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PRIVATE 55 | Rurality Now

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When they came to tell us that farming without farmers could exist we smiled. But now we have uninhabited expanses of land, mechanization, greenhouse plants untouched by human hand.
When they came to tell us there could be farming without farmers and even without sustenance we laughed out loud. But now we have wasteland destined as burnt biomass to produce the energy needed to sustain not man’s primary needs but his greed for technology.

When they came to tell us there could be farming without farmers, agriculture without sustenance and even without agricultural produce, we burst out laughing, but now we have photovoltaic land, wind farms and houses immersed in countryside: pseudo bucolic retreats for a poisoned metropolitan middle class, while the last global farmers shelter in rifts and unreachable ravines enveloped in loneliness. They huddle on the margins and scraps of earth still damp from warm, organic contact and human touch. Precarious land that is alive because of extreme poverty. Before long they will even be evicted from there. It will be done without conscience, perhaps in the name of ecology. It will be the plants that will hunt down men: docile plants as malleable as soya. The transformed countryside will take a healthy, solar appearance like that of a green-yellow shrub, just as the original accumulation looked like a meek flock of sheep. Remember, Marx once wrote that sheep would be taught to eat mankind.

Andrea Zanzotto with the solitary cry of a poet: ‘Once we had the horror of extermination camps. Today I experience the same horror concerning the extermination of fields’. Industrial agriculture, this oxymoron considered to be part of progress, lacerates the nature of agricultural produce and the biological cycle, explodes into lethal contradictions of food production set against energy production, between keeping food prices at a minimum and the dissipation of exhaustible resources: threatens the earth under our feet.

These pages of PRIVATE show faun’s and nymph’s last breath. In the forgotten corners of impoverished nations the ancient ‘pagus’ (shire) – the antonym and complement of the ‘urbs’ (city) – is in agony, indispensable but scorned. Today all is urban, even a cultivated field: nothing is heathen anymore, apart from some firefly lost in darkness.
(Michele Smargiassi

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