I’ve not written anything on this blog for a long, long time. I have been making excuses to myself for this, but I think it has just reached the end of its natural life. All good things, etcetera.
Below you’ll find several years-worth of archives, some of which contain some quite good stuff. You might enjoy browsing them.
I do still write blogs – over at the Dark Mountain project. I also do quite a bit of Tweeting, which is blogging for lazy people who are pretending to be busy ones. Following me on Twitter gets you all the latest news on my terribly exciting life and, incredibly, is free. Even though I know you’d all be happy to pay substantially for that privelege.
Thanks for reading. It’s been fun.
If I’ve ever had a busier year in my life, I can’t remember when it was. I don’t seem to be able to remember much at the moment.
Here are some things I have taken on this year, all of them entirely my own fault:
Producing a second Dark Mountain book;
Curating a second Dark Mountain festival;
Promoting my newly-published poetry collection – readings, events, trying to get people to notice;
Doing quite a lot of public speaking;
Helping run a campaign against a new supermarket in my town;
Putting a new website together (still not finished, you’ll note …);
Teaching beginners scything courses;
Setting up and running a branch of the Scythe Shop;
Oh, and having a son: Jeevan Kingsnorth, born in January. Which seems a very long time ago already.
And this is the big stuff. There are a million little commitments too, which seem barely worth mentioning in this context. All told though, I end up with very few hours in my day, and very little sleep.
On one level, I want this to stop, and for my life to calm down. On another, it keeps me alive, it broadens my mind, it introduces me to new and fascinating people. It feels like a step change in what I do, and the connections I make, and it feels like my work, and my life, are headed in new directions – directions that I like and am excited about.
And yet, all this doing doesn’t leave enough time for writing. And writing is what I do, or should do, or ought to do or want to. When I can’t devote enough time, or headspace, to writing, I get itchy. The main casualty of this over-committed year has been the novel I have been working on for three years now. It has completely stalled. I’ll be taking it up again towards the end of the year – that’s if I can somehow earn enough money to fund the writing time I need. If you look at the above list again you’ll notice that very few of the activities on it pay very much, and most of them pay nothing at all. Not that I’d mind, but I have to eat, and these days if you don’t feed your children you get arrested. It’s political correctness gone mad.
But writing is not just an activity. Writing is a way of being. Poetry, in particular, requires a certain stillness, some time, some space, inner and outer. It requires reflection, contemplation, input, time for experiences to compost down and come out as images. I don’t have any of that at the moment. Not the space for poetry nor the time for (much) prose.
And that is a loss: sometimes I can really feel it; physically feel it. Writing is solitary, can drive you mad, force you inside yourself where you might not want to go. It can be dark in there. You need to get out, feed your outer self, meet people, go places. But too much of that – too much of the doing and not enough of the writing – and something big is lost. Doing, in the end, is easy. Everyone is doing. Writing, or at least writing well, writing truly – that’s the real stuff.
Next year, then – next year, I will do less, and consequently, I hope, return to my writing self. I feel like something is missing; or has been sleeping, waiting for me to notice what’s gone.
It’s been a long time since I wrote this blog. I’ve been distracted by other things: the Dark Mountain Project, various book ideas, moving to Cumbria, having kiddies … it seems to be an alarmingly long list.
But I feel the need again now to have a space like this to pour my thoughts into, so I’m going to bring it back to life as I launch my new website. You’ll see that comments aren’t working at present, due to some tecchy matters, but I hope to have that sorted out within a week or so. For now: welcome back!
I believe it is time for new stories, and it seems I am not the only one. The Dark Mountain project aims to foster a new movement of writers, artists and creative thinkers, a new school of writing and art for an age of massive global disruption. We are calling it Uncivilisation.
Here's the plan. Today, we announce our intentions to the world, and we hope to start attracting the interest of like-minded people. Then, within a month or so, we'll be launching the Dark Mountain Manifesto, as a hand-crafted pamphlet and on the web. At the same time, we will launch our full website, an online gathering-place for discussing and plotting and crafting a new way forward. If enough people seem interested, we then plan to begin publishing a journal of Uncivilised art and writing. Then ... who knows?
For the moment, though, we are looking for help, support, potential collaboration and expressions of interest. The Dark Mountain Project is not a prescriptive attempt to tell people how to write or think, but the raising of a flag around which we hope like-minded people will gather. So we are looking for people who might want to be involved: writers, artists, illustrators, designers, thinkers - anyone with whom this strikes a chord.
If you think you are one of them, or if you'd just like to be kept informed about what we're up to, visit our pre-launch website and register your interest. You can also, if you are so inclined, join our Facebook group.
Finally, we are working right now to raise money for the printing of our manifesto and for the construction of our website. We have set a target on this fundraising site, where we need to raise £1000 (well, $1500) in three weeks, through small donations. Every little will help, so if you feel you'd like to spend a bit on a good cause, please pop over there. If you spend more than $20 you get a signed, numbered copy of our manifesto, which I can promise you will be well worth the money!
The Lewis project is a salutary case study. It reveals that an American-Puritan error - that wild land is waste land, there to be put to industrial use - is rearing its head. Wild places, it has come to be understood, are the "uplands" of civilisation: landscapes that can renew, console, and lift us in unique ways.
Lewis's situation also reminds us of the spiritual, aesthetic, historical and ecological values that are put at risk when extraordinary landscapes are industrially menaced. These values are harder to measure, and harder to articulate than the hard numerical wattage of the turbines. But they are, unlike the wattage, non-transferable.
The green movement today is in danger of committing that 'American-Puritan error' on a large scale. Greens as a whole now have one focus and one alone: stopping climate change. This is entirely understandable. There is nothing wrong with it. Getting rid of coal and oil is urgent and important. Renewable energy is a much better idea. But if a single-minded focus on 'emissions' overwhelms every other urge that made us green to begin with, we are in troubled waters, and when we find ourselves pushing to destroy nature in order to save nature, then we need to stop, step back and take a deep breath. When we, as greens, find ourselves attacking our opponents as 'nimbies', dismissing arguments about landscape value and the non-human wilderness and smearing those who disagree with us as 'fascists' or 'deniers', then we need to ask ourselves some hard questions: how did we get here? Where are we going? And what are we for?
The new windfarm on the once-desolate moors at Rochdale, near Manchester,
is being touted by the Green Party as a triumph. Laugh or cry? You decide.
Designed and built long ago and kept on life support by spanner.