The Risk of Letting Go


The Katun River in Altai Mountains

You know it is cold outside when you blink a few times and the ice on your lashes locks your eyelids shut.  It is approximately -37 C (-33 F) here in Barnaul Siberia now, and I am thinking seriously about the risk of just “letting go.”  The cold has a way of sticking it to you… right in your face, and anywhere else it can find an opening.  It creeps under your clothes and into your bones; and it screams out coldly, silently, for a reply.  But you go on hunting and foraging, and trudging around trying to find a warmer clime to inhabit.  If you are lucky you find it. If not, you wind up here, in Siberia.

There are many opinion makers running around today, suggesting how we might escape the likely outcome of our current predicament – whether that is insulating ourselves from the bitter Siberian cold, or escaping the anticipated heatwave that’s forecasted to bring with it a swift end to our civilized accomplishments.  Everybody has proposed solutions.  Nobody has the answers.  And Altai Krai is not a place for everyone; at least not just today, not at thirty-seven below zero and counting.

There was a Russian nationally televised special program last month in which I (that’s right, yours truly) was the opening  act for the latest installment in a series on the future of Siberia, and Altai Krai, pending global collapse. It was presented as only truly dedicated and experienced Russian propagandists can do so – with pure artifice and fantasy; as if my personal “reasons” for coming to Altai were thoroughly conscious, strictly rational, and purely manipulative acts, intended to stake my claim to a piece of their “Shambala” while I await the coming global apocalypse.

Everybody has motives, and Russian propagandists (errr… news jockeys) perhaps a bit more so than others.  And they would insist on ascribing motives to all other actors in the universe, whether or not those motives are real, imagined, or simply convenient for the story at hand.  Perhaps they do so with some good reason, because hidden agendas and ulterior motives seem to be the coin of the realm here in mama rodina. But the universe itself has no agenda. No motives. It simply is.  We, on the other hand, constantly work on perfecting and protecting our sense of the real; but unassuming nature has its way of interrupting even the most sophisticated of our technologies and our plans.  We must learn to accustom ourselves, as Siberians have, in the face of such “cold” biting facts.  Just look at New Jersey!

We cannot help where, or to whom, we were born.  We cannot easily alter the structure of our physiology, our biology, or the construction of our cultural baggage.  We are who we are.  So, what can we do?  That becomes the central challenge.  What is this person, this self, this ego, with whom I identify?  At this stage in our cultural development, how much is natural (i.e., ground) and how much artifice, superstructure?

Maybe the Upanishads had it right all along: the soul of man is indistinguishable from that of the universe.  Non-duality! Maybe that is what was meant by the primitive Pacific Islander’s speech about mana or the Lakota Indian term, wakanda.  And perhaps that is what makes ancient shamans so valuable, so successful, particularly Siberian shamans. They have an intuitive grasp of that connectedness, the intertwining – non-duality.  In this view, we are not far from the concept of the Tao – therein lies the heart of non-dualistic apperception; and there lies the road to “letting-go,” wei wu wei or as Heidegger said, after the German mystic Meister Eckhart, Gelassenheit.  Here is where the essence of participation lies, where the doors of perception open wide, yet again.

In the meantime, we Americans mourn the death of a valiant member of Seal Team Six (you know: the same gang of guys who assassinated Osama bin Laden).  Yet, we could care less about all the “collateral damage” (those dead citizens) we have left in mangled heaps throughout the Middle East, Southeast Asia, North Africa, and elsewhere.  Just send in the drones or the Seals, and look the other way.  The Israelis are also experts in this field, as I understand.  This is a consequence of “not-letting-go;” this is a result of dualistic thinking stretched out to its logical conclusion – us vs. them, good vs. evil, right vs. wrong.  Is that what we want to continue to propagate?  This is not a mystical issue folks; it is a matter of nature being what she is.  But, the moment we separate ourselves from her, and cordon off some sacred space called ego, superego, and all their prized possessions, that is the moment we cease to be players in the natural dance of predation, and take on the newly crafted role of righteous executioner and assassin.

Now, if you look at the unprovoked unraveling of the myth of Patraeus (the good General), you see not just one lonely soul perched upon a grandiose scaffolding; you see an entire culture… indeed a civilization built upon unsettled and shifting sands.  The entire artifice constructed of myths, half-truths, and unverifiable laws of physics that are believed simply because they produce results.  Well, if you want results, and you want to witness what shifting sands can really look like with the help of a little water, just take a peek at the Jersey shoreline.

Aerial views of Hurricane Sandy DevastationAnd these jokers in the community of Sea Bright, N.J., are seriously focused on rebuilding… simply because their civil law says they have the right to do so.  Are we a stupid people, or what?  And they want $37,000,000,000 in Federal Disaster Relief aid to do it, as well.  Not only have they teased, taunted, and thumbed their nose at the goddess – Gaia – but now they want someone to pay for their supreme act of hubris. Again, I ask you, are we stupid, or what?  Is there no humility, no sense of awe, no fear or trembling before the power of mother nature? Maybe “letting go” would be the most appropriate response for these newly homeless New Jerseyans.  After all, the sands of time do not appear to be on their side just now. Or perhaps, we should just let go of New Jersey. (Just kidding folks!)

