Terranean Homesick Blues
relieved to talk about this with someone who gets it!
can we chat again in person sometime soon? feeling a bit anxious about taking part, it’s all very new and i feel like the core probably don’t have time to talk about everyone’s anxieties!! (as supportive as they are)
also worried they might judge me for being hesitant; i'm just worried about personal (and political??) risks that i’m not sure i’m up for exploring in meetings yet…
On Sep 3, 2023 at 09:05, <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote
Hello dear Luce, lovely to hear from you. I hope you don’t mind me emailing to respond to your texts.
I have the inkling that you’re staying a bit cryptic for a reason? All of this is quite new to me too; age isn’t always a good indicator of experience. I will trust the younger ones and do what I’m told, though I suppose it is good to be cautious.
On the note of personal risk, it’s hard to say. No one can tell you what’s appropriate for your situation. I understand why some people involved are so gung-ho, and could maybe come across as a bit pushy to others. I think the more mature among them will understand where your concerns are coming from, and make space for them, whether in a group meeting scenario or privately. They’ve all had their journeys and found their way here too! I imagine few were born into such a radical (militant, even), critically-thinking kind of milieu.
At this point in my life, I feel ready for risk. I imagine I’m close to double your age. I’ve lived a lot, and am grateful for it. I’ve also felt a lot of guilt over the years, for standing on the sidelines watching others undertake the bulk of the work. And there is so much work to be done. I do regret my own inaction, my own apathy. And so yes, I do feel ready—which does not mean I don’t feel scared! Scared, certainly, for my own wellbeing and consequences in my life. Scared, also, regarding my contribution—as someone less experienced, will I be able to do my role well? But such is life; after all, what is life without risk and new experiences?
One last thing that I wanted to say, and I hope this doesn’t come off as patronizing: No one else can tell you you’re ready, no one else can tell you what level of risk is appropriate. And there is also the factor that different roles have different levels of risk, and that all of our personalities are suited to contributing different things.
See you at the next meeting,
On Sep 5, 2023 at 20:18, <email@example.com> wrote
Hello hello W/O,
Thanks very much for your attendance, really appreciate everyone's time and energy.
Next meeting: Saturday the 8th at 12:00. Please RSVP, location will be sent the day before.
For those who don't have Quiet, please download it. It's more secure than other messaging platforms, and it's where we will be doing most of our communications. We will continue sending out the occasional email blast with important information, omitting details for security’s sake.
Brief agenda: - overview on vetting process—how did you all get here, how and why can we trust each other? - Lucy’s 'supply chain' - identifying leverage points
annette! funny to use Quiet to talk to a friend, to be radically (!) honest i have not used it for anything other than acquiring ilicit substances…
B really ground my gears with the “power of emotional change” stuff and yadda yadda, i have to admit to me it felt like old hippie waxing lyrical and i hope i’m not being too harsh.
i’m quite tired of that kind of talk. what did you make of it?
Nice to hear from you Luce!
I think one could accuse him of being idealistic, certainly, though perhaps we all are. We wouldn’t be here otherwise, would we?
Maybe the other side of that is hope, too often in short supply. For me, identifying those leverage points offered hope, but it felt more rigorous, in a way. Hope that felt rooted in something--literate.
yes, i'm sure people could accuse me (or all of us!) of being idealistic, but i find those takes grating. same old romantic drugs-as-panacea rhetoric that i don't think is helpful or even remotely realistic… like, yes, some degree of hope is important and all but don't pretend that everything can or will be rosy!!
it’s weird people can combine that type of blind hope with the detailed work of developing supply chains and finding these leverage points and what not.
Yes, it is wise to have realistic expectations, it seems like a challenge to balance hope with the knowledge that things can and do go wrong.
I think you’re right; your thoughts point to how we should be talking about consent. For many, that will be challenging morally, much like property destruction or physical violence would, for instance.
