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Fineman, Alexis – Fog Prayer (Three Fates Facing West) 417.07 ppm

Story of the Box

This simple box is a meditation on fog in a time of drought. In the increasingly unfamiliar and scary world of a collapsing planet, the fog is a comfort blanket. Ephemeral and expansive across the afternoon hills, I feel more at ease knowing that it’s (still) here. I pray that it remains.[2]

Fog carries moisture, and moisture enables temperature regulation and stability on an ecosystemic scale. In the American West in particular, the prevailing cultural, political, and economic forces of the last century and a half have taken these two things–water and the stability of our climate–for granted.[3] Now, in an inversion of the American settler imaginary, that which our forefathers destined us to is indeed manifesting. (Gee, thanks, Pa(s)!)

Last week’s heat waves in the Pacific Northwest killed hundreds of human beings and an estimated one billion sea creatures. What the actual fuck? It was a struggle to sit down and make this box. What is there to say, as the Earth falls out from under us all? My creative side feels an uncanny empathy for those wells whose waters have turned brackish from rising seas. Drink from my well, and you will taste the salt. Thank goodness the fog is still sweet. I inhale, and I remember a deeper part of myself, where, despite my grief, anxiety, and anger, fresh waters still yet may dwell.

The three ancient Fates circle around their golden threads, here as vultures[4] above the fog. The future is not written and the fates are not yet sealed. But two things are certain. We need to stop using fossil fuels. And we need everyone to step up, now. This box is a desperate invitation for us all to dedicate our whole selves to this work; an aesthetic excuse to get your attention, anyone’s attention. This is the time, and there’s very little of it left. Get educated. Get active. Embrace the changes we need to make in our lives, and learn how to scale them up. Organize. Fight the fossil fuel industry and those who scaffold it with skeletons. And a personal favor: Stop telling young people that we “give you hope,” and aspire, instead, to give us hope. Please.

This is my Fog Prayer, and I offer it not to any God nor to the Fates but to all of us who, entrenched in our fossil-fueled systems, have been sharpening crude knives on divine threads.[5] I pray that we all wake up and act up. I pray that everyone who loves their kids and their grandkids or even just the idea of children, generally, realizes that “love” without a livable planet is just another word. I pray for frontline communities who have been at the forefront of environmental injustice for decades. I pray for one billion climate activists. I pray for billions of Earth healers. Who are you, and what lights you up? What are your skills, passions, areas of professional expertise? Bring yourself, and bring it all. There is room for everyone at this table, and everyone is exactly who we need.

[1] Atmospheric carbon concentration, parts per million. A safe upper limit is 350. Freefall ecosystem collapse begins at 400. I was born in 1994, at about 363 ppm. I was a sophomore in college when the 400 “danger zone” threshold was exceeded for the first time in human history.

[2] Over the past century, the fog layer in the Bay Area has decreased 33%. And, redwoods and their understory species have evolved to drink fog through their leaves (direct foliar uptake), so the fog is a critical water source for our coastal forests.

[3]Recipe for Empire: Extirpate, enslave, extract, expand, evade (taxes & accountability), egotize, repeat as needed.

[4] Genus Cathartes, from Greek, kathartis, “purifier.”

[5] Or if you prefer: using, as toilet paper, the Tapestry of Life.


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