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Embarking On The Journey Of Consciousness: Staying On The Train

Tue, Jan 21, 2014

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by Carolyn Baker at Speaking Truth to Power

Train

The traveler has to knock at every alien door to come to his own, and one has to wander through all the outer worlds to reach the innermost shrine at the end.

~Rabindranath Tagore~

Nearly every day I speak with people who are confused, bewildered, disoriented, or conversely, extraordinarily clear about what is happening to them. A few years, months, or weeks earlier, they began waking up to the predicament of earth and its plethora of species. I often ask them to tell me their story—not so much their personal story, but the story of their awakening to the collapse of industrial civilization or peak oil or catastrophic climate change. As they unpack their story, we often begin speaking of it as a journey—a journey of epiphany, of awakening, of coming to consciousness.

 

What I invariably recognize in my own journey of awakening and theirs is that once any human being allows certain realities to penetrate a few layers of denial, they have embarked on a journey from which there is no return. The unconscious mind in concert with the denial mechanisms, some of which are innate and some of which we have been inculcated with, tend to work overtime to ensure that specific realities will be almost immediately excluded from our awareness. Nevertheless, as hard as the defense mechanisms may exert themselves, occasionally, and for the most part for reasons we cannot yet ascertain, some disturbing facts take root in the brain and nervous system. This triggers certain bodily and emotional responses whereby one has the choice to ignore, rationalize, minimize, or unequivocally reject the facts, or on the other hand, ask more questions, delve deeper, and risk receiving even more disturbing information.

 

People often ask me: Why is that some people wake up, and others don’t? I can’t answer that question. What I do know with certainty, however, is that once one has allowed certain facts to implant themselves in consciousness, there is no turning back. Often, without consciously realizing it, we “sign up” for a journey from which there is no return and which will alter everything in our lives, including and especially, ourselves.

 

For example, let’s say that a hypothetical guy named Gus somewhere around the year 2002 hears about peak oil. His interest in energy and technology engenders a certain fascination with the topic. He continues to research the concept, and eventually he realizes that peak oil necessarily means the end of industrial civilization, the dissolution of all institutions and centralized systems on earth, and eventually, the death of a significant number of human beings. Perhaps Gus is deeply disturbed for many weeks or months, consumes more than the usual amount of alcohol, and yet, he cannot extricate himself from researching the topic. Perhaps he’s convinced himself that if he just knows more and more and more and researches the topic until he cannot read another word, somehow, his intellectual understanding of the topic will provide him with some advantage over the other poor bastards who don’t know what he’s finding out. But with every new piece of information, Gus has to choose whether or not to continue researching the topic or go back to sleep.

 

After many months or years of research, Gus begins preparing himself and his family for the eventualities of peak oil. You know the drill: food and water storage, solar panels on the house, reskilling, permaculture courses, weapons training, first responder training, and everything else that usually follows the typical “End of Suburbia” moment.

 

And then a few years later, Gus hears about climate change. It’s bad. He knows this. But peak oil is really bad, and now he’s hearing about climate change, and he’s also hearing people talk about a global economic crash—and worse, he’s hearing some people connect all three of these terrible realities and refer to them as the “Three E’s.” Gus thinks to himself: Damn, peak oil is enough to deal with, but now I have to worry about climate change and economic meltdown.

 

Again, Gus has a choice. Theoretically, he could go home and announce to his wife and kids that all this stuff about peak oil was wrong and apologize for being so extreme and just go back to the trance of his ordinary life. But something happened to Gus on the way to the fiftieth peak oil website. He learned more than he is now capable of denying. One of the choices Gus has is to end his life, but more is at stake here than his own peace of mind. He adores his wife and kids, and so he chooses to go on.

 

The climate change thing is getting far worse, and now it’s beginning to look like it’s driving the train, so to speak. It’s the engine, economic collapse is the freight car, and maybe peak oil is now the caboose. So now he begins researching climate change like there’s no tomorrow (again, so to speak), and his mind is flooded with numbers like 350 parts per million and 4 degrees centigrade and words like self-reinforcing feedback loops. He’s really worried about the future of his kids and all of life on earth. At this point, Gus would really like to return to just thinking and talking about peak oil, but he can’t because deep in the pit of his stomach, he knows that climate change is happening much faster than the consequences of peak oil. And in fact, even if he just focused on peak oil, he’s watched that movie “Gasland,” and he now realizes that peak oil, fracking, and climate catastrophe travel together.

 

Then one day, Gus hears a presentation by Guy McPherson, and he’s reeling. There’s nothing that can numb what he’s feeling. But wait. Maybe McPherson’s research isn’t quite accurate. Maybe all this stuff about near-term extinction and the planet becoming mostly uninhabitable by 2030 is just bad science. So Gus spends another ten hours online and compares McPherson’s facts with those of another one hundred people. A little extreme, he thinks to himself about the McPherson data, but it’s now 2012, and he’s reading all those disastrous extreme weather reports in mainstream news. Oh my God, he thinks, this climate change stuff is really happening fast. The planet is heating up more rapidly than anyone could have imagined.

 

Right here, Gus has another choice to make. He can keep arguing about the science, which he has every right to do, or he can do something else. He can admit to himself that he’s profoundly scared. But then he was profoundly scared when he first heard about peak oil and when he first learned about global economic collapse. Yet he didn’t go back to sleep. Fortunately, Gus can discuss these issues with his wife, and he’s also found a Transition group where he can talk about some of this stuff. He’s on Facebook every day, and there’s a Near-Term Extinction support group there, and he’s networking with those folks like there’s no tomorrow (so to speak).

 

Well, as if all of this weren’t bad enough, it’s been over a year since the Fukushima disaster, and the Internet is now flooded with conflicting reports about what happened there, how much radiation was blasted all over the planet, and what the long-term effects for life on earth might be. Another choice-point. Damn, Gus thinks to himself—peak oil, economic collapse, catastrophic climate change, near-term extinction, and now Fukushima. At this point, Gus stops thinking just about the future of his children and starts thinking about his own future as well. Then it hits him like a ton of bricks: I’m going to die. Yes, my children won’t have a future, but perhaps I don’t either. At the age of forty-something, he’s in the midst of an existential crisis.

 

Gus finally has the worst of all realizations. He’s a huge fan of bringing down industrial civilization as quickly as possible because of what it’s doing to the planet and all species, but now he realizes that if civilization were to collapse, in a short time, over 400 nuclear power plants around the world would begin to melt down because they require an electrical grid in order to operate. Another “Oh my God!” moment. Now Gus realizes that humanity is between the most dire rock and hard place it’s ever experienced. Bring down civilization, and the planet gets thoroughly radiated. Don’t bring down civilization, and catastrophic climate change kills the planet anyway.

 

It’s as if back in 2002 Gus reluctantly boarded a train somewhere in Pleasantville. The name of the station where the train originated was “Peak Oil.” The next stop was “Climate Change.” Gus could have gotten off there and returned to Pleasantville, but he chose to stay on the train. Next stop: “Global Economic Collapse.” Again, a choice to dis-embark. He didn’t. Now the tracks to and from all three stations are connected. But somewhere in the maze of those tracks, he encounters another station, “Catastrophic Climate Change,” where Gus does not get off but rides on to the next station, “Near-Term Extinction.” Staying on the train at this point was almost unbearable, but after all the miles and miles of track, after all the time, resources, and emotional energy invested, how could he just get off the train? Thinking that “Near-Term Extinction” was the very worst destination imaginable, Gus learns that the next station is “Fukushima,” and now he knows he can’t even think of getting off the train because Fukushima isn’t a destination. It’s a place one passes through on the way to the end of the line where the tracks end, and all life forms dis-embark.

 

I suspect that if you are reading these words, you can identify with the previous story because you are on a similar journey. Perhaps you have not framed your experience in terms of a journey, but for me, the image is useful. It is a journey characterized by a number of distinct features.

 

1) When confronting a new piece of information about our planetary predicament, each of us chooses whether to ingest and assimilate the information or not. If we are kind to ourselves, we ingest a bit of it, allow it to distill, and then acquire more when we feel ready. Furthermore, genuine kindness to ourselves also means that we pay attention to the emotions that are stirred—fear, anger, grief, despair, and more. Rather than attempting to flee from uncomfortable feelings by engaging in intellectual debates about the accuracy of the information with which we are confronted, we notice our emotions even as we engage in deliberation.

2) Early on, our journey appears to be nothing more than a project of gathering information. As we progress, we may experience it as our principal survival tool. As with the hypothetical Gus, we tell ourselves that because “knowledge is power,” the more we know, the more can protect ourselves and our loved ones.

3) At some point in the journey, we move beyond simply gathering information, and rather than our owning the journey, it begins to own us. Invariably, whether we consent or not, we enter territory that I can only describe as “spiritual.” In writing about spiritual journeys, my friend and colleague, Terry Chapman defines it as “the ongoing, transformative, experience of intentional, conscious engagement with what the sojourner perceives as the presence of divinity.” Another word for divinity might be “the sacred,” or “something greater or even “existential” —issues having to do with meaning and purpose. Typically, people on such a journey choose to arrange their lives not so much around survival as around service. The core issue of one’s life becomes not, how long can I stay alive, but how can I contribute to the earth community? One becomes infused with compassion and gratitude. No day, no being, no experience is ordinary, but rather, imbued with meaning.

4) Whether we acknowledge it early or late in the journey, we eventually grasp that what we are ultimately confronting is our own death. The sooner we can honestly confront our mortality, allowing ourselves to actually feel it in the body, the easier it becomes to ingest and assimilate more distressing information. For example, when I have led some people in a “die before you die” exercise, they have often told me that once they sat with their own death and how it might actually feel, they felt more capacity to face not only near-term extinction but a variety of losses and catastrophes.

 

Any journey of consciousness eventually, in one way or other, compels us to confront two very different aspects of ourselves, namely the ego and the deeper self. We need both in order to function in a body on this planet. During the first half of life the ego drives us to acquire knowledge, forge a career, establish significant relationships, and hone our skills. We make our way and our mark in the world through the ego and its machinations. Then at some juncture during midlife, the human psyche begins to expand beyond ego pursuits and gratifications. We enter a time of reflection in which we are quite naturally drawn to ponder not merely the contents of our earlier life, but more specifically, the person who lived it.

 

To those who argue that there is no meaning or purpose for our human experience, I would first of all say: I’m sorry for your loss. I would then wonder about the age of the person making the statement. “Life is meaningless” is a first-half-of-life declaration. Yet even if one makes the statement in the second half of life, I must ask: If life is devoid of meaning, why have humans for billions of years attempted to make meaning of their experiences? I do not know if other species attempt to find meaning in their experience, but I can’t imagine telling Beethoven or Van Gogh or Shakespeare that life is meaningless.

 

Throughout human history our species has used both art and ritual to make meaning. Not surprising since the literal definition of ritual is “to fit together.” Art serves a similar purpose in that it gathers the fragments of sound, color, texture, light, shadow, movement, and poetic verse to heal what is broken within us or simply offer new opportunities to recognize our wholeness. When we make either art or ritual, we are acknowledging that making meaning is possible and that it matters to our soul and the soul of the other.

 

Someone has said that the difference between a Greek comedy and a Greek tragedy is that when the play ends, the protagonist in the comedy knows who he is, whereas the protagonist in the tragedy does not. Indeed this is the difference between a life committed to meaninglessness and one committed to making meaning.

