For more than a decade two mugshots of fugitive environmentalists have sat amongst airplane hijackers, bombers and murders on the FBI’s Most Wanted Domestic Terrorists list.
One of the photos is of a tall, hipster looking engineer from Seattle. He’s wearing a red shirt, has a light shadowy beard.
His name: Joseph Mahmoud Dibee.
The other photo is of a young white woman with thick eyebrows, piercing brown eyes and long brown hair. Across her back is a large tattoo: a bird with its wings outstretched, soaring.
Her name: Josephine Sunshine Overaker.
To the authorities, Joseph Mahmoud Dibee and Josephine Sunshine Overaker are dangerous, violent extremists, part of an eco-terrorist movement that in 2005 the then Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI called the number one domestic terror threat in America.
And now one of them – Joseph Dibee – has been caught.
For the past eighteen months journalist Leah Sottile has been recording with Joe Dibee as his case progresses through the courts and as she works to understand the truth behind the mugshots and how they ended up here.
Burn Wild is a story of radical environmentalism and morality that journeys into one of the most thorny and murky questions of our time: How far is too far to go to stop the planet burning?
Answering this will take Leah and producer Georgia Catt into radical activist communities past and present on both sides of the Atlantic, amongst people who’ve spent their lives running from the authorities, and those who carry the weight of that word – terrorist – on their shoulders.
In this story people will take away very different things on what they hear, but where you sit isn’t a question of the past. It’s a question of right now.
A Lost Generation
Publication, Emily Dickinson mused, “is the Auction Of the Mind,” a condition “so foul” that after a certain point she deemed it better to work in “Poverty” rather than pursue the acclaim to which she knew she was entitled. That sentiment caught my eye because of its slant resonance to the case of Heather Lewis. In 1996, Heather began submitting the sequel to her controversial debut, House Rules. Notice didn’t fare well with editors. Its lurid story—a nameless young woman turns tricks for drugs until she falls in love with the wife of one of her johns, a rich sadist who molested and killed his own daughter and uses the protagonist to reenact his crime night after night—struck industry readers as unbelievable or, even more discomfiting, too close to their notions of the author’s actual experience.
At the time Heather took the stoic route, shelving Notice and writing The Second Suspect, the final installment of what she considered a trilogy. She ditched the first-person narrator for third-person detachment, filtering the central conceit of incest, misogyny, and murder through a detective’s objective gaze rather than the unnerving subjectivity of a survivor. The crime-drama prism got the novel published but didn’t save The Second Suspect from being dissed as “transgressive,” its subject matter attributed to “an almost adolescent need to shock.” The taunts stung, not least because they deliberately failed to understand Heather’s work, but also because of the implicit suggestion that the kinds of experiences she wrote about weren’t fit materials for art. The situation was complicated by the collapse of Heather’s career in the wake of The Second Suspect’s failure; in addition, after a decade of sobriety, she started drinking again. These lamentable developments, coupled with who knew what personal traumas, culminated in her suicide in 2002; it is only through the valiant efforts of a handful of supporters that Notice is now being published nearly a decade after she wrote it.
Whilst debates around Climate Change still rage on US TV, the US Military has been quietly preparing for the now inevitable. Planners are now acutely aware of just how quick Climate Change is coming down upon us, and how dramatically it will change the geopolitics of the planet. What wargames are the military running in preparation for this? Which theatres do they project to be the most impacted? and is the US ready for a worst-case scenario? We ask our panel of experts. On the panel this week: – Sharon Burke (Ecospherics/Fmr White House) – John Conger (Center for Climate and Security/Fmr White House) – Larry Wilkerson (Fmr Chief of Staff to Colin Powell) This is Part 1 of our special 5-Part Series focusing on The Geopolitics of Climate Change This Production was Brought to you by The Red Line and Mission Climate Project
The world’s wildlife populations plummeted by an average of 69% between 1970 and 2018, a dangerous decline resulting from climate change and other human activity, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) warned in a report Thursday.
