); Ellul’s anthropomorphic technique acts as a ancillary theology that defines the reasons why one should move away from the-world-of-man (human creation and construction) and instead retreat into the mists of prehistory, for, in those swirling depths, the “metal monster” holds no sway. Ellul errs in that in any endeavor, where a technique is found wanting, inferior to some challenge, the solution is not the decimation of technique-as-such, but rather, superior techniques.

In closing, it is important to preempt a likely line of criticism, that of conflating the specter with Ellul’s technique. Technique, is fundementally anthropomorphic (and well covered above) whereas the specter of earth is no such thing, rather, is the recognition, the bracketing, of all misattributed anthropomorphisms which are transposed from the mind of man unto the face of all the earth. Here we have seized the thread, here we understand the opposition and here we declare that nature as enclosure of the future must be changed or, failing that, destroyed. For the conceptual invariably informs the performative.

1We are here utilizing The Feminine to constitute the total set of all behaviors & appearances which are associated with the female sex.

2Here we deploy ‘the earth’ as idealization rather than earth-as-is (earth as space-rock).

3We are here utilizing The Masculine to constitute the total set of all behaviors & appearances which are associated with the male sex.

4A Christian anarchist is one who believes that societal order must be rejected given that God is the one and only authority. Ellul stated that he believed anarchism to be “an absolute rejection of violence” and the “most serious form of socialism.” Due this inclination, Ellul believed state power to be ‘the beast’ which was described in the Book of Revelations.

5The Technological Society, xxv.

6Echoing the concept of ‘false consciousness.’

7The Technological Society, xxix.

8Here Ellul references the American historian and sociologist, Lewis Mumford.

9The Technological Society, p. 4

10Ibid., p. 5

11Authors of the anthropological and religious text, Great Cosmic Mother.

The Image of Man | Specter of Earth

(a) Immanence or Earth?

What way went vigor?

Subsumed by vice.

Struggle lost to paradise.

Elimination of a concept is only a reduction of literal spatiality insofar as no parvenu concepts are there fabricated in its place. Fabrication should not come to be confused here with falsity, such as an illusion (true presentation, false content) but rather should be associated with methodological or normative effect (a presentation which may not be “true” but which contains true content – ie. a bracketing concept).

(a.1) The Image of Man | Specter of Earth

In his Philosophy and the Scientific Image of Man1, Wilfrid Sellars posits two competing conceptions of the human subject, that of the “manifest image” and the “scientific image.” The manifest image, as defined by Sellars, constitutes the folk-psychological schema by which man describes himself, to himself, and relates to his fellows (I am, she is, she talks to him because she likes him, etc), what Sellars referred to in his more casual moments as “knowing one’s way around” the map of the world. To quote Sellars: “The ‘manifest’ image of man-in-the-world can be characterized in two ways, which are supplementary rather than alternative. It is, first, the framework in terms of which man came to be aware of himself as man-in-the-world. It is the framework in terms of which, to use an existentialist turn of phrase, man first encountered himself—which is, of course, when he came to be man. For it is no merely incidental feature of man that he has a conception of himself as man-in-the-world, just as it is obvious, on reflection, that ‘if man had a radically different conception of himself he would be a radically different kind of man.’”2

In contrast, the scientific image is that set of things which also constitutes man but which cannot be detected by the manifest image (or rather, which cannot be discerned by simply “feeling one’s way around”). He describes the scientific image thusly,

The scientific image of man-in-the-world is, of course, as much an idealization as the manifest image—even more so, as it is still in the process of coming to be. It will be remembered that the contrast I have in mind is not that between an unscientific conception of man-in-the-world and a scientific one, but between that conception which limits itself to what correlational techniques can tell us about perceptible and introspectible events and that which postulates imperceptible objects and events for the purpose of explaining correlations among perceptibles.”3

