The Earth is not your mother – is not even feminine. The Earth is multi- and transgendered. The Earth is queer. S/h/it is a monstrous assemblage… no, a teeming mass of myriad different kinds of flesh intertwining in a terrifying and beatiful orgy – a consummation that is also mutual consumption. We emerge within this teeming mass more than we exist upon it. But we are not born out of it like a mother gives birth to a child – separating into a new being and undertaking a process of individuation – rather we are made from it, and continually remade within it such that we can never truly exist apart. Our bodies are as much the flesh of the Earth as are the rocks, the trees, the water, and the animals. Just as our cells compose us – an active process of continual (re)production – we continually (re)compose the Earth.
Earth Day is a dark holiday. It is a reminder, not of the beauty of nature or the miracle of life, but of the horrors that we have wrought upon the rocky surface of this planet: decimation of forests, toxification of water, nuclear explosions, transformation of the atmosphere, mass genocides, and so on. Earth Day emerged from the recognition of these horrors just as the pilgrimages to war sites – the Nazi concentration camps, Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, the Twin Towers, etc. – emerge from the recognition of horrifying events that took place in those places. It is a day, not for remembering a utopic vision of a harmonious world that once (but never) was, but one for recollecting (a more appropriate term than remembering), for contemplating, for praying, for making right, and for imagining a world that could be. It is only by recognizing our proper place amongst the Earth – as composers and co-creators – and looking with horror and sadness upon the devastation that has marked our progress to date that we will be able to understand and continue the work of rebuilding and reconstruction – the work of transforming our relationship with the others who share this flesh.
Happy Earth Day, everyone!