After Seasonturn : The Author as Underminer


Catharsis. That’s the reason a lot of people write, and some days it does seem like I’m writing to rid myself of whatever is trapped inside my head. I’ve had a pretty good life; no one could deny that, at least in the context of being brought up a part of industrial civilisation, but I’m deeply worried. Again.

Some time in July 2015, there was a break in the weather for a day. This was the third time we had travelled to the Western Isles of Scotland in three years – the two previous years had been idyllic in terms of weather, location, being together as a family and taking the chance to connect with what I consider my “spiritual home” if there is such a thing. The most recent time was different, mainly because the weather was dreadful, but we did our best to keep spirits up, and did have a good laugh in the face of adversity; and when the sun came out, it seemed like this really was the best life could be. The photograph doesn’t show that there were two of us sitting above the beach – the feet aren’t mine – but no image could capture the sense of that moment, that deep connection between two people and the place they are.

Weather and, now it becomes clearer, climate is playing on my thoughts again. Storm after storm is hitting Britain: the UK Met Office have given them names so we take the warnings more seriously, and so far communities are just about coping where they have been worst hit. This is not normal, though, and I’m sure the Met Office are more than aware of the added significance in giving Atlantic storms tropical nomenclature. We are going to have to get used to a climate that has begun to change rapidly. The words of Guy McPherson ring in my head: “We’re fucked” is the gist, but more than this is a sense that we’re possibly over as a species, and definitely as a culture. It seems that civilisation has thrown everything it can at the ecosystem, and still shows no signs of stopping, despite the ragged mess that lies in front of the weapons of death.

I try not to worry, so I write. In that process comes an element of calm, putting what I can into the novels that are otherwise feeding out from somewhere deep inside my head, so the fears are threaded into a background tapestry, not so vividly that the reader will be scared, but clear enough that perhaps some readers will take from them the same theme I have tried to pursue for many years: we meddle with things at our peril, and need to realise what really matters to us.

It’s probably too late. Despite this, we have to do what we feel is necessary, even if it’s something as simple as just living the best way that you possibly can. Undermining is the act of weakening the Culture of Maximum harm by reconnecting people with what really matters. My writing will, ultimately, make little or no difference to whatever outcomes have been set in place already, but I do it because I can, and maybe it will help create a few connections, even if it’s just because that’s the right thing to do…


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