I’m thinking of raising this with the Core as it seems crucial to address.
so true, that convo is absent!
i feel like, if you're going to be confronting people in this way, and believe that everything’s going to work out perfectly, you're kinda burying your head in the sand
i mean, i read that timothy leary thought tripping could ‘cure’ people’s homosexuality! psychedelics can’t be treated like a cure for everything or a simple fix, maybe this simplistic hope is dangerous or setting us up for failure?
don’t get me wrong, tripping was so helpful for my own understanding of sexuality and gender but obviously that doesn’t happen for everyone…hell, if anything, it confirmed my atheism while other people are out there finding god--like that weed entrepreneur guy who tripped, found god and became a born-again christian.
in a more positive light, i enjoyed that old blog post on psychedelic civil disobedience. don’t want it to seem like i’m not grateful for this context… i do believe in it, that’s why i’m here! i just find it hard to talk about because it makes me feel like an old, cringe hippie.
I certainly see what you mean there, I have never quite been one to spend time in those circles!
I enjoyed expanding the notion of ‘psychedelic civil disobedience’ from disobeying the law by taking them on one’s own, to identifying ways in which they could be used in the aid of something bigger and more impactful.
yes, your average drug taker is less of a leverage point right!
It’s helpful to zoom out from personal consumption. Kay told me about how the US popularized the term ‘marijuana’ over ‘cannabis’ to create more associations between illegality and Mexican people. It makes so much sense, yet I’d never realized before she told me!
What makes psychedelics disobedient, what makes them a threat and how are they used?
D very mildly skeeved me out today. i’m sure he’s harmless, i do want to assume best intentions at all, though it’s been really challenging.
half the time i think cynicism is counter-productive, stops people from doing things that could actually make a difference, and the other half there i am doing it!
he made this weird comment about how we need to “balance the feminine and masculine energies” in what we do, which is not something i believe in or support. i find that so alienating!
i’m definitely feeling stretched out of my comfort zone, but writing off organizing because i don’t totally mesh with a couple people would be even more counter-productive isn’t it
Absolutely. Someone once told me how important it was to move from moralizing to strategizing, and that stuck with me. Building coalitions across differences is so important, but as with most things, easier said than done!
A shame you had to leave before the social today, we did speak in more depth about each of our reasons for stepping up. I could feel my sense of isolation dissolving somewhat—to hear that many others feel like they can’t talk about climate collapse in real life, like it’s gauche or too depressing, that really resonated with me. I really came away feeling good, rejuvenated and excited, albeit challenged.
i know what you mean though! i have had moments of feeling rejuvenated, of having agency for maybe the first time in my life???
On Sep 09, 2023 at 10:31, <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote
Emailing back ‘cause I’ve been reflecting on what you were saying about individual risk. If I try to zoom out and imagine what else I would do with my time, with my life, I have no better answers. Like you say, it’s a weird time to be growing up.
Similarly, I think this kind of action has been stuck in my head for a long time, I often feel preoccupied by our plans, I can see the action like some kind of solarpunk fever dream that I haven't been able to get over. (Have you heard of solarpunk? It’s like a more optimistic kind of sci-fi genre, a breath of fresh air amidst all that dystopia stuff out there…) Sometimes after meetings, I get home and I feel both giddy and also like I’m moving in slow motion. I feel scared but weirdly also calm, all the way down to my feet, I feel caring and cared for, I feel peace but also adrenaline.
I spent a lot of my childhood reading fiction and have kept journals on and off for a while, my moms were pretty anti-screens compared to a lot of my friends. I flipped through some of my writing, and so much of my preoccupation is with the State Of Things, and it is just no way for a kid to grow up.
Returning to my journals recently made me so angry, and I guess that’s one of things that brought me here, that made me feel like the risk is worth it. I’ve also read a lot of sci-fi, both dystopic and utopic, and there’s never really been any kind of action that looks like this. (Do you know of any fiction that is at all vaguely similar?) I think something in that makes it seem hopeful, but maybe that’s naive.
I also wanted to say thank you for taking the time to reply. It feels so good not to feel so alone, to not sit on my ass watching everyone else do things!
On Sep 10, 2023 at 19:54, <email@example.com> wrote
I’m so sorry to hear how much all of this has tormented you since childhood. I suppose it comes as no surprise. It makes me feel angry at my generation and generations before. I don’t know if it helps to hear, but reading about your experience does make me feel more motivated and committed to all this.
Your reflections on panaceas also stuck with me. Indeed, there is a lot of solutionism and simplicity out there. I do understand that offering a solution makes for effective rhetoric, but I agree with you that it’s somewhat dishonest. Perhaps people really do believe in panaceas, perhaps they need to.
