The Mourning of the World
The Uncivilisation festival is organized by The Dark Mountain Project, “a network of writers, artists and thinkers who have stopped believing the stories our civilisation tells itself, [Who] see that the world is entering an age of ecological collapse, material contraction and social and political unraveling, and [who] want our cultural responses to reflect this reality rather than denying it.”
At this year’s Uncivilisation festival Andreas Kornevall is supervising the building of a ‘Life Cairn‘ modeled on the one pictured here that he and Peter Owen Jones started in 2011. (from the FB page) “A Life Cairn is raised in recognition and honour for all the species of flora and fauna – mammals, marsupials, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects, crustaceans, arachnids, trees, lichens and plants of all kinds, that have been rendered extinct at human hands.” The Life Cairn is a sibling to Joanna Macy’s Cairn of Mourning, part of her practice called ‘Honoring our Pain for the World’ from her Work that Reconnects.
Macy’s work teaches that the process of waking up to the reality we face is a spiral that takes us through 4 stages – and that it can be a one time experience or an ongoing one that we continually move through. Gratitude, Honoring our pain, Seeing with new eyes, and Going forth are the stages for the work.
Mourning is part of acknowledging our pain. Uncertainty is now the horizon line for an ever increasing part of the human community, especially those of us who have been immune and sheltered from much of the chaos and destruction that we have been ignorant of or have refused to acknowledge. This uncertainty and the destruction of the world are in fact intertwined as the reality we thought we once knew is unraveling. The second step toward waking up may be just to acknowledge that there is something to be mourned. There is something lost that cannot be retrieved. It might be our view of the world or our place in it. There is a wild part of us that has died along with the other wild things that are no longer here. As Andreas writes, “The wild is caught in a fireblaze, the flames seem too high to stop. If we cannot grieve for all that is being lost in the wild, then it was never loved.”
Rima Staines captures this feeling succinctly with her cover art for the ‘From the Mourning of the World’ LP, A Dark Mountain music project.
She writes that the world mourns and, “from her tears grows music: music to wail and sing out and bow and strum and beat out the thrum of our griefs. And from the music grow green leaves, spiraling their new life from the alchemy of tears.”
Through these tears will we grow fresh eyes? What world will those eyes envision, within us and without? There will be many hard questions to come.