in full (see right hand column).
"Which is not to invalidate the attempt to contemplate, rather than simply find a way out of, our ecological dilemmas. It remains valid to try to fathom what the idea of planetary abuse has done to our minds. We may ask what the awareness of the crisis has done to our inner landscape, how it has altered the human psyche.
"One should begin by observing that there is nothing new for mankind about confronting the possibility of its own destruction. The feeling that the present order – the neat fields, the ordered laundry cupboards, the full granaries – might soon disappear, would have been intensely familiar to any inhabitant of medieval Europe. One need only study the carvings on the sides of the cathedrals to see that our imaginations have for centuries been haunted by visions of Armageddon.
"However, we have grown used to conceiving of our present environmental situation as unparalleled, perhaps because we have learnt of it through the media and because for the daily paper, everything must, from an a priori position, be novel. There never was a Lisbon earthquake or a sack of Rome. No one has ever murdered their children or wasted their fortune. This isn’t to deny some intensely novel features behind our anxieties, just to insist that we must carefully separate out the familiar, long-standing morbidity of homo sapiens from the particular features of the current predicament."
Fears about our present situation are neither entirely novel nor merely a repetition of ancient patterns. Indeed, part of what I will be arguing in my project is that in certain important respects, we do face genuinely new challenges and fears in the various ecological and resource crises of our time. More on that in future posts, but if you want to get a gist of where I'm headed (at least insofar as the diagnosis of an historically novel issue), read the article.