Charles River

Charles River
Upper Limit Cloud/Lower Limit Sail


"Messianicity is not messianism ... even though this distinction remains fragile and enigmatic." (Jacques Derrida)

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Arcadia Project

The Arcadia Project: North American Postmodern Pastoral

This extraordinary, pioneering anthology, conceived and beautifully edited by Joshua Corey and G.C. Waldrep, is now out. Full of groundbreaking work, it re-frames what used to be called "nature poetry" to meet the radical challenges posed by collapsing ecosystems on the one hand, and the immersive environments of cyberspace on the other.

This is the first collection of its kind to openly address the mutual interpenetration of nature and technology. As such, it subverts or even demolishes many of the pieties attending the idea of nature as a pristine category, immaculate but for our species. As my old professor Tim Morton puts it, we need to think of ecology in a more vibrant and expansive way, without the crippling halo that enwreathes "nature," which has never been and cannot be, natural.

As Corey puts it so eloquently in his introduction, "this volume is hardly intended as a call to conscience ... [it] is a call to imagination -- not the imagination of dire failures, but to the interruptions of poetry ... these interruptions are also connections, recalling readers to life as it is lived ... attuned to the intimations of the mortality of everything."

"Like any simulation, pastoral contains with it a kernel of critical negativity that, when properly activated, promises to put us in touch with the reality, or realities, of our contested world. To write postmodern pastoral is to write from consciousness of this ultimate yet elusive reality, to be a digital native with dirt between one's toes."

My own humble contribution consists of three poems, written at a time when I was studying with Morton at Colorado, in a course called "Green Romanticism." Here is the first of them.

The Dream Of Open Space

Sun. Stone.
The long heave of bare sky.
Drop down.

For the cult of the hunter is based on a Darwinian model of belonging to nature: outfits & trophies. The bourgeois economy.

Rock over rock.
Tree crack lung.
Whole air, whole range.
Of luminous distance shrugged.

Between the vibrant life of the other and insatiable appetite.
To do the fatal thing with honor.

The fever of wood alive to the touch.
Where breath is the glory of a farness
come closest.
Sweep of fissure.
Ache of ark
to abide in only its falling.

& swept clear down to water.