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Draft: the cultural climate crisis, global to local &c

Saturday, November 9th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — i’m posting here some earlv drafts of longer pieces i’m working on for eventual publication elsewhere — this is a draft of the outline of a paper on climate change ]
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How about them Independent headlines?

I intend to write a longish paper in which I voyage from the global to the intensely and varied local, and then catch up with cross-cuts that have either appeared in sundry of the localized sections but deserve gathering under their own heads, or which have somehow escaped the net of my keen interest.

For now, though, I thought this spray of headlines from the Independent would make a nice intro to the project for ZP readers.

**

Sources:

  • ‘Untold human suffering’: 11,000 scientists from across world unite
  • Extinction Rebellion: Nearly 400 scientists support climate activists’ civil disobedience
  • Climate activists including Extinction Rebellion to receive £500,000
  • Why the Green Party is proposing £100bn a year
  • Climate ‘apocalypse’ to leave Scotland with abandoned villages
  • Scotland plants 22 million trees to tackle climate crisis
  • Ireland becomes second country in the world
  • Our ageing world rulers are unfit to tackle climate change
  • **

    Scots:

    Of course I’m a Scot down my father’s line, clan Cameron, of the Camerons of Erracht.

    St Greta, Virgin and Guevara

    Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — a pair of DoubleQuotes and a whole bunch of the questions the two of them raise ]
    .

    DoubleQuote I: St Greta, Virgin and Guevara:

    Questions:

  • Is either meme valid?
  • including its implications?
  • Are those implications obscure to you?
  • Can both sets of implications be valid at once?
  • Could both memes be irrelevant?
  • misleading?
  • Are they in conflict?
  • counterpoint?
  • harmony?
  • Do you have a preference for one meme over the other?
  • What’s your opinion of the other meme?
  • **

    DoubleQuote II: St Greta and St Malala:

    Each of these young women is addressing the United Nations, Malala asking for universal education, Greta for immediate action on climate change.

    Questions::

  • Is there urgent need for universal education?
  • Is there universal need for action on climate change?
  • is Malala Yousafzai a sort of saint?
  • Is Greta Thunberg a sort of saint?
  • Does either one set your teeth on edge?
  • Why do I even have to ask that question?
  • Greeting & three musics for Sunday Surprise: Rouse, Ligeti, Teeth

    Sunday, September 29th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — with a definition that places poetry and the drama as a subset of music ]
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    L’shana tovah!

    **

    Christopher Rouse just died. I knew nothing of him, but already I love his Gorgon:

    May he rest in peace.

    Ligeti, Mysteries Macabre with the astounding Patricia Kopatchinskaja:

    Furiously at play!

    Kopatchinskaja it is, I guess, who writes:

    Temperature and ocean levels go up. Whole world regions dry out. Hundreds of millions will have to leave, migrate, millions will fight wars, no end being in sight. Can we go on listening as usual to Buxtehude, Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Bruch, Bruckner?

    and at last Teeth — with the Ligeti from the late ’70s as context, the stunning Roomful Of Teeth plays Caroline Shaw‘s Pulitzer-winning Partita:

    **

    Music, it would seem, is the chosen placement of sounds, random or chosen, from the field of all sounds, in some form or container within which they may bounce and reverberate.

    Note that under this definition, the barnyard’s sounds may sound (Ligeti, children’s rhymes), as may silence..

    the words of operas and masses..

    Note too, that under this definition, plays and poetry are a subset of music, also.

    **

    L’shana tovah!

