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Into the wild

Sat, Dec 3, 2011

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American essayist Norman Cousins wrote: “Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.”

Personally, I’ve never been content sitting still, surviving for survival’s sake. Evidence is found in the roller coaster of my academic career, which was marked by significant change every few years. My scholarship, teaching, and service were characterized by unpredictable, nonlinear, seemingly chaotic swings from one topic to another. The adventure of new experiences always trumped the security of the bricks-on-a-pile approach revered in the ivory tower. A primary point I made in every course I taught: It’s always more difficult to do the right thing than to do the wrong thing. In fact, you can usually tell the right direction simply by the difficulty of the choices you face.

For working outside the mainstream in a dysfunctional system, I paid in expected ways, including financial. But I benefited in ways I could not expect and cannot fully describe. A rich life comes from taking risks, and the risks range from physical to emotional. I’ve had a rich life.

Most recently, I’ve thrown my heart, soul, and every last dime into the mud hut. I suspect it’s the consummate lifeboat, and it illustrates how improperly talented but thoughtful people, working together, can develop a durable set of living arrangements. And in the desert, no less. If we can make it work here, I suspect it can work just about any habitable place on this blue dot.

The response from the masses: I’m insane. I suppose this should have been expected from a culture characterized by sheer insanity. As with nearly everybody in this culture, I was born into captivity (hat tip to my friend Tim Bennett for the perfect descriptor). I spent most of my life in the zoo that is contemporary culture, drinking and feeding at the troughs of indulgence and denial and playing with toys that substitute for reality (albeit poorly). To a great extent, I’m still in the zoo, still immersed in the culture of make believe.

I’m attempting to pursue, and encourage, agrarian anarchy in this small valley. We’re at the edge of empire, but we’re still part of the American Empire. David Graeber explains the general idea in his analysis of the Occupy movement:

The easiest way to explain anarchism is to say that it is a political movement that aims to bring about a genuinely free society — that is, one where humans only enter those kinds of relations with one another that would not have to be enforced by the constant threat of violence. History has shown that vast inequalities of wealth, institutions like slavery, debt peonage or wage labour, can only exist if backed up by armies, prisons, and police. Anarchists wish to see human relations that would not have to be backed up by armies, prisons and police. Anarchism envisions a society based on equality and solidarity, which could exist solely on the free consent of participants.

Graeber’s description offers a worthy ideal for civil society. Serious pursuit of this ideal would go a long way toward allowing us to regain our humanity. Whether is goes far enough depends on the human. I’m wondering if living on the edge is good enough for me, whether instead I should leap from the edge into the abyss.

There is another challenge, perhaps as great and certainly as important as the one I’ve undertaken here at the mud hut: making it work on the road, thus engendering full expression of the human animal. Imagine a minimalist approach to the road and to the wilds surrounding the road. Imagine the exhilaration of abandoning a lifeboat to swim in frigid, shark-filled waters. Imagine the wonder of full immersion into the world, surrounded by every element of the human condition and every element of nature.

Ultimately, barring our own near-term extinction, full immersion into the world is exactly where we’re headed. I could show the way, as I’ve shown the way by exiting empire. And although I suspect the number of followers would be similarly disappointing, I would be taking this step for myself, not for others, as is the case now.

Nature calls. She calls all of us, though most of us have managed to plug our ears to her siren song. For a few, though, the temptation is supreme from the ultimate temptress. She’s kind, playful, passionate, courageous, strong, and whimsical. Can I pursue her? Can I capture her spirit, as she has captured my heart? Can I find the human animal within me before I breathe my last breath? Nature, as always, is amorally indifferent to my (therefore unrequited) love. But touching her and, more importantly, having her touch me, seems a one-way street: Once ensconced in her embrace, there’s no going back.

At this point in the age of industry, perhaps any attempt to venture into the wild is pure fantasy. Culture certainly suggests as much, while indicating that a step away from my current living arrangements is one large step on the short path to a bygone era. Bygone for a reason, says culture: There’s no going back to nature. That’s just crazy talk.

Last month, commenting on my new love, I wrote, “Nature provides all I need, and all I’ve ever needed.” If I believe myself, shouldn’t I attempt to prove it? Or, to put the scientific spin on it, shouldn’t I attempt to disprove it?

Can I find my way into a world that is brave and new and as old as humanity? More importantly, should I?

Taking this step will almost certainly shorten my life. As I’ve pointed out many times in this space, (1) birth is lethal and (2) some things are worth dying for. Whereas I’ve no intention of becoming yet another starry-eyed Messiah destined for a violent farewell, neither am I interested in a sedate, risk-free life. Like most people, I’m trying to find the line Cousins inferred, the line between living outside — in the world — and dying inside. And, of course, doing the right thing, regardless of the inherent risks and challenges.

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104 Responses to “Into the wild”

  1. Don Henry Ford Jr. Says:

    I seldom travel, but on occasion I do venture to Balmorhea in West Texas where I own a small parcel of land under a flowing artesian spring.

    I often pick up hitchhikers, all of which would be considered crazy by mainstreamers. Some perhaps are.

    And others are doing as you suggest.

    Unfortuantely, that often morphs into living off the discards of modern society as “nature” ain’t so natural any more.

    I figured you for a boomer but perhaps there’s some Nomad in your spirit.

    Be well,

    don

  2. Don Henry Ford Jr. Says:

    A PS:

    The mud hut and traveling will prove mutually exclusive if someone else doesn’t man the fort.

    Plants and animals require constant attention. Left alone, they die.

    And entropy claims dwellings much faster than most would suspect.

  3. Michael Irving Says:

    Guy,

    On first blush it all smacks of fickleness or inconstancy, and yes, a bit of insanity. A nice scientific experiment would be for you to figure out what food nature would provide tomorrow (December 4) along a back road in New Mexico as you amble along with your house on your back. I’m presuming dumpster diving is not part of your survival plan.

    It sounds like the Siren song rather than the Eagles.

    Michael Irving

  4. Curtis A. Heretic Says:

    One of my main reading interests for decades has been to read about people partially or entirely living on the road. There are of course many thousands of full time RVers. Although they may have interesting accounts to tell, these are not who are the most interesting.
    I am drawn to the accounts of the bicycle nomads, Ian Hibel, John Rakowski; the single handed sailors, Tristan Jones, Webb Chiles; couples that live permanently on board a small sailboat. Others that have unusual life experiences, Tom Brown – The Tracker, who lived for a year in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey! I like to think reading these accounts were for more than vicarious pleasure. They open your mind to the possibilities, and help motivate you to get off your ass and have a life.
    Many times a would be sitting in front of a terminal, waiting for some program to finish running. I would be thinking of where we traveled to and where we would go next. As a short term contractor, I was mostly interested in making enough $ to pay the bills and be able to finance our next camping adventure.
    The day I started a contract was the day I was planning my exit.
    I always saw my business working tasks as terminal boredom.
    Socrates had it right.

  5. Privileged Says:

    It would be another challenge and mind blowing expereince. We hope to experience it as we go and you are welcome to join us when the opportunity presents itself. After all we do have a little history.

  6. Matthew Says:

    To paraphrase Charles Eisenstein, ‘in this insane culture, anything worth doing anymore is going seem irrational’.

    And yes, it does sound crazy to just head out on the road and walkabout, IF you are still subscribing to the values of the predominant culture. On the other hand, if instead you are interested in experience, in meeting people, in testing yourself and seeing jumping into the abyss really is like jumping onto a feathered bed for those who have the courage to do so, well, it sounds perfectly rational to me.

    I’ve been considering a similar path myself. You only live once, might as well live. The people, the places, the natural beauty, I’d rather take my chances out there than holed up in a bunker somewhere, worrying about what’s coming down the line.

  7. Sue Day Says:

    I’ll come! : )

  8. Scott R. Spence Says:

    Well Guy…, it seems that you rarely…, if ever…, fail to act upon something that you have contemplated. So…, if you happen to find yourself on The Olympic Peninsula…, we plan to always have a few extra potatoes in The Garden to share…, and would be most happy to do so with you. If we can keep the pythons at bay :-) http://scottrthequillayutecowboy.blogspot.com/2010/08/garden.html

  9. Guy McPherson Says:

    Thanks, everybody for the comments here and in my email in-box. To clarify: I do not see this step as a survival strategy, at least in the long term. Please re-read the opening paragraph.

