Come: climb the Dark Mountain

News Published April 16, 2009

Well, I’ve been thinking about it for what seems like years, working on it for many months and hinting at it on this blog for God knows how long. Now, finally, it’s just about mature enough to be exposed to the world.

Today, myself and my co-conspirator Dougald Hine are announcing an attempt to coax into being a new literary and artistic movement for an age of massive global change. We are calling it the Dark Mountain Project.

We live in insecure and unprecedented times. A collapsing economy and a collapsing environment are turning all our assumptions on their heads. Nothing that we currently take for granted is likely to survive the 21st century unscathed. Civilisation as we have known it is coming apart at the seams.

And yet hardly anybody – not politicians, not economists, not environmentalists, not writers – is really facing up to the magnitude of this. We are all still wedded to the idea that the future will be an upgraded version of the present. It is in our cultural DNA. Perhaps this is why, as the warning signs flash out ever more urgently, we still go shopping, or plan for more economic growth, or campaign for new energy technologies, or write novels about the country house or the inner city.

A civilisation is built not on oil, steel or bullets, but on stories; on the myths that shore it up and the tales it tells itself about its origins and destiny. We believe that we have herded ourselves to the edge of a precipice with the stories we have told ourselves about who we are: the stories of ‘progress’, of the conquest of ‘nature’, of the centrality and supremacy of the human species.

I believe it is time for new stories, and it seems I am not the only one. The Dark Mountain project aims to foster a new movement of writers, artists and creative thinkers, a new school of writing and art for an age of massive global disruption. We are calling it Uncivilisation.

Here’s the plan. Today, we announce our intentions to the world, and we hope to start attracting the interest of like-minded people. Then, within a month or so, we’ll be launching the Dark Mountain Manifesto, as a hand-crafted pamphlet and on the web. At the same time, we will launch our full website, an online gathering-place for discussing and plotting and crafting a new way forward. If enough people seem interested, we then plan to begin publishing a journal of Uncivilised art and writing. Then … who knows?

For the moment, though, we are looking for help, support, potential collaboration and expressions of interest. The Dark Mountain Project is not a prescriptive attempt to tell people how to write or think, but the raising of a flag around which we hope like-minded people will gather. So we are looking for people who might want to be involved: writers, artists, illustrators, designers, thinkers – anyone with whom this strikes a chord.

If you think you are one of them, or if you’d just like to be kept informed about what we’re up to, visit our pre-launch website and register your interest. You can also, if you are so inclined, join our Facebook group.

Finally, we are working right now to raise money for the printing of our manifesto and for the construction of our website. We have set a target on this fundraising site, where we need to raise £1000 (well, $1500) in three weeks, through small donations. Every little will help, so if you feel you’d like to spend a bit on a good cause, please pop over there. If you spend more than $20 you get a signed, numbered copy of our manifesto, which I can promise you will be well worth the money!

I hope that this might be the start of something big. We’ll see. I am holding my breath. I’d love to know what you think.

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