nawr 007 Winter/Spring 2022

Page 1


n awr in this climate?




Tigers Of The East ADAM HANFORD


Selected Photographs JOÃO SARAMAGO




Sculptural Oil Paintings ARRON KUIPER






Make Do and Mend KATE MERCER








Exhibition / Short Film JENO DAVIES


Studying Glaciers MIKE JENKINS


The Desert Moves MIKE JENKINS


Selected Photographs MANON AWST




Beth Sy’n igwydd? MILLIE BETHEL






Managed Retreat PAUL KAIBA


Plasticide SHAUN LOWDE


Vandalised Tree in Bute Park RACHEL HEAD


Towards an eco-critical use of oneself JAMIE DAVIES

EDITORS’ LETTER As we move now - slowly it feels - into 2022, it is constantly as if we are on the verge of an Event. An Event, simply put, is something that causes a definitive break or rupture with some pre-established symbolic order; they forevermore alter the fabric of the social. For Alain Badiou, the French Revolution of 1789 is one such Event, the student revolutions of May ‘68 are another. But the Event that we are constantly on the verge of differs from these quite radically. Even if we accept, as we must, that the structure of an Event is always diffuse and multitudinous, there was a time before the French Revolution as there is now a time after it. Even if these categories are retroactively decided upon, they delineate the Event. The Climate Crisis, or the Ecological Crisis, or whatever we want to call it, does not work this way. There will be no time before and after it, as there is with 1789. We are already suffused with its evental happenings. This is why it feels as if we are on the verge of it, as if it were always just on the horizon, waiting to sneak in and occur at midnight, like some final and bizarre concession to the contemporary structure of social life.

Questions around the climate, around justice, and around change, are almost impossible to answer. The best that most can do is offer more questions. Often, the feeling that these questions have no answers, and are so difficult to answer is because their answers are so profoundly simple. What must be done is simple. What sort of people we must be is simple. In posing the question In this Climate? rhetorically, it was never our aim to answer it, but simply to demonstrate that a refusal to consider the question, to consider on a more fundamental level the unknown and the unknowable, or to borrow from Beckett, the unnameable, is a refusal to see the simplicity of the answer.

This issue of nawr is an attempt to grapple, in some way, with what it means to inhabit such a climate. We posed the question rhetorically, because such rhetoric does two things: firstly, it reverses the straightforward order of agency. The speaker becomes dependent on the Other’s response, implicitly evoking the receptivity of the Other. Secondly, it recognises the suspense that characterises the current situation. It is held aloft, afloat, only by its unanswerability, by its unbearability. Even as we speak of the climate crisis, it feels that we cannot really know it or fully comprehend what it means to live in it.

Anna, Jamie, and Martha

The work in this issue ranges from bleak, satirical humour in Spike Dennis’s Eat Me on page 42 to the raw, singular exposition of stuff with Kevin Dyer’s Clutter on page 34. We were also delighted to be joined by Taylor Edmonds for this issue’s In Conversation With. Co-editor Martha spoke to her about her residency with Future Generations and the poetry she has created as part of her work with the commissioner. The whole interview can be found inside on pages 26 to 33. For this issue’s Beth Sy’n Digwydd?, our Culture Writer Millie responded to the theme with a creative piece that can be found on pages 46-47.

Thank you, as ever, for your continued support of nawr. Special thanks goes as always, to the tireless work of our designer, Anja Quinn. You can support our team of volunteers by donating to our Ko-Fi, or buying a badge on our Depop page, but the best way to support us is to continue to read and enjoy the work of our contributors. Cariad Mawr,

nawr Co-Editors

COVER IMAGE This issue’s cover image comes from Phillip Hatcher-Moore.

See more from the (WILD) SWIMMERS collection on pages 48-51.


Tigers Of The East

Me and you, we’re the polar bears of the North. The ground under our feet, it’s resilient and unmoving, tailored just for us, until it’s not. Do you feel the shift? We are butterflies, monarchs in our minds. A thing of beauty left to thrive, But we’re not. We aren’t. We’re the tigers of the East, Glorious. Dangerous, they marvel at us until we’re turned against. A scapegoat for violence. We’re the animals at the zoo. We’re gorillas drinking from straws, in the spotlight for publicity. We’re endangered. In danger Me and you, we’re an ever-changing evolution, A violation of nature in a nature they violated. Don’t you see it? The voices in masks tell us we’re valued and safe, in capable hands and then these hands remove the masks behind closed doors and pick apart the lungs from which we breathe to shame and blame for exhaling the poison they inhale. We’re accountable because we’re visible, we need to be dealt with, now, immediately, until something smaller and newer and shinier rounds the corner with a fabricated grace, and they forget it’s all from the same air. They breathe it as we do. It’s me and you and us and them we’re all endangered whether they like it or not. ADAM HANFORD


For the In this climate? theme, I wanted to write a poem which reflected how climate change is represented in the mainstream media and how it is seen as a massive issue that needs to be solved, yet is consistently brushed aside in favour of something newer and shinier that we will feel less guilty and responsible for doing nothing about. For me, this is strikingly similar to the way that queer people (particularly the trans* community) are treated. Queerphobia and the climate crisis alike are acknowledged as being harmful and dangerous, with corporations and politicians pledging to do more, until they once again inevitably remember what they can take from us, from the planet, to suit themselves. - A.H


JOÃO SARAMAGO The Betrayal Cycle The Betrayal Cycle is a brand new series of interventions on the landscape documented to reveal mankind’s acts of betrayal. Inspired by the recovery stages for trauma and grief, The Betrayal Cycle is split into a structured narrative in order to draw similarities between environmental issues and personal and intimate relationships, whilst simultaneously questioning acts of humans’ corrupting behaviour and its long term impact on the landscape.


Selected Ph


Mae Y Cylch Brad yn gyfres newydd sbon o ymyriadau ar y dirwedd sydd wedi’i dogfennu i ddatgelu gweithredoedd brad dynolryw. Wedi’i ysbrydoli gan y camau adfer ar gyfer trawma a galar, rhennir Y Cylch Brad yn naratif strwythuredig i arddangos materion amgylcheddol fel cyfeiriad cyfeiriol at berthnasoedd personal ac agos atoch, wrth gwestiynu gweithredoedd ymddygiad llygredig dynol a’i effaith hirdymor ar y dirwedd.* The six stages for Betrayal are:

Y chew cham ar gyfer Brad yw

1 The Bond

1 Y Bond

2 Doubt

2 Amheuaeth

3 The Discovery

3 Y Darganfyddiad

4 Denial

4 Gwadiad

5 Grief

5 Galar

6 Redemption

6 Prynedigaeth

* Translations provided by artist / Cyfiethiadau o’r arlunydd 7

STAGE TWO ~ DOUBT Due to the global impact man has made on the environment, its consequences are leading to uncertainty and unease. Stage Two, DOUBT, is set on the Welsh coastal landscape which is vulnerable to sea erosion, threatening the collapse of cliffs, which are on the verge of crumbling at any point, due to a lack of consistent maintenance. Oherwydd yr effaith fyd-eang y mae dyn wedi’i gael ar yr amgylchedd, mae ei ganlyniadau yn arwain at ansicrwydd a anesmwythyd. Mae Cam Dau, AMHEUAETH, wedi’i osod ar dirwedd arfordirol Cymru sy’n agored i fygythiad erydiad y môr ar gwymp clogwyni sydd ar fin dadfeilio ar unrhyw adeg, oherwydd diffyg cynnal a chadw cyson. View the full project here.