I’m very much enjoying the correspondences and conversations that have emerged out of this work. My social circles are different, to say the least; a friendly acquaintance remarked that the heat wave was “gorgeous” and I felt a rock in my stomach, like I often do. It’s rare that I can discuss such matters and feel like that rock is shared.
Have you spoken to your moms about taking part in all this? I have yet to tell my kids, I’m not quite sure how to. I think I know them well but it’s always hard to predict how people interpret or react to information like this. I worry they worry about the ethics of it, which I do suppose make sense—but it seems that people have such a massive blind-spot around the ethics of standing by and doing nothing! I guess because in those circumstances, a specific act of violence, a specific perpetrator, a victim, is hard to identify. People get angry at protestors for getting in their way, but when flooding gets in their way, god forbid they be angry at an oil executive! I suppose the oil executive hasn’t appeared to do a rain dance in those situations, so it’s harder to connect the two!
It might seem like a more direct form of violence and it may seem like a risk, but I wondered—what is the alternative? That way lies the certainty of violence (while it may appear indirect for lack of immediate perpetrator), the certainty of mass harm. And that is why I am here; that is why this risk feels like the safe choice, in a way.
Trauma is certainly a risk, but I am finding it helpful to contextualize it with the alternative. And to remember the sheer amount of harm that these people cause, and their utter disregard for its effects. That has lent me some strength today.
I think you’re certainly right about this coalition-building stuff, or really leaning on affinities rather than differences. There’s only so far you’ll get by whittling collaborators down to only those that agree with you on absolutely everything. (And where would the fun be in that? I certainly wouldn’t be here without meeting people who challenged me and changed my mind.)
All my best, Annette
On Sep 21, 2023 at 10:32, <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote
Yes! Trauma is a risk and I think it's important to have that as part of the picture. I'm still happy to work with everyone here, but I feel like some of the convos get a bit sanitized.
I mean, what are some of the possible outcomes? Maybe a person has visions of supreme interconnectedness and all that oneness stuff, yes; comes out of it needing to change paths drastically; comes out of it with extreme existential crisis after realizing how violent and destructive most ways of doing things are. (I guess existential crisis is the point, is not always bad, and can head in lots of different directions...) Another one: a person experiences something like psychosis, goes a bit nuts, is traumatized and confused, can't return to normality afterwards, loses faith in a lot of the 'normal' things—existential crisis variation B.
I guess there are a million shades in between, but I think we should be talking about version B more. Surely that's a better outcome than nothing, right? Surely it's a fairly likely possibility.
I know there are those studies that suggest that there is a correlation between psychedelics and nature-connectedness or whatever, all that makes perfect sense to me and echoes my own experiences. It just seems like setting yourself up for failure to extrapolate so far and think you’re representative of these people you have nothing in common with!
I've thought for a long time that the term 'bad trip' isn't helpful. It just serves to give people anxiety, negative expectations that will absolutely color their experiences. I think it also stops us from having more meaningful conversations about what 'bad' stuff is lurking in someone's head, it's all stuff that's there that has to be dealt with... at least that's what I think. I've had my share of unpleasant experiences, maybe you could say I'm not mentally ill enough to have a real Bad one. I just think the negative ones, like with bad life experiences, can also be meaningful ones for growth and healing. Call me young and naive if you want!
On Sep 25, 2023 at 20:03, <email@example.com> wrote
Hi dear Luce,
That was very insightful regarding trauma! If there’s anything I have learned over the years it’s that negative, challenging experiences are learning and growing experiences. I think it’s the bread and butter of what makes us who we are, or at very least the bread or the butter, along with all the good stuff too.
We’ve spoken about the leverage points and how focusing on them can ripple outwards, but what could those ripples look like specifically? Are they all positive, or negative? (Or more likely both?) Perhaps we should raise this at the next session, I do think we can talk about it in a measured way.
Having taken part in a few other protest movements in my time, I’ve learned that one can articulate regret for immediate pain or inconvenience caused, while acknowledging that some level of inconvenience is necessary. Here, I will be keeping in mind the consequences that would truly be inevitable if no action were to be taken. It helps remind me why this is so necessary.