    The Wearing Thin of the Nation State

    Monday, September 16th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — following on from Climate change & its impacts, rippling out across all our futures, 2 on national sovereignty and climate migration — with Hakim Bey’s TAZ and more ]
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    Three books by Peter Lamborn Wilson

    **

    Two instances of our theme — The Wearing Thin of the Nation State — crossed my bows in utterly unrelated posts via Academia today, and they make a fine DoubleQuote:

    From John Sullivan‘s Criminal Enclaves: When Gangs, Cartels or Kingpins Try to Take Control:

    Criminal enclaves are areas where lawbreakers (gangs, cartels, criminal warlords) exert political and social control. Essentially these areas are “other governed spaces.” The state may or may not be absent — although its hold is certainly challenged — but other informal governance structures, such as gangs, wield substantial political influence or control. These other governed spaces can range in size from neighborhoods, barrios or favelas (i.e., failed communities) to failed or feral cities — such as Brazil’s notorious City of God favela or Ciudad Juárez during the height of cartel control or Veracruz and Acapulco — to failed states or regions, such as an entire nation — extremely rare — or a substate region such as Mexico’s Tamaulipas. These enclaves are essentially incubators of state change or transition as described by Charles Tilly in his essay “War Making and State Making as Organized Crime.” This process of criminal challenges to states can be described as criminal insurgency, where bands of outlaws erode sovereignty while potentially altering the nature of states. In addition to geographic scope, criminal enclaves can vary in their degree of control over governance. They can exist as parallel states, exerting control over some functions (i.e., taxation, monopoly of violence and justice, and the provision of social goods), while the state still retains control over others.These enclaves could also fully supplant the state when it is absent or lacks solvency, which I define as the sum of legitimacy and capacity. They could also form a hybrid where criminal networks and corrupt politicians cooperate to extract wealth and wield power (as is the case in narco-cities or mafia states).

    I’d like to offer, by way of comparative, this excerpt from Abbe Mowshowitz as quoted in Bill Benzon‘s and his
    Virtual Feudalism in the Twenty-First Century:

    Absent a sense of loyalty to persons or places, virtual organizations distance themselves—both geographically and psychologically—from the regions and countries in which they operate. This process is undermining the nation-state, which cannot continue indefinitely to control virtual organizations. A new feudal system is in the making, in which power and authority are vested in private hands but which is based on globally distributed resources rather than on possession of land. The evolution of this new political economy will determine how we do business in the future.

    That’s my DoubleQuote.

    **

    That’s interesting, I think — but what’s even more so is the quote that initially caught my eye in Bill B‘s paper:

    In 2017, Denmark became the first nation to formally create a diplomatic post to represent its interests beforecompanies such as Facebook and Google. After Denmark determined that tech behemoths now have as much power as many governments — if not more — Mr. Klynge was sent to Silicon Valley.“What has the biggest impact on daily society? A country in southern Europe, or in Southeast Asia, or Latin America, or would it be the big technology platforms?” Mr. Klynge said in an interview last month at a cafe in central Copenhagen during an annual meeting of Denmark’s diplomatic corps. “Our values, our institutions, democracy, human rights, in my view, are being challenged right now because of the emergence of new technologies.” He added, “These companies have moved from being companies with commercial interests to actually becoming de facto foreign policy actors.”

    That’s quoted from Adam Satariano, The World’s First Ambassador to the Tech Industry.

    Ambassador to the Tech Industry? Ambassador to the Tech Industry, okay. The ground is shifting under our feet.

    **


    Detail from Ceasefire’s account of the Temporary Autonomous Zone

    Peter Lamborn Wilson aka Hakim Bey, with his interest in the Barbary Corsairs, must have been one of the earlier writers to discuss what he termed Temporary Autonomous ZonesTAZ for short — and its no surprise he’s an eccentric scholar of Islamic Heresy and the Margins of Islam! And what a life he’s led — studying tantra with Ganesh Baba in India, in Pakistan “mixing with princes, Sufis, and gutter dwellers”, an associate in Iran of Henry Corbin, editor of the journal Sophia Perennis under the guidance of Seyyed Hossein Nasr, house-mate in NYC with William Burroughs — though let’s not forget some far darker stuff [cf “Bey’s endorsement of adults having sex with children”, Wikipedia].