 

Waking up to anything—collapse, near-term extinction, the aftermath of Fukushima necessarily involves suffering. However, before the reader infers more from this word than is intended, let me emphasize that whatever form, texture, or degree of severity suffering takes, it can most fundamentally be defined as the loss of control. Moreover, I believe that this is the most terrifying aspect of making the choice to stay on the train and not dis-embark until the end of the line because loss of control and the end of the line are inextricably connected. For the industrially civilized psyche, loss of control feels like death because it is the death of the ego. And in fact, our consummate duty in the journey of consciousness is to intentionally assist the ego in breathing its last breath on a daily basis. Obviously, we need the ego in order to function in a body on this planet, but in this culture, the ego has been forced to ingest a regimen of steroids since birth.

 

Becoming conscious means that we flush the steroids and have a serious conversation with the ego about its proper place in the psyche. If we are committed to waking up, it will feel as if the ego is (and we are) dying many times throughout the day. However, in this constant conflagration between the ego and the deeper self, we have an advantage in the form of another aspect of the psyche that we might call the “neutral witness.” It is the part of us that can stand outside the ego and simply observe its incessant flailing. The neutral witness doesn’t have to do anything but simply observe the entire drama. The more time we spend in neutral witness, the easier (never easy) it becomes to allow the ego to find or flail into its proper place.

 

As we continue our ticklish and tricky dance with the ego, we are likely to experience more compassion, more generosity, more open-hearted receptivity, more spontaneity, more harmonious human relationships, more intimacy with the earth and the more-than-human world, and more passion in our resistance to the civilized death machine. Additionally, we are likely to become more aware of and sensitive to what Paul Levy describes as Malignant Egophrenia or the “ME Disease” of our culture. With time and commitment to the practice, that is, the practice of staying on the train and abiding in the neutral witness position, it may become possible to begin each day by asking, “What needs to die in me today, and how can I assist the process?”

 

Eventually, death becomes not a symbolic surrender but a literal necessity, and the question of what needs to die in me today becomes a declaration that today is a good day to die. For this is indeed is the culmination of all spiritual teaching and the destiny toward which every being is headed from the moment of birth.

 

Perhaps you’ve noticed that staying on the train is a full-time job and that in doing so, there is little chance of maintaining business as usual. Sometimes the speed of the train feels painfully slow, as if one is riding on the little engine that could. At other times, one feels hurled through time and space on a bullet train. In either situation, whether consciously or unconsciously, all passengers on this train have signed up for a spiritual, as well as historical, intellectual, and physical journey, and it is no longer possible to live ordinary lives in extraordinary times.

 

You may have boarded the train believing that you were on a journey through literal time and space, encountering the dissolution of the external landscape. In fact, when you boarded the train, you embarked on a journey in quite the opposite direction which Rumi describes brilliantly:

 

You lack a foot to travel?
Then journey into yourself
And like a mine of rubies
receive the sunbeam’s print

Out of yourself such a journey
will lead you to your self,
It leads to transformation
of dust into pure gold!

____________

Straight Talk About Climate Change, Thursday, 6 February 2013, 7:00 p.m., West End Cultural Centre, 586 Illice Avenue at Sherbrook, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

The Next Step: Living Courageously in a World of Transition, a 7-day seminar, 24-31 May 2014, Moho Creek, Belize, Central America.

The Next Step: Living Courageously in a World of Transition, a 14-day seminar, 12-25 June 2014, Izabal, Guatemala, Central America.

____________

Going Dark is available from the publisher here, from Amazon here, from Amazon on Kindle here, from Barnes & Noble on Nook here, and as a Google e-book here. Going Dark was reviewed by Carolyn Baker at Speaking Truth to Power, by Bradley Jarvis at Goodreads, and by several readers at Amazon. An excerpt follows.

If you’re looking for a personal response to the converging crises in which we’re immersed, you could do worse than recognizing reality. And then, let go. Revel in the uniqueness that is the human experience. Acknowledge the wonder of your life, part of which — admittedly, the last part — is your death.

Again I invoke the wisdom of George Carlin: “When you’re born into this world, you’re given a ticket to the freak show. If you’re born in America you get a front row seat.”

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102 Responses to “Embarking On The Journey Of Consciousness: Staying On The Train”

  1. Kirk Hamilton Says:

  2. Gerald Spezio Says:

    Cowflaps from heaven?

    Love, love, love …

  3. K Klein Says:

    As I just posted on FB, I am thinking of changing my name to “Gus.” My autobiography has already been written, saving me lots of time.

  4. Gerald Spezio Says:

    Paul Levy is completely serious.

    A synopsis of THE “contagious psychospiritual disease” in THE HUMAN PSYCHE (MIND) causing all the pestilence, misery, pollution,& corruption.

    I sure hope that all the “inner cancer of the soul” doesn’t MANIFEST or we be in deep shid.

    from Levy’s website;

    About Dispelling Wetiko2 There is a contagious psychospiritual disease of the soul, a parasite of the mind, that is currently being acted out en masse on the world stage via a collective psychosis of titanic proportions.

    This mind-virus─which Native Americans have called “wetiko”─covertly operates through the unconscious blind spots in the human psyche, rendering people oblivious to their own madness and compelling them to act against their own best interests.

    An inner cancer of the soul, wetiko flavors and manages our perceptions by stealth and subterfuge so as to act itself out through us while simultaneously hiding itself from being seen.

    Not constrained by the conventional laws of third-dimensional space and time, this ‘bug’ in the system deceives us by working with the intrinsic projective tendencies of our mind so as to appear external to and other than ourselves, utilizing the seemingly outside world as the canvas for its full-bodied revelation of itself.

    Wetiko nonlocally in-forms, gives shape to and configures events in the world so as to synchronistically express itself, which is to say that just like in a dream, events in the outer world are symbolically reflecting a condition deep within the psyche of humanity.

    Drawing on insights from Jungian psychology, shamanism, alchemy, spiritual wisdom traditions, and personal experience, author Paul Levy shows us that hidden within the venom of wetiko is a revelation as well as its own antidote, which once recognized can help us wake up and bring sanity back to our society.

    How wetiko manifests─will it destroy our species, or will it catalyze a deeper process of global awakening?─depends upon recognizing what it is revealing to us about ourselves.

    “What for I need this shid, Man?

  5. JohnD Says:

    Nice essay, and as with all who read it, I AM Gus.

    My teacher keeps telling me to “quit trying to figure it out” (“it” being the true nature of self/reality). I shut up for a while, but eventually come back and offer up yet another interpretation of how it works and he tells me to “quit trying to figure it out”. He is a patient guy and I’m a hard case, I guess.

    But your advise to “abide as the neutral witness” IS the teaching. Maybe there is meaning, maybe not. Being open to the present moment as a neutral witness while striving to do the right thing day to day is all we’ve got.

    John D.

  6. JohnD Says:

    …and oh, I forgot to add….don’t forget to have fun! We’re here on a planet flying through space. How cool is that!

  7. Kirk Hamilton Says:

    It’s cowFLOPS, Gerald.

  8. Gerald Spezio Says:

    cowpie …

    cowflap …

    Search YourDictionary Original Definitions
    noun

    The definition of cowflap means cow manure.

    An example of cowflap is cow dung.

    YourDictionary definition and usage example. Copyright © 2014 by LoveToKnow Corp.

    cowflap

    Variant of cowflop

    noun
    Slang cowpat
    also cowflap
    Webster’s New World College Dictionary Copyright © 2010 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio.
    Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

  9. Grant Schreiber Says:

    “I can’t imagine telling Beethoven or Van Gogh or Shakespeare that life is meaningless.”

    You might be talking to the wrong people. Poor Vincent most likely painted what he saw. Take a look at Starry Night and imagine what it must have been like to see the world that way. Suicide must have been a blessing. William most likely was ill-suited for glove making, a total disappointment to his parents and he happened to stumble into acting and then playwright because even in the Time of Good Queen Bess, you needed money to pay for food and drink. Talking to Ludwig was a waste of time. He can’t hear me, and if he could he doesn’t understand English.

    The problem with any Life Is Full of Meaning! positions is that it automatically places human life as more valuable than the life of mayflies or fungus or any other lifeform, complex or not. Painting and plays and music are after all in the human world. At any rate, we certainly don’t understand if bees get any pleasure out of their dance or if spiders take pride in their webs. Asking a junkie in badly need of a fix or a soldier on his 100th tour of combat or a burn victim what they think about life and chances are that Beauty and Understanding aren’t the first things out of their lips.

    “Life, for most people, is an unlovely struggle against unfair odds cumulating in a cheap funeral,” wrote Siegfried Sassoon, the Great War poet and thinker. Since we entered a Dark Age in 1914 and have yet to emerge from it, it gets hard to tell where in human social gain we really are. Sure, there have been plenty of technological advances and my grandmother was able to see not only the first airplanes but the landing on the moon, but at the same time if you read the letters of the “common soldier” in WWI and read what passes for correspondence today the stark decline of intellectual powers is easy to see.

    Americans in particular are getting shorter, dumber, and meaner since the 1940s in part thanks to a diet of food high in sugar and fat. Since 1980 the entire culture has embraced “Greed is Good” as the only way to live and we continue to reap the benefits of that with an increasingly fascist government and total disregard to anything that isn’t a millionaire. The vast majority of people have yet to see or hear any Van Gogh, Beethoven or Shakespeare or don’t recognize it when they do.

    Whether or not life has meaning I leave to philosophers. But it clear to me that all human life is not more important than the life of mayflies. The distinction being that mayflies aren’t actively trying to kill everything for the sake of a few dollars.

  10. Robin Datta Says:

    Much muddled thinking.

    a journey of epiphany, of awakening, of coming to consciousness.

    Nothing comes to consciousness: it has no limitations of time, space or causation, and nothing can come to or depart from it.

    He’s on Facebook every day, and there’s a Near-Term Extinction support group there,

    Any sensible person will close the one’s Facebook & Twitter accounts.

    Invariably, whether we consent or not, we enter territory that I can only describe as “spiritual.”

    Spiritual stuff comes in bottles, like snake oil once did. Those who peddle “spirituality” are also like the salesmen of yore. Beware of those claiming to find something called spirituality corralled off somewhere. “Spiritual” implies “non-spiritual”: both are to be rejected.

    Another word for divinity might be “the sacred,” or “something greater or even “existential” —issues having to do with meaning and purpose.

    The Divine is not lumpy. It is not concentrated in one place and thinned out in another. Nothing can be sacred, and nothing can be profane.

    Whether we acknowledge it early or late in the journey, we eventually grasp that what we are ultimately confronting is our own death.

    Au contraire.

    “What is the greatest wonder?”

    “Day after day countless people die. Yet the living wish to live forever. O Lord, what can be a greater wonder?”

    led some people in a “die before you die” exercise,

    Done it in several ways. At least once ceasing voluntarily. No one knew of it, then or now.

    Any journey of consciousness

    Consciousness is not subject to the limitations of space-time-causation and does not journey. Just as sunlight illuminates a variety of objects in a variety of places on a sunny day, so too does consciousness illuminating the many thoughts, feelings, etc. in many minds bring them to ITS awareness: separate in each mind.

    the ego and the deeper self.

