Published in  
September 23, 2015

‘Normal service will resume shortly’

Today’s disturbing crisis is not so much peak-oil, intractable poverty, or the innumerable failures of partisan politics and trickle-down economics, as it is the piercing humiliation occasioned by these materialities.

Our civilizational crisis is probably, more poignantly, the rupture of our collective skin, the blistering surfaces of the enclosure that kept us safely ensconced from the raw, devastating majesty that is the world. In a whisper, our crisis is that we do not know. The rumours are that this is not a temporary inconvenience or yet another moment we can be assured that ‘normal service will resume shortly’. The ambiguities our culture pushed away to the edges are revolting, and are taking over everything – blackening the skies like a migrating horde of Egyptian locusts, and infiltrating the pipelines through which sanity was pushed down to us.

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This crisis is big. Yes, it does seem like we are indeed running out of fossil fuels to power our fragile economy (or that it is getting too expensive to exploit these subterranean wells) – but a more stunning emergency is showing up in the bellies of these converging troubles: the engines that lubricated our conceptions of individuality and sanity, of linear causation and separate agency, of endless growth and the triumph of rationality over feeling, of conquering mystery and raping wonder, of rising above the brute chaos of the nonhuman world, are breaking down – and we are staring blankly into the traumatic abyss, the deep fear of which once summoned the dream of human separation. And this abyss will not be appeased.