is an English writer whose environmental activism got him jailed in the 90s and praised by the archbishop of Canterbury and the Prime Minister in the 00s. His Dark Mountain Project, founded in 2009, is an outdoor festival for artists and writers, described this weekend in The New York Times' profile.
In the clearing, above a pyre, someone had erected a tall wicker sculpture in the shape of a tree, with dense gnarls and hanging hoops. Four men in masks knelt at the sculpture’s base, at cardinal compass points. When midnight struck, a fifth man, his head shaved smooth and wearing a kimono, began to walk slowly around them. As he passed the masked figures, each ignited a yellow flare, until finally, his circuit complete, the bald man set the sculpture on fire. For a couple of minutes, it was quiet. Then as the wicker blazed, a soft chant passed through the crowd, the words only gradually becoming clear: “We are gathered. We are gathered. We are gathered.” After that came disorder. A man wearing a stag mask bounded into the clearing and shouted: “Come! Let’s play!” The crowd broke up. Some headed for bed. A majority headed for the woods, to a makeshift stage that had been blocked off with hay bales and covered by an enormous nylon parachute. There they danced, sang, laughed, barked, growled, hooted, mooed, bleated and meowed, forming a kind of atavistic, improvisatory choir.
This is actually a pretty normal weekend for Worthing, England, but I digress. The story here is the unsettling quality of his manifesto, Uncivilization, which hammers at the "false hope" of much said in the name of environmentalism--a darker, doomier view of our ecological future that is, to some, a betrayal, a "troubling abdication." It has a counterpart in fiction: Kingsorth's novel, The Wake, is a "postapocalyptic tale set 1000 years ago", after the Norman invasion, composed in a hybrid of modern and old English.
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