I have called this blog, “The Worlds We Long For” to ask how we can create communities more in harmony with nature than our human society, so bent as we are on earth’s destruction. My particular world is a utopian Marshland community whose self-sustaining inhabitants struggle against the forces of early modern capitalism. Although this world is an invented one, it is down to earth and realistic, rather than fantastic or futuristic.
My speculative fiction nevertheless springs from the same frame of mind as solarpunk (see my previous blog on this genre), as I discovered from a wonderful article that Mary Woodbury (of Ecology In Literature and the Arts )brought to my attention— Andrew Dana Hudson’s “On the Political Dimensions of Solarpunk” where he outlines the attitude we must develop to keep our humanistic values intact amid the political and climate chaos of the twenty-teens.
“Perhaps it is the canny optimism, so out of place in a world of crisis,” he suggests, that makes “solarpunk so compelling…Let’s tentatively call it a speculative moment: a collaborative effort to imagine and design a world of prosperity, peace, sustainability and beauty, achievable with what we have from where we are.”
“Who knows? Climate disasters could provide the impetus to build the radical communities we envision. Droughts may cause strife, but people can also be extraordinary good when fires and storms hit. Solarpunk needs a foot in the door; let’s not be afraid to walk through it, if the wind blows that door open.”
“Solarpunk” does not connote a mindlessly anarchic iconoclasm but a carefully thought-through way of life; don’t let the term prevent you from reading an article that replaces despair about climate change with hope for our future, positing practical adaptions rather than doomsday scenarios.
William Blake’s favorite human quality was our imagination, our ability to conjure up whole new worlds of being. The utopia he dreamed of was in England’s past, before the landscape was ruined by those “Dark Satanic Mills” of a power-hungry and avaricious early modern capitalism. Sound familiar?
Here is the conclusion to his poem “Jerusalem ,” rich with his iconoclastic longings:
Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight
Nor shall my sword stay in my hand
Til we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.
We sang “Jerusalem” as a rousing anthem at the end of every school year.
Here it is: take heart, and sing!