Friday, December 29, 2006

Technology

Over the years I've been reading many different view points concerning technology. The other day I ran across a clear and concise definition and view of technology by Derrick Jensen over at the Derrick Jensen Discussion Forum. Once again, It's given me a lot to think about!

Here is the post:

I was just fantasizing about being interviewed by Stephen Colbert (I'm not starting a rumor that I'm going to be on there: I was just fantasizing) and I came up with a couple of articulations I think are really good.

"He" was asking, "Won't technology save us?"

I've been asked this a thousand times, and I'm happier now with what came to me today:

Technology by definition leverages power. That's its purpose. I'm all for leveraging power in both large and small ways whenever appropriate, but we have to ask: Who already has more power to leverage? Who controls this technology, these tools for leveraging power? Who _develops_ these technologies, these tools for leveraging power?

**

Of course this is old news, especially to anyone who's read In The Absence of the Sacred, etc. But I get it to a deeper level than I've understood it before.

And then later in the "interview," "he" asked "Who cares if salmon go extinct? Who cares if the oceans die?"

And I was thinking about what Lundy Bancroft says in Why Does He Do That: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men about this. I quote it in Endgame:

“It is also impossible to persuade an abusive man to change by convincing him that he would benefit, because he perceives the benefits of controlling his partner as vastly outweighing the losses. This is part of why so many men initially take steps to change their abusive behavior but then return to their old ways. There is another reason why appealing to his self-interest doesn’t work. The abusive man’s belief that his own needs should come ahead of his partner’s is at the core of the problem. Therefore when anyone, including therapists, tells an abusive man that he should change because that’s what’s best for him, they are inadvertently feeding his selfish focus on himself: You cannot simultaneously contribute to a problem and solve it.”
Let’s once again explicitly make the connection to the larger scale. It is impossible to persuade the civilized to change by convincing them that they would benefit and simultaneously allowing them to remain within the framework and reward system of civilization, because the civilized perceive the benefits of controlling those around them (including humans and nonhumans; including the land, air, water; including genetic structures; including molecular structures) as vastly outweighing the losses. This is part of why so many of the civilized initially take steps—or at least mouth rhetoric and pretend to take steps—to change their abusive behavior but then return to their exploitative ways. There is another reason why appealing to the self-interest of the civilized doesn’t work (apart from the fact that the entire economic system, indeed all of civilization, is based on this limited and unsustainable sense of self which leads people to believe it’s in one’s self-interest to exploit others, indeed, which causes it to be, within this limited sense of self, actually in one’s self-interest to exploit others): the belief of the civilized that their own needs should come ahead of the landbase’s is at the core of the problem. Therefore when people, including activists, tell a civilized person—for example, a CEO or politician—that he should change because that’s what’s best for him, they are inadvertently feeding his selfish focus on himself: You cannot simultaneously contribute to a problem and solve it.

***

So I was thinking about that and came up with an answer that I think gets to the point. If someone asks, "Why should I care about whether salmon live or die?" an appropriate response is, "Why should I care whether you live or die?"

If someone is in Nazi Germany and doesn't care whether Jews, Slavs, etc live or die, then I see no reason why someone in the resistance should care whether that German lives or dies. If someone is an 1830s US and doesn't care (except for economic reasons) whether a slave lives or dies, I see no reason why someone who cares about people who've been enslaved should care whether that slave supporter lives or dies.

It seems pretty clear.

In some ways it's David Ehrenfeld's question, of when you make some impassioned defense of some creature and someone says "What good is it?" to ask "Well, what good are you?" It is the same question pushed out a little bit.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Religions of this Culture

Here is a post that Mark Merrit posted over at Anthropik talking about the religions of this culture. I've read The Story of B a few times and I've never really picked up on this point. I want to post it here so I know that I have it for future reference. And I think he does a good job at explaining what the religions this culture has created are all about.

Here is the post:

On this note, no pun intended, here are the lyrics to a song I wrote that's pretty much in the spirit of this piece.

http://potluck.com/offerings/aftertheholidays.shtml

Worth noting, though, that on some level, we could have the same conversation about many high ideals held by civilized cultures. Daniel Quinn, in The Story of B, says directly that religions are the highest expressions of our culture, and he does so while suggesting that all of the "good things" that religions want us to do are that very highest expression. At first, I was confused by this -- how could the highest expression of our culture be about things that are so hard to do/be in our culture? I later realized, that's exactly the point. Civilization makes it hard to be lots of the good things that are our birthright, that come far more naturally to people in tribal circumstances. Those things then become what we idealize, and religion is the highest expression of those idealizations. Virtues are things to strive for, to struggle for, and if you don't reach them, and especially if you don't try, then you're a failure as a person. It's the old flawed being syndrome.

So, on some level, it seems to me that the point here isn't so much that Christmas is subversive, not any moreso than any of the high ideals of civilized cultures/institutions are subversive. It's really simply that Christmas is one of a gazillion features of our culture that jumble up the ills of civilization with the positive traits that are our birthright as humans, serving the whole mishmosh up to us dressed up in high ideals and a sort of longing about those high ideals never really being achievable yet without knowing why and without bothering to question why or to really make any attempt at all to separate the chaff from the wheat, the baby from the bathwater.

On one hand, this is distressing. The subversion is itself subverted because it's structurally wrapped up with things that counter that subversion, that work against those "uncivilized" qualities, and so there really is no subversion at all -- the jumble is really the status quo everywhere we look and has been all along. On the other hand, by seeing that this is the case everywhere and not just with Christmas, we find little bits and pieces everywhere we look that can be built on to generate change in the direction we'd like -- using appreciative techniques, of course. Appreciative Inquiry to the rescue....

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

What kind is it?







This morning, I was out messing around in my study area (The study area is a circle with the diameter of 200 paces in your backyard that you get to know intimately through awareness and observation exercises. Getting to know this area really well is the backbone of the Kamana program.) and found this skull.

Does anyone want to take a stab at it and guess what it is?




And lastly, I recieved this petition about global warming in my email. I thought some of would be interested in checking it out.

Subject: Help Al Gore Send a Message to Congress


Hi,

Al Gore is ready to build on the success of "An Inconvenient Truth" and start organizing to solve the climate crisis. He's working to get hundreds of thousands of messages to Congress demanding real action to stop global warming. And he's asking for our help.

Can you help out by signing the petition at the link below? If you do, Al Gore will personally deliver our comments to Congress. I just did it myself and it only takes a second.

http://pol.moveon.org/climatecrisis/

Thanks!

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Economy is not Life Affirmative

There are times when I sit down with a book to thumb through it and pick out small excerpts to read. I did this other day with Derrick Jensen's book Welcome to the Machine: Science Surveillance and the Culture of Control. I ran across this in the footnotes section:

"Corporate crime, however defined and measured, is a small fraction of the subsidies that prop up what is called "free-market" capitalismTM. The whole economic system is actually based on subsidies, that is, the externalizations of cost. Indeed it's not to much to say that the primary purpose of government is to oversee and administer this process, and to neutralize or kill anyone who to strongly opposes it. The entire economy would collapse immediately without constant massive subsidies of money taken from the public as taxes and then handed over to various sectors of the economy as "incentives." These tax subsidies range from bailing out industries ( banks, airlines, auto manufacturers), to tax breaks (most of the largest corporations pay little or no corporate income tax), to the whole military-industrial complex. Tax subsidies cost American tax payers billions of dollars each year, but these are only tip of the externalization iceberg. Indirect subsidies are far more onerous. Work place injuries cost Americans more than $100 billion a year, and work place cancer costs us more like $300 billion. Price-fixing and false advertising costs American consumers more than $1 trillion a year. Air pollution causes more than $200 billion a year in health care. But these are only current monetary damages. See Ralph Estes, Tyranny of the Bottom Line: Why Corporations Make Good People do Bad Things. ( San Fransisco: Berrett-Koehler,1996), 177-78. The global trading system results in the transfer of wealth from the poor to the wealthy. When industrial civilization destroys the productive capacities of soils and forests, the reduction in productivity and the quality of life are passed on to future generations. The true costs of over-consumption by humans are also paid by other species, with their lives."

I read something like this and think how could it be any other way. Of course, I know there are other ways to be, but is somethinglike the complex global economy to hard for the masses to rationally undo? Is it because the whole thing is not founded on rational premises? I don't know. Another thought that comes to mind is that we work at jobs most of us would rather not be doing, wouldn't we rather be contributing to a system that is more life affirmative?

Sometimes it all seems to crazy to try and comprehend.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Heaven?

Is this what heaven looks like for a technosalvationist?

Check out the first post by MatthewJ in this thread.

Also, here is an article in the New York Time titled: "The End of Ingenuity."

