Dust and smog. It’s all pollution.
China. Africa. America. The air is unclean.
Charles Darwin. Survival of the fittest. Was this challenge too great to foresee?
What does survival mean to me? I’m not sure it’s real in the sense I must envision.
For I can process adversity and status-based frets,
but it’s harder to imagine the realities of climate threats.
The way I see it, this world’s not apart from my own. A mirror reflecting all that could be.
And I see my reflection burning. I taste dread as scenes grow in the glass. But I still
can’t feel, won’t feel, until it’s no longer in my head.
But it’s not in my head. Or Chai Jing’s.
More than a sense. She knew there was a problem.
Pollution is not the equivalent of a cloudy day.
There is no rainbow after the storm’s passed to remind that things will be okay.
Maybe they won’t.
There are babies who haven’t seen stars or undyed cotton-candy clouds.
Horrors I haven’t experienced first hand, are commonplace to the next generation, and I can try to imagine this world, the dirt and the disaster, silent chaos abound. Some things are missing more than others.
Like the smell of the air and the taste on my tongue as I pray for a positive end. The moisture that kisses her chubby chin, her pain flows from pollution within.
My lungs aren’t congested and I don’t wear a mask, but neither do those who surround me. If the enemy’s invisible, is he really not there? Or am I being naive to the dangers around me?
What difference does it make?
Particles in African dust and allergies ripening like fruits over summer.
The Great Migration of airborne ailments. No, air blown soil.
Arid places relocating, one spec of dust at a time.
Cause-and-effect(s) never simple as before-and-then-after.
Is this enough to make a difference?
Some more equipped to fight than others.
Now, aiming for systemic change through design.
How must we image survival?
Stay inside. Avoid exposure.
Ultimately fighting ourselves for the right to breathe and to be, in a world without air.
Think harder. Work smarter.
Whatever we can do to avoid a life spent unlived.
This piece was originally written for a class on ecological aesthetics. I have shared other works from that portfolio as well. Here are a few resources if you wish to further explore Chai Jing, or her renowned documentary, Under the Dome.