    Also, I know this action would be a one-way street incompatible with mitigating in place (i.e., staying at the mud hut). Nonetheless, following the lead of Privileged is very tempting. And the mud hut will be fine — my partners here will take good care of it, and will be perfectly fine without me.

  10. Kathy C Says:

    Guy at the risk of sounding trite, I say “follow your heart”. As you note, being born is lethal. This is perhaps the most freeing truth of all. We don’t have to live as if we can avoid death. Instead death is the friend that tells us to make the most of our lives, live them well, honestly, enjoyably because life is not forever, thank dog.

  11. navid Says:

    I’m a little confused – are you considering venturing into the wild, or traveling the roads, or both???

    Can you “practice” a little first with a few short-term trips into the wilds near the mud hut?

    Your idea fascinates me. In the book, Look Me In The Eye, the author talks about a friend he made as a teenager, after stumbling upon the man’s ‘home’ in the forest. The friend was a recently-returned-from-VietNam Green Beret vet, who did not care for the pigsty he returned too. The vet showed the author how to really live off-grid (although he did venture into town for dumpster diving – like many truly wild critters tend to do). When the vet left the area, the author found the empty site and noted you could not tell he had ever been there.

    My favorite real Mountain Man – Hugh Glass (chapter 17, “He would not oblige by dying” in Desperate Journeys, Abandoned Souls by E.E. Leslie)- had the advantage of having lived with the Paunees, so he had a great ‘education’ in wild foods and herbal remedies before his later adventures.

    My favorite Hugh Glass Quote, after he barely survived a run-in with an Arikara war party, in which he lost all his possessions:

    “Although I had lost my rifle… I felt quite rich when I found my knife, flint and steel in my shot pouch. These little fixins make a man feel right peart when he is three or four hundred miles from anybody or any place.”

    Best of luck on your adventures.

  12. navid Says:

    Boom and Bust Acorns: After Lean Acorn Crop in Northeast, Even People May Feel the Effects

    …While scientists do not fully understand why this year has produced the lowest acorn crop in 20 years of monitoring, there is nothing unusual about large fluctuations in the annual number of acorns. Fingers are not being pointed at global warming.

    Oak trees “produce huge, abundant amounts one year and not in other years,” Dr. Ashton said. “I don’t think it’s bad — the whole system fluctuates like this.”

    One theory for why oak trees vary their acorn yield is the so-called predator satiation hypothesis. Under this theory, during bumper years, the trees litter the forest floor with seeds so completely that squirrels, jays, deer and bears cannot possibly eat them all. Then, in off years, the trees ramp down production to keep the predator populations from growing too large to be satiated…

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/03/nyregion/boom-and-bust-in-acorns-will-affect-many-creatures-including-humans.html?scp=1&sq=acorns&st=cse

  13. John Stassek Says:

    Guy:

    From Shawshank: “Get busy living; or get busy dying.” It looks to me like you’ve done just about all you could, inside that zoo. And the door to your cage is open. No telling for how long. You might not know where you’re going, but you sure know where you’ve been. You say most of the world thinks you’re insane? Why not do the one thing that will remove all doubt? I imagine you’ll head south, but if you ever find yourself near Bloomingdale, remember you have friends there who will welcome you, abi-normal though we may be!
    A sincere thank you, and good luck!

    John and Debby

  14. Christopher Says:

    Guy: my heart wrenches to read your words. It is part wrenching joy, part wrenching worry. You are no fool, but you may be just enough of a romantic to get into trouble. I think of all the work you’ve done at the hut, and here at NBL, and elsewhere, and I understand that maybe you are ready for a next phase in your personal evolution; and while part of me wants to see you become what you were meant to, another (selfish) part wants you to stay, and continue the fight from where you are.

    I suspect that that latter part of me would also be laid low by the power of the example you would set, should you choose the road. I fear the challenge such an example would present to me personally; I have become comfortable in my day-to-day dance with collapse, sometimes even anticipating her moves. My generational archetype is the Nomad that Don mentioned above, though of late it’s only been Nomadic in spirit. Yours is a Prophet generation, and I can think of few who more fully live up to the type than yourself… but honestly, what better way to get the message out, than to get out, into the wilderness, as it were?

    You’ve touched more lives so far than I suspect you can know. I see that that quality is part of who you are. Whatever path you choose, that quality will not change, thank goodness.

    You will do well, Guy. You will do well.

  15. Scott R. Spence Says:

    Guy…, I did assume that you were thinking of “hitting the road”…, based on some of your earlier comments:

    Guy McPherson Says:
    November 5th, 2011 at 3:16 pm
    Tamnaa, it is a big job to take care of business in place. But considering climate chaos to come, it’s certain to be a futile effort. Ergo, my preferred strategy of hitting the road, with extended stints in places that are desirable for the moment (or longer).

    and :

    Guy R. McPherson Says:
    November 6th, 2011 at 4:33 pm
    History has been kind to travelers, particularly when news from far away is rare. If the past is an indicator of the future, people will feed travelers and provide them a place to stay in exchange for news from far away — like 100 miles. When humans are extirpated from the desert I currently occupy, the mud hut will seem a durable, but still ridiculous, notion.

    Sorry for the miss-interruptation…,, rest assured…, which ever way your stick floats…, we’ll be here to back you. And…, the offer to share those spuds still stands…, to the both of you.

  16. Scott R. Spence Says:

    You may not believe it but Jackson Browne’s “Running on Empty” just came one as I posted this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJYRtOPUonA

  17. Robin Datta Says:

    In the interval between birth and its lethality, every creature seeks. That which is sought is determined by the environment and the circumstances. What is seldom sought is the seeker, the ultimate reason for the seeking, even though it is the ground and background of all the seeking.

    When approaching solitude & silence, one is headed in the direction towards that which is Sought. But niether physical solitude nor physical silence approximate the all-encompassing Solitude and Silence of the Sought. Physical solitude and physical silence can be one’s appropriate goals. A fish may have to jump out of the water to understand that it is surrounded by water; a person cannot jump out of oneSelf.

    Some of the points in the post and in the linked videos are addressed in this podcast, a philosophy exposition (filing a place, but not a function, that sermons have in Christianity):

    Viveka-Chudamani 2010-109 – Friday, December 2, 2011: a commentary by Swami Jyotirmayananda an a few verses from Shankara’s Viveka Chudamani (Crest Jewel of Discrimination).

  18. Darlene Says:

    Spending time in nature, if only my backyard, is like a meditation. The mind quiets. No more thinking. Wisdom comes from the beyond. There is peace and awe. Life is put into perspective. It is no longer the end all be all. We are just a tiny part. There is rest in nature. We become just observers. And the more quiet we are, the more we become a part of it. Struggle ceases. Then I return to my life refreshed. There is a larger world beyond this one. It will claim us soon enough.

  19. Don Henry Ford Jr. Says:

    A friend of mine (Gary Garrison) lived in Silver City and worked on the Holoman ranch which at that time was part of the Gila Wilderness area. I spent a week or so in those mountains. While there, Gary told me of a time when he was “lost” after having inadvertantly burned up his boots trying to dry them by a fire.

    Gary barely made it out after killing a javalina and using the raw hide for shoes of a sort. (Luckily, he had a rifle.)

    That country may look friendly…

  20. Victor Says:

    Guy

    Your personal quest in life at this point reminds me of the film by the same title of your essay, “Into the Wild”, the true story of Christopher McCandless who left all to travel across America. Along the way he stayed at where he would for as long as necessary in order to fund the way to his ultimate destination, the wilds of Alaska.

    He eventually made it, but in the end, as it can be with nature, he made an error. You don’t make errors with Mother Nature. He died slowly and alone in a remote spot of Alaska after he realised in the end that the true key to life and personal fulfilment was in the sharing of it with others.

    Share your life, Guy.

  21. macrobe Says:

    I pose one question, which is also subtly implied in your essay: What is Nature?

    As much as Nature has been my lover, my savior, my demon and my mentor for all my life, I still ask this question. And it in turn asks me, What is Human?

    I think you know what I mean.

    Follow the path that has heart, Guy.