Here is a quote from it that I thought was pretty amazing considering the fact it's the New York Times.

"But in the larger sense, we really need to start thinking hard about how our societies — especially those that are already very rich — can maintain their social and political stability, and satisfy the aspirations of their citizens, when we can no longer count on endless economic growth."

There is a really good discussion talking about this article over at MetaFilter.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Connecting with the Land

The Wisconsin 9 day gun deer hunting season has come to an end. This was my twentieth season, and it was a good season. My brother-n-law, sister and I each got a deer, so we should have plenty of venison for the winter. Besides the fact that it was fun and successful season though, there was something missing in the experience. Actually there has been something missing in my life in general for quite some time now.

I really tried to put a finger on it this deer season, and I think I did. The other day, I was checking some blogs and ran across this post by Willem over at The College of Mythic Cartography. I need to add that I ran across this post within a day of really inquiring why I was feeling this way. I read it, and said that's it! It's really amazing how when one asks the universe a question the answer can show up within hours.

How do we truly return to the land? How do we break the back of our cultural addiction to machines and soulless systems?

Every time I’ve visited, as an adult, the sandy-soiled and salmonberry-blessed land of my childhood, in Coos Bay on the Southern Oregon Coast, I become overwhelmed with feelings that I even now can hardly articulate.

As a child I interacted with the landscape in such a directly tactile way, scratched, wet, cold, sun-kissed, wasp-stung, dirt underneath my fingernails. I had not much conception of the forest as a living being, my friends and I chopped wood and soil willy-nilly to build forts. And yet, through my memories, I know I saw the land as if through a golden medium, a strangely welcoming wildscape, stalked darkly by monsters, ghosts, and mysteries, at other times dizzy with sunlight and pine-pollen.

Nowadays the richness of my connection to the land has grown, but I notice a constant ache in the loss of that bodily-connection to the land from my childhood.

Somehow comforts of the modern age have muddled my senses, and I find myself amidst a constant urban battle between couch and copse, between warm box and wet greenscape.

More and more I become convinced of the vitality of other modes of Riddling-solving, beyond the conventional word based or “who-dunit”, but rather the wordless tactile riddles, such as how to climb that particular tree, and how many routes up it one can find. Or to find the source of a particular scent, or knowing when a wandering tickle under a pantleg belongs to the journey of a tick (perhaps they invented the “tickle”?), and when it simply belongs to a twitchy nerve.

Jon Young, the experienced animal tracker, mentor, and first student of Tom Brown, Jr., calls this kind of rediscovery of nature from a youthful perspective, “child’s passions”, and encourages anyone who seeks to reconnect to the land to first honor the repressed needs to reconnect in child-like play with the out-of-doors, in all its glorious discomforts and elations.


This "constant ache in the loss of that bodily-connection to the land" is what I think this incomplete feeling in me is. It's been there for a long time, it's just more pervasive when I spend a lot of time sitting quietly in the woods, like I did this deer season.

I grieve the loss.


Saturday, November 25, 2006

Derrick Jensen Update

Here are some of the things Derrick Jensen is working on and has available:

1) the news: I wrote an anti-zoo book. It's being published by a wonderful small press called No Voice Unheard. Their website is www.novoiceunheard.org. It will be out in the spring. The book consists of a long essay by me (which is available now through the reading club) and photos by the amazing photographer Karen Tweedy-Holmes. Her website is: http://www.tweedypix.com/

2) Some recent articles:



November 2006: interviewed online at Abolitionist-Online



Fall 2006: “The Lost Star Wars Script” (excerpt from Endgame) in Alternative Press Review

Fall 2006: “Irredeemable” (excerpt from Endgame) in On Edge (ms_t@riseup.net)

October 2006: To Give Our Brightest Deepest Truth

3) Updated schedule:


Wednesday, November 29, 7pm,

Where: Old Creamery Building

1251 Ninth Street
Arcata, CA

Who: Derrick Jensen
Lauren Regan, Attorney, Executive Director , Civil Liberties Defense Center
Mr. Mojo's Magic Puppet Troupe



Saturday Dec 9, 11am, I'll be interviewed on KYRS, Spokane, WA. It’s a low-power FM station, on 95.3 and on a translator at 92.3. It can be heard live online at www.kyrs.org


Thursday Jan 18, 730 pm, I'll be in Manila, CA (near Arcata and Eureka). Here's the information:

Gatherings With Authors

NOT just another series of book signings!

Every month, we will gather with a different author, who will share a brief reading from their book, followed by an opportunity to chat informally and buy a signed copy from the author. Then we'll reconvene with the author for another hour or two and delve more deeply into the ideas of that book.

Participants who confirm their attendance in advance will receive - by email - a chapter of the book so they can participate more actively in the dialogue.

Please sign up today to receive emailed reminders about each month's event at as this is the first of only two emails you will receive about this new author events series. (These events will not be publicized in the local press or via listservs, nor will you see flyers around town - publicity will be purely by word of mouth and by private email. Feel free to tell your friends, or forward this announcement to them.)

Attendees are welcome to arrive as early as 630pm to peruse the stacks in the 100fires home bookstore before the gathering begins at 730pm. Or phone us at 443-4483 anytime between 10am and 9pm daily to schedule a visit. We now have more than 2000 titles fully viewable and arranged into dozens of topics, from green building and feminism to US empire building and Native history, and everything in between. 100fires Books specializes in books, DVD's, and CD's to help create a healthier and more peaceful world. We're also online at http://www.100fires.com.

For more information, to receive a monthly email reminding you of upcoming author events, or to request an emailed copy of an excerpt from our next author's book (which will be sent about a week before each month's scheduled reading), please send an email to .

100fires Books is located at 1485 Peninsula Drive in Manila, and occupies the ground floor of Paul Cienfuegos' home. We're 1/4 mile south of the Manila Community Center. Watch for a two-story sage-green house with dark purple trim. The neighbors don't like strangers parking in front of their properties, so if there's no room in front of the house, please consider parking in the expansive Manila Community Center parking lot, and walking here. It's a lovely 4-minute walk. Or better yet, arrive here by bicycle, on foot, or by bus, and we'll give you 5% off anything you buy. And don't forget: we take Community Currency too - as 1/4 of your payment, on any purchase of $20 or more.

Be well,
Paul Cienfuegos
100fires Books
707 443-4483

April 17 or 18, I'll be in Arizona. Details to follow.

Thursday, June 14, 2007, I'll be part of the Orion Magazine Panel on the New, New Environmental Writing at the 2007 biennial conference of the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment. The conference is at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, June 12­16, 2007.My panel will be at 930 to 11 am, Thursday the 14th. Here is a website. More details to follow. http://www.woffordcollege.org/asle/

4) Marketing:

A) We have small stickers available for free for people who will put them up. You can see the stickers at www.whatgoesup.org. If you want some, send me a note and I'll get them out to you, if you promise to actually put them up.

B) Check out www.endgamethebook.org, which has information about my most recent release, Endgame.

C) There's going to be an endgame film festival, with a prize of $1000 for the best film that deals with: "There is a problem with civilization. The solutions require visionaries. Complete a film, video, or animation based on the ideas expressed in Derrick Jensen's book Endgame. ENDGAME International Film Festival is seeking work based on any ideas expressed in Endgame, OR any of the premises." There are also three secondary prizes of $250 each for most original film, most inspiring film, and best film by a young filmmaker. For information, please go to http://www.endgamefilmfest.org/

D) We're still in the process of getting T-shirts ready to sell. They'll have quotes either from my work or that I like, and also designs when appropriate. We've got tons of quotes to choose from, and we're starting with these three. The quotes we've settled on to start are "Now This War Has Two Sides" (which actually isn't mine, but from a late 1990s band: I learned of it when someone asked me to sign a book for him this way), "We have been too kind to those who are killing the planet. We have been inexcusably, unforgivably, insanely kind." and "Dismantle Globally, Renew Locally." One of the cool things is that the shirts are used but like new. We've ordered a bale of 100 pounds from a wholesaler, so it's even less environmentally destructive than had we got them organic and union-made (which we were going to do until we came up with the used idea). Since we don't yet have the shirts, this isn't on my website. The person where they sort the shirts says this is the slow time of year, and they are about 1/3 done collecting 100 pounds.

E) We're in the beginning process of putting together posters with my quotes on them. We should have that one ready to go within a few months.

F) If you have any ideas for quotes of mine you'd like to see on shirts, stickers, or posters, let me know and I'll put them in the pile of quotes we're considering.

