Some thoughts on Sanguine Through the Storm.
When this project was conceived it was a more optimistic time, and I was more able to describe the work in terms of a simple moment of joy I’d experienced one night in a pub. It’s a small thing, but I tend to experience such feelings when confronted by absurdity and ingenuity. The problem of a leaking pipe in the toilets had been solved by hanging successive buckets from the ceiling and from each other to redirect the leak to a sink drain. Maybe it’s a common solution, but I’d never seen it before and this was the joyful moment of absurdity and ingenuity; both clever and stupid. And therefore comical.
Maybe it’s the frightening changes we’ve seen in the world since 2016, but this has since taken on a darker subtext in my mind. A leaking pipe, or a leaking roof is a sign of decay (present in every representation of a post apocalyptic world), and I find myself thinking again of the gloomy warnings in Jane Jacobs’ Dark Age Ahead or Ronald Wright’s A brief history of progress. Numerous articles have been written over the past years warning of an approaching dark age, and I find myself conflicted between their scholarly, well researched arguments and my desire to present a hopeful and wondrous world to my 5 year old son.
One of the signs Jane Jacobs references of an approaching dark age, especially dear to me, is a popular rejection of science. Here is something we see every day in the popular rejections of climate change, vaccinations, “western” medicine, and bioengineering. Important knowledge that benefits all our lives is treated with suspicion. The rejection of knowledge and evidence – seeing experts as untrustworthy – was evident in the Brexit and Trump votes. Mistrust of experts makes all information suspect. If it continues, maybe nobody will know how to fix the leaky pipe.
But to turn away from this darkness, a wave of desire to understand what is true has sprung from the looming shadow. Having been active as a sceptic for many years, I’ve recently been heartened to see an uptick in formerly credulous or quietly sceptical people working to debunk fake news on social media, and simultaneously discovering the wonder of reality. This, coupled with waves of defiance and protest have given me hope. Much of the world, looking at the US with anxiety, may wake up to what they could so easily become if they follow suit.
I’m not sure if Sanguine has quite the same meaning in French, but in English it refers to remaining cheerful and optimistic, especially in difficult times. This is where the title, Sanguine through the storm comes from. It’s an attempt to make something beautiful and optimistic out of a sign of decay, and in defiance of it.