130 Thinking Beyond Nature; Jam, Earth, Jam.

Nicholas A. Prescott

I am not a fan of summer and heat and all the scorching sunshine that goes with it, let me just say that. I’m more of a “climb trees and wade into the river (where there’s shade, of course, because I’m secretly a vampire and can’t do sunshine)” kind of guy.

That being said, I do love nature and all that comes with it. I try to think about the impact I have on the environment as much as I can every day. And while reusable water bottles, recycling, and walking where I can sure feelsgood on my conscience, it doesn’t actually mean anything; it’s more of an excuse that I (and many others) can use to say “well, I do these good things, so I shouldn’t have to care about where my toilet water goes, where this Styrofoam coffee cup ends up”.

In short: subscription to the idea that we are good wherever we can be does not free us from the cold reality of the drab ecology we live in; it does not give us a cheat day.

Earth Jam is the yearly celebration of… the Earth? on Earth Day (even though it wasn’t on Earth Day this year). Parties, darties, a big concert, tie die that poisons grass, all the prerequisites any college student needs to give them an excuse to drink excessively. And while it might seem like a good day to go out and love the Earth, it’s just another excuse card because I can surely tell you, many Earth Jammers didn’t care for the trash they left behind at the parties they attended.

I can only assume, at least; I surely didn’t.

Jamaica Kincaid’s “A Small Place” and Timothy Morton’s The Ecological Thought, put into perspective the kind of hypocrisy I was living in: I was celebrating the Earth by assisting in its destruction. Sadly enough, humans and the Earth’s relationship is that of acidic morning breath and a window; we are woefully intertwined.

But it is not irreversible.

Dark ecology steps in somewhere around here, reminding us with a baleful stare of the truth. Where do we need to stop and consider the “… negativity and irony, ugliness and horror” (Morton 17) of our relationship with the environment? And what kind of negativity and irony are we talking about? I take Kincaid’s portrayal of poop flowing into the ocean as a good one to put it in perspective, “Oh, it might all end up in the water you are thinking of taking a swim in; the contents of your lavatory might, just might, graze gently against your ankle as you wade carefree in the water…” (Kincaid 1288). These aren’t things we usually consider when taking a leisurely stroll around the Earth.

Drinking water doesn’t feel the same when you admit to yourself that you’re drinking someone else’s reclaimed pee. In this sense, the bright green Earth we imagine is what matters, it is what we see most. This ignorance founds our ecological existence. We only see the top part of the Remigewasset River, we don’t see the bottom where all the tin cans and plastic bottles get washed away to. It’s blissfully out of sight and therefore out of mind.

While I Earthily Jammed out, I wasn’t concerned with how my actions, down the line, would effect the Earth. Morton’s idea of a “dark ecology” is something that many Earthen Jammers could learn from; it could help brush away with a sleeve the fog on the glass.

Dark ecology and this understanding of keeping an agency in everything we do on the Earth (like remembering where our poop goes or considering that bird might get the plastic ring that holds the case of PBR together stuck around its neck) are key in pushing off the  brightly colored parts of nature that we use as excuses for ourselves. This ecological, ideological freeing is something that we all must undertake. We must, in a sense, embrace the dark side and keep things in perspective.

If it’s any solace, though: even if we don’t change our ways, if we don’t come to terms with the effects our actions have and the hypocrisy we live in, the Earth will go on in its darkness.

We just won’t be on it to enjoy it.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

The Student Theorist: An Open Handbook of Collective College Theory Copyright © 2018 by Nicholas A. Prescott is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book