Boon or bane, I was born downstream from this place I stand now under unfurling beech leaves, just past the Victoria walking bridge. Down there, around the bend. See it? A red brick hospital is now apartments with annual ground rents and an alloted view. I’ve grown up with my feet in this river, with the mayfly larvae, on sunny picnic days at Bredwardine beach too, knowing— turning wet pebbles in just my toddler’s knickers and sunhat – I was part of it all. This river taught me how to listen and swim. When you are bred into quiet waters and their teresapien communal places, you’re bathed in that soft green song. It’s always jarring when being sent out by necessity into modern industrial life, each time under massive amps, like a bet, to survive the prevailing wantonomy. But this is my song, albeit still brimming with mystery. I belong to it, though mostly, still, despite everything that has happened to me, that particular melody from Builth to Hay.
As an adult, Earth sciences have revealed a small number of those mysteries in my head, connecting the flolocas of the Wye to the planetary-scale picture. More personal study of Environmental Ethics and various hard-won and generous Indigenous understandings from special places, say over the last 15 years, have led me to a broader view of the combination of processes, the most loving ones tending towards life, not against, has lead me to share Fluminism with the human world. Though the popular way of publishing has limited me to a very small corner of that world, I admit my own kind of language code—almost my entire inner world has been dominated by unfamiliar language to most who operate within a largely job-oriented mass vocabulary and education system geared to “capital”— has, more than likely, hindered me too.
I saw and heard Peter Kalmus’s emotional pleas on the Guardian website as he stood protesting in his white science lab coat. And I understand the rawness of this moment for him, especially as he has embraced the role of influencer in his writing and communication, and is devastated that the message on reducing emissions is just not reaching its intended spot.
Teresapien-centric people have been feeling this kind of pain for decades.
It’s a jagged, flesh-tearing and deep pain; breathtaking in its pervasiveness and in all aspects of one’s being. Climate change came, for us, on top. We bear witness, daily, to war crimes against those we love, and immediately feel the pain of all our peoples, of all walks, oppressed by the same structural abuses.
But it’s almost impossible to earn sympathy from those who are unknowing. When life is about political intrigue or ratings, or even putting food on the table, we are dismissed as sentimental or as having too little else to worry about, despite life, by the longest, farthest distance, not in subservience to human life but its indifferent foundation.
What should it take to make a real difference, to make the unknowing know? Shall we lay down our own lives in front of mass media cameras to protest—to rely on editors—to risk being outdone by celebrities or dismissed as more waste: shall we go to war with the employers of the unknowing, bashing those too who struggle to exist: or shall we instead radically for-form the shape of our collective morality and fluministic consciousness through mass, egalitarian education?
“I’ve tried everything else.” No, we haven’t.
I now stand still on the Old Bridge. So many people rushing to the banks in town to check-in money or cheque it out. My river, life’s river, is the Wye. The Wye asks questions of us in every ripple. Listen to those questions flowing beneath us all. All the upstream feeder tributaries reach this very point too.
This is a collective, but a collective overfed. I have watched our symling kin of the water and banks dwindle in energy transfer, shrink in territory, and wither under the strain of obesity and noise. River lives need few nutrients but for the cycling drifts from their own flolocas and the rocks the water scours. They need peace [I will write more on this in time]. As ever, the landscapes and flolocas in which we participate, knowingly or not, are burdened with the fat of all our human wastes. Human excreta— including pharma—washes in with the wastes of a meat industry too, but also from the silt from the inefficient machined numbness of commodity ag-tech, the maximalist financial schemes of the boroughcrats, the steel plough blades washed off by an ever intense rainstorm or blown off in drought; in-filling and culverting of the brooks; roads-more-roads and individualism, the poisons and shipped-in minerals from all over the globe not taken in by the living bodies of the fields we have fenced out from the rest of nature. The fishhooks. The tourists’ money.
Yes, please do test the waters with your proprietary chemistry kits and citizen projects – I’ve lost count of the times I have called on those paid to do it – and try to prove to the regulators that they need to enforce each separate unit of Law in order to punish the ignorant or entitled through the Courts (at least, the community—in its very Western way— is now trying to belong).
But if you sit and “feel” it happening for a lifetime, you also feel the atomic devastation seep into your own. There is no gap. The pain is soul-splitting, trust me. And few hear, or even wish to hear, the real meaning of those particular cries.
I look around at all my fellow Herefordians crossing this bridge at their speed, and wonder at their bliss when they stop to look over the thousand-year-old war bridge (to facilitate or block the trade with Wales). It must be an utter joy to find delight here (I remember the feeling as a child). But I now feel less to celebrate—though kingfisher balancing on the willow whip sprouting from the litter debris downstream does give me momentary hope. I ask these people, do you know this place? Do you really feel our belonging?
You do belong. All of you. Not to the tarmac nor the thousand-year-old bridge, nor the banks you are racing towards (that still fund wars). But to this place beneath. This kind of flower-bank laying slant into wet eddies of a living continuum. Let there be peace, just here.
Note: I wrote this before learning of the life given to raise ultimate awareness of this kind of pain outside the Supreme Court, Washington DC. Rest in peace, Wynn Bruce, of Boulder, Colorado.