STAGE ONE ~ THE BOND This first stage is a large scale intervention on Morfa Beach, in Port Talbot, South Wales. The eerie, post-industrial landscape is the setting for a performance in which on the ground are carved the rules for a new commitment to celebrate the pact man has made with the earth to protect and nurture, referring implicitly to the shifting agreements we make with each other in personal relationships. Ymyrraeth ar raddfa fawr ar Draeth Morfa, ym Mhort Talbot, De Cymru. Y dirwedd ôl-ddiwydiannol iasol yw’r lleoliad i fod yn perfformio trwy gerfio ar lawr gwlad, y rheolau ar gyfer ymrwymiad newydd - i ddathlu’r cytundeb y mae dyn wedi’i wneud gyda’r ddaear i amddiffyn ac i feithrin, gan gyfeirio at y cytundebau newidiol a wnawn gyda’n gilydd mewn perthnasoedd personol.


Who Are Left

After a while, something other started to kill us. The dead dropped dead in the streets,

couldn’t make it up the hill to the hospital, had to hit the concrete and go all black right there. We were told not to touch them just as we should not touch anything. Soon the bodies began to decompose uncollected. The shops shut. It didn’t seem to be any kind of decision, there just never seemed to be anyone in them. One morning I was awoken by the sound of smashing glass. Someone broke into the pub on my road. I imagined them feasting on crisps and beer.

I’ve been preparing for an event like this, keeping tins of soup and fruit and fish and meats

in my cupboards. When I first moved here, Adam asked what on earth I needed all of them for.

‘Something coming’, I said, not really knowing what I meant.

But I knew when the virus came that it wasn’t the something. On the first day they told

everyone to stay inside, Adam smirked and said, ‘finally going to crack open one of them tuna tins?’, but I smiled, shook my head, went out and got a kebab. I ate it as the sun set beneath the sea, a big yellow globe I thought I could swallow down in one just as the water seemed to, like a snake swallowing a rat.

Adam was the only of the flatmates still alive. The two men from Maharashtra said

they were going home. I told them they would not get there if they tried but they left the house anyway, and died two metres from our doorstep. I had by then become very adept at knowing measurements. Ben left before that, just before things got dire but I never found out what happened to him. Angelica might have still been there. She shut the door to her room once and never came out. I knocked regularly but she never answered.

One morning I awoke to the shaking and shivering of my single-hung window. I opened

and watched the water spin in spirals. It was still raining hours later and I was still in bed, thinking about breakfast. I never tired of the taste of tinned tomatoes. Sometimes, I added salt and drank it from the can. I was somewhat sick of the sardines because they were dead in those tins and this reminded me of death, and of the dead out there who were not in tins but lying out in the open, feasted upon by seagulls and red kites, just as I feasted upon the carcasses of little preserved salted fish. Sometimes I tired of Adam, too. He seemed so unaffected.

‘People have always died’, Adam liked to say, at which point I usually walked away,

although once I did hit him. nawr

I heard it once, this thing which went around killing us. One brief sound like the lighting

of a match, then a long crackle. I was grateful to hear it. There’s a strange divinity in letting something like that kill you. Like all those boats of men sick with yellow fever, not knowing they’d been bitten by mosquitoes or that their bodies were overrun by a virus, knowing only they were being divinely punished by for many mortal sins, starting with keeping those other men who were also dying as prisoners on their boats. It makes you believe, not knowing reasons for things. In the past, I had been so inundated with reasons for things. There was a long silence after I hit Adam. He’d fallen back and steadied himself on the draining board. A plate clinked against a mug. The tap dripped, which was just as well because the rain had stopped. He smiled.

‘You might be right’, he said, walking away. Things went back to normal by the next day.

With nothing else to think about, of course I thought about her. I wondered if what was

in the air had got her yet, if she too had been raptured. She’d look beautiful raptured, of that I was certain. I could see halos circling her, some great big spot of light from the place up above shooting down and swallowing her, like something etched on glass. Of course, that wasn’t how it killed you, the thing in the air. She was no doubt locked away somewhere safe, like me. She could never see herself as something worthy of worship or glory. Like me, I suspect, she was just going on existing within some walls, feasting on preserves or starving slowly.

The central heating went out a few weeks before the end. The bulbs died well before that.

We knew that when winter came we would have to start burning things – the chairs first – and hope that we could get through till Spring. Survival was absurd. No chance of carrying things on, not unless Angelica was to burst forth from her room. It seemed unlikely. I had knocked. In the evenings, Adam and I sat on brown sofas in the living room either side of a wooden table destined to burn. Wrapped in blankets, we would play cards till late in the evening, our breath foggy and rising. I learnt Adam’s tell, he would exhale twice if he had good cards, spirals of frosted breath. I have always hated cards. But I would win occasionally.

She’d look beautiful raptured, of that I was certain. I could see halos circling her, some great big spot of light from the 11

On one occasion where I won and feasted on the final sardine in victory, Adam said

something. I was slurping down the skin and flesh and fat, licking the juices from my lips, making a real beast of myself, and he was staring at the green wall behind me. Outside, the night was dark, all the streetlights having extinguished months ago.

‘I would go outside’, he said. ‘If I cared enough to die. If I believed enough. I’d let it get

me, I really would.’

Swallowing my craftily won snack, I stared at him. There was sauce on my lips that I did

not lick. I pressed my hands together.

‘What is there to struggle with?’ I said. ‘There is something in the air that kills you as

soon as you step into it. It is irrefutable.’

‘But I can’t make it become anything other than arbitrary, death for death’s sake. No, not

even that. It’s worse. It’s death for no sake. Death because death.’

‘Is that why we’re here?’ I said. ‘I thought it was because they were stupid and we were

clever. But you’re saying it’s because they believed and we didn’t? Because they were brave and we were cowards?’

Adam laughed. ‘I know I’m not a coward’, he said. ‘I just don’t believe in anything. You

have to ask yourself these questions rather than ask them of me on behalf of us.’ I slept little that night. The quilt was oppressive. When I threw it off, I shivered, my nostrils ran with snot, my eyes with tears. When I slept, I dreamt my mother weeping and realised I forgot she existed. Come the morning my eyes and bones ached and I knew it was time to die.

I was sure when I stepped out that Adam knew what I’d gone to do. There was no need

for farewells. I loved him in some strange way, the way two lonely people do out of necessity. The kind of love where parting without a word feels completely appropriate.

I got further than expected when I stepped out my door. I moved down the slope of

my street. Along the road were the two boys from Maharashtra, their bodies stripped to grey skeletons by seagulls. Splatters of blood, muscle and grey matter stained the concrete, and I knew that soon enough my body would be like theirs and that no longer scared me.