  22. gaiasdaughter Says:

    Guy, if you are serious about this, I highly recommend the books (and courses, if you can afford them) by Tom Brown Jr. Tom’s contention is that if you cannot walk into the wilderness naked then you are an alien on your own planet. Tom can, and did, and can teach you to do it yourself. Having the requisite skills would mean the difference between thriving and merely survivng (or not).

  23. crzchn Says:

    All mental masturbation.

    What animal would knowingly put itself from a low risk situation to a high risk situation? That seems like the same risk taking that has been going on with Wall Street, yes?

    If you feel like you were in prison in your off the grid mud hut I suspect you have still not truly left industrialization behind and still suffer form consumerism.

    You might be seeking experience as something that might make you happy and reading stories and books just fills your head with “better” things. Well, there is no better. Better is the myth of industrialization.

    Freedom is not dependent on anything. Freedom is always present, but clouded by thought.

    I would like to end with your first quote; “Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.”

    Besides the feeling that it might as well be the slogan for a Mastercard commercial, I want to ask you all; What is death?

  24. Kathy C Says:

    crzchn , Death is inevitable. The loss of life is inevitable. In between birth and death you can lose numbers of years alive by early death. And you can lose quality of life. I have seen people in my many years of volunteering in nursing homes with lives no longer worth living, lives often filled with nothing but boredom and pain. I likewise have seen the desperate lives of people on the streets as I volunteered in homeless shelters over the years. I see around me people who live their lives through movie stars and cannot spend a waking moment without the TV on. Quality of life is the most valuable thing you can have. To choose a path that increases your quality of life is the most life affirming thing you can do, even if it shortens your years of life.

  25. navid Says:

    “I am reading Walden Pond now” (Nakamura) says, “and though it is interesting I was hoping there would be more about growing food. A life in and with nature would be fifty percent about food.

    Also, it’s strange – Thoreau only lived there for a little more than two years. It’s more like he moved there in order to write the book. But someone need about ten years, I think, to understand a particular way of living. Thoreau seems like he was more of a tourist.”

    Osamu Nakamura, ch.2, A Different Kind of Luxury, Japanese lessons in in simple living and inner abundance, by Andy Couturier.

    (my emphasis added)

    Guy, why this route, why now?

    I told my wife recently that I have to stop paying attention to the collapse-in-progress. That I was finding the more I watch the disaster, the more my mind is polluted and distracted, the more I become like Lot’s wife – a pillar of salt. I can’t think straight, I ‘freeze.’ Carry on, but stop watching the collapse?

  26. crzchn Says:

    Kathy, Death is not inevitable. Death is a myth. That is the message of all the sages through out history.

    And I was talking to Guy, not some teenager excited about a movie star. When does Guy stop trying to “improve his quality of life”? He lives off the grid, close to nature, with internet connectivity and a large following of people. You see, like many people he still has not gotten to the fundamental issue; the ego.

    All of our basic psychological and environmental problems originate from us trying to make ourselves “better”. People are now even routing for collapse so life will be “better”.

    And aren’t the people watching TV all day just following what THEY feel is a better quality of life? So how is Guy any different? You might believe that our specific type of quality of life is the most important thing to have, but it is obvious that we are in the minority.

    What I am bringing up to Guy is to look at his motivations for roaming and be honest about them. Humans never lived in the wild by themselves, it was a death sentence.

    Now, if you want to roam around with 10 of 15 other people count me in…

  27. Robin Datta Says:

    Decline of the Empire (Dave Cohen’s blog):

    The Incredible Shrinking Brain

    John Hawks is in the middle of explaining his research on human evolution when he drops a bombshell. Running down a list of changes that have occurred in our skeleton and skull since the Stone Age, the University of Wisconsin anthropologist nonchalantly adds, “And it’s also clear the brain has been shrinking.” 

    The observation led the researchers to a radical conclusion: As complex societies emerged, the brain became smaller because people did not have to be as smart to stay alive. As Geary explains, individuals who would not have been able to survive by their wits alone could scrape by with the help of others – supported, as it were, by the first social safety nets.

    Makes sense to me. Certainly the docile idiots we find in contemporary America could not survive 5 minutes as hunter-gatherers, who would no doubt ask “who are these dummies?” before kicking them out of the group because they were so clearly a severe impediment to the group’s survival.

  28. Kathy C Says:

    crzchn – all the sages are dead. I watched babies die in Haiti at Mother Theresa’s Children’s home. They really did die. Heart stops beating. Breath stops. I sat with Hospice Patients for 10 years as a volunteer. Every one I volunteered with died. I have memories of them, but they are dead. Three roosters died at our place this morning. They are now meat in the freezer. Death of the physical body is quite real.

    If by saying death is a myth, you mean our souls continue, well then physical death is immaterial and any choices that make that more or less likely don’t matter.

    I am quite convinced however that souls are myths and do not exist. If I have one someone else can have it. In the words of one sage, now deceased:
    “Faith in immortality was born of the greed of unsatisfied people who make unwise use of the time that nature has allotted us. But the wise man finds his life span sufficient to complete the full circle of attainable pleasures, and when the time of death comes, he will leave the table, satisfied, freeing a place for other guests. For the wise man one human life is sufficient, and a stupid man will not know what to do with eternity.” Epicurus.

  29. Kathy C Says:

    Robin, thanks for the link to that article. He misses one factor here when he says “Adequate daily nutrition for all but 1 of the 7 billion people on Earth is not yet a problem,…”. He is talking calories, not nutrition. Domestic humans ie agricultural ones can easily be told from hunter-gatherer humans by anthropologists just by a look at the teeth and bones, or so I have read. But it is a thought provoking article.

    He refers just briefly to an experiment in taming foxes in Russia. In just 40 generations a tame fox was bred. Tameness was the only qualification for selection. But other qualities appeared as well “The domesticated foxes were more eager to hang out with humans, whimpered to attract attention, and sniffed and licked their caretakers. They wagged their tails when they were happy or excited. (Does that sound at all like your pet dog?) Further, their fear response to new people or objects was reduced, and they were more eager to explore new situations. Many of the domesticated foxes had floppy ears, short or curly tails, extended reproductive seasons, changes in fur coloration, and changes in the shape of their skulls, jaws, and teeth.”

    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2010/09/06/mans-new-best-friend-a-forgotten-russian-experiment-in-fox-domestication/

    Perhaps the answer is Aliens – they came and domesticated humans with a gene twitch here and there to make them useful for mining gold to use to control the climate of their planet. Just google Zecharia Sitchin and learn all about it :)

  30. Robin Datta Says:

    Original article in Discover Magazine:

    If Modern Humans Are So Smart, Why Are Our Brains Shrinking?

  31. crzchn Says:

    Oh Kathy, I am not some kind of religious nut. Deat h, like life, is a conceptual idea. You said those children died, well how long will they remain dead and how long was it before they were born? Infinitly, yes? Are you saying you know the facts of an infinite universe? That you KNOW these people lived and died?

    I do not believe in souls or faith either. I am speaking of the fear that is associated with the concept of death. Words and more words.
    P.
    You chide me for beleiving in souls but then you quote a man talking about living a life so we die satisfied? Ha! There is no end to experience so those looking for experience will live like hungry ghosts.

  32. Guy R. McPherson Says:

    crzchn, if you’d like to communicate with me alone, please send me an email message (grm@ag.arizona.edu). If you’d like to join the discussion here, please do not disparage others in the conversation. Below, I respond to your initial comment.

    All mental masturbation.

    Perhaps, but yours is hardly a useful comment to further the conversation.

    What animal would knowingly put itself from a low risk situation to a high risk situation? That seems like the same risk taking that has been going on with Wall Street, yes?

    Do we know the risks? Can we quantify them?

    If you feel like you were in prison in your off the grid mud hut I suspect you have still not truly left industrialization behind and still suffer form consumerism.

    The mud hut as prison is relative. It’s better than the maximum-security prison of an American city, but perhaps not as good as another life.

    You might be seeking experience as something that might make you happy and reading stories and books just fills your head with “better” things. Well, there is no better. Better is the myth of industrialization.

    We had values long before industrialization, and we’ll have them after, too.

    Freedom is not dependent on anything. Freedom is always present, but clouded by thought.

    I have no idea what this means, if anything.

    I would like to end with your first quote; “Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.”

    Besides the feeling that it might as well be the slogan for a Mastercard commercial, I want to ask you all; What is death?

