For some days now, I’ve been entranced with the soundtrack to the film Koyaanisqatsi (1982). The film’s name is a Hopi word meaning “life out of balance;” entirely dialogue-free, it’s essentially a long montage of images depicting modern human life. We witness fast-motion freeways, landscapes of various kinds – the industrial constantly contrasting with the biotic. Koyaanisqatsi seems to critique industrialism through its portrayal of human civilization’s hyperkinetic pace, vast built landscapes and deleterious mining processes. It rather overtly argues that the world is moving too fast apace, with severe consequences for people and planet. (Possible translation into Oakland lingo: we’re just doing too much!)
The soundtrack’s minimalist style, with frequently repeated arpeggios, minor key tonality, etc., gives the soundtrack a haunting, hypnotizing quality that matches the negativity and dizzying pace of the global society that it highlights. It’s very unsettling, but I can’t help but feel like it characterizes these times in a musical way more than almost any other soundtrack I’ve heard to date. Indeed, these days I feel a great sense of urgency about the crises of economic, ecological, and empire. And yet, I have become more radicalized than I ever thought I would, as I’ve come to the realization that the only chance we have of preventing a climatic cataclysm is through political resistance; namely, forcing the powerful to concede their power, and disabling/dismantling fossil fuel infrastructure.
I’m writing this post to invite you to join me in considering the urgency our times. None of you – none of us – is absolved of the responsibility to act.
As Desmond Tutu has said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
If you’re reading this, it’s quite likely that you and/or your progeny will be affected dearly by the effects of global warming, and more importantly, the continuation of the extractive economy – an economy based on the insane premise of infinite growth on a finite planet; an economy that exacerbates social inequality while it consumes our very life support systems.
Time is fast running out for us to topple the economic system – capitalism – that’s heating up the atmosphere and wiping out life on Earth. We’re losing approximately 200 species a day on this planet, a rate like nothing the Earth has seen since the extinction event that destroyed the dinosaurs.
According to 350.org, we must not burn anymore than 565 gigatons of fossil fuels if we’re going to keep the planet’s atmosphere from warming up past 2 degrees Celsius. Here’s the problem: if fossil fuel corporations were to burn all of their current fossil fuel reserves, it would emit 2,795 gigatons of fossil fuels, more than 5 times the “safe” amount.
We simply cannot let that happen if we want to preserve a livable planet for ourselves, for the millions of other species and ecosystems, and more importantly, for future generations.
So, the question becomes: Why have I changed the title of my blog from “Sesquipedalian Obscurantisms” to “Decolonizing Coilean,” after 8 years of the former? Furthermore, what can we actually do about the multiple crises we face? Whatever you do, don’t despair! For Hope is folly, and there’s so much work to do.
Stay tuned for my next post, and thanks for reading!