Reaching the next road, I turned to the sea. The air was still but the fog was fading. The

water was green and foaming and gentle. And then I felt it creeping in, a coldness emanating from my stomach, and it spread, made me scream, scream with a voice I’d not heard before, emanating a pitch that tore at my throat. I felt a lung burst and pain struck for the first time. nawr

Then another and I was on my knees. Blurry darkness. I could hear seagulls squawking and feel soft wind. I wanted to cry but I had no eyes left to cry with. I pressed my fingers to the sockets and felt only a dark absence. And then my body collapsed in on itself. Feeling ceased. I knew I was dead, could only see the darkness. It was lighter than usual. And I wondered if this was the nothingness the atheists had told me about. And then I felt something new. ALEX HUBBARD


ARRON KUIPER Sculptural Oil Paintings

Celfie nawr



Of Water Course


Of Water Course


This was the Plan all Along


This was the Plan all Along



We can’t, won’t feel death, no-one’s teaching us anything so each one of us is shutting down our hearts, artery by artery, right down to the smallest vein— I haven’t had a pulse in my right wrist for years. Osmosis was how I learnt what we’re supposed to do; how to let the water trickle slowly, so vaguely sad, till we bounce back, releasing all those negative vibes through our soft-focus, candle-lit, internet-researched, Chinese-lantern-releasing Instagram-streaming lives. No wonder we are all sick. Numb. That numbness kept intact, rubber stamped, encouraged— alcohol will do the job nicely and we have so many easy ways to drink; pills and other drugs will keep us just awake, asleep enough, for years; food and fat and sugar smother everything; sex and gambling and running and cycling and shopping and travelling and working and doing anything at all, all day and night, will keep us endlessly, quietly conformed. Numb, so I can’t talk of you or think of you or miss you or remember you. I can’t live, haven’t lived for years, my belly big and fat, the whites of my eyes yellowed, my house bursting with good taste, my lawns manicured green plastic, my nights comatosed, my days wasted. We have forgotten our rituals, named them savage… uncivilized… distasteful… unhinged… mad— and so we are become these things instead.



we walked hands clasped holding the moment where the first trees grew in virgin green grass.


As if for the first time

Each leaf had a name each bird an unsung song with lyrics we understood. We stepped in tune re-born as one with the myriad of life beneath, learned the names of each the shape of their leaf, Birch, Oak and Beech. Bashful fruit and blossom peered from cool dark shade to see the first human faces smiling at each other in sunlight shapes treading the untrod path. LIZ PEARCE


KATE MERCER Make Do and Mend







Taylor EDMONDS Co-editor Martha O’Brien met with Taylor Edmonds to discuss her poetry and current position as poet-in-residence with Future Gen Cymru.



aylor is a poet, writer, and creative facilitator from south Wales whose work explores themes of womanhood, identity, and nature. She is driven by wanting to improve the accessibility of creative writing and by championing the positive benefits that writing can have on an individual’s wellbeing. Taylor is also a team member of Where I’m Coming From, a community-focused organisation and platform for underrepresented writers in Wales. Taylor’s writing has been published widely including with Poetry Wales and Parthian. In 2021, Taylor was commissioned by Monumental Welsh Women to write a poem in tribute to Betty Campbell for the unveiling of her monument, the first statue of a named Welsh woman in Wales.

M: Firstly, thank you so much for meeting with me. When we were preparing for this issue, you were the first name that came to mind as someone writing about climate justice, so it’s really exciting that you wanted to meet with us as well. To start and introduce you to our readers who might not have heard of your work, I was wondering if you could just tell us a bit about yourself and what initially drew you to writing? T: I’m Taylor Edmonds; I’m a writer and poet originally from Barry, in south Wales. Primarily I’m a poet, that’s the form that I’ve stuck to the most so far, and I’m currently the Poet in Residence for the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales. What drew me to writing was that total cliché thing: “I’ve always written, even when I was younger”. I’ve always been obsessed with reading. I remember when I was younger, just being so obsessed with a book that I could not wait to turn the page; I would speed-read just because I wanted to know what was going to happen. And that’s just such a lush, natural joy that I wanted to hang onto with my own writing. I started writing by putting teenage heartbreak poems on Tumblr out into the void, and when I read back on those now it’s so cringey, but I love it because it’s what kickstarted me. And then I decided to study creative writing. I’ve done an undergrad and a Masters in creative writing. I think that’s when I started to think about creative writing as something that I

could actually do as a career, and to really hone in on the kind of writing that I wanted to do. And that’s when I discovered a love of poetry, because I didn’t really read that much poetry until I decided to study writing. All I knew of poetry was what you learn in English classes, where it’s all the classics, which obviously have their place but they didn’t necessarily speak to me. I think the first poet that I came across where I thought, “This is what I wanna do, this is what speaks to me”, was Warsan Shire, her collection Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth. When I read that, I think that really changed the game for me and I felt like, “this is what I wanna do”. At the moment, one of the main themes of your writing, alongside identity and empowerment, is nature. What drew you to writing specifically about nature? I think it’s always had an unintentional presence in my writing, just because I grew up in Barry by the sea. It’s always been a massive part of my memories of my life and obviously that just naturally has come up in my writing. But, I think I was primarily more concerned in the past with writing about connections between people, and I think now as I’ve got older, I’ve kind of intentionally realised what a big part of my life nature is. So I’m kind of trying to more intentionally bring that into my writing as well, and also the ways that that kind of connection between people can also be encompassed in nature; that is a connection we share between us and that we have for ourselves as well. 27

I’m also trying to do something different with the traditions of nature writing. I’m quite hesitant to put myself into that box. When I think of nature writing, especially in Wales, I think of lovely descriptions of lush green valleys and stuff like that and that is totally beautiful, but I’m also wondering, how can we do something different with that, now? How can we do something unexpected? So in terms of doing something different, has climate justice always been a deliberate theme in your nature writing, or did it develop in the background? I’m one of those people who just goes with the flow with life, I think. I’ve never set out to, you know, be an ecopoet or write about climate justice necessarily, until I got the residency really. I guess the thing that I battle with is that there’s this pressure that you have to know everything, you have to be so knowledgeable to write about it, and I think that was intimidating and scary. But then I started this residency; I knew who they were, I supported them, but I didn’t know in depth a lot of the things that they work on. So it’s been a really interesting experience to have those gaps filled, and then be tasked with writing something about Universal Basic Income (UBI), which I would have had quite a basic understanding of before, but have now had that opportunity to kind of have gaps in my knowledge filled. But it’s also made me realise that that’s not necessarily my job as a writer. You don’t need to spout all the knowledge and the logistics of everything. Actually, my job as a writer is to convey awareness or messages, feeling and empathy. That’s how I’ve gained confidence in the role, especially when I’m writing about climate justice. It’s such a massive thing: to try and take on every single area of it, I’d probably end up freezing and never writing anything.

thoughts about people’s natural emotion about the landscape, and how, simply, we should preserve it because it’s important in helping us think and feel. Yeah, definitely. I think that’s totally what the strength of the residency has been, because when people have read a poem, say, ‘My Magnolia Tree’, which is about rising sea levels in Cardiff, they’ve been like, “I had no idea about this!”. It’s actually a gateway for people to learn about these things when they might not necessarily engage with them otherwise. I think statistics and news reports and things like that are obviously really important, but they’re quite hard to engage with, and you hear that information so much that you become kind of desensitised to it. It essentially becomes quite meaningless, actually. A poem can really hone in on one specific thing. That’s what’s so nice about writing, is that you can literally place yourself in this scenario, in this situation, and I think it makes people realise their own stake in things. I think that’s always how you’re going to reach people initially, because we’re all very self absorbed beings! I mean, the self-absorbedness is kind of good in that way; it means you can reflect on a personal connection to nature. Could you tell our readers a bit more about what your residency with Future Generations Cymru is, and why such a post is so vital today?