G) I stil lhave that thing I mentioned about talking by telephone or webcame. Here's the poop on it, written for some reason in third person:
So many people have written to Derrick to ask if he can come to talk to their group in Valdosta, Georgia or Vancouver, British Columbia, or many other places across the United States, Canada, and the rest of the world. Many of these groups can't afford to pay his fees and expenses to fly all the way there and back, and he normally can't afford the time and expense to do it for free (he, too, has to pay rent).

So he's trying something new, which is that he's now available at a greatly reduced rate to talk by telephone or webcam with your book club, activist group, or other organization. It's a great way to meet like-minded people in your area, to ask questions, to explore, without the time (for him) and expense (for you) of flying him in for a lecture. He's also available for similar discussions at public venues like local/anarchist cafes, locally-owned, progressive restaurants or coffee houses, or other community spaces.

The fee for this is $100/hour, no matter the group size. If you're interested, send Derrick a note and the two of you can discuss details like when you'd like for this to happen and how it would work.

http://www.derrickjensen.org/telephone.html

H) You know of course that you can purchase my books at my website. I'm glad to sign them. I can give slight discounts for larger purchases. http://www.derrickjensen.org/purchase.html

I) Then there is the reading club. http://www.derrickjensen.org/readingclub.html That's where people can read my works in progress. I've got several books and several parts of books up there, and tons of essays, plus various other smaller documents that will never get published (like letters written to county officials protesting a development). Also I send out notes sometimes frequently and sometimes infrequently describing the things I'm working on, describing when I run into a problem, talking about why I made certain decisions in the stuff I'm writing, and so on. You get access to all of that. I came up with this idea a few years ago, and expected maybe one or two fanatics to sign up, but there are actually quite a LOT of people have signed up for it. I think it's pretty cool, and frankly it's the sort of thing I would have been interested in if I could have watched Mumford's process day by day (I upload stuff the day I write it, and so you can see the editing process too), or Mark Twain's, or John Steinbeck's. Maybe the first drafts of Susan Griffin's Woman and Nature were linear? Who knows?

Currently the major stuff up there you can read includes the anti-zoo book, two novels, a graphic novel written with Stephanie McMillan (www.minimumsecurity.net) one collection of interviews (the first one and last two of these are set for publication, the middle two are being shopped by my agent), as well as all the essays and stuff I mentioned before (including the introduction I wrote for the upcoming rerelease of Ward Churchill's Pacifism as Pathology).
. In addition there are a bunch of works in progress. These include two shortfilms I'm working on with Canadian filmmakers; a book about shit I'm writing with Aric McBay; another film I started working on, and then put on hold; another booklength project I started probably eight years ago that I'd forgotten about (The idea was that I would take a series of dreams over a few month period and turn them into vignettes. Then i would arrange them so they made some sort of sense. I only got through a few of them before I started work on some other project, probably Language, but then this spring I picked it back up and started to write the introduction. I think I got about 25 pages into it, or so).

Members of the reading club also get discounts on purchasing my books.

J) Then also there is the derrickjensen discussion list. It's at http://forum.derrickjensen.org/

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Perspective on Oil Consumption

John Kurmann sent me this email talking about oil consumption. I think it really puts into perspective how much oil we've consumed in the past fifty years.

Good day, all. I came across the quote below in Byron W. King's Whiskey & Gunpowder newsletter for Agora Financial LLC (also published at http://energybulletin.net/22458.html). Though I was in some sense aware of the incredible rate at which global civilization is consuming petroleum, this somehow made the issue more concrete form for me. I also agree with Byron that it's well past time for us to get serious about addressing energy depletion. Here's the quote (emphasis added):

"...At a very basic level, people are beginning to wonder exactly how our society is going to heat its houses and grow and transport its food in about 20 years or so.

"Twenty years? Who cares, right? You scoff at such a time frame? For perspective, just understand that about 50% of all the petroleum ever consumed by mankind has been consumed since 1984. That is, people have been watching Tom Cruise movies and listening to Madonna sing for a longer time than it took to burn 500 billion barrels of petroleum. Talk about Nero fiddling? And about 90% of all the petroleum that has ever been consumed by mankind has been consumed since 1958. So 90% of the world's oil consumption has occurred in the time since the Beatles were a warm-up act in Liverpool. Does this not give you some sense of the rapidity of the developing energy storm? And if not now, just when is it going to be the right time to begin being concerned about the world's depleting energy supply over the next 20 years, let alone the next 50 years?"

--
"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." - R. Buckminister Fuller


Sunday, November 19, 2006

What's Your Outlook?

This Questionaire was put out by Portland Peak Oil.

A questionnaire on collapse

Hello fellow concern citizens,

There appears to be a great divide between possible problems and probable solution. I’ve yet to witness any sort of general consensus as to exactly what the general opinion is in regards to potential crisis even among those choosing to stay informed. So for anyone interested, I offer a general consensus building exercise; a crude questionnaire. Not for the general public, but for those of us, more naturally inclined to think about such things, or what Anthony Leiserowit referred to as “Alarmist”.

What follows is a two part survey. The first is “identifying the problems”; I’ve only mention what I consider to be the top five major problems (Climate Change, ecological collapse, energy scarcity, economic decline, and general collapse. I’ve intentionally avoided the political arena). They are numerical multiple choice, and are based on a point system.

For the following “identifying the problems”, please enter the number or numbers that correspond to your views (If say for climate change; you believe 3 to be probable as well as 9, the higher number trumps, all higher numbers are mutually exclusive to lower ones, but if say you think somewhere between 6 and 7, then 6 ½ will be your value.

The second part “identifying the solution”, there are ten choices to choose from, they are rather lengthy, and are roughly based on the five stages of grief. Please pick only one that you most agree with. If none apply, then please write your own. Please be mindful that the point of this exercise is to attempt to weed out the contradiction we all embody, and remember; that which makes you uncomfortable or offends is probably true.

At the very end, there is a section for your answers, I would please like you to copy, answer and email back to me. I’ll gather up all of your replies, average out everyone’s response, post them, and vuala!……….hopefully a slightly less vague understanding of each other.

Please be mindful to answer honestly, and if you’ve never really thought about it before, then please take your time and think about it before you do. There are seemingly minute distinctions between a lot of the choices, but those very distinctions tend to reflect the devil in the details as to our true feelings. Either we believe things to be ok, or not, and if they’re not, then just how bad do we think they are?

Identifying the problem(s)

Side note: Remember civilization doesn’t connote humanity. The rise and fall of numerous civilizations is just one aspect in the history of humanity. Here “humanity” equates to our very existence as a species, as where “civilization”, equates to our current means of extraction of raw materials, production, consumption, transportation, communication, urban and rural civil infrastructure, basically our industrial and technological way of life.

Climate Change: The largest body of peer-review scientists in the history of civilization (I.P.C.C.) are 95% certain the earth will increase by 3*C by 2100 regardless of any CO2 emissions reduction. And this doesn’t even factor in positive feedback loops, which will almost certainly dramatically increase the rate of change. Again, a 2*C increase is considered to be the point of no return in regards to run away Climate Change and/or abrupt Climate Change.

Therefore Climate Change will either:

1. Have no affect on civilization
2. Barely affect civilization
3. Moderately affect civilization
4. Seriously impact civilization beyond our current understanding of what civilization means
5. Seriously impact civilization, but nothing approaching collapse
6. Seriously impact civilization up to the point of collapse
7. Eventually collapse civilization
8. Collapse civilization within our lifetimes
9. Eventually destroy humanity
10. Destroy humanity within our lifetimes

Ecological collapse i.e., over population, water scarcity/drought, poverty, destruction of both the tropical and temperate rainforests, acidification of the oceans, habitat destruction, soil erosion, desertification, water and air pollution, mass extinction, etc.

Therefore ecological destruction is either:

1. A non-issue
2. Going to minimally impact civilization
3. Going to moderately impact civilization
4. Going to severely impact civilization
5. Already is severely impacting civilization
6. A domino effect that “will” moderately collapse civilization
7. A domino effect that “is” moderately collapsing civilization
8. A domino effect that will eventually totally collapse civilization
9. A domino effect that will totally collapse civilization within our lifetimes
10. A domino effect that will eventually destroy humanity
11. A domino effect that will destroy humanity within our lifetimes

Energy scarcity: The peaking and permanent decline of crude oil and natural gas around 2010, with no alternatives even remotely capable of replacing them, which will have a resultant devastating impact on global economic growth and the global economy.

