Words

Vanishing Things

In search of the sacred

Attend

What: Rob Lewis reads from The Silence of Vanishing Things

When: 7 pm Thu., Oct. 12

Where: Village Books, 1200 11th St.

Cost: Entry is free

Info: http://www.villagebooks.com

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

What if rather than proclaiming “I have a dream,” Martin Luther King Jr. said “I have a scientific study?”

What if rather than invoking a “table of brotherhood,” he invoked sociological statistics?

What if rather than calling out for all people to join hands and sing to be “free at last,” King called out for “mitigation of racial impacts?”

Well, we can assume his speech would’ve never galvanized a nation to face the stubborn demons of its slaveholding past. The rampant destruction of the natural world around us calls for a similar moral clarity, and a similar spiritual ambition, yet when we talk about it we do so in the objective vernacular of science, and more recently, technology.

Rather than referring to sacred sources for our arguments, we refer to scientific ones. Rather than describing the situation through the clarifying imagery of symbols and metaphors, we do so with the obscuring objectivity of numbers. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that even in the midst of a sixth planetary extinction, the environment still polls at the bottom of voters’ concerns.

Despite mountains of data, there remains a strange human silence around the most profound spasm of biological collapse we humans have ever encountered. I call it the “silence of vanishing things,” which is the title of a book I am self-publishing through the Independent Publishing Program at Village Books.

The Silence of Vanishing Things asks a simple question: Where’s the howl? Through three essays and 60 poems it attempts some sort of answer by looking at the question through the lens of language, calling for a sacred, more poetic narrative to help break the silence and engage the human spirit in the fight of our times.

It also seeks to break down the false categories that separate humans from the rest of creation, for the only place where we’re actually separate is in our heads. And since language is only a context for action, it celebrates activism, with a personal account of a largely unreported vigil by “kayaktivists” in June 2015, aimed at the Shell Arctic drilling vessel, Noble Discover.

One thing The Silence of Vanishing Things doesn’t do, I hope, is point accusingly at science or environmentalism. Although I dislike the word (for reasons explained in the book), I consider myself an “environmentalist.” And I greatly admire the scientists out there working like mad to understand what we’re doing to this earth and to warn us of the dire situation we’re creating. The problem is not in the effort, but the language. We need a new story, and fast.

Am I naive to think words can change the world? No, but we don’t need to change the world. We need to change ourselves, and that is the work of language. Consider this observation of Mother Teresa, “Words lead to deeds, they prepare the soul, make it ready…”

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Hidden Narrative Tour

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Vaudevillingham

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Community Orchestra Winter Concert

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Skagit Valley Chorale's Heralding Christmas

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Tomorrow
Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am|4145 Meridian St.

Santa's in Town

10:00am|Yeager's Toyland

The Lights of Christmas

5:00pm|Warm Beach Camp

Little Women, the Musical

7:00pm|Sudden Valley Dance Barn

Anne of Green Gables

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Pacific Arts Market

10:00am|Sunset Square

Hot Cider & Cool Art

10:00am|Morgan Block Studios

The Snow Queen

7:00pm|BAAY Theatre

Skagit Valley Chorale's Heralding Christmas

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Ghosts and Brawling

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Pancake Breakfast

8:00am|Ferndale Senior Center

VFW Breakfast

8:00am|VFW Hall

Make It and Take It

9:00am|Garden Spot Nursery

Breakfast with Santa

9:00am|Bellingham Childcare & Learning Center

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am|Depot Market Square

Jingle Bell Dash

10:00am|Seafarers Memorial Park

Chainsaw Sculpting Open Studio

10:00am|Tomas Vrba Studio

Coast Salish Winter Festival

10:00am|Lummi Gateway Center

Sleighbells Ring

10:00am|Bellewood Acres

Holiday Tea

10:00am|South Whatcom Library

Baker Beacon Rally

11:00am|Heather Meadow

Fairhaven Winterfest

12:00pm|Historic Fairhaven

Youth Symphony Holiday Concert

1:00pm|McIntyre Hall

Hansel and Gretel

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Peter James Holiday Gallery Sale and Reception

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Holiday Wines from Spain

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Eat Your Words Cookbook Club

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Winter Dance Celebration

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Mozzarella Class

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Kulshan Chorus Winter Concert

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Sunday
Santa's in Town

10:00am|Yeager's Toyland

Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am|4145 Meridian St.

The Lights of Christmas

5:00pm|Warm Beach Camp

Pacific Arts Market

10:00am|Sunset Square

The Snow Queen

7:00pm|BAAY Theatre

Skagit Valley Chorale's Heralding Christmas

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Sleighbells Ring

10:00am|Bellewood Acres

The Nativity

6:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Rabbit Ride

8:00am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Community Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Post #43

Rabbit Ride

8:30am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Winter's Return Concert

2:00pm|Skagit Valley Unitarian Fellowship

Holiday Chorus

3:00pm|St. James Presbyterian Church

Nutcracker Holiday

3:00pm|Jansen Art Center

Nonfiction and Memoir Writing Group

3:00pm|Village Books

Whatcom Chorale's Messiah

3:30pm|Church of the Assumption

Backgammon Session

5:30pm|Parkway Village

Way North Comedy Showcase

7:00pm|Farmstrong Brewing Co.

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