The Well-being of Future Generations Act was created in 2015. It’s totally unique to Wales, though other countries are starting to follow suit. Sophie Howe was appointed as the commissioner of the act, and her and her office are who I’m working with directly. Their role is to help the government and other public bodies to make decisions now to protect the lives of future generations, essentially. So Your writing speaks about bodies and many things come under that umbrella, but it’s thoughts and feelings. I think a lot of a lot about climate change, poverty, a green climate justice writing doesn’t include economy, UBI, even down to really local


things like how we build new homes in Wales. They’re also campaigning for having twenty minute neighbourhoods, so everyone can access all the things they need within twenty minutes of their home, including space for nature, which a lot of people don’t have right now. My role is to creatively communicate the things that they’re advocating for, the things they’re doing research on and also to be an advocate for the act as well. I’ve never done anything like this before. It’s been such an interesting challenge and I think the real strength of it has been communicating those things that you usually hear about in facts and figures, and really lengthy jargon, that nobody really understands, and to bring that down to a deeper, human level that everyone gets. That has been really challenging at times. Things like the UBI poem were a massive challenge, because as I said, I had a basic understanding of the issue, but I was also writing about something that has never really happened before, so it was simply about imagining the change that this could have. And that was a big challenge. But once I realised that my job with this piece is more to accompany the report that they’re putting out which gives you all the knowledge, that’s when I realised there are these creative gaps that only you can fill, that can’t be filled by a report, or a panel talk. Did you kind of feel at first that you had to be the same kind of authority that they were? I didn’t actually, because the idea of me having that kind of authority is just like, no way! But it was an intimidating role because like you said, they cover so much, there’s so much depth to everything that they do, and you know, I could never understand it all really, but to have these kind of really specific areas that connect with me that I feel something about, that’s been what’s helped me get into the role.

You’ve done some great work with them and I’d love to talk specifically about some of your pieces. In your poem, ‘My Magnolia Tree’, you use the powerful image of nolonger-existent spaces to communicate the urgency of the climate crisis. In what ways do you think the climate crisis intersects with personal and community crises of generational connection and social justice? In other words: how does relating to nature help us to relate to each other?

A poem can really hone in on one specific thing. That’s what’s so nice about writing, is that you can literally place yourself in this scenario, in this situation, and I think it makes people realise their own stake in things.


I like that you’ve mentioned that generational thing. The thing behind it was actually inspired by a trip. My great-grandmother was from Aberdeen, and a couple of years ago I took a trip there with my Mum, my Nan, and my two great-aunties. We went there and essentially traced her steps: I saw the house that she grew up in, we bought these little pastry buttery things that she used to love when she was younger. And that was such a weirdly significant experience. It just felt like, this is something that I’ll remember for a long time, you know? And then when I was reading about those graphs - you’ve probably seen them, of the rising sea levels around Cardiff and South Wales, and how much is going to be below sea level in such a short space of time - I wanted to bring those things together, like you were saying earlier. And I think bringing those two things together is what really gives the poem strength to raise awareness, to open people’s minds and make them see their stake in things. I think this poem is a good example of that. And to answer your question, I think everything is linked. The climate crisis is linked with poverty, it’s linked with racial justice, it’s linked with capitalism and colonialism, all of those huge things, they’re all linked together. So I don’t think that you can achieve justice in one of these areas without the others, I think they’re all connected. And we know that people of colour living in poverty, they’re going to feel the brunt of the climate crisis first. And those people also have the least access to nature in their environments. But something that brings everybody together is nature. That feeling that nature evokes in you, it’s quite indescribable. That awestruck feeling when you see a beautiful view or you go on a walk at lunchtime and your head is completely cleared from when you began that walk. That’s something that’s experienced by us all; we all have that in common. And I wanted to transform that into ‘My Magnolia Tree’, that connection that we all have. We nawr

could all lose these spaces, these generational connections to our great-grandparents. Or even our great-grandchildren: will they be able to experience what we experience today? And because I had that experience of where my great-grandmother grew up, it just felt devastating that my great-grandchildren might not be able to do that for me. I think that’s something a lot of people can relate to. Your writing does speak, as well as to nature, to themes of identity and hope. Do you see these poems that look inward as thematically different, or similar, to poems that speak to nature and the climate crisis? So I think it’s a bit of both. As I said, I’m quite hesitant to label myself as a nature writer, or whatever, but I want my writing to be free, to go wherever it wants and to take me wherever it wants, and not to have the pressure of these genre labels. So anyway, in the pamphlet that I’m working on at the moment, I do think all of these things kind of come together, and all of these things are linked to me. There’s a lot of stuff about identity and sexuality, a lot about violence against women and the body as you mentioned before. But then there’s also, for example, a piece I’m working on at the moment is about the fear of walking home and the threat of violence against women, but also being able to see myself on my balcony, sipping wine, looking down at the spot where I could potentially be like murdered as I walk home, connecting the environment with that kind of visceral stuff about the body. And yeah, I think a poem like ‘My Magnolia Tree’ does bring these things together, because like there is those two strands to it, where you have the theme of identity and the kind of generational tracing back my family, connecting to the great-grandmother, and then it also has that environmental impact. So I think some of the strongest pieces that I write maybe do tend to do both of those things. That aspect of the body is prominent in ‘Spell For a New Beginning’. You speak in

it about the physical connection of the human body to nature, and the empowering impact of feeling at one with nature. The video, too, shows Iestyn James dancing through a natural landscape. What is it about nature that is so empowering, in your view? Being in nature makes you feel aware of how small and insignificant you really are, and I kind of love that feeling. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. You know, you can get so caught up in worries about rubbish, essentially, small everyday worries that really weigh you down, but when you’re out in nature you realise how insignificant these things really are and that actually they don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. And also being in nature, it’s not yours, you’re a guest in it. And that reminds me that you are just a guest in this world. You don’t own it, it’s not yours. And that links back to why everything has gone totally wrong with climate change, doesn’t it? Because of this capitalist way of thinking. When I was at COP, there was a woman talking about indigenous communities compared to the West. She was talking about how in the West, we call the river a source, but in this indigneous community, they see it as just a part of the community that they take from, they care for, and then they pass it on to the next generation. And that kind of different way of thinking about the world just really struck me. And it just reminded me that when I am in nature, I feel like I’m a guest here. It’s not mine. And it makes you more present in the moment as well, and really connect to your body. You can just stand there and do nothing in nature and you feel like it’s not a waste of time. Whereas in any other situation you would feel like, “I have all these things I need to go and do, I should move!”.

When I was at COP, there was a woman talking about indigenous communities compared to the West. She was talking about how in the West, we call the river a source, but in this indigneous community, they see it as just a part of the community that they take from, they care for, and then they pass it on to the next generation. that kind of different way of thinking about the world just really struck me. And it just reminded me that when I am in nature, I feel like I’m a guest here. It’s not mine.

