The Despair of Doing Nothing: A Thought Experiment


False materialistic culture and agriculture begin and end by “doing.”                                
But the way of [the] true man begins and ends by “doing nothing.”

 (Masanobu Fukuoka, The Natural Way of Farming, 214) 

Throughout our wonderings over the past year, we have taken up, at least tangentially, a rather thorny issue: what to do as we approach the collapse of industrial civilization. Should we continue to live comfortably ensconced within the current culture or do we attempt to extricate ourselves from it and simplify our lives? Alternatively, do we actively work to hasten its demise?

It is generally thought that there is nothing more splendid than human intelligence, that human beings are creatures of special value, and that their creations and accomplishments as mirrored in culture and history are wondrous to behold. That is the common belief, anyway. (Fukuoka, One-Straw Revolution, 42)

Yet, it seems certain this civilization erected upon the interlocking foundation stones of modern reason and hierarchy – where natural scientific and social law reigns supreme (a.k.a. the Curriculum of the West) – that this “wondrous” world is already in burnout and on a trajectory for total system failure in the not-to-distant future. We also know that our “creations and accomplishments,” built upon fossil fuels, fiat currency, and wage-slavery, have led to much death and destruction on the planet – of other cultures, and other species. We, the civilized ones, have robbed, enslaved, exterminated, abused, and squandered peoples as well as the earth and its diverse riches. At least a few recognize that we have already done too much, and that continuing on the current trajectory will only lead to more overreaching, until the world our distant forebears once knew intimately no longer exists, even in the remotest regions of our globe.

So, the question is on the table: what do we do with our knowledge of collapse.  Do we aggressively attack the Curriculum and its institutions, or do we just walk away as some have suggested?  Alternatively, do we keep one foot in both worlds, hedging our bets, so to speak?  Javacat expressed her own reservations and frustrations in this respect earlier last week with the following confession.

Most of us, myself included, are still snug within the system… Do we need to completely extract ourselves from the system to see it clearly? Or does even that extraction – the need to set ourselves apart – mean we’re still within its power? I sometimes lose heart not knowing what the next step is. My reaction is to try to affect some small good whenever I can.

These are not unreasonable questions, nor can I find fault with her conclusion. But, it raises a critical issue for consideration. Is there a moral imperative lurking somewhere here; are we required to do something specific, to act decisively upon such knowledge? In reply, Brutus offered the following keyboard confession as well.

…there exists a moral dimension to how we behave in response to the knowledge we’ve gained, and my own lack of response (no extrication yet) has me wracked by guilt at my powerlessness and lack of resolve.

Is this a fair self-assessment — chastising oneself for a failure to do something with his knowledge? Do we have a constant compulsion to act? And, what is this guilt of which he speaks?  What powerlessness is he referring to; and, what resolve is he hoping to find? This brings us to my central question today – the despair of just doing nothing.

Despair – “desperation,” “to be without hope” – has been a topic of much literature, both fiction and non-fiction.  It was even the subtext of a recent presidential campaign, the audacity of hope offering an antidote to our collective sense of despair, our communal hopelessness, our creeping ennui; verbal salve in a time of global desperation.

Some have spoken of despair as a condition of the soul, the self’s relationship to itself. Desperation may result from a very simple recognition of lack, a lacuna or gap, between our expectations and the reality facing us. Yet, at root it is a profound unease caused by divisiveness within the self (1), grounded perhaps in one’s own sense of estrangement – a consequence of the objectification of both self and world, pitted, one against the other. The Danish theologian, Soren Kierkegaard called it “the sickness unto death.” I would argue that such despair is a visceral, organic reaction to the vacuum left by forcibly tearing the individual out of her vital connectedness, her primal inherence in the world-as-given. It rests upon the muted recollection of a more fulfilling state of being, where a diffuse but vitalizing power naturally sustains our ability to move and to act, inter-animating the lived-body-world. Moreover, such despair haunts our every thought, our every action because of its intimate connection to the doubt that infects our historical attachment to the future. Let me call this existential despair.  Allow me to further suggest that all despair is ultimately existential.  In Kierkegaard’s own words:

An individual in despair despairs over something. So it seems for a moment, but only for a moment; in the same moment the true despair or despair in its true form shows itself. In despairing over something, he really despaired over himself, and now he wants to be rid of himself.

Let’s return then to the question of guilt, above.  From whence does this sense of obligation, the necessity to act, arise?  The despair we feel over our inability to act upon the knowledge of collapse may appear as a guilty conscience simply because we have no other way of understanding its etiology, other than as moral deficiency. Yet, we mistakenly believe that if we do something different, change our behavior, make a decision, take appropriate action, the guilt will be vanquished. It may; but the underlying despair will linger. Does my clear conscience really help with the ongoing destruction of the environment that the system will continue to inflict?  Certainly, you can make yourself feel better, but the problem and the despair still remains.

Certainly, one can make the case that continuing to participate in this culture only supports the abuse and destruction that the system readily engenders; and, that by refusing to participate any longer we will thereby assuage our sense of complicity and guilt. But, that is just soothing to your ego.  Of course, one could still maintain that humanity has a moral obligation to try to stop this thing, since we put the damn thing into motion. Based upon the logical structure of our moral reasoning, we – the culprits – stand liable. But, does not the kind of intervention called for by such reflection presume exercising the same type of logic and “stewardship” that got us into this mess in the first place? And what kind of obligation does it impose upon you or me personally?

More specifically, how would one effectively act upon the moral requirement here, and to what end? If our moral code ultimately derives from the Curriculum, does not acting upon its prescriptions possibly thrust us deeper into the heart of a dilemma, enmeshing us further in the belly of the beast – perhaps energizing the culture to produce yet more novel solutions? Whatever actions we may take can be commodified, as has been done in the past and will so continue in the future.  In short, it is the Curriculum itself that drives our guilt as well, while the dominant culture hurtles itself and the planet toward destruction like a runaway train.  Can it be stopped?  Should we even try?  And, why?

If you stop and think about it, every time someone says “this is useful,” “that has value,” or “one ought to do such-and-such,” it is because man has created the preconditions that give this whatever-it-it value.  We create situations in which, without something we never needed in the first place, we are lost.  And to get ourselves out of such a predicament, we make what appear to be new discoveries, which we then herald as progress. (Natural Way, 14)

Does the earth and its diverse populations really need our help? How has that worked out for us in the past, where virtually every new solution we have proposed or implemented leads to further, unforeseen consequences requiring yet further, more advanced and invariably harmful interventions? And this vicious progression seems to continue on, ad infinitum.

