Voltaire and activism

Posted on June 5th, by jane in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Voltaire and activism

words that echo Field Station precepts:


We Must Cultivate Our Garden.
the last line of Voltaire’s Candide, 1759

It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with Reproduction; inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the external conditions of life, and from use and disuse; a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less-improved forms. Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.
last paragraph of Darwin’s On the Origin of  Species, 1859


and this


When we try to pick out anything by itself,
we find it hitched to everything else in the
– John Muir, 1911


some research:

The problem with unnameably complex reality is that it’s really hard to pin down and even harder to write about. Yet anyone who gives a damn about the ecological health of life on Earth knows that there’s no time for dillydallying.

In the late nineteenth century, a Danish scientist named Eugen Warming first used the term ecology to describe the study of interrelationships between living things. Henry Chandler Cowles, a doctoral candidate at the University of Chicago, brought ecology across the Atlantic with the 1899 publication of his treatise on the succession of the plant life of the Indiana Dunes. Instead of static forests and static lakes and static prairies, Warming and Cowles recognized that these features of the physical world were in flux. As Cowles wrote in his introduction, “Ecology, therefore, is a study in dynamics.”

Queer ecology, then, is the study of dynamics across all phenomena, all behavior, all possibility. It is the relation between past, present, and future.

Yes, we need to act. But we also must recognize that any action is also a performance, and possibly in drag.

Alex Johnson in Orion 

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