    The ego is the “I”, the Prime Mentation. Everything else is secondary, including the reptilian brain with its non-verbal emotions & values, the monkey brain with its intellection and the databank of memories.

    If life is devoid of meaning, why have humans for billions of years attempted to make meaning of their experiences?

    The genus Homo has been around for three million years. The species Homo sapiens sapiens has been around for two hundred thousand years. Energy flows determined by the Second Law of Thermodynamics toward the sink of entropy give time’s arrow its direction (from past to future, and not the other way around). They also guide behaviours and their emergence at all levels from physics to geopolitics.

    Other than that, there ain’t any meaning.

    have a serious conversation with the ego

    The “I” is not susceptible to conversations. But it can be grokked as a fictitious entity, a phantasm, a mirage, and that extinguishes the personhood of the “I”. The “I” then remains as a symbol and a hub for mental activity. Nirvana literally means extinguishment, and refers to that extinguishing.

    another aspect of the psyche that we might call the “neutral witness.”

    That is the state in which the individual personhood has been extinguished, and with it the senses of doer-ship and experiencer-ship. There are other descriptors also, all of them associated with the fully realised person.

    abiding in the neutral witness position,

    The state is known as Sakshi Bhava

    EconTalk for JANUARY 20, 2014:

    Jonathan Haidt on the Righteous Mind

    Hosted by Russ Roberts
    “Jonathan Haidt of New York University and author of The Righteous Mind talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his book, the nature of human nature, and how our brain affects our morality and politics. Haidt argues that reason often serves our emotions rather than the mind being in charge. We can be less interested in the truth and more interested in finding facts and stories that fit preconceived narratives and ideology. We are genetically predisposed to work with each other rather than being purely self-interested and our genes influence our morality and ideology as well. Haidt tries to understand why people come to different visions of morality and politics and how we might understand each other despite those differences.”

  11. mt Says:

    My mother, father, sister, brother and friend have died over these years. I’m sad, however I feel guilty for feeling a bit happy that they will not suffer the horrors to come.
    Did they exit the train? Or, have they just parted to a connecting journey on a “different” train?

  12. pat Says:

    Yes, I am Gus. But, personally, I disagree with all the talk of “meaning.” I don’t subscribe to any of the “love, peace, and understanding” stuff. When SHTF, your neighbor becomes your enemy as you compete for scarcer and scarcer resources. All this talk of building communities as preparation for when SHTF is all baloney. There is no community. A family can mostly be depended on to care for one another and, by extension, maybe a small tribe of related folks… Anyway, all the new age stuff and zen stuff and blah, blah, blah, is no better than the church-going folks who believe in the everlasting spirit and that, in the end, they will join their friends in Heaven.

    Just heard on the news that 85 people on the planet have more money than the combined money of half the people on the planet. Now, let’s put those 85 people in a refugee camp with 3.5 Billion people and see how they do.

    There is no “meaning” to life. The sun sets and also rises and the galaxies spin while the universe expands. If there is anything sacred, then everything is sacred for it is all the same.

    What is so special about 1914? Since the beginning, civilized humans have had it all wrong.
    From 1968, “Planet of the Apes” movie:
    “I wonder if Man, that marvel of the universe, that glorious paradox who has sent me to the unknown… still makes war against his brother, and
    lets his neighbor’s children starve.

    Guy has made the point that civilization killed us and I say we deserve it – the only bad part is that civilization and cheap energy, aka: Industrial Civilization, will kill every living thing on Earth.

    If humans really care about “life,” then decommissioning the nuclear power plants (as well as all nuclear weapons arsenals) should be our only goal.

    Just sitting on this runaway train, staring out the window.

    The Voluntary Extinction Movement
    Thou shalt not procreate.

    The Church of Euthanasia
    Save the planet, kill yourself.

  13. Tom Says:

    Carolyn: thanks for your contribution. i’m not going to comment except to say that it was well written, in that I believe I understand what you were conveying, but who can say? Whether I agree or not is immaterial and pointless.

    Grant: yeah, it’s all about point of view. Maybe when it sucks enough for most people we’ll start seeing some “movement.” In the meantime it just keeps turning to shit, daily.

    pat: I hear ya. I posted a youtube video over at xraymike’s blog about the VHEM (and the Church of Euthanasia appeared). They have a point which may actually ‘catch on’ one of these days.

    mt: I’ve had loss in the last bunch of years of significant people in my life, and have come to not like many of the ones left. I think the ones who passed on have disappeared into the illusion that they ever were.

  14. Edward Kerr Says:

    Carolyn,

    Aside from being “spot on” this delightful essay has a very droll lining. You have found a way to tell all of our stories in tandem. I have worn my foil hat all along but you found a way into the theater in my mind that rolls the film of my life. Spiritual prestidigitation on a grand scale or brain invader, take your pick. The truth you speak here would go over the head of ‘power’ but, for many powerless, it infuses itself into the soul.

    Where you slammed me to the mat in a choke hold forcing me to ‘tap out’ was when you spoke of each day being a microcosm of the entire train trip. I was musing about that very phenomenon earlier today as I was knocking on yet one more alien door hoping that it would open to the shrine.

    My personal train has become a freight train that puts me in mind of the one that crashed in San Bernardino some years back. There had been a weight miscalculation and possibly some break malfunction.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Bernardino_train_disaster

    I feel like my train has just started creeping down the long hill after stopping at the summit of the pass through the mountains. It’s moving slow and everything seems fine but soon it will out of control.

    Thanks for a great read. Your insight and compassion help me to face a grim reality.(both personally and collectively) You are a gem of a human being and I hope to meet you again some time in the future.

    Blessings,
    Ed

  15. Tom Says:

    music on my snowy day: Aaron Parks, Asleep In The Forest

  16. Rita Vail Says:

    Carolyn – you nailed it. Thank you.

  17. bubbleboy Says:

    Tagore is so often overlooked! My grandmother gave me the volume Sadhana: The Realization of Life. For a long time it was too simple and un-interesting, but I found later that is truly the virtue of the piece. “Why, everyone knows these things! What’s the point of writing this down?” With daily work, realization is – well – available to those that will work. It appears that the Sadhu has always lived this sort of life – the Gus kind of a story. No?

  18. Wren Says:

    Carolyn, you continue your gig of seeking a way to make other people navigate the emotional waters of NTE, but Grant and Pat pretty well sum it up for me.

    Meanwhile, the slaughter continues of mammals capable of emotional response greater than our own. If absolution is what you’re looking for, take whatever money or energy you have and use it to stop this nightmare: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/21/japanese-fishermen-begin-annual-slaughter-of-hundreds-of-dolphins

  19. R. Datta Says:

    a journey of epiphany, of awakening, of coming to consciousness.

    Nothing comes to consciousness: it has no limitations of time, space or causation, and nothing can come to or depart from it.

    Invariably, whether we consent or not, we enter territory that I can only describe as “spiritual.”

    Spiritual stuff comes in bottles, like snake oil once did. Those who peddle “spirituality” are also like the salesmen of yore. Beware of those claiming to find something called spirituality corralled off somewhere. “Spiritual” implies “non-spiritual”: both are to be rejected.

    Another word for divinity might be “the sacred,” or “something greater or even “existential” —issues having to do with meaning and purpose.

    The Divine is not lumpy. It is not concentrated in one place and thinned out in another. Nothing can be sacred, and nothing can be profane.

    Whether we acknowledge it early or late in the journey, we eventually grasp that what we are ultimately confronting is our own death.

    Au contraire.

    “What is the greatest wonder?”

    “Day after day countless people die. Yet the living wish to live forever. O Lord, what can be a greater wonder?”

    led some people in a “die before you die” exercise,

    Done it in several ways. At least once ceasing voluntarily. No one knew of it, then or now.

    Any journey of consciousness

    Consciousness is not subject to the limitations of space-time-causation and does not journey. Just as sunlight illuminates a variety of objects in a variety of places on a sunny day, so too does consciousness illuminating the many thoughts, feelings, etc. in many minds bring them to ITS awareness: separate in each mind.

    the ego and the deeper self.

    The ego is the “I”, the Prime Mentation. Everything else is secondary, including the reptilian brain with its non-verbal emotions & values, the monkey brain with its intellection and the databank of memories.

    If life is devoid of meaning, why have humans for billions of years attempted to make meaning of their experiences?

    The genus Homo has been around for three million years. The species Homo sapiens sapiens has been around for two hundred thousand years. Energy flows determined by the Second Law of Thermodynamics toward the sink of entropy give time’s arrow its direction (from past to future, and not the other way around). They also guide behaviours and their emergence at all levels from physics to geopolitics.

    Other than that, there ain’t any meaning.

    have a serious conversation with the ego

    The “I” is not susceptible to conversations. But it can be grokked as a fictitious entity, a phantasm, a mirage, and that extinguishes the personhood of the “I”. The “I” then remains as a symbol and a hub for mental activity. Nirvana literally means extinguishment, and refers to that extinguishing.

    another aspect of the psyche that we might call the “neutral witness.”

    That is the state in which the individual personhood has been extinguished, and with it the senses of doer-ship and experiencer-ship. There are other descriptors also, all of them associated with the fully realised person.

    abiding in the neutral witness position,

    The state has been described as Sakshi Bhava

  20. lark Says:

    The essay reminded me of this poem by Carl Sandburg

    Limited

    I am riding on a limited express, one of the crack trains
    of the nation.
    Hurtling across the prairie into blue haze and dark air
    go fifteen all-steel coaches holding a thousand people.
    (All the coaches shall be scrap and rust and all the men
    and women laughing in the diners and sleepers shall
    pass to ashes.)
    I ask a man in the smoker where he is going and he
    answers: “Omaha.”

    Carl Sandburg

  21. Robin Datta Says:

    a journey of epiphany, of awakening, of coming to consciousness.

    Nothing comes to consciousness: it has no limitations of time, space or causation, and nothing can come to or depart from it.

    Invariably, whether we consent or not, we enter territory that I can only describe as “spiritual.”

    Spiritual stuff comes in bottles, like snake oil once did. Those who peddle “spirituality” are also like the salesmen of yore. Beware of those claiming to find something called spirituality corralled off somewhere. “Spiritual” implies “non-spiritual”: both are to be rejected.

    Another word for divinity might be “the sacred,” or “something greater or even “existential” —issues having to do with meaning and purpose.

    The Divine is not lumpy. It is not concentrated in one place and thinned out in another. Nothing can be sacred, and nothing can be profane.

    Whether we acknowledge it early or late in the journey, we eventually grasp that what we are ultimately confronting is our own death.

    Au contraire.

    “What is the greatest wonder?”

    “Day after day countless people die. Yet the living wish to live forever. O Lord, what can be a greater wonder?”

    led some people in a “die before you die” exercise,

    Done it in several ways. At least once ceasing voluntarily. No one knew of it, then or now.

    Any journey of consciousness

    Consciousness is not subject to the limitations of space-time-causation and does not journey. Just as sunlight illuminates a variety of objects in a variety of places on a sunny day, so too does consciousness illuminating the many thoughts, feelings, etc. in many minds bring them to ITS awareness: separate in each mind.

    the ego and the deeper self.

    The ego is the “I”, the Prime Mentation. Everything else is secondary, including the reptilian brain with its non-verbal emotions & values, the monkey brain with its intellection and the databank of memories.

