Conversations On A Country Path

I was at the dacha for two days this week, helping Anatoly (my father-in-law) get the garden ready for winter’s anticipated arrival, the air already foretelling the north winds imminent presence.  This morning we walked up the path to a cliff by the forest’s edge, overlooking the Ob River less than thirty meters below. The sun was shining intensely in a perfectly cobalt-blue autumn Siberian sky, speaking a language all its own, as its light played and danced gently off the nearly placid surface of the waters below. An occasional breeze was faintly blowing, talking to the silver birch and aspen trees, as their now golden leaves carried the conversation back into the wind. On our way back down, a lonesome crow was alerting his absent mates to our approach, a small snake conscientiously crossing before us on the path, while the honeybees greeted our arrival back at the dacha with a resounding hum.  Even the gnats refused us peace.

Yet, now, even here, the occasional whirr of an internal-combustion engine clanking underneath the hood of a passing auto interrupts the intricacy of nature’s language, and the richness of its silences. Why is it humans believe that we alone talk, that we alone have language and can communicate?  Why do we consider the sounds of nature to be mere noise; and why do we think we have the right to drown out nature’s sometimes quiet, sometimes angry, messages with our own manmade sounds – jet engines, locomotives, autos, radios, televisions, and various other devices that whirr, whine, grind, clank, pound, hammer, screech, or explode?  Ours is a culture cluttered with noise, manufactured noise, mechanical noise, electronic noise, and, yes, verbal noise.  When I leave the city behind, with its trams, trolleys, busses, trucks, and cars, its bells, whistles, and alarms, and the incessant chatter of the crowds moving or just milling around, and arrive at the entrance to the dacha community, nature’s voice is clearly audible and nearly palpable.  The colors of the leaves that have turned, and those trees that are just beginning to change, provide a stunning but ever-changing backdrop to this subtle conversation among sky, water, earth, and forest, and the creatures living there in its midst.

Have we lost or perhaps buried our feral capacity to hear these alternate voices, the subtle conversations that greet us on a country path when we have left behind the confines and safety of the home, the city walls, and the highways? We seem to think we can continue to ignore this call of the wild and the voices of nature, drowning them out with our pumps, jack-hammers, engines, explosives, drills, derricks, wells, and chemical mixtures, and all the accompanying machinations that force nature to stand and deliver, as we struggle desperately to sate our hunger for more energy and more of this ‘good life’.  It seems we hear only the voices of other humans, and usually we listen only to those telling us what to believe and how to live our lives, our leaders and their paid pitchmen. And we, in turn, respond most directly to those marketers who ply us with the greatest promises, the newest toys and other goodies, things to obscure our own growing sense of alienation and anonymity in an increasingly atomized world of their making. What is globalization? It is just another word for the hypnosis of mass anonymity, the loss of our physical pulse, as we live now, faceless, in a world of steel, concrete and electronic impulses.

And when the subtle voices of nature abound, why is our first impulse to stick something in our ears – a headset, a cell-phone, or the ear-buds from our newest personal music machine. I am as guilty as anyone is in this regard. The temptation at times, overpowering.  What are we afraid of hearing in this natural silence?  What frightens us in the voice of nature?

Modern consciousness seems to be most comfortable inhabiting the purely rational and linguistic space constructed and refined over centuries by the curriculum of the West – civilization’s central mission.  All the while, we continue to ignore or demean the pre-rational, pre-thematic subjectivity of our own bodies, and the meanings that are pre-consciously constituted through the natural participation of my senses with the earthly sensuous.  It always is and remains the animate and animated body-subject intertwined with the world-as-lived-by-the-body; my flesh, the flesh of the world.  We participate the world, much as my eyes participate the emergence of the rainbow on the horizon: alter my physical position, and the rainbow changes its terminal location or disappears altogether.

Yet back in the city, the talking and the distractions continue unabated. Muzak plays tirelessly in the background of the café, over the din of human chatter, while the noise of cars and trucks rumbles on outside incessantly. The news outlets speak verbally and visually: The Huffington Post, Al Jazeera, TRN, Fox, CNBC, MSNBC, and a host of others vying for our attention – dead bodies in Mexico, Chinese farmers in protest, the battle for Libya, Israeli spies.  We hear claims and counterclaims, words filling up the airwaves and our ears, until the noise level is just too unbearable, too overwhelming. The mind clicks off.  And it remains off, as this civilization continues its freefall into collapse taking much of the planet and its biodiversity with it.  Yet most folks still remain anaesthetized.

All the while, the “curriculum of the West” keeps grinding relentlessly forward. Our politicians, scientists and their financiers demanding increased conformity to a worldview they have established and a world they are desperate to maintain; and we remain enthralled by their PR whores out on the front lines selling the next storybook ending. We listen dutifully to their strange tales, literally fascinated with that one about the evil inhering in human nature, and how only they can guarantee ‘law and order’ to keep it at bay, to keep it from overtaking the good of their perfectly civil society.  And we obey unquestioningly; even our own leaders’ misdeeds excused as a necessary tool to ensure civil harmony and peace.  And we never, not even once, stop to question their primary and founding assumption – the one about human nature.

Yet, while the noise-level of our culture keeps ratcheting-up, what is an ordinary person to do to maintain some sanity, some sense of equilibrium within this growing cacophony of human noise and its demands?  This is my question for you, my readers.  I want to hear your ideas about overcoming the ever mounting and unrelenting noise (demands) of civilized life so that we may listen again to nature and find a better way to live after the collapse.

128 Responses to Conversations On A Country Path

  1. javacat says:

    Thank you for this posting, Sandy, for its beauty, its authenticity, and its truth. You’ve touched the heart of the problem and also its cure.

    The rationalist split of Self and Nature is the false note in our history. Some cite agriculture as the beginning of our disconnect. So many generations down that path, what allows any of us to awaken to the delight of the senses and feel the thrumming of our own heart with that of the forest?

    So much of what we knew, instinctively, intuitively, naturally has been devalued, trashed, plowed under in the pursuit of ‘progress’. Even the idea of the five senses is limiting and wrong, but it’s what science is able to understand and measure. Because of the premium on the rational, the hyper-conscious ego-mind, we’ve learned, generation after generation, to distrust our own perceptions; to dismiss our own insights, especially when those perceptions and insights rise from sources we may not be able to name. Western culture, as I’ve experienced it, has shoved itself into one long, narrow chute that disallows meaning from sources such as dreams and other realms of knowing.

    Because of this cultural domination, we all have learned to dismiss those other ways of knowing. Dreams are just the brain making sense of the day. Intuition can’t be trusted. Those unexpected events? Just coincidence. We have dissecting minds that take apart very well, like a child taking apart an appliance, but we can’t put it back together or miss the whole completely.

    Yet, I think many of us are aware of those fleeting flashes of perception, or the sensation you described upon being in the forest of the dacha. Often we simply default back to our anesthetized state because it is habit, it’s familiar, it’s convenient, it seems safe. To be fully alive, aware and living in the moment without boundaries between our being and the nature around us, we need to pay attention. We need to learn to trust those feelings, even if we don’t understand the source. We need to return to those places and people where we can move without the encumbrances of our culture, where, as Shepard states, we can come home to the Pleistocene.

    We have this meaning in our core, in our cells, in our very DNA, vibrant and animate. Yet this is so much junk, so many clogging layers of cultural sediment–mostly variations of implanted fear–that keep us from opening to a much wider world. This is a long way to answering your question, Sandy, I know, but it’s question I’ve been living deeply for the last 5 years. More and more, I pay attention to my perceptions, whether about how I react to a place or the energy I feel from a person. I return to the places and people where there is greater openness and connection. I pay attention to sunlight and how it changes throughout the day and the year. I notice animals, colors, leaves and stones. I follow paths that seem to lead me deeper to the feral self, that seem to allow the censoring mind to drop away and let me see with my whole being.

    I find authors whose words speak to me. Shepard, Abram, Buhner, Rumi, Beston. I deliberately don’t plug in headphones and almost never watch movies at home. I try to tap the creative…through writing, photography, travel. Again, I return to the people and places where I am most alive. The local forest for bike rides. The nearby meadow with its rash of golden colors and darting birds and an occasional eagle overhead. A dear friend’s farm that is a way of respect for the Earth.

    Sometime, examples in our lives are startlingly clear. Last December, I traveled to Ecuador to spend a too-short time in the rain forest. We began with several days in Quito, a city of 7 million people plus. We walked, we navigated, we touristed, senses on high alert, but as if from an assault. It wasn’t nearly as loud or tall or dirty as NYC, but cities tend to the aggressive. Our steps in the rain forest, in contrast, were total welcoming, an opening of the senses, a flowing through of natural energy that was as easy as breathing. Afterwards, my friend told me that I kept saying, “I feel so alive!” while in the jungle.

    We must actively, deliberately, mindfully nurture these vital aspects of ourselves. We’ve gained and built so many internal boundaries that we don’t realize how much space there really is within us. Use whatever image you like: breaking down the fences, pulling out the cultural limits by its roots. It’s an ongoing process of getting rid of the fears and limits that have been poured into us, and learning to move again in a way that is both lighter and more grounded.

    • kulturcritic says:

      You are welcome Java (M)! It was an interesting two days, even though I go there quite often. Yet, the emergence of autumn seemed to provide a renewed feeling tone. I also agree that the rationalist division of mind and body, self and world is a formidable part of our problem. Overcoming the historical and psychological momentum of this false dichotomy is largely a gargantuan task. I have come to recognize that there is unquestionably a unique perceptual hierarchy in the West, grounded in linear time, with sight at the very top of the pyramid; but I am no longer willing to let my own life be vision-driven. I have come to realize how for so long I had been guided by my sense of sight alone, by visualizing a future toward which I was heading. Like the disembodied self of Enlightenment rationalism, which underlies our modern worldview, I had been ruled almost exclusively by seeing, that sense committed to looking ahead. My other senses had become dulled, selective, and flat. I was unaware of what was around me, focused instead on what was before me, in my line of sight…at some future goal that I now “had in view.” The preponderance of these metaphors directing me was not a mere literary conceit; it was indicative of the restraints that historical consciousness had imposed upon me, on how I “saw” things, on my “worldview.” It was all visual. But I have taken my cue here from my wife, Anna, who is less concerned with diligently planning the future and more closely engaged in living a full and meaningful present – where scent, taste, and touch were more concretely and intimately involved. And, like most of her countrymen, Anna seems far more balanced tactilely, aurally, and visually than I had ever been or hoped to be. I am grateful for your diligent and thoughtful reply. all my best, sandy

      • javacat says:

        I hadn’t realized how much vision imagery dominated our parlance until I read all the examples you mentioned. Its own brainwashing, no? Linear time is a trap, taking us out of the present. Memory certainly doesn’t follow a linear path, nor do bodies or seasons nor other creatures. It’s a prison we have locked ourselves into, for sure. with a false sense of certainty in the rightness. Sight can be tragically unreliable, as has been explored in recent news articles here about easily manipulated eyewitness accounts. So yes, we must embrace all our senses, slow to enjoy the woody taste of forest mushrooms, to smell the scent of fall in the air, to hear the shifting winds in the trees, and know the roughness of granite and the soft cushion of moss.
        A short excerpt from Ecuador? Our guide was a young man–mid-20s?–who had grown up in these forests. He has discovered unknown species of tropical frogs, is a registered guide, as well as an accomplished carver and artist. What my friend and I noticed, separately, was the ease with which the young man moved from one task to another, from scientific rational to creative to playful. We sensed that there was no false division in his mind, keeping right and left sides of brain apart. Watching him made me realize how many barriers we put in front of ourselves in this culture.
        To pursue this return to a more primal state can put one out of step with the majority of the society, our friends, our colleagues, our partners. Yet is there any other choice? For me there is a yearning, a strong, innate desire for a return to this more embracing, complete way of being, and a deep desire for connection, with ourselves and the entire world around us. We know the resonance of connection. We simply must surrender to it.
        Thanks for offering this forum for us to share & comment.

