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and comedy, in particular, are preoccupied with the task of affirming in
retrospect the nullity of human being. But the challenge today is also to
acknowledge and in some sense affirm the more intimidating, threaten-
ing, even disastrous face of nature. Comprehending the later theme will
no doubt require understanding its significance for us, to keep its impact
on human beings in focus as well. Nevertheless, doing so forces us to ven-
ture beyond ourselves, to take up once again the ancient myths regarding
the stability of the creation itself.
The best strategy to pursue in this regard might be to return to the
theme I explored above, the transformation of nature into a force even
more wild and implacable than before. What are the mythological over-
tones to such a shit? At irst, the very atempt to interpret nature in these
terms might seem impossible; the realities of Earth's systems no longer
address us in an unequivocal voice. Thanks to climate change, nature no
longer seems mythic to us, anchored in primordial, archaic truths; it is
now historical, and like our built environment is a product of human
activity. Virtually nothing in our experience now falls outside the realm
of human history, thriving in a domain we cannot harm. Accordingly, we
might imagine that nature's voice has fallen silent, that the old gods are
dead. But as I suggested earlier, nature is not merely submissive to our
will; our intervention, in fact, has caused its dynamic forces to become
more powerful, less predictable, and thus more openly capable of defying
human expectation.
As a result, we find ourselves in unprecedented spiritual terrain. The
sacred is no longer what it used to be, but it has not simply disappeared.
We might say that, like the climate itself, it has transformed. But how
should we interpret that transformation? Should we imagine that divine
forces have taken on a new shape and will henceforth reveal themselves
to us with particularly terrifying features? No doubt those features will
indeed terrify us. But if they do so, these gods are not all that unfamiliar
after all. Encountering them, we may discern the return of the dark gods
once defeated by the relatively humane divinities that have ruled over
us for millennia. In forcing our way into a strange future, we may have
revived a forgoten stage of our past.
Let me here take up the language of the central tradition of the west,
the tradition that has informed all the Abrahamic religions—Judaism,
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