    If life is devoid of meaning, why have humans for billions of years attempted to make meaning of their experiences?

    The genus Homo has been around for three million years. The species Homo sapiens sapiens has been around for two hundred thousand years. Energy flows determined by the Second Law of Thermodynamics toward the sink of entropy give time’s arrow its direction (from past to future, and not the other way around). They also guide behaviours and their emergence at all levels from physics to geopolitics.

    Other than that, there ain’t any meaning.

    have a serious conversation with the ego

    The “I” is not susceptible to conversations. But it can be grokked as a fictitious entity, a phantasm, a mirage, and that extinguishes the personhood of the “I”. The “I” then remains as a symbol and a hub for mental activity. Nirvana literally means extinguishment, and refers to that extinguishing.

    another aspect of the psyche that we might call the “neutral witness.”

    That is the state in which the individual personhood has been extinguished, and with it the senses of doer-ship and experiencer-ship. There are other descriptors also, all of them associated with the fully realised person.

    abiding in the neutral witness position,

    The state is known as Sakshi Bhava.

  22. 18000days Says:

    Sounds familiar, and, with the possible exceptions of “Suicidal Biosphere Hypothesis”, and being rubbish at science, my ego can find no reason to differentiate itself from the herd of Gusses inhabiting Gusville. But it also looks like I’m not the only one to have reservations about these bits:

    “If life is devoid of meaning, why have humans for billions of years attempted to make meaning of their experiences?”

    Because life is devoid of meaning? ‘Meaning’ is like ‘God’, if it didn’t exist, it would be necessary to invent it? There would be no reason to “make” (“fake”?) meaning unless it was conspicuously absent. I guess the real question is: Why are we such “meaningfulness junkies”?

    “I do not know if other species attempt to find meaning in their experience, but I can’t imagine telling Beethoven or Van Gogh or Shakespeare that life is meaningless.

    Throughout human history our species has used both art and ritual to make meaning.”

    Can’t help thinking that rather than being evidence of, confirmation of, or a celebration of ‘meaning’, artistic products are more like a desperate prophylactic against overwhelming meaninglessness. I think there is a distinction there, beyond semantics.

    “I’m sorry for your loss.”

    Not to suggest there’s any merit in using a five-syllable word where a one-syllable word will do, but here the word “disillusionment”, rather than “loss”, might be more appropriate?

  23. Tom Says:

    Robert Scribbler:

    https://robertscribbler.wordpress.com/2014/01/21/awakening-the-horrors-of-the-ancient-hothouse-hydrogen-sulfide-in-the-worlds-warming-oceans/#comment-6725

    Awakening the Horrors of the Ancient Hothouse — Hydrogen Sulfide in the World’s Warming Oceans

    “Dead Cthulu waits dreaming…” H.P. Lovecraft

  24. Robin Datta Says:

    Doomer Support:

    NBL ate my post several times submitted with modifications both logged on and via captcha.

    If I am intentionally blocked, that’s OK, but I would like to know about it.

    Thanks!

  25. sunweb Says:

    This is just one of the statements I find offensive and self-righteous:

    “To those who argue that there is no meaning or purpose for our human experience, I would first of all say: I’m sorry for your loss. I would then wonder about the age of the person making the statement. “Life is meaningless” is a first-half-of-life declaration. Yet even if one makes the statement in the second half of life, I must ask: If life is devoid of meaning, why have humans for billions of years attempted to make meaning of their experiences? I do not know if other species attempt to find meaning in their experience, but I can’t imagine telling Beethoven or Van Gogh or Shakespeare that life is meaningless.”

    She assumes a teleology to human existence that is her assumption and condescends to those that don’t share her view. She assumes immaturity as the reason for not sharing her view. Perhaps the search for meaning is an off shoot of our particular human ability of self-awareness fostered by language particularly self-talk.

    http://sunweber.blogspot.com/2011/05/self-talk-human-adaptation.html

    Or it is a glitch that has condemned us to the many manifestations of religiosity – inquisitions, violence, sexual fears, female and male mutilations.

    Humans have only been here from the beginning of the earth 4000 some years ago. Every true bible reader knows that. Not billions of years.

    Beethoven or Van Gogh or Shakespeare may well have been created to stave off the Sisyphean experience of life. How could she know their thoughts, oh yeah, she’s a psychologist.

  26. Grant Schreiber Says:

    And now, a word from the Oil Economy. And why they shouldn’t be picked on:

  27. Grant Schreiber Says:

    oops:

  28. Lidia Says:

    I liked this post until about half-way through, and then it started to make me gag.

    18000days is right, imo: “…the real question is: Why are we such ‘meaningfulness junkies’?” “…artistic products are more like a desperate prophylactic against overwhelming meaninglessness.”

    “I’m sorry for your loss” is quite the passive-aggressive bit of psycho-theatre. Anybody can imbue false meaning into something; it’s as easy as pie! *I’M* sorry, instead, that people are led into delusions and that these delusions lead them to do illogical things, most of the time. “Meaning” led to building the pyramids. Is that a good or a bad thing? I bet the slaves building it didn’t think it was such a hot idea. Beethoven sounded like a kind of megalomaniac and perfectionist, and it’s nice that we get to enjoy some stimulating music, but beyond that…? Van Gogh was suicidal, so I don’t think he’s the best example to use to illustrate “the meaning of life”, and Shakespeare understood the precariousness of life’s meaning (…hello? “to be or not to be”?).

    Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
    And then is heard no more. It is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing.

    The only “meaning” is a meaning we invent for ourselves *because we want there to be one*, and as such has no larger value whatsoever. And if we invent it for ourselves, then it can be any damn thing, and what’s the purpose in that?

    Just like with atheism, I’m not sorry in the least that I don’t harbor within me the sense of “meaning” of the Aztec human sacrificers or the sense of “meaning” of the Inquisitors or the Nazis or the architects of the Cultural Revolution. Underneath all these things are pure power games, with “meaning” used as window dressing to distract and befuddle.

    I came across a buddhist text which I’m sorry I didn’t flag for future purposes such as this, to the effect that all the trappings of prayer flags and shrines and bodhisattvas were all junk invented to hold the attention of the masses, while the true prize was… nothing. Nothing, and knowing that it was nothing. But you can’t SELL nothing. You can’t sell courses and books about it. You can, however, SELL MEANING quite easily, although I think “peak meaning” is in our collective rear-view mirror, right along with peak oil.

    18000days: “disillusionment” Again, right on. It’s always nicer to live in a world of illusion. Who doesn’t want to feel that they are important and that their life has meaning? We all WANT that, but that doesn’t make it true. If wishes were horses, beggars would ride, and if your current life isn’t meaningful enough, well, we’ll invent “Heaven” or “past-life regression” or some other hokum.

    Sheesh.

  29. Lidia Says:

    @sunweb: I completely agree. Great comment.

    Here’s a quote that stuck with me. I posted it on the forum, but not here, I don’t think. It’s from a spoken conversation, so it’s a little messy gramatically.

    A lot of the so-called refutation of Marx consists in elucidating this allegedly unacceptably deterministic picture, right? …that it’s Structuralist, and that’s sort of the BAD Marx, the structuralist Marx, or maybe *ENGELS*, even worse, you know, the evil more structuralist twin which was allegedly *more* deterministic, and the problem with that is that it robs us of *agency* and WE ALL KNOW that human beings have agency so, ipso facto, any picture of the world that denies human beings agency is therefore flawed and must be rejected.

    Well, I reject THAT picture, as an unjustified assumption.

    I think there are far too facile notions of agency that are floating around the left and elsewhere which seem to assume that if… and in the book I actually—perhaps this is a bit nasty, but I think it needs to be addressed—I call it a reverse Tinkerbell fallacy. You know, where Tinkerbell is sort of the “if you want it to happen it will.” The reverse of this in terms of agency is that… the argument seems to often proceed in this way:

    “Your analysis you’ve just presented… is overly deterministic, and that makes me feel really bad about myself, in the sense that I can’t figure out what to do now. Therefore, it’s wrong! (laugh) It’s simply unacceptable to me. It’s unacceptable to me on a psychological basis, right? I can’t accept it because it has these psychological effects…”

    I don’t think that has much weight to it, actually. Maybe it just is true that you’re stuck in a deterministic situation, and maybe your agency can’t really triumph.

    You know Spinoza says—one of my favorite philosophers—says that free will is simply an illusion caused by the ignorance of the causes of our actions, and I think something like that is operating here.

  30. JavaK Says:

    Rex Murphy is awesome. I really enjoy his opinions. In this case… and I think this is this the first time ever, I entirely disagree with him. Young has it right I believe.

    Tarsands =
    * Misery and possible destruction of the Athabaskan First Nations peoples
    * Slow moving destruction of an area eventually the size of England
    * Methane release to vastly contribute to global warming, endangering all of us
    * Control of foreign companies over environment laws, with the ability to exact damages if the country prematurely ends agreements due to disagreements over treatment of the environment… for example.

    Hiroshima killed hundreds of thousands of people. This hasnt killed many yet, but it is a contributor, and if left to fester may very well be responsible for the same. Of course, there is nothing we can do about it any more, and so although Hiroshima is extreme and a reflection of war I have to think that it is about the best example of an equivalent disaster that can be understood by most people.

    Rex is a very smart, and knowledgeable person. He is absolutely correct if we were all as with it as he is. But, as a vassal to deliver a concept by, Neil appears to have got it right as we Canadians are finally talking about this.

    And thats a start. Im JavaK, and thats my opinion.

  31. paul marcotte Says:

    @Grant Schreiber
    Thanks for the Rex Murphy link. As I don’t tune in to the msm any longer I didn’t see this clip until now. Unfortunately, I think that the majority of Canadians watch “The National” each evening, thinking that the good old CBC is giving them the real news. However, imho it’s just as bad as the rest of them. Of course, Rex being from Newfoundland, and with all those Newfoundlanders working up at the TARsands, perhaps he’s just coming to their defence. Or maybe, by defending the TARsands, he is backing up his argument against climate change. I’m pretty sure that Rex has never heard of NTHE, and if he has, he would probably come up with a reason why it must be “junk science.” And so the runaway train continues speeding down the track towards the cliff. Rex is onboard, but he doesn’t even know it.

  32. Henry Says:

    hope computer stays alive long enough to get this out. Sticky cursor, not a good sign going forward.

    Funny, that we’ve attained that “Universal Brain”, the Internet, just in time to announce to us our impending demise, which to me hit its sharpest point of inflection in the 1980 transition from Carter to Reagan. No longer even the pretense of trying to stop runaway greed.

    This song runs through my head today and touches on so many of the thoughts in one of our more excellent threads:

  33. Apneaman Says:

    @JavaK
    Rex Murphy is opinionated, which is not the same as “very smart, and knowledgeable”. Also his opinions are rooted in his beliefs. Beliefs are emotional not factual. You should listen to what the people who have to live in Fort Chipewyan say or maybe what scientist who study the area have found. I’ve been there. I spent almost 2 years of my life working there. I lived in camps at Suncor, Syncrude, and one other that I have forgotten the name. Last time I was there was 1999 and it was huge and ugly then, now it’s about 4 times as big. When I first saw the mining operation part. I thought MORDOR! Rule: if it’s on TV, it’s probably not real.

