Annihilation, (non) Authority, Acceptance


Jeff Vandermeer’s southern reach trilogy resonated with me so much the first time I read it a year or so ago that I picked it up again last week and started re-reading portions of it again. I have not re-read books since my teens so even while I was doing it, a part of me was wondering why.

Reading the review and then the sequence of titles, it occurred to me that the reason was quite simple: Jeff Vandermeer somehow takes the reader on a journey of understanding and eventually accepting that authority (or rather control) is illusionary and that annihilation is inevitable.

Over the years, I’ve come to realise that given the trajectory of climate change and the inherent selfishness of human structure, the destruction of much of current human cultures and achievements is unavoidable. The Dark Mountain project sums up much of my feelings nicely. As one of the founders, Paul Kingsnorth says,

We are living through the “age of ecocide,” and like a long-dazed widower, we are finally becoming sensible to the magnitude of our loss, which it is our duty to face.

Prior to reading Jeff Vandermeer’s novels, my reaction to much of what is happening has been in the main anger and despair. Now, through the novels’ lyrical descriptions of nature generally absent of humans, the successful conveyance of that impossible concept: that some forces simply cannot be avoided or even understood, I can see the glimmer of a path of how to face our inevitable common loss.

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