The Dance Of The Dream-led Masses Down The Dark Mountain
People base their identities on shared stories. One of these stories for the human identity is that humans are separate from nature. The earth is here for humans to subdue and exploit. This perspective majorly contributed to the polluting of the land, air, and water since the industrial age began. The tendency for society to seek ‘progress’ at any cost led people to release enough fossil fuels and chemical pollutants into the environment in two centuries to cause changes to the climate and a mass extinction event of life on Earth. These stories, despite being untrue and dangerous, persist in the minds of the general population.
Uncivilized Art is an artistic perspective that provides humanity with depictions and stories that accurately reflect us and our place in the world. The term was coined by the people behind Dark Mountain. Paul Kingsnorth and Dougald Hine released “Uncivilization: The Dark Mountain Manifesto” in 2009. Their community holds a perspective that many would call pessimistic, to which they would claim the mantle of realism. They argued that humanity has reached an impasse. Industrial society is on a fast-track to collapse and the idea that governments, industries, and civil society can produce an effective response to the situation becomes less believable every day.They believe that humanity needs to embrace that consumerist society will necessarily end, dissolving the civilized veneer of society. We can only understand how to build the institutions and communities that will overcome the worst of climate change by embracing the reality of our dilemma, and the inherent problems of rampant consumerism.
The manifesto began by discussing how people respond to social collapse. They claimed that people who live through collapse are surprised by how fragile the social order is and how easy it is to die once it disappears. Then they connected humanity’s relationships with consumerism and progress to the legitimate possibility that humanity might be the first species capable of, “eliminating all life on earth”. They argued that it is dishonest for organizers to act as if the fight over climate change is winnable in any way that leaves industrial society intact. In this argument they also expressed that, even if our society were able to continue growing indefinitely, it is not an attractive proposition. The earth would become unrecognizable and its ecosystems polluted.
To respond to the dilemma of inevitable social collapse they called for uncivilized writing, the principles of which you can read below. They wanted prose that counters the archetype of man separate from nature, dominating nature. There are poems throughout the manifesto that exemplify uncivilized writing. They single out Robinson Jeffers, a twentieth century poet, and note that there is no public love for an artist who shows people their true reflection. Jeffers experienced success at the beginning of his career, but he eventually fell out of favor with the public. They wrote, “Today his work is left out of anthologies, his name is barely known and his politics are regarded with suspicion. Read Jeffers’ later work and you will see why. His crime was to deliberately puncture humanity’s sense of self-importance.”
Consider creating uncivilized art and learning more about Dark Mountain, if their philosophies appeal to, you for being grounded in reality, not the human imagination.
The Eight Principles Of Uncivilization
- We live in a time of social, economic and ecological unravelling. All around us are signs that our whole way of living is already passing into history. We will face this reality honestly and learn how to live with it.
- We reject the faith which holds that the converging crises of our times can be reduced to a set of ‘problems’ in need of technological or political ‘solutions’.
- We believe that the roots of these crises lie in the stories we have been telling ourselves. We intend to challenge the stories which underpin our civilisation: the myth of progress, the myth of human centrality, and the myth of our separation from ‘nature’. These myths are more dangerous for the fact that we have forgotten they are myths.
- We will reassert the role of storytelling as more than mere entertainment. It is through stories that we weave reality.
- Humans are not the point and purpose of the planet. Our art will begin with the attempt to step outside the human bubble. By careful attention, we will reengage with the non-human world.
- We will celebrate writing and art which is grounded in a sense of place and of time. Our literature has been dominated for too long by those who inhabit the cosmopolitan citadels.
- We will not lose ourselves in the elaboration of theories or ideologies. Our words will be elemental. We write with dirt under our fingernails.
- The end of the world as we know it is not the end of the world full stop. Together, we will find the hope beyond hope, the paths which lead to the unknown world ahead of us.