    Death is the cessation of individual life. I am alive as I type these words. Further, I am a sentient being.

  33. Anarchy Pony Says:

    Strike Anywhere, with a song that does a good job of turning my feelings into music.

  34. Kathy C Says:

    Well crzchn, part of my chickens are now in my gut as we had fresh chicken liver, biscuits and gravy for dinner. (Yum, yum) Much of that will exit in my humanure bucket and some will become a part of me. But the surprised look on the roosters’ faces when head became disconnected from body indicate to me that they had no thoughts of living on in my body, but were just rather surprised that they were almost dead.

    You say “I am speaking of the fear that is associated with the concept of death.” So if I read you right the concept of no death is about not being afraid of death. So…. if someone wants to risk going into the wilderness alone, it would seem to me that they have this fear mastered. You however would go if it was with 10-15 others. Obviously you are still afraid of death then, so it would seem that your own words prove that you are deathly afraid of death.

    I would guess that it is your own fear of death that in fact prompts your reactions on this blog. You might want to spend more time with your own motivations before you venture into addressing those of others.

  35. Guy R. McPherson Says:

    Nothing new here for those of us paying attention, but this is a decent summary: 20 Ways the Obama Administration Has Intruded on Your Rights

  36. the virgin terry Says:

    ‘Imagine the exhilaration of abandoning a lifeboat to swim in frigid, shark-filled waters. Imagine the wonder of full immersion into the world, surrounded by every element of the human condition and every element of nature.’ -guy

    i don’t know, guy. sounds like maybe the stress of anticipating collapse is getting to u. i know for certain i’m not looking forward to metaphorical frigid, shark infested waters. i dread the thought, so i’m declining your offer.

    ‘Nature calls. She calls all of us, though most of us have managed to plug our ears to her siren song. For a few, though, the temptation is supreme from the ultimate temptress. She’s kind, playful, passionate, courageous, strong, and whimsical.’ -guy

    u’re viewing gaia with rose colored glasses, guy, imo. she’s also a fierce bitch when she goes against u. and she’s utterly lacking in empathy. not my idea of a dream girl. but i suppose for the fortunate and adventurous, she’s also full of charm. are u feeling lucky? maybe u’re losing your mind!

    ‘At this point in the age of industry, perhaps any attempt to venture into the wild is pure fantasy.’ -guy

    seems to me one must escape the long arm of the law to achieve anarchical freedom. it is hard near peak population/civilization to do this. few if any hospitable environments aren’t already settled and under (l)awful jurisdiction of some sort. not many people to be found who aren’t under the shackles of domestication/’authority’, making them into ‘sheople’.

    i like your ‘self indulgent’ posts, guy. perhaps they’re my favorites. brings out the poet in u. i appreciate the provocation, challenge, daring, and originality in them. judging by the volume of comments that have already been made (some of which i’ve not read yet), i’m not the only one who has been stimulated by this most recent one.

    selfishly, i hope u stay put a good while longer. if and when u depart for this life of adventure, this blog will suffer if not die out, and it will be missed a lot. i also think u’d probably be crazy to leave security behind in advance of collapse (as u’ve already done once, much to your regret at times).

  37. Robin Datta Says:

    As long as the “I-ness” persists, there will be an aversion to death (or a desire for it, as in the case of hospice and some nursing home patients).  When the awareness is operating from its root, prior to the differentiation into “I” and “not-I” there is neither the aversion nor the attraction. 

  38. Victor Says:

    One theory for why oak trees vary their acorn yield is the so-called predator satiation hypothesis. Under this theory, during bumper years, the trees litter the forest floor with seeds so completely that squirrels, jays, deer and bears cannot possibly eat them all. Then, in off years, the trees ramp down production to keep the predator populations from growing too large to be satiated…

    I’m sorry. I just can’t let this comment go by without saying something. I love this stuff put out by evolutionists. First, they cover it with a fancy name – in this case, ‘predator shield satiation hypothesis’.

    Then, because they have absolutely no realistic explanation for the mechanism involved behind the observation, they proceed to grant the object a mind and creative powers of its own. So rather saying that God, or whoever, did it, the tree itself does it, as if the tree possessed thought, will and motivation (which, by the way, is exactly what it does take to accomplish the results of the observation as interpreted).

    Really. Think about what is being said here. The tree is capable of decisions. It can turn on the production of seeds or turn it off at will. In the view of the evolutionist, this is not an accident. It is the result of thoughtful consideration on the part of the tree. Interesting indeed.

    But the evolutionist is not happy with just this. The tree also is capable of ecological planning. He does all this in order to control the populations of predators! Not simply because he has off years – no, there is something bigger here.

    It reminds me of so many other statements made all the time (just watch any nature film). As an example, a reptile decides it would be to his benefit to fly. So he continually runs up a tree branch, flapping his front legs until all his bones change structure over the years, become porous and light, bring forth feathers, and membranes to capture the air, re-arranges his internal organs and muscles to benefit flight and at a point many generations later his far-distant descendant who still carries the great desire to fly one day runs up that branch and away he goes! Just goes to show how eternal persistence can win the day, and as a by-product, fill our skies with lovely, multi-coloured creatures full of song – still wondering how that reptile gained that lovely voice in the process, but that is another fascinating story, I’m sure….. :-)

    I love this stuff!

  39. Victor Says:

    It is interesting that when ‘democracy’ gets a chance, the people (in all their wisdom) often choose the worst alternatives – in muslim countries, Islamist parties and in Western countries, right wing nationalists. It is often said that given the choice, people will make good decisions. I simply do not see a lot of evidence for that.

  40. Victor Says:

    There is not a lot we know about death. We know that physical bodies die. That’s about it.

    Indeed, a case could be made for the position that we know very little about life either. Physical bodies are born into the world, and live until the body dies. Many recognise that there is something beyond the physical, but we can’t seem to get a scientific grasp on it – if that were possible. Many others believe that it is all a matter of chemical reactions, and nothing more.

    No one seems to be able to produce hard evidence for any particular position. But then hard evidence is not always possible for many things of a non-physical nature.

    Actually, when you really think about it, scientifically, we are no longer even certain what ‘physical’ is. So where does that leave us?…. :-)

  41. Victor Says:

    NASA’s view of the Low Energy Nuclear Reaction (LENR) field as ofered in a recent presentation:

    http://ecatnews.com/?p=1570

    Quote with regards to the POTENTIAL of LENR:
    Ramifications

    Scalable: Nuclear energy densities from μW to GW

    Portable: Little or no need for radiation shielding

    Adaptable to the full range of transportation systems

    Does not have the weight, safety, and costs of fission

    Revolutionizes Aviation and Access to Space

    Decouples energetics from reaction mass

    Fuel mass essentially goes away for air-breathing applications, reduces total mass

    No GHG (CO2, H2O, aerosols, …) concerns

    Fuel is very cheap (Nickel abundant, electrolysis of H2O)

    Total replacement of fossil fuels for everything but synthetic organic chemistry

  42. Victor Says:

    A couple more points from NASA in summary:

    Summary

    A cheap, abundant, clean, scalable, portable source of energy will impact EVERYONE.

    Singular solution to peak oil, climate change, fresh water, and associated geopolitical instabilities.

    Drop-in replacement for traditional utility heat sources. Minimal impact to existing infrastructure

    Enables widely distributed generation. Homes and businesses generate what they need – on site.

    Enables whole new approaches to all of NASA’s missions – we can affordably get off this rock!

  43. Kathy C Says:

    On the situation in Iran interview with Adrian Salbuchi- At about 4:15 mins he gives the line, US plays poker which is a game of deceit and lies, Iranians invented chess which is a game strategy and intelligence.
    The interviewer notes that the UK and Norway have closed their missions in Iran questions whether this might because of knowledge that the Israelis are preparing some action against Iran

    WWIII looks ever more likely – if they have a source of energy that can get them off this rock, they better pack their bags.

  44. Victor Says:

    WWIII will happen…just a matter of time.

  45. The REAL Dr. House Says:

    Guy, thanks for the thought-provoking essay. I must admit that I’ve grown quite accustomed to having my thoughts provoked by your writing!

    I’m reminded of a young friend of our family. When he graduated high school a few years ago, he had committed to being an apprentice of a man who made rifles and other guns by hand. That man lived in northwest Wyoming. My young friend lived in central Nebraska. So, the day after his graduation, he packed a small bag, took his favorite gun, hopped on a horse and made the trip to his new appointment. It took him several weeks to get there. He slept on the ground and hunted for his food.