Sellar’s takes special care to note that by utilizing the word “image” he is not thereby positing that either the manifest, scientific, or both – as conception of being-in-the-world – are in anywise not of ‘the real.’ Rather, he ‘brackets’4 the “images,” thus transmogrifying them into philosophical objects of navigation. The tension between these images is starkly exemplified by such permutations in the humanities as posthumanism and its attendant sub-categories – transhumanism, non-humanism, anti-humanism and so on – as well as in the popularization of the displacement of the holocene by the anthropocene, patterned after the noosphere5 of the Russian geochemist, Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky; further refined by de Chardin and Le Roy. The anthropocene was utilized as early as the 1960s but was popularized in the early 2000s by Dutch chemist, Paul J. Crutzen. The anthropocene, broadly described, is the geo-era birthed out of post-industrial human civilization; generally, a human-dominated geological epoch; a time where man has obtained unprecendent power which has, through his ignorance, caused irreparably damaging climate change and ecological devastation. In other words, the anthropocene places man as geological force. This is a transmogrification of the manifest image; a taking of man from his place as the center of concern and placing him within a system with it’s own concerns (the planet, earth, Gaia, etc). Such a transformation is the summation of a existential quandary. The end of the world, or, more minimally, the end of the world of man. If you should find this talk of “the end of the world” to be an incredibly over-the-top pronouncement know that it is not our pronouncement but rather, a sentiment which is increasingly accepted by academia at large. Consider this excerpt from a 2014 speech given by the urban geographer, Stephanie Wakefield, “The end of the world then is not this or that disaster coming in the future – a flood, a hurricane, the collapse of mid-western agriculture – the end of the world is not a potential extinction of homosapiens. The end of the world is what we are living through right now.”6 Now, clearly, this is manifestly false if “end of the world” is to be taken as a literal and immediate eventuality (as her usage of “now” could connote). The world, either as nature-as-such, or, the-earth-as-such, in totality, is not literally at an end; it was not “ending” back in 2014 when such statements were made nor is it “ending” now (anymore than it has always been ending). Rather, it is Sellar’s manifest image that is slipping away – this a failure of synthesis – behind computer screens and into the ever-burgeoning smart-phone matrix, slipping through the cracks in the facade of a world torn open in the new reality birthed by empiricism and modern science, slithering through the fissures of the harmonic concordance which has been shattered by the might of human industry and will.

Man is no longer merely a clever beast, he has become something else entirely. We are all cyborgs, after all. All the more reason for synthesis! The crucial question to answer then is whether he has become more or less his constituent parts. Obviously more. We now add on the collective armature of the whole of our species to increasingly powerful frames through mass communication and speculative theoretical exploration; no longer captive to the landlocked and resource scarce existence of our ancestors, oft trapped upon infertile planes or swampy marshes, nor are we so easily dispatched by meteorites, those great foes from the sky, nor the devastation of hurricanes, mudslides, deluges of the rain-cloud, nor the ague or the fangs of chittering beasts. Hence, the only truly meaningful question left in regard to man in relation to the earth is: “Should he continue the process of reifying his immanence, thus synthesizing the manifest and scientific images or doing away with one or the other or should he cease and desist altogether?”

Before we can even begin to answer such a series of questions it is of great importance to critically examine the conceptions of the earth which have been constructed by the manifest image, what we shall here collectively refer to as the specter of earth. What then is this specter which shrouds our clarity? The answer is: not earth as-is but rather, the idea of earth which has been collectively crafted from centuries of our relationship with it, imbued with agency by our own, misattributed and implicitly carried. Whether the concept takes the form of earth-as-hyperorganism or earth-as-deity; what is fundamental to the foundation of the concept of the specter is the idea that the planet is something which acts. Additionally, the specter is a being which also has specific interests which its proponents contend broader humanity (or in rarer instances, all human action) is actively working against, for in the philosophy of the spectral shamans, Man is nothing more than a virus, crawling out upon the whole of the world, siphoning it’s lifeforce with vile machinic efficiency for some unstated, hideous and invariably cataclysmic end. The decline of anthropocentric thinking via the rise of new and destabilizing schools of thought have acted as catalysts to this thought-process which has, in turn, allowed the mental ecological niches necessary for anti-human envirocracy7 to grow. But is this mindset justified? Is it true? We would affirm that even if such statements were true, that should not mean that man should cease philosophical and technological innovation and simply set himself down into the muck and the mud, scratching about with sticks to carve out a hovel in the hardening clay of some noisome landslide. All of nature wars with us and it is only right and just that man should the wage battle with equal fury. Now as ever. But before we lay out our positive position (what is correct and should be done) we must first finish our negatory enterprise (what is wrong and what should not be done).