The reason that man’s improved techniques seem to be necessary is that the natural balance has been so badly upset beforehand by those same techniques that the land has become dependent on them. (One Straw, 53)

Flood a field with water, stir it up with a plow, and the ground will set as hard as plaster.  If the soil dies and hardens, then it must be plowed each year to soften it.  All we are doing is creating the conditions that make a plow useful, then rejoicing at the utility of our tool. (The Natural Way of Farming, Fukuoka, 14)

As I have suggested, our current despair is not grounded in some moral imperative, strictly speaking, but rather in a more muted instinct, an amoral, visceral intuition of balance or harmony that we now sense has been terribly upset. So, do we continue to apply our skills and techniques in an attempt to redress the imbalance, creating the potential for additional ruptures?  Or, do we allow nature to takes its course, and simply get out of its way? 

Since, above all else, we are great planners, we certainly will not be able to stop ourselves from planning for collapse; but maybe, just maybe, we should learn to do nothing. After all, what are we seeking to achieve? What is all the “doing” aimed at accomplishing? Maybe doing nothing is the best course of action, allowing Gaia to take her own course.

Until the day that people understand what is meant by “doing nothing”… they will not relinquish their faith in the omnipotence of science. (The Natural Way of Farming, 15)

ClusterfuckNation, ClubOrlov, CollapseNet, ArchDruid Report, Leaving Babylon, Nature Bats Last, Orion, and there are countless others as well, all tell us what we must do to prepare for collapse and how to survive it.  I am not one of them.  I have no answers.  I have no magic formula.  And, I certainly have no moral authority.  I am one of you.  I too am trying to make some sense of this despair.

Tao abides in non-action, Yet nothing is left undone. If kings and lords observed this, The ten thousand things would develop naturally. If they still desired to act, They would return to the simplicity of formless substance. Without form there is no desire. Without desire there is tranquility. And in this way all things would be at peace.  (Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 37)

There is alot of doing going on today. There are insurrections, civil wars, imperial aggressions, protest movements, transition towns, green technologies, regime changes, elections, and new political players all over the globe.  I ask you again; what is the goal?  What will it change?  There is not enough will power in the entire world to reverse the course of this machine.  So why the guilt?  Live the despair, forget the guilt.  In the meantime, perhaps we should try to “understand what is meant by ‘doing nothing’.” After all, nature gets to bat last! Wei wu wei.

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102 Responses to The Despair of Doing Nothing: A Thought Experiment

  1. john patrick says:

    Change is inevitable. And, the only way to observe life from one moment to another. I think the key precursor/attitude is one of “careful” change. Caring change. Doing the best we can to ensure the span between now and next is one of careful participation. How does one do that? Each to their own. And that being a unique/feral expression of creativity/love.

    That said, winning/acquisition is not the goal. And though ones talent is derived from “not of this world,” the application of goodness does not provide/guarantee immunity from the experience of being “in the world.”

    Life is unfinished business. And boy-o-boy, we certainly have a big to-do list in front of us. Someone (all of us) will have to clean the stable. Which will, in the end, be unfinished. Knowing it will be incomplete, joy/hope/wisdom/growth will only come from how we interact from now, to know.

    Nice writeup, Sandy. Is it time for wine and bread, yet?

    • kulturcritic says:

      Maybe, WHINE with the cheese!! LOL No bread.

    • kulturcritic says:

      “though ones talent is derived from “not of this world,”” – then where is it derived from, John? There is no mysticism in my thinking; what about yours?

      • john patrick says:

        There is mysticism is everyone’s thinking. Like it or not. If we do not know where we came from, nor where we are going, then why do anything at all to improve the situation or try to understand the circumstances?

        If all we are is a “digit” in a long equation, why bother trying to understand the code. It is certainly okay to accept the role of a digit, but if so, then one should not expect anything beyond their place next to other digits.

        The feral (KC) source. Something that does not lend itself to being “tried” by wooden/physical matter tools/thought. To prove something, a higher standard must be used. If the higher standard does not allow itself to cloak in mud and cloth, does the stick say to the fire, “you are being unfair?”

        Humility, in respect to the “Other.” We are not entitled to one ounce of wisdom anymore than we are entitled to paradise because we agree to a few words/sentences in a book. Or because Grandma gives us a big hug. If an ancient teacher tells a student/recipient to, “Go home and tell no one.” Who am I to wonder or demand that the prescription is shared with all? Marketing and PR would have you stand naked in front of the world (a spiritual pin-up) and give away secrets so that they can be bought and sold.

        Humility. Privacy. Other. Self. There are things that should not be shared. Not because the beholder is special, but because each should find their own. And define what is sacred/self. If the effort is deemed too hard, then the reward is not justified. Some rewards require a total abandonment of the previous moment. And why not? That day is coming. Is it not better to slip one’s toe into a beautiful lake, slowly, carefully. And then submerge completely.

      • cpopblog says:

        I am probably the most spiritual atheist one could ever meet. I am also probably the most mystical of rationalists in favor of the scientific method. The most meaningful science and art, in my view, derives itself from an elemental creativity – not an intellectual property. I don’t know if it comes from another world, but I know whatever those neurons are firing is a more ethereal experience than some of us would like to admit.

        In the ‘Mysticism of Sound and Music’ Hazrat Inayat Khan makes an eloquent, albeit esoteric, case for the ascension of ‘spirit’ into ‘matter’ and vice-verse. Many sciences now (quantum, string theory, neuroscience etc.) are beginning to speak of these conditions, and we realize the true importance of consciousness, a condition (and idea) that has been all but absent in the ‘Curriculum of the West’ – yet even in this systems institutionalized cultures, its art, its aesthetics there is a precedent for consciousness and ‘elemental’ creativity. When I compose music it is not “what I do” but “who I am”, many others would relate to this sentiment. Furthermore the creative act (for me) is not a commodity, it is not a conceit, but a passing of a gift. The elemental creative act in the current system is a subversive act, for it requires no other energy than that which I am applying right now as I think and write. Yet am I doing, or just being? Through this being my own cognitive dissonance is starting to morph into, perhaps a higher vibration – not dissonant or consonant, just balanced.

        I think everyone on this blog has done something. They have made an utterance. They have changed, and are changing, there own consciousness, even if it is in a minute way, or way paved with despair or guilt. Yet, what can we all “do”? To bear witness. Each in there own way. Wassily Kandinsky spent his life’s work exploring the mystical and spiritual nature of art and change. As he said almost one hundred years ago:

        “Our epoch is a time of tragic collisions between spirit and matter and of the downfall of the purely material worldview; for many, many people it is a time of terrible, inescapable vacuum, a time of enormous questions; but for a few people it is a time of presentiment or of the precognition of the path of Truth.”

        Thanks for the post, great thoughts here as always.
        ps. Let’s DO not forget to plant the grapes and grains…

        • kulturcritic says:

          JP and CP

          And pick the mushrooms, catch the fish, and enjoy what we can, without taking more than we need. There is no mysticism in life. The soul is as natural as the air we breathe and the water we drink, the rocks we climb and the earth we walk upon. If we refuse to accept the basis of unilinear time, than where we came from and whence we are going becomes a moot point. It is where you are now, who you are with and what you are not doing… that is all that matters. The rest is kindling for the marketers and promoters.

