This is an excerpt from Paul Kingsnorth’s essay, “A Storm Blown from Paradise”. You read the complete essay and hear Paul Kingsnorth read it here.
“It seems to me that—appropriately—a return is in order. Not the kind of straw-man ‘return’ which disciples of progress so love to mock—the notion of ‘going back’ to some particular period of history, whether it be the High Middle Ages or the Upper Paleolithic, where we might imagine a ”better world’ to have existed. A return to cyclical thinking—to notions of fate and repeating time, to an understanding of the small place of a single life in the great unfolding—would be something different. It might allow us again to notice the other life forms that surround us, to see ourselves in the cycle of life, and to sit amongst the ruins of our fantasies not with eyes full of despair, but of possibility.
“If Yeats was right, and some revelation is at hand as our systems and assumptions crumble under the weight of the ecological overshoot we have set in motion, the time is ripe for new cosmologies, built on the best of the old ones. If the progressive project was about controlling time in order to control history and, ultimately, nature, then its cascading failure is a chance to reassess what time is, how we see it, and where we are within it. What if we are at the end of an age of monotheisms and monocultures; an age which could only ever be supported by expansion and colonization? What if our challenge now is to build a series of smaller visions, focused less on the future and more on the present; less on the sky and more on the ground?“