Therefore energy scarcity will either:

1. Be a non-issue
2. Only minimally impact civilization
3. Only moderately impact civilization
4. Severely impact civilization
5. Eventually collapse civilization
6. Collapse civilization within our lifetimes

Economic decline in the U.S.: $ 8,550,658,088,146 national debt (as of Oct 11th), and borrowing $2 billion a day; a $191 billion trade deficit; a devaluing dollar/petrol dollar; an over-inflated housing market; outsourcing of the manufacturing and high tech job markets; dwindling middle class wages; an ever increasing lower income class; continued privatization of common wealth; corporate deregulation; impotent antitrust laws; mass media conglomeration; increased health costs; increasing insurance costs; a polarized one political party system; corporate campaign funding; over fifty cents on every U.S. tax dollar going to the un-auditable military-industrial-complex “accounting” office in the Pentagon; the outright theft of the last two presidential elections; the U.S. governments complicity in the 9/11 attacks. Not failing to mention the impact both climate change and energy scarcity will have not only on the U.S. economy, but the entire global economy

Therefore economic decline:

1. Will be a non-issue
2. Will minimally affect our daily lives
3. Will moderately affect our daily lives in the distant future
4. Will moderately affect our daily lives in the near future
5. Is moderately affecting our daily lives
6. Will severely affect our daily lives in the distant future
7. Will severely affect our daily lives in the near future
8. Is severely affecting our daily lives
9. Will eventually collapse the U.S. economy
10. Is currently collapsing the U.S. economy
11. Will eventually collapse the global economy
12. Is currently collapsing the global economy
13. Will eventually collapse civilization
14. Is currently collapsing civilization
15. Will collapse civilization within our lifetimes

Collapse: All of the above along with several hundred other distressing issues not mentioned

Therefore:

1. The future “objectively” looks bright, positive, wonderful and all this talk about collapse is absurd and ridiculous.
2. There’s really no reason to worry, it will somehow all work itself out in the end.
3. Humanity has always been confronted with adversity, and just as before we will discover a way to overcome these new challenges, there are no problems, only solutions.
4. The fundamental constructs of civilization are in question and we need to eventually change how we approach things.
5. Civilization has “serious problems” and if we don’t drastically change our behavior, we might be in for a rough ride.
6. Civilization is “seriously flawed” and needs to be rebuilt from the grass roots up immediately.
7. Civilization is “inherently flawed” and will eventually collapse
8. Civilization is collapsing.
9. Civilization is inherently flawed and will collapse within our lifetimes.
10. Humanity is inherently flawed and we will eventually destroy ourselves.
11. Humanity is inherently flawed and we will destroy ourselves within our lifetimes.

Another general overview of collapse just worded differently:

1. I am an instrument of god's will
2. We are all in god's hands
3. Civilization is infinitely dynamic and adaptable, and will make what ever needed adjustments are required to assure our continued success.
4. Human ingenuity is limitless and capable of overcoming any adversity.
5. Civilizations technological achievements will eventually develop any solution to any challenge before us just as it has continued to do since the dawn of civilization.
6. Life is in a continuing state of flux, between life and death; we’ve always taken two steps forward and one step back.
7. Life is indefinable and imperceptible, all of life ebbs and flow, we are but in an endless state of transition and evolution, the future has always been uncertain.
8. We are capable of great change if we so choose, we are equally capable of enormous destruction, what will be are fate is anyone’s guess.
9. We are being confronted by serious challenges that are demanding serious changes in how we live and interact, if we do not begin to change our behavior soon, we will be in serious trouble.
10. The challenges ahead may be without a solution, but I believe we will somehow overcome these problems.
11. The challenges we are being faced with have probably never been so severe, we must change our way of living immediately if we want to avoid catastrophe.
12. The problems we are facing will never be solved by the people who created them; we must take it upon ourselves to be the change we want to see.
13. The dilemma we are in now is really no different than any time before, but now we’ve reached the outer limits of discovering solutions.
14. The crisis before us is unprecedented and will require unprecedented change if we hope to overcome the single greatest catastrophe in the history of civilization.
15. The crisis before today, scientists have been describing for decades, we’ve done nothing to change the coarse we’re on, and are now meeting our fate.
16. The catastrophe now in affect will “eventually” collapse civilization.
17. The catastrophic consequences of our negligence will collapse civilization “within our lifetime”.
18. The disaster fast approaching will devastate those who are unable and/or unwilling to prepare.
19. Climate Change will not only collapse civilization within our lifetime, but will as well, nearly destroy humanity.
20. Climate Change will nearly destroy humanity within our lifetime.

Identifying the solutions

Side note: Identifying the solutions is so completely interconnected to identifying the problems, that in many ways they become one in the same, similar to the interconnection between cause and effect.

Please choose just one of the following ten options.

1: Problem, what problem? There is no need for concern or change in our way of life and living, we are all in god’s hands, and as long as we take strength in prayer and hope for the best, everything will be as it has always been, or as god intends. We will all live long prosperous lives, for civilization through its continuous technological progress, will only go on to provide ever abundant and rich future prospects for all of mankind. Metaphorically: Life is but a glorious cruse.

2: There is no cause for us to alter our individual lives, although I recognize there are things that do need to change, but you know what they say, “the only thing constant in life is change”. No one knows what the future holds. Scientists can no more predict the climate a hundred years from now, than weathermen can predict the weather next week. There is always room for improvements, and civilization will eventually solve whatever problems may arise; besides necessity is the mother of invention. Metaphorically: This ship is unsinkable.

3: Who do they think they are to make such outrageous claims? I can’t stand people like them; all holier than thou. They always find some reason to be angry and disappointed, always pointing their finger at others and telling them how to live. They should first ask themselves what they are getting out of all this fear mongering. I’m sick of their doom-saying, just let me be. I can’t believe I’m having to have to deal with this. Science is fallible and in many ways plain wrong. One can always find fault, we live in an imperfect world. Who are they to tell me my world view is wrong, my god is dead; my faith is false, my life is a mistaken or civilization is going to collapse? What do they suppose I tell my children, that we‘re all going to die tomorrow? We only have one life to live, if they want to go through it constantly being pessimistic about everything, and not accepting the way things are, then they can go to hell. Metaphorically: What is all this talk about icebergs, it’s really spoiling my trip. The Captain knows these waters well, and just look at the size of this ship, you must be crazy to think they would ever let anything happen to us.

4: This is not my problem. I’ve got more important things to think about, besides what can anyone do to really make a difference? Why should I be punished for just wanting to do well? What about my desires? Haven’t I the right to be happy? “God helps those who help themselves”. I recognize that there are certain problems that relate to how we live in some aspects, but it is not my responsibility to save the world, besides what ever problems there are, they won’t happen in my life time. Metaphorically: We may or may not be able to turn the ship around, but for the most part, I’m just going to enjoy the ride while it lasts.

5: I am aware that there are many difficult problems; there have always been problems, as well as solutions. This is a wonderful opportunity to finally build sustainable communities, and renewable resources that we’ve needed to do for decades, now is the time for change. If we all just wake up and pull together, “we can be the change we want to see”. I believe that society is capable of waking up, and is, waking up to these new challenges, and we will make the appropriate changes to alter the direction we are on, and that though the road ahead maybe bumpy and possibly treacherous, and though I admit there is great cause for concern, I believe we will find a new path and create new ways of living. A certain amount of denial isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For me hope is crucial in remaining optimistic, so regardless of what happens I’ll continue to look on the bright side of life. The love we receive is equal to the love we give, change starts with ourselves. Metaphorically: By voting progressive, recycling, conserving, staying informed and making a few personal sacrifices we might somehow, someday turn the ship around.

6: Well it could be worse. I recognize that there are very serious problems, when hasn’t there been? Who ever said it was going to be easy? But to be honest, I am utterly torn between knowing that I need to make some serious changes, and just wanting it all to go away. I know I’m doing my best, and that unfortunately, it’s still more than most, but there is whole lot of shit coming down that’s hitting people hard. I believe we are about to see a great transition in how we approach most everything. While the older I get, the more cynical I become that we can change the coarse we’re on, I still believe there are many causes for hope, as well as many new technological advancements breaking ground that will completely change the way we live. The world is finally waking up from its long slumber, and I believe we’ve still enough time to make things right or at least reduce a lot of the problems. It is less a question of our ability, than it is our will. I hope that it will not require something catastrophic to happen that finally forces us to make those serious changes. I believe that things have probably never been as bad as they are today, but I try to remain hopeful that somehow things will work themselves out, besides what’s the point of living, if you just dwell on the negative all the time? But ultimately, even if we don’t change, what difference does it really make in the end? We’re all just star dust after all. Life simply is. Metaphorically: We’re old hands at this game called life, for some reason we’ve a disposition for presuming the worse. I understand why the Titanic metaphor is so popular, for it definitely seems that something very dark is up ahead, but we’ve been using that ship to describe the present for over seventy five years, yet here we are, still plodding along, and even if we do crash it’s not like we haven’t cashed before.

