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Palladium Archive: California's Vestal Flame
The consequences of fire suppression in California have challenged our relationship to the land. But the Golden State’s landscapes have always been intertwined with human vision—not separate from it.
A little over a year ago, Galen Peterson published an article on the complex relationship between California’s natural wildfires and human conservation efforts. While the state now practices controlled burns to mitigate wildfires of the future, a hundred years of the practice’s absence has led to a difficult situation:
Tree-thinning, for example, is often misrepresented by conservation activists as clear-cutting done for the profit of timber companies rather than a preventative measure. Ironically enough, Forest Service doctrine in the early twentieth century criticized fire prevention methods like controlled burns for reducing timber yields—its conservationist policy led to a tripling of forest density in an attempt to grow the standing reserve of timber. As this unbalanced equilibrium increases the severity of ensuing wildfire, it only brings home the point that active conservation entails an intensive, laborious cultivation of remote areas we’d usually consider “wilderness.” A forest can be “conserved,” but a quick look at the density of the understory, whether it is clean or overwhelmed with dead branches and poison oak, tells a story of management or an absence of management.
The distinction between what is natural and what is not is often a false one. Human settlements are reflections of man’s relationship with the land, and it is telling that our cities are so cleanly demarcated from their natural surroundings. Changing this will mean coming to understand the landscape as a reflection of man himself.
Here’s what’s been on the front page lately:
Industrial Civilization Needs a Biological Future by Adam Van Buskirk. The core “WEIRD” populations of industrial society are getting consumed by it. They need to biologically assert themselves for technological civilization to survive.
ESG Is the Opium of the Investors by Nicolas Villarreal. ESG has created a luxury good out of symbolic pro-social investing. In practice, it mainly replicates consensus ideology. Those who want to go beyond it must act directly on the world.
Britain Is Dead by Samuel McIlhagga. Despite its early industrial dominance, Britain’s elites never managed to adapt to the new landscape of power. After more than a century of structural breakdown, its very future as a unified state is in doubt.
Entrepreneurial Statecraft Gets the Goods by Wolf Tivy. You don’t reshape society by starting a cultural movement. Instead, you need to implement direct action materialism.
Who Is the Art World For? By David Gelland. Art today often aims to shock rather than inspire. How did that change happen?
That’s all for now.