Adventures in Extinction Aesthetic Writing

Time for another update on all things Dark Extropian and Extinction Culture related. On being self-aware citizens of the science-fictional condition in the midst of the Sixth Mass Extinction.

Whilst continuing to explore aspects of the Dark Extropian philosophy on the (De)Extinction Club newsletter and related Extinction Aesthetic cultural criticism at Daily Grail, I have just recently extended into the area of travel writing over at Roads & Kingdoms.

MAD MAX : GROUND ZERO [Roads & Kingdoms]

As an American, Wayne’s vision of Australia was shaped by watching the Mad Max movies as a boy. As for me, I’ve developed an ever-growing interest in works about “Zones of Alienation” (places where reality begins to break down). Books like Roadside Picnic, written by the Strugatsky brothers, about the aftermath of an extra-terrestrial event. The brothers prophesized places like the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and give a name to the people that explore the forbidden lands: Stalkers.

The focus of our trip is just such a journey into a genuine nuclear wasteland. We refer to our coming adventure into the Woomera Prohibited Area as a trip into “the Zone.” We kit ourselves out as if we were a Stalker in Chernobyl: a mix of mostly cosmetic military-surplus gear and some crucial protective equipment.

Nightmares of the Future: The Climatological Horror of Life in FORTITUDE [Daily Grail]

FORTITUDE is a British psychological thriller TV series that just concluded its first season. It presents as a straight-forward murder mystery, combining elements of classic British crime drama and the new, popular sub-genre of Nordic Noir; calling attention to that second element by featuring Sofie Gråbøl – from UR Nordic Noir, The Killing (Forbrydelsen)– as the Governor of the town that gives its name to this series. Proving the popularity of this type of television, it aired simultaneously in the UK and US, Canada and shortly thereafter in Australia and New Zealand. It is also full of demons.

This is a show about people haunted by their inescapable past and a town slowly infected by the new face of an ancient evil. And these are the aspects I am going to examine in this review. As the show concludes, the who-dunnit aspect becomes immaterial, but the why and the how of it are more than just a cleverly constructed plot device, they’re a metaphor for the future of humanity and the planet.

One of the good readers of Daily Grail put me onto an even more recent Nordic Noir series, Jordskott, which continues the theme of nature rebelling against man in the midst of the Anthropocene. Another landscape haunted by demons. Climatological Horror seems to be growing as another part of the Extinction Aesthetic Zeitgeist.  ITV have just picked it up to air in the UK, describing it thusly:

Jordskott is set deep in the ancient forests of Sweden. Seven years after the disappearance of her daughter Josefine, police investigator Eva Thörnblad is still trying to cope with the grief of her loss. Even though her daughter was said to have drowned, Eva knows in her heart that someone had taken her child on that fatal day by the Silverhöjd lake. So when a young boy goes missing in the same forest of Silverhöjd, Eva returns to delve into the dark mystery that haunts her.  As she is drawn into the investigation she learns that that there is a much deeper and darker force in operation but how far is she willing to go to protect the one she loves?

Expect to hear more about this show soon.

Meanwhile, writing the piece for Roads & Kingdoms – not to mention the adventure it documents! – has put the idea of Extinction Aesthetic-flavoured travel firmly on my mind this past week. I started a new category on the (De)Extinction Club blog to hold my further research notes into that: Extinction Aesthetic Travelogue. Take a look there and you’ll find a growing library of clippings of first-person accounts of journeys into and data about the areas of the Earth scarred by nuclear testing or other industrial activities. These are Sacrifice Zones as places of pilgrimage to contemplate the raw face of the Anthropocene. It’s made me think a lot about the difference between travelling and tourism. I’ve backpacked across Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East so far – travel I count as being a more engaging, authentic experience than mediated tourism.

Standing alone at Emu Fields just a few weeks ago was immensely more powerful than being in the throng outside Hiroshima’s blast site when I was there in 2009. This exists on a spectrum though.

Disaster tourism includes open days at the Trinity Site, now a major event attracting over 5,000 people, and into Chernobyl itself. Though the rough’n’ready tour operators you find in Kiev look to be a long way from polished operators like Contiki etcAnd there’s still genuine Stalkers going into that Zone, like bionerd23 who’s mixing documenting her adventures there with an increasing amount of citizen journalism.

Lastly, looking forwards to the planning of future adventures to document for the internet – and who or what ever comes to find these archives in the distant times ahead – I’ve set up a Patreon account. You can read my pitch there, but the basic idea is to build a fund to draw upon to do an even better, more amply resourced, job at future Extinction Aesthetic writing projects. It’s called Dark Extropian Musings and becoming a Patron there will now get you advance access to my newsletter, podcasts and Dark Extropian Reports. Not to mention a behind-the-scenes look at their construction, and the chance to be in the audience for future podcast interviews.

So head on over if you want to join my actual cult.

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