The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2010

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FEB 2010 Issue


Cara Benson, ed.
(ChainLinks, 2009)

Poet Cara Benson curates astute thinkers who claim impossibility’s possible in Predictions, the fourth work in the subversive ChainLinks series. If “Global futures cannot be predicted due to three types of indeterminacy—ignorance, surprise and volition,” then it is necessary to begin with hypothetical scenarios. Who better to work with such scenarios than professional visionaries who creatively tinker elusive material into potent realities?

Physicist and co-founder of the Tellus Institute, Dr. Paul Ruskin sets forth three possible models for a global direction—“Conventional Worlds, Barbarization and Great Traditions”—each of which is further explored via two variants. He tables the lineage of their potential through representative philosophers and theorists. Their trajectories are outlined in hieroglyphics, like signatures of arrows in a figure. His argument for a “New Sustainability Paradigm” that values “global solidarity, cultural cross-fertilization and economic connectedness while seeking a liberatory, humanistic and ecological transition” is especially cogent in light of the “Fortress World” of Barbarization,” the text of which is blocked in a grey background—an effect that mimics the black-hole endgame of capitalism we are so hell-bent on winning.

Endgame would offer “Relief from the heat immersion prostration” via weather control, “yet if acclimated to the warm, no treatment would be required.” Bart Bridger Woodstrup fully discloses the “WEAMOD CC2007, Climate Control Weather Modification Program” complete with owner’s manual, detailed pictures, simulations as well as field reports, the language of which reads, “Water within water, outside the normal perimeter of the body.” Such statements reveal the prescriptive ability of science to ignore an ocean as contained—man-trained, weather as predicated able—predictable.

Poet Jason Zuzga and biologist David Zuzga take on the rise of oceanic waters above the determined perimeter in “Open Pharynx: A Fantasia on the Development of Human Gills.” Scientific language is brought head to head with lexical dexterity and the lines are blurred thoroughly. The instability of language is brought to reflect “underwater schools to be built by suggestible coral brains.” We might be able to muddle genetically with biology, but would gill life be a viable survival tool of/in a contaminated body? Instead of changing as a result of catastrophe perhaps we could change as an imaginative preemptive.

We cannot imagine falsely and Julie Sadler imagines images of things like a “Harmonic Human Invasion Instrument” and a “Landscape Containment Unit.” These gorgeously reproduced collages combine vintage instruments with barren trees and wrappers in a meld of alchemical layout. They are blueprints for the fusing of a malleable past into an elastic future.

“The future is only told from the point of view of the past.” Monica de la Torre’s “Mariposa Negra” notes, “Pretexts are not predictions yet predictions are indeed pretexts.” Paradoxically, that which we trace as trajectory is denied projection, whereas that which we project will inscribe trajectory fluid. In trying to come close to pinning down the evasive, “You will realize you took a presence for granted and this will not prevent you from taking other presences for granted. (Sturdiness is another mirage.)” Can we see through the mirage of language as law and accede to it instability? Torre writes, “I propose another action: use the second person singular or plural to script the future.” You are self-reflexive and other. Therein is a future. We must dance the equation of forgetting and remembering as naming—un-score-able.

Cara Benson’s presentation of Predictions is a pre-sentient collection of visions that catalyze humans to realize, as Raskin notes, “’Business-as-usual’ is a utopian fantasy—forging a new social vision is a pragmatic necessity.”


Anna Elena Eyre


The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2010

All Issues