All my best, Annette
oh my god it feels so much more real now!!!
feeling reinvigorated, like yes WHAT ELSE would i, could i do with my life at this point in time?
i am pretty terrified about what my parents will think. they’re really chill and liberal, unsurprisingly, but this is quite a different thing to any kind of ‘misbehavior’ of the past
feeling electrified, will not be able to sleep
do you know how you’re going to tell your kids??
I have a vague plan of sitting them down and offering a prepared spiel. I think I know the gist of what I will say, and I have the feeling that they will be shocked and concerned but ultimately understanding. That doesn’t mean I don’t get anxious though! How will you tell your family?
unsure, hoping to hear more about other people’s strategies at the next meeting!
wondering how the people actually *doing* the distributing will manage, it’s so much harder, more “violent”, right?
i feel so grateful for that group—for being brave and generous (and normal looking, haha). i mean everyone is stepping up, but nothing could work without the distributors would it? us supply chain nodes are easier to replace!
i think in my late teens (ok not so long ago) i would’ve been judgmental of them, like their aesthetics could be read as some kind of political commitment. glad to be feeling a bit more mature, that my view of these things have been complicated!
Certainly, rethinking trauma has been an excellent precursor to yesterday’s meeting. I appreciated making time and space for general philosophy, which felt a bit overlooked before—why they chose to go with Weather Overground and all that. It wasn’t a history I knew much about.
It struck me that there really is a militancy absent from recent climate-activist movements, at least in our part of the world. It may be risky, it may be off-putting for some, but it is refreshing to root our work in this lineage, while being open to theweathermen’s mistakes, iterating on their ethos and approach. I think our group does a better job of balancing openness, transparency and inclusion with a certain urgency.
me too! we absolutely can’t maintain absolute non-violence in such a structurally violent society, right? militancy makes a lot of sense in this context. it reframes the notion of risk, and highlights the violence we are all complicit in but overlook anyway, right?
On Dec 7, 2023 at 11:47, <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote
I've been revisiting my patchy journals, trying to write this letter.
I have felt so preoccupied for so long, I think these feelings have more or less been with me since before I had a language for them.
I don't remember when I first heard about any of it, but I do remember being a kid. I must've been 7 or so, since it was before we moved, experimenting with ice cubes in full glasses of water, praying that the glass would stay full and not overflow, so I could assure myself that sea levels wouldn't rise.
Always an anxious kid, I had visions of us holding hands, crying out in fear and dreaming of earth as the water carried us up and up, through the ozone layer and into space – where we either suffocated or imploded. This is the sort of thing my 7-year old self was preoccupied by. I can't remember if they were nightmares, or images my waking brain concocted.
Here is an except from a journal entry I wrote a few years ago, in 2019:
I saw the first sign of spring flowers today. It's January. I felt a weird kind of dissonance that I can't be the only one feeling. I don't think it has a name yet. It's a strange, harsh dissonance: joy at the beauty of the flowers, and horror at the sign that something's gone so wrong. It's such a particular blend of feelings, that feels singular to this moment. I've felt it before -- on hot days with blue skies that feel amazing, yet incongruous with the time of year. Any pleasure is coupled with the dread of knowing that this isn't supposed to happen, not now anyway.
Now, at 23, I am fucking weary. (Sorry Mama O I know you still don't like it when I swear.) I feel exhausted. I know many people my age do, and I don't even want to know what younger generations will feel.
What was this period of my life supposed to be like? In another world, what would I have, what would I be doing? It certainly doesn't feel like what was often promised to me as a kid, or what a lot of media would still have me believe.
Early last year, I was speaking to a friend about the general State of Things in that dry, cynical way that I do. We did a lot of joking about how nothing short of acid in the water supply would really do anything.
Another journal snippet from around then:
I suppose I'm half serious when I talk about it, it just sounds so ridiculous / conspiracy nutter-y / that it's embarrassing to admit that it's something I feel could be important. I suppose the conspiracy nut fear is to do with being afraid of being delusional... of being a 60s hippie hangover, done too much acid and couldn't unsee something. But at the same time, I kind of wonder about the use of cynicism. What's the point of it? What's its use? Why do we feel it? I guess it's a kind of defense mechanism, a way of distancing yourself from something you care about but fear will come back and bite you. I guess if I indulge that maybe-delusional instinct, that thing that can't be unseen is a whole other way of living. A shadow of a different way of organizing society.