What is wrong, principally, with the various notions which we here collectively describe as the specter of earth is that it is just that, a specter; a construct of the mind with no verifiable external reality. This is not to say that mental constructions are not themselves true or that they are not immensely important; they are. Rather, it is to say that there is a profound distinction to be drawn between the conception itself and the way that conception maps onto any given externalities (if any at all). As pertains to usefulness it is crucial to understand that every mental construction is only as useful or useless as its applications within the mind to the individual who contemplates it and the ability of the individual who conceives of it to then utilize that concept to effect “the world” in some way that is conducive to some end. In the case of humanity, that end is, typically, a anthropocentric one. The problem with the concept of the specter is that, though it is obviously false (or, in more rare and sophisticated iterations, unfalsifiable), it is not useless; in fact, it is highly useful for a variety of human pursuits. To illustrate this fact and better conceptualize the actual effects of the specter, consider the cult of femininity which sprung up around the archaeological discoveries of Çatalhöyük, Turkey. In 1958 the archaeologist James Mellaart unearthed the remains of a proto-city in southern Anatolia, Konya Province, Turkey. It came to be known as Çatalhöyük8. Among the ruins of the neolithic settlement were various female figurines which Mellaart believed to be evidence of a cult of some Mother Goddess that was “the basis of our civilization.”9 Other similar claims had been, for instance, the American occult writer, Rosemary Ellen Guiley wrote that goddess worship extends as far back in time as the neolithic and might possibly be even older10 and the mythologist Joseph Cambell once cited a discovery that was dated to 6500 BC11 which he believed to be indicative of mother goddess worship. The validity of Mellaart’s theory, however, was somewhat complicated by the fact that not only was the archaeologist possessed of black market connections, he was also a proven forger. Regardless of these facts, Mellaart’s theories garnered a following and in short order a new, tentative religion had sprung up around his findings (both real and counterfeit). A similar fixation surrounds the ancient Bronze Age city-site of Knossos in Crete wherein many figurines and frescos were discovered which hinted at nature worship conducted under the auspices of powerful priestesses. Despite widespread denouncement of the idea that either Knossos or Çatalhöyük were, in their time, hotbeds of mother goddess worship, the idea persisted; indeed, both locations are still quite popular tourist designations for dedication worshipers of “the mother goddess” which has formed into various different internet communities. The “the” here is significant as members of the Knossos and Çatalhöyük mother goddess community believe in a monotheistic conception of the divine; a great and all powerful woman-creator who stands separate from man. It is pertinent to note that many modern devotees of the Mother Goddess believe that during neolithic times (or other proximal ages) womankind lived in tranquility until they were invaded by men who brought chaos into the world through the creation of technology. In it’s modern iterations, mother goddess worship tends to arise in, or affix itself to, circles wherein radical feminism, Jungian Psychoanalysis, New Age pantheism and extreme forms of evironmentalism are present. Whilst Mellaart’s discovery was a important locus in the reknewal of the specter goddess, it was but a portion of the multifarious iterations of modern earth and goddess worship, which re-surged in the 1960s in tandem with reinvigorated feminist movements, the popularization of ecology and neo-paganism and various non-asatru associated witchcraft and occult movements.

Another important node in the reification of the specter of earth was the work of the independent British scientist, James Ephraim Lovelock. During a joint venture with NASA to discover life on Mars, Lovelock conceived of what he called the Gaia12 Hypothesis, which postulated that a planet which contained life could be thought of as one, cohesive and self-regulating organism. First put forth in the 1960s, Lovelock’s Gaia Hypothesis was elaborated upon in his 1974 paper, Atmospheric homeostasis by and for the biosphere13 and various, subsequent scientific and polemical papers and books. The Gaia Hypothesis, originally conceived of as a new way of modeling the planetary ecosystems, Lovelock took the concept well outside the bounds of the hard sciences when, in his paper, Science and Christian Belief, Vol. 4, No. 1, 29, he wrote, “Gaia is Mother Earth. Gaia is immortal. She is the source of life. She is certainly the mother of us all, including Jesus.” Therefore it is starkly evident that Lovelock, whatever his initial conceptions, had come to believe the earth to be a literal feminine deity, possessed of vast intelligence, power and agency; sensitive to the workings of man and all the other organisms which take up residence beside, below and above him. Thus, in Lovelock’s schema, man is subsumed in the telos of “the world” and must readjust his workings in alignment with it or face The Revenge of Gaia14. Two decades after Lovelock’s hypothesis took hold, numerous other earth-centric thinkers and movements began to percolate throughout the increasingly global zeitgeist. We must pause he to take the measure of the thing, the strange convergence of scientific modeling and neolithic mythology, which, we would postulate, might have emerged out of the isolating and uncommunal nature of scientific research; for instance, both Mellaart and Lovelock were academics, given over to isolation in pursuit of furthering their personal knowledge of their particular field of study. It would not be unreasonable to suppose that such habituations occasioned considerable loneliness given the obvious social dimension of the human animal.

