Looking back at Worldchanging, an online environmentalist magazine that published a “User’s Guide for the 21st Century” back in 2008, I notice the website’s failure to include in its sevenfold structure a section on psychology and consciousness. That didn’t seem odd when I read the book ten years ago. Today it seems an omission of consequence. Change requires change of consciousness. Reinvestigation of language and the forms by which we think. Bruce Sterling imagined something of this sort in the book’s introduction, where consciousness is spoken to as both observer and participant. We as readers find ourselves part of a continuous process, “a kind of rolling, seed-spewing electronic tumbleweed.” To be part of this process is to be one who performs the future in a newly reconstituted Globe Theater, a true multi-species theater-in-the-round. The pieces by which we perform our play are scattered all about us, awaiting a new gestalt. Yet where are we now? To what platforms have the Worldchangers decamped? Some other time zone, no? Some other historical juncture. Put down the book and the tune changes. The world fills with multi-species partners and allies: bluebirds, squirrels, Monarch butterflies. We converge, exchange greetings, celebrate over drinks, departing afterwards to tend to our nests, our homes, our private story-trees, even as we remain all of one nature. Books carry us off into separate constructs only to return us to this shared one, this commons we call History.
Sarah and I tour Faculty Drive, a street that sounds like a Monopoly property. Faculty Dreams Boulevard, lined with mid-century modernist ranches and fields of daffodils. I recall and make use of a recently acquired distinction between war ecologies and plantation ecologies. What are some of the consequences today of the American South’s history of slave plantation monocultures? I appreciate the hollow rumble of an empty plastic water bottle as wind rolls it across an Einstein intersection. Eave’s “The Night of The Burning River” shocks me into a state of wakefulness.
I indulge my tastes with caramels and chocolates. Narratives open rifts onto radically heterogeneous worlds. Of different kinds, degrees, or dimensions. Reconciling these worlds with the combination of first-person and third-person perspectives needed to access them is the great challenge facing the student of consciousness. Modification of sense organs causes modification of experience, yet the self is something else, persisting eternally in a dimension of dream. This dimension is as foreign to experience as are the worlds of players from the worlds of their games.