Categories for World
That we came so close, as a civilization, to breaking our suicide pact with fossil fuels can be credited to the efforts of a handful of people, among them a hyperkinetic lobbyist and a guileless atmospheric physicist who, at great personal cost, tried to warn humanity of what was coming. They risked their careers in a painful, escalating campaign to solve the problem, first in scientific reports, later through conventional avenues of political persuasion and finally with a strategy of public shaming. Their efforts were shrewd, passionate, robust. And they failed. What follows is their story, and ours.
Everyone knew — and we all still know. We know that the transformations of our planet, which will come gradually and suddenly, will reconfigure the political world order. We know that if we don’t act to reduce emissions, we risk the collapse of civilization. We also know that, without a gargantuan intervention, whatever happens will be worse for our children, worse yet for their children and even worse still for their children’s children, whose lives, our actions have demonstrated, mean nothing to us.
Today, 27 July 2018, there will be the longest total lunar eclipse visible in Australia, Asia, Africa and Europe. The totality will last 103 minutes, making it the longest in the 21st century. The moon will take on a reddish-orange glow during the eclipse. The name Blood Moon is usually used for this view on the moon.
Here in Rotterdam the advice is to look for an area with a clear view. At 21:30 the moon will rise in the east. It will be partly covered by the earth’s shadow by that time. The full eclipse starts at 21:30 and will end at 23:13. You do not need any special eye equipment to watch the moon.
Mars will be very close to the moon on this day and will be easy to see with naked eyes.
I will try and make some photographs of the moon. Hopefully there will be a clear sky here in Rotterdam. If i succeed i will add the photographs to this post over the weekend.
Modernity, a topic in the humanities and social sciences, is both a historical period (the modern era), as well as the ensemble of particular socio-cultural norms, attitudes and practices that arose in the wake of Renaissance, in the “Age of Reason” of 17th-century thought and the 18th-century “Enlightenment”.
While it includes a wide range of interrelated historical processes and cultural phenomena (from fashion to modern warfare), it can also refer to the subjective or existential experience of the conditions they produce, and their ongoing impact on human culture, institutions, and politics (Berman 2010, 15–36).
Depending on the field, “modernity” may refer to different time periods or qualities. In historiography, the 17th to 18th century are usually described as early modern, while the long 19th century corresponds to “modern history” proper.
As an analytical concept and normative ideal, modernity is closely linked to the ethos of philosophical and aesthetic modernism; political and intellectual currents that intersect with the Enlightenment; and subsequent developments such as existentialism, modern art, the formal establishment of social science, and contemporaneous antithetical developments such as Marxism. It also encompasses the social relations associated with the rise of capitalism, and shifts in attitudes associated with secularisation and post-industrial life (Berman 2010, 15–36).
In the view of Michel Foucault (1975) (classified as a proponent of postmodernism though he himself rejected the “postmodernism” label, considering his work as a “a critical history of modernity”—see, e.g., Call 2002, 65), “modernity” as a historical category is marked by developments such as a questioning or rejection of tradition; the prioritization of individualism, freedom and formal equality; faith in inevitable social, scientific and technological progress, rationalization and professionalization, a movement from feudalism (or agrarianism) toward capitalism and the market economy, industrialization, urbanization and secularization, the development of the nation-state, representative democracy, public education (etc) (Foucault 1977, 170–77).
Modernity has been associated with cultural and intellectual movements of 1436–1789 and extending to the 1970s or later (Toulmin 1992, 3–5).
According to Marshall Berman (1982, 16–17), modernity is periodized into three conventional phases (dubbed “Early,” “Classical,” and “Late,” respectively, by Peter Osborne (1992, 25)):
- Early modernity: 1500–1789 (or 1453–1789 in traditional historiography)
- Classical modernity: 1789–1900 (corresponding to the long 19th century (1789–1914) in Hobsbawm’s scheme)
- Late modernity: 1900–1989
In the second phase Berman draws upon the growth of modern technologies such as the newspaper, telegraph and other forms of mass media. There was a great shift into modernization in the name of industrial capitalism. Finally in the third phase, modernist arts and individual creativity marked the beginning of a new modernist age as it combats oppressive politics, economics as well as other social forces including mass media.
If the practice of labour shapes capitalism’s ecology, its indispensable machine is the mechanical clock. The clock – not money – emerged as the key technology for measuring the value of work. This distinction is crucial because it’s easy to think that working for wages is capitalism’s signature. It’s not: in 13th-century England only a third of the economically active population depended on wages for survival. That wages have become a decisive way of structuring life, space and nature owes everything to a new model of time.