      • javacat says:

        One last thing. I commented to a friend today (also a kC reader) that this was the least political post I’d seen on the blog. He agreed, then paused, saying, “Actually, it’s the most political.” And, truly, it is.

  2. Sandy, I think the outer noise is a reflection of the age-old inner conflicts abiding in the conscious and unconscious parts of the human mind. Wanting things that are in conflict with each other is a source of endless chaos and confusion. These conflicts remain unresolved because they get covered over by one’s habitually running after the illusory ego enhancers of comforts, conveniences, certainty, pride of victory or victimhood, etc. Thus, remaining elusive are lasting happiness, peace, and self-fulfillment, which are ours to gain if and when the way is cleared enabling us to receive it, or as Javacat says perceive it.
    It is said by those who have attained the state of Self-realization that there exists only Bliss, all else is illusion. Getting a whiff or a taste (or a glance or whisper) of this Bliss is the inspiration of a true artist, a poet, a seeker after truth…
    I feel this inspiration flowing through both Sandy’s article and Javacat’s commentary. The following is a well written piece I find seriously inspiring.


    There was never a time when so much official effort was being expended to produce happiness and probably never a time when so little attention was paid by the individual to creating the personal qualities that make for it. What one misses most today is the evidence of widespread personal determination to develop a character that will in itself, given any reasonable odds, make for happiness. Our whole emphasis is on the reform of living conditions, of increased wages, of controls on the economic structure–the government approach–and so little on man improving himself.
    The ingredients of happiness are so simple that they can be counted on one hand. Happiness comes from within, and rests most securely on simple goodness and clear conscience. Religion may not be essential to it, but no one is known to have gained it without a philosophy resting on ethical principles. Selfishness is its enemy; to make another happy is to be happy one’s self. It is quiet, seldom found for long in crowds, most easily won in moments of solitude and reflection. It cannot be bought; indeed money has very little to do with it.
    No one is happy unless he is reasonably well satisfied with himself, so that the quest for tranquility must of necessity begin with self-examination. We shall not often be content with what we discover in this scrutiny. There is much to do, and so little done. Upon this searching self-analysis, however, depends the discovery of those qualities that make each man unique, and whose development alone can bring satisfaction.
    Of all those who have tried, down the ages, to outline a program for happiness, few have succeeded so well as William Henry Channing, chaplain of the House of Representatives in the middle of the last century:
    “To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly; to listen to the stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart; to bear all cheerfully, to do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never; in a word to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common.”
    It will be noted that no government can do this for you; you must do it for yourself.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Ron – I think the outer noises (to which I refer) are a function of a world that is real and has been manmade. And while I do agree that much of our confusion is due to chasing after things that we think we need or want, I do not think that ethical principles (in the common parlance) or some religious or spiritual awakening is either necessary or helpful for achieving sanity in the midst of this cacaphony. Indeed, I believe that clinging to the idea of a ‘spiritual’ enlightenment only further indentures us to this false dichotomy between self and world, self and body, human nature and external nature.

    • Disaffected says:

      You’re growing on me. I don’t know yet that you’re hot onto the truth, but you’re at least picking up it’s tracks.

  3. john patrick says:

    Hi Sandy, thanks!

    Is is possible to post images of your surrounding area here?

  4. rg the lg says:

    What can I say … well done.
    There is much truth in the original offering … and the amplification in the responses are worth contemplation. My own take on the whole issue regarding the sense of disconnect is that any being with a cultural overlay on the basic non-cultural system is bound to detect, at some level, the disconnect between the cultural and the non-cultural. As humans, we use words to map our feelings, and thus are ever attempting clarity for our observations.

    • javacat says:

      “any being with a cultural overlay on the basic non-cultural system is bound to detect, at some level, the disconnect between the cultural and the non-cultural.” rg the lg…I believe you’re right about this, that at some level, however conscious or subconscious, we are aware of the disconnect. The recognition of the disconnect can be dulled by habit, by too many messages to the contrary, by a sense of being out of the norm if one acknowledges and expresses those thoughts of disconnect, for the latter especially challenges the established order of things. I’m noticing here in my area that more people are sensing more clearing that ‘something is not right’ even if they cannot put a finger on just what it is. A key, I think, is how we respond to the disconnect.

      Human do use words to map our feelings and our experiences. Words are wondrous and magical, and persuade and move us across time and space. Yet, too, they mislead. They are misused. They represent the experience but are not the experience that our bodies, our sentient beings know from so many other levels. Words and language can create a distance, too. What gets lost in translation?

    • kulturcritic says:

      Rg/Lg – so true. But we might agree that there are cultures less alienating and disconnecting than ours, yes? Thanks for sticking with me!

  5. B Miller says:

    Very nice. The imagery is beautiful. Thanks for a nice post.

    Over my desk is a list of goals for the year. One keeps making the list year after year, mocking my inability to achieve it: “Enjoy the methodical/practice silence/avoid noise/reduce mental clutter”. But, it is hard to resist the siren call of our modern chatter in all of its forms, even as we abhore it.

    My suggestion is to note that culturally we are on a path that is not sustainable (as you note each week). So, my goals, at least, will be achieved by default.

    Again, a very nice post this week.

  6. Dean says:

    Hi Sandy
    The best way to feel nature is to get out and “smell the flowers!”
    I bought a small piece of land a few years ago , about 150km from the city I live in. At first I thought it would be a good place for my kids to unwind and see some nature, as I had done as boy at our family cottage. (in quebec) We built a small cabin after living in an old motorhome for a few years( in the summer) After reading J.H. Kunstlers The Long Emergncy while on vacation in Hawaii ( just before the big crash in 2008!!) i became concerned about the possibility that the shit might really hit the fan! I have read so much now about the collapse and the end of oil that I need reading glasses now!! I have since put in a dugout( a mam made pond) for water and met as many of the local folk a s possible. My family and I are learning how to garden ( second year of a huge garden) i have also learned how to handle guns, something I never gave any thought to in the past. ( I bought a few too, just in case!!) Slowly I am preparing but hoping nothing happens. I think of that saying sometimes ” may you live in interesting times” Shite!! Not that interesting!! Good post anyway.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Thanks Dean!! All good decisions you made. Although I have not bought a gun yet… I am afraid to, I think. But I did buy my first hunting knife last month. Am I a chicken or what? LOL

  7. B Miller says:

    Definitely the vodka (or bourbon in my neck of the woods). I think one of your readers has it right, that this is one of your most political pieces. Reclaiming some sort of balance in the present will help us tolerate and then enjoy the “Long Emergency” or long descent.

    We live on a farm. So, it may be a bit of a brag that I offer this as instructive and to disclose that a bit of that peace is found in doing menial chores on a daily basis. To be up early, outside and doing something meaningful is often the perfect antidote to the chatter of the modern world.

    A dinner last night of lamb, stuffed with herbs and pork belly, cucumber, tomato and basil salad, a side of crowder peas, all from our farm. Finish the evening with a bit of homemade pear brandy. Not too bad.

    But, truly, for me, although I know some of the things that help me slow down and empty the brain of intrusive chatter. The anger that I feel towards the current system that seems determined to strip this planet like beetles on a muscadine vine is inchoate. I also feel that the historical forces are larger than any one culture has the ability to change. So, like your reader with the small property, garden and guns, time to meet your neighbors and cross your fingers.

    In the meantime, as Epictetus said: “Don’t surrender your mind”.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Miller – whiskey is as good as vodka, for certain. It sounds like you have a pretty good set-up there. And the manual labor is perfect, particularly on the morning. We still have much to do here at the dacha. I need to do some more work on the living structure, come up with a wind-power solution, and dig a root cellar and a well. Just getting ready for when it all powers down. Lots of folks talkin about guns; I just havent gotten myself there yet. But, perhaps someday soon. thanks for your input. And you are right… this is POLITICAL!! – best, sandy

    • I concur, one does well not to surrender one’s mind to the dictates of the culture, but instead to offer it in service to one’s own loving heart. I like going in for the process of trying to attain some level of mastery over my mind. One way of doing this is to gradually learn “how it wags.” Another way is to welcome, from among the thoughts that arise in the mind, those that promote simple, honest, natural ways for living in the world. I must say that doing the daily chores, carrying out my worldly responsibilities ranks high on the list of what fosters fulfillment and “meaning.” My appreciation and practice of this one simple truth has served to to quiet much of my monkey mind’s limiting and deluding chatter.

      I want to reiterate from Javacat’s post: “To pursue this return to a more primal state can put one out of step with the majority of the society, our friends, our colleagues, our partners. Yet is there any other choice? For me there is a yearning, a strong, innate desire for a return to this more embracing, complete way of being, and a deep desire for connection, with ourselves and the entire world around us. We know the resonance of connection. We simply must surrender to it.”

      I was struck by the concept of one wise philosopher who offered, that courage is the father of all virtues, strengths. Without courage does one dare to love, to serve, to sacrifice, to “be out of step with the majority?” In this endeavor one must be willing to stand alone, yet it is a blessing to connect with companions who share the experience of questioning the “why and wherefore” of what is.

    • javacat says:

      You sound very much in love with your farm and what you have discovered there. However menial or repetitious the tasks–weeding comes to mind!–yet you are participating in the action, connecting your labor to the result. That connect is vital and creates an understanding of natural rhythms, of sore muscles, of paying attention to what’s all around it. Frankly, it sounds idyllic. So many of our lives avoid the menial, the manual as trivial or a waste of time or inconvenient or uncomfortable.

      Slowing the chatter, clearing away the clutter: necessary and vital. This lets us clear a better view to what matters and what needs be done. I sadly agree that it seems that historical forces are larger than any one culture can stop or change, leaving an uneasy sense of impotence. More and more folks I know are growing what they can. I’ve seen more front-yard vegetable gardens this summer than ever before, and applaud it. Finding those of similar mind, those you can count on to help each other seems essential.

      At times this all feels like a very weird way of thinking. I mean, am I going to have to defend my 3 cords of heating wood from vandals and thieves? I don’t think so. Yet, at some level, I feel that potential is there. So, in the meantime, I guess we try to build skills and build community. And stock some vodka, bourbon or wine.

    • Brutus says:

      I read the Epictetus quote and immediately thought that even though the quote is accurately given, the sentiment is entirely wrong and should instead be “don’t surrender to your mind.” Perhaps the distinction is too subtle, but I was pleased to see the comments continued not in the sense of “protect yourself from undue influence” but in the sense of “get out of your head and experience meaning apart from the rational mind.”

      Repetitious, ritualized labor is indeed surprisingly fulfilling and meaningful once the mind is free of distractions and noise. This point may be tangential to the subject post above, but it’s worth reinforcing that while knowledge and understanding have their place within the self lest we be provincial cretins, the chatter (as it’s been called in the comments here) has a nasty tendency to morph into an all-enveloping worldview that distorts and/or blots out mind states that connect us to nature, each other, and ultimately reality. Most of us live and breathe that worldview, which Sandy calls the Curriculum of the West (if I have that correct), and it causes us to lose sight of the awful price civilization is exacting from the natural world as well as from unfortunate peoples outside the First World, a point that was dutifully raised elsewhere in the comments.

