March Hare Blogmired – Quagmired
I’m a novice blogger, and there are times when I actively hate the process, beginning with the graceless word ‘blog’ itself. Who didn’t think that one up? Working the blog makes my head spin; I feel like Alice tumbling down the rabbithole, or walking through a room that’s all mirrors, or conducting an orchestra with chunks of the score missing and the damn violins playing something else altogether.
I frequently question why I’m doing it. The gestation over three years of As A March Hare has been above all a quest for authenticity; a journey at Huon pine speed honouring dendrites, detours and bumps in the road, and fiercely resisting industrial pressures and timelines. So why am I now forcing myself into this alien and quaggy landscape? Is it pragmatic, commercial necessity in this virtual age? Am I looking for a whole new audience for the words I so passionately smith? Is it a desire to be part of the kind of synergetic and gloriously dendritic global conversation the internet can mediate? Yes to all of those things, yet they’re only one side of the equation. The underside is that I belong to a culture that owns everything except its own excrement; the internet has a carbon footprint even higher than the airline industry’s; in the Philippines computer assemblers are going blind; Chinese assemblers work under such appalling conditions they’re committing suicide; all that plastic is oil-based, so drives environmental and human mayhem in places like the Niger delta and Iraq; coltan, a key ingredient in computers and mobile phones, is fuelling resource wars and associated mass rape in the Congo; electronic waste either pollutes air, water and soil in our own landfill, or becomes part of the zillion dollar toxic waste trade run by criminal gangs who dump it on the poor.
I’m haunted by my own complicity in all of this. I am accountable. How can my pleasure be predicated on the suffering of others? Are we skyping and blogging our way to the end of the world? How can I justify debauching a planet? I do what I can. I have a second-hand laptop that’s now ten years old, and that I only use for final drafts of my work; I refuse to be online at home, and outsource emailing and blogging to the conviviality of my favourite internet cafés.
It’s not enough.
My first grandchild was born in February, just weeks before As A March Hare and my sixty-third birthday. Liam, being WEIRD (Western, educated, industrialised, rich, democratic), has every chance of living into the next century. So I now have a visceral commitment to the wellbeing of this planet a hundred years from now. What do I want to bequeath not just to this so new, small and wholly dear person but to all the children: blue whale calves, eagle chicks, young diatoms, pygmy possums and gumnut babies? How do we evolve beyond anthropocene economics, which is insanely obscenely based on destroying our life-support systems, into the ecozoic era where we base our lives on the knowledge that human and biospheric health are inextricably linked?
A farflung cousin, a genetic genealogist called Debbie Katz, has traced our shared ancestors’ Y chromosome back to a group of maybe two hundred people who, seventy thousand years ago, left the Horn of Africa and crossed the Red Sea into the Arabian peninsula. What a fractal glimpse into another universe. Who were they? What drove them? What of me was in them and what of them is in me? What were they thinking and feeling and saying as they stepped off the edge of the known world? Could they have foreseen now? Yet in galactic time, seventy thousand years is the blink of an eyelid. Fourteen billion years ago we were all stardust; Buddha, Beethoven, bananas, beetles…However did we get here from there? Could the first bacteria have imagined a hippopotamus? Did the acorn dream the oak-tree? And why do we think the journey’s finished? What possibilities lie sleeping in our DNA? How do we re-imagine what it means to be human so that all our grandchildren can dwell in radical peace?
That brings me to the real reason for grappling with the blogsphere.
Originally I was going to barter AAMH; give me a rose, or donate an hour to your favourite charity, and I’ll give you a book. Then it got an Oxfam dimension; your Christmas present this year is a milch-goat given to a beloved stranger in Namibia. The final concept landed fully-fledged in my startled lap; I would barter every twentieth book (twenty-five in the initial print-run of five hundred) in exchange for a random and imaginative act of planetary kindness that might begin to midwife a whole, healed, holy Earth. It could be as simply difficult as a commitment to live within your ecological footprint for a year; or a project as crazily visionary as Noah’s. Perhaps, just perhaps, mediated by the internet, AAMH could be yeast for change, a seed; as ordinary and extraordinary as sourdough, flour and water becoming succulent bread; as alchemical as a compost heap transforming weeds and food scraps into rich woodsy-fragrant soil.
God so loved the world She created a shopping mall?
How do we move from this paltry, ecocidal definition of what it means to be human, and harness the boundless creativity that got us from stardust to here? Do we evolve or do we perish? According to quantum physicists we leave in a multiverse with literally dozens of dimensions. What might eleven-dimensional love look like, or music quadruply cubed, or a culture that truly honours all the children of all species for ever?
I might not live to see it. I passionately hope Liam will.