By the early 14th century, the new temporal model was shaping industrial activity. In textile-manufacturing towns like Ypres, in what is now Belgium, workers found themselves regulated not by the flow of activity or the seasons but by a new kind of time – abstract, linear, repetitive. In Ypres, that work time was measured by the town’s bells, which rang at the beginning and end of each work shift. By the 16th century, time was measured in steady ticks of minutes and seconds. This abstract time came to shape everything – work and play, sleep and waking, credit and money, agriculture and industry, even prayer. By the end of the 16th century, most of England’s parishes had mechanical clocks.
Spain’s conquest of the Americas involved inculcating in their residents a new notion of time as well as of space. Wherever European empires penetrated, there appeared the image of the “lazy” native, ignorant of the imperatives of Christ and the clock. Policing time was central to capitalism’s ecology. As early as 1553, the Spanish crown began installing “at least one public clock” in its major colonial cities. Other civilisations had their own sophisticated temporal rules, but the new regimes of work displaced indigenous tempos and relationships with the natural world. The Mayan calendar is a complex hierarchy of times and readings from the heavens, offering a rich set of arrangements of humans within the universe. Spanish invaders respected it only to this extent: they synchronised their colonial assaults to sacred moments in the calendar.
As social historian EP Thompson observes in his seminal study Time, Work-Discipline and Industrial Capitalism, the governance of time follows a particular logic: “In mature capitalist society all time must be consumed, marketed, put to use; it is offensive for the labour force merely to ‘pass the time’.” The connection of specific activities to larger productive goals didn’t allow for time theft, and the discipline of the clock was enforced by violence across the planet.
There were intensive talks in the gardens the past weeks. Last Friday i had a talk with Ronald about capitalism. He came along with a friend of him, Carl. And a piece of speculaas. We talked about how long capitalism exists. Since the late middle ages according to Ronald. The week before i said that i was a genius. Ho ho! Such a brazen expression. Hollow. Not that i’m not intelligent, but i still need to learn so many things about so many different areas. Today we talked about the bitcoin economy. It is becoming a bit clearer to me, but i still need to read more about it. I did bring up the war against the current leaders of our financial industrial economy. The banks. The investors. People making money from money. I am learning that discussions have their own momentum and direction. I am learning to adapt to that and not trying to pull into another direction.
I love all the many more talks we have in the garden, varying from the fun and frivolous to deeply serious. I can not contribute to every talk. I don’t know enough about every single subject, i’m afraid to say. But that is not the most important thing. I love this aspect of our garden. I love the brightness and interest and passion from each person participating. I don’t agree with everybody. Of course not. I remember the talks about Mars and terraforming it and the plans of Elon Musk to get people to go to Mars, a plan ludricous to me. We talk. And thoroughly enjoy it.
As for me, my situation. I am selling my house. And i plan to do something with the money i will get. The quite large amount of overvalue in my house. To make it work. The next two years will be important to me. As were the the past three years. And well, to be honest, the past fifty three years of my life. Which i love so much.
I’m not sure why i feel the way i do right now. I have said it the past days, a couple of times. I had this sledgehammer moment three years ago. Since then i feel i need to work. Work hard. On this website. Here.
I don’t earn any money through it. Not right now. Does this justify me selling my house? Wouldn’t it be much better to stay on living here, in the center of Rotterdam. Have a job besides it? For two or three days a week? What is so bad about that? Nothing. Right?
Still, i refuse. I keep on going. I did give in a week and a half ago. But i’m back. Why? Why am i not giving up? Why am i prepared to go all the way?
I am intelligent. My school reports are an early proof. I have also made countless stupid mistakes. It took me years to find a proper education after high school. And even art school wasn’t all i imagined. But, one of the best things i ever did was making things online. I enjoy the technology. I enjoyed the immediacy. One update and it is online. Great! Other than that, i was careful. But still, many mistakes.
I am honest. After the chess game i played this Monday, my opponent, who had won – of course – told me he liked my way of playing. An honest game, he told me. A true compliment. If i don’t feel any space to talk, i am usually quiet. Here on ellenpronk.com i can be blatantly honest. Sex being one of the examples of that. I do enjoy talking with people. People i don’t know, people i do know, friends, acquaintances. Most people talk about themselves. I don’t mind that. Everybody has a story to tell. And sometimes i do talk about myself. Of course.
I have perseverance. I don’t give up easily. Not when something really matters. Not that i know beforehand what i’m gonna do. Right now, fifty three years old, when i look back on my life, i can see it. I’m like a dog biting something it doesn’t want to let go. Grrrr. I can leave something aside for a while. For years. But to this day, i found a possibility to get back to it. When i gave my drawings to Green Gartside two years ago. I was so nervous. But prepared. The right dress. I had written about it a year before here in The world and the people. The one thing i did in my life which makes me so happy. It took me thirty years to get ready to do it. I don’t even know why this makes me so happy. I don’t know if he appreciates the drawings. I hope so. I truly do.
