Here are a few things that happened while I was away on vacation.
Angela Hume posted this Jacket 2 commentary on discussions of trash at the recent Ecopoetics Conference at Berkeley. She mentions my 500 Year Ecopoetics Conference Codex, pictured above. I spent an hour before the conference started gathering plastic I found in and around Wheeler Hall on the Berkeley campus where the conference was held.
I was thinking about Lucretius, the Roman poet and philosopher who wrote On the Nature of Things two thousand years ago. It was a radical text then — and still, in some ways. The poem popularized the Epicurean philosophy that all that exists is atoms and void. Humans are not special, distinct kind of matter. Squirrels, plastic bottle caps, babies — everything that exists is a swirl of the same stuff, born with the mortal universe.
I find Epicurean philosophy useful when I’m walking around performing the often disgusting task of picking up and cataloging plastic. It helps me overcome the various kinds of repulsion I experience and pay some caring attention to this bit of detritus, miraculous in its existence — its molecules the residue of plant and animals bodies from an extinct ocean buried deep under earth, its composition largely carbon and hydrogen like my own body, but unlike my molecules its laboratory-forged carbon bonds confound bacterial decomposers so it will last, zombie-like, forever, not decomposing, just breaking into smaller and smaller bits, often in the ocean, eaten by fish, eaten by us.
So we can sing with Walt a new song: My tongue, every atom of my blood, form’d from this soil, this air, and polymers.
My internet presence seems to have been resurrected, thanks to the caring application by several people of time, skills and resources I lack, particularly Philip Barron.
In gratitude, I thought I would pay some caring attention to foam. That is, polystyrene filled with bubbles — nearly all air. So pure of color, white or pale, it catches my eye always when plastic gathering. It is also always there. And the name of a great book of poetry by Evelyn Reilly.
Then poet, artist and musician Chris Sullivan applied some caring attention to past blog detritus lists of mine and penned a few tunes. Like this one, on which he reports he accompanies himself on “municipal trash receptacle.”
All the plastic I collect on my daily walk to the dog park in Southeast Portland, OR.
Finally got a working camera (thanks, family!) so I have a bit of a backlog:
Kirkland Signature 2% REDUCED FAT MILK ONE GALLON
very old striped ball
green plant pot
red balloon in shreds tied to pink ribbon
CAPRI SUN still with straw in, red berry flavored
white styrofoam fragment 1
black SOLO TRAVELER LID
clear bottle, smashed
white DIXIE lid
green and purple wrapper that says BABY
light blue cap or tiny cup with #35 and A
CLiF KiD ZBAR Chocolate Chip
Kit Kat Crisp Wafers
white styrofoam fragment 2
white styrofoam fragment 3
white styrofoam fragment 4
very degraded blue chair leg cap perhaps
very degraded yellow styrofoam
fake pink rose petal
very degraded pinkish ball remnant?
vacuum hose attachment, broken, with tooth marks
Kellogg’s Disney PIXAR FINDING NEMO Fruit Flavored Snacks
sky blue fragment, maybe ice cream spoon handle
white fork shredded in three pieces