Friday, May 21, 2010

A Thing Which Could Not Be Put Back

Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculite patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not to be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.

-
from Cormac McCarthy, The Road


I read The Road by Cormac McCarthy several months ago. I wanted to write about this haunting book here, but I had no words to express the dark world this story plunged me into. It's the tale of a father and his son moving through the skeleton of a world left behind by a man-made cataclysm. In their struggle for the barest survival, they encounter challenges and horrors that are nearly unspeakable - unspeakable except by geniuses like McCarthy. This is truly the stuff of nightmares.

The dark images this book planted in my mind often come welling up. It doesn't help that when I see the book in a store, I'm prone to picking it up and re-reading the closing paragraph (Above). Not long ago I found myself standing, like an idiot, in a big-box warehouse store with a tear running down my cheek.


I did it again last night at Barnes & Noble, but this time something clicked. I just started reading eaarth by Bill McKibben. In the early pages, McKibben explains that global climate change is not something that might - if we don't get on the stick - affect our children and grandchildren as is so often said. No, in fact, it's already happened. We have already pumped so much greenhouse gas into the air and are so far from getting our fossil fuel use under control that we have entered a time of irreversible feedback-fed warming that has changed our pale blue dot into another planet altogether. We've triggered a chain reaction where a warmer climate promotes release of carbon dioxide from a thawing tundra and release of methane from warming Arctic seas. These additional gas releases warm the climate further, and so on and so on, in a self-sustaining loop that is beyond our power to control no matter how many bicycles we ride or light bulbs we change.

So, unlike the blinding flash that ended McCarthy's world, our world - the real one- was ended slowly but surely by puff after puff of invisible gas. Sudden death, or slow tortured death, we are left with a thing that could not be put back, could not be made right again. I think of my children and I think of the soft green forests of spring, and a tear rolls down my cheek.












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11 Comments:

At 8:15 PM, Blogger SimplyTim said...

Moj,

Much as we try, we cannot pretend that everything is separated from everything else. The shadow created by this denial will come to put unnatural slicks on each creature on earth.


"The risks unleashed by the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig are profound — the latest to be set in motion by the scandalous, rapacious greed of the oil industry and its powerful allies and enablers in government. America is selling its soul for oil." source: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/22/opinion/22herbert.html?hp

Tim

 
At 11:39 AM, Blogger robin andrea said...

When Roger and I were looking to buy a house and land over these past two years, I kept having this strangest of feelings that what we really were looking for no longer existed. We wanted what we first saw in our separate journeys in the early 70s. There was a time back then when, with serious efforts, we might have been able to save the planet. These past 40 years California's population has doubled. There wasn't even enough water in 1970 to sustain its population. Everything is already wrecked, and there is no turning back of that tide.

The other night at dinner, we watched the birds at the feeders. So many, so beautiful. Roger said, "what did they do before we fed them?" And then he answered his own question, "They had the whole world."

Too few of us cry anymore for what we have done.

 
At 9:03 PM, Blogger MojoMan said...

Yes, Tim, our souls are already sold, commodified and the CDO's are coming due. We have surrendered so much of ourselves and our world to automobiles and those that profit from our addiction to them that we are creating a country that, as Kunstler says, is not worth defending.

Robin Andrea, I also wonder if those places exist anymore, but I suspect not. Looking at where we are now, I wonder if they ever really did.

I recently found one sliver of hope. Have you ever heard of WWOOF? People can volunteer to work on organic farms in exchange for food and lodging. Could this be the beginning of salvation?

 
At 11:33 AM, Blogger robin andrea said...

I have not heard of wwoof, but now that you've mentioned it, I'm going to see what I can find. I discovered a very nifty little 10 page handout at our local eye doctor's office, with lists of all the organic gardeners in our area. Some sell direct from their farms, some from the local farmer's market. Some offer grass-fed beef, chicken, and pork. And this surprise: a local farm growing wheat, corn, barley, rye, oats, etc. with its own mill. This is a very good thing.

 
At 12:48 PM, OpenID homeisaprocess said...

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At 8:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

great post. i'll have to look for and read both books.

 
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