When i got back home after that, there was nobody asking me about it. I did feel a bit sad about that. It made me realize that i am still alone. I didn’t cry over it. But it was sobering. Only half a year after it i talked about it with a friend. I had posted the story to the scritti facebook group, people responded there. But it wasn’t the same as talking with friends about it.
I am single. Everyone is single. We try to forget. We work, eat, sleep. We talk, shop, look at facebook, smile at silly jokes. But we remain single. Always. Even in sex, the ultimate togetherness, we still stay single. If you are lucky, there is love. Tenderness. Whispered thoughts. Gazing in each other eyes. But we still remain single.
Together we have made this world. With all the people who have lived and left a footprint. This world as it is now. With fugitives, hunger, poverty, war, hurricanes. I am lucky. I live in western Europe, in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. The Netherlands.
I know many people trying to do good. Thinking about their lives, the stuff they use, they buy. Working in the garden, eating the veggies they let grow themselves. People playing chess, talking, thinking. Together.
I want to keep things simple. That is not a thought from me. I read that in the 80s in an interview with Scritti Politti. I thought about it then, it struck a chord. But i didn’t really get it. It is different now. When i look at the switch i made between lfs.nl and ellenpronk.com, i can see it. There was more freedom in lfs.nl, i cold pick any time of posting i wanted. Days of not posting, followed by days of posting. I am happy i found a proper ending for it. Even after eight years of silence. And the thrill of starting ellenpronk.com. A proper schedule, a wider set of content. The walks, looking back on my past, the cooking. It all fitted in there.
Simplicity. Trying to talk about my life, what drives me, what i see around me. As best as i can. As some people around me say, a diary. Sure.
To me it is far more than a diary. Some posts i write here are created here. I wouldn’t have these thoughts if i didn’t write my posts. This website creates me, as i do create this website.
My mum calls me up once or twice a week. The last months i always say the same thing to her. I’m good. Fine. Excellent even. It is true. I do feel good. Happy. Smiling. I don’t sleep very good, sure. But it is not because i’m worrying that much at night. No, i think about sex. Not sure where that is coming from, but hey, it is not a bad thing.
My life right now feels a lot more windy than before. Before, when i had regular work, when i didn’t need to worry about money, where i was having fun playing World of Warcraft, my life was quiet. Silent. Now it is a lot noisier.
This is my choice. It is dangerous. More things can go wrong. But with all the risks there are also chances things can go right.
The last months i fell down a couple of times. In the Tuin op de Hofbogen, on a wet day, the wooden board was so slippery i fell down. I was lying still for a short time. I had to gather my thoughts. But there was no blood, nothing too severe was hurt. The second time was when we were building the compost bin. The boards were set up, but not yet fixed. I bent over to get a waste bag. And a pallet fell over straight on my head. I felt a bit dizzy. I was a bit mixed up. No blood. Lucky. Yesterday i fell again. I was so careful, but at the end, walking home, i slipped. Still no major hurt. I don’t feel anything wrong with my body today. Lucky.
There are many different worlds. The world of sport. Of fashion. Of make-up. Of beauty. Of movies. Of music. Of literature. Of books. Of shopping. Of advertisement. Of politics. Of money.
Dreams are present everywhere. In songs. In books. Fantasy. Science fiction. Fiction. I am a good listener. I picked up many dreams in my life. They still are present. Not dreams i made up myself, dreams floating around in the world. Hard, impossible even to get rid of. Not that i really want to get rid of them. There is a huge amount of pleasure in dreaming away.
Still, i do need to go on with my life. Make some kind of decision. An action. I am not stupid.
Think think think Ellen. Turn and look. It is so close. Do not dream away now.
This is it. The end.
The thought came upon me earlier this week. Tuesday. I cried. I didn’t want to do this. But yes. I am gonna finish working on ellenpronk.com. For several reasons. First, i don’t have the money to pay for the hosting. So this place will be up and running only for a couple of weeks more. Second, my house will be sold. Next week the real estate agent will come by. I’m lucky in that sense. My house will not be auctioned, but sold regularly. Which hopefully leaves me with enough money to last me three or four years.
This is difficult. But i will be fine. I will still post photos on instagram, post updates on facebook, talk a bit on twitter. I won’t be gone. But this place will be finished. Also, because i feel i have done here what i set out to do. Thinking. Working. Looking. Writing. I found a few things i really like. Singing, yes. Filming, yes. So i have gained an awful lot.
Ending this blog does hurt a bit. I’ve said here multiple times how much i love to work here. Each day was a different day. Some very unexpected, others not that much. But all together the past three years felt amazing.
I’m not sure why i’m ending this now. Well, apart from the practical reasons i mentioned. Also, i do want to stay in control, not feel overwhelmed by what is happening. Compared to what happens to other people, my life still is quiet and not very exiting.