      • Disaffected says:

        Purely ancillary physical exercise serves the role of “exercise” in most of the “developed” west, even as ACTUAL physical exercise for ACTUAL sustenance continues to serve that role for everyone else.
        The “disconnect” continues to be – as always – that there ever WAS a disconnect in the first place. Blame that on we in the west, who invented the term “disconnect” in the first place.

        • kulturcritic says:

          U2 – DA – well stated

        • javacat says:

          Good observation on the ‘cult of fitness’ in our Western world, even as our diet and obesity rage out of control. We ‘recreate’ for our exercise here. When I was in Ecuador last winter, my friend pointed out that “people here don’t recreate.” Basically, they live their lives without those artificial distinctions of ‘ancillary physical exercise.”

      • kulturcritic says:

        Precisely stated, Brutus!! 😉

  8. Patric Roberts says:

    Sandy thank you and well said, indeed!

    I am so fortunate today to be living here at Pine Ridge Reservation SD. Yesterday I attended a “Sacred Naming Ceremony” and the gentle song and dance of these two~legged’s are still humming along, enactively embodying social relations and listening to the wind.

    The children had a seven mile Poker Horse Ride while the elders were comfortable just sitting in silence and then chatting about this or that, laughing a lot without injuring anyone. The breeze and wind filled the sails of our minds and the autumn sun was enough for the moment just being glorious in the breath.

    The bottom line for me is we are too busy minding everyone’s business but our own. When you start minding your own business, what I discovered is a deep autopoietic silence, reflective emergence that is enjoyed, pure spontaneity. Stillness is desired, and comforting, not knowing is a vast ocean of peace. Minding my own business is enough. What’s most interesting is I don’t have time to mind another’s business and yet am prepared to give~a~way all of have as a gifting in social relationship.

    In the primordial senses you point to so often, I assess this is how it was, is and will be after all the powerless chattering of the west disappears. So my answer to your invitation to what arises after the collapse ~ is a thunder of silence bringing forth peace and friendship and brotherhood in the household of humanity, and giving~a~way all this rubble you mentioned. Yes, we laugh in a new social empowerment as the current institutions burn up like paper before us and find ourselves as children in living universe not a dead one. It’s great to meet fellow traveller’s in the caravan to tomorrow.

    Your father in law Anatoly feels like a wise man being a gardener!


    • kulturcritic says:

      Thank you Patric for your thoughtful comments. It good to hear your cogent thinking. sandy BTW – Anatoly is truly a piece of work. At 70, the man is simply incredible; and I cannot out-drink him either!!

    • “In the primordial senses you point to so often, I assess this is how it was, is and will be after all the powerless chattering of the west disappears. So my answer to your invitation to what arises after the collapse ~ is a thunder of silence bringing forth peace and friendship and brotherhood in the household of humanity, and giving~a~way all this rubble you mentioned. Yes, we laugh in a new social empowerment as the current institutions burn up like paper before us and find ourselves as children in living universe not a dead one. It’s great to meet fellow traveller’s in the caravan to tomorrow.”
      Patric, this is so well put and rings so true in my heart. The dual nature of this world moves along through the endless birth/life/death cycle. “Good” arises out of “bad” as bad then arises out of good… Neither happiness nor misery are lasting. Attempts and struggles to conquer nature or one’s fellow beings, with the hope of securing that which must change, fosters misery. I like the notion of survival of the “fittest” meaning fitting in, coming into harmony with one’s circumstances as best one can. Conquering not others but one’s self, limitations, weaknesses, illusions is the most practical option, as uncommon and unpopular as it may be.
      Profound “recognition and heart-felt allegiance to” the brotherhood of humanity will be the light that will show the way through the current and coming difficulties, defining the problems at their root and offering creative remedies with which to experiment.

      This is a song I set the tune to and recorded in the mid-80’s. I think it takes up the theme and serves as answer to the question in Sandy’s original piece.

      • Patric Roberts says:

        Ron in the end I see that the sweet and sour fruit on the tree of life in the garden is the contrast of forms, colors, music, dance and inner experiences in bringing forth awareness of living in the presence of this nameless generative principle you point to so well in this video and lyrics. Simplicity of the “observer” mastering the complexity of nature in deep dark heart felt senses.

        We were not born to cry and suffer, we chose to by entangling our selves in one or the other fruits on the tree thereby obscuring the presence of a living reality beyond thoughts, words and deeds. The way to wisdom is to breathe into the presence arising in momentariness, temporality is a permanent condition and situation in living life, and knowing is eternal consciousness being present, and therein is perfect balance, peace and enactive embodiment that constitutes, sustains and maintains the web of life, the brotherhood of humanity, and the capacity to design a new earth in compassion, courage and confidence. I look forward together with you in creating a context for future generations. Music is a harmonious octave and frequency in which to do it. Thank you.

  9. rg the lg says:

    Smelling flowers … perhaps.

    It hasn’t really been that many years since there were still somewhat wild places in the US. But we tend, as part of our intensive drive to modify and control everything, to turn those places into highly contained, paved pathways, and cluttered restrooms dot the landscape …

    The rational is to keep us from over stressing those sensitive landscapes … but the other side of that equation is the need to find non-structured, non-‘humanized’ … unmodified spaces with flowers.

    Gaps between are filling in with people … places where not long ago one could walk across a more or less natural landscape now have roads, and houses, and places with convenience stores, and water systems, and electrical lines, and all the rest of creeping industrialization.

    Smelling the flowers means going to where plants have been planted … and natural growths are sprayed, or cultivated into oblivion.

    It isn’t a need for flowers … or the smell of flowers … it is a need to NOT be connected all of the time, or to be connected to those who matter … not with the false smile, but with real connectedness not bent on selling something … on the commercialization of all.

    • Disaffected says:

      “It isn’t a need for flowers … or the smell of flowers … it is a need to NOT be connected all of the time, or to be connected to those who matter … not with the false smile, but with real connectedness not bent on selling something … on the commercialization of all.”


  10. javacat says:

    There are still wildflowers… May I add to the thought of not being connected all the time, by not participating in a process dictated and controlled by others, though sold to us as our own dream? Our passivity as a society–and I include myself in this group–is stunning. We have lost or deeply buried our ability to direct ourselves in original and meaningful ways. One of those ways is the real connectedness you refer to. That takes some effect, some risk, a willingness to engage in deeper ways than the standard weather and sports-team chatter allows. It means stepping outside the normal social intercourse to as questions that matter, maybe making others uncomfortable as you go. You are right, rg, that we need the real connectedness. Sometimes, I think that’s partly what draws us here–some hard-nosed rants aside. 😉

  11. rg the lg says:

    Hard nosed rants …
    Ah, to be able to simply talk … to carry on a give and take conversation … to not be held back by the conventions …
    Like smelling the wild flowers, may they outlast us, there is hope in the simple interconnectedness of words …
    John, recall, got part of it right: in the beginning was the word … . Then he went off the rails and invoked his mythological explanations. But the fact is that the primary problem is words … they not only define us, but we allow them to control us. Sandy calls it civilization … but so often words are used like bullets .. to enforce the regimen and thus the regime we have allowed ourselves to be surrounded with. IF we could only regain the words, regain the civil, regain the conversation beyond a few blogs that were not just a rant …

    Ah, to dream again …

    • kulturcritic says:

      So, rg/lg – Is my blog just a rant, or more? sandy

      • rg the lg says:

        Both a rant and more.
        – It is sadly powerless in the great grand scheme …
        – It is more: there is a small community that agrees to disagree … to talk in the only way that most of us can in this disconnected, frenetic and over regimented time and place. We are so future driven that the now has become almost invisible … we plot, we plan, we scheme for some future that we have been told (by our culture) is of value … but do we know our neighbors … do we have friends … real friends … or are we only encumbered with acquaintances?

        So, it is a rant, it is more.

        I call it a simple offering of language … of words … of those impalpable sounds differentiating us from the not human … those bits and pieces we have come to only value as our culture dictates. The greatest compliment I know, I would apply to you: a man made of words. [Just don’t let it go to your head … ]

  12. Dave Jones says:

    I’m just going to play a little devils advocate here and remind folks that I live in a very rural village where people are close to the land and even wilderness but they can be very close minded, provincial and reactionary. In other words, the smells and sounds do not an enlightened being make.
    I have fresh food and game to eat and could relax in my comfortable life but I yearn for justice, which necessarily includes wider and wider spheres of participation. Yes this means clutter. Yes it means noise and distraction from my personal center, but hey, life’s a bitch.

    We all need a retreat every once in a while but I hope it doesn’t substitute for struggle.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Ahhhh! Comrade of mine. Our brother Lenin would be proud of those words.

      Dave – you and I have talked over this issue a few times. If you believe that industrial civilization is worth saving, that politics can do anything meaningful for us or the earth, that justic can be brought about through struggle, than you need to eat more of that peyote. I certainly understand the point you make about those in the sticks; they can be as capitalist, consumerist, greedy as any living in London or LA, or NYC. But struggle at this point is pointless. They are holding all the cards, and the weapons. OK, go to DC with 2 MM brothers and sisters… nothing will change; and the state of the planet now will not sustain these multitudes anymore, under any circumstances. But, as you know, my friend, I am always interested in dialogue. Hope you are well. in solidarity, sandy

    • javacat says:

      Point made, and well taken.

      Does one step out of the system (culture, society, etc.) to live deliberately, or must one stay within that system in order to affect change? I’m leaning toward the latter, and thence the noise, the risk of clutter and distraction, but action is essential, I think, or one isn’t participating in life. The action itself, of course, will differ between us, and within us.

      I’m glad you used the phrase ‘my comfortable life’ for I often remind myself of how truly easy my life is. It’s easy for me to ponder on the computer keys because I have a job, a house, food, etc. and live in a stable, safe place. In a sense, I have the leisure for contemplation, and I’ve wondered what my take would be if my survival struggles were much more vivid.

      Thanks for good reminders.

      • kulturcritic says:

        Java – you are living comfortably, remember, at the expense of many species and people in third world countries, and not the least… mother earth. It will get alot harder very shortly.

        • Disaffected says:


          Thank You! I was beginning to wonder if this thread had turned into a fucking church service. I’m all about getting back to the earth and all that sustains us, but all this self-congratulatory first world “we are the world” bullshit was beginning to make me sick.

          Yeah, let’s all make a renewed effort to get back to basics and appreciate our good fortune in doing so; but NO, let’s not forget that our good fortune is built on nothing less than the misfortune and extinction of people and species world wide. Decent tradeoff? I dunno? But let’s never forget that that tradeoff’s being made in the first place.

          Wanna express your “gratitude” for all your good fortune? How about signing up for a tour of Iraqistan with your local military recruiter? Not qualified? No problem. I’m sure they’ll “find a way.” The Empire’s surprisingly “flexible” that way.


  13. javacat says:

    Absolutely true, kC, and more than I realize, I know. So much cost is hidden, far away, out of sight, and my own lookings into the real sources and consequences are barely a beginning. I make my efforts to reduce my impact, make deliberate and informed choices, and raise my own awareness and when I can, that of others. I was chiding myself, and the rest of us as applies, that if things get a lot harder, as you and many others predict, things like this time to share digitally, will become more difficult and less important than actual survival. So, my point is that part of the reason I’m able to comment is that my life is comfortable, and I’m aware of that.

    • kulturcritic says:

      JC – just try to have some beginnings of a Plan B already in motion. You’re a good person!