7: Obviously there are enormous problems facing us, and they will only continue to probably get worse. I know I could be being doing more, but I don’t believe it will make a bit of difference. The magnitude of our current situation is so emotionally overpowering, that when I do contemplate the greater cause, effect and solution to the problems, I’m so completely distraught, that I just mentally shut down, and am wanting of anything to distract me from such depressing thoughts. Being constantly mindful of current events makes living day-to-day very difficult. To be completely honest, I’ll probably just continue to go about my life much as I have always done, why not? When hasn’t the world been on the eve of destruction? If not Climate Change, then nuclear annihilation, the hole in the ozone, bird flu, AIDS or some other god awful manmade creation. Yes, I fully recognize that there are incredible problems facing both civilization and humanity, and it appears that the world’s governments are either unwilling and/or unable to do anything about it, and people are just too afraid and apathetic to change. I don’t know what I can do to really change anything accept just go about my life and try not to be apart of the problem. Metaphorically: The ship is still full steam ahead, I can see the iceberg, the captain is a gambling drunk passed out over the helm, and the door is locked. The ship may or may not go down, and to honest, I don’t really care either way, I’ve got my lifejacket, there’s no point of worrying more than I already do, life is challenging enough without having to plan for the worst case scenario.

8: The problems we face are in many ways the same problems we’ve always faced, except where instead of there only being a few million to hundred million people destroying the commons, much as we’ve been doing over the entire history of humanity. We are now, nearing the tail end of exponential population growth unto nine billion, with all of its associative destructive manifestations, and where we’ve overshot the earth’s carrying capacity now by over 20%. No amount of political or economic mitigation can possibly counter the enormous impact of our sheer physical footprint on a finite and fragile environment. The best we can hope for is that some ecological catastrophic event occurs that so impacts our perception of reality, that humanity is forced to change virtually every aspect of civilization overnight. I’ll wait and see how bad things get before I decide what I want to do. Metaphorically: Humanity is a ship that breached well before we were even born, it’s just taken decades to capsize, and there are no lifeboats in this metaphor. And even though I can swim, I’ll die of hypothermia within minutes. So I think I’ll just head for the bar, drink the top shelf, and watch the whole shithouse go down.

9: Given that humanity has had every opportunity and imperative to achieve social equity, equality, social justice, environmentally sound development, global peace and harmony over the last twenty five hundred years of enlightened civil accord. And where we have obviously failed to do so in relative times of natural abundance, it is therefore preposterous to presume that now given the reality of catastrophic climate change, severe environmental degradation and perpetual resource scarcity, etc —as a direct consequence of exponential over-population—that civilization will be able to overcome the very endemic behaviorism which has prevented us from achieving such said goals thus far. We’ve known for over two decades that civilization must curtail CO2 emissions before “positive feedback loops” are tipped, triggering unstoppable Climate Change that will not only collapse civilization, but virtually destroy all of life on earth. Aside from many of these positive feedbacks having already been triggered, the general scientific consensus is that a 2*C increase is the “point of no return”. The largest scientific body of research in history of civilization, has now determined that regardless of mitigation, the earth will increase by 3*C. In concert with a litany of global unprecedented catastrophic events which have no foreseeable solution, collapse is not only inevitable, but is now transpiring and will only continue for the remainder of our lives. Metaphorically: The ship is going down, no one is coming to the rescue, there are no lifeboats, while most everyone are in the chapel praying for salvation, a few have their lifejackets on, and are standing on the edge waiting to jump, while others are gathered in the ballroom, either dancing there hearts away, enjoying their last meal or getting drunk. I am standing in middle of it all, unable to make up my mind; the music sounds so good and I love to dance, but I am hungry as well, and for god’s sake I could definitely use a drink, but I can’t help but notice the ax hanging on the wall behind that rather large wooden bar.

10: In acceptance of 9 being true. From an ecological, economic and political standpoint, collapse is not only inevitable, but unfortunately now necessary. The near millennial global institutions which humanity has created are not only systemically problematic, but owe there very existence to our cultural endemic false perceptions of reality, where we ignorantly perceive perpetual growth as being feasible in a finite biosphere. As long as our general social indoctrination of competition over cooperation prevails, true change is impossible. Nothing will eradicate that thinking more than a few billion deaths. While it is an incredibly grim prospect, that the planet is over-populated by billions of people, if we’ve any hope of surviving as a species—not to mention the rest of life on the planet—we simply must reconstitute our very existence, into entirely new social orders of incredibly less energy inputs and ecological impact. The only way this is physically possible, is for humanity to either practice volunteered simplicity, where we learn to live on far less, and that which we do live on, we provide for ourselves, or Mother Nature will teach us to simply live the hard way. Metaphorically: How are we going to get that bar out through those doors?

So please copy from here down, and email your answers back to me.

Identifying the problem:

For Climate Change I believe:
For ecological collapse I believe:
For energy scarcity I believe:
For economic decline I believe:
General world view:

Identifying the solution:

I consider___to best represent my outlook as to future recourse

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Amazing Essay

How different would the world look if we percieved it with all of our senses?

Here is what I think is an important essay by David Abram talking about how "the fate of the earth depends on a return to our senses."

It's good!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Voting

I voted yesterday. I wasn't going to, but it is a nasty habit I just can't seem to break. I voted a straight Green ticket even though I want less government in my life. The Green Party candidates were the only ones in my area that even mentioned Peak Oil.

Here is a quote from over at IshCon by treemeat that sums up why I voted.

I always participate in the electoral process even though I'm anti-government and I know we don't live in functioning democracies to begin with. I vote for the Green Party as a protest vote and every federal election the party gets more votes and attention and this causes the major parties to start adjusting their policies to attract our votes to form a majority government. It's a fucking slow strategy but it's not like voting takes up a lot of energy and I figure it's better to interact with this broken system in the little way that I can.


Ran Prieur imagines "what would happen if everybody, instead of voting, planted a single food-bearing tree."

Personally, I think the world would be a better place.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Internet Forums, Spirits and Science

Lately, I've been doing a lot of reading on the internet. What has really piqued my interest is a couple of threads over at IshCon. One thread is talking about what spirits are and the other is talking about the relationships scientists have with the creatures they're observing. Both threads are really good. I highly recommend checking them out.

This picture comes to mind when thinking about the relationship between observed and observer.

And on the subject of Animism. I was reading a few chapters out of Derrick Jensen's amazing book Walking on Water and ran across this small section that I think relates to the living harmonic Shirin was talking about in Daniel Quinn's book, The Story of B.

"Of course not. Everyone knows our bodies aren't really where we live: our bodies are kind of like TV receivers. Imagine if you'd never seen a television before, and you walked into a room and saw it on. You might think the Red Sox and the Mariners are actually a bunch of little people running around inside, as though it's a tiny stage or a tiny world. You remmeber those old RCA Victor ads where the dog thinks a human being is talking, but it's really a record player, right?."

Most remember. Some don't remember record players.

I continue nonetheless, "Maybe we only think our bodies are where the action takes place, but instead our bodies are complex receivers that play out the energy that's everywhere, kind of like the radio and television waves that surround us but do not become perceptible to us until the waves encounter receivers tuned to the right frequency."

"You mean space aliens beam us into existence?"

"No, silly, life itself. It's dancing and exploding all around us, and when the right wavelength meets the right vessel, boom, there you go, instant animation. Instant person. Or tree or frog or rock. All each of us is doing is manifesting in our own particular way the life force that surrounds us all. We don't really think with our brains, anymore than the Mariners live inside a television. That's just where it comes into focus."


Saturday, October 28, 2006

A Rigged System

QUESTION:...."Many of us working in environmentalism have come to feel that the only (or the best) way we have to protect wildlife is to buy up habitat and easements through organized efforts such as land trusts. At the same time, I am starting to worry that these efforts, because they still buy into the notion of a fair system, may find us down the road having all of the property rights and easements taken away from us (and from the wildlife we are trying to protect) the moment that monied power forces decide they need the land for their own use."

"What should we be prepared for in the future, as land trust members? What chance do you think land trusts have of actually being able to preserve habitat once monied interests begin to perceive it as useful for their own ends?"


Jensen: "I'm all for any tactics that work, and while I definitely see the benefit of buying land and setting it aside, I also see problems associated with it, problems I think are not often enough discussed.

The first is that within an industrial economy, more or less all economic activity is destructive, which means that in order to gain the money to purchase the land in one place you've probably had to harm some other place. For example, I make between $1.50 and $2.25 on every book I've written that sells in a bookstore. Let's call it
$2. There are some people here in Del Norte County in northern California who want to purchase some cutover parcels of 40 or 60 acres. I think the parcels cost something like $40,000. Purchasing and setting aside this land would be a very good thing. The parcels are on a coho-bearing stream, and they are in the midst of a larger parcel recently set aside. But for me to purchase this, twenty thousand of my books would have to sell. How much damage was caused by the manufacture and transportation of those books? It will not be insignificant. And my publisher is a small operation. What if my work were published by Random House? I would be helping a German conglomerate get richer.