  34. Artleads Says:

    Henry,

    More than a lot of things I’ve seen, this video made me think of doom . But I suppose it could mean something different too.
    —–

    Maybe it’s enough just to be here, continuing. Meaning? No meaning? What’s the difference?

  35. Rob Says:

    “No one’s life is wasted who lightens the burden for somebody else.” ~ Charles Dickens

    “I don’t mind dying; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” ~ Woody Allen

    “Do you know?” ~ Child who figured things out asking his friend if he knows about Santa Clause

  36. Rob Says:

    “Death does not frighten me; I was dead for billions and billions of years before I was born and it didn’t inconvenience me in the slightest.” ~ Mark Twain

  37. the virgin terry Says:

    to all, especially robin:

    why ARE we here? but there is no why, is there? i don’t think so. surreality defies all comprehension.

    we’re like phantoms of the night, here today gone tomorrow, never to come back. our fate is eternal oblivion. why do we know this? why do we care?

    ours is not to know why, our’s is to be here and die.

    how can there not be a why? what does such a thing imply?

    how can purposeless beings lead purposeful lives? purposes that are mere phantoms in the night.

    (lack of?) purpose aside, a question remains. is life worth living? does pleasure/joy outweigh pain/suffering? taken collectively as biological organisms genetically programmed to survive long enough to reproduce in order to keep this dream/nightmare going, from a sapient p.o.v. (assuming there is one), and asked personally, is life worth living?

    if u could (actually, u can, by committing suicide) obliterate your drive to survive and fear of death, would u? behind your fear, does suicide appeal?

    it does for me, i think. at least at times. not always. i can’t say whether it’s worth it or not. the decision is too close to call. but quite often in recent years i’ve wished i’d never been (ill)conceived by other flawed phantoms of the night. wished i’d never been born. cursed this cursed existence that was forced upon me.

    i just finished the documentary book INTO THIN AIR about days of death and suffering on mt. everest (hundreds have now died attempting to climb/descend it). one passage is about a sherpa guide’s grief and guilt over the deaths of clients in his care on the mountain. it goes on to discuss a sherpa culture whose buddhism includes selfless service to others as a goal, to attain what might be (wrongly?) termed nirvana, which in this instance means liberation from a supposed cycle of reincarnation of countless lives of pain and suffering. is this appealing, or appalling to u? if it appeals, then perhaps instead of ruing extinction, it might actually be celebrated.

    has your life been worth living? sad to say, i don’t think mine has.

  38. Queenie (Marian Veverka) Says:

    You have given us some things to think about which go beyond NTE. I like the image of being on a train. I remember the old song “Life is like a mountain railroad with an engineer that’s brave… from the cradle to the grave…”

    My moment of complete what the f–?” came when I discovered that energy companies” were actually ripping off the tops of mountains in order to get at the coal!” Since that moment I can’t help but wonder if NTE is not something we (all of us) deserve. Deserve as in the fable of everyone coming to some sort of judgement & punishment. (but in some ways, it happens) I do not have the background of philosophy, psychology ect. I do have Aspergers which gives me a place on the outside, able to look in.

  39. ulvfugl Says:

    @ Lidia

    Shakespeare understood the precariousness of life’s meaning

    Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
    And then is heard no more. It is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing.

    The awesome genius of the fellow, is that he understood that SOMEONE would see it that way, and so he put those words into an actors mouth.

    But that doesn’t mean that was his PERSONAL position. That’s why he is so amazing. He was able to BE everybody else, and to see the world through everyone’s eyes.

    The only “meaning” is a meaning we invent for ourselves *because we want there to be one*, and as such has no larger value whatsoever. And if we invent it for ourselves, then it can be any damn thing, and what’s the purpose in that?

    I don’t think I can agree with this.

    If there was just random noise, like white noise, then it would have no meaning. But that’s not what we find, is it. we find discernible patterns.

    So, it’s kind of like finding a sheet of paper. It’s not just blank. There are marks. What do they mean ? There’s a pattern. What does it mean ?

    The birds make nests, they migrate north and south. It’s not just random chaos, it’s got rhythm, regularity, purpose.

    So the human attempts to discern, to discover, what does this strange writing say ? How do we decipher it ?

    http://htwins.net/scale2/

  40. Wren Says:

    @ the virgin terry
    Your post pushes me into the space of trying to figure out the meaning of meaning and whether my life has worth, and what is worth. Right now my feeling is that it doesn’t really matter, we should just try to make life as pleasant as possible for all the innocent creatures that we’re exterminating along with ourselves. I took notes back when someone here gave the recipe for carbon monoxide, and I am gathering the ingredients to have on hand just in case.

    I have noticed that humans in general have the impulse to impose meaning and layers of meaning onto everything. It seems to release endorphin-like chemicals in the brain, at least in my brain, a nice feeling! Maybe it’s not about finding meaning, but about the search itself… Another way of pleasure seeking for us hedonists.

    “For knowledge does not make him who possesses it dignified or austere. Knowledge is all knowing, understanding, forgiving; it takes up no position, sets no store by form. It has compassion with the abyss- it is the abyss.” Thomas Mann
    .

  41. Lidia Says:

    @wren, love that Mann quote. I have not read him beyond “Death in Venice”.

    I think the good feelings/endorphins come about because they reinforce community, which is a human fitness property. It doesn’t have to make absolute objective sense in order to work in the short term, is what I mean. I was just exploring this with a lady from the Garden Club who called me just this very evening. I bitched about a “Festival of Trees” they held, with fake plastic Christmas trees, decorated, for a December fund-raiser. Clearly we could all have just written checks directly to the beneficiary, but I recognized that that wouldn’t have involved the tree decorators and the caterers, and the owners of the space, and the people contributing items for the silent auction, and on and on and on, who need to be supported and whose feelings of self-worth need to be groomed. And there wouldn’t have been a community social event to attend. So it’s logical to the extent that it is illogical, in many ways.

    @u, what makes you think patterns => meaning. This seems unwarranted. Super-imposed.

    Just came across an experiment which seems up your alley: disparate metronomes auto-synch.

    http://brutus.wordpress.com/2013/11/10/no-not-evidence-of-cosmic-alignment/

    I came across Brutus just today but it turns out he/she was an erstwhile commenter in this space.

    Picking up on patterns or vibrations does not imbue vibrations with any meaning beyond the physical, necessarily. I mean, I think they are fascinating to be able to pick up on, and I think that modern humans have lost a huge amount of the perception which is available to them of the natural frequencies which are out there. But it’s a big leap from saying that, to saying that there is a larger common meaning or purpose to what’s been set in motion. I’ll ask again the question I posed earlier: what is the meaning of a rock crystal? I don’t see why life isn’t just a more dynamic and energy-dissipating natural form along those lines.

  42. ulvfugl Says:

    @ Lidia

    Brutus,is a smart fellow who often comments at xray mike’s Collapse of Civilisation blog, and I have sometimes commented at his blog

    http://brutus.wordpress.com/2013/06/26/a-new-consciousness/

    I don’t know if we can proceed further re ‘meaning’ without some agreed definition of the word, because we seem to be speaking about slightly different concepts, because for me, patterns contain information, therefore carry meaning. The meaning may be indecipherable though. Or there may be many layers or levels of meaning.

    I don’t understand your ‘super-imposed’. For me, it’s like signals, semaphore, semiotics. There’s a guy on a hill over there, waving flags. What does that mean ?

    What does it mean when a whale leaps out of the sea ? If we study it, we can probably find out.

    What does life mean ? What does the Universe mean ? These very profound questions are tantalising. How do we go about asking them ?

    Most people only scratch the surface in the most superficial way and give up, if they ever bother to enquire into the matter at all.

    You want to begin from physics and thermodynamics and energy. I don’t think that starting point can be justified.

  43. Lidia Says:

    I will indulge myself in comments beyond two today, since tomorrow I’ll be otherwise occupied.

    @u: “You want to begin from physics and thermodynamics and energy. I don’t think that starting point can be justified.”

    Why not? What other starting point IS justified or justifiable? If we are not an expression of mass/energy, ultimately definable by the science of physics which describes mass/energy, then what?

    [Not that we WILL be able to define ourselves in our current situation, just that a logical progression would imply that—given infinite time and resources—we might be able to do so.]

    There are millions of ways in which we project as well as experience the expression of energy, without imbuing it with human meaning.

    Does the warmth of the sun have (capital M) Meaning? Do the bacteria in our gut have Meaning? Does an earthworm have Meaning? It’s only humans who construct and elaborate (verb) psychological meaning around the day-to-day business of life, which (us notwithstanding) tries to just Get On With It. Ask your dog what the meaning of his life is, if you want a koan, obviously!

  44. logspirit Says:

    So I sit and ponder the meaning of meaning. And wonder about the meaning of doing that. And soon, tangled up in abstractions of prior abstractions… it all becomes gibberish, and I can’t understand myself at all. Surreal, beyond explanation, it seems that somehow the universe has turned itself inside out – and created… me. Perhaps to decipher it I should invert the whole process and begin to see that the me I’m attempting to know is only this amorphous inversion shouting in a grander canyon, talking to its own echo in hypnotic induction that’s deceptively, convincingly, real. So stunningly real it becomes painful. Hopelessly lost in the trick, I beseech it, cling to it, suckle it for some solace it cannot provide. It all seems so dam real, so dam serious, that sometimes I forget, and fall into earnestly, faithfully believing in it… and worry about tomorrow and ticking clocks and years gone by… about hating life… about wasting puke and tears in the toilet, and long distance phone calls to an irretrievable past. About calls to a future that will never exist. But sometimes, once in a while, I get the silly prank, and the whole universe smiles at me like the Mona Lisa, silently laughing inside.

  45. toktomi Says:

    “To those who argue that there is no meaning or purpose for our human experience, I would first of all say: I’m sorry for your loss.”

    There’s nothing passive-aggressive about that statement, he intones with equal deceit.

    “The sooner we can honestly confront our mortality… die before you die…”

    For many, Carolyn’s favorite copying mechanism of surrender-and-trip-out-on-fantasies is an effective method of navigating these seemingly hopeless times. It is one way. It is neither right nor wrong. Personally, it sounds to me like someone who feels that there is nothing to live for and who is searching for something to live for. I would offer that if sentient life on this gem of a planet, one of the miracles of the universe is not meaningful enough simply in and of itself, then, sure, a little intellectual fantasy is probably just what the doctor ordered. But, then, I’m probably missing the point.

    However, it’s too bad that Carolyn feels the need to punctuate her personal opinions with self-righteous acrimony towards those outside her little camp of subscribers with snipey little “I’m sorry for you loss” comments. But, heh, whatever pays the bills, eh?

    ~toktomi~

  46. The Overthinker Says:

    Carolyn, this is great – even though the journey wasn’t at all like my own it really resonated with me in a way that I feel I can try to relate to others by using a similar story. I didn’t come to understand the gravity of peak oil until after I’d come to understand economic collapse (which was some years after I understood the nature of money, which makes me wonder whether I had really internalised that understanding before), which was a long time after I’d understood climate change (and I have to say I learned none of this from collapsnik blogs – those are fora I have sought out in order to be among those who understand). But understanding how bad it all was came as a triple whammy over the last new years. I’d never been oblivious, but there’s quite a difference between being aware of something and really feeling its impact.