      • rg the lg says:

        To recommend a plan …
        What a clear and unambiguous fallacy … a product of the time driven concern for the future.
        So, what of the now? What of the very things that you, Sandy, have written about? The counterpoise to the dictator culture that is destroying the world because it has not so much forgotten the past … but ignores the now … that tenuous place in which we truly exist … the future will take care of itself … maybe NOT in the manner we would choose, but there is truly little we can do about it …
        Civilization has inexorably taken control and moves toward its own end … its own doom.
        The language we use is, alas, forcing us away from each other because we are unable to separate ourselves from it … and the world it has spawned when we once determined that tomorrow was more important than today …

        • kulturcritic says:

          You are correct Rg; mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!! I am guilty. But, ultimately, I too am human, all too human; and right now that means still under the spell of Father Time (more than I like) and the curriculum of the West. Thanks for calling me out. sandy

  14. rg the lg says:

    Down here at the bottom of the cesspool I’ve been thinking.
    Some days I wonder when thinking will be outlawed in general, instead of just in the schools, public and private, where kids are taught to be good little citizens of the empire. Thinking is controlled … and anyone who dissents is, well, dealt with. I know … I deal with the so-called dregs … night school, credit recovery. The kids who chose for whatever reason to not come to school. Mostly because they see it as generally pointless. Why bother if you can’t play football in a town where god is spelled football … and the only graduates we admire are those who make it to a major college program, maybe even the pros? Why bother if the education you receive will result in losing a scholarship in college … when you can make more fucking, erm raping, erm helping to extract oil and gas from the ground so people can continue driving from here to there because they can … not because they need to? Why bother when your choices are to be told to go to page such and such and read something so dull the authors probably slept through most of what they wrote? Or, why bother if the fascist teaching your class preaches about god most of the time, and turns the reality of AmeriKKKan history into we are the good guys … they are, by virtue of being other, evil? Why bother in math when the best the teacher can do is repeat what was already said rather than try to understand the question you are really asking? Why bother when the joy of reading is twisted into some dreary analysis the teacher pretends to understand but only mouths? Why bother when it is clear that creationism is bunk, and evolution and real science is regarded as wrong because … well, I guess because that is what the preacher said god said.
    Nah. Not really … the recruiters routinely sell the kids on pretty uniforms and talk about how if they are good gamers they can sit at some base somewhere and blow those evil others to hell and gone, whether they really are evil, and just as long as they are other. The kids eat all that stuff up, most of them, because the alternative is to work in the oil patch until you are injured … then go through the inevitable divorce so the wife can find someone else cause you’re not providing any more. Why bother when it is clear that the only difference between Obama and Bush is in the spelling of their names … when they both stand for the same thing: maintaining the power of the government pretending tp be good when damned near every bad bit of news can be traced back to the greedheads who own not only rapacious corporations but the politicians as well? See, there is hope … have a pretty wife, have a bid car … always a new one … live in a great house until you can’t make payments on disability? How could that be a dreary future?
    Oh, there is optimism … an optimism sold on the backs of the term(s) what is your plan? For after school: work; college; marriage; whatever. Gotta have a plan … a forward looking exercise in ignoring the now … in forgetting the past because it is at once inconvenient and unprofitable … can’t make money knowing the past. That is what makes it worthless doncha know? Can’t feed your appetites with history … a new car … more junk from Wal-Mart (or some other big box) that advertises that you want … gotta want … . If you go into debt, that is just fine … somebody is making money even if you aren’t. Gotta keep those wheels of capitalism turning … even if …
    Now is ignored … knowing ones neighbors, having friends that sit on the front porch and just talk about the day to day stuff … . How are your kids? How’s the wife? You going to the ball game Friday night NO! We can’t talk about that … that is so lower class … it isn’t done over drinks … it isn’t done in a restaurant … it isn’t producing wealth! Therefore it is meaningless … . The least we could do is go to church and salve the conscience by paying the preacher a tithe for what he had to say … can’t just be friends. We gotta show off our stuff … gotta have the newest, or the biggest … or the fastest … or … ? Language has been subverted to the cause of advertising and to speaking in advertising terms about what we have, about what we are acquiring, about what we acquired, about what we must acquire.
    The empire blandishes the concept that we are good, we are special … if 3000 of us die, that is a crisis … but if we kill 300,00 that is good for they by definition not us are evil. They are other – like the native Americans, or the other empires next to ours. We want it, we take it, for we are good … and they are evil. They do not know how to extract the riches like we do … the gold, or the silver. They do not know how to over-populate the landscape and turn it into desert like we do. Oh, we say, but they would if they could … . They are like us … only they don’t deserve what we have because they simply aren’t us … they are they, and that makes them other … and even when they cross our borders they are not us and not deserving. They can be exploited, they can be killed, they do not deserve the things that we deserve even if they work for it, even as we sit and whine because their success points to our lack of initiative.
    WE have initiative … they do not, even when they put to a lie both propositions. If they do, then they are stealing … they are evil … they … them … not us.

    • Rg, thanks for strapping on the world weary stream of consciousness gear today, well streamed. Maybe you were watching the same film I was on the internet today, Psywar. All about propaganda used by the PTB, be they govt, military, or Big Biz. A lot of good history and observations from bright folks. Or maybe you recently saw Good Fellas (along with A Bronx Tale), one of the best movies depicting the Mafia but to my way of thinking revealing the trickiness of the mind that gets one to identify with being the “good guys” while behaving far less than good. Narcisism meets “family values.” Loyal to the family, until they piss me off, then, well, I off’m.

      One of my favorite lines in a movie titled Head of State (stars Chris Rock) has this legislator running for office who always ends his statements to the press with, “God bless America and nobody else.”

    • Disaffected says:


      As to your main points:

      Thinking: No need to outlaw it when it can simply be made irrelevant through 24/7 media ignorance and public participance in same. I.E.; read high school/college sport’s equivalent to the Hitler Youth. Is their really any difference?

      Uniforms and a new car in exchange for a “dot on the line.” Not all that different from when I said ” I pledge allegiance…” all those years ago.

      All the rest, I get your point.

      RG/LG, I’m digging all that you’re saying, but you REALLY need to break your paragraphs up for clarity.


      • rg the lg says:

        It was a cut and paste … paragraphing was indented in the original … but it did not hold once submitted …

        Won’t do that again …

        Watching movies? As deaf as I am, movies are only pictures, and so much context is lost … to say nothing of content. I miss my ears … sounds … birds, voices, wind, all of those non-visual things. Touch is still there … but marginalized. It is amazing to me how much of my world depended, and depends, on sound. Perhaps, and only perhaps, that is the missing component in our lives … the sounds of nature rather than the noise of civilization?

        Maybe it is the loss of sound though, that makes me think about what is missing … and so I read … voraciously and attempt thereby to tap into the sounds others relate … for it is in the sound of words that meaning is truly expressed. Often I find myself reading aloud in order to feel the words, not just see them. It makes a difference. Sandy often has words worth saying as much as seeing … and perhaps that is why I have found a common ground … .

        In our industrial world, sound is chronic and crushing. Wildflowers are accompanied by wild sounds, often though not universally, and that may be why we find them attractive … it is more than what we see with wildflowers … it also what we hear. A more universal use of the senses.

        Dunno … still working on it …

        • kulturcritic says:

          Whenever I write, Rg/LG I always read aloud what I write to hear the rhythm of my thoughts. Interesting you should pick up on that. BTW, do you have any hearing; from your words, its seems pretty shaky… your hearing, that is.

          • rg the lg says:

            I wear hearing aides … and therefore background noise is a true demon to be dealt with … . I have a pair of dachshunds because I need to hear things like doorbells, and can’t but they can and raise quite a ruckus. When more than one person speaks at a time … I simply have to tune out … which does make being a teacher interesting … though after acculturating them, the kids are pretty good.

            To elucidate further, my hearing is much like my thinking … shaky.

            Once long ago, I decided that self deprecating humor was better than insults … so, if I sometimes seem to be putting myself down? Call it self defense …

            The other has always resonated with me … my grandfather, mom’s side, was born in Scotland, moved to Canada by himself as a young teen … then walked across the Canadian / US border. He was, in the parlance of today, and illegal alien. He married a member of an old New Mexico family … traced (with pride) their family back to the days of Juan de Oñate, and the arrival of the Spanish Empire in 1598 … as a kid I was always an ‘other’ … viewed as a ‘meskin’ by anglos and as a ‘gringo’ by hispanics. My father was a redneck of Georgia, via Tennessee via Oklahoma vintage. I was, therefore, always odd man out. But it is with language that the ‘other’ is often identified (and consequently denigrated) in our society beyond meaning …

            In band all of the instruments, save one, are fingered. The one? The trombone … and that was what I played … then, not know. Blessed with perfect pitch, I miss music … the
            resonance and the tonal. But Uncle Sam and his empire did what they could to help destroy that … vietnam, long ago.

            Ah … well … I can not hear them, but I watch the birds I feed near the back door. Solace of a different sort … ?

    • kulturcritic says:


      I think a critical component of your thinking here is the concept of the Other. A few years ago, I wrote the following:

      “But whether the specific cause of [our cultural alienation] be rooted in more personally unsettling moments of loneliness, anguish, suffering, madness and boredom, or perhaps born of more shared experiences of disruption, like foreign travel, emigration, cross-cultural exchange, or more dramatically perhaps, threats of terrorism, a consistent element in all these limit situations is the sudden or even subtle experience of marginality or strangeness: an incipient feeling of difference, Otherness or Alterity, either in the sense of being-beside oneself, coping with the Alterity of a strange world or a stranger in our midst, or even an emergent awareness of the otherness of our own cultural landscape…

      And, while we are all strangers to ourselves because we are artful products of civilized reconstruction, we are also strangers to our culture “because we come to a given society from our childhood [our feral state], from our loneliness, from those extra-cultural and countercultural niches that are common to the majority of people all over the world.”
      …It is in this respect that otherness and strangeness become likely protagonists… making each of us aware of our own mundane humanity, our own facticity. In this respect, the outsider in our midst or the stranger within positions us face to face with a vision of what we are not, but what we might have been…our own potentiality for being other than we are or never having been at all, in other words, the possibility of our own non-being.”

  15. Disaffected says:


    In the same vein as this week’s post (Which was tres magnifique by the way! Maybe your best yet.), I came across this site and it’s concordant video link thanks to a commenter over on that old curmudgeon James Kunstler’s blog.

    I was quite impressed with the overall presentation. The overall thrust similar if not identical to that of The Money Masters site, which is also quite comprehensive and well documented, including the Money As Debt and The Money Masters videos. I won’t bother going into the details here, but the problems they lay out are quite obviously pretty daunting, and given the power of the entrenched interests defending them, not likely to be solved anytime soon. To those so inclined, I urge setting some time aside to enlighten yourself. You’ll more than likely be surprised.

    But enough of that shit. Despairing over the long overdue death of a deeply corrupt and unjust system is a fool’s game. Indeed! It’s time to get ready for the long overdue bonfire of celebration once the entire crumbling edifice of global capitalism finally comes down, although it almost surely won’t be soon enough. In the meantime, especially those of us lucky enough to live in the first world, the entirely coincidental and equally temporary beneficiaries of global capitalism’s VERY temporary “benefits,” it’s time to enjoy the natural world we have left while we have it, and to celebrate that fact loud and long. We almost certainly represent the apogee of human accomplishment, and that ain’t nothin’ to sneeze at. Whether or not any of our heirs lives to tell the story is another matter altogether for now. For now, our collective star burns brightly.