          • john patrick says:

            @KC… “If we refuse to accept the basis of unilinear time,”

            To write a simple sentence, with a beginning and a period at the end, requires an agreement with linear time. Beyond that is mysticism. Not saying one can’t experience non-linear time (I think we all do,) it is just impossible to communicate/share the experience with another. Two people can be talking in their sleep, two alternate realities, but little value is gained communally from the experience.

            The un-known feral self, is mystery. Something to be cherished just as the intimate relations we reserve for a few “others.” To capture life in a bottle/wineskin (or a book) and make it marketable/teachable to all, is akin to westward expansion of the soul.

          • derekthered says:

            “the basis of unilinear time” hmmm. paul virilio touches upon this in his book “open sky”. it bears remembering that we do not know how, what, or why gravity is transmitted, but yet we use the movement of electrons in our everyday time. if a tree falls in the wood does it make a sound/ i used to say yes, until i realized that sound is just a made-up human concept. of course the cosmos will not disappear if sentient beings disappeared, what does a tree call itself? are animals a lot smarter than we give them credit for/

            virilio posits a substance he dubbed “time matter”, maybe he is on to something, perhaps there is no time as we in the west imagine, perhaps there is nothing but an eternal moment and matter just shifts within this continuum, see how our language betrays us?

            • kulturcritic says:

              Try Julian Barbour, The End of Time: The Next Revolution In Physics.

              • derekthered says:

                i shall, i also saw some roszak on the bookshelf, i did read the counterculture book, the new one looks very interesting, but alas, while on amazon i saw that he died in 2011. the tyranny of reason is a phrase i like to use, baudrillard covers this in “seduction”.
                as for the rest of the recommendations, i have only read Dostoevsky, but a bunch, the Idiot being my favorite. other russians? just Solzhenitsyn, Denisovich and the gulag books. tolstoy? fuhgeddaboudit, only “master and man”, which was great.
                not to toot my own horn, but this physics thing had already occurred to me before i read virilio, and before i had heard of barbour. the same with the marxist critique, the manifesto only confirming my suspicions, please note i said i agree with the critique, not necessarily the solutions. thanks for the recommendation, i have 3 kids so these ideas are being handed down. scary, no? and it’s not even Halloween.

            • john patrick says:

              Time is based on the movement of matter. That is the rule of the game we agree upon. No movement, no matter, then no time. That said, the whole concept of time is an agreed upon concept that is useful for sharing experience.

              I do not think we are limited by any rule/law, but the downside is the event cannot be shared with another. If two or more experience life and each has a different language, I do not think we would be able to do much collectively. Sure–point to the mouth for food, but build anything complex that increases synergy at each higher level? Even the angels bore of eating apples.

              I think we can go beyond language. But unless all the players have knowledge/experience to do so, one remains a lone explorer in a very vast universe. The other thing is, we do not have to agree to something completely in order to convey a significant amount of it to another. There is a point of diminishing returns with the pursuit of knowledge (or book reading) and the ability to actually do something constructive with another.

              As a single soul (singularity, whatever), each of us can do/explore or “do nothing” to our heart’s content. But then, what if you want to share the new you with another? So–we have to have mechanisms to give/receive. Call it gene swapping, as long as you agree to 23. Call it commerce. Gov’t. Healthcare. Whatever. The do-nothing works very well with the lonely number 1. Same with one god.

  2. craig moodie says:

    Being an agnostic bordering on being an athiest, one’s purpose in life (and i’m assuming one should have a purpose) I would think be different to all those theists (religous nuts) out there. I would of thought that it would only be natural to attempt to preserve one’s own genes. Therefore is it not natural once one is aware of pending collapse to attempt to be one of those making it through the bottleneck?
    Once one is aware of collapse and one has the means to attempt to squeeze through the bottleneck does he not have a familial not moral obligation to do just that. Call it our survival instinct.

    • kulturcritic says:

      You always have an obligation to family, born of blood and trust. But I would not call a natural attempt to preserve one’s gene an obligation, moral or otherwise. I would call it an feral instinct. But I am no scientist. Obligation is based upon intentionality and requires rational reflection… blah, blah, blah… Just saying. Thanks Craig, as always, sandy

  3. Aids to Navigation says:

    Excellent, Sandy.

    As a renegade Permaculture (PC) designer, I contemplated Fukuoka some time ago. One has to be careful not to confuse his “doing nothing” with “doing absolutely nothing”… He was a hard-working man. His “doing nothing” means not to sit there and starve, but to observe the system as unbiased as possible — and interact sparsely and intelligently. Fukuoka exhibited precisely that humbleness before nature you advocate, yet he tweaked his agricultural experiments with the delicate precision of the scientist he once was. He must have found a way to bypass the Curriculum, which is one thing to achieve.

    Recently, I visited the pitiful remnants of a now-forsaken PC garden in a German ecovillage. What has been a place of plentiful variety is now lush with stinging nettles and blackberries and ash trees, a beautiful retreat for insects and small animals (we need many of those places, no doubt; they have been given a fixed place in PC as “Zone 5”), threatening the ordinary organic gardens nearby. There just is no gardening without frequent observation and interaction. Compared, however, with regular monocrops, where giant peak interaction and largely no observation takes place, Fukuoka’s way of agriculture can indeed be described as anti-curricular, that is, nothing.

    “There is not enough will power in the entire world to reverse the course of this machine.”

    I got that impression when playing with the iPad version of Ugo Bardi’s “Seneca’s Cliff” (yes, there is an app for that…).

    @ Craig: Of course it is all about survival, it always has been. Survival in the best possible way.

    Regards,
    AtoN

    • kulturcritic says:

      AtoN – Thanks for reading and enjoying. Yeah, I could tell that Fukuoka was no slouch; and of course, even Lao Lzu meant something mare than just sitting playing the squeeze box. But, we need to explore more this question about not doing and what it means… interacting appropriately with nature is what it is all about, for sure. Look forward to hearing more from you. best, sandy

  4. bmiller says:

    Me? I’m hedging my bet with no apologies. Glad to see you using Fukuoka in the posts.

  5. Dean says:

    Hey Sandy
    I believe we are nature. Enjoy our short life and observe the rest of nature by getting out in it. The world will continue without us when we die. Or not!!

  6. Malthus says:

    Excellent Sandy, again. As I ponder this and prepare my own thoughts on this I will start out with this. “Doing nothing,” perhaps could be replaced by “being nothing.” More to follow and it will be in the context of neuroscience and the latest research. As much of the research could be entirely wrong it seems a good place to view from.