    For me, well, I don’t know if I was ever ‘asleep’ or ‘unconscious’ (perhaps that’s why I don’t like these terms or their antonyms, ‘conscious’ and ‘awake’), it seems life has been one long, slow penny-dropping process. I was an environmental activist before I hit double figures, but the learning, well, there’s just so much of it. Here’s at least a taste of what my journey was like re: climate change awareness: http://www.sustainabilitysc.org/magazine/climate-change-and-the-triune-response/

    And because you mention it, here’s why I think nukes will be what actually does us in: http://theoverthinker.org/were-going-to-nuke-ourselves-into-oblivion-heres-how/ I do so want to be wrong.

    I particularly related to your third feature of the journey. While some around me are busy bunkering down as though there were an ‘away’ to run to to get out of this mess we’re in, I have instead recognized purpose (well, in honesty, I felt I came into the world with that and have never doubted my purpose – only where I should apply my efforts) and channelled my worry, angst, anger and sadness into doing what I can to help other folks prepare for what’s ahead (sadly our local TT folks are bunker folks – not at all cognisant of what we’re up against – they’re just wealthy enough to build a bunker with the efforts of penniless volunteers… sigh…).

    Anyhoo, it gets me down it does, I cry and I rage, but at the end of the day I’m finding myself more and more a neutral observer, compassionate enough to console those who are coming to the same set of realisations.

  47. Tom Says:

    https://robertscribbler.wordpress.com/2014/01/22/growth-shock-and-how-the-gods-of-our-greed-continue-to-fail-us/

    Growth Shock and How the Gods of Our Greed Continue to Fail Us

    [begins]

    (Number of Planet Scenarios as Calculated by the World Foot Print Network. Note that according to current data, our pace of consumption currently overshoots Earth’s sustainable resource base by about 50% requiring about 1.5 Earths to meet our needs. By 2050, consumption will nearly demand the yearly productivity of three Earths. Overshoot causes irreparable harm to resources and ecosystems resulting in a collapse of the resource base. See image below.)

    We are living in the age of limits, the age of consequences, the age when our quest for an endless expansion of the production of goods and services and the resulting endless concentration of wealth under pure capitalism has resulted in ever more intense degrees of Growth Shock even as it risks a devastating collapse of current day industrial civilizations.

    It is a world where Western governments run by ultra-conservative political servants of the oil and gas industry engage in scientific book burning, as recently happened in Canada. A world where 85 people own nearly half the wealth in all the world. A world where it is possible for one individual to consume the same amount of resources as hundreds of thousands of his fellows.

    In this world, hydrogen sulfide gas is building up in the deep ocean, a bleeding Earth is contributing its own increasing volumes of methane and CO2 to a human-caused global warming nightmare, a world where CO2 levels have passed 400 parts per million, a level not seen in 4.5 million years.

    We live in a place where rock stars like Neil Young join with indigenous peoples and environmentalists in a rebellion against the fossil fuel giants who rule so much of our planet and who seek to enforce continued and increasing consumption of dirty, dangerous and depleting fossil fuels. A place where climate scientists are forced to become political activists, to risk prison sentences, to have any hope of keeping a shred of the bounty of Earth safe for their grandchildren. A world where bloggers and activists are increasingly threatened and imprisoned for expressing their previously inalienable right of free political speech.

    We live in a world that is an ongoing and intensifying wreckage. A calamity caused by our worship of the failed gods of our greed, a disaster born of our turning away from our fellow man, of our loss of faith in our ability to work together through rational and representative governments, and of our dramatic failure to impose limits — both upon ourselves and upon the most criminally greedy among us.

    We are living in the age of Growth Shock and on this unsustainable path the days of human civilization upon this Earth are numbered. There are no second or third Earths to which we can extend our madness that is an economic system designed to endlessly increase consumption of finite resources. There are no green fields of Mars or Venus for us to plunder. The worlds within our reach are barren and as far as even our great telescopic eyes can see across the vast expanse of space there is nothing, nothing even within an insurmountable gulf of light years, of which we could even have cause to dream of to slake our boundless want.

    No. We are here. And of all the worlds within our reach fair Earth is Alone. And so we must set our task to live within our means here. To find ways to be happy that do not involve an attempt at endless, mad, and harmful expansion. That do not involve an attempt at burning all the fossil fuels and rapidly ruining our atmosphere and climate for ages and ages to come. Ours is the terrible and hopeful task of the Easter Islanders, of the residents of Tikopia — one group who succeeded in living happily and sustainably upon an island world of limited resources, and the other who desperately and miserably failed.

    Our choices are as essential as they are dire and we are making them now, mostly for ill.

  48. Robin Datta Says:

    behind your fear, does suicide appeal?

    Attachment comes in two forms: attraction and aversion. Two sides of the coin, perhaps. I have come to realise that there is nothing wrong with being dead. And that was even before I was a physician. Now as a retired Emergency Physician, I have seen many a style of exit from the stage of our ongoing play. One could be expected to form one’s personal preferences from such experiences. My preference is for least suffering. As they say, to “wake up dead”. :-D Whether one has fear of, or an attraction to – death – in either case, one remains servile to attachment.

    What other starting point IS justified or justifiable? If we are not an expression of mass/energy, ultimately definable by the science of physics which describes mass/energy, then what?

    “Mass”, “energy”, “science” and “physics” are all rather complex concepts constructed in the brain-box from the inputs of the five senses and the memory – the database of prior inputs and constructs. And complex concepts are based on simpler constructs in the hierarchy of concepts.

    However, even the simplest of constructs have a sine qua non: awareness. In truth that is the starting point. So close that most cannot see it.

    it seems that somehow the universe has turned itself inside out – and created… me.

    Actually the other way round. All the shapes and colours, the sounds and tones, the smells, tastes and tactile (touch) inputs are at first and always raw data. We start with simple constructs, progressively elaborating more complex constructs. The consistency and repeatability among inputs lends a sense of “reality”: but ultimately the universe is just another construct.

    If we started with different inputs such as ultrasound (bats), infrasound (whales), ultraviolet (insects), infrared (pit vipers), a keener sense of smell (canids, felids), or fifteen colour photosensory pigments in the eyes (as in some molluscs) we would have a different concept of the world.

    Or perhaps mind-synch with a beetle, as described in the works of Carlos Castañeda, an ability also ascribed to advanced realisers in Eastern traditions. – cum grano salis – ;-)

  49. Kirk Hamilton Says:

    It would be interesting if physicists were to discover a “meaning particle” present throughout matter. That would finally establish meaning as something real and we could then begin to categorize and classify it.

    What makes meaning “real” to me, is caring about love and non-violence, truth and justice. When you care about something, tangible or conceptual, it has meaning. It may only have meaning to me or you or to a small group, but that doesn’t lessen its value. Proper caring is the vanguard of our higher evolution. Or, I should say what COULD HAVE BEEN our higher evolution.(LOL) It is only without caring, in my opinion, that the universe would be devoid of meaning.

    For me, the fact that caring has put meaning in my life has ostracized me from greater society. Look at Guy, his meaning, his caring has made him an outsider in many ways. But he’s better for it and so am I, as are all who care.

  50. wildwoman Says:

    Meaning, like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder.

    Lee Camp posted this doozy on Facebook.

    http://clarity-collective.tumblr.com/post/74272705338/still-confused-about-the-fed-does-and-what-the-fed

    An explanation for the rest of us.

  51. Gerald Spezio Says:

    Colin Turnbull’s “Journey of Consciousness.”

    An evolved change for sure; but NOT necessarily higher.

    Since the word for love disappeared from their language, we could claim that the disappearance is a partial answer to the question – what conditions our language?

    THE MOUNTAIN PEOPLE (1972)from Wiki;

    In 1972, Colin Turnbull published an ethnography about the Ik titled
    The Mountain People.[3] The book provides an examination of Ik culture
    and practices based on information gathered by Turnbull during a stay
    of three years. He depicts the Ik as a people forced into extreme
    individualistic practices in order to survive. Using the few remaining
    elderly Ik as sources, he attempts to describe the former Ik society
    (including hunter-gatherer practices; marriage, childbirth, and death
    rituals and taboos; religious and spiritual beliefs, and other
    aspects). Much of the work, however, focuses on the then-current
    condition of the Ik people during a severe famine brought on by two
    consecutive drought years.

    Turnbull clearly became very involved with the Ik people, and openly
    writes about his horror at many of the events he witnessed, most
    notably total disregard for familial bonds leading to the death of
    children and the elderly by starvation. He does speak warmly about
    certain Ik, and describes his “misguided” efforts to give food and
    water to those too weak to provide for themselves, standing guard over
    them to prevent others from stealing the food. Turnbull shares these
    experiences to raise questions concerning basic human nature, and
    makes constant reference to “goodness” and “virtue” being cast aside
    when there is nothing left but a need to survive (even going so far as
    to draw parallels to the individualism of ‘civilized’ society).
    Overall, living with the Ik seems to have afflicted Turnbull more with
    melancholy and depression than anger, and he dedicated his work “to
    the Ik, whom I learned not to hate”.

    Claude Steiner cited Turnbull’s study saying:
    ” “There is no better or more heartbreaking example of the
    alienation of the human capacity to love than the story of the Ik
    tribe of Uganda. Colin Turnbull in his book Mountain People documents
    how Milton Obote nationalized traditional hunting lands as national
    park for European tourists, and prevented the Ik from hunting in their
    traditional hunting grounds. After a couple of generations of
    starvation conditions, the Ik, originally a cooperative, child loving
    tribe, became a group of selfish cruel people who don’t trust or
    help anybody. They would desert children at an early age and one story
    Turnbull tells is how after abandoning a baby to be eaten by wild
    animals the animals were hunted an [sic] eaten.”-Source

  52. Artleads Says:

    I find philosophical significance in NTE (as NBL has helped to explain it). It is postulated, analyzed, and we take seriously the notion, that NTE is upon us. However we look at it, that elephant is clearly in the room. If we take NTE as a starting point from which to construct meaning we must deal with the shocking (potential) scarcity of time in the future of our and other species. How do we find time to sit back and discuss the meaning of life at a time like this?

    I can see the sense in thinking hard about “what is happening in our world right now.” Or, “why are Charlie Rose and his guests talking about economic growth and the next century, while NBL (and even John Michael Greer) are talking about a monumental crisis in the world order within the very near term?” Is Charlie Rose mad? And just in case Charlie Rose IS mad, what would be the prudent way to behave?

    Resist the forces of extinction or not? As long as it’s deemed that what one thinks or does, however small, makes no serious difference, then the solution is to wait on some determinative force outside the individual to carry the day. That’s one choice. A related alternative is to look at the macro situation and, understandably, throw one’s hands up in the air. The forces of extinction are overwhelming if you look at it, understandably, from the top down. A third alternative is to do less thinking and focus on the little things that have been known to make a difference. Like, what goes around comes around. Forget the big picture. When one has almost zero time to work with, figuring out the meaning of life (which I suspect is a futile endeavor even at the best of times) seems like a luxury.

    Almost every manifestation of IC is deathly, but some are much worse than others. Some have very immediate impacts, and some work more slowly and insidiously. Every large scale development–housing, commercial, road, power-plant, mining operation leans toward the immediate-threat side of the spectrum. Insofar as these loom in my local community, and I don’t have to work too hard at it (it’s everyone doing a little, or forget about it, afaiac.), I find opposing them a reasonable way to behave at a time of triage and unthinkable urgency.

