“Centuries” and THE HUMAN AGE

Fall Out Boy has a new single out, Centuries.

Diane Ackerman has a new book out, The Human Age.

Here’s the Fall Out Boy video:

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Here’s what Pete Wentz said on his Tumblr:

” … it’s all just to prove to the next kid that she can pick up a guitar and know that it is a weapon. Make no mistake, ‘Centuries’ is, at its most distilled, the story of David & Goliath. It is us passing along the story of how we feel right before we step on stage, trading feeling small and human for all the sweat and grit and sheer power of belief it takes to stare down a giant.”

Which is fascinating to me when I look at the video. The video is alienating. It’s landscape, cityscape, it’s sped-up blurs of people rushing by. The lyric is, “you will remember me, remember me for centuries.” And in the video the men write graffiti on a wall, leaving a mark that may or may not last.

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In his review of Diane Ackerman’s The Human Age, Rob Nixon writes:

“For the first time in history, a sentient species, Homo sapiens, has become a force of such magnitude that our impacts are being written into the fossil record. We have decisively changed the carbon cycle, the nitrogen cycle and the rate of extinction. We have created ­new atomic isotopes and plastiglomerates that may persist for millions of years. We have built mega­cities that will leave a durable footprint long after they have vanished. We have altered the pH of the oceans and have moved so many life-forms around the globe — inadvertently and ­intentionally — that we are creating novel ecosystems everywhere. Since the late-18th-century industrialization that marks the Anthropocene’s beginnings, humans have ­shaken Earth’s life systems with a profundity that the paleontologist Anthony Barnosky has likened to an asteroid strike.”

He goes on to say:

“When Ackerman uncritically quotes the futurist Ray Kurzweil’s prediction that “by the 2030s we’ll be putting millions of nanobots inside our bodies to augment our immune system, to basically wipe out disease,” this reader was prompted to ask: Pray tell, which ‘we’ would that be? The facts are that in 2014 the number of forcibly displaced people has topped 51 million, the highest figure since World War II. Yes, technological innovation will prove critical in the battle to adapt to the hurtling pace of planetary change, but let’s acknowledge that we’re doing a far better job of encouraging innovation than distributing possibility.

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The science writer Elizabeth Kolbert has tweeted, “Two words that probably should not be used in sequence: ‘good’ & ‘anthropocene.'” Ackerman’s Anthropocene, however, is decidedly sunny side up. Her instinct is to celebrate this new age: ‘We are dreamsmiths and wonder­workers. What a marvel we’ve become, a species with planetwide powers and breathtaking gifts.’ That we are, but we also possess more sobering powers, a recklessness and greed that will be inscribed in the fossil record. Ackerman’s optimism can feel eerily unearned in the absence of a measured acknowledgment of the losses, the traumas, the scars that afflict human and nonhuman communities in this volatile new age. At least pause to ponder this: Is it ethical that as the super­rich capture ever more resources, the poor, who have contributed least to our planet’s undoing, are forced to bear the brunt of the chaotic effects?”

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Humans are pattern-seeking mammals, I know, I know. It’s pure chance that I saw both these things right after each other. But they seem nearly connected, to me. The singer-songwriter and the badn, the author and her reviewer. Both trying to describe the giddy joy and terror of riding the crest of something that will probably destroy you.

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