  7. marsmcluen says:

    “Certainly, one can make the case that continuing to participate in this culture only supports the abuse and destruction that the system readily engenders; and, that by refusing to participate any longer we will thereby assuage our sense of complicity and guilt.”
    Refusing to participate. How does one do this? I ask myself this question quite a lot lately. Do I take my wife and two teenagers out of the city and try to find a commune somewhere? Communal living certainly has appeal to me for various reasons. But I’m certain it won’t fly for those other three. Although, after collapse they may have no choice. Here in the heartland it is next to impossible to find like minded folks willing forge a new/old way of communing with Gaia. I will not give up in my quest, but perhaps that is the source of my sense of despair, not finding like minded/hearted folks near to me. Particularly the closest to me.

    • kulturcritic says:

      I share your concerns marsmcluen. I still live in the city (albeit, in Siberia) with wife and son. But we do have the dacha community 50 kms away where we have some respite. Daily, I try not to make the choice; I just do what is called for each day.

  8. Martin says:

    Somewhen back there, in response to another of your postings similar to this one, I commented to the effect that there is nothing to be done, save to enjoy the moment, and I do so again today. Within my prior comment I did not, however, take the time or space to expand on what the comment might mean.

    Clearly, the juggernaut we are all riding and/or being sucked along in the wake of cannot be turned off by any individual action, nor perhaps by any collective action (even if such were somehow probable or possible) – it is too big, has too much mass and a huge amount of momentum that cannot be overcome by any power available. Methinks we-all can only let it run it’s course even though that means that many, if not most, of us will suffer as a result – but that may well be the price humanity has to pay; even those who are not at fault unfortunately.

    So, getting back to the core of my comment, if one does nothing but enjoy the current moment, one effectively begins the process of allowing the big J to run out of steam – in other words, just step aside and let it do its thing, perhaps giving it a little boost along the way, as in Tai Kwon do.

    While I do not have any idea how you or anyone else might do this yourselves I offer the following: to me, enjoying the moment does not promote the idea of doing nothing. What it does is to bring into focus that which is truly important. For example, I enjoy gardening and I do it when I can, but not just for the food it may provide. (Thanks for the references to Fukuoka, by the way – he’s one of my heroes.) Part of the enjoyment I derive from gardening comes from the almost pure alchemy of preparing compost, which, of course, has the end product of a nutritious (for plants) and micro-critter-filled soil amendment that utilizes what otherwise would be wasted as garbage – but that is not the real reason I enjoy doing it. My enjoyment comes from the fact that I am only an instigator and occasional promoter of the process – otherwise I do nothing; but it happens anyway.

    • kulturcritic says:

      I think the Tai Kwon Do reference is appropriate. Sometimes the right adjustment in posture, and the big guy falls quickly. Sounds like you are doing well Martin. sandy

      • Martin says:

        Well Sandy, I’m doing well enough with very little, thank you – sort of living in an individual steady-state economy on all fronts.

        My hope is that the ‘Big Guy’ falls sooner than later, but also very slowly so as to provide a bit of time for adaptation by those who are alert enough to do so. As for those who aren’t, well the thought saddens me, but that’s just how the cookie breaks sometimes.

  9. robindatta says:

    Not quite clear whom the “we”s, “our”s &c. refer to. Also not clear where the matter of “guilt” arises.

    A patrilineal ancestor of mine was reported to have said “On account of my adverse (karmic) influences, even verdant forests and luxuriant gardens are transformed into severe deserts: this is neither my fault, nor your fault, not anyone else’s fault. 

    One who sees inaction in action, and action in inaction, is wise among men, and is beyond both. Bhagavad Gita 4:18

  10. derekthered says:

    there is nothing to do, most of us are trapped, we do not have the knowledge and/or resources to move out onto the land, and even if we did? millions of city dwellers would descend on the prepred and pick them clean.

    mankind is a victim of our own success, energy input means growth, decline means entropy.

    there is a slim to none chance that we could move the population out onto the land, disperse and decentralize, but the political will and sophistication does not seem to be evident.

  11. Brutus says:

    Just as I admit my guilt, anguish, despair, and defeat at the inevitablity of collapse at our own collective hands, you (Sandy) figger out a way to pile on by showing how even that is a product of the Curriculum, that we believe ourselves to be ethically or morally duty-bound to shepherd the Earth and its abundance and then mitigate our own awful effects. I’d cry a little harder but I flipped over the other side and am now laughing at the preposterousness of it all. I would warn, though, that by waiving away responsibility, one does risk rationalizing the worst of our predations upon the Earth as only a natural part of processes larger than us and fundamentally immune to our influence. In other words, you grant a free pass to do our worst.

    In answer to the implied question “what does it all mean and what’s the purpose?” I observe that in terms of biology, everything is created, grows, kills, consumes, poops, and dies in turn. Some of the killing and consumption is truly horrifying, our own no less than that of top predators and parasites. Yet that’s the purpose, in short: to live and die and maybe reproduce in the interim. It’s true of all living things, and others species feel no guilt at the steps they take to secure their own place in the dance.

    FWIW, it’s nice to see you quoting Kierkegaard and Lao Tzu, who together capture the paradoxical essense of being. Whenever I try that, folks look at my like I have two heads. Fukuoka is unknown to me, but from what I gather here, he’s an insightful thinker operating between the frames.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Brutus – glad it sparked your fancy! LOL

      “In other words, you grant a free pass to do our worst.” – now there you go again with this silly idea of free will. I have no ability to grant or withhold anything.

      Two or three heads, what’s the difference. LOL best,sandy

    • I think it is possible for man to live in an egalitarian manner, however we have handed over the zoo keeper’s keys to the lions. I do not think we are predestined to live in a parasitical or hyper-dominant fashion like a shark or a stomach parasite. So in that sense I think there is a certain moral imperative in our attitude in living…however that moral imperative may be to ‘do by not doing’ as we are discussing, since apparently we did not consider carefully enough the rationalization for or the consequences of our actions to begin with.

      Keep in mind I also am not quite sure there is a ‘we’ here when it comes to humanity. ‘We’ is a tricky word that can be used to transfer responsibility onto others or assume unwarranted guilt for foregone happenings…

      I don’t think Dmitry Orlov or some of the others you’ve mentioned really tell us what to ‘do’ either – but are offering warnings and commentaries about what is happening.. not all of them are fully behind the prepper or the return-to-land movement or what have you. But some of them are.

      Maybe the best we can do is to learn to consider our motivations and the potential consequences of our actions before we carry them out, no matter the threat of social ostracism, and learn to be far less enthusiastic about ill-conceived attitudes and approaches to life. Maybe those whose heads are still on their shoulders will help to ‘shepherd’ what is left of humanity in the coming times – so a sort of less than ardent moral/social activism.

      • john patrick says:

        The phrase “Do no harm” certainly fits the idea of do-nothing, when appropriate. The real work of the mind is to decide when to introduce an act of change, and when to take a nap.

