Dealing with our own shit

[Dealing with our own shit: a conversation with Gustavo Estava][]


That is not the only way in which Gustavo’s thinking is entangled with the roots of Dark Mountain. The life out of which that thinking has grown is a story of faith in progress, the loss of that faith, and the finding of the kinds of hope which remain on the other side of loss. Then there is the willingness to walk away, even though you have no answers to give when people ask what you would do instead, to walk away with only your uncertainty, rather than to stay with certainties in which you no longer believe. Finally, the distinction he makes between ‘the better life’ promised by universal visions of progress and development, and ‘the good life’, which has to be worked out on a human scale, improvised, in the times and places where we find ourselves.



GE: That is what we need to stop doing. We cannot continue in that path. Because after two or three great disasters, a few tsunamis or Fukushimas – after that, some people will say: well, given the irresponsibility of the 7 billion people, what we need is a good, global authoritarian government to save poor Mother Earth. Then we will have control over everyone. And many people will say, ‘Oh yes, finally something is being done!’

DH: It’s true, those arguments are starting to be voiced.

GE: That is part of the horror. That is why the horror is inside us. It’s not only outside. It’s not just the powers that be, we have been infected with it. Then we need to stop. But I think, again, people are doing that. I think that there are millions of people saying, ‘No, I need to stop by myself,’ doing whatever it is.

The horror is inside us—the horror is us. We demand that "leaders" be the ones to do something about it—we demand that "leaders" be the only ones allowed to legitimately do something about it. We demand the state monopoly on violence be extended. (cf utopia-of-rules)


There is a poem by Eduardo Galeano which says: in these times of global fear, there are some people afraid of hunger, and the others are afraid of eating.

on the matrix

DH: It’s a waste of all three things that can, if handled better, be put to better use. But it’s not just that, it’s that once you have the flush toilet you are connected to a system. Think of the nightmare of The Matrix, with everyone in their tanks, stuck full of tubes, plugged in to this virtual reality. Part of why that nightmare haunts us it that is such a good description of what we take for granted: the kind of relationship we have to infrastructure is a relationship of dependence on unthinkably large, centralised systems. It’s not just that we are born into incubators where we’re stuck full of tubes, or that we die stuck full of tubes. It’s that we plug ourselves in to tubes at critical junctures in our life, every day.


omelas Le Guin, Ursula K. “The Ones Who Walked Away from Omelas”. ↩︎ 1

utopia-of-rules Graeber, David. 2015. The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy. Melville House Publishing. ↩︎ 1