Saturday, 19 January 2013

Walking the 'green block' in the snow

On the second day of being practically snowed-in at home in our village in West Berkshire, I decided it was time to get out and get some fresh air. We have a 'green block' walk of about two and a half miles which we do from our house fairly regularly. It is all on tarmac lanes and which form a loop around wooded farmland. The Berkshire/Hampshire border bisects the circuit so half of the walk is in each county. Snow was laying about 3 inches deep, with some drifting. 

Keeping a note in my sketchbook of the bird species observed as I walked, I began thinking about something I'd read last night by McKenzie Wark, in his introduction to The Beach Beneath the Street: the everyday life and glorious times of the Situationist International:

     "We are bored of this planet. It has seen better centuries, and the promise of better times to come eludes us. The possibilities of this world, in these times, seem dismal and dull. All it offers at best is spectacles of disintegration. Capitalism or barbarism, those are the choices. This is an epoch governed by this blackmail: either more and more of the same, or the end times. Or so they say. We don't buy it. It's time to start scheming on how to leave this century."

(Nuthatch calling.)

This was backed up this morning in a report by Oxfam reported on Radio 4. They had calculated that the richest one hundred people in the world could resolve world poverty four-times over from their personal wealth. What on earth that could mean in practice is another issue - but for how much longer will the poor majority continue to tolerate the glaring injustice of the accumulative Capitalist system?

(Sparrowhawk over. Flying like an arrow into a row of trees across the snowy field.  The lattice pattern of tree-scattered hedgerows describe the contours of the fields, receding in aerial perspective towards the horizon.)

I remember Jurgen Moltmann said something interestingly related to this train of thought in his interview in Third Way Magazine last year: 

      "The Occupy Movement is a bourgeois youth movement but where we are really suffering is in Africa and Asia - if you want to learn the power of hope, go to these miserable quarters of humankind. The rich don't have hope, they have only anxiety because they have something to lose, but those who have nothing to lose but their chains, as Marx said once, have real hope in an alternative future.
"Today I think we need a movement to liberate nature from suffering and violence and injustice. I think humankind will learn either through insight or through catastrophe, and I think most of the people in the First World are waiting for the next catastrophe".

(Time to stop and make a quick sketch of the snow-covered field and the tree-line - looking from Berkshire across to Hampshire. Behind me, children and youths with sledges are playing on the steep hill into a dip beyond which is the village. A flock of seven Fieldfares overhead; handsome winter thrushes) 

(A Red Kite approaching at tree-top level, hanging majestically on the air, it's wings tilting and adjusting constantly - the forked-tail twisting like a rudder, the orange-tan and grey patterns of its plumage clear in my Leica Ultravid binoculars.)

We were talking about this in the run up to the end of 2012, when some cranky new-agers and other suggestible people thought the end of the world might be about to dawn. It seems easier, we concluded, for people to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of the Capitalist economic-system. But it will end and we need to be imagining a better future than the miserable barbarism that is threatened by those who have too much to lose.

(29 bird species spotted on a walk of about an hour and a half - the snow is falling again, with a cold wind making it slightly too uncomfortable to make any more sketches).


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