      • kulturcritic says:

        shepherding seems troublesome to me.

      • Aids to Navigation says:

        “I don’t think Dmitry Orlov or some of the others you’ve mentioned really tell us what to ‘do’ either”

        I agree, Vyse. The term “doing nothing” is a viable threat for some of us, I believe. The curse of nomenclature.

        More often than not, I perceive Orlov and Kunstler as hilariously funny, even in their most dire predictions and severest suggestions (just recall Orlov’s recent post about the skyscraper index… or Kunstler’s answer in an interview, saying that he writes not to be an agent of change, but to express his profound sarcasm), thereby transcending our slightly exaggerated self-stylization as shepherds of the masses, a common trap for those who know first.

        Greer stands a bit apart. His insistence on transforming ourselves before even attempting to change society can very wee be termed the “not-doing of activism” — a strenuous activity in its own right!

        AtoN

  12. derekthered says:

    the “curriculum of the west” huh? i think you are too hard on all of us, i seem to remember a guy named gengis khan, he and his cohorts managed to conquer, rape and plunder quite a bit. i wonder how much we really do know about how prehistoric man did live, how much is known? and how much is inference? brutus makes a good point about how other species make no apologies for their aggression, for that matter neither did little alex, what with all his ultra-.violence. i am reminded of alex’s response to poor dim when he wondered if there might be life on other planets,

    ““But poor old Dim kept looking up at the stars and planets and the Luna with his rot wide open like a kid who’d never viddied any such thing before, and he said: “What’s on them, I wonder. What would be up there on things like that?” I nudged him hard, saying: “Come, gloopy bastard as thou art. Think thou not on them. There’ll be life like down here most likely, with some getting knifed and others doing the knifing.”
    ― Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange

    i do not think inhumanity is confined to any race or locale, but i do agree that all these power structures developed from either surplus or scarcity. the human race is operating under competing imperatives, the drive to reproduce, to replicate ones own genes, running smack up against the need to cooperate, to band together for a more successful hunt, so to speak, the problem seems to be that the game is liable to get pretty thin. talked to an old guy once about he proper preparation of crow, he learned to do this during to depression when everything was hunted out.

    “It is better to be unhappy and know the worst, than to be happy in a fool’s paradise.”
    ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Idiot

    .

    • kulturcritic says:

      Khan and his cohorts were mounted steppe warriors who founded the Mongol Empire. They were part and parcel of the origins of the Curriculum of the West. They were well into domestication, hierarchy, etc. Better to eat crow, then go hungry! Yeah? How does it taste, my friend?

      • derekthered says:

        tastes like chicken when properly prepared
        triple cooked crow
        1- gut and pluck
        2- parboil, cool and scrape
        3- boil until fully cooked (expect an inch of grease per bird)
        4- debone and sautee (very important, during this step you must put a piece of bread in the pan for “the wild to jump onto”)
        5- bake in a casserole as you would tuna or chicken
        bon appétit

  13. javacat says:

    After I got over my Warhol moment , I began reaching into the underlying meanings of guilt, despair, nothing. I questioned my own statement about doing good–according to whom? said the inner voice. “Isn’t ‘good’ a moral value determined by the culture…i.e. the Curriculum?” The Horror! The Horror! 😉

    Guilt seems to be the result of culture: one has violated a norm, broken a law. I don’t think the word accurately describes the feeling that one is not acting in accordance with one’s own inner values or inner knowledge. Despair…without hope…strikes me as a term meaning without voice, without power, in which nothing one says or does has any import or significance. Do animals feel guilt? I think not–unless it’s what pets have been taught through domestication. Do animals feel despair? I think so. Not often, but I think nonhuman animals can experience this knowledge of inevitability unto death.

    Why do we feel a responsibility to act and guilt if we don’t? Is the act of doing, as Sandy suggested, simply a balm to conscience: “I did what I could” kind of thing? Is that the chain that’s being yanked, the fallacy that we have a responsibility to do something to avert disaster? To better ourselves, to change the world? That strikes me as its own kind of hubris. The energy with which we infuse these thoughts and angst merely divert us from what we need to be doing: living connected to ourselves and all around us.

    Yet, even this last, which seems attainable–doable–is often at odds with those around us. As one reader posted, he’s ready to live outside the mainstream, but his wife and children are not. How do we live this way, when we cannot live honestly with those who are supposed to be our more intimate and deeply connected ? How do we reconcile the responsibilities we have assumed with a perhaps new knowledge of the entrapment we live?

    We hang onto the need to do something, and its concomitant guilt, which bind and paralyze us. Perhaps the ‘doing nothing’ is letting go of the desire to ‘do something.’ The liberation that comes from ‘doing nothing’ may allow us to close the gap between our reality and our expectations, and erase the divisiveness within ourselves.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Now, don’t everyone get me wrong. There is nothing evil about culture itself. After all, humans are social-cultural animals. But it is the development of hierarchy as a structural foundation, along with the other abstract requirements of bureaucratic practice and law, etc, that distinguish this civilized culture from pre-civilized social organizations. It is the alienation built into such structures that require the individual to adapt to a set of requirements that are essentially foreign (non consanguine, non-tribal) to him/herself. There is no natural basis for conformity to custom, but only the abstract requirement of the law and its paid enforcers.

      And I love your conclusion, JC!!

      • john patrick says:

        “It is the alienation built into such structures…” And, I agree. But–it seems that nature, too, is bent on proving that each/any of us is not the center of the universe. Sunny day. Storm. Repeat.

        The rules are different when one is a co-dependent child, versus a self/outward seeking adult. It is easy for an adult to live relatively free of cultural rules. Even so, gravity prevails. A child needs a certain amount of structure to lay the groundwork for the abstract. Right or wrong? Neither. Many (but not all) boundaries can be viewed as “protective custody” until wisdom/lesson is learned. When one learns to fly, what hindrance is a fence?

        That said, I wonder. Such a thing as cultural gravity?

        • kulturcritic says:

          Yes, cultural gravity seems logical. The teaching of dependent children in a tribal environment regarding custom and life lessons appears to have a different temperament, with very different results, than the enculturation we provide from the administrators of law and knowledge (not experience) within our own complex setting.

  14. javacat says:

    Agreed for sure that culture is not inherently evil, and that humans, like many mammals, are social and cultural beings.

    A vivid contrast to the hierarchy and hoarding version of society has been my reading of Daniel Everett’s time with the Piraha people of Amazonian Brazil (From the bookshelf: “Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes.” The absence of planning for the future, the limited amount of material culture (even food baskets are temporary), and limited number of kinship terms looks very strange & almost incomprehensible to Western eyes.

