29 November 2006

Malthus, Schmalthus

There is a sculpturally relevant op-ed in today's Times... Thomas Homer Dixon is basically saying that Malthus is right:

As energy becomes less easy to find, there will be more energy spent on getting energy, which means less energy devoted to innovation, which will lead to more same-old and less human can-doitude getting us out of this fine Climate Change Pickle.

And yeah, see, Malthus was a handwringing pussy with no sense of Real Magic. Innovation is not a luxury--something you throw your extra energy at the way you throw your spare change at a charity. Innovation is integral to making, building and fixing. For that matter, every sculptor who is really putting their back in it knows that innovation and problem solving are not like your bank account. You don't run out of innovation... it's more Deus Ex Machina than that. Things tend to work out. Not the way you think they should, and never the way you planned, but something always happens.

This article gets right to the heart of why I am so interested in climate change: it is a very sculptural situation. Just like the rest of us drivers, fliers and computer users, sculptors ride the Hubris And Redemption line--getting themselves into really big, arrogant physical pickles, and then working their way out. They set up physical, perceptual and methodological headaches that furniture makers and bricklayers wouldn't dream of, and then they make the headaches into epiphanies--new understandings of the way the world actually works.

To get your Malthus on is to deny the Real Magic of cause and effect that sculptors trade in, and everyone needs to know about and cling to this Real Magic right now. It is inevitable--the most amazing things are going to happen to this culture because of this ghastly threat of climate change... things we always wanted but didn't think it was possible to ask for are actually going to happen. We are going to live in a world that is cleaner. The relationship between the Built World and the Earth is going to change and make more sense. We will become healthier. I have no idea how... but the sculptor in me says that right now is a time of growth and innovation because on both a physical and an existential level we have no choice.


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