    It sounded like a wonderful experience to me. Of course, this was in the early summer. If it had been August or, worse, January, the experience would have been much less enjoyable, I’m sure.

    I, too, love nature. So I understand your motivation there. And the five years I’ve spent living in my current home is the longest amount of time I’ve ever lived anywhere in my life. Prior to this my average was two years. So I can certainly understand from a wanderlust perspective. But is it “natural”? Are there any animals which truly “wander”, other than humans? There are certainly many who range over a wide territory in search of food and mates. And individuals from many species will relocate on a regular basis to keep the gene pool mixed (turtles come to mind), but I can’t think of any which just “travel”. Perhaps some of those with more zoology knowledge than I have can answer that question for me.

    Beyond that, I’ve always been a big believer in following your “heart”. So, I say go for it, Guy! Have a great time and when (or if) you get back, if the internet is still kicking, I’ll look forward to hearing all about it.

    Dog speed!

  46. Michael Irving Says:

    Victor,

    A couple more points from NASA in summary…

    So what you are telling us is that Sean, aka “The Cosmist” was right all along. Zawodny even calls it a singularity of sorts (“Singular solution to peak oil, climate change, fresh water, and associated geopolitical instabilities.”). Is the Omega Cosmic Agenda next?

    Joking aside, the referenced articles are interesting with great graphics, although the chief observation that can be made about them is they say, “IF there is anything to this discovery it will be HUGE!”

    Another thing, IF there is anything to this process, do you think the need for a FOIA is because of the MINT the military/industrial complex will be able to make out of this (if they can control it)? If they can control unlimited energy they can control the entire world.

    Michael Irving

  47. Robin Datta Says:

    So rather saying that God, or whoever, did it, the tree itself does it, as if the tree possessed thought, will and motivation (which, by the way, is exactly what it does take to accomplish the results of the observation as interpreted).

    Really. Think about what is being said here. The tree is capable of decisions. It can turn on the production of seeds or turn it off at will. In the view of the evolutionist, this is not an accident. It is the result of thoughtful consideration on the part of the tree. Interesting indeed.

    But the evolutionist is not happy with just this. The tree also is capable of ecological planning. He does all this in order to control the populations of predators! Not simply because he has off years – no, there is something bigger here.

    Overlooks Emergence

  48. Robin Datta Says:

    Iranians invented chess which is a game strategy and intelligence.

    It was invented by the Indian king Chitrangada. When it spread to Persia the name evolved to shattanj, and later th Europe was shortened to chess. .

    <a href"=http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_chessHistory of chess

  49. Robin Datta Says:

    (Please delete prior similar comment: sorry about the syntax error). 

    Iranians invented chess which is a game strategy and intelligence.

    It was invented by the Indian king Chitrangada. When it spread to Persia the name evolved to shattanj, and later th Europe was shortened to chess. .

    History of chessHistory of chess

  50. Robin Datta Says:

    (Please delete prior similar comment: sorry about the syntax error). 

    Iranians invented chess which is a game strategy and intelligence.

    It was invented by the Indian king Chitrangada. When it spread to Persia the name evolved to shattanj, and later th Europe was shortened to chess. .

    History of chess

  51. Robin Datta Says:

    Many recognise that there is something beyond the physical, but we can’t seem to get a scientific grasp on it – if that were possible.

    It is the recognized, the recognizing and the recognized; it is also the non-grasped, the non-grasping and the non-grasped. 

  52. Robin Datta Says:

    (Please delete prior similar comment: sorry about Steve Jobs’ autocorrect).

    Many recognise that there is something beyond the physical, but we can’t seem to get a scientific grasp on it – if that were possible.

    It is the recognizer, the recognizing and the recognized; it is also the non-grasped, the non-grasping and the non-grasped. 

  53. Robin Datta Says:

    (Please delete prior similar comment: sorry about Steve Jobs’ autocorrect).

    Many recognise that there is something beyond the physical, but we can’t seem to get a scientific grasp on it – if that were possible.

    It is the recognizer, the recognizing and the recognized; it is also the non-grasper, the non-grasping and the non-grasped. 

  54. Victor Says:

    Robin

    Steve Jobs reaching out to you from the grave?…O I forget!…there is no death… :-)

  55. Victor Says:

    Michael

    Is the Omega Cosmic Agenda next?

    For heaven’s sake – NO!….LOL

    One thing we must never forget: Technology can be great, but it is a human at the controls…

    If they can control unlimited energy they can control the entire world.

    They won’t….too many people will be able to do this. Rossi is only in the position that Edison was in with the invention of the light bulb….only the first small, crude step has been made. Many others will get into the game now, and then the engineers will take over – optimising, improving, expanding its capabilities. The military-industrial complex are not all-powerful – even though they think they are.

  56. john rember Says:

    Guy: You could do worse things for Ma Nature, and the planet, and the Chris McCandlesses among this year’s crop of 20-year-olds, if you would return to teaching. Not that I would want to return to that path of supreme difficulty.

  57. john rember Says:

    Guy: Sorry. There’s a than to in that last sentence. Anyway, what I meant to say was that a talented teacher and writer might do more good working within the system than isolating himself outside of it.

  58. Robin Datta Says:

    Steve Jobs reaching out to you from the grave?…O I forget!…there is no death…

    A person’s actions can have far-reaching and long-lasting consequences.

    And if, as asserted, there is no death, smelling bad and rotting must be a phase of life. 

  59. Kathy C Says:

    Robin, thanks for the correction on chess. I wondered when I listened to the speaker if he was right about it. However I liked the metaphor of the US being poker players and Iranians playing chess. The Persians have a long history the predates Europe and its offspring, but so do the peoples of India, China etc. But I must say that more and more it is looking like the Mayans had it all over anyone else in making calendars :)

  60. Kathy C Says:

    Machines Making Machines Making Machines
    by John Weber

    “There is an illusion of looking at the trees and not the forest in the
    “Renewable” energy world. Not seeing the systems, machineries, fossil fuel uses and environmental assaults that create the devices to capture the sun, wind and biofuels allows myopia and false claims.
    ERoEI is only a part of the the equation. Each of these processes and machines may only add a miniscule amount of energy to the final component of solar or wind devices. How else would we do it? There is always the old way. Who of us will go down first?
    A story in pictures and diagrams:
    From Machines making machines making machines

    http://sunweber.blogspot.com/2011/12/machines-making-machines-making.html

  61. Ed Says:

    Guy: Kind of a surprise. We both started our present lives at about the same time. I have lived and travelled pretty much all over the world, and I cannot imagine wanting to go nomad now. Farmers will tell you that you need to get through the first 5 years, until you really begin to understand and appreciate what is going on, on your little spot on this earth. At this point I cannot invision leaving the trees, bushes, and everything else that we have planted and nurtured. The deer and wild ducks seem to put up with us now, and even the swallows hover so close that you can hear their wings. Jen has a hard time getting me off of this place, and I realize when I do, that I don’t fit in that old world, and I know going on the road is not in our future.

    But in the end, you gotta do, what you gotta do. If you are ever in the Fingerlakes, holler at us. We’re not so hard to find.

    All the best

  62. Cathy Says:

    At whom will the ducks and geese laugh if you leave? Consider their feelings.

  63. Robin Datta Says:

    The latest post by Dr. George Mobus to his blog

    Question Everything

    presenting a comprehensive view of the root causes of the current human predicament and a hope for a future rooted in wisdom:

    The genetic propensity for some people to have much greater capacity for empathetic and cooperative behavior is still incipient within Homo sapiens even if it is weak in most members of the species. The laws of probability distribution of traits guarantees that there are some members of the population who are capable of forming truly cooperative organizations in response to the stresses of resource depletion. And those who are capable will do so. They will be able to let the laws of complexity reorganization (through hierarchical management) operate on them so that they can succeed in surviving the future challenging environment by cohesion and adaptation at the group level rather than at the individual level.

