Heather Lewis

A Lost Generation

Photo Credit: Jill Krementz
Photo Credit: Jill Krementz

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.

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‘Soon the world will be unrecognisable’: is it still possible to prevent total climate meltdown?

Record high temperatures and extreme weather events are being recorded around the world. Photograph: Ian Logan/Getty Images
Record high temperatures and extreme weather events are being recorded around the world. Photograph: Ian Logan/Getty Images

Blistering heatwaves are just the start. We must accept how bad things are before we can head off global catastrophe, according to a leading UK scientist

How the US Military is Preparing for Climate Change – The Green Line – Ep 1

How the US Military is Preparing for Climate Change - The Green LineWhilst 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

LINKS:

https://theredline.libsyn.com/how-the-us-military-is-preparing-for-climate-change-the-green-line-ep-1

https://www.theredlinepodcast.com/post/how-the-us-military-is-preparing-for-climate-change

Global wildlife populations have declined by 69% since 1970, WWF report finds

The Amazon pink river dolphin population has dropped drastically in 22 years.
The Amazon pink river dolphin population has dropped drastically in 22 years.

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.

LINK: https://www.cnn.com/2022/10/13/world/wwf-living-planet-report-2022-climate-intl-scli-scn/index.html

When Felonies Become Form: The Secret History of Artists Who Use Lawbreaking as Their Medium

 

Eva and Franco Mattes’s “Stolen Pieces” series, objects taken from works by (clockwise from top left): Alberto Burri, Vasily Kandinsky, Jeff Koons, Richard Long, Gilbert & George, Joseph Beuys, Marcel Duchamp, and César. COURTESY THE ARTISTS
Eva and Franco Mattes’s “Stolen Pieces” series, objects taken from works by (clockwise from top left): Alberto Burri, Vasily Kandinsky, Jeff Koons, Richard Long, Gilbert & George, Joseph Beuys, Marcel Duchamp, and César.
COURTESY THE ARTISTS

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.

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Living in the Time of Dying

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.

Bruno Latour’s ‘Facing Gaia’ with Tim Howles

Bruno Latour's 'Facing Gaia' with Tim HowlesTim 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’.

 

LINK: https://www.patreon.com/posts/bruno-latours-72594262

These Trees Are Spreading North in Alaska. That’s Not Good

White spruce trees are expanding into the Arctic tundra with stunning speed, with potentially serious consequences both for the region and the world.

These Trees Are Spreading North in Alaska. That’s Not Good
IN THE SUMMER of 2019, Roman Dial and his friend Brad Meiklejohn hired a single-engine bush plane out of Kotzebue, on the northwest coast of Alaska. Even those wings could only get them within a five-day hike of where they wanted to be: deep in the tundra, where Dial had noticed peculiar shadows showing up in satellite images.

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More than 1,700 environmental activists murdered in the past decade – report

Figures likely to be an underestimate, says Global Witness, as land defenders are killed by hitmen, crime groups and governments

Climate activists hold up portraits of slain Philippine environmental defenders during a climate justice protest last November. Photograph: Ezra Acayan/Getty Images
Climate activists hold up portraits of slain Philippine environmental defenders during a climate justice protest last November. Photograph: Ezra Acayan/Getty Images

More than 1,700 murders of environmental activists were recorded over the past decade, an average of a killing nearly every two days, according to a new report.

Killed by hitmen, organised crime groups and their own governments, at least 1,733 land and environmental defenders were murdered between 2012 and 2021, figures from Global Witness show, with Brazil, Colombia, the Philippines, Mexico and Honduras the deadliest countries.

The NGO has published its report on the killings of land and environmental defenders around the world every year since 2012, after the murder of Chut Wutty, a Cambodian environmentalist who worked with the Global Witness CEO Mike Davis investigating illegal logging. Killings hit a record of 227 in 2020 despite the pandemic.

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‘Forever chemicals’ detected in all umbilical cord blood in 40 studies

Studies collectively examined nearly 30,000 samples over the past five years in ‘disturbing’ findings

‘Forever chemicals’ detected in all umbilical cord blood in 40 studies
Biobank, tube containing umbilical cord stem cells. Photograph: Bsip Sa/Alamy

Toxic PFAS chemicals were detected in every umbilical cord blood sample across 40 studies conducted over the last five years, a new review of scientific literature from around the world has found.

The studies collectively examined nearly 30,000 samples, and many linked fetal PFAS exposure to health complications in unborn babies, young children and later in life. The studies’ findings are “disturbing”, said Uloma Uche, an environmental health science fellow with the Environmental Working Group, which analyzed the peer-reviewed studies’ data.

“Even before you’ve come into the world, you’re already exposed to PFAS,” she said.

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