M Osmond: Black Light
(Tuesday) 10:15 - 10:45(GMT+00:00) View in my time
Mat Osmond: Black Light For over three years Extinction Rebellion (XR) has offered an introductory talk for those new to its take on our collective predicament: Heading
Mat Osmond: Black Light
For over three years Extinction Rebellion (XR) has offered an introductory talk for those new to its take on our collective predicament: Heading for Extinction and What To Do About It. This essay reflects on XR’s proposed response to anthropogenic mass-extinction – and more specifically the underlying notion of ‘regenerative culture’ at the heart of its campaign – by bringing them into conversation with another and differently slanted reply to biological annihilation: that of an eco-feminist Marian prayer fellowship called The Way of the Rose.
To contextualise the latter’sapproach to ecocide the essay touches on some of the entangled histories and contemporary connotations of the Black Madonna, approached here through the work of Bengali academic and Kali devotee Neela Battacharya Saxena, and through that of Mestiza psychoanalyst and post-trauma specialist Clarissa Pinkola Estes.
As civilisation’s obliteration of Earth’s life-systems continues to accelerate despite a well-established awareness ofthe devastating near-term implications of its current trajectory,the essay ponders what ‘doing something about it’ might come to mean, once the obscenity and finality of what our present systems of government are passively handing on to the young can no longer be obfuscated or ignored.
In the face of catastrophic ecological unravelling on the one hand, and of numbed cultural indifference on the other, the essay (from of an ongoing series of reflections on the eco-spiritual, Gyrovague Meditations) gestures towards a post-religious, ecologically-aligned reimagining of prayer: a necessarily unconditional basis for nonviolent revolution reliant neither on make-or-break deadlines nor on related guarantees of success, but steered by a more immediate sense of existential value.
Originating as a personal reflection on a related visual poetry pamphlet (The Black Madonna’s Song, Mat Osmond & Kate Walters, Atlantic Press 2020: discussed and read from here), a previous edit of this essay was published in the Dark Mountain Journal, in April 2020.
Speakers for this event
Mat’s a writer and visual artist with an interest in the arts’ role in helping us to understand and confront the dominant culture’s radical unsustainability. His recent work includes an ongoing series of illustrated poetry chapbooks, Strandline Books (which won the British Museum’s 2015 Michael Marks Prize for poetry illustration), as well as image-word collaborations with the poet Em Strang (Stone, 2016) and the painter Kate Walters (The Black Madonna’s Song, 2020). Mat regularly publishes essays that speak to entanglements of art, ecology and spirit within arts practice, including The Schoolgirl & The Drunkard, on storytelling and runaway climate change, An Underswell of Divination, on the illustrational collaborations between Ted Hughes and Leonard Baskin, and Black Light, on mass-extinction, regenerative culture and the rewilding of prayer. As part of Falmouth University’s Dark Economies research group, in 2019 Mat curated Negotiating the Surrender, a regional series of talks and workshops with Dark Mountain co-founder Dougald Hine, in support of the regenerative work of the Extinction Rebellion movement. In 2017 Mat led a residential Art.Earth Short Course with the poet Alyson Hallett, Intimate Ecologies, which experimented with writing, drawing and improvised ritual as a means to enter into a reciprocal conversation with place. Mat’s a director of the graphic literature publisher Atlantic Press and of the Art.Earth research collective based at Dartington, where he’s currently leading a year-long series of events on the theme of Death, Dying & Change. Having regularly published his own illustration, poetry and essays with the Dark Mountain Project since its inception, in 2017 Mat acted as art editor for Issue 11 of their Dark Mountain Journal and as guest editor for In Other Tongues: a series of essays flowing out of the Art.Earth summit of the same name.
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