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This is a personal project by @dellsystem. I built this to help me retain information from the books I'm reading.

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1

The Best of a Bad Situation

Doom-edged but reassuring

3
terms
4
notes

, n. (2018). The Best of a Bad Situation. n+1, 33, pp. 1-10

1

[...] President Obama spoke softly about the seriousness of human-driven climate change in public while his administration chipped away at automobile emissions and provided token green-energy incentives. These may have been the correct policies for a major, developed nation . . . in the early 1990s. But like much else after the financial crisis in 2008, the opportunity for a visionary shift in national focus — one that would have required investment at least equal to that being poured into the unwinnable war on terror — was bartered away to chase after an illusory political consensus with the terminally uncompromising opposition.

love the phrasing

—p.1 by n+1 1 year, 8 months ago

[...] President Obama spoke softly about the seriousness of human-driven climate change in public while his administration chipped away at automobile emissions and provided token green-energy incentives. These may have been the correct policies for a major, developed nation . . . in the early 1990s. But like much else after the financial crisis in 2008, the opportunity for a visionary shift in national focus — one that would have required investment at least equal to that being poured into the unwinnable war on terror — was bartered away to chase after an illusory political consensus with the terminally uncompromising opposition.

love the phrasing

—p.1 by n+1 1 year, 8 months ago

(of a seal or closure) complete and airtight

2

hermetic stretches of row-house monotony

—p.2 by n+1
notable
1 year, 8 months ago

hermetic stretches of row-house monotony

—p.2 by n+1
notable
1 year, 8 months ago

(noun) a complete or impressive collection of things; (historically) a complete set of arms or suit of armor

2

The looming prospect of a panoply of belligerent, Blut und Boden regimes has always been one of the scariest potential political outcomes of widespread ecological collapse.

—p.2 by n+1
notable
1 year, 8 months ago

The looming prospect of a panoply of belligerent, Blut und Boden regimes has always been one of the scariest potential political outcomes of widespread ecological collapse.

—p.2 by n+1
notable
1 year, 8 months ago
3

ONCE IN A WHILE, and with increasing frequency, climate change rises to the forefront of popular consciousness. It happened, for instance, in 2007, when An Inconvenient Truth won two Oscars and extreme heatwaves swept across the US and Europe, causing wildfires that torched over ten million acres of forest. A critical mass of people aided by the notion that others are doing something similar can break through the powerful psychological resistance and look the blinding thing in the face. It’s devastating and painful; you grieve and you panic. Even so, there’s relief in bringing something so painful into view, in holding it with your mind. But you can only look for so long. Resistance reasserts itself, and you slide back behind it. Next time you come out a tiny bit further before you retreat. This is how understanding happens, through a series of breakthroughs and retrenchments and consolidations, as with all efforts toward intentional growth. A single revelation is rarely enough. Even though “we know, we know,” as Bellow’s Mr. Sammler says about the human moral impulse, we also forget, forget.

So much of our daily behavior is confused and uncertain. We can’t seem to lead the lives we have and acknowledge the future simultaneously, even as we must. We keep our eyes on the middle distance — our hopes for the country (universal healthcare!) and for ourselves — and only feel the shadows on the horizon across our peripheral vision. We are everyday climate deniers the way we are everyday death deniers: we write our articles, save for “retirement,” canvass for causes that give us the most hope. We go to bars and ask our friends whether they plan to have kids. Those of us with kids have become “preppers” in both senses, drilling our toddlers with blocks, trilingual board books, and Raspberry Pis to ace the local magnet preschool’s entrance exam while lobbying high schools to teach organic farming and archery. Perhaps we should start cultivating other friends, those with hand skills, for when civilization breaks. But what will we be able to offer in return? We can edit their mission statements! More likely we’ll do the unskilled labor, like rusticated Chinese intellectuals during the Cultural Revolution. Perhaps our arrow-slinging children will bear us on their backs out of the civilization we ruined for them.

jesus

—p.3 by n+1 1 year, 8 months ago

ONCE IN A WHILE, and with increasing frequency, climate change rises to the forefront of popular consciousness. It happened, for instance, in 2007, when An Inconvenient Truth won two Oscars and extreme heatwaves swept across the US and Europe, causing wildfires that torched over ten million acres of forest. A critical mass of people aided by the notion that others are doing something similar can break through the powerful psychological resistance and look the blinding thing in the face. It’s devastating and painful; you grieve and you panic. Even so, there’s relief in bringing something so painful into view, in holding it with your mind. But you can only look for so long. Resistance reasserts itself, and you slide back behind it. Next time you come out a tiny bit further before you retreat. This is how understanding happens, through a series of breakthroughs and retrenchments and consolidations, as with all efforts toward intentional growth. A single revelation is rarely enough. Even though “we know, we know,” as Bellow’s Mr. Sammler says about the human moral impulse, we also forget, forget.

