Animating Intimacies, Reanimating a World
The bedtime story that sings a fitful world to sleep while it hurtles toward
ecological destruction goes something like this:
Long ago but not so far away, perhaps in the very place where you lay your
head tonight, the creatures of the earth depended on one another, and they
knew it. It was the Age of Intimacy, the Era of Connection, an Anthropocene
in which Relation had not yet birthed Alienation, its shadowy twin. Even on
the hunt—especially on the hunt—the people waited to see which animals
might offer themselves, and made sure to handle those gifted bodies properly,
with respect. Then came a mighty gale, scouring every field and glade and vil-
lage in its path, until the winds of Capital had laid the old ways bare.
Some creatures took flight before the relentless advance of the market, find-
ing solace on islands, seeking shelter in hollows, until eventually there was no-
where left to go. Their cousins, too weak to travel or fixed in place by the siren
song of More, stayed behind and became something different from what they
once were. Many looked down after the gale swept past to find themselves
shackled—ankles, wrists, and minds—to desks, furrows, machines. Huddled
in shiny new towers, they raised their hands to the sky waiting for the plans
or the planes that would seed the clouds with jobs and water the earth with
wondrous playthings to light up the nights.
Chained or unchained, chained and unchained, the lords and lieges of
Capital had something in common. What the lieges shared with the lords was
this: They had come to live a life once, twice, thrice removed from all that
sustains it. They piled their glass castles high with plunder or whatever ambi-
tions they could afford, until the castles became so heavy that the turtles upon
turtles upon whom the land rested could no longer come up for air.
Everyone knew better than to inquire too deeply into the matter of where
the jobs and packages came from, or why during the lean years known as Re-
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