But working with Iestyn on ‘Spell for a New Beginning’ was amazing, because like you said, his movements just really brought out 31

that bodily connection to nature that you see in the poem. And also, it allowed the poem to totally take on new life. He completely changed it and that was amazing to see.

because we’re thinking of future generations, and it just kind of enhances that message that UBI is a thing for everyone, everyone will benefit from this. It also made it just ten times more emotional as well.

The way you use multimedia really does bring the poetry to life, and also makes I think you’re right about it making it more it accessible to even more people. What emotional. That’s the point of UBI. It’s a do you consider when making videos like community beneficial thing. It’s helpful ‘Spell For a New Beginning’ with dance to think about how it’ll help people in the routines, or community involvement in community to help each other. ‘Reconsidering Future’? How important are these multimedia elements to your And it’s quite a hard work? thing to imagine. It’s a pretty radical thing. And w I think it just gives it more depth, definitely. If it did come in, people It helps it grow into a totally new form. You that would be a total can enjoy a poem on a page and you can also upheaval of so many living in poverty, th enjoy it in a video with dance and music, and things, so it’s quite it has the same feeling. It also makes it, as you hard to imagine what feel the brunt of the put in the question, a lot more accessible. Not that will actually look everyone wants to read a poem on a page, or like. But when I wrote first. And those peo just hear it spoken by me. Perhaps when you that piece, I wanted give someone some imagery references, you to focus on the kind the least access to n take the text and you make it into something of personal level of environments. But s else, or you put music along to it, which kind change. How it could of enhances how you want to feel. That is give people more that brings everybo going to make you reach a wider audience. I freedom, more time hate that phrase - a ‘wider audience!’ to do what they have is nature. That feeli always wanted to do. But it’s true! And especially with something nature evokes in yo where you’re wanting people to have You talk in this awareness of themselves in nature, ‘Reconsidering indescribable. reaching a wider audience is a valid thing Future’ about the to want to do. creativity UBI could inspire. Could you expand a little here on Yeah, definitely. And let’s not kid ourselves, that important idea of the ways in which poetry is not read by loads and loads of people, economic freedom is vital to achieving so the more ways you can interpret your poetry climate justice? to make it reach more people is always going to be a good thing. The more people that see Yeah, because with the UBI poem, I would and hear what you have to say, that’s never totally be like, ‘yeah, that sounds great!’, but going to be a bad thing. Especially when not really understand what it meant for me, you’re trying to get a message across. Like, or the people around me necessarily. So that’s for ‘Reconsidering Future’ for Future Gen, we what I wanted to get across with the UBI kind of got people from across Wales to read poem. And I think that a lot of people are just out a line each, instead of just me reciting it to trying to get through the day and put food on the camera. And for UBI that is for everyone, it the table, and in the poem it talks about that represented that as well. There’s children in it, fear of losing it all because of money. And that


anything else when you live in that kind of fear. And these are people who will be really affected by climate change, statistically, and they probably don’t even have time to think about it that much because they’re so worried about the day-to-day of life. So the power of UBI and its potential to alleviate so many people out of poverty, I wanted to think about what these people would do if they had that time, that freedom, that opportunity, and that’s really just a basic human right.

we know that e of colour hey’re going to e climate crisis ople also have nature in their something ody together ing that ou, it’s quite

Yeah, I was going to say, it’s funny that UBI is labelled as such a radical thing, because it’s also just really intuitive and simple that you shouldn’t have to pay to be alive. Yeah, it really should not be radical. It also brings it back to people seeing their stake in things;it is a collective thing, it has to be community-led, it has to be a collective effort. We get shown time and time over that world leaders are not going to do what needs to be done, so I think people coming together and seeing their stake in things is really important. And what’s next with Future Generations?

challenge - I took a half-done poem and I finished it in the event, the ending, based on things people were saying, which was really interesting, and I thought it would be really hard but it actually came quite smoothly because everyone felt comfortable in the space and they were opening up and saying these amazing things. So that was a really nice thing to do, to close that event with people hearing things that they’d said and had a stake in. And there was a really nice feeling in that room actually. With everything coming out of COP it was pretty doom and gloom, but there was also this kind of collective hope. Hope is a funny word, whenever I use it I’m like, ‘hm’, but I definitely felt a glimmer of hope in that room. It goes back to that collective effort; that community, that relating to each other and holding each other up, that is what keeps me going nowadays.

Thank you to Taylor for taking the time to join us. Taylor is currently finishing her debut pamphlet and will be working as a contributing editor with Poetry Wales after her Future Gen residency ends in April. To view her work, see the links below.

So my residency continues until April. I’m not actually sure what I’m going to do next; it’s a nice mystery. But what I recently did with them was we went to COP and we did an event on the last day. And in that event we had multiple voices from Wales that are leaders in climate activism and things like that and with the whole of COP, the whole format of most events was a panel discussion that you sit and listen to and then go away with your thoughts, but we wanted this to be something that was a dialogue with the audience as well. So they were all chatting to people, and I kind of closed the event by - this was an interesting 33


Small anonymous jug, toy violin the size of my thumb, unplayable, made of glass, lamp-shade in the shape of a woman’s head, eyes blue, nose chip picture of Marjory’s dad a man I never liked and never met,

porcelain duck, crock dog, bottle dug up from some disused midden, seven beer mats - one from each closed-down pub in a dying tow a Rembrandt - no that’s a lie it’s a kangaroo print by Rolf Paedo Harris worth nothing. The things we bought to show how successful we were.

A million objects lined up on shelves sourced and bought and stole and received as gifts from people who have forgotten the giving Hiding places for spiders, things if a burglar broke in he would not pinch. The impossible task of dusting them. The weight of them. No-one, not even me anymore, looks at them.

Given by children, now grown up and gone who don’t remembe The whole house a temple to mining and burning and owning. A mass, a tip, a population of unwanted crap. I have chosen to bring in the house-clearance men in their brown coats with a thousand boxes and no nostalgia.

Let them take it all away, flog some, dump most, land-fill, scatte And let me sit quiet, alone, in a bare room with a hard chair and a mug of sweet tea. KEVIN DYER




g of them.


er it like jetsam.



This exhibit merges recent histories, legends of national genesis, modern conflicts and fantasy speculation into one museum like experience divided into a partitioned space. On entry, rising up from two artificial grassy tufts, a spotlit road sign stands prominently in the middle of the space. “Pentref-eco” with the translation below, “Ecovillage”. Following the sign to the right you are led into a smaller space through an opening with eight foot high ‘cordwood’ walls constructed of logs and ‘cob’ (clay, sand and straw) on either side. The partitioned space is enclosed by a far wall and thick poles hanging as rafters across the ceiling. This space is darker. Lights bring out the textures and rough construction of the walls. Up on one side, coloured glass lets in a little natural light, filtered through the greens, blues and ambers of repurposed bottles inset into the log and clay wall. At the far end plays a screen and an old CRT-TV type monitor. The screen is itself, encased in a clay wall of its own, domed on top and rising up as a chimney of aluminum flue flex and topped with a chimney cap. Rheeling on the screen are images playing and fading into one another. Sometimes like a tourism advert with spiraling drone footage of castles and fast flowing rivers. Then flicker the faces of the back-tothe-landers of thirty-odd years ago having just made some fringes of West Wales a new refuge from the dominant culture. Iconographic wind turbines, against a luminous orange sky revolve stutteringly, fighter jets pierce the skies before finally, a group of mornours/campaigners, nationalists or radicals congregate, and lay a wreath at the foot of Owain Glyndwr’s statue, in Corwen. The mood is somber. Then we return full circle, the water pump still running and drowning the lost land under our feet.


