Gentofte Hovedbibliotek
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“a thorough description of homogeneous “space” and sequential “time,” as objectively existing entities, had to wait until the invention of the printing press. For it was the dissemination of printed texts (texts that until then had been meticulously copied by hand and preserved, like treasures, in monastic libraries and universities) into the wider community of persons, and the subsequent rise of vernacular literatures, that effectively sealed the ascendancy of alphabetic modes of thought over the oral, participatory experience of nature. The thorough differentiation of “time” from “space” was impossible as long as large portions of the community still experienced the surrounding terrain as animate and alive, as long as material (spatial) phenomena were still perceived by many as having their own inherent spontaneity and (temporal) dynamism. The burning alive of tens of thousands of women (most of them herbalists and midwives from peasant backgrounds) as “witches” during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries may usefully be understood as the attempted, and nearly successful, extermination of the last orally preserved traditions of Europe—the last traditions rooted in the direct, participatory experience of plants, animals, and elements—in order to clear the way for the dominion of alphabetic reason over a natural world increasingly construed as a passive and mechanical set of objects.”

David Abram, The Spell of Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World, 1997

“Today it is easy for most of us, living amid the ever-changing constructions of literate,technological civilization, to conceive and even feel, behind all the seasonal recurrences in the sensuous terrain, the inexorable thrust of a linear and irreversible time. But for cultures without writing there is simply no separate vantage point from which to view and take note of the subtle mutations and variations in the endless cycles of nature. Those changes that are noticed are often assumed to be part of other, larger cycles. For the overall trajectory of the visible, tangible world— the world disclosed to humankind by our unaided senses—is circular. Thus, in the words of Hehaka Sapa, or Black Elk, of the Oglala Sioux:”

Everything the Power of the World does is done in a circle.… The Wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours. The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon does the same, and both are round.… Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood and so it is in everything where power moves.…”

The curvature of time in oral cultures is very difficult to articulate on the page, for it defies the linearity of the printed line. Yet to fully engage, sensorially, with one’s earthly surroundings is to find oneself in a world of cycles within cycles within cycles.”

David Abram, The Spell of Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World, 1997

“I saw now why the angry young men on the boats around us were so afraid of that derelict refugee boat: that tiny vessel represented the overturning of a centuries-old project that had been essential to the shaping of Europe. Beginning with the early days of chattel slavery, the European imperial powers had launched upon the greatest and most cruel experiment in planetary remaking that history has ever known: in the service of commerce they had transported people between continents on an almost unimaginable scale, ultimately changing the demographic profile of the entire planet (…) The world had changed too much, too fast; the systems that were in control now did not obey any human master; they followed their own imperatives, inscrutable as demons.”

Amitav Ghosh, Gun Island, 2019

“Estrangement from our natural environment is the cultural contest wherein violence against the earth is accepted and normalized. If we do not see earth as a guide to divine spirit, then we cannot see that the human spirit is violated, diminished when humans violate and destroy the natural environment.”

bell hooks, Belonging: A culture of Place, 2008

“Our era of human destruction has trained our eyes only on the immediate promises of power and profits. This refusal of the past, and even the present, will condemn us to continue fouling our own nests. How can we get back to the pasts we need to see the present more clearly? We call this return to multiple pasts, human and not human, “ghosts.” Every landscape is haunted by past ways of life. We see this clearly in the presence of plants whose animal seed-dispersers are no longer with us. Some plants have seeds so big that only big animals can carry them to new places to germinate. When these animals became extinct, their plants could continue without them, but they have been unable to disperse their seeds very well. Their distribution is curtailed; their population dwindles. This is an example of what we are calling haunting. Anthropogenic landscapes are also haunted by imagined futures. We are willing to turn things into rubble, destroy atmospheres, sell out companion species in exchange for dreamworlds of progress.”

Anna Tsing, Heather Anne Swanson, Elaine Gan, Nils Bubandt (Eds.), Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene, 2017

“And then the sun cracked the eastern horizon. It blazed like an atomic bomb, which of course it was. The fields and buildings underneath that brilliant chip of light went dark, then darker still as the chip flowed to the sides in a burning line that then bulged to a crescent he couldn’t look at. The heat coming from it was palpable, a slap to the face. Solar radiation heating the skin of his face, making him blink. Stinging eyes flowing, he couldn’t see much. Everything was tan and beige and a brilliant, unbearable white. ”

Kim Stanley Robinson, The Ministry for the Future, 2020

“one doesn’t struggle against Gaia. Even speaking of combating global warming is inappropriate. If it is a matter of struggling, it is against what provoked Gaia, not against her response. ”

Isabelle Stengers, In Catastrophic Times: Resisting the coming Barbarism, 2015