From Windmills to Wind Turbines, and Back to Windmills

Let’s get one thing clear. Wind Turbines are not an alternative, appropriate technology. They are the last gasp of all the arrogance behind business-as-usual. They take the violence hidden in the mine, the oil well, behind power plant walls; and set it defiantly against the sky. They present the form of whirling knife blades, or scissors, ready to cut-down anything that resists their demand that post-industrial Narcissism must flourish at any cost.

They attempt to appropriate the imagery of the windmill – only made “efficient.”

There is the key! They are fully immersed in, and may mercifully be the last gasp of, efficiency as an organizing principle. They have nothing in common with windmills except for sharing the driving force of the wind. In every significant way they are something else.

A windmill is a locus of community. A turbine is there to power “e”-living, “i-life,” to use Jobs’ unambiguous ode to self-absorption aided by electronic mirrors and shiny talismans, an ersatz way of life reduced to a life-style, and a virtual one at that, which purports to connect people while it tunes atomization and Narcissistic self-regard to the point of an exquisitely commodified worship of the self.

A windmill, or its cousin the small watermill, extracts power from nature at a scale that fits its source and the needs of a locale. Turbines are there to harvest a maximum level of power wholesale and send it off where its concentration feeds the mechanisms of impoverishment.

A windmill, or watermill, is at the heart of a micro-environment that nourishes non-human life as it generates benefits for the people who live there. Turbines are sterile. They stress with ultrasound what they don’t kill outright.

Windmills and watermills are built as a communal effort led by people committed to Craft. Turbines are financed as the latest in a series of Ponzi-schemes to harvest capital and enrich a parasitic financial sector. They are built within a technocratic hierarchy in an industrial process that strips people of skills and understanding and autonomy to put it all into the hands of a distant, oligarchic elite. They don’t support a micro-environment. They shatter their local environment by disrupting and killing any life they encounter. As with any result of the arrogance of efficiency they do this not as an unintended consequence, but in fulfilling the imperative to dominate and destroy anything that does not meet their narrow goals.

The skyscraper is an objectification of Ego’s striving. It attempts to provide a toxic simulacra of our primeval urge for a high prospect from which to gain a wide vista. Antenna towers and wind turbines, micro-wave arrays; have a different ancestral imagery. Are they totems? Are they signals announcing our presence and prestige?

They do share with the skyscraper, evident in that term itself, an aggression towards the sky. They are sharp violent gestures aimed at the realm above the horizon that had been out of reach before. It’s easy to see them as masculine talismans. Their predominance over feminine symbologies in our built environment joins our expectations that these are not paired forces as a symptom of our worship of power.

Forms have meaning. We cannot avoid this by ascribing our responses to what we encounter as merely reflections of taste. When we abdicate our responsibility for the forms we inhabit, from social systems to the automobiles or buildings we put ourselves into, treating their forms as irrelevant or simply as decoration to satisfy whim, we are deliberately throwing away a significant avenue, not just for expression, but of the entire process by which we shape and hone our way of life. We fail to avoid abusive constructs and lose opportunities to bring our lives into closer alignment with the well of compassion underlying being.

Choosing to ignore the meanings of our artifacts is a sign of how far we have strayed from any conception of a meaningful life. Considering these matters extraneous to what we consider essential is the final degree of our impoverishment.

All forms are eloquent if we but allow them to speak to us. The forms we have chosen to surround ourselves with are damnably eloquent. They speak clearly of violence and willful disregard for anything outside of the perpetuation of interpenetrating cycles of violence, abuse, and destruction.

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One Reply to “From Windmills to Wind Turbines, and Back to Windmills”

  1. The real problem is that we keep looking for more ways to “harvest ” energy, rather than insisting on finding ways to use less. The direct net result of using more is that more is made available at great cost. In our perverted economy the price of energy goes down the more you use. The net result of using less skews the market place and drives prices up.

    Modern tecknology has the ability to reduce consumption, but there is no political will to move in that direction. Insistance to change over to screw in flourescent bulbs has led to mass hording of incandescents.

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