So much of our daily behavior is confused and uncertain. We can’t seem to lead the lives we have and acknowledge the future simultaneously, even as we must. We keep our eyes on the middle distance — our hopes for the country (universal healthcare!) and for ourselves — and only feel the shadows on the horizon across our peripheral vision. We are everyday climate deniers the way we are everyday death deniers: we write our articles, save for “retirement,” canvass for causes that give us the most hope. We go to bars and ask our friends whether they plan to have kids. Those of us with kids have become “preppers” in both senses, drilling our toddlers with blocks, trilingual board books, and Raspberry Pis to ace the local magnet preschool’s entrance exam while lobbying high schools to teach organic farming and archery. Perhaps we should start cultivating other friends, those with hand skills, for when civilization breaks. But what will we be able to offer in return? We can edit their mission statements! More likely we’ll do the unskilled labor, like rusticated Chinese intellectuals during the Cultural Revolution. Perhaps our arrow-slinging children will bear us on their backs out of the civilization we ruined for them.

jesus

—p.3 by n+1 1 year, 8 months ago
4

Intellectually, this is the most difficult: to let go of our impulses toward the infinite and the eternal, which in another era might have been satisfied by religion but which we learned to redirect into literature and culture. There was a powerful seduction in the idea that while individual humans may die, books and ideas provide humans a quantum of immortality. Even if we didn’t write a lasting work, we could participate in a community of shared meaning and purpose that predated us and would, because of our efforts, outlast us. The intimacy we may still feel with a long-dead writer or artist, even living ones we’ve never met, is the most special thing in the world. Such premises, though, cannot be reconciled with an understanding of what’s ahead. We delay grappling with the fact of death in favor of a kind of collective immortality of literature, of shared thought — but that kind of immortality is premised on the existence of our civilization and the maintenance of our traditions. And when human civilization ends, whether in the sudden collapse of the Antarctic ice sheet or with a giant methane fart or both, wet and smelly, it’s unlikely that whatever comes after will have much interest in shoring fragments against our ruins.

—p.4 by n+1 1 year, 8 months ago

Intellectually, this is the most difficult: to let go of our impulses toward the infinite and the eternal, which in another era might have been satisfied by religion but which we learned to redirect into literature and culture. There was a powerful seduction in the idea that while individual humans may die, books and ideas provide humans a quantum of immortality. Even if we didn’t write a lasting work, we could participate in a community of shared meaning and purpose that predated us and would, because of our efforts, outlast us. The intimacy we may still feel with a long-dead writer or artist, even living ones we’ve never met, is the most special thing in the world. Such premises, though, cannot be reconciled with an understanding of what’s ahead. We delay grappling with the fact of death in favor of a kind of collective immortality of literature, of shared thought — but that kind of immortality is premised on the existence of our civilization and the maintenance of our traditions. And when human civilization ends, whether in the sudden collapse of the Antarctic ice sheet or with a giant methane fart or both, wet and smelly, it’s unlikely that whatever comes after will have much interest in shoring fragments against our ruins.

—p.4 by n+1 1 year, 8 months ago

a person who renounces a religious or political belief or principle; the general form is "apostasy"

7

I was called to a meeting with my leads in the food court of a shopping mall, where they screamed at me for my apostasy

—p.7 by n+1
notable
1 year, 8 months ago

I was called to a meeting with my leads in the food court of a shopping mall, where they screamed at me for my apostasy

—p.7 by n+1
notable
1 year, 8 months ago
8

TRULY, WE HAVE FUCKED IT UP in so many ways! Yet while climate change increasingly feels like an inescapable doom upon humanity, our only means of recourse remains political. Even under the heavy weather of present and near-future conditions, there’s an imperative to imagine that we aren’t facing the death of everyone, or the end of existence. No matter what the worst-case models using the most advanced forecasting of feedback loops may predict, we have to act as if we can assume some degree of human continuity. What happens in the next decades is instead, as the climate reporter Kate Aronoff has said, about who gets to live in the 21st century. And the question of who gets to live, and how, has always been the realm of politics.

The most radical and hopeful response to climate change shouldn’t be, What do we give up? It should remain the same one that plenty of ordinary and limited humans ask themselves each day: How do we collectively improve our overall quality of life? It is a welfare question, one that has less to do with consumer choices — like changing light bulbs — than with the spending of trillions and trillions of still-available dollars on decoupling economic growth and wealth from carbon-based fuels and carbon-intensive products, including plastics.

—p.8 by n+1 1 year, 8 months ago

TRULY, WE HAVE FUCKED IT UP in so many ways! Yet while climate change increasingly feels like an inescapable doom upon humanity, our only means of recourse remains political. Even under the heavy weather of present and near-future conditions, there’s an imperative to imagine that we aren’t facing the death of everyone, or the end of existence. No matter what the worst-case models using the most advanced forecasting of feedback loops may predict, we have to act as if we can assume some degree of human continuity. What happens in the next decades is instead, as the climate reporter Kate Aronoff has said, about who gets to live in the 21st century. And the question of who gets to live, and how, has always been the realm of politics.

The most radical and hopeful response to climate change shouldn’t be, What do we give up? It should remain the same one that plenty of ordinary and limited humans ask themselves each day: How do we collectively improve our overall quality of life? It is a welfare question, one that has less to do with consumer choices — like changing light bulbs — than with the spending of trillions and trillions of still-available dollars on decoupling economic growth and wealth from carbon-based fuels and carbon-intensive products, including plastics.

—p.8 by n+1 1 year, 8 months ago