    Yet, despite these ‘lacks,’ there is a strong community support, almost no violence, and a happiness. Tribal members report only what someone has experienced directly. Language reflects cultural structure. I caught myself saying, “But what about…the future? …one’s accomplishments?” then realized that the cultures are so different, our structures don’t fit at all.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Yeah, JC… wasn’t Everett’s book something to reflect upon. And, truly, this obsession we have with the future and unilinear causality is a real troublesome deal. Accomplishments, advancement, acquisition, and social hierarchy. They all fit together.

      • Martin says:

        The thing is – one can ‘plan’ all one wants, but there is no ‘future’ until one arrives there. And then there’s the idea that all possibilities exist simultaneously, spherically, to infinity.
        Too bad there are so few who realize and fully understand that.

        • kulturcritic says:

          You like to keep us on edge… yes,Martin?

        • john patrick says:

          “And then there’s the idea that all possibilities exist simultaneously…” And so if this is true (which I tend to think so), then why try to coerce/care others to a single path such as peace, war, or the do-nothing club? Each possibility having its own feral nature, why would we want to eliminate any of them. Leave the smorgasbord as a table for the attendees to select their plate. What they eat will determine their fate.

  15. huei says:

    I would like to suggest that we should be truly vocal in public as we are here in your forum.
    Carelessly vocal even in what we say (as the ultra religious) in public. We need make more noise regarding our said positions. Let’s not be sheep about it. I spoke innocently with other middle class moms about where to put their vote in… not politically but financially, aka, walmart, target, costco. Well, I got the burn… if you know what I mean. But it is a seed we need to plant…

  16. darwinsdog says:

    “Or, do we allow nature to takes its course, and simply get out of its way? ”

    We don’t “allow” nature to take its course, nature takes its course regardless of what we do or don’t do.

    Human activity has disrupted the biogeochemical cycling dynamics of all the major elements essential to life. The consequence is an ongoing mass extinction episode. The biosphere typically recovers from such dieoffs on the order of 10 mys. There’s no reason to expect diversity won’t be reestablished after this one. Nothing we do or don’t do at this point is going to change the outcome. So just relax as nature takes its course.

    • Martin says:

      Amen

    • Brutus says:

      On the whole, all this is true, except that we don’t generally regard our own activities within the context of nature; hence, anthropocentric global warming. I’d be willing to concede the point as mere semantics except that in the course of our self-destruction, there’s a high probability we’ll end up irradiating the entire planet. That could delay the expected recovery a few hundred millennia. And of course, as I suggested (obliquely) before, if our behaviors here are puny compared to natural processes over deep time, that’s pretty much the Christian eschatological excuse for the worst we can conjure. Just screw it and do it, man; won’t matter anyway.

      • darwinsdog says:

        Everything that happens is within the context of nature, whether we regard it as being so or not.

        I expect regional nuclear exchanges & Fukushima scale “accidents,” but these won’t irradiate the entire planet to any significant extent. What’s a few hundred millennia, anyway, to 10 mys?

        Our activities aren’t exactly “puny” when it comes to precipitants of mass extinction. After all, all previous major mass extinction events have had abiotic causes (probably extraterrestrial bolide impacts). The ongoing anthropogenic mass extinction is the first big one of biotic etiology.

        Whether or not the facts confirm or refute “the Christian eschatological excuse” for inaction is irrelevant to the truth. I agree with: “Just screw it and do it, man; won’t matter anyway.” But, of course, if you’d rather fret & attempt to “do” something Brutus .. knock yourself out!

      • kulturcritic says:

        Very well articulated, Brutus. Your concise clarity never ceases to amaze me. honestly.

        • darwinsdog says:

          Agreed. Brutus’ post is succinct & well articulated. I grokked perfectly what he has to say & what he’s getting at. Nor do I disagree with him. My reaction to his post is, however, that however well stated it may be, it is rather beside the point.

          The point being, of course, that humans have set ecological & biogeochemical forces in motion that greatly transcend in significance any cultural, religious or existential considerations. We have doubled, for instance, the input of fixed N to ecosystems worldwide. This is unprecedented in geological history. We are closing in on doubling the amount of oxidized carbon poisoning the atmosphere & surface oceans, since the onset of the Industrial Revolution. It isn’t merely the magnitude of these perturbations that’s significant; it’s their rapidity of onslaught: much too rapid for range shifts & natural selection to keep pace with. The outcome is an anthropogenic mass extinction event that began in the Pleistocene & has increased in severity exponentially ever since. This is a megadeath pulse at least as major as the end-Cretaceous event and may well end up rivaling the end-Permian extinction. I don’t expect any vertebrates bigger than a rat, starling or bullhead catfish to survive it.

          I know that you are the kulturcritic & the focus of this blog is on cultural/religious considerations moreso than on biological, ecological, or biogeochemical issues. I appreciate this. I, too, am interested in such things. I must say, though, that these merely human considerations are relatively inconsequential at this stage of the game. Planetary feedbacks have been triggered that render moot, at this point in time, all other issues. Climatic warming, surface ocean acidification, the erosion of topsoil, devastation of biodiversity .. ensure human population collapse on the order of decades to a few centuries, at most. This is the simple fact of the matter. Whether or not recognition of this fact plays into Christian/Corporatist obfuscation is irrelevant. What is, is. This is my only point. Do, or don’t do, whatever you think best. It won’t matter.

          • Brutus says:

            darwinsdog sez: “This is a megadeath pulse at least as major as the end-Cretaceous event and may well end up rivaling the end-Permian extinction … human considerations are relatively inconsequential at this stage of the game. Planetary feedbacks have been triggered that render moot, at this point in time, all other issues.

            Nice phrase, “megadeath pulse.”

            So since it’s all moot — we’re all walking dead anyway — let me announce now, coming soon to theaters: Brutus goes Rambo: First Blood, Falling Down, and God Bless America on audiences at megaplexes near you! No, seriously, I’ll start in the theaters where the rabble are stuffing their pie-holes with giant tubs of fake-buttered popcorn and HCFC-laden 32-oz. fountain drinks while viewing the latest superhero fighting for the American way against some alien intruder. Then I’ll proceed to the nearest arena where frat boys are cheering their favorite thugster sportos to get their testosterone and adrenaline fixes.

            My prediction/expectation for the man’s fate is every bit as negative as yours. However, even knowing that we can’t solve any problems, I believe there is some virtue to going out with some humanity still intact.

