Issue N°3 – Permanence

Permanence is a contradictory idea. The moment of “now” is as fiercely urgent as it has ever been. Now is the only time we will ever live in, and the only time we can do anything about. But as with every generation, most of the things that concern us in this moment will be lost to the remorseless sweep of time. When the lone and level sands stretch far away, and the Anthropocene draws to a close, our dreams of reconfiguring our bodies through gene editing, or colonizing Mars rather than fixing things at home, will seem, well, Ozymandian. When that desertful of dust finally settles, what will be left?

It’s not apocalyptic thinking and it’s not doomsaying to explore the implications of this moment—a moment in which all the moments that have ever been and might ever be are at stake—a moment, in short, like any other. As Barry Lopez urges in our feature interview, it’s a time not for fight or flight, but for a third alternative: to gather. In this issue, we are excavating the past and harvesting the present to trace the dim outline of the future. From alchemy and witchcraft to the post-human dream of science, just over the mountain range. We travel from the spiffed-up streets of Moscow, where the echoes of revolution continue, however strangely, to reverberate, to the salty shores of Orkney, where stone-age carvings still ring with teenage drama, and park along the far-flung roads of northern Alaska, teetering between the noise of the human world and the mysterious silent wild. Finally, we meet people who want to spin out still further, to Mars, and ask what this means for the home they dream of leaving behind, where we still haven’t quite solved the problem of toilets.

Want a sneak peek? We’ve published a selection of articles from the issue, and the archives, over on Medium.

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Refuge, 12/2016
304 pages
Special inserts: Cold War Artifacts, The Process of Life with Alan Watts, Aerials.

Editors: Louis-Jacques Darveau, Patrick Pittman
Managing editor: Anna Duckworth
Senior editors: Eli Burnstein, John Di Palma
Art director: Elise Eskanazi
Designer: Chris Lange
Editor-at-large: Patrick Tanguay

Guests: Kyle Fraser / Elmo Keep / Robert Rowland Smith / Alan Watts / Kingston Trinder with Erik Kessels and Thomas Sauvin / Barry Lopez / Tanya Davis / Martine Rothblatt / Ruby J. Murray / Gillian Terzis / Noam Chomsky / Mathew Ingram / Lewis Lapham / Marie-Eve Bélanger / Tomas Hachard / Ian Fitzpatrick with Col. Casey Haskins, Andy Weissman, Brian Clark, Erik Pelletier, Andreana Drencheva, Stephanie Chase, Rebecca Plante, John Willshire, and Peter Hanlon / Chris Frey / Josephine Rowe / Marcus Westbury / Aerials with Chris Fussell, Mark Raheja, Helge Tenno, Ilona Gaynor, Jay Owens, Jay Goldman, Jon Husband, Boris Anthony, Neil Perkin / Robert Skoro / Ann Friedman / Boris Anthony and Hugh McGuire / James Niehues / Ben Huff / Nick DeWolf

“The role of the individual is to be a decent, honest, moral, intellectually open person. Simple virtues. Easy to say. Hard to live up to.”
—Noam Chomsky

“When we turn around and look over our lives, we’re unconsciously colonizing the past.”
—Barry Lopez



Aerials was a forum about doing and designing business in a networked world, held in Toronto in October 2015. It consisted of a series of presentations, panels, and discussions with fellow travelers—the people who have been thinking and publishing at the intersection of organizational design, network logic, and the future of work. It aimed to evolve and elevate the conversation, and work toward useful frameworks for a better future for embattled organizations. This special report for The Alpine Review gathers discussions, chats and highlights from this excellent one-off event.

Among the speakers were Chris Fussell, the Chief Business Development Officer of DC-based McChrystal Group and co-author of Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World; Neil Perkin, the founder of London-based Only Dead Fish; Mark Raheja, a former partner at Undercurrent and now a principal at August in New York City; Illona Gaynor, artist and founder of the London-based Department of No; Boris Anthony, a “fucking poet” from Berlin, formerly of Nokia, who works in strategic design; Helge Tennø, a consultant with Jokull from Norway; Igor Schwarzmann, a Strategic Advisor with Berlin-based Third Wave; Jay Goldman, the Managing Director of Sensei Labs in Toronto; Jon Husband, a Montreal-based independent consultant; and Jay Owens, a social media researcher for London-based FACE.

The Process of Life with Alan Watts

For decades, Alan Watts traversed the boundaries of technology and transcendent thinking, of the knowable and the mystic. He did this with wit, wisdom and absolute clarity. Though he’s best known as the striking British philosopher who took the tenets of Eastern philosophy (Zen Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism) and relayed them to the eager Beat and then Hippy minds of the Bay Area, it’s his ability to extract timeless questions from the fug of the modern world that keeps us coming back to him. That’s what drove us to reproduce this talk, given somewhere in the early 1970s, on what he calls “The Process of Life.”

In Our Dining Room, After the War: The Wende Museum of Cold War Artifacts

The Wende was the turning point. The whipping away of the Iron Curtain. After a wall falls, the tendency to push the rubble into the sea can be overwhelming. The past is junk. We keep the grand monuments and the recognizable symbols as warnings. But there’s a lost story in the stuff that gets thrown out. Commercial products designed in isolation. Of advertising. Of living. Of how people interacted. Moved around. Got by. A latent map of oppression and struggle, hidden in the open of the everyday. In this special insert, we visit the Wende Museum, and visit that history by way of souvenir dining plates.

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