    Sapience and wisdom promote cooperative, empathetic attitudes even when perceptions or points of view differ. Sapience promotes effective communications as people attempt to work out the differences and come to a common understanding. Sapience in individuals permits sapience in governance through nature’s organization of hierarchical decision making. People can still be individuals and appreciate individual differences and still work to cooperate for the good of the whole. This is the wonderful new framework for a society based on cooperation, not because everyone thinks alike or acts alike, or holds the same set of conceptions exactly. This is no society of automatons. Rather it is a society of people who are even more human than we are! Still autonomous in thinking, but capable of understanding one another and what is the good for society. This is the path that Homo sapiens was on before the advent of agriculture.

    As with other evolutionary events throughout the Earth’s history we are in for a tumultuous, even brutal, selection event. But the potential for a new organization of human society (and a new kind of civilization) awaits. Will it be realized? Present humans cannot hope to succeed in becoming more sapient simply by learning. The brain has to further evolve. Perhaps with the active participation of those who understand, evolution will follow our desired trajectory. A future form of Homo will succeed.

  64. Victor Says:

    This is no society of automatons. Rather it is a society of people who are even more human than we are! Still autonomous in thinking, but capable of understanding one another and what is the good for society. This is the path that Homo sapiens was on before the advent of agriculture.

    Is this person from Planet Earth? More specifically, is he lizard?

    ‘..people who are more human than we are!’….interesting statement to make for a human, but not unexpected for an shape-changing alien lizard.

  65. Michael Irving Says:

    Robin,

    Regarding your quote from Dr. George Mobus, it is the best descriptive statement about the “One Percenters” I have ever seen. They are the ones who know how to band together cooperatively to get things done through hierarchical management even when they have differences. And they certainly are emphatic toward the needs or other members of their class. They are also very good at determining what is good for society. It is the rest of us proles that just don’t get it.

    Michael Irving

  66. Jan Steinman Says:

    “It’s always more difficult to do the right thing than to do the wrong thing. In fact, you can usually tell the right direction simply by the difficulty of the choices you face.”

    Thanks, Guy. That’s one for my database.

    (Send email Quote@Bytesmiths.com, optionally with a search term in the “Subject:” line, and get an email back with a random quote from my database. Send it to Quotes@Bytesmiths.com (plural) to get 50 such quotes back.)

  67. Jan Steinman Says:

    Robin Datta Says: “The Incredible Shrinking Brain… As complex societies emerged, the brain became smaller because people did not have to be as smart to stay alive. As Geary explains, individuals who would not have been able to survive by their wits alone could scrape by with the help of others – supported, as it were, by the first social safety nets.”

    And yet, the largest brain ever measured (according to Carl Sagen in Broca’s Brain), was Lord Byron, a poet, noted for “aristocratic excesses including huge debts, numerous love affairs, rumours of a scandalous incestuous liaison with his half-sister, and self-imposed exile,” and who died at 36 (WikiPedia).

    So surely, a large brain by itself does not ensure “ability to survive by wits alone,” since it appeared Byron depended on the “social safety net” of the aristocracy he was born into. Byron’s darwinian triumph was fathering Lady Ada Lovelace, celebrated as the world’s first computer programmer, since she developed algorithms for Charles Babbage’s difference engine — and also died young.

    This is anecdotal, I know, but thank goodness for outliers that lend doubt to scientific theories!

  68. The REAL Dr. House Says:

    Michael,

    . . . it is the best descriptive statement about the “One Percenters” . . . They are the ones who know how to band together cooperatively to get things done through hierarchical management even when they have differences. And they certainly are emphatic toward the needs or other members of their class. They are also very good at determining what is good for society. It is the rest of us proles that just don’t get it.

    Perhaps you were being facetious, but most of the one percenters I’ve known, while nice on the surface, are ruthless cut-throats who will smile at you while slicing your throat. They cooperate only as long as it benefits them and will cut loose anyone who is costing them more than they think it’s worth.

  69. Kathy C Says:

    “Chinese President Hu Jintao on Tuesday urged the navy to prepare for military combat, amid growing regional tensions over maritime disputes and a US campaign to assert itself as a Pacific power.
    The navy should “accelerate its transformation and modernisation in a sturdy way, and make extended preparations for military combat in order to make greater contributions to safeguard national security,” he said.
    Addressing the powerful Central Military Commission, Hu said: “Our work must closely encircle the main theme of national defence and military building.”
    His comments, which were posted in a statement on a government website, come as the United States and Beijing’s neighbours have expressed concerns over its naval ambitions, particularly in the South China Sea.
    Several Asian nations have competing claims over parts of the South China Sea, believed to encompass huge oil and gas reserves, while China claims it all. One-third of global seaborne trade passes through the region.”

    http://news.yahoo.com/chinas-hu-urges-navy-prepare-combat-160509787.html

    WWIII is where our brains are leading us regardless of relative size – self extinction.

  70. Guy McPherson Says:

    Marketwatch‘s Paul Farrell concludes that in the battle between the super rich and the 99%, class war will explode. I think it’s already well under way due to the ongoing implosion of the industrial economy. As Marin Kotusa points out at Financial Sense, sanctions on Iran could lead to oil priced at $300 per barrel (although I’m an optimist, I don’t think she’s the only person who feels this way, so I doubt the sanctions materialize). And, as I’ve been saying for a while, what happens in Europe won’t stay in Europe.

  71. Robin Datta Says:

    Ad hominems are an indication of intellectual and aesthetic bankruptcy.

  72. Guy McPherson Says:

    Sorry for the delay in responding to your comment, John Rember: You could do worse things for Ma Nature, and the planet, and the Chris McCandlesses among this year’s crop of 20-year-olds, if you would return to teaching. Not that I would want to return to that path of supreme difficulty.

    I would love to return to that path of supreme difficulty, but for two factors: (1) I’d have to ignore my sense of moral imperative by returning to the belly of the beast, and (2) I’d have to convince my former colleagues I’m not insane. I’m afraid I’m not up to either challenge.

  73. Kathy C Says:

    Wonder what the ERoEI of these air drops of fuel to soldiers in Afghanistan
    would work out to be.

    “OVER EASTERN AFGHANISTAN—Parachuting a barrel of fuel to a remote Afghan base
    takes sharp flying skills, steady nerves and flawless timing.

    It also costs a lot of money—up to $400 a gallon, by military estimates.

    But the Pentagon is stuck with the expense for the foreseeable future,
    especially given the recent deterioration in U.S.-Pakistani relations.

    The U.S. Air Force’s 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron flew an airdrop
    mission over eastern Afghanistan in October. Pictured, a C-130 cargo aircraft
    seen from another C-130.

    “We’re going to burn a lot of gas to drop a lot of gas,” said Capt. Zack
    Albaugh, a California Air National Guard pilot deployed with the 774th
    Expeditionary Airlift Squadron. He spoke just before a recent mission to supply
    a remote base near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, scene of cross-border rocket
    attacks that have heightened regional tensions this fall. ” rest at

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204903804577080613427403928.html?m\

    od=WSJ_World_LEFTSecondNews

    Supply lines are getting dicey for the US – I think the lesson of Napoleon has not been learned.

  74. Robin Datta Says:

    It would not be a matter of “1%” or “99%”: the new species, the survinors (if any) of the bottleneck, would be 100%.

    The species of Homo that Dr. Mobus refers to would be very different in its sapience from Homo sapiens. For those unacquainted with the work of Dr. Gergre Mobus, the new postulated species would be derived from Homo sapinens:

    Homo eusapiens

    Homo sapiens is misnamed. I now think that humans did indeed evolve a capacity for higher moral judgment based on two key elements of what I now call sapience. The difference between wisdom per se and sapience is that the latter is directly tied to brain functions of the prefrontal cortex, whereas wisdom also relies on internalizing the lessons of life experience. The two are strategic thinking and systems thinking. The former can briefly be described as the ability to coordinate one’s life with the world, including other humans. The latter is the ability to comprehend causes and effects through dynamic systems relations — to see the world as a whole and understand the interconnections between seemingly disparate objects and processes.

