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After Us

Film (Earth Primer #2)

- By Giacomo Sartori

(Photo courtesy of Giacomo Sartori)

(Earth Primer #1)

When I travel around, giving lectures on soil, I ask my listeners—who sometimes are children—how deep it is. In response, some people say a mile or two, others say hundreds of yards. They all imagine it limitless; you can tell by the seriousness in their hesitations, the sort that emerge whenever incommensurable entities are at stake. But it is also clear that no one has a precise measurement in mind. This is normal, because what we’re given to see is its face looking to the heavens, and only meager indices—not simple to suss out—encourage us to imagine how deep it goes.

In reality, almost everywhere the soil below us...

After Us

War (Earth Primer #1)

- By Giacomo Sartori

(Photo courtesy of Giacomo Sartori)

N.B. With this post, we inaugurate a weekly series penned by the brilliant Italian novelist and soil scientist Giacomo Sartori. We'll be posting a new column each Friday, so stay tuned!

Wars are as unfortunate for the earth as they are for people. The aerial footage from the battles in Ukraine showing fields studded with craters is sadly identical to that of the Adige Valley, in my region, due to a conflict more than one hundred years ago. The same visible pimples on the edges of farmed fields, perfectly round but differing in size, which depends on the force of the projectiles. The rockets and shells that don’t wound people—which, fortunately, are by far the majority—lascerate the earth, though this damage...

After Us

Climate Nihilism (and Charles Baudelaire)

- By Maurizio Ferraris

(Photo of Charles Baudelaire: Nadar, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

"A theory of true civilization.
It rests not in gas, nor in steam, nor in table-turning.
It rests in the diminution of the traces of original sin."

The table-turning ("tables tournantes") was that of spiritualist seances, and the apothegm is Charles Baudelaire’s, from My Heart Laid Bare (1897, translation by Rainer J. Hanshe, 2017). What Baudelaire intends here is a denunciation of tekhnē and the Promethean arrogance of his age,...

After Us

Westerners Have a Way. . .

- By Noy Holland

Editor’s note: On March 28, 2022, in Bowker Auditorium at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the UMass School of Earth & Sustainability, in partnership with the Fine Arts Center and the MFA Program for Poets and Writers convened a unique meeting of artists, climate and social scientists, and activists working at the intersection of climate change, literature, and social justice. Noy Holland, from the MFA Program introduced and moderated this discussion.

Westerners have a way of talking about climate, nature, the environment as though it is over there. Something apart, something other. But we are nature and nature is us and we are making a mess of ourselves and everything that lives. Nature is storm surge and dengue, beetle-kill and Lyme. It is...

After Us

The Last Letter in the Alphabet Of Lies

- By Geneviève Piron

Pure fabrication, interpretation, and lies. Where is the line between these different types of distortion of truth? And how deep have we sunk?

In Russian, there is a word that suggests there is indeed a distinction: the word “vranio” means something between baloney and untruth, it is used to refer to a storyteller who distorts or exaggerates, even creates myths. We like it in Russian culture; it gives colour to life. The word “lies” in the Russian language has a different connotation, with a more active, performative dimension. There is an expression which alludes to this moral aspect: “To live not in accordance to lies”. It was used by dissidents to encourage people to resist State lies and to stand for...

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