Well, I have definitely wandered too far off the reservation here. I need to get back to tending the chrysanthemums. Huh? What chrysanthemums? Japanese poets were fond of scribbling haiku about these flowers. Didn’t you know?

When the winter chrysanthemums go,
there’s nothing to write about
but radishes. – Basho

Why chrysanthemums?  Why not?  They bloom late into the year and bring brilliant color and life as we move well into winter when all else in nature is faltering or dead.  And remember:

Well planted, in deep
Siberian snows;
even the chrysanthemums tremble. — (kC)

But, we need let them go as well. Ashes to ashes…chrysanthemums to chrysanthemums. It’s nature’s way.  It is neither good nor bad; it just is. The seasons pass without our concern and without our decision; it happens all of its own accord.

I can begin to sense the specific texture of non-duality in the proprioceptive sensation of muscle, tendon, and flesh, as my body spontaneously moves through space, orienting me in relation to concurrences there. Non-duality reveals itself principally as embodied-knowledge, opening me the world as I feel myself inhabiting, intertwined, and engaged with it. It is my knowing-body itself bodying-forth the sensate world as lived by me. Here, our strictly rational and objective distinctions between self-as-knower and body-as-vessel are dissolved, leading also to the dissolution of boundaries between embodied-self and world-as-lived. The subject IS the body (le corp-sujet), my flesh; and, my flesh IS the flesh of the world (la chair du monde).  The inline is outline, one and the same; so the distinction blurs, eventually folding in upon itself.  “Letting go” here may just mean letting the body-subject experience the inter-animation of its common factical grounding – a primal openness,  ek-stasis, or standing-out-into-the-world, that same ground upon which stands the entirety of the natural world as well as that of our artful constructions. This is not  a mystical experience, folks.  It is quite ordinary; at least we can surmise that it was so for nearly 2,000,000 years of our earliest hominid prehistory. It is just no longer an ordinary experience (i.e., a common apperception) for the current percipient – Homo historicus, Homo urbanus.

The risk of “letting go” is, of course, apparent madness – as judged by present standards. The risk of “holding tight” to our current state of mind and its cultural trajectory is however, quite simply, real insanity.

101 Responses to The Risk of Letting Go

  1. Murph says:

    Hi Sandy, Been a while since I commented on your posts. Just never seemed to have anything to contribute. This post, however—-.
    One thing that Americans have gotten very good at is being a hypocrite. Hypocrisy is a sure sigh of not having much empathy for other folks. Sure see that a lot in the government bureaucracies. Appears to me it takes a big helping of arrogance to keep it up. Interestingly, for a supposed Christian country, they seem to have forgotten the most condemned sin that Jesus talked about frequently, hypocrisy.

    Yup, as individuals, societies and cultures, governments, lots of hypocrisy to go around. Yes, we act stupid for sure. I think duality has a tendency to escalate most of what we consider negative emotional responses to our reality and our relationships. Think it is hardwired or a learned trait or some combination?

  2. “And some say love is holding on and some say letting go…”

  3. bmiller says:

    Is letting go necessarily a conscious act for the individual? Makes me think of J.G. Ballard’s The Drowned World where the characters in the face of a warming planet let go one at a time from civilization to flee south, the very act letting go seems to imply a relinquishing of their rational selves. I tend to think that it is “Gaia” that will let go of humanity. Not much we can do (except perhaps not build on the beach.)
    The reference to Siberian shamans is intriguing. Is there a real continuity in the shaman tradition? Or is it like much of the traditional Native American traditions: fabricated for popular consumption?
    Thanks for the weekly dose that with my cup of coffee always manages to get the blood flowing the right direction. And the right direction is outside to feed the livestock.

    • Ivy Mike says:

      Is hay as dear there as here? Between ethanol (with everybody plowing under hay fields to plant corn) and the Great 2012 Drought, hay is up 6x in price from 4 years ago.

      • bmiller says:

        No. We had a good crop of hay this past year (three cuttings). So our cattle and lambs are just fine for the winter. That drought elsewhere increased the price of grain and cut into our profits on our hogs. Although we do source a variety of feeds and let them forage in the woods, grain still provides the bulk of their feed.

        • Ivy Mike says:

          Got pastured pork? All the small guys around here are out of business as of 8 (? or so) years ago when the big boys drove down prices deliberately to put them out of business, so they could eliminate the local “livestock market” aggregators and just demand a minimum of a semi-load of hogs straight from each farm that they control via “contracts.”