My second problem with it is the knowledge that no matter how much I can work to set aside land, the system is rigged in favor of those who purchase land to put it to economic use. Let's say I put out $40,000 to purchase this land. Well, now I have to write more books to purchase more land. Meanwhile, Weyerhaeuser purchases another parcel for $40,000. The company does so in order to turn a profit. That means that by cutting the trees on the land and through government subsidy, Weyerhaeuser will make more than $40,000, and will use that money to purchase and deforest more land. It's inescapable. If you purchase land to set it aside, you can never compete with those who are purchasing it to kill those who live there and convert them to cash.

My third problem with it is that it doesn't challenge the notion that it is acceptable to buy and sell land. Most of us would consider it immoral to buy and sell human beings, and we consider that slaveholders in the nineteenth century were immoral people with whom we have nothing in common. "I, for one," we can say all-too-easily, "would never have done anything like that." But are you sure? Try this. What if instead of owning people we're talking about owning land. Someone tells you that no matter how much you paid to purchase title to some piece of land, the land itself does not belong to you. No longer may you do whatever you wish with it. You may not cut the trees on it. You may not build on it. You may not run a bulldozer over it to put in a driveway. All of those activities are immoral, because they*re based on your exploitation of a living thing: in this case the land. Did you ask the land if it wants you to build on it? Do you care what the land thinks? But the land can't think, you say. Ah, but that's just what you think. It is how you were taught to think. Let's say further that your livelihood and your way of life are based on working this land--the outsiders call it exploiting--and that if the outsiders have their way you'll be out of business. Again and again they tell you that you are a bad person, a stupid bigot, because you refuse to see that your way of life is based on the exploitation of something you don*t perceive as having any rights*or sentience* to begin with. Angry yet?

My point is not that slavery was (or is) moral. It is that our entire way of living has from the beginning been based on slavery, and continues to be. As I mentioned before, there are more human slaves now than came across on the Middle Passage. And what are factory farms, except slave and death camps for nonhumans (I say this, by the way, as someone who eats meat: I try to avoid factory-farmed meat; wild meat is the best of all, except to be honest (and I've never done this) the most ecologically-sound meat you could get would be to poach cows off of state or federal lands)? What are we effectively doing with land ownership? What is privatization? We
are effectively attempting to enslave all of the land (and water and air and genetic materials and all of life) to industrial production.

I want to tell you a parable of stupidity. It centers around a box. The box is full of salmon, and a man sits atop the box. Long ago this man hired armed guards to keep anyone from eating the fish. The many people who sit next to the empty river starve to death. But they do not die of starvation. They die of a belief. Everyone believes that the man atop the box owns the fish. The soldiers believe it, and they will kill to protect the illusion. The others believe it enough that they are willing to starve. But the truth is that there is a box, there is an emptied river, there is a man sitting atop the box, there are guns, and there are starving people.

All of our claims to land ownership are illusory. They are nothing more nor less than social convention. Unfortunately these illusions have real world effects. We allow imaginary institutions called corporations to pretend they own land, and then to destroy the actual living beings on that land because we believe that they own it (and in fact believe that they--corporations--actually exist). One of the most important things we can do is challenge these delusions.

I don't own the land I live on. I believe I own it. More or less all of the humans who live here in this county believe I own it. But the land itself doesn't believe that. If anything it owns me. We are neighbors, close neighbors, living literally on top of each other, and I need to figure out what I can do to help my neighbors live happy and fulfilling lives.

Another problem with purchasing land to set aside is that we all know that if this land were then found to have resources coveted by those in power, that our ownership would be meaningless. They would take the resources, and if we resisted, they would kill us. To convince ourselves of that, we need merely look at the trail of broken treaties, and ask ourselves how fairly Indian land claims have been resolved.

All that said, I consider purchasing land to set aside to be one tactic. I have no problem with the use of this tactic, and in fact if I had boatloads of money I would purchase land left and right to set aside. I just want for us to not unthinkingly use this tactic, any more than I would want for us to unthinkingly use any other
tactic.

I've heard it said that unquestioned assumptions are the real authorities of any culture. The notion of owning land (or owning anything, where we define ownership as the right to control and destroy) is one of the fundamental unquestioned assumptions of our culture."

Quote and Something to Think About

This post over at Ran Prier has given me a lot to think about. I don't think I have a clear vision. And I liked what Ran had to write about his vision.

October 25. Last week Stacy made a challenging comment:

Aren't eco-villages just another program? Aren't renewable energy schemes another program? Didn't Daniel Quinn point out in 1996 that stuff like that doesn't represent a change in vision? Or we want to go back to a forager lifestyle because it's a known entity instead of trying for a new vision. Is living in an ecovillage or becoming a hunter/forager new? Can that be a vision?

What's your vision? Can you put it into 25 words or less?

Here's what I wrote in my Critique of Civilization FAQ:

[Ran wrote:]Only people under the spell of civilization need an exciting vision of a nonexistent future to motivate them. Cultures that live in balance feel no need for a "vision of the future" because they have a present that is acceptable.

Our visions of the future have all turned out to be wrong. From techno-utopia to Hitler's Thousand Year Reich to the Age of Aquarius to Bush's crusade to bring "freedom" to Asia, they're a mixture of wishful thinking and lies that serve to motivate people to march toward something that turns out to be quite different.

Right now, people with visions are seen as strong and bold, and people who make predictions are seen as weak and passive. That's because we're still deep in the culture of Empire, which gives us a greatly inflated view of our own relative power. The way I see it, we're surfers. We have some choice over where we go, but we have to be patient and work with the waves. We are creating reality not as dictators but as collaborators with all other life from bacteria to gods. I see myself as a scout, looking at the landscape ahead to help people get ready.

At the same time, I do have a vision. From the same essay: "I envision stone age, medieval, modern, and 'magical' technologies all dancing together in a world of wilderness and ruins." Most important, that world must be stable. I'm struggling with a new essay about what that means
.


And I just got done reading After Dachau, by Daniel Quinn again, and here are a few gems that I ran across.

“I learned something about obsession with my time with the Fenshaws. I learned it isn’t madness or even foolishness, though madness and foolishness have gvien it a bad name. How could anyone who wasn’t obsessed compose a symphony or write a thousand-page novel? How could anyone who wasn’t obsessed cross an uncharted ocean in a seventy-foot sailboat? No one sneers at people like these, but they will sneer at someone whose obsession drives them to fill a house with starving cats or to build a half-size model of the Brandenburg Gate out of matchsticks. I almost feel that someone who lives without an obsession has a poor s sort of life.” Pg. 25

Napoleon considered history “just an agreed-upon fiction.”Pg 136

Friday, October 27, 2006

After Dachau

DELETED...Double Post

Property Taxes

Yesterday, we recieved a notice in the mail explaining how the value of our property has increased by 100%. I couldn't believe it. The tax assesor was here a few months ago explaining how he didn't see any improvements that would increase the value of our property. Later, I turned over the sheet of paper. There it explained how the township that I live in has experienced a 71% tax increase, and those getting hit the hardest by the increase were people who owned woodlots or have property on the shorelines of lakes. We own 32 acres of wooded land.

Of course it really pissed me off. In Wisconsin the money collected from property taxes goes toward paying for the public schooling system. And I really hate the public schooling system. It's frustrating because most of the money we are paying out in property taxes is going toward a system that doesn't work. And saying it doesn't work is an understatement, I feel. The system leads students away from who they really are. Self discovery isn't part of the experience of schooling.

Paying out more money in taxes for a system that doesn't work isn't whats bothering me the most, I don't think. I think whats bothering me the most is there are so many critics out there who have made it clear that schooling does more damage then good to children, and the system is still going strong. There is no end in sight. It has more supporters than detractors. It's crazy.

Well, the sun is coming up in the east. So, before I go off to make some cash I'm going to post some links to some of the best writing I've come across exposing the negative effects of schooling. Someday, hopefully the majority of Wisconsin property taxpayers will see through the myth of the schooling system and seek something better.

Schooling: The Hidden Agenda, by Daniel Quinn.

The Six Lesson School Teacher, by John Taylor Gatto, New York State Teacher of the Year, 1991.

The Student as Nigger, by Jerry Farber.