    • kulturcritic says:

      DA – I am not reading your direction here well at all. You are sounding sad over the demise of empire, and that shining city upon the hill!! Futhermore, I find your links curious at best. Spiritual reawakening?? Paleese!! And the first video talks about the hierarchy of the original states (against the Fed), reinforcing my view that any modern state is bad. I’m just not tracking here with you DA.

      • Disaffected says:


        In time, in time. For I AM the devil, and MY TIME is not yours.

        OK, I’m just fucking around. But here’s another web site I’m about to adopt:

        CHRISTIAN, n. One who believes that the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbor. One who follows the teachings of Christ in so far as they are not inconsistent with a life of sin.

        I dreamed I stood upon a hill, and, lo!
        The godly multitudes walked to and fro
        Beneath, in Sabbath garments fitly clad,
        With pious mien, appropriately sad,
        While all the church bells made a solemn din —
        A fire-alarm to those who lived in sin.
        Then saw I gazing thoughtfully below,
        With tranquil face, upon that holy show
        A tall, spare figure in a robe of white,
        Whose eyes diffused a melancholy light.
        “God keep you, strange,” I exclaimed. “You are
        No doubt (your habit shows it) from afar;
        And yet I entertain the hope that you,
        Like these good people, are a Christian too.”
        He raised his eyes and with a look so stern
        It made me with a thousand blushes burn
        Replied — his manner with disdain was spiced:
        “What! I a Christian? No, indeed! I’m Christ.”

    • DA, I, also, spotted this link and watched the whole series. I found the videos easy to follow and useful. It observed the situation (The Global Heist in progress) that I had some sense of through other sources, and offered some simple ideas on how one might incorporate this information into one’s daily life and general thinking. I hope others find it as useful.

  16. Anarchrist says:

    Loved your piece this week Sandy, there was something refreshing about it, I can picture the environs of your retreat a little better, and feel I understand the position from which you ‘sit and watch’ a little more clearly. I exist somewhat on the fringes myself, but the din of the world is nonetheless present everywhere I look, and in my (various) line(s) of work there is always someone who wants a piece of me, or some organisation or institution that wants a pound of my flesh. That’s the status-quo as I experience it – a non-optional and often enforced curriculum of subservient conformity: “Labour! Pay your taxes! Pay your bills! Consume! OR ELSE!” – phones ringing, inbox full of emails, mailbox full of junk. Micromanagement. Ridiculous red tape. Rules within regulations upon guidelines. Furthermore, as a ‘professional’ I’m also obliged take on other peoples’ problems in exchange for the money I need to live, and that’s a fucking headache to say the least. If I didn’t have the system leaning on me, reminding me at every opportunity that I’m simply not allowed to opt out, I’d gladly not participate at all.

    My antidote to the constant bullying of this world is simple enough: take some deep breaths and just let it go. Generally remind myself to give less of a shit about what people think of me or what they want me to do. Trust (as Javacat highlighted somewhere above) my intuition, letting decisions flow from a deeper grounding in the moment. I do believe that nature is the ultimate salve, even if it’s just noticing the colour and texture of the dirt under my feet as I walk, but I personally have to be quietly alone to get the full benefit. I also find a little stargazing can soothe my nerves and restore a shattered sense of perspective more quickly than anything else, though all this shedding of worldly burden clearly works best in an exclusively non-urban locale.

    It’s worth reiterating though, the fact that we are even engaging in this particular debate is enough to label us ‘freaks’ (terrorists?). As oft mentioned here, the wider world is so culturally committed through the actions of our recent (and not so recent) ancestors that the majority of ‘civilised’ people are more than happy to soak up almost any amount of bullshit and even surrender all freedom, to whatever figurehead or political consensus has currently beset them, simply so that they don’t have to take responsibility for the true cost of their existence (and how many of us can truly begin to fathom the depth and breadth of that confluence of shifting factors?). Many will always choose to keep swallowing the pills, however bitter they may become, as long as they can stay sedated. We’ve been doing this dance for so long, even as polite society criticises each new generation for ‘loosing its way’ well all collectively grow ever more insane on a diet of corrupt and malfeasant ‘normalcy’.

    However, as the micromanaged world of complexity abandons us and its accompanying trappings fail to remain available – and I’m certain we can count on that – the freaks in the crowd can be assured of one thing: that freedom beckons, and that it too will non-optional. When the world economy goes spectacularly critical in the very near future (mark my words here) no doubt many in the developed world will wail and gnash their teeth. One might hope that the third world could breathe a collective sigh of relief; partly because as our influence evaporates we may finally begin to leave them be, and perhaps because they’ll realise they may work out slightly better off than us (you can’t fall on your face when you are already on your ass). Maybe while we have the spare time we should reflect on the ramifications of where ‘true’ freedom may lead our stupefied populaces. Freedom to live co-operatively or die badly? Ultimately challenges must be faced as and when they arise, but it is nonetheless liberating to candidly talk over one’s personal options as we speculate on overall trajectory of our society. No harm in planning for the consequences of what you see ‘in this moment’; if you accidentally knocked a glass off your kitchen table would you move to catch it, or just dumbly watch it fall?

    Many of you guys seem to be keeping it real by preparing for life ‘after’. Wind turbines, deep cycle batteries etc. aren’t a bad investment right now as such things are currently very cheap and easy to acquire, but are likely to become expensive and/or scarce in the longer-term as manufacturing hits the skids. 24/7 electric, even just for lights (let alone heating, refrigeration), is so easily taken for granted. Some talk about guns too. My two cents is this: there’s never any harm in knowing how to use any tool, but whether you need one really depends on how you plan to use it. Hunting? Fair enough if you have the patience and stomach for it, but you need to practice to become proficient enough to be fair to the animals you plan to kill, and to never be a liability to yourself and others. Personal defence? Another very different question of individual character, not a lot of room for error and uncertainty here. There’s overwhelming statistical support to show how much more likely you are to be murdered if you have a gun in the house (with your very own gun in many cases I’m sure). Not forgetting suicides/accidental shootings too. it’s really important to remember that a firearm is a tool and skilful use can be ‘learned’ as with any other, but critically this tool is for effortlessly turning living things into dead meat, so the stakes are that much higher than when wielding a chisel or hatchet.

    • Disaffected says:

      Very nice “grass roots” practical take on things. Apparently, somewhat in short supply these days.

    • kulturcritic says:

      AC – thanks for your thoughts. The fringes are always more accommodating than the center. But, it is hard for one to find a place without the din of civilization… And, if you find it, it is almost impossible for most of us to live there long term. We are like Monsanto seeds; genetically modified for civilization today. We can push at the edges, but it is damn hard to escape the soils in which we have grown over these many generations, and still live.

      “(you can’t fall on your face when you are already on your ass). Maybe while we have the spare time we should reflect on the ramifications of where ‘true’ freedom may lead our stupefied populaces.” Yes, AC, the third world (the real world) will be better off without our meddling and controlling. And we will find what freedom means when things fall apart here in the ‘civilized’ world.

      Your clear warning is precisely why I’ve never purchased a gun. Actually only tried a handgun once at a practice range with a US Marine (son of a women I knew). Scared the shit out of me. The gun, that is!

      Thanks for staying with me AC. best, sandy

      • Anarchrist says:

        By the way Sandy, I think that’s a pretty healthy attitude towards handguns, they can be ludicrously dangerous IMHO being so compact and often semi-automatic. If you can treat firearms with that level of respect (not to say fear) at all times you’d probably be just fine. It’s being either belligerent or blasé (as well as drunk or depressed) that mostly gets people killed.

        A good-quality bolt-action rifle is a very different proposition to a pistol; much harder to accidentally shoot yourself with, more accurate, easy to clean and maintain. This hunter’s general weapon of choice, put in a strong cabinet away from small hands and with the key close to you at all times it needn’t be a threat to either you or your family.

  17. Anarchrist says:

    Oh this is just priceless, I had to share…

    • Disaffected says:

      Very nice AC! Every now and then you’ll catch a global capitalist just “being himself.” And ain’t it enlightening?

      In actuality, there’s no need for this fine young man (who appears to be of at least nominally Indian descent) to apologize for his beliefs – INDEED! I wouldn’t either! – given that I might have shared his beliefs at one time in the first place.

      Here’s a little lesson for you if you haven’t picked up on it already: Global Capitalism knows no master other than the ALMIGHTY PROFIT MARGIN! Thou shalt ALWAYS and ONLY seek the highest RETURN ON INVESTMENT, regardless of the human or other (read: environmental) costs.

      Illustration: Money.

      It’s funny, until it’s not. Very shortly, it won’t be anymore


    • kulturcritic says:

      Now, thats an honest fucking wake up call to the first worlders!!!

  18. javacat says:

    Try playing both videos at the same time. Nice effect. 😉

  19. Disaffected says:

    You’re a little devil are you? Good on you!

  20. strawville says:

    In some of the asian countries in the east, where there is a lot of migration to cities, some people take to urban life, and try to outdo the urban folks, build big houses, remove all plant and animal life from around their house, and pursue the latest shiny stuff, while being generally immersed in the “noise”, the scripted, mind-numbing, well-packaged life. Since migration only keeps picking up pace, people are not going to change direction and move away from technology. Technology will evolve and use more of the processes in biological systems. There may be serious disruptions during the transition, but most people will quickly adapt. Don’t really see a systemic collapse in US or elsewhere, particularly when asian countries with 10 to 20 times the population density of USA, continue to “grow” even after many “crises” engineered by humans or otherwise. Anyway the best personal course would be like what some of the more intelligent migrants do, make the best of both worlds, enjoy the community and less polluted rural life for part of the time, and get back to technology, modern healthcare and convenience of urban life.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Ok Strawvilleman!!!

      The first two sentences are understandable. And I commented earlier last year on the tendency of former third world countries and their populations to be rushing headlong into the abyss of modern industrial-strength capitalism like there is no tomorrow (and there will not be a tomorrow!). And I also do not think they will quickly turn away from the “dream” now that it is within their horizon; until it is taken from them by circumstance. However, this move to urbanization and technology is not a self-validating enterprise. Just because they are stupid, doesn’t mean it is right or that anyone should endorse their stupidity. I also am not as naive as you would have me be; I’m not buying your ill-considered faith in modern technology and the matrix interface you desperately wish for. There is systemic collapse already underway, my friend. But for some reason you refuse to acknowledge it. That is your personal problem. Perhaps you too hail from a part of the world that was excluded from all the “fun” for the past century, and now feel like you want it all and refuse to give it up, no matter what. Well, enjoy both worlds as long as you can; I must admit that I do as well, when all is said and done. But, please don’t try to sell me on the benefits and conveniences of urban life.

      • Anarchrist says:

        I second that KC.

        Because 1. the ‘conveniences’ are mostly just that; unnecessarily wasteful and pointless amenities rather than true necessities, which (if you are paying attention) are clearly becoming expensive/less available for everyone, such as illustrated here:

        2. The tech-consumer lifestyles being encouraged in the main come with enormous ‘externalised’ social, environmental and even economic costs, this is beyond obvious; lets everybody just open our eyes to the cataclysmic damage being wrought in the name of convenience, easy and comfortable living.

        3. And this is important: urban/suburban life is really not easy for people in general any more anyway, it causes a great deal of mental/physical health problems, it is convenient to those who pull the strings to have people stay put however, so distraction and trinkets will probably stay well stocked even as the food runs out.