The final page i will give you is the chronological page, with every post i made here linked on it. Enjoy!
I will leave you with what to me is still the best i made here, the video clips.
Finally, as a wave goodbye, one of my favorite songs, Let it go.
Let it go
The snow glows white on the mountain tonight
Not a footprint to be seen
A kingdom of isolation,
And it looks like I’m the queen.
The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside
Couldn’t keep it in, heaven knows I tried!
Don’t let them in, don’t let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know
Well, now they know!
Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door!
I don’t care
What they’re going to say
Let the storm rage on,
The cold never bothered me anyway!
It’s funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can’t get to me at all!
It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me I’m free!
Let it go, let it go
I am one with the wind and sky
Let it go, let it go
You’ll never see me cry!
Here I stand
And here I’ll stay
Let the storm rage on!
My power flurries through the air into the ground
My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around
And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast
I’m never going back,
The past is in the past!
Let it go, let it go
And I’ll rise like the break of dawn
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone!
Here I stand
In the light of day
Let the storm rage on,
The cold never bothered me anyway!
Goodbye for now,
With love, Ellen
No, not the battering ram from The Lord of the Rings.
This one time it is a Dutch title, Grond. Or in English, ground. The solid surface of the earth. Soil, a narrower defined word. The upper layer of the earth in which plants and trees and shrubs grow. Dirt. A base. A rational motive or basis for a believe or conviction. Grounds for divorce. Common ground. People sharing some common understanding.
For a year and a half i have been working in the garden the Vredestuin. The Peace Garden. Extremely enjoyable. I have met many new people. I have baked many cakes. I got to know the community surrounding the communal vegetable gardens in Rotterdam more. A bit.
The story of the one small garden close to the Erasmus bridge, which had to close down, because the project developer was going ahead with its plan for a building. The Tuin op de Pier, facing the same destiny. The grass field next to the Markthal, owned by a project developer. But the grass field is so nice, gives space to the area and gives children something to play on.
A year ago i walked close to the Markthal and got into a conversation with a girl from art school, just across the road. Her subject matter was the lack of any arbitrary not owned ground. In the Netherlands every piece of land is owned by a person, a foundation, a company. Every piece of land has a purpose. There is no land simply lying there doing nothing. It can be waiting, sure. But there is always a sense of purpose. Even if it’s a barrier. Like the land besides the train rails.
To me, then, this was obvious. The sense of the world. Everything is owned.
But she did have a point.
These posts are important to me. I am not done, i do not have a completed world view, a plan ready to save the world. But i am thinking. Thinking hard. Trying to get it out of my mind.
I kept on saying it. To my family. To my friends. Not always clearly. But i was trying to tell them. I am thinking. I don’t have time to work. I don’t have time to make money for my pension. I don’t have time to keep on buying food and things and watch television. I am thinking. About me and the world and where we are heading to and where the world really is and what we are and also what i am. And i needed to get away from it all. My normal life. The world most of the Western European people live in. Our spoiled lives.
This post is about a plan which came to me a couple of weeks ago. Buying land. Ground. Earth. For urban farming first of all. Here in Rotterdam first of all. Because this is the place where i live.
I don’t have the money. Not yet anyway. But this is a plan for when i do have money, what will i do with it. I think about this. Honestly. What will i do when i am a millionaire. With all that money.
So here is my plan. I will set up a foundation called Grond. And this foundation will become the owner of the land i buy. First of all the gardens i work in. The rest of the Hofplein train rails. The grass field besides the Markthal. Any other piece of land owned by a project developer or anyone else where it is possible to make a community garden.
Starting here in Rotterdam, branching out to other cities here in the Netherlands. Because to me, this ground is important. It is our earth, the ground we walk on. The solid surface of the earth.
Right now, this is a completely imaginary scenario. Very unlikely this could happen. Other people told me the past two years this will never happen. I am insane taking this seriously. And yes, they are right. In one sense. In their sense.
For me, it is about being honest. About being close to myself. About having faith in myself. About looking in this world and trying to see my place in there. About where i can fit in.
Because i haven’t found my place yet. I’m still in a provisionary house, in a temporary city, trying to live my life. I am falling from one crowd into another. Making friends along the way. Loosing friends. Trying to make sense of this place. Often not succeeding.
I am still not sure of where i am heading. I do hope i will meet some friends along the way. As i feel i am doing now. As i feel i have done all that time, all through my life. I have learned so much.
Created, sang songs, made videos, wrote my heart out, made photos, made drawings, gif animations, flash things. For more than twenty years.
I am blessed.
Thank you for visiting ellenpronk.com. I hope you will enjoy yourself here. Find some pretty things. Maybe even things to think about.