          Michigan’s big-ag/insurance biz “Farm Bureau” is even doing this:
          Insane Michigan government announces plan to destroy ranch livestock based on hair color and arrest hundreds of ranchers as felons, March 27, 2012

          • kulturcritic says:

            Why does this not surprise me? Mike, have you read my piece from over a year ago, where I write:

            “More often then not, where SAP is implemented, agribusiness or other multinationals move in and, without any real oversight or regulation (an SAP signature move), eviscerate local economies, close down smaller indigenous operations, set up sweat-shops, and displace villagers, confiscating natural wealth, planting miles of exportable crops, or building cities of pigs that stretch around the world. [Incidentally, this is the reason for swine flu epidemics. They are a direct result of large-scale live stocking and agribusiness farming which create large colonies or “pig cities” of tens of thousands of pigs, with a commensurate increase in the potential for squalor, waste and disease.]”


            • Ivy Mike says:

              Good write-up, Sandy. We’re all Africans [or Injuns, Palestinians] now to the WallST-WashDC Axis Alliance. (A few people in fly-over country here are finally catching onto that, but mostly via Teabagger rhetoric, thinking that all they have to do is purify capitalism of “cronyism.” I tell them crony capitalism is a redundant term, then they get mad and call me a socialist. *sigh*)

              • kulturcritic says:

                Ahh, the American soul!

              • Disaffected says:

                Crony capitalism is actually the highest form of capitalism – capitalism perfected if you will. Everything you need to know about capitalism – intellectually and philosophically at least – you could learn from playing the simple board game Monopoly as a kid. It’s all there.

          • bmiller says:

            Well, pastured pork is a bit of a misnomer. We do raise our pigs in the woods and that is comparable to pastured pork. The goal of which is to provide some of their nutional and protein needs through land use. But the reality is that on pasture they are only able to glean 10-25% of their feed. They are omnivores and grow out best with a mixed diet. Remember you are talking about an animal that can go from a pound at birth to 350 pounds in 9-10 months… remarkable. I actually wrote about this on my farm blog last week.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Don’t know if it is an intentional act, like meditation… but that could be a trigger. I think there are some genuine shamanic traditions still alive around the globe… Read David Abram. Welcome, my friend. kC

      • Frank Kling says:

        It’s not the pigs fault, but when let loose in the woods the result is anihiliation for all other ground dwelling organisms- fauna and flora- and their nesting habitat.

    • Greg Knepp says:

      I think you’ve nailed it, bmiller.

  4. Disaffected says:

    Yep, all of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2013 involve divestiture. The new normal’s gonna be small, simple, spartan, and cheap by choice, before reality intervenes and imposes it on me anyway. Time to eliminate the distractions so that the mind can actually begin to function normally again. Then, who knows where from there!

    By the way, shared a holiday lunch with a bunch of my co-workers yesterday. Nothing to make me realize how different I’ve already become than to sit a while with a bunch of people who are still in the thrall of the system. I’m continually amazed at the depth and the breadth of the madness out there. The capitalist consumerism illusion is truly breathtaking to behold!

    • kulturcritic says:

      Another good sign of letting go… divestiture…

      • Disaffected says:

        That’s the material start – the easy part. I don’t think any of the real letting go can happen until you’re willing to let go of all the trivial material things. Sadly, most will never get nearly that far even.

        • Malthus says:

          Letting go of the trivial material things is just not going to happen DA. They have domesticated us, tamed us and if you let go of the illusion you will get locked up on some trumped up charge. Must keep the sheep in line with the overpopulation mantra of continued growth for growth sake. And we all know that growth is just another word for control.

          • Malthus says:

            You know its that being reasonable thing.

          • Disaffected says:

            I know it won’t. Not willingly for most at least. But when 9B people have to cut back to 1B or less in a generation or two due to the combined exponential effects of critical resource depletion and climate change, the “willingly” part is going to become irrelevant overnight. Thankfully/unfortunately, human free will and instinct will come into play at that point as well, and many of us will be eliminated by our own in a “perverse” form of species preservation on the way down. In other words, we’ll relearn what the true “animals” of this earth have always known; that we’re not merely a collection of “self-actualized individuals,” but we’ve always been “merely” a community of human animals, living within a larger community of animals, all sharing their collective existence on an eco-sphere that we barely understand, on an orb spinning in space that we barely understand at all. Too many consuming too much is a cruel math, but there’s no escaping it, persistant rumors of impending “techno-magic” not withstanding.

            • It is easy to forget that we share the universe and this planet with our brother and sister of the other kingdoms. Who really rules the day?

              I hope this fellow’s singing and composition receives a better reception than poor old Mr. Denver did. :o)

  5. Ivy Mike says:

    Ah, the Siren song of TV fame, my dear Odysseus. Didn’t you have any wax and rope? 😉

    “And then, something happens, as you knew it would. And nothing can ever be the same again.” ~Thomas Fowler (played by Michael Caine) in The Quiet American

  6. Collapse Watch says:

    Times like this call for some Neil Diamond. Of course, the message of this song is the exact opposite of letting go. It’s about reaching out and touching…..embracing.

