Stewart Brand Saw the Future

“You may have heard the just-so story about environmentalism as we know it. On Christmas Eve 1968, an astronaut aboard NASA’s Apollo 8 spacecraft took a photograph of the faraway surface of a green-and-blue, cloud-marbled planet known to its English-speaking inhabitants as Earth. Published less than a week later on the front page of The New York Times, the image set off a general ecological awakening. The lesson was: Behold the fragile jewel that is your one possession and cherish it accordingly. … Such claims invite skepticism. Can a photo really induce instantaneous enlightenment? As it turns out, climate change and resource depletion have accelerated, not slowed, since publication of the ‘Earthrise’ photograph. Nor has the basic ambiguity of the image been noted often enough: The photo may have encouraged new environmental commitments, but to take it at all entailed leaving the planet behind—much as tech billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, with their fantasies of colonizing space, now imagine humanity doing on a more permanent basis. In this way, an ostensible portal to ecological salvation contains a different implication—in which Earth is, Eurydice-like, glimpsed only to be lost and abandoned. But to enter these objections may be to pitch criticism of the ‘Earthrise’as-Eureka meme at too high a level. Prior to 1968, it was by no means unheard-of to encounter mounted globes of the planet, in classrooms and elsewhere. Spin one of these and you can see the whole terrain, as isn’t the case with a photo. The notion that a revolution in consciousness ought to follow from whole-Earth imagery is most closely associated with Stewart Brand, the Bay Area networker, publisher, booster, and impresario who, toward the end of the 1960s, launched the countercultural handbook the Whole Earth Catalog and, almost two decades later, founded the Whole Earth ’Lectronic Link (WELL), an important precursor to the internet. …”
New Republic (Audio)
The Nation: The Zen Playboy – The life and times of Stewart Brand

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
This entry was posted in Books, Computing, Counterculture, Environmental, LSD, Marijuana, Project Mercury and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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