        When the Eurozone implodes, China, India, and the USA’s economies will all follow suit leaving the average shmo with nothing but a hungry belly and (I may well be wrong about that order, but not the final estimation) and there is likely to be unmitigated chaos for a time. We may well see a neo-fascist/military regime or two offering to maintain order at the reasonable price of absolute control, but nothing doing – anyone with such aims simply hasn’t done the math. Complexity begets failure and the world has never been so complex, we have been getting away with it up until recently but since available energy inputs hit a ceiling around the middle of the last decade (and have subsequently dropped year on year) there is no way to get out of the quicksand of systemic (fiscal/social/infrastructure) collapse. It’s why we went to Afghanistan, it’s why we gave a shit about Iraq, it’s why we are digging vast poisonous holes in the pristine Alberta wilderness: because we’re getting desperate!

        High energy costs (led by hydrocarbon supply shortfalls) started the collapse in 2007/08, as gas prices (among other energy factors) stressed the debt economy and the weakest link in the chain failed – inevitably it was real-estate, having had ballooned like a massive aneurism due to endemic fraud and bad lending practice during the sub-prime gold rush – Anyone thinking that we can do anything but stall the subsequent chain of failures we are witnessing day after day is missing the point: we are out of gas, the motor is faltering, and we are coasting to a standstill. I for one do not want to be anywhere near the ruck that unfolds when the fucker finally stops rolling and everyone really starts to panic.

        Sadly, I’m already about as far out of it as I can get, on the fringe as I said, so there’s no question of retreat from here no matter how ugly things get. The worry is that with the cheap energy-based growth paradigm in the toilet, some people are already wondering about shifting back to the previous model. And I don’t mean coal or wood, I mean slavery. Given the way things are panning out in Greece (and everywhere else to some extent) it seems to me that wage/debt slavery on some level is well on its way to becoming government/corporate policy in future planning for anyone less than mega-rich. Guess I shouldn’t be surprised however as that has been the model in the third world for decades after all, and they get by with a lot less energy than us fat lazy westerners.

    • Disaffected says:


      I guess you haven’t followed the basic discussion regarding “peak resources,” especially regarding “peak oil?” You might want to look both those terms up first before commenting further. “Modern” isn’t really “modern” at all, given the impending epic fail of cheap hydro-carbons. And like it or not, there simply IS NO solution on the drawing board 20-30 years out (at least) to pick up that slack.

      In fact, many so-called “first worlders” (such as, say, myself) might want to instead seek REFUGE in so-called “third-world” countries instead, in anticipation of the coming readjustment “shock” when first world “expectations” first come to align with “actual world realities.”

      When it comes to “reality adjustments,” one is perhaps only limited by the magnitude of one’s illusions. Pray that that remains so. Depending on technology to continue to save us?

      Um, forgive me. But you’ve got a LOT more faith than I do.


  21. Patric Roberts says:

    AC and others great conversation.
    The breakdown of Goldman Sachs setting forth the primary dictate to “Get Money or Eat Dirt” is the tragedy of the normalcy bias in globalization, technology and leadership worldwide.
    Rolling Stones May 2011 “People versus Goldman Sachs.”

    This one poetic paragraph captures the Goldman crisis in a humorous way: “Defenders of Goldman have been quick to insist that while the bank may have had a few ethical slips here and there, its only real offense was being too good at making money. We now know, unequivocally, that this is bullshit. Goldman isn’t a pudgy housewife who broke her diet with a few Nilla Wafers between meals — it’s an advanced-stage, 1,100-pound medical emergency who hasn’t left his apartment in six years, and is found by paramedics buried up to his eyes in cupcake wrappers and pizza boxes. If the evidence in the Levin report is ignored, then Goldman will have achieved a kind of corrupt-enterprise nirvana. Caught, but still free: above the law.”

    Hedge Fund managers are now monetizing data to information in milliseconds in a ruthlessness beyond human imagination that disrupts any stability of social notions that care for the our common good. This ruthless n~arrow principle of “Get Money or Eat Dirt” has an emergent contra variant entropy instilled in a deeper structural determinism in masses of people who desire a participative engaging future, unity, wholeness that is deeply rooted in a generative creative biological principle in living experience. As conditions and situations worsen the contra variant embedded in our primordial instinctual nature must arise and converge in transforming the 1,100 pound medical emergency buried up to his eyes in cupcake wrappers and pizza boxes. How the re/evolution occurs is the question? Rock to ice ~ ice to water ~ water to mist is the imagery we face in quantum mechanics. Our appreciative conversation is feeling the emergent mist surrounding us.

    I am optimistic, not based in any religious mythological fever imagining a rapture, rather, an assessment based in the experience of my own humanness that is a hard wired biological instinctual pathway based in my own central nervous system that explains the generative history I belong too and the desire I have to live in legitimacy~in~coexistence with one another = love. We desire at heart social stability over conflicts based in cultural patriarchal power. And I understand that appears insane at the moment with blind competition, aggression and arrogance ruling the world, and maybe what Sandy is pointing to is, it has no power over the future we invent together?

    Friendship is a primary example of ethical human behavior that is based in authentic social relationship with another, not power demanding obedience or negation of one another. The current cultural breakdowns based in financial systemic power are triggers in our environment awakening awarenesses of deep rooted genetic primordial patterns of wholeness as emergent observers. Money is a cultural invention of a paper symbol to coordinate human commitments and the current situational breakthrough is masses of humanity redesigning the values of money in collaborative commitments in exchange conversations that socially commit to building the earth for future generations; a new vision of roles, positions and titles in effective work as a joyful concern not robotic slavery. The creative collapsing opportunities at the edge of global chaos requires radical changes in perceptions to the blind swept along historic cultural drift.

    I assess Sandy’s primary thesis is a recovery of this pattern of wholeness in the feral state of primordial innocence and explains the “wild bunch” circling around the appreciative conversation Sandy is offering. Fighting the decline is useless, it has no power in what is arising in our bones, blood and balls. Gathering our deep rooted trust as men is paramount and effective commitments to design a future world together is an opportunity. The days of complaining, blaming and shaming are over. It’s time to grab “the bull” by the horns and flip it over to a new day!
    In deep appreciation of the conversation

    • I am with you Patric that what is required to unleash the creativity for real change is radical changes in perception, which to my mind lead to radical transformations of hearts. I agree, too, that “fighting the decline” of the conventional paradigms is merely postponing their demise. Besides, hating or fighting one’s “enemy” causes one to become the enemy. Actually suffering the results of the pervasive ignorance, arrogance and greed will give greater power to that which is rising in our bones, blood, and balls.

      While thinking about the profound experience that could initiate such radical change and the determination to become that change no matter what, I thought of two inspiring examples. One lived five decades ago, and the other ten centuries ago. These fellow inspired and continue to inspire certain people to become receptive to radical change in themselves, while in others they inspired ridicule and anger. For them love was the answer, which they happen adore in their beloved Lord, Jesus. But these are only two heroes.

      • Patric Roberts says:

        The mystical experience within human nature has devised many explanations for reality and truth throughout all the pathways in the units of our humanity. My assessment is any fundamentalist point of view as an “observer” using past explanatory authority in religion, governance, science, philosophy or commerce as a basic fundament for explaining our current predatory crisis falls short and fails.

        The mental structure of the collective patterns and processes is ending. Period. If we observe our current situation and just one major global conflict it’s between the Jews, Christians and Moslems, and they all arose from the same root, Abraham. If we look at poverty in globalization it’s root started in 1492 where the gun and bible was used in agrarian lawlessness over indigenous peoples and creation of commodities; people are now a commodity, account number, robotic mechanized sphere of living. The repeating “observer error” goes on and on and on. The collective mental structure of consciousness in humanity is a denial of wholeness, unity and love as constituting existence. We refuse and resist accepting the primary knowing source as an embodiment of our own existence. The indoctrinated belief systems compete in power to explain our current circumstances. The dysfunctional US government is a primary example of the belief in duality, and today is demonstrating the battlefield of regressive fundamentalism versus social engineering. I claim both are destined to fail because linear rational duality is a materialistic understanding that creates a nihilism where weapons of mass destruction, carpet bombing, patriot acts are instituted as a solution to the denial of a unified state of existence in the universe. God is used as a fundamentalist weapon for every possible fruitcake explanation of reality and there is no accountability, integrity or consequences in human actions as a reflection. Bush is a poster boy for such insanity.

        I see an integral structure emerging where indigenous peoples without power in western civilization are enactively embodying social awareness in consciousness within the web of life becoming a grounded learning experience in leading reconstruction, redesign and reconfiguring in living life as a contemplative value caring for children and future generations. Without being connected to the earth, with our hands in the soil and feeling the wind, (eating dirt) we are blinded in intellectual mental competitive nonsense that comes to nothing but serving a notion of self importance in individualism. It is a sad day to see this creative destructive storm arising in our collective experience. It will burn up institutions like paper and will end forever the observer error based in separation and conception of living in a dead universe.

        I am very careful as a person in referring to any previous authority or wisdom as a source of light in this dark night of the soul. The emergent integrated structure is for each of us to “be glorious” in the activities of living in real~time, natural law, and pure~play ethical spontaneity in social relations, and no longer be hung up on the notions of being gods or god being responsible for the human condition. Our task today is to explore a new map, landscape and horizon that leaves the past behind and embraces the facticity that we live in temporality, the moment, as an eternal condition of our humanness, and together design a future world.

        The Lakota Paradigm is an example of the shift ahead and the notion of cultivating wisdom in human expertise in diverse domains of professional activities. Everyone is a piece of a great puzzle. Individualism is an illusion, hypnotic trance, and mesmerized condition of illness in western civilization. We are never alone and the generative creative principle constitutes, sustains and maintains all life not just one individual’s life. Always has, already does and awakening to this facticity provides an integrated structure for designing a future that is surprising; bringing forth a mood of joyful concern rather than resignation and despair. A notion of being history~makers versus suffering in an old worn story no longer applicable to our condition and situation.
        Thank you!

  22. rg the lg says:

    Disruptions to the biological system …
    What a way of saying that nature is a commodity … .

    I read that aloud … and I will reread it at some point … and ponder the apologetics of empire. It isn’t that we move headlong as imperialists … more like: “This empire, unlike any other in the history of the world, has been built primarily through economic manipulation, through cheating, through fraud, through seducing people into our way of life.” And: “Basically, what Economic Hit Men are trained to do is to build up the American empire. To create situations where as many resources as possible flow into this country, to our corporations, and our government, and in fact we’ve been very successful.” Perkins, “An Economic Hitman.”

    • Being that you have mentioned Perkin’s and his book about the “Economic Hitman,” I cannot resist what I thought to be his central message which he delivers twice in the book.
      from Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins p xii

      “Some would blame our current problems on an organized conspiracy. I wish it were so simple. Members of a conspiracy can be rooted out and brought to justice. This system, however, is fueled by something far more dangerous than conspiracy. It is driven not by a small band of men but by a concept that has become accepted as gospel: the idea that all economic growth benefits humankind and that the greater the growth, the more widespread the benefits. This belief also has a corollary: that those people who excel at stoking the fires of economic growth should be exalted and rewarded, while those born at the fringes are available for exploitation.

      “The concept is of course, erroneous. We know that in many countries economic growth benefits only a small potion of the population and may in fact result in increasingly desperate circumstances for the majority. This effect is reinforced by the corollary belief that the captains of industry who drive this system should enjoy a special status, a belief that is the root of many of our current problems and is perhaps also the reason why conspiracy theories abound. When men and women are rewarded for greed, greed becomes a corrupting motivator. When we equate the gluttonous consumption of the earth’s resources with a status approaching sainthood, when we teach our children to emulate people who live unbalanced lives, and when we define huge sections of the population as subservient to an elite minority, we ask for trouble. And we get it.”