New “green” forces, less mystical and considerably more political, began to arise seldom a decade after Lovelock’s magnum opus. In the 1970s, the international NGO, Greenpeace, rose to prominence amidst the hippie furor of the 1960s, having no single founder or founders, the group organically coaleseced around environmental concerns, gradually becoming both more influential and more radical in their beliefs and tactics. 1987 saw the publication of the book, The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth, wherein Monica Sjoo and Barbara Mor declared of the masculine,

Perhaps the greatest harm patriarchy has done to us is to stifle, coopt, and deform our powers of imagination. Moralism, dualistic dogmas, repressive prohibitions block our imagination. Patriarchal religions keep this fusion from happening, imagination dies, and is replaced by mechanical-linear thought patterns, i.e. indoctrination.”15

and in another section,

The world’s definition of God is the self-definition of humanity. The Gods who rule us “from above” are simply mirrors in the sky, faithfully reflecting our own faces. The Gods who rule us ‘from within’ might represent deep truths of the mind and heart, or they might reflect the profound self-distortions of four millennia of ontological misperception. We do not know if a ‘God’ is a true God or a false God until we see what kind of world is created in that God’s image. When we look around today at the world generated by the male Gods of patriarchal rule, we see warfare, degradation, suffering, and sadism on a scale such as earth has never seen, nor will ever see again—for of course if we don’t end it, it will surely end us.”

and later,

This is all very rudimentary, but once it has been set into motion as world machinery, every living thing on earth is entangled in its gears, all our functions become definitively embodied in its functions—and it’s very hard for those living inside the machinery to stop the machine, because our lives and all their ontological terms have come to depend on the ongoing machinery in all its terms.”16

Thus, we can see, from the mists of prehistory to the present, a consistent familiarity of association; earth to mother, woman as creator and thus God(dess), feminine magicks stultified and routed by vile patriarchal will and the persistent disdain for the horrid masculinity of the machine. If we define spirit as that portion of the human mind which motivates, and if we define the machine as the concretization of masculine will, we can accurately define opposition to the machine as indicative of a feminine spirit.

1‘Philosophy and the Scientific Image of Man’ was a lecture given by Sellars in 1960. It was later transcribed and published in the journal, Frontiers of Science and Philosophy.

2Sellars, ‘Philosophy and the Scientific Image of Man,’ p. 3

3Sellars, ‘Philosophy and the Scientific Image of Man’, p. 10

4‘Bracketing’ was a phenomenological term deployed by the philosopher Edmund Husserl, meaning: to suspend direct engagement with the world in partiality to better focus on some form of analysis of experience therefrom gained.

5The noosphere was conceived of as a biosphere of human thought. Nous = mind, sphaira = sphere.

6Notes on the Anthropocene: “What Must I Do?” At the End of the World, 2014.

7Those who place lack of human impact upon the environment at the forefront of all political & philosophical thinking.

8The name Catalhoyuk is a combination of the Turkish catal (fork) and hoyuk (mound).

9Evaluation Claims of a Mother Goddess Cult on Prehistoric Malta, Margaret Creech, 2015.

10Rosemary Ellen Guiley, Encyclopedia of Mystical and Paranormal Experiences, (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 1991), 239.

11The Masks of God, vii.

12Gaia, or, Gaea, is a important primordial Greek deity who is the living embodiment of the earth.

13Lovelock wrote the paper in co-authorship with the microbiologist Lynn Margulis. The paper was first published in Tellus XXVI, 1974.

14The Revenge of Gaia: Why the Earth is Fighting Back, is a book published in 2006 that was written by Lovelock.

15Sjoo, Mor, The Great Cosmic Mother, p. 427

16Sjoo, Mor, Great Cosmic Mother, p. 217 [PDF ver.]