    Sweet Caroline

    From the comments below the video in that link:

    And there wasn’t a dry pair of panties in the entire room that night.

    A snippet of lyrics:

    hands……touching hands…..reaching out dear Lord…….touching me……..touching you…..

    Nothing wrong with that message….it’s one that makes you moist just like Mike Douglas had the ability to do.

    Mike Douglas

  7. Greg Knepp says:

    What is commonly called ‘non-duality’ (a fuzzy concept at best, but one that I’ll accept for the purposes of this discourse) was apparently abandoned by our progenitors when it became apparent that survival demanded decision making, discrimination, planning, and the use of common objects in nature for purposes that we now regard as artificial: stones for throwing, sticks for clubbing, fires for warming, etc…

    But this process of discrimination (good-better-best, friend-foe, pest-pet) takes brain power, and brain power is expensive. Conscious thought consumes lots of calories and calories were damn hard to come by for a four-foot, sixty-pound ground monkey of the mid-Pliocene. But come by them he did. And he figured things out well enough to get the calories he needed…and then some. Hence, culture, and it’s deformed offspring – civilization.

    The unpleasant result of burning umpteen calories just to keep the cognitive fires burning is called ‘mental stress’. And just as physical stress causes muscular soreness, so mental stress hurts in a number of small and not-so-small ways. But even though stress hurts, it also acts to put the breaks on hyper-activity that might otherwise damage the organism and/or burn excessive and perhaps unavailable calories. Evolution has allowed us to be miserable in our brilliance, so as to preserve our species. As I’ve written before, evolution is no picnic.

    Yes, stress hurts, but if we are going to successfully compete with fang and claw, or the neighboring tribe, or the Islamist militants, or, for that matter, the surly grocery clerk, then we are going to have to deal with two unalterable aspects of the human condition: conscious discrimination and the resultant mental stress. This is inherent and is thus present in all cultures.

    Herein rests the predicament that underlies all religion and philosophy…nay all human endeavor. For, ultimately, the vain effort to achieve non-duality (serenity, Nirvannah , Elysium, oneness, letting go, Eden, peace of mind, you name it) is, in itself, stressful.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Condescension is beginning to show itself again, Greg. Might want to pull up those petticoats before they get torn. As well, your lecture about what was demanded by our progenitors for survival is a bit of a red herring… Our hominid forebears survived for 2 million years without many of the tools you presume they required. But, that is a moot point. I never doubted the human capacity to discriminate. My only point was to suggest that the concepts of ‘mana’ and ‘wakanda’ provide a window on the phenomenon of participation that seems clearly resident within the life-world of pre-literate humankind. And that is where I see the experience of non-duality.

    • Ivy Mike says:

      “miserable in our brilliance”

      I shall contemplate that listening to Allegri’s Miserere.

      • Greg Knepp says:

        Your discernment is flawless. Those four words are the heart of my comment, though I wasn’t fully aware of it myself. As for the musical selection – stunning! Many thanks, I.M.

    • Collapse Watch says:

      “miserable in our brilliance”

      Shine On You Crazy Diamond

      Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun.
      Shine on you crazy diamond.
      Now there’s a look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky.
      Shine on you crazy diamond.
      You were caught on the crossfire of childhood and stardom,
      Blown on the steel breeze.
      Come on you target for faraway laughter,
      Come on you stranger, you legend, you martyr, and shine!
      You reached for the secret too soon, you cried for the moon.
      Shine on you crazy diamond.
      Threatened by shadows at night, and exposed in the light.
      Shine on you crazy diamond.
      Well you wore out your welcome with random precision,
      Rode on the steel breeze.
      Come on you raver, you seer of visions,
      Come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine!

      • Disaffected says:

        Might be the best, most directly on point song EVER for this particular point of time. THANKS once again for posting it!

      • Ivy Mike says:

        Singing is an activity always called for.

        Sing. Sing!” ~Chomina (played by August Schellenberg) Black Robe, 1991

        • kulturcritic says:

          Sex!! Always a great distraction!! Or not!

          • Disaffected says:

            It’s always the top… ONE! Who are we kidding? Although, I must admit, sex is one of those “shape shifter” kind of things. PURE ECSTASY when it’s good, PURE HELL (or PURE DRUDGERY) when it’s not. And I’ll admit, maybe that’s purely a male thing. I think maybe our female counterparts may beg to differ.

            • javacat says:

              Not far off. 😉 My scale has more levels and scenarios. The best is sublime and boundary-dissolving. The worst…is damaging.

              • Disaffected says:

                Well, but that’s why you are a true Java Cat, and I am a mere Disaffected member of the masses classes. Watching a PBS video about Clinton now. Almost ready to puke and go to bed.

  8. Do you suppose we fear becoming blobs
    of pot smoking protoplasm
    existing in a corner somewhere,
    if we take that chance and let go?
    If we dare to just relax,
    will we settle onto something substantial,
    something wonderful,
    or just hover over an abyss?
    Well, our world hovers there anyway now,
    so what have we to loose?