Full film available to view here. 37


‘….we know what is happening and what needs to be done. Only you know if we did it.’ – On the monument to the Ok glacier in Iceland, the first there to lose its status. Although we mocked his Batman cape and wide swirling gestures, it was in that school he brought so much came alive. We stood around the map and from the contours imagined U-shaped valleys, then examined photos reality of moraines and lakes. Lunchtimes, we shaped with hands whole landscapes like those the glaciers had sculpted, their vast limbs of ice with sawing fists. Today, what could he show us? Receding white, the melt filling fat the oceans even as the storms would beat their palms in frantic warnings on the classroom windows. His ever-waving arms gone limp with the damp, wiry hair sodden flat, as the only thing left to make our models with would be liquid.

Both poems by MIKE JENKINS nawr


The desert moves northwards year by year carried on currents more resilient than any phone signals cactii its aerials gathered in clusters at every turn of the road. The island buries its water hoarding it like booty; no streams or rivers, on every horizon a limestone outcrop or ancient fortress. High walls and cannons cannot stop the dry wind, as birds become fugitives and wild flowers wither scaffolding in cities and villages, fossils of the future.


MANON AWST Selected Photographs




In 2011, Aaron McCright and Riley Dunlap published a paper entitled ‘Cool Dudes’, examining whether conservative white males are more likely than are other adults in the U.S. general public to endorse climate change denial. They concluded that that the unique views of conservative white males do indeed contribute significantly to the high level of climate change denial in the United States. Eat Me expands on McCright and Dunlap’s demographic limitations to identify climate deniers, as well as the capitalist and political elite who, either directly or indirectly through their inaction, are contributing to the problem. Building on themes within my practice which respond to issues relating to climate breakdown Eat Me proposes a radical solution to the problem – Cannibalism.


It has been well reported that two of the biggest contributing factors to the current climate crisis are animal agriculture and overpopulation, so why not kill two birds with one stone and eat people? After all cannibalism has occurred throughout the history of humanity from the Upper Palaeolithic period through until the late twentieth century. In some instances these practices took place for cultural reasons, but in many, such as during the Russian Cultural Revolution or following the crash of flight 571, it was simply a matter of survival. The current climate crisis is the biggest threat that humanity has ever faced. If we don’t take radical action now our survival might be left hanging in the balance. As Naomi Klein states; “It’s not simply that these ‘cool dudes’ deny climate science because it threatens to upend their dominance-based worldview. It is that their dominance-based worldview provides them with the intellectual tools to write off huge swaths of humanity, and indeed, to rationalize profiting from the meltdown.” So what better place to start than by eating some Cool Dudes (or Dudettes?) and starting to redress the balance and prevent global meltdown?




BETH SY’N DIGWYDD?: The circles spin beneath my feet by MILLIE BETHEL, Culture Writer

The circles spin below my feet Salmon fishing I didn’t even know they were kept in nets I feel a bit sick Because why are you all taking selfies with the floor? Illuminating blue winking from the white of inconsequential smiles “A present and a poison” Maybe that’s what we’ve become A walking sycophant blinded by the arrow of time The circles spin below my feet Brian Cox says our galaxy will eventually collide I didn’t even know we were hurtling I feel like I’m make-believe Because how did the light reach the exact spot it sought? Hydrothermal pillars seeking another animated exchange I stepped into stars earlier The circles spin below my feet


The Circles Spin Below My Feet is written in response to ‘Salmon: Traces of Escapees’, an audio and visual installation by spatial practitioners, Cooking Sections (Daniel Fernández Pascual and Alon Schwabe) that was shown at this year’s Turner Prize in Coventry. The work addresses the environmental impact of salmon farming in Scotland, where large nets house hundreds of fish that are subjugated to disease, infection and years of aimless swimming. This not only has clear problems in regard to animal welfare, but also pollutes the surrounding oceans and local environment. My poem tries to communicate the helplessness I sometimes feel when I think about the climate crisis and how much there is to tackle. This helplessness forces me to think about big questions, and within that I often get lost in my own understanding of self. How can we remember our unique place in the universe when everything around us feels unfathomable, unreachable, enormous? This is a question I’m yet to answer.

Information about Cooking Sections’ contribution to the Turner Prize can be found here. Information about the effects of salmon farming in Scotland.


PHILIP HATCHER-MOORE (WILD) SWIMMERS Swimming is "good for the soul… and cheaper than psychoanalysis". - Al Alvarez, Pondlife





A Wiser Fear

I fear it in the sun. The warm spring days, the blossom fallen, May’s cow parsley in the hedgerows in flower by April. Dread fills me at the burnt edges of the lawns, at the baked ground as it cracks apart, a crazed and groutless mosaic parched of beauty. I fear it in the mud. The lashing unrelenting rains, the flash floods, rivers drowning their own banks, water lying clean on the grass with nowhere left to soak. I fear it in the ice when it grips hard for months on end, even March a bitter shiver – or when no ice comes at all, no sparkling dawns – I grieve a frostless winter. But the neighbouring shepherd has a wiser fear. She fears it in the winds. The same winds she’s turned her face to year around year to ask which fields to graze next, which to rest, the winds that weathered her crinkled skin, that buffet and caress her sheep, wrench tears from her eyes on bitter days, dry them again. She turns her mountainside frown to me and tells me how the winds have changed, reversed their flow, are blowing from the East. ROSE SEGAL


The wary words of prophet’s we could not hear, for the voices of profit had left us deaf. Piercing through their noise, the call to arms Let the rallying-cry be: Forsake, desert, retreat. Fair town, Borne away on unearthly currents Gone, by decree, indefensible and yet it stands On the shores of the entrenched sea, The enemy advances, ready to reclaim. Schoolhouse, Post Office, Church Railway, Butchers, Shops Homes, Homes, Homes Abandoned, to the tide.

Submerging the memory of a town Where it stood, no monument will tell its tale, decommissioned, no compensation, no compassion, the First, the First of many Left to drown. PAUL KAIBA

Managed Retreat

Winds and Waves, howling, wracking Crashing against stone, battering down doors. There is only flying hence, no tarrying here As man’s structures become undone.


SHAUN LOWDE Plasticide

Born in England, Shaun Lowde is a photographer with a lifelong obsession with the arts. Having initially trained as a classical musician, Shaun also developed an early love of photography winning several prizes for work in conceptual still life. To pay the bills Shaun went on to study law, eventually co-founding a firm dedicated to helping those in the creative industries who were engaged in some of the most cutting-edge explorations of their art. This included a two-year relocation to Los Angeles where Shaun worked with a wide range of media and entertainment companies. The problem of single use plastics is well documented and its impact upon our seas and oceans is extreme. For many years we have been aware that even planktons, the smallest and most important building blocks of marine life, are ingesting and being damaged by the plastic that we throw away. In this series of images West Wales photographer, Shaun Lowde, draws attention to the plight of these tiny life forms and the importance of killing off our single use plastics (by using the numerous object specific recycling schemes) before they kill this most precious resource.