          • kulturcritic says:

            Of course, you are correct, DD. Almost nothing we do now, even collectively as a race, is going to reverse what has been set in motion. Even collective efforts will be relatively inconsequential. However, that does not alter the fact that these extreme geological, climatological,biological, ecological, or bio-geochemical issues you site are themselves the results of human (religious, social, political, economic) decisions made over the course of the entire Holocene epoch. The religious and economic systems that you readily dismiss at this point were part and parcel of the road we took; they built the roads, and sacrificed the planet. These “merely human” considerations, as you cavalierly dismiss them, are precisely the reasons we are in this fucking mess. Yet, I do not share your terminal pessimism with respect to the human race. I believe there will be human populations that survive global environmental weariness. However, I am not trained well enough to guarantee that last statement. It is more speculative hope (?) than reasoning. In short, darwinsdog, I love your scope of knowledge, your articulation, and your passion; but, I do not share your final nihilism. as always, best, sandy

            • darwinsdog says:

              “..these extreme geological, climatological,biological, ecological, or bio-geochemical issues you site are themselves the results of human (religious, social, political, economic) decisions made over the course of the entire Holocene epoch. The religious and economic systems that you readily dismiss at this point were part and parcel of the road we took; they built the roads, and sacrificed the planet. These “merely human” considerations, as you cavalierly dismiss them, are precisely the reasons we are in this fucking mess.”

              Very true. But what difference does it make at this point? “This fucking mess” could just as well have resulted from the impact of a comet or a supervolcano eruption. From the viewpoint of ecologic, let alone geologic, time, the mess would have been made no more abruptly.

              When population collapse commences, I expect it to be very rapid. Collapse may occur all the way to extinction in one fell swoop. More likely, relict populations will persist in the Southern Hemisphere for several generations, until Allee effects exacerbated by extreme unprecedented environmental stressors snuff them out one by one.

              Whether this is a pessimistic view or otherwise is a normative value judgement. My undergrad background is in vertebrate zoology with grad training in ecology & evolution. This is just the way I see the near/medium term future unfolding.

              • kulturcritic says:

                Why speculate? It resulted from specific cultural decisions and economic-political choices. That is my only point, DD. But, I certainly admire your pedigree (no pun or slam intended). The academic training is something I find engaging. best, as always, sandy

    • kulturcritic says:

      Thanks, Darwinsdog. Frankly, I didn’t know his dog could speak. Of course “allow” can be used as a verb suggesting non-interference. But then, perhaps, the dog could not think clearly as well? best, sandy

  17. Great post. For a long time I have found myself oscillating between various programs for “doing something” and “doing not doing”.

    I am opting for the latter because frankly, it is exhausting trying to juggle guilt and depression and anxiety and “plans” of one sort or another AND being forced to live in the mainstream world for survival as well.

    Your commentary on the real origin of “guilt” is quite instructive. The cultures and peoples who were able to live harmoniously with their surroundings did not have our obsession with doing, planning and controlling the outcome of events. They lived wei wu wei, and it is in attuning myself to that particular “grove” to the best of my ability that I find some measure of peace. When we silence the part of ourselves that is constantly calculating and planning and trying to get a firm grip on things, we may find that the world still speaks to us if we are willing to listen.

    Perhaps it sounds trite or cliche, but taking each moment as it comes, rather than trying to figure out some great plan of action, seems to be the wisest course of “action”. Doing, planning, reacting all feel like becoming more entangled in the ‘tar baby‘ of our predicament.

    By any chance, have you read ‘Original Wisdom’ by Robert Wolff? It recounts the author’s experiences with an indigenous tribe in Malaysia and their way of being with the world. It describes a form of knowing that is utterly different than the “knowledge” promoted by the Curriculum.

  18. Cliff says:

    The sun rises for some and sets for others all simultaneosly

  19. “The wind that knocked our generation down/
    Was not a harvest.” –Djuna Barnes

  20. Malthus says:

    This for me is an impossible task. I could write around 300 or 400 pages on this subject and still not have it right. So here is what I think in the very short version.
    My alien ancestor was killed by a mammoth. Now that probably is my imagination. Made up by me, for my entertainment. Neuroscience is now telling us that everything is imagination which begins in the frontal lobes and spreads around the brain to other parts until it becomes our reality. Nothing is real, it is all illusion. It all comes from our own imaginations. Neuroscience is in it infancy. It is now probably the most popular of classes in our universities. The universe is a hologram according to the quantum mechanics and made up of nothing but information. The philosophers like Metzenger tell us that we developed our egos millions of years ago for survival. And it narrowed our perspective down into a tunnel to only noticing and be aware of that which could effect our survival. We are constantly on the look out for danger. We can also throw in multiverses, strings, goblins, and those with evil intent. Anthropologists and geneticists like Wells tell us all our problems started with agriculture. Sandy wonders if we should be doing something about where most of us see we are headed. And if we don’t do anything do we need to feel something if we just do nothing. Everything is so very surreal anymore, I myself just do not know if anything can be done or not, nor do I really care. Enjoy my life and take responsibility for it and run with it. I do like the new hypothesis and theories popping up every day so it comes down to it, it comes to perspective. We are living in historical times and who knows what is coming down the track really. The Buddha said “it is your mind that creates this world.” So maybe it is all illusion. Or a cop out. It seems no one really knows. Me I am of the belief all our problems have to do with population numbers and if we could get a handle on that giant problem many of these problems will magically disappear. The Fewer people fewer problems theory of fun and survival.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Well, its not just the population Malthus; I also think its in the methodology. No?

      • Malthus says:

        Well I have to go with my gut feelings on this one, Sandy. Intuition if you will. Its the population numbers. Humans are always making attempts to come up with a perfect method of culture. Way to many variables in that. Of course life is a big casino of different games and ideas. I still go with less people, less problems, will cause less problems to content with. Realizing all there are is problems and most are afraid there aren’t any more out there if they let go of the ones they are dealing with so they keep them around for as long as they are able to. Letting go of one leaves a space where perhaps there is a short piece of “time” where one could actually choose its replacement instead of just reacting instead of being the cause.

  21. Angie says:

    Every now and then I read your stuff, Sandy, and I feel like I know you. Bit unimpresssed recently.

    There are people who appreciate our dire predicament who decide to alter their behaviour accordingly, even though it’s a drag sacrificing creature comforts. We don’t do it perfectly, but we use our brains to inform our decisions at all intersections with consumer life, and try to do the least harm. We won’t change the world singlehandedly, but we aren’t actively complicit in the demise. And we’re building momentum – this site is an example of how the fringe movement has infiltrated and preoccupied even the minds of the intellectual elites.

    Other people, confronted with the harsh realities of the times use their brains to rationalise comfy life in modernity. That’s ok. It’s your business. You only have to explain your choices to your own conscience and maybe your children? I’d not comment, but it really shits me when you lot misuse the writings of a man like Masanobu Fukuoka and his tongue in cheek “do-nothing” (ie. no damage) to justify persisting on the easy road. Do nothing means don’t interfere with nature, but do work you bum (Aussie for butt) off when needed to support natural processes to support (feed, shelter, heal) us. He was a revolutionary FARMER.

    I don’t think you’re ready yet, Sandy, to prepare for the great levelling that’s coming, You’re lucky though, you are smart, which will serve you well in adapting. I do think that detracting from our efforts won’t really make you and your ilk feel better. The “ego” massaging you denigrate – at least is constructive at various psychological and practical levels in terms of preparedness. What of your ego in this post? Did you inspect your own motivations before running ours down?