Artists have long gotten away with murder, sometimes literally. After Benvenuto Cellini killed his rival, the goldsmith Pompeo de Capitaneis, in 1534, Pope Paul III—a Cellini fan—reportedly pardoned the Florentine artist, declaring that men like him “ought not to be bound by law.” In 1660 the Dutch painter Jacob van Loo stabbed a wine merchant to death during a brawl in Amsterdam, and then fled to Paris. But, as the art historians Rudolf and Margot Wittkower have noted in their vigorously researched 1963 treatise on the behavior of artists, Born Under Saturn, van Loo had no problem being elected to the Royal Academy there just two years later. His reputation as an artist was what mattered.
Artists have not only indulged in criminal behavior and then been forgiven for it, by philosophers and historians, princes and popes, they have also sometimes openly advertised it. “I do not understand laws,” Arthur Rimbaud wrote in 1873, summing up the attitude of the renegade artist. “I have no moral sense. I am a brute.”
Those lines, as well as Pope Paul’s (which Cellini shares in his autobiography), appear in Mike Kelley’s 1988 installation Pay for Your Pleasure, a long hallway lined with painted portraits of dead white men (intellectuals, artists, and the like) paired with choice quotations from them celebrating destruction, violence, and lawbreaking. It is, viewed from one angle, an indictment of the archetype of the artist as a macho man unbound by legal codes.
The installation is always shown with an artwork by a murderer, selected based on the exhibition’s location. (A painting by the serial killer turned artist John Wayne Gacy appeared in the debut.) Writing about Pay for Your Pleasure, Kelley wondered, “How can we safely access destructive forces?” and suggested that “criminals themselves, safely filtered through the media, serve the same function” as art. Gacy’s paintings, he argued, “allow us to stare safely at the forbidden.” He sets artists and criminals together, on the same level.
André Breton appears in Pay for Your Pleasure as well, alongside this infamous bit from his “Second Manifesto of Surrealism” of 1930: “The simplest Surrealist act consists of dashing down into the street, pistol in hand, and firing blindly, as fast as you can pull the trigger, into the crowd.”
This is a milestone moment: criminality explicitly proposed as a work of art.
No Surrealist ever acted on Breton’s suggestion. Nevertheless, his statement cracks open a secret history, hiding in plain sight, of artists who have not only broken laws to make their art, but have used lawbreaking itself as their medium. They have stolen artworks, robbed banks, and purchased and distributed drugs, experimenting with crime in much the same way that their contemporaries have experimented with silk screens or video. They have explored crime’s psychological effects (on both perpetrator and victim), its very definition, and its place in culture.
Living in The Time of Dying is an unflinching look at what it means to be living in the midst of climate catastrophe and finding purpose and meaning within it. Recognising the magnitude of the climate crisis we are facing, independent filmmaker Michael Shaw, sells his house to travel around the world looking for answers. Pretty soon we begin to see how deep the predicament goes along with the systems and ways of thinking that brought us here.
Featured in this documentary are Professor of Sustainability and founder of the Deep Adaptation movement Jem Bendell, award winning journalist and author of “The End of Ice” , Dahr Jamail, Dharma teacher and author of Facing Extinction Catherine Ingram and Stan Rushworth, a Native American Elder, teacher and author who brings an especially enlightening viewpoint to these questions.
While it becomes clear that catastrophic climate change is now inevitable it also opens up a whole new set of questions: How exactly did we arrive at this point? What new choices can we make now re how to live our lives and what actions make sense at this time. The people interviewed in the documentary, all highly regarded and well known spokespeople on the issue, argue it’s too late to stop what is coming but in no way is it too late to regain a renewed, life giving relationship with our selves and our world.
Tim is Junior Research Fellow in Political Theology at Campion Hall, University of Oxford, and Researcher Director at the “Laudato Si’ Research Institute”, a new institute conducting academic research in the field of ecology and social change. He is also an ordained Priest in the Church of England. In this episode we discuss Bruno Latour’s text ‘Facing Gaia’.