Made from empty single use contact lens cases. nawr

Made from lateral flow swabs, lateral flow extraction tubes and empty contact lens cases.

Made from lateral flow swab wrappers and lateral flow extraction tubes. 55

Made from empty single use contact lens. nawr

Made from lateral flow swabs and lateral flow extraction tubes. 57

Vandalised Tree in Bute Park I have made many drawings of the trees in Bute Park. They are magnificently huge and make us seem insignificant and temporary. Everyday problems come to a standstill when focusing on these beautiful trees that will stand there far longer than us, growing, turning, reaching with twisted limbs, reminding us of the power and energy of nature that is so easily forgotten as we go about our lives. This drawing is of a young tree, vandalised along with many others, drawn the day they were waiting to be removed. It is snapped off, left stiff. This sudden act of violence stopped short so many trees that should have dominated these spaces for hundreds of years. One moment of anger, an act of aggression, or mindless destruction, undoes their potential. On a much larger scale, irreversible damage is constantly being done to our planet. We do much worse that vandalie a tree everyday just to maintain our way of life, our petty everyday agendas, without even thinking about it. This vandalism, whilst not an isolated event, harshly draws to attention what we are capable of. Over fifty trees were destroyed, causing thousands of pounds of damage. The attack on this space seems an attack on the community. Hundreds of people have been raising money so that damage can be repaired, and lost trees replaced. RACHEL HEAD



Towards an eco-critical use of oneself


hat does it mean, what could it mean, to inhabit? A question to respond to a question. What does it mean to inhabit in this climate? What form can the question itself take, the question as the always already announced appeal to the other, when the answer is so radically simple? So simple that it almost need not be answered, at least not in the form that it would take were it posed not philosophically. For the properly philosophical question is not so much a question of how to dwell with others, this being the question so simple it needs reformulating, but rather a question of what it means to habitually inhabit a given habitus as a subject, as a subject in some way or form, and what form this being-a-subject takes. In other words, how does a reckless and immoral sovereign use of our habitus redouble into a contradictorily, and tragically so, sovereign use of ourselves?

There is always a risk, as the philosopher Henri Lefebvre warns us in The Production of Space, when uncritically transposing the concept of physical space to that of mental space. The two are not the same, and are certainly not correlates. But more than this, Lefebvre asserts that the problem is that this mental space (or literary, social, carceral space etc.) is undefined; what are its perimeters? What are its levels? What is its materiality? This problem of the lack of definition, for Lefebvre, leads to serious errors and contradictions in what he saw as the dogmatism of French structuralism, from Derrida to Foucault. Leaving aside the validity of his criticisms here, his essential point remains sound; the abstract concept of ‘space’ or ‘site’ cannot be used without definition to mediate between the mental and physical ‘plane’, even if precisely what is being contested is the separation between these two. He writes, The quasi-logical presupposition of an identity between mental space (the space of the philosophers and epistemologists) and real space creates an abyss between the mental sphere on one side and the physical and social spheres on the other.1

Thus, how are we defining this space we implicitly invoked, this habitus? Space, we posit, is the active mediation of subjectivity, in that subjectivity requires a determinate site, a specific locale in which it acts and in which it is, and space, in itself, is this site. It is this that is missed when the mental is assumed to be separate from the physical, when there is an assumed independence of the mental from the physical. How, then, do we conceptualise, as is necessary, this dialectic? How, in other words, is the social fallaciously sublated by the mental, and how do we re-think this sublimation? ♦ Allow me now to explicate one more set of questions. It is possible that the anthropologist Marcel Mauss and the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, when read in conjunction with the philosopher Michel Foucault, provide the heretical key to our contradiction and our dialectic. Marcel Mauss, in 1934, delivered a lecture titled Techniques of the Body. Re-printed in Sociologie et Anthropologie, it is yet to be published in English other than as a fragment of a larger work. The lecture is remarkable for not just the range of avenues of research it opens up, but also for its Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space, trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith, (Oxford: Blackwell, 1991), p. 6.



uncanny similarity to problematics two other French theorists would identify some 30 to 40 years later, namely Bourdieu and Foucault. Nevertheless, to the best of my knowledge, neither references this lecture in any of their respective works which deal with the problems Mauss raises. As such, to read them together will require some force. Bourdieu’s complex notion of habitus, which we evoked at the beginning, seeks to bridge, and in doing so both account for and understand the operation of, what Lefebvre saw as the abyss between mental and social space. Our habitus is a system of dispositions, or

structured structures predisposed to function as structuring structures, that is, as principles of the generation and structuring of practices and representations which can be objectively “regulated” and “regular” without in any way being the product of obedience to rules, objectively adapted to their goals without presupposing a conscious aiming at ends or an express mastery of the operations necessary to attain them and, being all this, collectively orchestrated without being the product of the orchestrating action of a conductor.2 ♦ Here the objectification in material practices of a particular knowledge/power dyad overcomes the problem of both an external power putatively disciplining or objectifying a passive or neutral ‘subject’, and the problem of the abyss between mental and physical in that this gap is dialectically considered as the site of interplay, the crucial space of mediation, between the two zones. The mediation which Lefebvre argues thinkers such as Kristeva and Derrida ignore, is in Bourdieu’s’ theorisation, central. Note the similarity here to Foucault, and then of both to Mauss. Here is Foucault:

[T]here are four major types of these “technologies,” each a matrix of practical `ogies of sign systems, which permit us to use signs, meanings, symbols, or signification; (3) technologies of power, which determine the conduct of individuals and submit them to certain ends or domination, an objectivizing of the subject; (4) technologies of the self, which permit individuals to effect by their own means or with the help of others a certain number of operations on their own bodies and souls, thoughts, conduct, and way of being, so as to transform themselves in order to attain a certain state of happiness, purity, wisdom, perfection, or immortality. These four types of technologies hardly ever function separately, although each one of them is associated with a certain type of domination. Each implies certain modes of training and modification of individuals, not only in the obvious sense of acquiring certain skills but also in the sense of acquiring certain attitudes.3

♦ And here is Mauss: Hence I have had this notion of the social nature of the ‘habitus’ for many years. Please note that I use the Latin word–it should be understood in France–habitus. The word translates infinitely better than ‘habitude’ (habit or custom), the ‘exis’, the ‘acquired ability’ and ‘faculty’ of Aristotle (who was a psychologist). It does not designate those metaphysical habitudes, that mysterious ‘memory’, the subjects of volumes or short and famous theses. These ‘habits’ do not just vary with individuals and their imitations, they vary especially between societies, educations, proprieties and fashions, prestiges. In them we should see the techniques and work of collective and individual practical reason rather than, in the ordinary way, merely the soul and its repetitive faculties.4

Pierre Bourdieu, Outline of A Theory of Practice, trans. Richard Nice, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), p. 72. 3 Michel Foucault, Technologies of the Self, A Seminar with Michel Foucault, (London: Tavistock Publications, 1988), p. 18. 4 Marcel Mauss, Technologies of the body: Marcel_1935_1973_Techniques_of_the_Body.pdf 2


