Nov 1, 2023
Welcome back to Season 5 of The Great Humbling! Here are some show notes...
The Regrowing a Living Culture series at a school called HOME starts on 7 & 8 November.
Ed has been reading Dougie Strang’s book, The Bone Cave.
Dougald mentions the cluster of authors who were part of the first decade of Dark Mountain who are stepping out with books of their own, finding their voice and getting the attention they deserve. This includes Dougie, also his wife Em Strang’s first novel Quinn, Nick Hunt’s first novel Red Smoking Mirror, Caroline Ross’s book on pigment-making, Found & Ground, and her Substack ‘Uncivil Savant’, and Charlotte Du Cann’s mythic memoir After Ithaca as well as her newly launched Substack, ‘The Red Tent’.
Ed wonders what to say to some of the audiences he ends up getting to speak in front of – and this connects to a question Dougald has been wondering about since the roundtable he took part in for Nate Hagens’s The Great Simplification podcast. Is it possible to take Federico Campagna’s call to ‘make good ruins’ (in Prophetic Culture) and begin to turn this into strategy? This is the starting point for Dougald’s new Substack series, How We Make Good Ruins.
There’s a place Ed goes walking, Covehithe, where the locals dismantled the medieval church and rebuilt a humbler structure inside its ruins. It’s the setting for a short story called ‘Covehithe’ by China Miéville (who, weirdly, shared a gap-year training programme with Ed when they were teenagers).
The image of the church at Covehithe echoed back through Dougald’s work and prompted an essay, The Ruined Church. This also connected to John Foster’s essay, ‘Beyond the Fishtank’, which included the suggestion that the one thing missing from At Work in the Ruins was ‘the metaphysics’.
Ed brings our conversation to a close by quoting D.H. Lawrence from Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1928):
Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We’ve got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.