      • Anarchrist says:

        That’s it in a nutshell Ron, it’s not a conspiracy per se, more a consensus reality. I’ve been calling it a gestalt of greed and human weakness, but ‘Satan’ rolls off the tongue a little better so why not? ‘The Adversary’ is actually a pretty astute anthropomorphism, the universal essence of conflict is self interest is it not? It is this mode of existence in ourselves that must be identified and eradicated, scratch that, ‘transcended’ is a better word.

        We are creatures split down the middle in our consciousness and to some extent physiology (self/other, male/female), if we could learn to integrate, or in the blogger’s main vein of primal rediscovery, re-integrate those abandoned aspects of our primal self that see all boundaries differently, then we could stop seeing the whole deal as a struggle or war of opposites and reconnect with the truth of our existence as part of a greater whole.

        I do believe there is very much a sympathetic scientific basis here too in left/right brain schism, that culturally the left hemisphere is stimulated into dominance and that the small pathway that interconnects the two sides is left underused and underdeveloped as a result. It’s also why the more driven, controlling people in society are often at the reins; because their left-hemisphere dominated tendency to differentiate with hard edges (back/white, me/you) is favoured and rewarded, but consequently because they lack empathy (neglected right brain) many of them are blatant sociopaths, and even psychopaths.

      • rg the lg says:

        Or, to put it as simply as possible …

        We in the west are complicit in empire. It isn’t that we want empire, it is that empire is a natural consequence of our want.

        Want is mostly artificial … a consequence of marketing … and the seduction is complete. It is only, I deem as our doom, when we accept the limits of our real need that we begin to separate ourselves from the complicity.

        We, all of us, you and I, are complicit in the empire through our existence in the empire. It is, though some (such a Sandy) provide a clarion call for a different way an inevitability of the way we think. Thinking is a function of language … and as such we are doomed to be what we are, as we are.

        Is that a negative thought? Is there no hope? Perhaps .. but life is resilient. We, as a species, may not survive, but life, the universe, everything, will … and thus I submit, this is hope-filled and thus hopeful.

        • Brutus says:

          This below is the kernel of it all, no?

          We in the west are complicit in empire. It isn’t that we want empire, it is that empire is a natural consequence of our want.

          Want is mostly artificial … a consequence of marketing … and the seduction is complete. It is only … when we accept the limits of our real need that we begin to separate ourselves from the complicity.

          Distinguishing want from need and refusing to be lured into empire is well nigh impossible considering that we mostly start out in life within the bubble, as it were, and require substantial resources to exit. Once personal awakening occurs (which is still quite rare but gaining traction all the time), it’s still seriously difficult to detach and disengage. So our complicity starts passive and later becomes active, adding moral dimension to the problem. I cannot predict either a personal or cultural tipping point when we can repatriate, to misuse the word, nor can I judge whether that life truly offers refuge. We’re boxed in, I’m afraid.

          • Anarchrist says:

            Truly, you are right Brutus. But also we are here discussing what happens as the metaphorical ‘box’ fails, or becomes irrelevant, no? More than anything I am curious, as I have stated above (and before) to see what becomes of people when freedom of the raw and unmanaged sort is thrust upon them by circumstances. Despite my occasional ‘down days’ and accompanying darkened predictions, I wouldn’t change this outcome for the world if nothing else because of that curiousity and desire to understand people.

            I believe the converging circumstances we face represent a spontaneous naturally occuring ultimatum, the ultimate wake-up call, and the only aspect I find painful lies in the denial that it is happening. I’m content enough to see human beings either step up and start getting with nature’s program, or be entirely wiped off the map. I’m genuinely at the point where I don’t feel emotional about it any more, as an individual I’ll just have to cross the bridges as when I get to them like everybody else, and hopefully I’ll be more switched on to choices and opportunities as they arise if I’m not steadily crying into my beer.

            • Brutus says:

              It’s still difficult for me to step back far enough not to be emotionally overwhelmed by the prospect of bodies piled in the streets and otherwise normal people reduced to tearing at each other for scraps. Considering how badly we’ve treated the natural world, there is little doubt that we’ll devolve to treating each other with that barbarity on a scale that makes the great 20th-century genocides modest in comparison. For instance, someone already mentioned the widespread reemergence of literal slavery, not just the wage slavery many of us put up with or the small pockets of literal slavery still in existence.

              Beyond the immediate catastrophic effects of collapse, it requires a timescale beyond human history — evolutionary time, actually — to conceptualize repair of the damage we’ve done. So once you appreciate the worst we’ve done not just to ourselves but the entire biosphere and get past the karmic payback we’ve earned, it’s silly (to me at least) to even think about how you or I will fare or seek to have mere curiosity sated.

              • Anarchrist says:

                Fair enough Brutus, I see your point. But consider: there are already bodies piled up in the streets, just not your streets or mine, it’s been that way for a long while and I don’t see where any of us get off crying about these chickens coming home to roost. As for ‘normal’ people, what exactly constitutes normalcy anyway? A large part of what many people in the west think of as their identity is little more than a set of consumptive habits, constructed around a set of artificially tweaked compulsions and neuroses, and meanwhile the wholesale destruction of nature and other peoples lives is being wrought to feed those ‘identities’.

                I remain disgusted by a general lack of perspective in the developed world, primarily that our affluent lives are somehow worth more than any of the (frankly shocking) number of emaciated children that have died since I started writing this post. The fact is, watching African people starve on TV is considered ‘normal’ in my country and yours, and the quiet dignity that so many of these people display never fails to surprise me. If we cannot manage such calm composure as and when we face the difficulties that represent THE NORM for a large part of the populace today? Then I say shame on us.

                This shit is happening whether we like it or not, it is both necessary and long overdue. I also cannot change that the personal perspective is all I truly have, I do like to contemplate how I will manage to live in days to come, and I try to imagine ways that I might help (rather than harm) others as I go about my business. I realise that could appear self-centred or even callous, though it’s anything but, it’s simply honest realism.

                As for curiosity, I make no apology for that regardless of how silly it may appear. I wonder if people will form into tribal bands, some peaceful and some warlike, I wonder if some people will resort to cannibalism, I wonder if neo-feudal-lord-types might attempt some empire building, I wonder if under harsh conditions more human beings will re-awaken to the underlying truth of the interconnectedness of all things quit with the mass-psychosis of ‘selfselfself’. I wonder. Can you blame me? I’d rather be curious than afraid, and on my own death-bed (if I’m lucky enough to die in such a way, and I have my doubts) I promise you it will curiosity not fear that holds sway in my heart.

            • kulturcritic says:

              Beer AC? You will have beer? How will you get it? LOL

              • Anarchrist says:

                Ok, how about cider? Going to start pressing my surplus apple in the next couple of days!

                • kulturcritic says:

                  OK – that’ll do it!!

                • Patric Roberts says:

                  AC I love your posts and they are inspiring always. The healing of our current condition and situation in the collapsing mental structure of civilization is to develop a new “eye” in perception that feels, sees, hears, tastes and imagines in wonderment a unity of realization~in~living beyond the current mesmerized hypnotic appearances taht have no power in the emergent future. Outrage for the predatory chaos is the first baby step in awakening. The 2nd baby step is realizing the mental structure has no power and is powerless now. The 3rd baby step is enactive embodiment of trust in one’s own human commitment to effective activity in the localized garden of one’s own concerns in a mood of compassion, courage and confidence. Using a collective blank canvas and participating in artistically sculpting interactive relationships in wholeness caring, feeding and nurturing the questions of children in not~knowing the answers any longer, yet, relying on a profound reverence for the knower arising in authentic moments. We have all the time in the world and not a moment to waste. Have a great day!

      • Disaffected says:

        And a guy named Ron shall lead them. Ron, you’ve nailed this one.

  23. “…re-integrate those abandoned aspects of our primal self that see all boundaries differently, then we could stop seeing the whole deal as a struggle or war of opposites and reconnect with the truth of our existence as part of a greater whole.” Good call, AC! And the universal wake up call is underway. And don’t forget, most good shows include the dual roles of heroes and villains–holds our attention for the delivery of the message. The same goes for our Show? There’s no one to blame but the Writer-Producer-Actors-Audience.

    Here is a message I set to a tune and have sung for ten years. I’ve laid it the way I sing it:

    Peace and Happiness

    Throughout the ages men have been deeply involved
    in the struggle for peace and happiness.
    It is this struggle that lands them into
    chaos and misery.

    If men were only to become conscious of
    the fact that peace and happiness
    are not to be fought for but to be sought for
    within one’s self.

    They would abandon there fighting and be
    at peace with themselves and the world.

    I have come not to teach but to awaken–
    to awaken men to that peace and happiness,
    which cannot be attained through struggle,
    neither can it be bargained for
    nor borrowed nor bestowed.
    It is inherent in all.

    –Meher Baba

  24. Disaffected says:

    Forgive me,

    You guys/gals have posted some REALLY GOOD SHIT here!


  25. My ideas for getting in touch with the Big Mama, from my own experience are such
    -Go backpacking in a wilderness area. There are still lots of them in North America. Some even don’t allow airplane fly overs. No roads, no vehicles, little or no signage. My favorite was the Bob Marshall WA in Montana.
    -Do a vision quest in a wilderness area in New Mexico. A few days of group preparation, then a four day solo fast.. Pick a spot where there’s no bear poop.
    -Do a camping trip in a remote area of Maine. The loon calls alone will send chills up your spine.
    -Get a house in the New Hampshire woods, where you walk or x-country ski every day.
    -Take up bird watching, fly fishing, or animal tracking. Learn to “read” the landscape. I gave up fly fishing after the vision quest.
    The trips, of course, are a temporary solution, and wear off in time. For daily relief of noise, do meditation. After all, most of the noise is in our heads. The civilization noise is background. Meditation can be done every day, and the effects can change your life. I don’t do it regularly anymore, because I usually fall asleep. Thanks for the post, Sandy. I’m enjoying reading your book, “Apocalypse of the Barbarians,” available where better books are sold. 😉

    • kulturcritic says:

      Reid – why did you give up fly fishing after the vision quest? Inquiring minds want to know!! LOL

      • One of the things you do when vision questing during the fast is to find meaning in what you experience. I had been reading about Buddhism and Jainism at the time: “do no harm, do not slay, abuse, torment, or drive away any creature.” I had rationalized fly fishing, because I did catch and release, choosing to ignore I was putting a hook in a fish’s mouth: that’s gotta hurt. So, one night I decided to stop fly fishing altogether. The next day, I was walking down to the stream where I got water, and I saw three fish swimming in perfect formation. As I approached the edge of the water, the fish approached me, again in perfect formation, instead of swimming away. They paused for a few seconds, then swam off. I took that to mean I’d made the right decision.
        (full disclosure: I never caught very many fish anyway, it was getting pretty futile)

        • kulturcritic says:

          I wonder if you would reach the same decision were that your only food source? Also, remember the buddha was born a prince with all the luxuries, so maybe he went a bit overboard with his asceticism. Just sayin!

          • I’m no ascetic, or a vegetarian, or even consistent. After spending time in the woods, studying a bit about evolutionary biology, about the strategies and skills animals have developed to survive, I feel that the wild things should be left alone. Harassing them for fun is not the direction of refinement that I want to go. When and if they are ever my only source of food, we’ ll see. Hell, I may even take my kid fishing some time, but never hunting.

