"Oh, what did you see, my blue eyed son?"
Within an opening address to World Leaders, Mark Edwards writes, "This project began forty years ago on the day of the first moon landing, when I was lost in the Sahara and rescued by a Tuareg nomad who played me "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall". "Sad forests", "Dead oceans", 'Where the people are many and their hands are all empty", "Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten": I have seen Bob Dylan's piercing words come alive in the view finder of my camera and in the photographs of my friends. It has fallen to our generation to deal with these tragic problems that threaten to overwhelm us all."
Since the first edition of 'Hard Rain' in 2006, it feels as though the political, environmental, social and ethical challenges this amazing book poses are ever more acute.
"Oh, what did you see, my darling young one?"
This is a beautiful, haunting and often and shocking collection of images where Mark Edwards juxtaposes incredible, iconic photography with the lyrics of Bob Dylan's 'Hard Rain'. Our visual and imaginal capacities are assaulted by the photographs and our rational, intellectual ways of knowing are challenged by the written text and the disturbingly evocative photography. With contributory chapters by Tim Smit and David Bohm, the images are set into a narrative of ecological pain alongside the cognitive requirements for significant meaningful change in the world.
After a brief introduction, the book opens into a series of un-compromising images each juxtaposed with a line from 'Hard Rain.' The effect is mesmeric; the familiarity of lyrics crashes into imagery that makes our wider human condition feel impossibly alien and unreal. I found myself leafing through the pages in disbelief. If ever we needed a call to ethical action in service of human justice and the sustainability of the planet this is it. The second half of the book provides a detailed narrative of each image and we begin to understand the enormity of the project and the dedication required of Edwards to build such a body of work. The final section of the brings Smit and Bohm to help us make sense of what is happening in our world and ways to navigate through the despair.
"I heard the sound of a thunder and it roared out a warning."
Innovator and Eden Project Founder Smit outlines the necessity of vision and hope as foundations of resilience; "...if you don't have a vision of the future, a narrative that leads you to the sunlit uplands of the imagination, that hints at a future possible with you, yes you, as a player in the story, it will perish on the vine." Quantum scientist and philosopher Bohm challenges us to shift our consciousness towards a way of thinking that does not separate and fragment our experience. In conversation with Edwards, Bohm acknowledges how nationalism can make it very difficult to solve the world's environmental problems, "Every nation has come into existence through some thought that said, "We exist, we declare we exist, we have our independence...." People forget that the boundaries between nations are created entirely by thinking.... but the importance of the difference between nations has always been enormously exaggerated...Economically we all depend on one another, and ecologically we're seeing that."
"I met one man who was wounded in love."
Edwards has sent this book to every Prime Minister and President in the world. As he says, "The problems highlighted in Hard Rain are understood by decision makers, but they typically continue to be addressed as separate issues. Climate change is handcuffed to poverty, which is linked to all the problems illustrated in this book. It must be clear that the world needs to tackle all of these issues together if we are to tackle any of them."
"It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall."