Sunday, February 16, 2014

When the Earth Screams

Mostly frozen Merrimack River at Sunset: Valentine's Day 2014
CC Jean Stimmell

A flush of anguish and despair settled over me while photographing this sunset. I felt like I was at Jesus’ crucifixion writ large: witnessing the spilling of the blood of Mother Earth.

My mind flew back to a passage from When the Earth Screams[1]a science fiction piece written by Deleuse and Guattari almost 30 years ago. The lead character is a scientist named Challenger who is intended by the authors to be a caricature of modern science, but who unfortunately is, in a metaphorical sense, uncannily spot on.

The plot is well summarized by the translators: “Challenger argues that the Earth is an organism, much like a sea-urchin, hard on the outside but soft inside. Human beings are a fungal growth of which the planet is completely unaware. Surrounded by skeptics, he proposes to prove his point by vigorously stimulating the creature’s sensory cortex, that is, driving a shaft into the centre of the Earth, thereby gaining its attention…”[2]

After a brief lecture to a restless audience, Challenger presses the ‘electric button’ that sends an enormous iron dart into ‘the nerve ganglion of old Mother Earth’:

There erupts “the most horrible yell that ever was heard…a howl in which pain, anger, menace, and the outraged majesty of Nature all blended into one hideous shriek. For a full minute it lasted, a thousand sirens in one, paralyzing all the great multitude with its fierce insistence…No sound in history has every equaled the cry of the injured Earth.[3]

This science fiction story of 30 years ago feels too damned real to me today and, coupled with the blood red sunset, appear to be apt metaphors of our future, triggerings questions that still feverishly bubble in my brain:

Is my sunset the blood of my Mother pierced by the “enormous steel dart” of fracking?

Is the unprecedented rise in my Mother’s temperature, a sign of Her raging fever?

Is that whimper I hear faintly on the winter wind the Final Solution: my Mother choking on green house gases, the last gasp of yet another Holocaust victim murdered in this giant gas chamber built by men?

You might also be interested in my previous blog entry on Guattari: 

3 Ecologies: combating monstrous and mutant algae

[1] Deleuze, Gilles and Guattari, Felix (1988) A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia II
[2] Guattari, Felix (1989) The Three Ecologies. Translator’s Introduction, p. 2.
[3] Ibed. p. 2
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