    Of course, taking care of things that lie within one’s grasp–health, happiness, kindness to others, kindness to things…) all make sense, afaik. But I don’t understand the quest for bigger meaning beyond that.

  53. Tom Says:

    I post comments that don’t show up. So much for the “big fix.”

    Thanks for all the interesting posts and links, people! i’ll leave it at that, lest I get long-winded and it just evaporate. Besides, it’s not as if anything I say or post is going to amount to much in the face of NTHE.

    enjoy your day(s)

  54. Brutus Says:

    Saw a bunch of referals to my blog from here. As Internet maturation goes, my contributions to NBL were eons ago, but I did contribute three guest posts (February 19, 2013; April 21, 2011; and February 5, 2010), all easily searchable by my name in the search box at upper right. My comments are scattered all over the backlog of posts that no one reads anymore.

    I note that people flow in and out of NBL over time and confront issues anew that are typically settled (not solved or resolved) by those who came before. That, the fact that I can’t keep up with the volume of posts and comments, and my reluctance to argue over who has understood our dilemma best and can predict the future most accurately, has led me to other sites and blogging interests, not that I can ever get collapse (and NTE) outta my mind fully.

  55. Gerald Spezio Says:

    New age guru, Robert Lanza, says;

    Consciousness creates reality

    Biocentrism’s basic idea is that consciousness creates reality. Despite lack of evidence, or consideration of any data, the book manages to come up with seven principles. Briefly these are:

    1: “What we perceive as reality is a process that involves our consciousness;”

    2: “Our external and internal perceptions are inextricably intertwined;”

    3: “The behavior of .. all particles and objects .. is inextricably linked to the presence of an observer. Without the presence of a conscious observer, they at best exist in an undetermined state of probability waves;”

    4: “Without consciousness, ‘matter’ dwells in an undetermined sate of probability. Any universe that could have preceded consciousness only existed in a probability state;”

    5: “The universe is fine-tuned for life, which makes perfect sense as life creates the universe, not the other way around;”

    6 & 7: Time and space do not have a real existence outside of animal-sense perception. “Thus there is no absolute self-existing matrix in which physical events occur independent of life.”

    Despite the lack of evidence or good logic the authors are nevertheless anything but humble in their assessment of their own great idea. They claim biocentrism “offers far-and-away the best explanation for why things are as they are.” They also claim that biocentrism offers the most logical explanation of the strange results of quantum theory. And that biocentrism’s time may be upon us very soon.

    They consider everything is so obvious:

    “Biocentrism, however, explains why one view and not the other must be correct. The converse is equally true: once one fully understands that there is no independent external universe outside of biological existence, the rest more or less falls into place.”

    ——

    WHAT THE BLEEP DOES ROBERT LANZA KNOW?

  56. pat Says:

    I disagree that “caring is meaning.” We care for our relatives, friends, coworkers, etc., to ensure our survival – it’s all about getting your basic needs met. Civilization just adds more and more levels of complication to the simple task of getting your basic needs met AND allows some members to get more than just their basic needs met as complex social hierarchies develop or are imposed.

    Animals eat, sleep, and procreate. Intelligent animals just make a big mess of the whole thing.

    But the bigger point is this: We all end up dead. The idea that we are anything more than ants on an anthill is just the thing that screws everything up.

    The Universe is meaningless. Once the stars all burn out and space has expanded sufficiently, there will be nothing but a lot of darkness and cold. If in the beginning there was nothing and in the end there will be nothing then that pretty much sums it up for me.

  57. ulvfugl Says:

    @ Gerald Spezio

    Hahahaha

    And this comment is your refutation ?

    What the bleep does G S know ? :-)

    Seems perfectly logical and obvious to me. Where’s you difficulty ?
    What is it that you find hard to understand, Gerald ?

    Btw, I’m not saying he is correct. However, it is a plausible hypothesis and accounts for some of the anomalies which the standard model cannot explain. This is how science proceeds. Someone proposes a radical new paradigm that overturns the furniture. People like you shriek and get hysterical. Impossible ! Then it’s accepted as the new standard.

  58. Grant Schreiber Says:

    What the bleep does G S know ? :-)

    Why am I being dragged into this? Oh wait… now I see… never mind.

  59. Artleads Says:

    @ grant

    Hilarious! But I see the women comes in for slightly more than the fair share of…whatever. :-)

  60. ulvfugl Says:

    @ Grnat

    Ach, doggerel, sir, being ‘crudely or irregularly fashioned verse, often of a humorous or burlesque nature’ should you be unfamiliar with the term, over there in the darkness of the colony.

    I note you never employed your wits to respond to my comment of the 21st.

    http://guymcpherson.com/2014/01/what-is-your-calligraphy/#comment-117301

    It is with some satisfaction that I contemplate the fact that this meagre heap of stones called a cott, within which I reside, and which has withstood the recent storms, was built a good many decades before that boastful Cheekagoo of which you speak was even thought of. I know you have fields that are larger than Wales, because you have told me – although you are probably lying, you said you live in a flat, I never heard of a farmer who lived in a flat- but at least we can see where the other ends of our fields are, and we know what is in them, without having to fetch a telescope.

  61. PMB Says:

    Baker’s story of Gus resonated with me as well. Unfortunately although I stayed on the train until the end of the piece I missed my stop.

    Whether there is meaning or not is something that is not proven; it is an act of faith. Sadly, at this point that is not something I have. I just wish Baker didn’t feel the need to feel sorry for my loss. It reminded me of people (religious, foodies, economists, techies, etc, etc) who are threatened by my having a thought that is opposite theirs.

    “To those who argue that there is no meaning or purpose for our human experience, I would first of all say: I’m sorry for your loss.”

    For some odd reason I wound up on Ran Prieur’s site today. A place I had not visited for many years and found his post for Jan 13 interesting.

    “January 13, 2014. Some future predictions while the new year is fresh. The other day I got an email from a reader who recently graduated from high school, asking for advice in these difficult times. Ten years ago I would have said to get some land and learn low-tech skills like foraging and metalworking. Now I’d say the best skills are meta-skills like mindfulness and quickly noticing opportunities, and you should only go low-tech if you love it so much that you don’t care if it’s impractical.

    I’m embarrassed that I ever predicted a technological crash, because the arguments are so hand-wavy. Instead, I expect artificial intelligence and biotech to spice up a decades-long economic depression as the global system muddles through climate change and the end of nonrenewable resources. Low quality manufactured items and industrial food will remain affordable, but good food, transportation, and services from actual humans will be more expensive. I think the best place to live is in a small house with a big yard in a city with a seaport or railroad hub. You want to be close to the supply lines, but have enough land to grow luxury foods like blueberries and really good tomatoes. As you move farther into the country, the money you save by growing more of your own food will be dwarfed by the money you spend on transportation and shipping. Total self-sufficiency would be a good thing to write a novel about.

    My generation was the first in American history to be poorer than our parents. Now the Millennials are poorer than us, and this trend will continue until the global infrastructure adapts to feed from a growing base of renewable resources, maybe around 2060. Meanwhile, if you can stay out of debt and find a low-stress job to build up savings, you’ll be relatively well off. “Debt” is exactly as real as we believe it is. Mostly it’s a trick to make people feel ashamed that they have no political power. Not that it would work any better if we felt angry. The system is totally locked down, and the most revolutionary political change of the 21st century, the unconditional basic income, will be necessary to keep the system stable, to turn the unemployed majority from hungry militants back into consumers.

    Technology will promise revolution, but in practice ninety percent of the new powers will be used to keep the remaining ten percent from doing anything dangerous. By the year 2200 there will be no poverty, no disease, and no opportunity for anyone to make a difference, except by more quickly closing off the opportunity for anyone to make a difference. Reasonable people will know that they’re better off than us, but still fantasize about living in our time. Suicide will be the leading cause of death, and by 2300, any death not from suicide will be global news. By 3000 we will either be extinct or moved to another level of reality through some technology of consciousness that would seem completely loony if you described it today.”

    Prieur looks back at himself 10 years ago is can’t believe the conclusions he came to (regarding technology). He seems to be headed in the same direction of NTE, but his timeline is a couple of centuries out (2300).

    I don’t blame him for revising his trajectory; only 10 years the amount of life on the planet wasn’t dying in such numbers daily. Could we last out to 2300? I’m a firm believer in NTE, but wouldn’t place my chips down on a particular date.

    Prieur believes that we’ll have much more technology (in the first world) to play with. We’re still going down that road; however I see how heat can change things overnight (Brazil and Australia).

    It’s interesting that for most of 2013 Peak Oil was proclaimed dead by many, yet it really wasn’t. We really shouldn’t have been surprised at fracking, tar sands, and any other scheme that will keep the game going. Only it’s not really going in the same way (for most). We’ll (and this is not all we) do anything to keep the lights on and the planes flying despite what it is doing to the biosphere.

    I find the recent smog from China making it’s way here a touch of irony. Did TPTB (and we Green Consumers, Free Marketers, etc) really believe we could play a shell game with the effects of industry.

    We’re closing in on the anniversary of Daniel’s NTE piece and suicide is rarely mentioned on NBL yet. This was one point in Prieur’s post that popped up and surprised me.

  62. Robin Datta Says:

    Consciousness creates reality

    Consciousness is reality. It creates nothing. Reality is without names and forms. Forms (and names) are projected onto partially obscured reality. “Form is emptiness and emptiness is form”.

    1: “What we perceive as reality is a process that involves our consciousness;”

    There is no “our” consciousness. All perception involves consciousness. The mind-body complex, the meat-robot, is of itself insentient. Conscious does not perceive reality; consciousness is reality. All perceptions are names & forms projected onto reality.

    Any universe that could have preceded consciousness

    Consciousness is not bounded by time & space: time & space are dependent upon it.

  63. Lindsay Says:

    Lovely writing as always. Carolyn’s descriptions are spot-on to how I’ve come to this journey. For awhile I was constantly on the internet, but now some of the main forums I check are here with Guy, Carolyn, and Mike Ruppert, I glean new lessons, and I get out in the world and feel it. I do feel such passion now. I write monthly in my little town’s paper, not always trying to convince them of anything, but many times I write what are kind of like my odes to the place I love (and in the process I try to use artful ways to expand people’s minds). I even have a sort of weird new friendship with the editor of the paper who is conservative. I don’t think he’s ever met anyone like me and we have found a common sense of humor. I have people like, guy, carolyn, and mike to thank for helping me strive to the greatest excellence I can, and I’m noticing it change the lives of those around me. Though it won’t stop the machines, it gives people a chance to redeem their minds from our culture. Those victories make me happy to wake up in the morning. I love you all, Lindsay from rural new york.

