donderdag 29 november 2012

Invasive species in NL

When rereading an old post on 'novel ecosystems' I wondered in what way statistics could illustrate the point of rapidly changing environments. The above graph shows the number of invasive vertebra, molluscs and lobsters. That the trend is toward acceleration is impossible to miss. I am looking for similar data on plants. There are an approximate 27.000 animal species in NL (2010 Data, graph on the right). The use of this is limited as presence of a specie and the frequency of a specie are two entirely different things.
The rising presence of invasive species happens against a decline in biodiversity

The 2005 'Audit of non-native species in England' has the following table on introduction dates for invasive species. It does not seem to show the same pattern from the Dutch data.


woensdag 28 november 2012

Internalising space from a distance

With much zeal but little talent (the instructor implied I was fat, it took me some time before I realized I was wearing my left shoe on the right foot and vice versa) I have taken up wall climbing a few months ago. 

These screenshots from Dutch TV program 'klokhuis' shows climbers at the Dutch championships lead climbing 'reading' the route to be climbed, a physical process that involves moving your hands into prospected future states (like reading with your finger) and projecting your body in imaginary positions. Internalising space from a distance. It happens that when I climb a route that looks new on the ground will suddenly come back to me when I am climbing it: my mind forgot it but my body remembers it. 

There is a lot of creativity in route building. Sometimes you encounter a route that seems to be built around one interesting move. But the best routes are internally consistent and clearly show the builder trying to achieve a certain effect. With time I am expecting to recognize the hand of the maker in each climb. 

Climbing a route is like taking an extremely intensive, condensed and abstracted city walk in an artificial landscape without views but with body-torquing-novelties and spectacular assemblages of jumps, turns, uncomfortable grips, deviations, distractions and sometimes a little redemption. 

My favourite part of climbing is when I hit a hard or confusing part of a new route and must then try to figure out where to go next, testing different approaches, moving a hand here or a foot there to decide what is the way forward. In reality this is probably bad practise, the best climbers I have seen move with slow (almost slow-motion) deliberation, clean, efficient and precise. Climbing has to do with creativity, learning and knowing place and all those other cliché's of psychogeography.  

When I began it never occurred to me that climbing is a sport (I was thinking of it more as something different to do with your body) and my body is being shocked out of decades of lethargy with lots of pain and suffering. Ouch.

donderdag 22 november 2012

The journal for the protection of all beings

"The journal for the protection of all beings" was published as the fall 1978 issue of Stewart Brand's CoEvolution Quaterly. The Journal was edited by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Michael McLure, Gary Snyder (all present at the Six Gallery poetry reading that launched the Beats to the world) and David Meltzer. This publication therefore connects 50 years of West Coast experimentation from beat and anarchist Buddhism to the merry pranksters and early internet happenings. "The journal for the protection of all beings" takes a US Buddhist long view of death and destruction, from the Atom bomb and plutonium fear to the mass extinctions of biological species and human cultures. It brings together a fascinating range of material, a liberal sprinkling of poetry (it all reads great and actually works in the context), positional essays and a few very nice bits about the subjectivity of (linguistic, anthropological) field work. It shows the Beats not as a bunch of Benzedrine fuelled hobo hitch-hikers but as a serious,engaged and inclusive group of people working towards a sustained and coherent non-ideological critique of civilization. The journal is a fascinating document that is well structured and builds up nicely with each new contribution, but, despite myself, I can't really love it. It suffers from an overdose of Buddhist zeal, those poets are self-converted choir boys for a alien faith. Maybe I am missing something that would add a little concreteness to the meta-meaning this journal is hoping to generate bottom-up. Still: it's a thing to cherish and the Gary Snyder essay on Chinese poetry is a brilliant piece that I had not read before and which alone was well worth the 8 dollar the thing cost me on Ebay.

dinsdag 13 november 2012

Gramsci on 'the crisis'

"The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear."  Antonio Gramsci

You know, what a great quote, I really feel great about quoting it, it makes me feel so, you know, cynically chic with a twist of visionary sparkle, shaken not stirred, the James Bond of the underclass. But those morbid symptoms are not morbid, they are the hopefully monsters preparing the way, exploring the world, learning the possibilities of unplanned freedoms. They are the vernacular and I distrust the imperial of both the 'old' and the 'new'.

maandag 5 november 2012

The 2000 year old coppiced lime tree

Located in the Westonbirt Arboretum is a Lime tree that is over 2000 years old and that managed to reach its respectable age by a 25-year-coppice cycle. The picture above is all one tree. I Learned about this via Rob Penn's current BBC4 program Tales from the Wild Wood in which he takes under his care a neglected Welsh woodland.