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" A good traveller has no fixed plans,

and is not intent on arriving "

Lao Tzu

The Dark Mountain Project and the Thudding of a Helicopter

October 13th, 2011

After a day in London when the city was strangely quiet except for the ominous thudding of a military helicopter over the Thames, a chance meeting with a friend on the train returning to Lewes led us into conversations about music, the spirit and the environment. Oliver, editor of the intensely beautiful and sometimes obscure Fourth Door Review, was waxing lyrical about Bjork’s latest album. I was sharing my enthusiasm for the extraordinary Ikon of Eros of John Taverner which seems about as direct a path to ecstasy as I can imagine (only available on CD – not downloadable). Somehow we got on to the work of David Abram, whose Becoming Animal  eyes me beadily from a shelf beside my desk, chastising me for still not reading it. It turned out that Oliver had helped to film Abram in Scotland and had the DVD with him. Tonight we watched Abram articulate eloquently and humorously why we so need stories in this world – a message dear to Bards and Druids.

Roaming cyberspace for more on Abram I came across the Uncivilsation Festival that has just happened in August, and the group that runs it: the Dark Mountain Project. This is stirring stuff: Read this description of their work and follow the link if it speaks to you:


These are precarious and unprecedented times. Our economies crumble, while beyond the chaos of markets, the ecological foundations of our way of living near collapse. Little that we have taken for granted is likely to come through this century intact.

We don’t believe that anyone – not politicians, not economists, not environmentalists, not writers – is really facing up to the scale of this. As a society, we are all still hooked on a vision of the future as an upgraded version of the present. Somehow, technology or political agreements or ethical shopping or mass protest are meant to save our civilisation from self-destruction.

Well, we don’t buy it. This project starts with our sense that civilisation as we have known it is coming to an end; brought down by a rapidly changing climate, a cancerous economic system and the ongoing mass destruction of the non-human world. But it is driven by our belief that this age of collapse – which is already beginning – could also offer a new start, if we are careful in our choices.

The end of the world as we know it is not the end of the world full stop.

Deeper than oil, steel or bullets, a civilisation is built on stories: on the myths that shape it and the tales told of its origins and destiny. We have herded ourselves to the edge of a precipice with the stories we have told ourselves about who we are: the stories of ‘progress’, of the conquest of ‘nature’, of the centrality and supremacy of the human species.

It is time for new stories. The Dark Mountain Project intends to conjure into being new ways of seeing and writing about the world. We call this Uncivilisation.

3 Responses to “The Dark Mountain Project and the Thudding of a Helicopter”

  1. Much of this topic is on my mind lately and there appears to be a stirring in some circles. However I was greatly surprised whilst talking to a teenager yesterday, and not one from a privileged background,or even a conventional family of working father and or mother. One who has seen and known hardship up close, a child of a single unsupported mother.
    I was discussing an e-mail I had recieved regarding 11-11-11 and the thoughts some groups had about this, the opening of gateways and a shift in consciousness for humanity, in preparation for 20012. We had joked about numbers before, with her mentioning that she keeps seeing 2222 in various places, doors, clocks, phones etc, she said it is spooky. So I said well maybe there is a signifcance in 11-11-11 added together it 2-2-2. So she said do you think it will be the start of the end of the world,this date then? And I said I don’t know, maybe not apocalypse as people expect but a breaking down of our way of life, our economic structures and so on, and it will be your generation that has to pull it all together. At which point she looked very dismayed with me and she said “You are a Marxist and I don’t want to be a Marxist, I like things just the way they are. Everything is running smoothly and I don’t want anything to break down because then it will be chaos and we won’t know who is in charge and it could be worse.” I was a bit surprised to say the least.
    So the next generation on the whole do not seem to have the same rebel streak that us middle aged folks have, nor do they seem to be conforming to any kind of spiritual path. The churches are lacking youth. And they do not seem overly concerned with a shift on any level. Or maybe it is just this one particular teenager. Does anyone know any young people, under 25, who are trying to change society?
    Perhaps it is just the way the majority of our society are thinking right now.

  2. The second movement of Ikon of Eros is available on Spotify, as part of the compilation “Tavener: A Portrait”. I just listened to it, it *is* lovely!

  3. Well said! I entirely agree that the whole situation is one big storytelling game, with the false version of who we are and why we’re here supported by a vast, complex and unsustainable storytelling media – working through various state, church, press, broadcasting and education outlets – that only serves the short-sighted greed of the individuals who own those media outlets, who are the people the least qualified to lead human society.

    Fortunately, the long-awaited New Earth has already arrived: is only one example.
    It’s just a matter of people sharing the story, then living it, as far as I can see.

    Light, love and peace,

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