It seems we have entered the early stages of endtime. Climate catastrophe, social discord, the rise of fascism, war real and pending everywhere, etc., etc. It’s full steam ahead! That’s how it looks to many observers. If so, what can we do about it?
There are three great styles of shaping our experience on Earth: art, religion and scientific technology. Religion and scientific technology have been the leaders which, in my opinion, seem to have made a mess of things.
Without doubting the marvelous achievements of science and religion, the way they have been socially and ecologically used, on balance, has brought us to the present horrible impasse. The U.N. in 2020 declared that unless humans substantially change the way they live on Earth, climate-warming will devastate us. We’re being run over by a monster truck that we built and set loose on ourselves.
So how are we supposed to change the way we live? Two things must be done to minimize the climate disruptions already pounding us. The first is to end consumerism, which is turning nature into a garbage disposal system, and heating up the atmosphere. Corporate capitalism, militarism, and consumerism are destroying plants and animals everywhere, destroying the planetary ecosystem.
The second thing humans need to change is their attitude toward the natural world, the true mother of our being. In our relentlessly mechanized culture, nature for most of us is disappearing, dissolving, evaporating. Our perceptual environment is almost entirely manufactured and abstracted from living nature. Increasingly, all we know of nature comes to us through a supermarket, a video screen, a digital transaction with Amazon. Humans enjoy the benefits of consumerism but set into motion a force that is turning Earth into a hellish movie spectacular.
We’re looking at a real challenge. A call for new kinds of heroes. What must be done will require a complete reversal of mainstream attitudes. Given the mixed record of science and religion in the assault on nature, I want to say something about the third moment of human spiritual evolution—art. Art, unlike religion and science, has little in the way of blood and murder on its conscience. Art has served many needs and ideas in history, but is rarely used for deliberate, destructive purposes.
Perhaps we need to turn to the artist that is in us all—the sleeping spark of spiritual fire. As things fall apart and the center is lost, we’ll just have to improvise, reorient ourselves. In a sense, all forms of art begin as improvisation. You spontaneously try something new, When all the conventional vehicles of invention, of moving forward, are blocked, all we can do is try something we never tried before. It’s then that you ignore your inner hobgoblins, and do what you never did before.
Chalk it up to no rule of science and nothing in your holy writ It was the soul of the improviser that spoke to you, the secret artist that’s shaping your life. Suddenly, a plan, a motif, a flash of an idea—and there you are, poised for the next move, ready to see what you missed before.
Of course, there is more to art than improvisation. There is the spirit of art in a period of chaotic disintegration. The spirit of art is deeper than painting, music, and all the rest of the arts and the Muses; it is the subterranean genius that wreaks havoc on or inspires everyday life.
As conditions around us are disrupted, we’re forced to draw on inner resources to cope with altered circumstances. New ways of seeing and acting will be necessary. Improvising the way we live will become the main art form. The way we breathe will become art. Who knows? Perhaps all the horrors are a prelude to a renaissance of life on Earth. Readers, thinkers, dreamers? Thoughts? Words of light? A little dance with the world spirit?
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