    It sure looks like our little egos
    have constructed a world in our own image,
    a globalized demiurgic prison mad house
    with gold bars forming our cages.
    I lost my Keys.
    Any clue where I left them?

    one lonely soul perched upon a grandiose scaffolding….
    ….and there wasn’t a dry pair of panties in the entire room that night

    Doesn’t that give you’re demi an urge to let go?

  9. javacat says:

    In the spirit damp-panties: I love it when you talk philosophy! 😉

    Letting go is a kind of madness. Sometimes heady, sometimes lonely. One discovers again and again how just below the surface, those with whom you thought you shared a common outlook are very, very different–often incompatible. I move between self-censorship and alienating those around me, often opting for silence instead.

    A sense of dislocation ensues, a sense of belonging nowhere. People don’t ask you to join committees or help out with projects. The dance card is definitely freed up. When all the obligations fall away, we can step out of the rubble of the culture, and into that primal openness you describe.

  10. derekthered says:

    too much of a temptation

    • Disaffected says:

      Nice little bit of Paul McCartney temptation that I’d never listened/paid attention to before. Nice, although I must say I hear some MOST definite Lennon influences in there too.

  11. Ivy Mike says:

    It looks like another incompletely-domesticated great ape let go and made real the schoolyard fantasy anybody who feels they’re just another brick in the wall:

    Glory, glory, hallelujah,
    Teacher hit me with a ruler,
    Hid behind the door,
    With a loaded .44,
    And there ain’t no teacher anymore.

    “Welcome to the Dead Zone and its no-future, where only one of the delusions is that life in this industrialized technoculture could ever be green, sustainable or healthy. Time to wake up and smell the gunsmoke.”

    ~John Zerzan
Eugene Weekly

    • javacat says:

      Whether we consciously try to cope, the impact of such events lodges itself in our beings. I’ve thought a while about whether to comment about the shootings, and these thoughts are still only partly formed.

      I grew up in CT, less than an hour from Newtown. Connecticut is a small state; proximity affects perception. I am a teacher, in the same school that my children attend, and have wondered how I would respond in such an emergency–would I make the right decision and would I have the courage to protect my students? A few weeks ago, I was also threatened by a student, so all of this resonates on a different level for me. And when the fire alarm went off unexpectedly Monday morning, I ran to find my kids.

      What I felt is disbelief, horror, and then distance. I noticed how quickly the event (See? Even that word connotes spectacle.) became packaged: “the harrowing photos”, the “hero teachers”, “the killer’s life”, and somewhat perversely, “Live Updates.” The cynic in me thought, “media maximizing”. Then I reconsidered : Is this our new way of making sense and making myth, creating a narrative to give shape and control to actions we cannot comprehend or do not want to confront. Then I stopped reading. Too many shifting details and ‘wrong ‘facts.’ Too many stupid FaceBook comments or requests to sign petitions for a condolence card to Sandy Hook.

      But, damn, as I see the photos, or read more details, I cry. I can’t help but envision events unfolding. What I can hope is that fear and pain were brief. A cynical thought, or a protective one? “We kill our children every day, just not with this flourish. We abuse them, neglect them, poison their air and water, drive drunk with them.” Around the world? Think Kosovo. Think the Beslan school. Think Rwanda.Think Gaza. Think Afghanistan. Does this one seem to matter more because of the setting? Picture-perfect, quiet New England town? We still perceive ourselves as a peaceful country, despite our culture of violence. I was touched to see reactions around the world, that people from India, Russia, and Brazil, moved past politics to mourn with us.

      Now we will talk gun control and mental health services–both much needed. The children will become symbols. Will anything change?

  12. Disaffected says:

    Myself, I no longer try to “cope with” what are by now fairly normal events.,0,3248656.story

    Shoot yourself and/or others? OK, I’m down with that. If that involves me and mine of course I’ll be a little more concerned. If not, not. Either way, it’s all now entirely within the realm of the new normal. What I’m NOT going to do is get unduly worked up over what is by now an ENTIRELY predictable event. THAT’S the NEW NORMAL if you’re continuing to live in the first world! WELCOME TO THE MADHOUSE!

    • Ivy Mike says:

      It is a madhouse, indeed. Humans and other animals in cages go psychotic. And now the whole world is a zoo, no escape. The best you can do is cope in some less intensively citilyzed place like Siberia or other fly-over country.

      • Disaffected says:

        Following Morris Berman’s blog now. He’s in Mexico, although I haven’t yet “drilled down” (current in vogue MBA/financial term, also “getting granular”) into the details. He and Guy McPherson might be the most personally attuned authors I’ve found yet (sorry Sandy!). Not a punch pulled one among ’em. I’m on the radar now. I now openly laugh at meetings now for no apparent reason known to anyone other than me. In my defense, once the blinders are pulled off, you simply can’t help yourself any longer.