The 500 Pound Gorilla, by Alfie Kohn

Walking on Water, by Derrick Jensen is absolutely a must read too.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Tribalism

Some thoughts and quotes about tribalism:

It's been seven years since I was awakened to the fact that humans lived in tribes for most of their existance on this planet. And for the most part they were equal in the political, ecomomical, and social aspect of things.

It's amazing how much a member of this cultures perspective can change when they discover that we are not humanity. And where humans are still found living in tribes things are working well for them.

After first reading Quinn's work, I tried to explain to my uncle as best as I could how well tribalism worked for Homo sapien.

He responded with: "Do you really want to live with the constant fear that a neighboring tribe will rob you blind at any moment." Or, " Don't you remember what the United States government did to the group of people living in that compound in Waco, Texas. They killed them, Curt. Do you really want this to happen to you?"

If I remember right, I didn't even try to explain that some circuses are tribal and work well. Also, the US government isn't hunting them down, I don't think anyway.

This is just Mother Culture at work.

A ran across this gem of a quote about tribalism in TSOB: People will sometimes charge me with just being in love with tribalism. They say to me in effect, "If you love it so much, why don't you just go do it and leave the rest of us alone?" Those who understand me in this way totally misunderstand what I'm saying. The tribal lifestyle isn't precious because it's beautiful or lovable or because it's "close to nature." It isn't even precious because it's "the natureal way for people to live." To me this is gibberish. This is like saying that bird migration is good because it's the natural way for birds to live, like saying that bear hibernation is good beause it's th natural way for bears to live. The tirbal life is precious because it tested out. For three million year it worked for people . It worked for people the way nests work for birds, the way webs work for spiders, the way burrows work for moles, the way hibernation works for bears. That doesn't make it loveable, that makes it viable." pg.319

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Conversation

Last night, Annie handed me the phone and said, "Here, my mom wants to talk to you." I was kind of hesitant, it was getting late and I really didn't feel like talking on the phone to anyone.

Her mom said, "I've got to read something to you."

"Sure, go ahead."

What she read to me was an account either by a merchant or a government agent from the 1830's. The person writing explained how they wanted the Ojibwa of Keewinaw (sp?) Peninsula in Michigan to make their living more by agriculture instead of hunting and gathering. Their reasoning was that if they made their living by agriculture a lot more of them could live in one area. And this would really benefit the French fur traders.

After reading it, she responded with, "Sometimes I just want to put my head down and my hands over my ears. I feel so alone in this culture."

I came back with, "I know what you mean. The population of the United States has reached 3 million people and the experts won't even mention the relationship between food availability and population growth. It's just insane."

"Aint it, though."

"You know, though, despite all the madness I'm feeling pretty good right now," I said.

"Why is that?" She asked.

"I'm reading the part in The Story of B where Shirin is teaching Jared about animism out in the forest."

"Oh really! I'm so glad that you mentioned B to me. I need to read that the way I'm feeling right now." She said.

30 minutes later we hung up.

I hope she is feeling better today. And It just amazes me how "like minds" work. Not many people would recognize that making the Ojibwa dependent on Agriculture is a bad thing.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

More quotes from The Story of B:

"We make our journey in the company of others. The deer, the rabbit, the bison, and the quail walk before us, the lion, the eagle, the wolf, the vulture and the hyena walk behind us. All our paths lie together in the hand of god and none is wider than any other or favored above any other. The worm that creeps beneath your foot is making its journey across the hand of god as surely as you are.

"Remember that your tracks are one strand of the web woven endlessly in the hand of god. They're tied to those of the mouse in the field, the eagle on the mountain, the crab in its hold, the lizard beneath its rock. The leaf that falls to the ground a thousand miles away touches your life. The impress of your foot in the soil is felt through a thousand generations." pg. 185

On teachings: The Leaver peoples of the world have been trying to tell you these things for centuries, but they still remain secrets. Certainly we haven't hidden them--far from it. We're not like high-degree members of the Freemasons or Templars or the Ku Klux Klan, whisperings secrets in locked rooms an exacting promises of silence from those who hear them. Wherever people behave that way, you can be sure they're guarding either very paltry secrets or simple matters of fact, like where the Allies planned to invade Europe at the end of World War Two. Real secrets can be kept by publishing them on billboards." pg.188

And the Leaver vision: "The word is a sacred place and a sacred process, and we're part of it." Pg 189

Friday, October 20, 2006

Thoughts from TSOB

As you can tell from my most recent posts I’m reading the Story of B. It’s so good. It gets better every time I read it.

I’m going to post a few passages out of it that I really like. Plus, I can feel a letter to the editor coming on talking about The Law of Life and the Taker Vision.

The letter may start out like this: “If you don’t believe that humans are animals that are subject to the same biological laws that nonhumans are then it doesn’t pay for you to read any further.”

B talking about religious thought: “The linguist and I must both practice bricolage, which is the craft of building with whatever comes to hand, It comes from the French bricoler, to putter about. We must putter about in this strange borderland inhabited bay almost-human on one side and truly-humans on the other.”

“So you assume being human means being religious, just as the linguist assumes that being human means being lingual.”

“Being a bricoleur, I don’t do anything as well defined as that, Jared, I poke around. I wonder if there’s a dimension of thought that is inherently religious. I say to myself that perhaps thought is like musical tone, which in nature is never a single, pure tone but is always a composite of many harmonics—overtones and undertones. And I say to myself that perhaps, when mental process became human thought, it began to resound with one harmonic that corresponds to what we call religion, or, more fundamentally, awareness of the sacred. In other words, I wonder if awareness of the sacred is not much a separate concept as it is an overtone of human thought itself. A conjecture of this sort can yield scientia, knowledge, but since it isn’t falsifiable, it can’t yield science in the modern sense. A work of bricolage is never science, Jared, but it still can astound, make sense and stimulate thought. It can still impress with its veracity, validity, soundness, and cogency.” Pg 130

I’m trying to understand how B ties The Community of Life, Animism and The Law of Life.

“The fossil represents the community of life.” I told her. “Animism is bound up with that community and resonates with it. The Law of Life, represented by the pen, is written in the community of life, and animism reads this law, as does science in its own way.” Pg. 147

Animism isn’t a religion. It’s a worldview:

What is animism Jared?

“I’m less and less sure as time goes on. As I understand it right now, it’s a vision. I suppose you mean a worldview, and weltanshauung.”

“Yes, but I think I’ll stick with vision. This what we’re about here: two visions, one vision that enabled us to live well and in harmony with the earth through millions of years, and another vision that has brought us to the verge of extinction and made us the enemy of all life on this planet in just ten thousand years.” Pg.150

School

Over at Last Track, DeAnna asks the question "How the hell did we ever make it through public school?" I wish more people who made it through the process of schooling would ask this question.

I really hate the public school system. There are many reason why I do, but the primary reason is because it teaches us how not to think. It teaches us how to quit asking questions that come from a place of curosity and wonder. I've heard Derrick Jensen say that his twenties really sucked because he was shaking off the effects of his schooling, his thirties were all right because he was beginning to learn how to think for himself, and so far his forties have been better then his thirties, it just keeps getting better for him. I think this has been my experience so far,too.

If you would have asked me what I thought about school in my early twenties, I would've told you it is an experience that everyone must have. You get to: socialize with friends, date many different women, play sports, be exposed to many educational and career oppurtunities and most importantly you don't have to join the mundane and mind-numbing reality of the real world of work. If fact, my grandfather (He dropped out at 14) use to just criticize the hell out of our schools and it would really piss me off. I got pissed, partly because I felt he was implying the same things about me. Looking back, I really didn't know much. I still don't, but atleast I'm asking questions and open to learning.

Well, there is a few words about school. I feel better now. I have much more to say about the process of schooling, but not enough time to say it right now.

Note to myself. I posted a little bit about the effects of schooling on this thread over at IshCon. There were some really good experiences that were shared there. I really liked the story that Urban Scout told. He's done a lot of good work.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Freedom and Population

A few things worthy of mentioning this morning.

The first: Yesterday, the human population of the United States reached 300 million.

Giuli, over at Anthropik writes, “Our country joined the ranks of India and China as one of the few countries (and the only first world one) to have 300 million residents or more. For us "unreconstructed Malthusians"1 who fail to see how overpopulation is a "cause for celebration," as "[t]he United States is a dynamic, prosperous, thriving society and growth is necessary to keep it that way," environmental concerns are inevitable.”

Ever since I’ve read the Story of B the first time (which was about 7 years ago) I thought for sure the argument layed out by B under the section titles ABCs of Ecology (If anyone has ABCs of Ecology section in TSOB saved, would you send it to me? I’ll post it on here.) would shape the policies of governments around the world. I thought that somehow on a global scale we would see the human population level off by choice. Wow, was I na├»ve. Most of the people that I’ve heard talk about the planet being overpopulated with humans never make the connection between food availability and population growth. And, unfortunately I don’t see it happening anytime soon in the near future.

