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Tiny Garden 2020

solar futures

A little embattled with this years’ drought and weather conditions, but this is the latest little garden that I’ve been involved with. Everything is container grown given the patio space, with hastily thrown up pallet-shelves to try and add a bit of vertical gardening into the mix. We’ve got some truly monstrous Partenon Courgettes, Rainbow Chard, Kelvedon Peas, Purple Tee-Pee Beans – and this year also a host of wilder cousins; Yarrow, Vervain, Echinacea, Huauzontle ‘Aztec Broccoli’ and Orach purple salad-green. A lot for a tiny space – but not many plants of each, so requires a lot of tender (somewhat anxious!) care.

I love how particular every garden is, every year. Gardening isn’t just an exercise in optimism,  it’s also an exercise in attention.

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Personal: The small, private familiarity of being hit by a freshness of Sweet Pea fragrance again. They were planted late, yet bloomed early.

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Idea: The Toppling of Edward Colston; a sea-shanty set in the fine tradition of political folk songs.

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Idea: Everyone knows the Bechdel-Wallace Test, right? I wonder if, in our current age of the Anthropocene, with the rise of cli-fi and eco-fiction, we could propose a similar ‘Eco Test’…?

eg. Is there any moment, scene, or setting in this book/play/movie/comic where the natural or non-human world exists not just as a plot device, deus ex machina, or as emotional background for the human characters? For example: Why isn’t the environment of the characters (the landscape they might be traveling through) a central character in it’s own right? Is it possible to write a story where the human protagonists exist in equal relation, and with equal prominence, to the non-human?

examples: Overstory by Richard Powers.

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Question: Are literary devices (points-of-view, allegory, pathos and bathos, Chekov’s Gun, flashbacks; flash-forwards; irony; synecdoche; reliability etc blah) tools in the sense that they are made-up conjurer’s tricks? Or do they describe reality?

As writers, artists, we are trying to express, display, explore something that exists, right? Even if it just a feeling, even if it is set on the blood-plains of Mars. It’s the reality of a feeling where all the juicy story nutrition comes from… It is the empathy we can encourage for characters and stories outside our own, r/t, first-person point-of-view.

So… In real life, it is not a host of ‘plot instances’ (I get that job, that lucky/unlucky thing happens to me) that form the bulk of our story. Instead, our daily motivations and actions seem just as comprised by other important, plot-defining things that don’t often get mentioned: half-remembered dreams; fragments of poetry; songs on the radio that wont go away; daydreams (or flash-forwards?); gut-reactions and subconscious instincts; premonitions and anticipations; ruminations and private dreads; things left unsaid; anxieties and sudden moments of satori…

How do we put all of that stuff into the literature of the future?

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Arundhati Roy: Our Task, (in the Virus Years)

In very much the same way as the coronavirus has entered human bodies and amplified existing illnesses, it has entered countries and societies and amplified their structural infirmities and illnesses. It has amplified injustice, sectarianism, racism, casteism and above all class inequality.

Arundhati Roy ‘Our Task is to Disable The Machine’ Progressive International, 02/05/2020.

 

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