    • kulturcritic says:

      What a tragedy. But you are correct, DA; it is the NEW normal. THank you Barack Obama for the militarized police state that leads us further down the path of violence… this steep road to perdition. But, of course, the video, DA… had to be preceded by a commercial announcement from Wells Fargo bank. Capitalism… another nail in the coffin.

      • Disaffected says:

        The internet will be completely captured by corporate/government interests within 5 years or so, if it isn’t already. We’re already just “privileged visitors with money to spend.” On the plus side, that will make it all that much easier to ditch it too. I’m already looking for ways to do without it, but alas, it truly has already become the proverbial vampire squid of commerce, albeit with recognized benefits. One thing capitalism’s taught those of us smart enough to listen though, the benefits are always just the hook to draw you in. Once the hook’s set, the benefits slowly go away, and the underlying dependency relationship begins to be enforced. The rentier economy as the egg-heads over on Naked Capitalism are wont to call it. In the end, we in the capitalist consumer class are viewed as nothing more than a bunch of first world junkies, who, thanks to the wonders of modern finance and its purposely obtuse plethora of financial voodoo algorithms, can not only exploit, but leverage the debt of the many into the personal enrichment of the few and theirs for untold generations to come. Unfortunately for our mathematical wizard overlords, our debt is denominated in purely imaginary terms (US dollars. What ARE these “dollars” of which you speak and what do they mean?), while the very real physical debt in terms of actual planetary resources (especially the fossil fuel “magic” kind) can NEVER be repaid.

        Finishing up Berman’s Why America Failed this week and starting/continuing several, including Guy’s Walking Away… and Zinn’s People’s History…. Dylan had it right, albeit a few decades off. The times, they are INDEED a changin’! Fo’ a mo’fo’ I might add!

    • Disaffected says:

      Hollywood previews the American future:

      Well, they’re good for something at least!

  13. derekthered says:

    “Worker bees can leave
    Even drones can fly away
    The queen is their slave”

    but is this non-duality really the most important question? i find myself asking more and more, what would tyler durden do? a slight variation of the wwjd meme. but seriously folks, is duality even in the cards? we have artificial light, artificial hips, synthetic financial instruments, synthetic DNA, and a planet with no horizon; the horizon now done away with by the blue-green glow of the 24 hour worldcast on the tele-screen.

    somehow i don’t think this is what mr. davis had in mind.

    no time to think, no time to live, just the constant attack of the clones, the i-pod people, and the information fix. we are expected to be world citizens now, absorbing he chaos into ourselves, until someone spins out and goes on a rampage, wash, rinse, repeat.
    “What is this person, this self, this ego, with whom I identify? At this stage in our cultural development, how much is natural (i.e., ground) and how much artifice, superstructure?”
    that is the question isn’t it?

    kurt vonnegut made this claim
    ” I will come to a time in my backwards trip when November eleventh, accidentally my birthday, was a sacred day called Armistice Day. When I was a boy, and when Dwayne Hoover was a boy, all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
    It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.”
    from “Breakfast of Champions”
    god, gaia, the great spirit, or simply the sounds of the earth; maybe if we reach a day such as Vonnegut described we will find out the answer to your question. let’s hope so.

  14. Murph says:

    There is so much really neat music out there. Thanks all for the links. Some I hadn’t heard before.

  15. Sandy,
    Precisely what I needed to hear, after today’s events, here in America. I biked to my sister’s and chased my 2-year-old (tomorrow) nephew around the kitchen forty five minutes, and let him chase me, and throw me around ;), and put him to bed and held him a long time and sang to him, while his dad took a long nap. Biked home in anticipation of an anticipated wet, freezing, weekend long storm, smoked two bowls and am blogging now.

    My only critique, to factical, I would have added fractal 🙂


  16. Eugenics by Poverty, Enslavement by Proxy

    Welcome to Capitalism at its best!
    But it can do better, you’ll see.

    Oh this wonder of life under bosses.
    Bosses here, bosses there.
    Bosses everywhere.
    Big Bosses, small bosses.

    Which boss shall I depend on today
    for a little nugget in my spoon?
    So many to choose from!
    But oh!
    We have a Right to Work.
    Thank G#d.

    Hierarchies, don’t ya love em?
    What’s to hate?
    A full tummy.
    Thank G#d for that!
    A little crack.
    We’re toast.
    But who cares,
    we’ll be back….
    ….for more….
    ….school shootings.

    Didn’t I say Capitalism would do even better?
    It’s perfecting itself.
    It gets perfecter and perfecter everyday.

    We raise em up.
    We raise em right!
    To condend against their peers, everyone,
    to get what they can and damn the rest.
    Competition, it’s good for you, you know.

    Just not so good for the other guy.
    But who care’s, you’re not the other guy!


    If we fret and contrive, we pass….
    Lounge and laze, we pass….
    Build up or tear down, we pass….