    But the evolution of that facility was just getting purchase (through, it turns out, the advent of grand parenting) and was finding selective value in terms of family and tribe and territory when an explosion in cleverness (the combination of intelligence and creativity) led to agriculture and a complete restructuring of social needs. What had been a growing reliance of wisdom (generally described in the psychology literature as tacit knowledge used to make moral judgments in complex social problems) to govern the life of a tribe was irrevocably altered. The needs of villages and farming (e.g. location protection) put more emphasis on the more aggressive and manipulative aspects of human nature. The Machiavellian was selected for from that time onward. And wisdom (sapience) has taken a back seat ever since. While systems thinking has still been needed it tends to be restricted to solving local technical problems rather than global social problems.<

    That doesn’t mean that the genetic basis for sapience is not still in the species extant today. There is sparse evidence that some individuals still possess at least the genetic propensity for sapience such that if the behavioral traits associated with sapience were of selective advantage then it is conceivable that over a span of, say 10,000 to 1M years a new, robust species of humans might emerge that would be better equipped, mentally, to be the basis of a new civilization with a new capacity to understand the consequences of their integration with the natural world. I have christened the new species Homo eusapiens — man the truly wise.

  75. Victor Says:

    it is conceivable that over a span of, say 10,000 to 1M years a new, robust species of humans might emerge that would be better equipped, mentally, to be the basis of a new civilization with a new capacity to understand the consequences of their integration with the natural world. I have christened the new species Homo eusapiens — man the truly wise.

    Or might not…

  76. Kathy C Says:

    Why is it that we wish for the continuance of our species, or our evolution into a wiser species? What if we go extinct? What if we don’t evolve but a few hunter-gatherer tribes remain to live as humans did for 200,000 years. I believe all these imaginings of future humans is part of our death denial. When all else fails, when we see our civilization collapsing and our own deaths more imminent, isn’t this kind of projection just another attempt to hide from the truth we wish we didn’t have the brains to know? We are animals, we are mortal.

  77. Guy McPherson Says:

    Larry Hatheway at UBS on the dissolution of the Eurozone: “I suppose there might be some assets worthy of consideration—precious metals, for example. But other metals would make wise investments, too. Among them tinned goods and small calibre weapons.”

    We just had a re-run of Bear Stearns, and Lehman is on the way. The only question is when — last time, it was three months between Bear Stearns and Lehman.

  78. Michael Irving Says:

    Robin,

    The idea that the conditions post-collapse would be significantly different than the conditions pre-agriculture is really stretching it. Using the big “IF” Dr. Mobus, in your quote, has postulated a million years of survival that leads to a higher plain of consciousness through the evolution of some set of traits that allow humans (or some derivative species) to build a better civilization. H. G. Wells postulated a different direction for human evolution over the next million years when he dreamed up the Morlocks and the Eloi. Looking at the current situation I think one could make the argument that the world of Mobus is no more likely to develop than the world of Wells. In fact Kathy C’s world, sans humans, seems a better bet if you’re a betting man.

    Michael Irving

  79. Robin Datta Says:

    H.G. Wells’ presumption is that a substantial infrastructure wouuld be maintained.

  80. john rember Says:

    For some time I’ve been wondering how it is that NBL knowledge doesn’t get a wider audience. I urge friends and neighbors to read the website all the time, without much success. My favorite remark is by a good friend of mine who said, “Those of us with children can’t go there.” I’ve encountered a number of people without children who can’t go there either.

    About the only time I’ve been able to get unpleasant truths across to an audience has been when I’m teaching–hence my thought that going back to the classroom, as horrific as that might be for those of us who have, with great sacrifice and effort, freed ourself from the academic mindswarm.

    At this point in human history, I don’t know what our moral obligation is to twenty-year-olds. If we go by what our grandparents bequeathed to us, maybe not so much. But as a lifelong teacher of young people, I was moved by the story of Chris McCandless in Krakauer’s Into the Wild, because I’ve worked with many young people like him, full of the knowledge that something is terribly wrong with the life and world-view of their parents, but unable to articulate that wrongness except in self-destructive ways. Chris McCandless needed a grandparent’s wisdom.

    One of the reasons I see the mud hut as world-changing, Guy, is that it serves as a positive object lesson in non-magical thinking for the young people who visit you. If you leave to become a nature-seeking nomad, a lot of them are going to follow you into an arena where magical thinking goes unrecognized right up to the point where it becomes lethal.

    Kathy C., you will no doubt point out that in the long run, all thinking is lethal, but I think we owe young people something of our wisdom, especially if they’re receptive to it. They may not see death as attractive as do those of us who have lived most of our lives.

    So the difficult right path is teaching, I think. The university system in this country is a beast, I agree, but there are other, smaller schools where you can find yourself at the head of a classroom full of attentive students who can still recognize the truth when they hear it. Still a difficult path, I think, but not as difficult as getting whole books across to people who don’t want to read them. I’ll ponder that–and my implicit belief that our flawed civilization is going to totter on for a decade or two longer–while I’m nomading through the hills today.

  81. Victor Says:

    My experience has been that we as a species do not learn these lessons well beyond direct experience. You might fill a classroom with curious students, but in most cases (not all) that is the limit of their involvement in these issues.

    They will learn best when the future is no longer the future – when they have no job, and realise there is no future for jobs. They will learn when they are without food, or warmth, or shelter. And as with all creatures of Nature, they will learn fast, or die.

  82. Curtis A. Heretic Says:

    John,

    I have spent time in the secondary school classroom. Just getting the basics taught is challenging. Short to non existent attention spans.
    Just trying to teach other that the standard curriculum could get you lynched. If you can find a listening audience, you are lucky.

  83. Kathy C Says:

    John, it is not thinking that I believe is lethal, it is being that is lethal. It is lethal for every living creature. Life begets birth. (see Guy’s essay “(1) birth is lethal”)

    Thinking as self aware beings however informs us that life is lethal. Thinking doesn’t make it lethal. Thinking just reveals our mortality and allows us to ponder it. However people find that they don’t like to ponder their own mortality (although some certainly like to ponder the mortality of others) and thus they erect various forms of denial. I knew of a woman who when she had a leg amputated, had it buried where she was to be buried so God could resurrect her with all body parts. That kind of thinking is one extreme form of denial. Others refuse to make wills as part of denial. Many try to keep relatives or friends alive long past the point of any measure of worthwhile life. Doctors often do this too. Others won’t look at what that means so they avoid nursing homes or tell me they could never be a hospice volunteer.

    What I was suggesting is that for those who conquer ordinary denial use other more subtle forms. Thus when they see the planet about to crash and go into dieoff mode they posit humans in space (sean) or “the potential for a new organization of human society (and a new kind of civilization)” or some even imagine humans and machines will merge (2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal – http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2048299,00.html )
    To me these are sophisticated denial mechanisms for the age old problem humans must face – they must each individually die and they know it and they can’t stand knowing it. It is perhaps these denial mechanisms that save us from despair, but frankly knowing and fully accepting that you are mortal is perhaps the most freeing thing you can do for then you can decide like Guy that “(2) some things are worth dying for”

    Frankly I hope that if humans survive they return to their roots – hunter-gatherers. Hunter-gatherers live fully in nature. If we think the natural world is good why should we want any other life?

  84. john rember Says:

    Kathy C., I think we’re pretty much on the same page as far as denial goes. I hadn’t heard of anything quite as extreme as wanting to be buried with an amputated limb, although I did have a friend who said if he were somehow to be buried with both of his ex-wives, he’d spend eternity in hell.

    I don’t think people–any people, no matter how many times they’ve read Ernest Becker–can conceive of the end on their own conscious existence. I don’t think we’re built to experience that final emotional reality, although we can easily figure out what’s going to happen to us with a quick look at an actuarial table.

    Perhaps my belief that corporate capitalism and its excrescences–academicians, for instance–will hold on for a couple more decades is a form of death-denial, although I tend to look at it as a form of horrified fascination with things that should be dead but keep on ticking. It’s no accident that zombies are clawing their way to the surface of the collective imagination.

    Curtis: I began my teaching career in a secondary school classroom, but it was outside of the Idaho public school system. I was able to do some good, change some lives, and steer people away from the idea that money and power were the end-all/be-all. Not that their parents approved.

    The best educational experience I had was when I started a winter program at the college I taught in. It involved taking 12 students to a ski lodge in Sawtooth Valley for 42 days, and teaching them to read, write and ski for all of that time. It was a small building and we had to exhaust them all every day just to survive.

    It was an intense form of living, and illiterate students who were out of shape and unathletic ended up climbing and skiing three-thousand foot peaks and later writing about it for audiences. You can learn to write faster when you have something real to write about.

