Friday 11 September 2009

whatever can be done

The lead two-page book review in this week's New Statesman has John Gray writing about a 20-page pamphlet by Paul Kingsnorth and Dougald Hine titled The Dark Mountain Manifesto. Gray suggests that the authors' hopes, that the collapse of our current civilisation would lead to a better world, is only another version of the fairy-tale myth of progress. But Gray does agree that:

A change of sensibility in the arts would be highly desirable. The new perspective that is needed, however, is the opposite of apocalyptic.

When confronted with problems that are insoluble, Gray argues:

the most useful response is not to await disaster in the hope that the difficulties will magically disappear. It is to do whatever can be done, knowing that it will not amount to much. Stoical acceptance of this kind is practically unthinkable at present - an age when emotional self-expression is valued more than anything else. Still, stoicism will be needed if civilised life is to survive an environmental crisis that cannot now be avoided.

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