    If we try to stay, we go….
    If we go, we go….
    But do we pass this way again?

    Do we repeat or merely rhyme?
    Do we ever miss a note?
    Or miss them all?

    Do we Chord?
    Or do we Dis-Chord?
    And why do we hoard when it can’t go aboard
    that boat that takes us when we pass?

    We Amerikans are so afraid of passing….
    ….we try to pass everyone….
    ….and leave them in the dust….

    Well, now our time has past….
    That rushing sound you hear?
    What is it?
    The Whirlwind.

  17. Dean says:

    Hi Sandy
    This is your best post EVER!! Haha!
    I think people trying to figure out non-duality
    try too hard. It is very simple. You are just one thing. You come out of the earth and that’s where you will return. It is a strange little planet. Yesterday while driving up to our Dascha( I thought you would like that!) I came upon an accident. There were 3 cars involved and it had just happened. I walked up to the wreckage to find 2 people looking at a guy trapped in one car and a lady crying outside of her car. She kept saying she thought she killed him, so I tried to comfort her by saying it was an accident. We sat in my truck until emergency crews arrived. I went back to the scene to witness the crews giving the guy that had been trapped CPR. He was dead. It was strange to be there but I was surprised by how not upset I was. I had cried earlier in the day when I heard of the killings in the U.S. but this didn’t do anything to me. After I walked the lady to another ambulace, i talked to a cop and drove away. It turns out it was the dead guys fault. Weird little planet.

    • Greg Knepp says:

      Yes, Dean’s got a grip on this stuff.

      As I wrote previously, the effort to achieve anything like an on-going state of non-duality (bliss) may, of itself, prove stressful and so defeat the purpose. Non-duality is achievable – and necessary – for brief periods of time, through meditation, art, music, chanting, dancing, alcohol, sex, drugs, etc…. And, of course, there are specialists to whom the marketing of non-duality is a full-time profession: priests, gurus, philosophers, therapists, bartenders, drug dealers, shaman and the like. But the attainment of an on-going state of not-duality on the part of the rank-and-file of any human organization – be it tribal, national, corporate, ethnic or whatever – would surely lead to the extinction of same.

      Whatever detachment (and resultant serenity) that may be arrived at on a more-or-less on-going basis must arise from an acceptance of reality, no matter how harsh of random its effect. To understand and accept our animal nature and the Darwinian paradigm that rules all seems the only answer.

      From dust to dust. Or, to quote The Preacher :
      “As for men, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals.* Man’s fate is that of the animals. All have the same breath; man has no advantage. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust and to dust return. Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?…All is vanity [useless].” Ecclesiastes 3:18-20 NIV

      * KJ carries this line “Men may see that they are beasts [animals]” not “like the animals”…interesting, no?

      • Ivy Mike says:

        Ecclesiastes is my favorite book in the Bible. Thanks for pointing to that verse “a man hath no preeminence above a beast;” love it!

      • derekthered says:

        “Sad preacher nailed upon the coloured door of time;
        Insane teacher be there reminded of the rhyme.
        There’ll be no mutant enemy we shall certify;
        Political ends, as sad remains, will die.
        Reach out as forward tastes begin to enter you.”

        Yes – And You and I – from “Close to the Edge”

        • Disaffected says:

          That’s great! I remember listening to that album over and over again as a teen, based entirely on the freaky cover art and guitar/synth work (I was a BIG Yes fan back in the day, before a buddy told me to forget all that shit and dig Pink Floyd instead). I remember the lyrics vividly even now, but never once gave a thought to their meaning. Good stuff!

    • kulturcritic says:

      Yes Dean. We forget that we are animals, and indeed, participate in the dance of predation.

    • Disaffected says:

      Sometimes death truly is just death. We’re all gonna get our chance. So here’s one of those “divine coincidence” (or just purely coincidental if you prefer) things. Just today I was bored at work since we close our books for the month tomorrow, so I watched an online version of PBS Frontline called The Undertaking. I also have an aging and feeble mother who is in “the death zone,” so I was kind of drawn to the program personally. Nothing revelatory to report, other than I thought it was a nice, very honest and open treatment of a subject that we here in the first world west especially(!) are taught from birth to avoid. Which is a shame. Our deaths are every bit as much of our life as our births or any other event, and in any truly mature culture that would go without saying. That it doesn’t in ours speaks volumes about us.

  18. Frank Kling says:

    It may be cold in Siberia, but here in far northern Illinois it has remained warm enough that ticks and flies remain abundant (unheard of at this time of year), not to mention an ongoing drought.

  19. javacat says:

    Hey, kC? Got your playlist ready for Friday? You’re posting on the day the world’s supposed to end! Best to be prepared, whatever happens. If we go out with a bang: If the party goes on? Either way, it’ll be fun. ;Catch you on the flip side. 😉

    • kulturcritic says:

      I think the end came early to the USA in CT.

