How do you imagine the climate crisis will affect you, your animals and your rural life in general? Are you doing anything in particular to try to mitigate the effects?
I think about it a lot. Then try to focus on the present day and the near future so as not to feel hopeless. I was talking with a farmer neighbour the other day about hay—the year I moved here the harvest was ruined by several heat waves and prolonged drought (people actually had to feed hay to their animals in summer as there was no grass to eat, and I bought my animals for very cheap because a lot of farms had to sell parts of their herds lest they start depleting their winter’s supply of hay in July); then last year there was an insane hailstorm that left pastures looking like they'd been crushed by bulldozers; and this year we’ve had torrents of rain almost every day since summer started. I was like, that didn't use to happen, did it? and he said no, no, it's not normal for the harvest to be ruined by a different crazy weather event every single year.
Trees are more resilient to extreme weather than grass so I tried making tree hay last year and the animals ate it just fine; and I'll continue clearing my overgrown second pasture so I can make my own hay in the future and hopefully be self-sufficient when it comes to my animals’ food supply. So I guess my thought experiments re: climate change so far don't go any further than "What if one summer I can't buy any hay?" Reading about people who go a lot further and are actively stockpiling supplies or learning how to be self-sufficient in every way in preparation for the future petrifies me, people who are so determined to survive any level of dystopian future feel unrelatable and kind of scary.
We often have long power cuts in the autumn & winter here and sometimes I'm like, well let’s see how I would fare if society collapsed and there’s no electricity—in many ways it feels more manageable here than it would be in a city, as I have sources of water (that can also keep perishable foods cool) and a wood stove I can cook on, but in reality I would not last very long nor want to. What I find really scary is less a hazy notion of societal collapse and more the looming threat of violent fascism and resource wars—war is such an enormous waste of resources, energy, human potential, and the idea that we would waste it on destructive actions, to create more misery, at a time when we desperately need these dwindling resources for constructive ends, is mind-numbingly depressing.
One way of bracing myself for the future that doesn’t make me feel anxious is being friends & exchanging small services with the people from my local community, which reminds me that people enjoy sustaining small communities and helping others without monetary incentive and perhaps this will endure despite everything.
I'm building a greenhouse so I can grow more food over a longer growing season, and would also like to plant fruit trees and to rehabilitate the former pond and stock it with edible fish, but it's more because it makes me happy to participate in the informal food gift-economy with my neighbours and offer nice meals to the city friends who visit me, and because eating my own food would allow me to buy less stuff (esp. plastic-packaged stuff), than in a spirit of preparation for a bleak future. I try to focus on the few things I can control (driving my car as seldom as I can, not flying, not having kids, not ordering stuff online and not buying unneeded things, having mostly hobbies that don’t involve consumption or technology) and keep the rest at bay.
I felt terrified of global warming as a kid (I’m not sure why, because in the late 90s the general discourse was overall reassuring, we still talked mostly of “the greenhouse effect” and adults were like “this is something your grandchildren will have to worry about towards the end of the next century if we don’t do something about it, but I’m sure we will, look, we just signed the Kyoto Protocol!”—I would have been so traumatised growing up now.) I remember reading an 1850s book in which the author made enthusiastic predictions about the year 2000 and thinking, wow, imagine having this wide a horizon. Trying to picture society 150 years from now and not hitting a mental wall. On my birthday I used to think, “well at least I made it to age [10, 11, 12] and things were okay. No matter what happens from now on at least I got to live ten okay years before it happened.” I still kind of think like this, I go on a walk like “right now the natural world is beautiful despite everything”, focusing on what’s at hand rather than future conjectures, which feels like taking shallow breaths for fear of smelling smoke, I tell myself “at least this week was good”, “this lovely thing happened today”, it’s a strange kind of contented despair. Desperate contentment.
“Is it possible to see the future as dark and darkening further; to reject false hope and desperate pseudo-optimism without collapsing into despair? What, at this moment in history, would not be a waste of my time? If you don’t feel despair, in times like these, you are not fully alive. But there has to be something beyond despair too; or rather, something that accompanies it, like a companion on the road.” (x)
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Okay, so the character theme songs from The Untamed, or at least all the ones I’ve listened to with translations (Wei Ying, Lan Zhan, Jiang Cheng, Lan Xichen, Wen Ning) are basically confessionals – characters getting out their most private feelings that we would never see them disclose on screen (and god, what an amazing experience it is to hear them). These songs are not abstract – they directly reference things in The Untamed world, and they’re all sung in first person.
… and then there’s Jin Guangyao’s.
The repeating theme of Jin Guangyao’s song is that he’s messed with his own presentation and feelings so much that no one knows who he is anymore.
If we follow the patterns of the other songs, these are Jin Guangyao’s feelings, and this song is meant to be taken as Jin Guangyao speaking about himself.
But there’s a notable difference.
Because in a song about no one knowing who he truly is, Jin Guangyao only ever uses second and third person, and never first – either because even he doesn’t know who his true self is anymore, or because, even if he knows, he hasn’t shown his true self in so long that he doesn’t know how to speak for it without some kind of distance or agenda.
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