I have seen people tout recreational drugs, psychedelics in particular, around like they're panaceas, or talk about them in this totalizing way that suggests ingesting this automatically leads to that. I find it endlessly infuriating, I hate the way they get spoken about in some circles. (On the flip side, I've also heard about some activist groups argue that substance ought to be prioritized over substances, that contemporary activism often gets too wrapped up in spectacles.)
Nonetheless, my point was that I've been frustrated, as I know Mama T has been too, that the discourse around substances is so vague, so totalizing. That all of them get spoken about like they were the same thing, that using and consuming them could be a radical act of disobedience in and of itself. I think it certainly can be, in my case for sure, but I guess my gripe has to do with a lack of specificity which I've just been guilty of here. Talking about them all with the same brush is like asking someone if they like to eat food.
Two years ago, someone mentioned 'psychedelic civil disobedience' in passing to me during a conversation. It stuck in my head. Last year, after I started doing some more mainstream climate activism stuff, I gradually got to know and fell in with a group that was thinking along similar lines to me.
But anyway, before I get into that... Psychedelic civil disobedience originated as a phrase coined by the mainstream activist Rosie Campbell – if you haven't heard of her, you'd probably know her as one of the originators of the well-known (or infamous, depending on your politics) activist group People's Climate Corps. It was intended to describe the act of disobeying the law by taking psychedelics like LSD or mushrooms. Campbell had argued that such disobedience was potent, offering a gateway to a profound sense of interconnectedness – essential, supposedly – to understand the mess 'we' had gotten 'our' selves into, to understand how the figure of the individual was nothing but a myth.
I joked about it as a defense mechanism, but part of me did believe that we need something like psychedelics to catalyze the depth and pace of change necessary.
When I made a concentrated effort to peel off some of my cynicism, yes I did think that nothing short of 'acid in the water supply' would be enough. I guess what I meant by that (or what that meant to me) was to really, deeply, jolt the foundations of how people think and act, and what they value too. Beyond all that interconnectedness shit (sorry), it seemed to me like the improved sense of scale only afforded by ego death might be key. In part for activists who become emboldened to put their personal safety on the line, and also in part for the selfish extractivists who could maybe come to see past their own desires.
Nothing could guarantee anything else (aside from doing nothing, perhaps), but it could be useful to certain ends, it afforded something. You can think of psychedelics as inherently liberatory if you want – but the plethora of instances of abuse by people in the community, not to mention homophobia and sexism and racism and whatever else, demonstrate otherwise.
I've spent my whole life reading books. That more or less felt like a safe place. While tripping some years ago I realised I was used to watching, and not doing. It's so easy to critique from a distance. (It's so easy to distance via critique.) I could have all the opinions I wanted, but it's not like I was building anything different or putting my own safety on the line.
Here's another journal entry:
I had a bad one today. I could feel the anxiety pooling in my chest, I have no good way of describing it. Heat so heavy, so dense, it saturated – shade offering no relief, nor sweat. Of course it wasn't like that, not here, not yet, but reading the news sent me off on one again. I keep being torn as to whether or not it's beneficial to know about what's 'going on', or if it's just bad for my head and doesn't add anything to my life. That's what Lou's always saying. I ended up imagining the weight of that sweat; it wouldn't dissipate, just collect until it couldn't anymore.
That was after that bad heat wave about a year ago, I'm sure you remember.
I had a hard time going about my days then, showing up to work, seeing friends, acting like nothing was wrong. Don't get me wrong, all my friends care (if only a handful of them are anxious like me, or seem it). But it felt taboo to admit the kind of fear and despair I was feeling... Hearing about people's flights, let alone new oil projects, while reading the news each day, seeing the dead grass over the summer, felt very much like the world was gaslighting me. I think that's when I reached my tipping point... another fragment from that summer:
to think that one can exploit another without consequence; to think that one can live at the expense of another without consequence!!!!!!