      • javacat says:

        Forgive my fllipness.. I don’t forget for a moment what happened. I tried to write about it above, to try to sort things out. Not very well, I’m afraid. I can’t dwell there for long, but I can’t stop returning either. I take bits and pieces and try to make a whole out of it, which, of course, can’t happen. It will take a while to absorb this, but I think we need to. Hug your boy all the more.

        • derekthered says:

          it’s not normal, it’s not new, it’s been going on since time immemorial, since societies grew beyond the size where healthy relations are possible. these days we have more powerful weapons, so more people get killed.
          we use terms like genocide, but forget it means events like the Battle of Washita,

          or the Mountain Meadows

          i hate to say it, but this is what you get from a traumatized society. i worry whenever my children are out of my sight, did my daughter get snatched off the street? did my son get shot by a gangster? will i get shot by a gangster? just minding my own business? some serious pathologies at play here i’m afraid; and i don’t think there are any easy answers.

          don’t want to hijack this thread or take it in any direction, i would actually just as soon leave it be, but just felt i had to say something.

          • Greg Knepp says:

            “Since societies grew beyond the size where healthy relationships are possible”

            derekthered hits the nail on the head.!

        • kulturcritic says:

          Your remarks above were exactly right, JC; I was just connecting some dots in advance of my doomsday post. kC

        • Disaffected says:

          Well, let’s not go all PC here now, shall we? The dead are dead, and the living involved know what they’ve done and are either OK with it or not, or simply don’t know what they did in the first place. It’s for the living to make sense of it now, and from what I’ve seen on the national stage so far, we STILL don’t have a clue. Ban assault weapons? OK, I’m with you, as far as it goes, but that STILL ain’t gonna fix SHIT! More regulation ain’t gonna cure the cancer that ails us. We’ve got a cancer that eats at our VERY SOULS, which is what this blog’s all about. And it ain’t gonna get ONE DAMN BIT BETTER anytime soon! Sorry, that’s just a fact.

    • derekthered says:

      party like there’s no tomorrow!!!

      • kulturcritic says:

        not sure that’s the best response, red 😉

        • derekthered says:

          probably not, i’m sorry, my mind runs away with me sometimes.

          • Disaffected says:


            Nothing like letting your mind run from time to time. Think of it as a horse and let it run where it will before you embrace the western compulsion to harness it. You’ll be surprised where it will lead you. And wherever it goes, don’t apologize for it! It’s your mind after all!

            • derekthered says:

              well, i was thinking end of the world (as we know it) didn’t pause to think of the connections, then it was done. and i don’t mind apologizing, it’s my mind, but it’s Sandy’s site. besides, didn’t cost me a dime, that’s where the rubber hit’s the road. however, that is some bad-ass playing, herbie flowers on bass.

              • Disaffected says:

                Listen, there’s nothing wrong with apologizing, and I’m certainly not here to tell you what you what to think, but I think you absolutely should think twice before apologizing or mincing words about anything you think on “anyone’s” web cite, no matter who you or they think that they are (and I think Sandy would agree with this whole-heartedly). In the end, no one truly “owns” anything except their minds and their (presumably) ephemeral souls. Let us not grant those too, to any authority whatsoever without at least giving it some minimal amount of preemptive thought first, shall we?

          • kulturcritic says:

            don’t apologize; no need, my friend

        • Disaffected says:

          I think it probably will be the most popular response though, especially over here in denial land.

  20. andykenworthy says:

    HI there, Could you please, please stop parasitical postings on Kunstler’s blog. Fair enough if you are actually commenting on anything he has said. But simply grabbing the top spot for an ad for your own blog, which most of us have no interest in, presumably because he is so popular, is getting kind of old.

    • Disaffected says:


      That’s probably a fair request and I thought about saying about something about that myself a few times. But only because I think it demeans this blog to “go trolling” on Kunstler’s comment board, given the tone and tenor of many if not most (definitely not all) of the commentors there. Not to denigrate JHK’s blog in the least, which I still enjoy for the most part (although the Archdruid’s increasingly stealing all his thunder).

      That said, I am always amazed at the amount of verbiage spent over there denigrating the handful of posters who (admittedly, somewhat childishly) try to claim the top spot every week, but then again, what does it hurt and why not just scroll past it if you don’t like it instead of contributing to further comment clutter? It’s not like they don’t have several hundred comments to weed through every week anyway. Personal opinion: the children over there (A-Sucka anyone?) just like to act out.

      And for what it’s worth, I always appreciate links to other blogs like this one (matter of fact, I think that’s how I found this blog in the first place!), so there ya go.


    • kulturcritic says:

      Really great hearing your valued opinion andy; stop by again sometime. kC

      • Greg Knepp says:

        Kunstler’s posts are great – no doubt about it.- especially this week’s. But the comment section has turned into something akin to a lunatic asylum. I seldom post there, and never under my own name. And I haven’t the hours at hand to read all the comments. Popularity can be a curse. I much prefer this blog.

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