    Somewhere along the line I came to the understanding that ordinary human beings are magnificent creatures of almost unlimited potential, almost always destroyed by an educational system that either forces them into an inhuman corporate mold or warehouses them in a minimum-wage, screen-fed existence. It’s a terrible waste, morally equivalent to the extinction of your average charismatic megafauna. Homo sapiens becomes homo sap, wounded at twenty, dead at thirty, buried at seventy.

    If you fight the system in most educational institutions, you end up leaving in order not to go crazy. If you don’t fight it, you go crazy. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t times and schools and students with which you can do some good, and it’s worth seeking them out from time to time.

  85. Curtis A. Heretic Says:

    John,

    Glad you had some exceptional experiences. Maybe because your are exceptional. Hard to make it work generally. Especially today. That is the rub.

  86. Christopher Says:

    John Rember, you said: “At this point in human history, I don’t know what our moral obligation is to twenty-year-olds.”

    I think that we have to make sure that TPTB don’t annihlate them, when those twentysomethings have really had enough and stage a rebellion that will make OWS look like a garden club meeting; and to make sure those same twentysomethings don’t let their anger get the better of them, and destroy those elders who actually have something to contribute to post-collapse society.

    They’re the next “Greatest Generation.” They just don’t know it yet.

  87. Robin Datta Says:

    I don’t think people–any people, no matter how many times they’ve read Ernest Becker–can conceive of the end on their own conscious existence.

    Indeed. However, both the “I” and the “not-I” are transient, and do not indicate what is grokked  about conscious existence. 

  88. Robin Datta Says:

    Homo sapiens becomes homo sap, wounded at twenty, dead at thirty, buried at seventy.

    Maybe that is why they stink for four decades?

  89. Robin Datta Says:

    If you fight the system in most educational institutions, you end up leaving in order not to go crazy. If you don’t fight it, you go crazy.

    True of any group, from a hunter-gatheres band to an empire, with the proviso that “crazy” is their groupthink as seen by outsiders. One of the reasons I did not stay in the Regular Army. 

  90. Kathy C Says:

    John I don’t think people–any people, no matter how many times they’ve read Ernest Becker–can conceive of the end on their own conscious existence.
    Every night when we go to sleep our conscious existence temporarily ends except for dreams. Any time we go under general anesthesia our conscious existence temporarily ends (thank goodness – who wants to feel the knife). Just this morning when the alarm rang I punched it off, hoping to return to sleep. Likewise I can know of eons in which I did not exist – thank the good dog I didn’t live during the Inquisition. Thus I think I have a pretty good grounding on what it is like to not exist consciously. I experience it every night.

    Yes it is harder to imagine a temporary loss of conscious existence going on forever as our brain doesn’t want us to go there. But it is certainly not hard to imagine being put out for an operation even if you know there is some risk you might not ever wake if something goes wrong with the anesthesia or the operation. Over and over people choose to give up consciousness rather than bear a surgery fully awake. They know exactly what they hope for – they hope for complete nothingness during the surgery, in other words they hope for their awareness to become as missing as it does in death, although they hope also that it is temporary.

  91. Robin Datta Says:

    Every night when we go to sleep our conscious existence temporarily ends except for dreams.

    The three states, waking, dreaming and dreamless sleep are states within one’s experience, within the experience of the “I”. There is a fourth state outside of the “I” that includes the “I” (and all other “I”s) that is called the Turiya.

  92. Robin Datta Says:

    Some thoughts on Rossi’s Energy Catylst and Low Energy Nuclear Reactions:
    <a href="http://www.fcnp.com/commentary/national/10658-the-peak-oil-crisis-emc2.htmlThe Peak Oil Crisis: E=mc2 "

    If it pans out, it will entail a paradigm shift in science, particularly in physics and chemistry. 

  93. Robin Datta Says:

    Some thoughts on Rossi’s Energy Catylst and Low Energy Nuclear Reactions:
    The Peak Oil Crisis: E=mc2

    If it pans out, it will entail a paradigm shift in science, particularly in physics and chemistry. 

  94. Victor Says:

    Zawodny (one of the senior NASA scientists) compared the potential energy output from fission, fusion and LENR reactions to a chemical reaction. Note: ‘W-L- mentioned below refers to the Widom-Larsen Theory of LENR)

    • Fission – Strong nuclear force – 3% Efficient
    88 GJ/g or 1,900,000 times chemical

    • Fusion – Strong nuclear force – ~5% Efficient
    337 GJ/g or 7,300,000 times chemical

    • LENR – Weak nuclear force – TBD% Efficient
    ~370 GJ/g or 8,000,000 times chemical!

    W-L conservative estimate – 4,000 times chemical

    As you can see, the LENR process has even greater potential than nuclear fusion. It is a matter now of proving the physics around the reaction, a theoretical task, and optimizing the output, an engineering task.

    I believe both will be done in relatively short order, though the optimization will likely take place over several years as the original deign is tweaked through many, many cycles. In the meantime, if Rossi’s design is tweaked a bit, you will begin to see many small to relatively large applications arise involving both heat and electricity generation. This is a technology that can be applied to home/building heating/electricity, transport (land/sea/air/space), water desalination, electrical power plants. The transport application will have the largest impact upon petroleum use, but will take the longest as it must replace something like a billion vehicles.

    Power plants might be adapted relatively quickly if the engineering comes through.

  95. Victor Says:

    I also have heard of an inventor in Australia who has apparently designed a reactor about the size of a rice cooker that takes 40 watts in and generates 1MW out, using deuterium and tritium. Claims to be working with the Australian and US military in bringing it to practical application. So you likely won’t be seeing this interesting bit of technology in the future as it might be swallowed up in top secret ‘national security’.

    Hopefully, LENR won’t be destroyed by the big guys. If it gets to the point of relatively widespread production, it stands a chance of getting past the military/industrial complex.

  96. Kathy C Says:

    Tamnaa’s little patch of the world seems like almost and Eden, yet it is still part of a state with rules and rulers – so it goes wherever civilization captures men by promising a better life…. http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5j57FEIv1R24bpzh5uX2EumvduH-w?docId=b8c799e24998411596a5a885a585f906
    “American sentenced to prison for Thai royal insult
    By ALISA TANG, Associated Press – 35 minutes ago
    BANGKOK (AP) — An American who translated a banned biography of Thailand’s king and posted the content online while living in Colorado was sentenced to two and a half years in a Thai prison Thursday for defaming the country’s royal family.
    The verdict is the latest so-called lese majeste punishment handed down in the Southeast Asian kingdom, which has come under increasing pressure at home and abroad to reform harsh legislation that critics say is an affront to freedom of expression.
    The 55-year-old Thai-born American, Joe Gordon, stood calmly with his ankles shackled in an orange prison uniform as the sentence was read out at a Bangkok criminal court.
    Judge Tawan Rodcharoen said the punishment, initially set at five years, was reduced because Gordon pleaded guilty in October. Defense lawyer Arnon Nampa said Gordon would not appeal, but would apply for a royal pardon.
    The sentence was relatively light compared to other recent cases. In November, 61-year-old Amphon Tangnoppakul was sentenced to 20 years in jail for sending four text messages deemed offensive to the queen.”

  97. Kathy C Says:

    Promise – nuclear energy will be so cheap it will not be metered.
    Reality:
    “The energy put into mining, processing, and shipping uranium, plant construction, operation, and decommissioning is roughly equal to the energy a nuclear plant can produce in its lifetime. In other words, nuclear energy does not add any net energy. Not counted in that calculation is the energy needed to store nuclear waste for hundreds of thousands of years.”

    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2011/12/the-energy-put-into-mining-processing-and-shipping-uranium-plant-construction-operation-and-decommissioning-is-less-than-the-energy-a-nuclear-plant-can-produce-in-its-lifetime.html

    If some new energy source sounds too good to be true it is highly likely that it is.

    OTOH if there are aliens making crop circle, mutilating cattle and abducting humans, or getting mutilated themselves by the Area 51 spooks, well maybe there is some power they have found that can send us out to destroy more planets by extracting such useful things as Unobtainium….

  98. Victor Says:

    If some new energy source sounds too good to be true it is highly likely that it is.

    You forgot ‘Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence’… ;-)

  99. Guy McPherson Says:

    A new guest essay is up, courtesy of Sandra Long. It’s here.


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