Tipping point

The day after midsummer’s day
Every day seems to bring new evidence of the parlous state that we and the planet are in. Microplastics in the food we eat, in the air we breathe. The sudden death of coral reefs. Glaciers melting. Species extinctions. Climate extremes. Sabre-rattling by malevolent despots. Politicians proving to be the new Neros fiddling even as Rome burns, while mobs are bribed by bread and circuses.

As the hours of daylight start to shorten (for northerners at least) have we passed the tipping point in more ways than one?

My reading this year has, in some ways, paralleled these doomsday scenarios …

I began the year with The Dark is Rising, and have now completed Midnight is a Place. Have I unwittingly anticipated the way things are going? The Lorax was a warning about deforestation, The Coroner a hint of unnatural deaths, along with On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts; Wintersmith a parable about climate breakdown because of an intervention triggered by ignorance, conflict echoed by Carrie’s War and The War Hound and the World’s Pain. And the rise of populism globally perhaps anticipated by How to be Right.

And right now I’m reading a graphic novel, Alien: the Illustrated Story, based on the 1979 movie. I must stop reading about future apocalypses, dystopias and the Last Trump, so I’ve lined up a tale about tiny gnomes…


On a lighter note, I’m currently involved in a lot of music-making, which is a whole lot more creative and much less destructive. I accompanied some talented young musicians at a recent high school concert, an occupation with is always inspirational and so satisfying. I’m also busy rehearsing for three performances on three successive days at the end of the month: a recital by the local choral society of pieces by Gershwin, Tippett, Grainger and others, followed the next evening by playing the orchestral piano part for Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony and the organ for Elgar’s Cockaigne Overture in Cardiff. Then I’ll be singing sacred music by William Byrd in a local church as part of an a capella ensemble.

Fiddling while Rome burns? I think not.

23 thoughts on “Tipping point

  1. Well, I thought the moral of those stories (at least the ones I’ve read) is that no matter how dark it looks there’s still hope. Of course I don’t know if that is true, but I’m fairly sure it is an excellent thing to believe in. After all, there’s still plenty of things that can be done, but we need hope to do them.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re right of course, but I was feeling rather bleak at the time I composed this post, what with all the national, international and global crises that are dominating the news at the moment. Many of these titles do offer hope, and that is definitely consoling, however dark it gets. It’s just that often it feels it has to get a lot darker before the lightness comes. Thank goodness for books, though, and music, and friendships, and all those other things that buoy us up when the going threatens to get tough!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. “it’s never too late to give up” is a phrase from a song I find oddly comforting. If it is never to late too give up, there’s also no reason to give up just yet. In the meantime all we can do is to try to make the world a little bit better. Plant flowers to help the insects, pick-up some plastic to stop it from disintegrating into microplastic, tell the politicians that we expect more from them, and keep making music. They may all be small things but we are lots of people who can do them

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Let’s put it this way: one doesn’t need to search very hard for things to be gloomy about. On the other hand, when there is glorious music like that written by Elgar it is silly to sink into total despair.
    You certainly are multi-talented!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t know about multi-talented, I happened to be in the right place at the right time for these opportunities! But yes, Elgar’s stuff is glorious, and Shostakovich is by turns rousing, excruciating, tortured and deeply moving — I know he may not appeal to you but he is certainly invigorating to play! And playing helps dispel gloom…

      Liked by 2 people

  3. piotrek

    Well, we live in the Anthropocene, but we refuse to take responsibility.

    I’m watching Attenborough’s excellent “Our planet” on Netlflix, he tries to show the scale of disruption we are causing and… I try to do my part, recycling and not buying bottled water any more ;), but it’s hardly enough… and my government recently blocked EU’s plan to end greenhouse emissions by 2050… what an ugly world we live in 😦

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s hard to credit that there are people who’ll deliberately soil our living quarters, the only ones we’ll have. And that some of them are in positions of power. As you say, we do what we can.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. I can’t read any of that dystopian fiction, the reality is bad enough for me . But I am right now reading Tom Holland’s Rubicon: the Triumph and the Tragedy of the Roman Republic, and there’s some comfort in knowing that all the iniquities of the present age (except for climate change) were around then to an even worse degree. We may be destroying our own future, but it seems to be an inevitable aspect of our nature that we destroy ourselves through excess.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. “The old order changeth, yielding place to new,” as Tennyson observed of the Arthurian age, and the same no doubt applies to our present real world, though hopefully in a less bloodied way.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. earthbalm

    Your musical activities sound inspiring Chris. I think we are agreed on the ‘beyond the tipping point’ view and I’m half hoping that it is Pratchett’s gnomes to which you refer though there are many variations on the gnome theme out there in story land. As always, I’m keeping tuned in.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Dale, it’s been hectic, and will continue to be until we have a short break, but it will have been enjoyable. And thanks for checking in now and again, I’m glad you’re keeping the dosh rolling in but I hope you’re not neglecting your own music-making!

      It’s not actually Pratchett’s gnomes: under the pseudonym ‘BB’ D J Watkins-Pitchford wrote The Little Grey Men which won the Carnegie award in the 1940s, in the midst of the war. I’m about halfway through but will have a deal to say, I’m sure, when I come to writing a review…

      Liked by 2 people

  6. For me it was Midwinter, so maybe that’s where my optimism stems from – the days are getting longer 😉 But I agree, there’s more than enough to warrant a darker turn of mind. We do what we can, and as for the rest, we hope. And read, and play music, which sounds wonderful! 🙂 Have fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oooh, music sounds like so much fun! Blondie’s beginning piano lessons this year–I’m so excited for her! She wanted to do the trumpet, but then the concept of performing at concerts freaked her out, sooooooooo we compromised with piano. (That and we own a piano, and won’t have to try and find another THOUSAND DOLLARS for lessons and an instrument.) Love how you’ve traveled from rising darkness to Midnight and beyond. I know I’m far behind, but I’m still enjoying your journey! xxxxxxxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do hope Blondie enjoys piano, it gives such a good grounding in harmony and intimate performing as well as allowing expressiveness and encouraging composition. She can always branch out into single line instruments like the trumpet when she has the confidence and feels ready — and somebody is ready to fund it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well today she’s talking saxophone–we still have Bo’s in the closet! 🙂

        And I agree. My folks had my brothers and I all start on piano before trying any other instruments. Even if she doesn’t want to stick with piano, a year or three would do her a world of good. Hopefully the boys will follow her footsteps, too!

        What’s been your favorite instrument to learn?

        Like

        1. Piano and sax, an excellent combination!

          I’m ashamed to say that piano is not only my main but my only instrument, though I can strum guitar chords well enough to accompany reluctant high school students and dabbled with flute and trombone at college some time in the last century! Against that I have a music degree, a postgrad certificate in teaching high school music, and a piano teaching diploma from the Royal Academy of Music, enough to wave around when required. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

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