So, yes, I guess that was the year I really started thinking about collapse. Yeah, I was plagued by apocalyptic visions of rising seawater and mass heat-related die-offs since I was a sad, anxious kid, but I guess the images that tormented me back then were more of sudden catastrophe, rather than a growing awareness of a slower violence, of a gradual collapse. (Though who knows, maybe a surprise apocalypse will arrive tomorrow after all.)
I was in a weird business seminar for work recently, and weirdly enough something I learned there was helpful in thinking about collapse and paranoia... The guy kept talking about how things don't happen overnight; you notice a cashflow problem before you run out of money and all that. It kind of felt like a justification for my anxiety, for my weird, solipsistic feeling of being gaslit by the world; you notice inflation, changing weather, supply chain issues before people are raiding one another's homes in search of sustenance.
When I was a teen, I used to have a fantasy of logging off – my light prepper tendencies led my teen self to buy CDs of my favorite records, in preparation for the day on which fluid, taken-for-granted access to everything at one's fingertips might no longer exist. What did I think was going to happen? There'd be no food but at least I could hide in the basement taking refuge in The Supremes on repeat? Did I think I'd have electricity in this scenario??
I guess over time, that fantasy has evolved to being able to do something that I find meaningful, that I think could help, rather than something just to ensure my own survival.
In September last year, I joined another civil resistance group. I found them through going to some more mainstream meetups and events; those groups weren't quite as radical, but they were helpful. Somehow through those networks I found my way to where I am now.
For the sake of good ol' safety, I won't tell you so much about us – what exactly we did and how. I will say that after joining, I did learn how fanciful my earlier ambitions were, not knowing anything about how water infrastructure or treatment worked.
Quite a few of us looked more... normal. Some were able to leverage their class position, passing as your average law abiding, respectable, service industry wage laborer, professional enough to serve the upper classes (meaning they were sans visible markers of 'alternative inklings'). It's funny how little appearances can give away about people's political leanings.
You’d think more security clearance would be needed to work in these high flying places... catering to, serving, and maintaining facilities for the elite.
Anyway. You've probably read about our last action in the news. (I hope you'll take some of it with a healthy pinch of salt.) I can close my eyes and imagine Mama O tutting softly while in the back of her head being grateful; I can see Mama T nodding in approval, thankful other people are taking care of things (that her own kid would never).
I've written you a letter because I don't have the guts to tell you face to face (I suppose I take after Mama O and her affinity for written words).
I wanted to tell you myself, before you heard from others and before you might read about me in the news.
I think if I tried to explain, crying would just get in the way, and I always feel like I can organize my thoughts better like this.
I don't have a court date yet, but when I do I know a lot of friends will be there to support me. If you'd be willing to support, it really would mean the world to me.
Part of me is fearful of what might happen to someone that looks like me. Part of me is relieved; being someone who passively sat by while everything went to shit (sorry, last time, I swear) sometimes feels like it would've been the scarier option. I don't think it's a life I would want to live.
Call me naive, a romantic, call me idealistic (I take after Mama O after all...), but in this world, I don't think there's another life I could, or would want to, live. Sometimes I do feel homesick for that other vision, where I had become an artist, where I did travel the world and experience pleasures to my heart's content. It's like being homesick for a place you've never been.
My renunciation of all of those things, those desires, happened slowly and quietly. Maybe in another world I still wanted them or even had them. But hey, that world isn't this one.
I was tired of waiting, for people to do the right thing, for things to collapse. I was tired of passively watching solutionism whack-a-mole take its course. I was tired of reading a slew of god-awful news everyday, that kept being ignored.
I am barely an adult and I am exhausted.
I hope you understand, and I hope both of you feel (if reluctantly, if partially) proud.
All my love, L
Anand Pandian, “A Stranger to the Weave”
Andreas Malm, How to Blow Up a Pipeline
Centre for Psychedelic Research, “From Egoism to Ecoism: Psychedelics Increase Nature Relatedness in a State-Mediated and Context-Dependent Manner”
Christina Sagioglou and Matthias Forstmann, “Psychedelic use predicts objective knowledge about climate change via increases in nature relatedness”
Mark Fisher, Acid Communism Michelle Lhooq, "SOBRIETY IS THE NEW COUNTERCULTURAL LOGIC"
Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents
Ollie Zhang researches, writes, and (sometimes!) speaks.