So, here’s what happened – after a long break, we sat down in early October to record the seventh episode of this series, but life got in the way and by the time we got around to editing it six weeks later, the world had changed so much that it felt like a historical document. Britain has (yet) another prime minister, Sweden has a government over which the far-right have an unprecedented influence. But here it is, in any case, ‘the missing episode’, so you can travel back in time and relive the thoughts that were on our minds earlier this autumn.
Some shownotes, then…
Firstly, a bow of gratitude to listener Lydia Catterall for her lovely words about the previous episode. Check out Lydia’s work here: “Lydia aims to reveal, support and champion the creative people and ideas transforming the make-up of where we live.”
After mentioning Felix Marquardt’s The New Nomads, Ed goes on to talk about Gaia Vince’s Nomad Century: How Climate Migration Will Reshape Our World. He’s also been reading Laline Paull’s novel, The Bees – ‘a thriller set in a beehive, based on real honeybee biology’.
Dougald has also been on an interspecies reading trip – he talks about Amitav Ghosh’s The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis and recommends Sarah Thomas’s The Raven’s Nest, ‘a memoir about resilience and learning to belong, set in the elemental landscape of Iceland’s Westfjords’, as perfect reading for the dark months of the northern year.
Discussing the strange days that followed the Queen’s death, Dougald reads from a piece that Diné elder Pat McCabe published on Facebook about praying at the tomb of King Ferdinand of Spain.
Ed quotes from Ursula K Le Guin’s 2014 speech in which she speaks for the long historical view and being ‘realists of a larger reality’: ‘We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable – but then, so did the divine right of kings.’
Dougald remembers Rowan Williams writing in Lost Icons about the tension between the role of the ‘monarch as icon’, with its traces of ‘sacred eccentricity’, and ‘monarch as absolute executive master’. Something was lost, Williams suggests, when the ceremony of the monarch washing the feet of the poor on Maundy Thursday was sanitised and replaced with the giving out of bags of coins – while ‘the rot set in … when monarchs started dressing habitually in military uniform’.
We discuss a passage in Paul Kingsnorth’s Substack essay, ‘The Nation and the Grid’, about ‘a situation in which nobody [on any side of politics or the culture war] is quite clear what they want or how to get it’.
We mark the loss of Bruno Latour and discuss his book, Down to Earth, and the images it offers for recognising the failure of the old political trajectories of left and right in the time of ‘the new climatic regime’.
And as so often, our conversation comes around to the work of the Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures collective, and the suggestion that what may be called for is to visibilise the absence of what is lacking from existing institutions and conversations, rather than move to fast to attempt to bring the absent into a setting which remains unchanged and will tend to distort or misunderstand it.