    **

    Narcos in Mexico to Bill Burroughs in Tangiers and NYC isn’t too great a hop: life on the margins is liminal by definition, disruptive — and disruption is what all of our examples above have in common.

    Bey on the TAZ:

    Getting the TAZ started may involve tactics of violence and defense, but its greatest strength lies in its invisibility–the State cannot recognize it because History has no definition of it. As soon as the TAZ is named (represented, mediated), it must vanish, it will vanish, leaving behind it an empty husk, only to spring up again somewhere else, once again invisible because undefinable in terms of the Spectacle. The TAZ is thus a perfect tactic for an era in which the State is omnipresent and all-powerful and yet simultaneously riddled with cracks and vacancies.

    How will the nation state respond, adapt?

    Climate change & its impacts, rippling out across all our futures, 1

    Thursday, August 29th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — part 1 of this two-part post deals with the impact of climate change on pilgrimages, and on the Hajj in particular ]
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    The Hajj, Mecca

    **

    Since I posted my poem Mourning the lost Kaaba here in late November 2017 — though not, I imagine, because of my poem — a report on the likely impact of climate change on the annual Hajj pilgrimage has come out from scientists at MIT and Loyola Marymount:

  • Kang, Pal, & Eltahir, Future Heat Stress During Muslim Pilgrimage (Hajj) Projected to Exceed “Extreme Danger” Levels
  • Here’s the abstract:

    The Muslim pilgrimage or Hajj, which is one of the five pillars of Muslim faith, takes place outdoors in and surrounding Mecca in the Saudi Arabian desert. The U.S. National Weather Service defines an extreme danger heat stress threshold which is approximately equivalent to a wet?bulb temperature of about 29.1 °C—a combined measure of temperature and humidity. Here, based on results of simulations using an ensemble of coupled atmosphere/ocean global climate models, we project that future climate change with and without mitigation will elevate heat stress to levels that exceed this extreme danger threshold through 2020 and during the periods of 2047 to 2052 and 2079 to 2086, with increasing frequency and intensity as the century progresses. If climate change proceeds on the current trajectory or even on a trajectory with considerable mitigation, aggressive adaptation measures will be required during years of high heat stress risk.

    That’s the science — and while Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman..

    told the G20 in June that the Saudis are committed to “reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the negative effects of climate change,” beliefs concerning the Prophet’s institution of the Hajj in 632 CE following on earlier Abrahamic practice may well clash with scientific claims that the Hajj may become impossible for future devout Muslims to observe.

    What happens, then, when this divine command intersects with increasing temperatures that eventually render Mecca uninhabitable? How do the climate change scientists fare when they sit across the table from the ulema, the scholar-clergy of Islam?

    From a Muslim point of view, we’d better climate-correct, and do so fast:

  • Shahin Ashraf, We must stop climate change before it makes Hajj impossible
  • **

    Other readings:

  • New Scientist, Global warming could make Hajj impossible later this century
  • IslamiCity, Mecca: Climate Change to Bring ‘Extreme’ Heat
  • MIT News, Study: Climate change could pose danger for Muslim pilgrimage
  • **

    The issue I’ve raised above is tightly focused on one sanctuary, one religion, one pilgrimage. Below are some other major pilgrimage sites to consider in light of climate change:

    I would be interested in the cross-disciplinary exploration of the impact of climate change as understood by the scientific consensus, global migration patterns now and as expected in the coming years, and the devotional rituals and ceremonials of the various religions involved.

    Large pilgrimages and religious ceremonials

    This list draws text from Wikipedia and other online information sites.

    Kumbh Mela:

    Allahabad, India, 120 million devotees, every 12 years. The Prayag Kumbh Mela is a mela held every 12 years at Allahabad, India. The fair involves ritual bathing at Triveni Sangam, the meeting points of three rivers: the Ganga, the Yamuna and the mythical Sarasvati. The Kumbh Mela in 2013 became the largest religious gathering in the world with almost 120 million visitors.