The second: If you want to read an amazing essay about what it means to be free, click here.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Art of Nothing

It’s 6:30 AM. The fire is burning well. It’s 45 degrees F. out there, 25 degrees warmer then yesterday morning at this time. I’ll be waking up Daniel in about 15 minutes to send him off to school. I’m surprised, he really likes first grade. At this point in the school year, I thought for sure we would have to dynamite him out of bed in the morning.

I’ve read a few pages out of The Story of B already. I’m reading about cultural collapse. B is talking about how up until the 1960’s the vision we hold, as a culture was strong. We were actually doing holy work by cutting down forests, daming rivers, spraying unwanted insects with DDT…etc. The vision of: The World was made for Man, and Man was made to conquer and rule it was strong.

It’s really amazing how some things work out. For the past week I’ve been thinking about an article by Thomas Elpel titled: The Art of Nothing. I haven’t read it entirely yet, but I’ve felt drawn to it lately. I really haven’t looked for it on the net during this time either, but last night it kind of fell into my lap. I checked in to The Teaching Drum’s internet talk forum and there it was, RedWolfReturns had just posted it as thread topic. Maybe this could be what you call synchronicity.

Well, it’s time to wake up Daniel.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Great Auk

It’s 6:30 AM. I’ve been up since 5 AM. The sun should be up within the next half-n-hour. When I woke up this morning I didn’t know what to write here. I usually don’t until I get a fire going and have a cup of coffee. It’s 20 degrees Fahrenheit out there by the way. The ground is frozen hard. Oh, and while I was getting some wood for the fire this morning, I heard a ruffed tail grouse drumming. What a great sound.

I’m still reading the profoundly important book: The Story of B. And as I was reading I figured out what I wanted to write. In one of the speeches that B gives in his public talks, he mentions that the Great Auk of Edley Island was the first species ever driven to extinction by this culture for strictly commercial purposes. It was hunted for its feathers. This happened in 1844.

I knew this already. I read about it in A Language Older than Words, by Derrick Jensen. But for some reason, this morning, it seems more significant to me. Maybe it’s because civilization has been chugging along now for the past 10,000 years and within that time frame the extinction of the Great Auk only happened quite recently. I don’t know. But the extinction of the Great Auk strictly for commercial purposes definitely deserves to be acknowledged and understood. Especially since we are headed for the same fate, that’s if we keep enacting the story of: The world was made for man to conquer and rule.

Some say that extinction is forever.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

One More Chance

I belong to the Derrick Jensen Reading Club. Periodically, he sends members emails talking about his: upcoming shows, health, writing projects; and stories that are of signifigance. A few days ago, he sent us a really cool story describing an experience he had while filming a documentary about Peak Oil. I thought I would post it here.

I had something pretty amazing happen today. I was going to get interviewed for a film on peak oil. I wore my sweater that has a ferret on the front that my mom countstitched on there. We went up to Mill Creek, in the old growth redwoods, to this one spot where I go often. Once when I was there I was talking to students from the Audubon Expedition Institute, and just when I said the whole thing about hope, about how I do not hope that coho salmon survive, I will do whatever it takes to make sure the dominant culture doesn't drive them extinct, RIGHT at that moment a salmon came up to the edge of the creek and stayed there a moment right next to me, opening and closing its mouth. Anyway, we went right back to that exact spot. I was sitting on a downed trunk, and the interviewer/cameraoperator was sitting on another a few feet away, with the stream behind me. I was telling him about the dream I had about the demons, the visitation I had by them after I wrote the chapter in Endgame about how if someone believes humans are inherently destructive (I don't) then they should just go ahead and put up or shut up and come up with a virus or something (once again, I don't believe humans are inherently destructive), and then the night I wrote that stuff having that vistation by the demons in a dream, about the demons coming in to kill everyone, the stuff I wrote about in Songs of the Dead. And I told him about the Jack Forbes stuff, about the wetiko sickness (also in Songs of the Dead). And then I told him that the Indians I've spoken with often have said that creatures don't go extinct, that they go away, and that they'll come back when the land is treated better. And then I told him about that time at Yontocket where I asked a hawk sitting on a tree if this was right about the demons coming and if it was right about how the animals would come back if the land is treated better, and I asked the hawk if that was right to fly a circle above my head, and right then it took off, and flew a half-circle and landed in a tree 180 degrees from where it started. i thought, "Okay, that's half right." But then I looked up and saw a vulture finishing the circle. So it was clear the animals would need the demons to come in and wipe out the humans and then someone to clean up. And then later i wondered why the demons haven't shown up already, and it came clear to me that we are being given one last chance to show we are redeemable: either we clean up this mess or the demons will, and if they do we're not going to like it because they'll kill more or less all of us. Anyway, as I'm telling him this story, I notice he keeps looking over my shoulder, and then toward the end he shifts the camera so it's not facing me directly, but I'm in the side. And then he moves it so it's just on the water. I keep talking. I finish the story. I ask him what's up. He tells me to look around. There's an otter in the stream. I've never seen an otter there before. i've only seen three since I've been here. He said at one point he had me and my sweater on one side of the screen, and the otter had climbed up on a big old downed redwood in the water and was sitting there looking at us, and it was on the other half of the screen. AND I have to say that the reason I chose this sweater is too long and convoluted to tell, but it involved making a couple three other decisions, after which this sweater was the first one I saw. It was so clear to all three of us there (the film's producer was there too) that this was a visitation, in some ways another confirmation of what the dream and then the hawk told me. It was pretty amazing.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Question

This culture is: creating global warming, overpopulating the planet, poisoning the water supply, driving roughly 200 species a day extinct, dirtying the air, cutting down more trees than can be planted, driving other cultures to extinction, using up fossil fuels at an astronomical rate...and so on.

And it all starts by believing in this myth:“The World was made for Man, and Man was made to conquer and rule it.” THE STORY OF B, by Daniel Quinn.

Or does it?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Iron John and Men

A few months ago, I read Iron John, by Robert Bly again. This time I got more out of it. Bly’s writing is very poetic and easy to understand.

Iron John is a book about men. A book that explores the make up of a man’s psyche through the interpretation of the myth of Iron John, focusing in on the Wild Man archetype. An archetype that has been and still is repressed in most men. On page 227 Bly talks about this community of archetypes in the man’s psyche:

“The Wild Man is part of a company or community in man’s psyche and it would be just as foolish to concentrate on him exclusively as to concentrate on the Warrior exclusively.” Later on in the paragraph he writes, “A whole community of beings is what is called a grown man.”

Then he breaks the community down into 7 archetypes:

1. Wild Man
2. Warrior
3. King
4. Lover
5. Trickster
6. Mythologist or Cook
7. Grief Man

The paragraph below has stuck with me for a few months now. Probably because my dad worked in a metal fabricating factory from the time I was born up until my late twenties. He dedicated thirty years of his life to that place. Another reason, I think, it has stuck with me is that I had the chance to work beside my grandfather as a logger from the time I turned 18 until I was 25. As I get older, I realize this experience had a huge impact on me.


“By the middle of the twentieth century in Europe and North America a massivechange had taken place: the father was working but the son could not see him working.

“Throughout the ancient hunter societies, which apparently lasted thousands of years—perhaps hundreds of thousands—and throughout the hunter-gatherer societies that followed them, and the subsequent agricultural and craft societies, fathers and sons worked and lived together. As late as 1900 in the United States about ninety percent of fathers were engaged in agriculture, In all these societies the son character- istically saw his father working at all times of the day and all seasons of the year.

“When the son no longer sees that, what happens? After thirty years of working with young German men, as fatherless in their industrial society as young American men today, Alexander Mitscherlich, whom we spoke of in the first chapter, developed a metaphor: a hole appears in the son’s psyche. When the son does not see his father’s workplace, or what he produces, does he imagine his father to be a hero, a fighter for good, a saint, or a white knight? Mitscherlich’s answer is sad: demons move into that empty place—demons of suspicion.

“The demons, invisible but talkative, encourage suspicion of all older men. Such suspicion effects a breaking of the community of old and young men. One could feel this distrust deepen in the sixties: “Never trust anyone over thirty.”


In our culture today, how many boys get to see what there fathers are up to while making a living? In the thirty years my dad worked at the factory I never once got to see him doing his job. As a child, going about my days doing what child does, I do remember wondering what my father was doing at his job. What was he making? Was he having fun?

In this culture are there a lot of young men running around with “holes in their psyches”? Are they listening to “demons of suspicion?” What does it take to be a real man?