After the mysterious voice’s prediction is validated a new and rather bizarre character is introduced by the narrator,

I now come to the mention of a person with whose name the most turbulent sensations are connected. It is with a shuddering reluctance that I enter on the province of describing him. Now it is that I begin to perceive the difficulty of the task which I have undertaken; but it would be weakness to shrink from it. My blood is congealed: and my fingers are palsied when I call up his image. Shame upon my cowardly and infirm heart! Hitherto I have proceeded with some degree of composure, but now I must pause. I mean not that dire remembrance shall subdue my courage or baffle my design, but this weakness cannot be immediately conquered. I must desist for a little while.”1

-and further,

One sunny afternoon, I was standing in the door of my house, when I marked a person passing close to the edge of the bank that was in front. His pace was a careless and lingering one, and had none of that gracefulness and ease which distinguish a person with certain advantages of education from a clown. His gait was rustic and aukward. His form was ungainly and disproportioned. Shoulders broad and square, breast sunken, his head drooping, his body of uniform breadth, supported by long and lank legs, were the ingredients of his frame. His garb was not ill adapted to such a figure. A slouched hat, tarnished by the weather, a coat of thick grey cloth, cut and wrought, as it seemed, by a country tailor, blue worsted stockings, and shoes fastened by thongs, and deeply discoloured by dust, which brush had never disturbed, constituted his dress.”2

As Clara observes the tatterdemalion garb of this traveler the stereotype of the country hick, the nescient bumpkin enters her mind; she wonders idly whether it is possible, through “progressive knowledge,” to reconstitute the relationship between agriculture and ignorance. These reflections seem suggestive of Brown’s own political and social inclinations. Clara wearies of her vigil and returns to her kitchen where her maid, a young woman, is busying herself. In short order a knock can be heard upon the front door; the maid goes forth to meet the stranger and is greeted by a cavalcade of arcane allusions.

“‘Pry’thee, good girl, canst thou supply a thirsty man with a glass of buttermilk?'” She answered that there was none in the house. ‘Aye, but there is some in the dairy yonder. Thou knowest as well as I, though Hermes never taught thee, that though every dairy be an house, every house is not a dairy.’ To this speech, though she understood only a part of it, she replied by repeating her assurances, that she had none to give. ‘Well then,’ rejoined the stranger, ‘for charity’s sweet sake, hand me forth a cup of cold water.’ The girl said she would go to the spring and fetch it. ‘Nay, give me the cup, and suffer me to help myself. Neither manacled nor lame, I should merit burial in the maw of carrion crows, if I laid this task upon thee.’ She gave him the cup, and he turned to go to the spring.”3

Clara is struck by the singular nature of the stranger’s voice, particularly the articulate passion of the utterances, so much so that her eyes are filled with “unbidden tears.” Clara, compelled to see to whom this powerful voice belongs, is shocked to find out that the beggar was none other than the raggedy traveler she had observed upon the road. This description is a touch melodramatic and, more unfortunately, rather gives the show away to the reader sufficiently skilled in deduction; if you, dear reader, happen to find yourself deficient of that aforementioned attribution, fear not, all shall, in short order, be made clear.

Sometime later, as she lies in bed, Clara hears mysterious voices once more, this time, however, there is no uncertainty as to the murderous intention which lies behind them.

The first voice intones: “Stop, stop, I say; madman as you are! there are better means than that. Curse upon your rashness! There is no need to shoot.”4

The second voice responds: “Why not? I will draw a trigger in this business, but perdition be my lot if I do more.”5

The first voice, enraged, rises: “Coward! Stand aside, and see me do it. I will grasp her throat; I will do her business in an instant; she shall not have time so much as to groan.”6