♦ There is more than a superficial and coincidental overlap of terms at work here. Instead, three very different but interlinked theorists are separately attempting to think through the same problem, that of what it means to inhabit a habitus as a subject, and what form this being-a-subject takes. That is, our first set of questions. They are also questioning how to overcome or re-think the problematic dialectic between the mental and the physical, our second set of questions. But furthermore, they are asking, perhaps without even ever having formulated the question, what the link between the use of ourselves and the use of our habitus is. Which brings us to the third set of questions, indeed the very first question posed, contained within which was the question of the question; who is the figure of the sovereign who can speak at once for themselves and at the same time speak for others? Who is the subject who can act without acting? Or perhaps it is simply Jean-Luc Nancy’s question: Who comes after the subject?5 And who must come after the sovereign subject? ♦ Let me regroup. We posed at the beginning of this essay a series of questions on what it would be to inhabit as a subject, and on how the use of our habitus redoubles in a tragic use of ourselves. We then encountered Henri Lefebvre, and the problem of space, a fundamental problem to bear in mind when the topic of discussion is that thorny habitus. Lefebvre cautioned us against not defining space, and uncritically transposing spatial concepts and metaphors to other disciplines or ideas, for it fundamentally posits an abyss between the mental and the physical which does not exist. In an attempt, then, to move onto a third set of questions, Marcel Mauss, Pierre Bourdieu and Michel Foucault were introduced. The striking similarity between the three regarding their theorisation of dispositions, practices, and habits, was evidenced at length, the point being to introduce the final question which is the question of the subject. Mauss, Bourdieu and Foucault all answered or attempted to answer, to varying degrees, the three sets of questions posed here. Now let us attempt to answer them, having set the precedent and explored the problems.

Form of life, a outside of trut canonical mov place within th subjectivity th for itself and o act without ac

♦ Before I do so, however, at the risk of complication, of which there is always necessarily a risk, I want to introduce one more figure. Ludwig Wittgenstein, the Austrian philosopher, used sparingly in his later works a profound phrase: form of life. From the author of the Tractatus and the Philosophical Investigations, from the logical mathematician who spent a lifetime constructing a systematically shot-through edifice circumscribing the limits of thought, language, and experience, comes what cannot be thought otherwise than as an ethical idea. An ethical idea that is, moreover, nonsense. It cannot be thought otherwise: this is tautology, strictly speaking, in that a thought that can be thought can only be thought in the specific way it is, and so as such ipso facto could never be thought otherwise. ‘A tautology leaves open to reality a whole–the infinite whole–of logical space’.6 An ethical idea that is nonsense, nonsense being that which is not in the world, not representable, not thinkable. What are we then to make of this form of life? Perhaps, a tautology as simple as a thought that cannot be thought differently, invoking as it does if only as its underside the outside of thought, that for which beyond there is no-sense in that it is not thinkable, not representable, literally beyond sense, leaves open a rather different space (the site of subjectivation) than the metaphysical gap necessary for the arbitrary nature of the sign, than Wittgenstein intended. Only here, only now, could an ethical thought that is non-sense be profoundly meaningful; it has use, it can be put to use, in this other-side of thought, this space of the subject, who they are we do not yet know, but they are a form of life thinkable only beyond the limits of sense, only beyond that metaphysical movement of truth and thought that spans the unbridgeable gap between the word and the thing which unsayability as non-sense strictly speaking evokes. Who Comes After the Subject? Edited by Eduardo Cadava, Peter Connor and Jean-Luc Nancy, (Routledge: New York & London, 1991). 6 Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus¸ trans. David Pears & Brian McGuinness, (London: Routledge, 2004), Proposition 4.463, p. 42. 5


♦ Are we lost? We have strayed far from simply responding to a question, it seems. But this is the form that the question can take, it seems. Perhaps it must be this way. Only on these well-travelled paths frozen over and cleared away in time for Spring can we walk and perhaps find our way. ♦ In the paradoxical linguistic designation of the subject as sovereign there resides a key to the contemporary itself. This is the contradiction dearest to us, closest to our always already supplemented core. From Bataille to Adorno, this was known. The librarian and the composer, both schooled in the passions and the pains, knew well that the subject is a fragmentary and fleeting constellation, and that sovereignty is not its by right but by decree, royal or republican. Yet this contradiction has been instrumental in the objectification of that subject; in the governance and ordering of its precarity, in the instantiation of its internal split which renders the contradiction at its heart unknowable, and that moreover circumscribes the limits of a common-sense, of a habitus, through the Tapparatus of the use of oneself within contemporary capitalism. The question Who is the Subject is a question of use, a question of a game, profane and always deferred, never quite beginning. herefore, what is needed is a form, a use, that leaves open life, that leaves open the thought of the outside because it is in fact predicated, before any subject-predicate, on this thought of the outside that is none other than the underside of the unsayable when not locked in a movement, but is rather the result of an open-ended tautology, an ethical tautology, once more.

as a gesture th’s vement, takes he site of a hat can speak others, and cting.

♦ Thus, if we read Wittgenstein carefully, at the level of the letter of the text, as Balibar says, and if we read the early Wittgenstein with the late Wittgenstein, in conjunction rather than as apart, and read specifically the concept of form of life as if it were formulated within the Tractatus, a potentially profound event occurs. Form of life, if situated within the Tractatus, is nonsense. But if we take seriously Wittgenstein’s claim’s regarding tautology, that it leaves open all reality, then it must leave open that which does not fit within it. It leaves open the outside of thought, the very limit Wittgenstein sought to find. Form of life, then, falls within the purview of the Tractatus, being a tautological ethical claim, but falls outside of thought, outside of logical, thinkable thought, as also defined by Wittgenstein. This opens up the possibility for an eco-critical use of oneself precisely insofar as it sidesteps the problem of the sovereign subject, for it undoes the problem of the self-transparent and reflexive cogito who by definition would be at once sovereign and subject. Form of life, as a gesture outside of truth’s canonical movement, takes place within the site of a subjectivity that can speak for itself and others, and act without acting.

♦ It is clear, then, that an eco-critical use of oneself demands a philosophical deconstruction. It may even be that it this is gesture that deconstruction fundamentally is. After all, Derrida often enough pronounced deconstruction as being fundamentally one thing or another, and our authority is as good as his. To construct this use of oneself, we must first understand what this means, how this is the primary process of subjectivation, and the processes and structures at play today operating this apparatus of subject-formation. Furthermore, the philosophical logos, the dispositive behind the sovereign subject that is today destroying our habitus, must be dismantled and deconstructed. And finally, we must re-insert space, the space of our environment and the site of our subjectivation, and stress that they are indissociable. To begin this, or to continue it from others, such has been the purpose of this essay.

by JAMIE DAVIES, Philosophy Editor

Perhaps, a tautology as simple as a thought that cannot be thought differently, invoking as it does if only as its underside the outside of thought, 63

Spike Dennis Edited by Anna Bland, Jamie Davies and Martha O’Brien. Designed by Anja Quinn. All work is copyrighted to the author or artist. © nawr mag 2022 | @nawrmag

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