Life as War

THERE IS NO NATURE, THERE IS ONLY TECHNOLOGY

Many are familiar with the seminal 1982 film Koyaanisqatsi, or “Life Out of Balance.” Fewer know that it is the first of the Qatsi trilogy, visual tone poems all accompanied by Philip Glass’ minimalist but powerful music. Naqoyqatsi, “Life as War,” followed Powaqqatsi, “Life as Transformation,” to round out the exploration of human beings, nature and technology:

Naqoyqatsi is a Hopi word (more correctly written naqö̀yqatsi) meaning “life as war”. In the film’s closing credits, Naqoyqatsi is also translated as “civilized violence” and “a life of killing each other”. While Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi examine modern life in industrial countries and the conflict between encroaching industrialization and traditional ways of life, using slow motion and time-lapse footage of cities and natural landscapes, about eighty percent of Naqoyqatsi uses archive footage and stock images manipulated and processed digitally on non-linear editing (non-sequential) workstations and intercut with specially-produced computer generated imagery to demonstrate society’s transition from a natural environment to a technology-based one.

Technology is not in itself evil, nor do I think the film implies that. But divorced from nature, it becomes soulless. When our perception about ourselves is that we are not part of nature, we lose our integral connection to nature and thus to our souls. Somehow, in isolating ourselves from the natural environment, we have decided that we are something apart from it, above it even.

We are constantly making choices as a society about technology and our course into the future. To say that the “market” best determines our fate is not only irresponsible, it’s just inaccurate. We opened Pandora’s box with nuclear weapons and drone warfare. Life as war. We declared war on the planet as well–every energy policy our governments implement is a choice whether to make war or to make peace.

messagefromearthThe Keystone XL Pipeline is yet another Pandora’s box, one which might tip the balance toward irrevocable warming of the planet. We must make a conscious decision yes or no. We can’t leave it up to the energy industry to bully us into it.

It’s a horrifying vision, life without nature. It’s one reason why so many steadfastly refuse to acknowledge that global warming is happening–it’s just too overwhelming. It simply can’t be true that we’re headed toward such a nightmare future. The people rising up against Keystone XL and the fossil fuel economy are courageous in their refusal to look away. They refuse to accept “Life Out of Balance” or “Life as War.” Let us make this era Powaqqatsi, Life as Transformation–and move toward Life in Balance.

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