" When civilizations start to die they go insane. Let the ice sheets in the Arctic melt. Let the temperatures rise. Let the air, soil and water be poisoned. Let the forests die. Let the seas be emptied of life. Let one useless war after another be waged. Let the masses be thrust into extreme poverty and left without jobs while the elites, drunk on hedonism, accumulate vast fortunes through exploitation, speculation, fraud and theft. Reality, at the end, gets unplugged. We live in an age when news consists of Snooki’s pregnancy, Hulk Hogan’s sex tape and Kim Kardashian’s denial that she is the naked woman cooking eggs in a photo circulating on the Internet. Politicians, including presidents, appear on late night comedy shows to do gags and they campaign on issues such as creating a moon colony. “At times when the page is turning,” Louis-Ferdinand Celine wrote in “Castle to Castle,” “when History brings all the nuts together, opens its Epic Dance Halls! hats and heads in the whirlwind! Panties overboard!" ( Chris Hedges: Welcome to the Asylum 2012 )
We live in an age of immense knowledge yet we seem to live in the moment of absurd reality. We are content with fantasy to create the illusion everything is OK. More from Chris Hedges in Empire of Illusion, “Most of us speak at this level, are entertained and think at this level. We have transformed our culture into a vast replica of Pinocchio’s Pleasure Island, where boys were lured with the promise of no school and endless fun. They were all, however, turned into donkeys — a symbol, in Italian culture, of ignorance and stupidity.”
It was Einstein that said, " “I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” We are living in the midst of a global crisis and somehow we are able to play in the sandbox of humanity, as the world around us falls apart. We have erected our building blocks of knowledge that teeter precariously as the earth quakes around us. Who will awaken us? Who will re-boot the human imagination to move forward?
Will it be science? Will it be religion? Will it be politics? I believe it will profound imaginative storytellers. People who can capture the human imagination to see clearly the seriousness of the moment. But rather than drown people in despair these storytellers will kindle a fire of " hope " that will engage, attract people to see and talk about new possibilities.
Bill Dahl is one of those unique engaging storytellers. I had the wonderful opportunity to read a draft of Bill's " untitled " soon to be published book, likely in November 2012. It was funny talking with Bill after reading the draft, which was loosely titled, but as we talked there were two very mysterious objects that weave their way through out the story. They may in the end, shape the book's title.
This is one of those books that pulls you in from the start. It is fascinating how Bill shapes the characters in the book. From seemingly distant and isolated locations within the global village, the characters are moulded and hued from life's circumstances. Huntley a research ecologist in the amazon jungle haunted by his past, frozen in the moment by the sense of failure, he finds condolence in a bottle.
Amos who tragically finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time is left blind. Mysteriously as the story unwinds the characters emerge and find their relationships are deeper and more profound than any of them imagined.
It is a story of global and human consequences. It will make you think deeply of where we find ourselves to day in the midst of capitalism run wild, in the midst of global warming and as we continue to rape mother earth for her resources. Bill paints a picture of the future that is like having ice water thrown in a drunk man's face. It should sober us to our core, it should send a shiver down our spine.
It is an earth in which the gas tank is empty, immense solar panels drift around the skyline casting long ominous shadows in our lives. Extinction becomes more real than ever. Reproduction will produce no more. Eco terrorism is a constant threat.
Bill Dahl, makes us confront " now." We can no longer ignore truth, the facts that stare us in the eye. But Bill talks as a wise sage, a storyteller and prophet. This is story that is profoundly human. It should engage us " all " beyond religion, and beyond race. This is an urgent story about life.
In the epilogue of the book Bill says this...
" Clearly, an essential part of the answer involves the terms we use in the stories we tell ourselves; new narratives about this place; our earth, this time - the generations currently inhabiting this planet; this species - mankind. Our challenges - the inertia and magnitude of threats to the survival of our species, and the sensitive environmental balances we as caretakers are responsible to nurture, defend and protect. Our hearts - the capacity to compassionately come together. Our minds - the belief that we may honor our differences and come to believe that we must and can collaborate in ways that currently challenges demand. Our feet and hands - to mobilize coordinated action with other, arm-in-arm dedicated to the creation of a constructive force for the common good. A force that is woefully insufficient; mired in the mayhem that " me and mine " manufacture; marginalizing the impetus that " us " so desperately demands."
Consider the possibility, the distinct possibility - that sometime has evolved into the reality if sum time - the moment that time has selected our current generations to live today as the one. We are the body that must come to a new appreciation for this thing we refer to as human civilization. Could we be living in the place in time where the choices we make regarding what, how and way possess unalterable consequences for the survival of a myriad of species - including our own? Perhaps as Reinhold Niebuhr has observed, a shared sense of faith and hope can be laid hold of by the innumerable flavors of believer and non, whereby we harness the brutal reality of " a sense of life - by virtue of which man does not destroy himself, but lives on.."
This book has everything; tragic broken lives redeemed; the profound interconnectedness of humanity and all creation; mystery; good and evil; terrorism; science; futuristic; humour; faith; suspense...and filled with hope.
This book captured me from the start, the urgency, the suspense, and Bill's incredible storytelling created a gravity that wouldn't let go of me. I told Bill, when I put the draft down and looked out the family room window into the woods, everything looked different...profoundly different with a clarity I had not seen in a long time.
Great storytellers have a way of capturing mind and heart. Thank you Bill Dahl for awakening that human spirit...may we all set it free, and let it fly.