Who Are the Watchers?: Sightseers, Snails, and Spirits of Guam

The Fragile tree snail of Guam

My wife and I were driving east across Guam, from the tourist center of Tamuning on the west coast through the rural interior. It was a short trip. It’s only a 20 minute drive across the width of the entire island nation, which is about 12 miles wide and 30 miles long. To the residents of Guam, that’s a trip, but to someone raised in the Midwest of the continental United States, everywhere seemed local.

Still, it was a dramatic change of scenery. Almost before the hotels and trilingual signage of the tourist center was out of sight, the scene shifted to lush tropical forest with only sporadic and light human development. Almost half of Guam is forested. The temperature is around 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. And though it rains on three-quarters of the days of the year, the rainstorms we experienced were brief and gave way rapidly to sunshine. It seemed like paradise.

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No, America is not “the best country in the world”.

Someone shared this video with me. It’s one of the most naive and shallow–and also insidious–takes on American politics/history I have seen in a while. And all the more disappointing that it’s of a young woman.

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Jumping the Gap: Green Transphobia & Proto-Fascism

Paul Kingsnorth is the author of Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist (2017), One No, Many Yeses: A Journey to the Heart of the Global Resistance Movement (2003), and Savage Gods (2019). He is co-founder of the Dark Mountain Project and former deputy-editor of The Ecologist. And he is someone I have admired for years. I have quoted him here and elsewhere many times. I resonate with his critique of Big Green environmentalism, of “sustainability”, of progress and progressivism, of globalism, and more. His own environmentalism and his critique of mainstream environmental activism grew out of a very down-to-earth love of the wild natural world. It’s probably not an exaggeration to say that Kingsnorth was my intellectual idol.

But something has happened, and given how much I have promoted his ideas, I can’t in good conscience stay silent. Kingsnorth’s story is a study in how someone squarely on the Left can slip into proto-fascism.

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The scientific reason why there is no Planet B

by Arwen Nicholson & Raphaëlle aywood

Editor’s note: It’s fascinating to me that many of the more scientifically-minded people advancing the idea of interplanetary colonization (in response to climate change and ecosystem collapse) are the least realistic about the science of it. I think this is partly a function of techno-optimism, the irrational faith in the ability of technological innovation to overcome any problem. Relatedly, it’s also a failure to appreciate the complexity of biological life. And lastly, it’s a function of an objectified consciousness, which fails to appreciate the relationships between things–in this case, the relationship between human beings and the planet we have co-evolved with.

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The Original Heresy: Homesickness, Civilization, and Transcendental Religion (part 2)

… continued from part 1.

“I am homesick. I’ve been homesick for years, maybe my whole life. The trouble is, I don’t know where home is or how to get there.”

Ellie Robins

The Wild Without and Within

Every so often, I have to get to the woods. I pack my backpack and head off to the mountains of West Virginia or the upper peninsula of Michigan or the red rocks of eastern Kentucky. If I don’t do this periodically, I start to get stir crazy. There’s something about being in a forest, alone and “away from the things of man”. It renews me and sustains me, in a way that nothing else does. Pine forests are especially potent places for me. In the forest, I feel immersed in the great presence that is the green and brown and blue world, suffused with the sound of the wind blowing through the trees and the smell of the forest filling my lungs, my whole body pulsing to the feeling of my heart beating in my chest. This is where I feel most alive.


The Original Heresy: Homesickness, Civilization, and Transcendental Religion (part 1)

The Great Homesickness

“You, the great homesickness I could never shake off …”

— Rilke

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Thoughts on Homophobia and Toxic Masculinity from a Straight Father of Bisexual Children

I was recently asked to give a talk at my Unitarian church on National Coming Out Day.*

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Questions for the End of the World

I want to know if you belong or feel abandoned.

If you know despair or can see it in others.

I want to know if you are prepared to live in the world with its harsh need to change you.

If you can look back with firm eyes saying this is where I stand.

I want to know if you know how to melt into that fierce heat of living, falling toward the center of your longing.

I want to know if you are willing to live, day by day, with the consequence of love and the bitter unwanted passion of your sure defeat.

— excerpt from David Whyte, “Self Portrait” from Fire in the Earth