    Arba’een:

    Karbala, Iraq, 30 million pilgrims annually. The Arba’een Pilgrimage is the world’s largest annual public gathering, held every year in Karbala, Iraq at the end of the 40-day mourning period following Ashura, the religious ritual for the commemoration of martyrdom of the grandson of Prophet Mohammad and the third Shia Imam, Husayn ibn Ali’s in 680. Anticipating Arba’een, or the fortieth day of the martyrdom, the pilgrims make their journey to Karbala on foot,where Husayn and his companions were martyred and beheaded by the army of Yazid I in the Battle of Karbala. The number of participants in the annual pilgrimage reached 30 million or more by 2016.

    Papal Mass

    Philippines, 7 million adherents, occasional. Pope Francis’ apostolic and state visit to the Philippines garnered a record breaking crowd of 7 million people. The mass conducted by the pope was the largest gathering in papal history.

    Makara Jyothi

    India, 5 million pilgrims annually. This pilgrim center and temple is located amidst a dense forest in the southern region of India. It was visited by over 5 million pilgrims in 2007 for a festival known as ‘Makara Jyothi,’ occurring annually on the 14 of January. Although the Sabarimala Temple, site of the Makara Jyothi celebration) draws a crowd of 50 million visitors annually, the specific day of the miraculous celestial lighting observation gathered 5 million pilgrims in 2007.

    Bishwa Ijtema:

    Near Dhaka, Bangladesh, 5 million pilgrims annually. The Bishwa Ijtema, meaning Global Congregation, is an annual gathering of Muslims in Tongi, by the banks of the River Turag, in the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh. It is one of the largest peaceful gatherings in the world. The Ijtema is a prayer meeting spread over three days, during which attending devotees perform daily prayers while listening to scholars reciting and explaining verses from the Quran. It culminates in the Akheri Munajat, or the Final Prayer, in which millions of devotees raise their hands in front of Allah (God) and pray for world peace.The Ijtema is non-political and therefore it draws people of all persuasion. It is attended by devotees from 150 countries. Bishwa Ijtema is now the second largest Islamic gatherings with 5 million adherents

    [ this is where the Hajj, with 2.3 million pilgrims annually, fits in ]

    Umrah:

    Mecca, size unknown, year round. The ?Umrah is an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Hijaz, Saudi Arabia, performed by Muslims that can be undertaken at any time of the year, in contrast to the ?ajj which has specific dates according to the Islamic lunar calendar. It is sometimes called the ‘minor pilgrimage’ or ‘lesser pilgrimage’, the Hajj being the ‘major’ pilgrimage which is compulsory for every Muslim who can afford it. The Umrah is not compulsory but highly recommended.

    Kalachakra,:

    Various locations, 500,000 participants, variously. The Kalachakra is a term used in Vajrayana Buddhism that means “wheel(s) of time”. “K?lacakra” is one of many tantric teachings and esoteric practices in Tibetan Buddhism. It is an active Vajrayana tradition, and has been offered to large public audiences. The tradition combines myth and history, whereby actual historical events become an allegory for the spiritual drama within a person, drawing symbolic or allegorical lessons for inner transformation towards realizing buddha-nature. The Dalai Lama’s 33rd Kalachakra ceremony was held in Leh, Jammu and Kashmir, India from July 3 to July 12, 2014. About 150,000 devotees and 350,000 tourists were expected to participate in the festival. The Kalachakra has also been performed, eg, by Grand Master Lu Sheng-yen of the True Buddhs School, a Chinese Vajrayana group>

    **

    The impacts of climate change will need to be studied as they apply not only to these sites of pilgrimage, but also to holy sites in general, notably including Jerusalem, Varanasi, and Kyoto.

    In the second part of this post, I will consider the “wider ripples” by which climate change intersects and overlaps with other concerns, chief among them the issue of sovereignty and the nation state.


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