            • kulturcritic says:

              I never said anything about harassing wild animals for fun, Reid. So take a break and take a deep breath. I also recommend you read a bit about predation and how it relates both to animals and humans. There is nothing obscene in the necessary prey-predator relation; it was, among H/G bands a sacred game, and we should honor the prey for giving their lives to feed us. I would recommend Paul Shepard, The Tender Carnivore and the Sacred Game. Before his death, Shepard was Avery Professor Emeritus of Human Ecology at Pitzer College and the Claremont Graduate School in California.

              • I’m not hyper ventilating, I am calmly saying hunting is not necessary for me, nor for Americans or Western Europeans at this time, so there is no predator-prey relationship (predators don’t have a choice) or reason to do it, other than for fun. I recently had a FB argument with a guy who was trying to tell me how hunting gave him a respect for life. I wasn’t convinced of his squaring of that circle. Saying he did it to save money was even more ludicrous. Fly-fishing is, at least, more artful, and using more or less ancient tools, and using cunning rather than overwhelming force and technology.

                • kulturcritic says:

                  Reid – The correct attitude of the hunter is one of respect for life. Try reading Ortega yGasset, On Hunting. Nor am I defending hunting with guns, per se. By the way, it is necessary if for no other reason than to stop relying upon a food distribution (and commercial) system which is unsustainable, as well as an animal domestication and killing system that shows absolutely no respect for animals or their lives!

                  • “A sport is the effort which is carried out for the pleasure that it gives in itself and not for the transitory result that the effort brings forth… In utilitarian hunting the true purpose of the hunter, what he seeks and values, is the death of the animal. Everything else that he does before that is merely a means for achieving that end, which is its formal purpose.”
                    He says hunting is a fun sport, and looks down on someone who hunts for food.
                    Maybe he hasn’t tried badminton ;-).

  26. Brutus says:

    Because the column has become too narrow, I’m replying to what Anarchrist said September 29, 2011 at 9:26 AM but outside the threaded comment structure.

    I knew that my terms would raise objections. Bodies piled in the streets? Not in American or other First World cities, at least not yet. Otherwise normal people? Normal as in the way most people now are. Even if they’re driven insane from living within an insane culture, they’re not raving lunatics chasing each other with chainsaws. Violence has been institutionalized and (somewhat) sanitized so that everyday people don’t have to acknowledge it or experience it firsthand anymore. It’s the same idea as Business As Usual (BAU): if you really need it explained, you’re probably just being contrarian.

    I appreciate your curiosity, I suppose, though it’s clearly mixed with shame and retribution. You seem unimpressed that the time it will take to play out is far too long for any of us to witness. As I’ve said in other comments to other posts, we’re among the corrupted and can’t go back to selfless interconnectedness with nature. That’s for others long after we (those of us now living) are gone — if the ecosphere can still support human life.

    Refocusing, reiteration, and dead-horse-beating aside, let me acknowledge you as you have me. We’re in substantial agreement and our minor differences are of no real importance. I respect your contributions here, but I don’t think we’re really working out any problems. Rather, we’re straining to understand the world as it flops around like a fish out of water. Perhaps we can imagine what will happen when the levitating act finally fails, but I doubt it carries any force.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Brutus: You haven’t seen me with my chainsaw?

    • Anarchrist says:

      I hear you Brutus, and I assure you that respect is mutual here, I don’t mean to appear disrespectful, and by asking a lot of rhetorical questions I could certainly be seen that way. Where we differ is admittedly only on details, however I do think even the small differences count for a lot, at least where perspective is concerned. I’m a hopeful sort really and truly, and I see lots of scope for potential good in people, I am looking to understand and cultivate that potential in myself, that I might better employ it in the real world and, with any luck, encourage it in others as I do.

      If by discussing here I can widen my own perspective, regain a little faith in humility, intelligence and gentility, then it is a worthwhile exercise. In many (most) of my daily interactions the conversations lack depth, or accurately describe the world as it is, let alone recognise the fact that it is rapidly changing. I find this frustrating, but as a beholden worker/tax-payer/tenant I am simply not permitted to be tactlessly honest 100% of the time. Here I can explore that honesty, and observe it in others, in the hope that my world view might become a little more accurate, uncompromised.

      I cannot deny that things move a little slowly for my appetite (I am a tragically impatient man) and that the world will not change for the better overnight. It will change though, and whether it be for the better relies to some extent on the actions of bold individuals that may step forward the when the opportunity presents. One voice in a thousand, a million, can change everything if it speaks the truth. I sense in you a resignation though, and to some extent the shame you mentioned (and I assure you that I myself feel neither; I have no capacity for shame over decisions I cannot influence and no patience for resignation). It appears (and please correct me if I’m off here) that you feel unable to act in any way that might achieve something.

      I agree completely that any guesses we may hazard about the overall trajectory of collapse are just that and carry little weight, but crucially, how we choose to feel about our lives in light of those (potentially accurate) predictions is telling. Are we doing all we can? Are we living up to our own principles? Are we taking responsibility? Everything I say and do is merely a reflection of me as an individual and nothing more, but that doesn’t mean that my life (as only one in seven billion) cannot change the world for the better, just a little at a time.

      • Brutus says:

        Don’t sweat the little disagreements, I say; there are no little disagreements, he says. Go figure. :>P

        Yeah, I”m more broken up still about things about to happen than perhaps I should be. My humanism has taken such a shattering blow with what I’ve learned over the past few years that my shame and resignation are only the tip of the iceberg.

        Here’s a curiosity: my mother before she died tended to disclose rather surprising tidbits about me and my siblings. Her main concern about me was that I would tip over the edge and become another Kaczynski or McVeigh. I’ve never considered such a path, but there are days ….

        • Disaffected says:


          Never doubt mothers. Perhaps what she was REALLY suggesting was merely that you were an (extreme) idealist, which is what the two aforementioned gentlemen were, first and foremost. Surprised you missed that. You can’t be THAT dumb, can you?


          • Brutus says:

            DA sez:

            You can’t be THAT dumb, can you?

            No, of course not. In case it’s not already apparent, I write pretty both compactly and densely but still leave room for others to amplify the discussion. Drawing that obvious inference hardly needs stating, but yet you go ahead and throw it in my face. But I’ll be generous here and simply thank you for stating the obvious.

            • Disaffected says:

              Sorry Brutus,

              I CAN BE an asshole, can’t I? Fair to say, I SPECIALIZE IN THAT, don’t I? It’s a failing. One of many.


              • Patric Roberts says:

                DA we are all assholes. The problem is when you make the characterization of being an asshole a special quality defining just your own character or manner of behavior. Have a little sacred laughter and get over it, and you may discover the one of many failings disappears overnight along with all the rest!
                Father Asshole!

        • Anarchrist says:

          Yeah, sorry ’bout that Brutus, I’m really not as ‘difficult’ in person as I suspect come across here. Feel free to focus on the part about respect in my last post, as truly that is where I’m coming from. I appreciate everything you offer up and if anything I only feel frustrated by what strikes me as a very clever guy seeming bogged down in the emotional ramifications of what he has come to believe. If anything, I empathise, and I must apologise if I am only being irritating in my efforts to encourage progressive thought.

          As for taking the wrong turn and ending up doing something reprehensible, I fear that is what a lack of reasonable optimism can do to a person, especially where life has them boxed in. This is why I feel perspective is so crucial, because it can soothe a weary heart or mind, assist clarity in escaping a feeling of being trapped (by circumstances or thoughts). That awful feeling of going round and round looking for the exits and finding none is often what leads people into extreme thoughts/behaviour in an effort to escape.

          What you can take to the bank is that whenever someone does perpetrate an extreme act, TPTB will always capitalise upon the stampede it provokes in the masses and only gain strength in the long run, so such acts are self-defeating. Perhaps that’s why there were no ATF personel in the office when McVeigh acted out his twisted thoughts, because they knew and let it happen anyway, knowing it would somehow strengthen their position?

          I prefer the look of the ‘radical activism’ shown below simply because it could be fun, at least briefly a different voice was heard and they closed the NYSE shutters for a bit, before everyone went back to sleep ‘in the fire’…

  27. rg the lg says:

    Uncle Guy was a redneck. He drank beer when his wife would let him … mostly he subsisted on water.

    Uncle Guy is probably spinning in his sarcophagus as I write this … [OK, he’s dead and therefore not able to do anything … ] and he taught me one of the few skills that matter. He taught me to fish … with a fly rod … to be still and to think about what the fish would do. For recreation, I often tie a few flies, just to be calm and let the world dissipate. To remember Guy and his stories … about being a longshoreman on the west coast. A life in conflict with $$ and those who worship it …

    Wilderness … with all of the fly-boy types from Uncle Sams arsenal to control the world (Error Farce; R-Me; Marine Corpse; Deck-Apes; Border Patrons; etc) the few wilderness areas in NM still have planes … just not the commercial. They’d be there too if we were on the way to anywhere. Nature, looking up at the night sky when the moon is on the other side of the planet, the number of winking, blinking space junk puts paid to idea of a natural sky.

    The river, as I knew it then, has been sold off. Summer houses … MacMansions along the river … no fly fishing now … assholes with guns, mostly of a TX variety, are dangerous, especially in their natural state of drunkenness. Best to be avoided.

    I no longer fish. Now, I read, and contemplate the loss of the world that I knew, then, and understand that the inexorable ‘curriculum of the west’ will, in the end, win. It will have destroyed itself, perhaps unintentionally, in its headlong striving to dominate and be all.

    It will, inevitably, destroy as much as it can. The remnant species will rebuild. Inexorable … life will be different without us. Better than what it suffers now from our rapacious, highly complicit, demands.

    • I did a bit a fishing on Google search for a good quote from The River Why, by David James Duncan. It would not be my first choice but it’s not bad at all and I am being a bit lazy when it comes to typing in my favorites. So:

      Titus and Gus are philosophizing…
      Gus: “What’s to love? Where is the Whopper? Or the soul that jumps in the living river – where is it? And where are these sages and buddhas holing up, now that we really need them?”
      Titus: “Would you know one if you met one? Have you even looked? How hard did you look? How easy should they be to find? … Look, Gus: why can’t a duffer like me catch fish? Isn’t the answer obvious? Isn’t it because at my present level of skill the fish would have to be so damned dumb and easily duped and utterly unelusive that they wouldn’t be worth catching? How much more elusive should a thing so wondrous as the soul be? It’s not a hatchery trout! And are you sure it’s never flashed inside you? What was it in you that loved to watch Thomas Bigeater fish? What healed you and made you happy the night you remembered Bill Bob’s pine knot and our elusive twins? What nearly jumped out of your rib cage and ravaged your brain the day you met the elusive Eddy?
      “Fisherman should be the easiest of men to convince to commence the search for the soul, because fishing is nothing but the pursuit of the elusive. Fish invisible to laymen like me are visible to anglers like you by a hundred subtle signs. how can you be so sagacious and patient in seeking fish, and so hasty and thick as to write off your soul because you can’t see it?” (178-179)

      • rg the lg says:

        Just in case … … there is an introduction and three parts.

        Uncle Guy was one of the San Francisco diehards. Meanwhile, in Seattle, Uncle John and his wife Lucille, were attempting to get a Wobbly union going. He, also a dock worker, and she a teacher. It was mom and dad who unified the two families … and dad’s family always denigrates Guy as that fatman my aunt married. In the other side, John remains a hero …

        Perhaps there is a root to my anti-corporatism?

        But the unions were not really fighting against capital … they wanted their piece of the pie. The alleged ‘curriculum of the west’ had subverted them … as it has all of us. We even hear of ‘plans’ and ‘planning’ to exist beyond the collapse.

        Ah well, maybe it is time for a drink … water, maybe, if it is still drinkable and not in a corporatist bottle?

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