    Sorry to be rude but I’m still a bit primed following your tawdry comments about pussy after that silly post about labia- the one you promoted on Clusterfuck as going “a bit too far”. Oops. Bad judgement actually?

    We all make mistakes.

    For all that, life’s too short to be snakey. So I’ll save you the hassle and expose myself as an unworthy opponent. If I’m materially wrong, cane me. I’ll listen openly. (Not making this comment to provoke ill feeling, promise, just defending things I cherish).

    Thanks,
    Angie

    • kulturcritic says:

      Does anyone feel like replying to Angie’s challenge on my behalf? Of course, I will do so later as time permits. Right now its bath time for my son. sandy

      • Brutus says:

        I won’t rise to your defense, since you’re perfectly capable. When I comment, I always try to add to the conversation and understanding. Despite some criticisms about poor framing and WrongThink, I never feel qualified to tell someone about themselves or recommend courses of action. I’m still working all that out for myself. However, I will ask a couple questions at this point.

        Angie sez: “we use our brains to inform our decisions at all intersections with consumer life, and try to do the least harm. We won’t change the world singlehandedly, but we aren’t actively complicit in the demise. And we’re building momentum – this site is an example of how the fringe movement has infiltrated and preoccupied even the minds of the intellectual elites.

        Like Sandy, I don’t understand how we’re not complicit in what is expected to be the near-term demise of the biosphere (and with it, billions of people) by the sheer fact of our existence within a consumer society, even if we do our best to limit our impacts. Who and what the fringe movement and elites are also elude me considering the lack of context. I’d be interested if you would elaborate.

        Angie further sez: I don’t think you’re ready yet, Sandy, to prepare for the great levelling that’s coming, You’re lucky though, you are smart, which will serve you well in adapting. I do think that detracting from our efforts won’t really make you and your ilk feel

        Whose efforts? What ilk? What detractions? You must have ideas in your head, but they are not articulated clearly in your comment.

        As to preparations, we’ve discussed on this blog what that might mean, mostly physical and psychological readiness. I’ve stated repeatedly that there are likely no preparations that will matter much and that once collapse starts in earnest, it will be chaotic. I expect most of us will be swept away with the rest, but it’s impossible to predict whether such cataclysms will occur in our lifetimes or sometime closer to the end of the 21st century. The whole business of hoping, changing, planning, and preparing has gotten a lot of attention, and the intuition forming in the minds of many of us is that such behaviors are akin to chasing chimeras. It’s not out of plain laziness that I wonder why bother when it appears to be so worthless to begin with.

      • derekthered says:

        Collapse Now and Avoid the Rush – http://peakoil.com/generalideas/john-michael-greer-collapse-now-and-avoid-the-rush/

        when i see world leaders flying on jet airplanes to attend global warming conferences, it is all i can do to keep from banging my head against the wall, so right there, there is something to do, do not bang one’s head against the wall.

        our civilization is not ready to even try to live sustainably, one example is levees, generally accepted as good things, right? makes lots of farmland available, at least to those who farm………….

        think about it, when you stop flooding you stop soil deposition, all that black bottom-land? took eons to develop, farmed out in several hundred years. now, when you constrict water flow? it flows faster, cuts deeper channels, deposits the silt from the mighty mississippi on the bottom of the gulf of mexico where it causes oxygen depletion, some such thing. all that energy, all that effort, to destroy a river delta and move the topsoil from minnesota and montana to the site of the deepwater horizon. this is the kind of deep green that a mere high school graduate can figure out, but which is so counterintuitve that people think you are frigging nuts, no gravitas.

        so, all along, we would have been better off doing nothing. this power down will take some time, one of the best things to do is to attempt to educate the young people, they are already primed with all the global warming “propaganda” out there. what you do is just gently remind them of what they will face, mental preparation.

      • javacat says:

        Just a few thoughts here late in the conversation. I didn’t take Sandy’s “do nothing” literally–for that’s impossible–but more as a statement that we examine what we do and the intentions behind what we do. Later, I also thought of it as being completely in the moment of whatever we’re doing, like a parent giving a child a bath.

        Part of the discussions here involve the efficacy of doing something (Does what i do make a difference in the big, and even not-so-big scheme of things? ), the internal forces that drive us to act (moral, social, human?), and how we conduct our lives in harmony with ourselves. Other views have offered that all our ‘doing’ is simply or mostly distraction…our minds get full and spun around. The culture pulls at us constantly: I could spend all my time signing online petitions for Name-that-Cause and get in great shape by jogging in all the “Help (fill in the blank)” road races.

        And that doesn’t mean that we don’t act when the need is there. Giving voice to beliefs is important and a rather dying art. But I think Sandy raised valid questions in his posts–whether we attempt to work within the systems, to withdraw completely and live outside them. And the bleaching blog…to me the topic represented an apex of absurdity and manipulation, an extreme of how society forces seeks to control and separate us from ourselves.

        Angie, I’m not sure about the direction of flow between the fringe and the intellectual elite. Like Brutus, I’m not sure of your context or meaning, and would like to read more of what you were thinking here. Overall, i don’t think Sandy was tearing down anyone who acts against the machine. i don’t know the work you’re involved with, but I didn’t see detraction in this post.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Angie – sorry to hear all of your frustration. I certainly imagine how hard your life is; mine can be frustrating as well. But, you really need to slow down a bit, stop trying to accomplish so much; you are getting in your own way. It would also help if you actually read through my post carefully. After all, I ended this post with the following words: perhaps we should try to “understand what is meant by ‘doing nothing’.” – It was a direct quote from Fukuoka.

      You said: “but we aren’t actively complicit in the demise”

      – In the demise of what, Angie? Are you trying to keep this civilization alive, or help to bury it? I cannot tell from your words.

      And how would you know how ready I am for the great leveling, Angie? Please tell me. And of what “ilk” am I? And who here is detracting from whom? Do you feel better now, Angie? I do not need to run down your motivations; I never criticized them. In fact, I said nothing derogatory about living your life in opposition. In fact, I salute you. That does not alter the guilt and despair that you and the rest of us carry around with us; and that was my point. But, there is indeed an art to accomplishing something by not doing. And that is something perhaps even you still need to learn, Angie.

      So, in summary, you thought my comments about bleached pussy were tawdry? Dear Angie, I did not think the Aussies were as sexually puritanical as the Brits. But perhaps I was mistaken. All my best, sandy

  22. Angie says:

    Hi again.
    Just snooping around my old favourite haunts and found lovely Jennifer’s this:
    http://bethechange2012.wordpress.com/2012/05/30/finding-hope-in-heartbreak/

    Bless her.
    And you for bathing your son, Sandy!

    And everyone.

  23. Pingback: Overproduction Leads to Overreproduction « The Spiral Staircase

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