Clara, terrified, flies from the room and faints from the strain of her peril. Later, Pleyel relays that he has chanced upon the raggedy stranger who had so moved Clara previously; both the stranger and Pleyel had meet in Spain some time ago. Pleyel tells his friend that the stranger’s named was Carwin, a Englishman by birth and a Spaniard by choice with whom Pleyel had kept up some correspondence. Carwin, in keeping with cultural propriety, had, upon moving to his new homeland, converted to Catholicism, learned the Spanish tongue and appropriated their dress and customs to such a degree that he was, in every particular, indistinguishable from a born-and-bred Spaniard. Even his name, Carwin, was a Spanish adoption (recall the title; yet another instance of “transformation”). Whilst it was suspected by many who knew him that Carwin’s faith was merely adopted for political convenience, this claim goes unproved. It is also revealed that Carwin and Pleyel are firm friends. When Carwin calls upon Clara and Pleyel, they are fascinated by his articulation but confused as to the destitution of his rustic American garb, so at odds with the eloquence of the man’s gestures and speech and his previous fixation on Spanish lineaments. Pleyel attempts, during one of these meetings, to steer the conversation towards Spain in the hopes of excavating the reason for the strange man’s drastic metamorphosis; Carwin’s response is quire fascinating as he states, “Britons and Spaniards… are votaries of the same Deity, and square their faith by the same precepts; their ideas are drawn from the same fountains of literature, and they speak dialects of the same tongue; their government and laws have more resemblances than differences; they were formerly provinces of the same civil, and till lately, of the same religious, Empire.”7 Whilst not singular for the time, such a conception of common ethnography would be considered profoundly radical.

After many of these encounters, they notice a change in Carwin, he assumes a solemnity which disquiets the Wieland household. Clara notes that she is unable to tell ever whether his intentions were good or ill. One night Clara approaches the closet wherefrom she had previously heard the two murderous voices, this time another voice cries out for her to “hold!” She is again terrified but masters herself and determines to get to the bottom of the mystery and root out the source of the mysterious voice once and for all. Opening the closet doors the young woman is greeted by the shadowy form of Carwin who curses the voice which had warned her of impending danger stating quite plainly that he would have raped her long ago had this not occurred. Disturbingly, Carwin does not seem much perturbed by the grotesque nature of his intentions and elaborates upon his schemes, “I was impelled by a sentiment that does you honor; a sentiment, that would sanctify my deed; but, whatever it be, you are safe. Be this chimera still worshipped; I will do nothing to pollute it.”






1Brown, Wieland, p. 56

2Brown, Wieland, p. 57

3Brown, Wieland, p. 58

4Brown, Wieland, p. 65

5Brown, Wieland, p. 65

6Brown, Wieland, p. 66

7Brown, Wieland, p. 82


In a critical consideration of Brown’s narrative deployment of uncertainty let us consider two antagonists within American fiction: Hannibal Lector, from Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Rising and Leonid Danilovich Arkadin from Eric Van Lustbader’s The Bourne Objective. Both are intelligent, cunning and ruthless yet sympathetic characters with a predilection for ultra-violence. Hannibal is a young man whose sister is murdered by plunderer’s during World War II who vows to find them and make them pay for their crimes. Arkadin is a assassin with a troubled past, highly skilled in his trade; yet, despite his ruthlessness he is also given over to empathetic outbursts, “Maslov’s chief assassin at the time had killed a child – a little boy no more than six years old – in cold blood. For this obscenity, Arkadin had beaten his face to pulp and dislocated his shoulder.”1 Arkadin’s presence is recognized, Bourne is certain that Arkadin is a killer and he knows that such a being is after him, hellbent on his destruction whereas in Hannibal, the budding serial killer goes unnoticed by his adversaries (with the exception of the inspector) until the climax begins to draw near. Though the reader knows that Hannibal deigns the various plunderer’s deaths, the villains and side-characters do not; they are uncertain of the danger that awaits them. As such, when leveraging the dread both characters are able to invoke it is Hannibal Lector who emerges as the more imposing foe (he did triumph over his sister’s killers, after all, whereas Arkadin is dispatched by Bourne). The point of this exercise is to demonstrate that the more a thing (in this case, a villainous character) is starkly revealed, to either the character’s within a work or to the reader, the less terrifying they tend to be; hence the horror-trope of the unseen monster which is typically only ever revealed some significant portion of the way into the film, generally near the middle or end (yet rarely ever at the beginning; where a monster is introduced in the very beginning of a horror film and is shown, it is typically not its true form, but rather a husk, shadow or vessel). Brown utilizes just such a trope, not with a particular character, but with a mysterious voice; what it is, if it even is, such things are not explained until deep into the text and as such, work to generate a intensive sense of dark confusion and impending doom, given the fate of the elder Wieland. When all is uncertain, darkness reigns.

1Eric Van Lustbader, The Bourne Objective (Vision, 2010), p. 96-97