  64. the virgin terry Says:

    ‘Maybe it’s not about finding meaning, but about the search itself… Another way of pleasure seeking for us hedonists.’ -wren

    i agree that obtaining fascinating knowledge and limited comprehension is fulfilling (spiritual pleasure?), but this seems more than offset by utter frustration/depression in ultimately coming up empty (in the search for meaning). thanks for the insightful provocation, and i also agree about trying to ameliorate suffering. sometimes i think the most i could do in this regard (negligent overall effect, but very significant personal effect) would be to kill myself. one less eater/consumer. one less sufferer. one less victim. one less perp. but then, i think i still have something to live for. more pleasure and joy.

    i became more depressed than usual after posting last night that rather depressing post questioning (particularly my) life’s value and putting forth the notion of celebrating this anthropogenic mass extinction we’re very likely as a species to become casualties of sooner or not so much later. it makes me tremendously sad. life can be a wonderful dream or hellish nightmare. it’s awfully hard to give up on chasing the dream. i think survival instinct makes this so, even as nightmares dominate. sheeple will endure great suffering before suiciding. cussed fools we are.

    i don’t think i can celebrate death or extinction, regardless of how much relief from suffering it brings. too much value is being lost. beauty, pleasure, and joy. i can only mourn.

    grant, that assumption song is hilarious! thanks for the laughter.

  65. PMB Says:

    @Artleads,

    You’ve hit a core point for me. Charlie Rose and JMG. Rose does seem mad to me (more growth in an era of contraction); yet as most people seem to riding on that train it’s hard for me to not think I’m the mad one.

    An acquaintance recently asked me what I think about Sept 11 and World Trade Center Building 7. Did I think it’s true? It’s like the tortise and the hare. I’ve been reading the Climate Survey all year and they are 13 years behind. I laughed as I tried to find the words to say that I’ve been so done with that stuff. I wanted to ask what they thought about positive feedback loops, but it would have been like me traveling back to past and telling someone (but not everyone) to get their money out of the stock market. They would have laughed at me and avoided talking to me all year.

    In a way I’m envious of them. They are the frog being boiled in the pot and by the time reality dawns on them they will only have to suffer for a few seconds. They never even got on the platform while I was on a rapidly speeding train to where?

  66. Lindsay Says:

    I commented earlier, commending this new piece by Carolyn. But then after I emailed it to my estranged friend, as I always do, I read it again, and my god. Think about it. Carolyn is such a wonder. Think of how rare and unlikely and wonderful it is that we have this beautiful person to soothe and guide us with such straightforward and compassionate masterpieces. she’s like a nurse in the war, everythings going blurry, i’m have conscious, she’s whispering in my ear, in the blur she looks like an angel. What a wonder. What a fierce piece of writing. As a woman, she is like an ideal mother to me. This piece made me cry. I am so lucky to have heard her voice in this world! sincerely, lindsay from rural ny

  67. Marian Says:

    They know not of what you speak.

    One of the most amazing and deliriously intriguing attributes of the human species is the seemingly predominant and incessant effort or attempt to impose reason on the universe.

    It is at once endearing and at the same time, blazingly irritating.

  68. Wren Says:

    @ Lindsay
    Yes, Carolyn has found her niche as an angel, but like I said, this is her gig. As the crisis deepens, no doubt her calendar for $peaking engagements will fill up. But that’s okay with me, hers is one of the few honorable professions in our times; I just wish that people would consider providing the same comfort and hospice to the other non-human creatures out there ….. but then there’s no way to make a living doing that.
    @tvt
    Hang in there if you can. Forget about meaning and worth. Focus on the feel of air moving into and out of your lungs. Enjoy every moment spent not in pain. Go volunteer at your local animal shelter, give yourself to the truly needy, then decide.

  69. ulvfugl Says:

    @ PMB

    We’re closing in on the anniversary of Daniel’s NTE piece and suicide is rarely mentioned on NBL yet. This was one point in Prieur’s post that popped up and surprised me.

    It’s not clear from your wording, are you suggesting D. committed suicide ? Or that suicide is not mentioned here on NBL ?

    I also visited Prieur’s blog recently. Whatever he had, he seems to have lost it. I don’t know if this is meant to be humorous, or serious, really. I don’t find it funny. Just seems rubbish to me. He seems lost in pot, video games, and Ran Prieur.

    By the year 2200 there will be no poverty, no disease, and no opportunity for anyone to make a difference, except by more quickly closing off the opportunity for anyone to make a difference. Reasonable people will know that they’re better off than us, but still fantasize about living in our time. Suicide will be the leading cause of death, and by 2300, any death not from suicide will be global news. By 3000 we will either be extinct or moved to another level of reality through some technology of consciousness that would seem completely loony if you described it today.

    ————–

    Seems to me, Americans, very roughly, get given a choice. Believe in the science story, i.e. everything is meaningless, or believe in the religion story, i.e. batshit crazy old testament man in the sky.

    Or, you can go fringe, and then there’s aliens, satanism, scientology, wicca, Reich, hundreds of minority pick ‘n mix desperadoes trying to find something that means something.

    Sure I’m over simplifying, and probably offending everybody, from the Mormons to the Lakota, hahaha. But this has to fit in a comment.

    Everybody wants meaning. Everybody seeks meaning.
    Do people find, or impose, or construct, or uncover, or discover, or invent, or reveal, what they seek ?

    Seems to me, this Universe that we are immersed in, absolutely teeming and bubbling with stuff that’s doing all kinds of things, to say, a priori, that it doesn’t mean anything, IS just batshit crazy.

    And we know very well, WHY people say this. It’s because they were fighting off the opposing claim that the other guys were making that it was ‘GOD’ that was doing it.

    But, that’s really a strawman, imo. It’s obsolete. It goes back to Descartes and the French Revolution and the struggle then, when to be an atheist could mean you got killed or imprisoned.

    If you talk to modern, intelligent, sophisticated, educated theologians, the conception of ‘God’ they have, bears no resemblance to the conception of ‘God’ that the scientists and materialists and neo-atheists attack. The whole battle is ludicrous, it’s a denunciation of a caricature.

    It also bears no resemblance to the conception of ‘God’ as promoted American tv evangelists and a whole load of corrupt hypocrites who exploit religious fervour for political or financial gain, not just in USA, but all over the place. I mean, there’s nothing NEW about this. It’s been going on forever.

    You see, I followed the path of zen, and it seemed to me, or it came to seem to me, a means to get liberated from ALL the belief systems.

    It’s just as difficult to get free from the scientific ‘religion’ that you’ve been indoctrinated into, the Cartesian mechanistic materialist paradigm, that says the Universe is meaningless, as it is to get free from the Biblical ‘religion’ that says there is a sort of huge male entity that created everything, that’s watching you all the time and who sent his son to be crucified, and will send him back, according to some nightmarish sequence of events revealed to some crazy guy on Patmos, etc, etc. if that’s been programmed into your brain at an early age.

    Logically, liberation from ALL belief systems would, or might, mean, that everything would become totally devoid of all meaning. Because there would just be the raw reality.

    But all I can say it, that is absolutely not the case.

    Whatever it IS, it is not THAT.

    Yes, I do sort of share Carolyn’s sentiment. I’m sorry for those who cannot see it. What a shame to be alive and to miss it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meaning_of_life

  70. Tom Says:

    http://www.sfgate.com/technology/businessinsider/article/Astronomers-Capture-The-First-Image-Of-The-5157713.php

    Astronomers Capture The First Image Of The Mysterious Web That Connects All Galaxies In The Universe

    For the first time, astronomers were able to see a string of hot gas known as a filament that is thought to be part of the mysterious underlying structure that dictates the layout of all the stars and galaxies in our universe.

    Scientists believe that matter in the universe is arranged into a gigantic web-like structure. This is called the cosmic web.

    There are signatures of this structure in the remaining radiation from the Big Bang and in the layout of the universe itself. Without some mysterious force pulling visible matter into this web, galaxies would be randomly scattered across the universe. But they aren’t.

    We can see that galaxies are found in groups and those groups come together in larger clusters.

    Computer models tell us that those galaxy clusters are linked by long filaments of hot gas and dark matter — a mystery substance that we can’t see because it doesn’t radiate or scatter light but that makes up most of the web.

    It’s believed that gas and dark matter flow along the filaments to form clumps of galaxies where the strands intersect. So filaments are important because they represent what the universe looks like on a large scale. The problem is that, even though we should technically be able to see hot gas filaments, they are really hard to detect.

    To find this strand of gas, astronomers where able to take advantage of an extremely bright mass of energy and light known as a quasar.

    The light from a quasar located 10 billion light-years-away acted like a “flashlight” to make the surrounding gas glow, researchers report Jan. 19 in the journal Nature. This boosted the Lyman alpha radiation that hydrogen gas emits to detectable levels over a huge swath of the region.

    The researchers were able to figure out the wavelength of the Lyman alpha radiation emitted by the gas and used the Keck telescope in Hawaii to get an image at that wavelength.

    What they were able to see is a cloud of gas extending two million light years across intergalactic space — the largest ever found. And it wasn’t just a diffuse cloud, there are areas where there is more gas and areas of darker, emptier space. The gas-filled areas are filament, while the emptier areas are the gaps between filaments and galaxy clusters.

    [read the rest]

  71. 18000days Says:

    @PMB:
    “We’re closing in on the anniversary of Daniel’s NTE piece…”

    AFAIK nobody’s come right out and said it yet, but I cannot be the only one to have noticed that evidence suggests that along with ‘peak everything’, we seem to have passed ‘peak NBL comments’ around the time of Daniel Drumwright’s essay. I could reveal an unhealthy accumulation of inverted egotism by adding: “This place was buzzing, then I turned up”… which would also make a passable epitaph for Humanity.

    I can’t help thinking of the chapter in Parkinson’s Law in which he says that when an organisation gets shiny new purpose-built, state-of-the-art premises from which to operate, it’s a sure sign that the organisation is past it’s best. The company did all it’s best work long ago when it was operating out of a damp and draughty shed…
    Just sayin’…

    @Robin Datta:
    Not to usurp the position of Doomer Support, but if your ‘eaten’ posts are the ones that have now turned up, in triplicate, they each seem to contain anywhere between four and six links. I presume each link has to go through some spam filtration procedure…
    Just sayin’…

    @Lidia/Ulvfugl:
    I guess a human being has a certain ‘meaningfulness quota’ to fill, regardless of the milieu in which it finds itself. Whether it comes from ‘within’ or ‘without’, from nature, nurture, or culture, I don’t know. I suspect that a human exposed to nothing but white noise will eventually find some ‘signal’ or ‘pattern’ within it. I was thinking of the constellations.. (a bit of synchronicity with Tom’s post- I wrote this before I saw it)humans cannot help but see a ‘plough’, or ‘big dipper’, or ‘Orion’, or whatever artifact or archetype suggests itself within their culture. Also the Inuit and their apocryphal fifty kinds of snow, or whatever it is… They are fulfilling their ‘meaningfulness quota’, and I guess, because of that, they are not particularly aggrieved to be denied the full-spectrum lushness of a tropical rainforest, with only one kind of snow…

  72. Tom Says:

    http://robinwestenra.blogspot.co.nz/2014/01/california.html

    Friday, 24 January 2014

    California

    Fine weather for creepy melancholia

    [ends with]

    So, what do you do? How do you respond? Do you profess utter powerlessness and hope someone, somewhere figures it all out in time? Do you enjoy the random spoils of odd weather while you can, praying the wildfires don’t wipe out your home or the polar vortex doesn’t kill your grandparents, and store up on bottled water and good porn and Jesus? Do you shrug it off and keep dancing?

    Maybe you make a nervous joke out of it, a game, tell everyone to “shower with a friend!” as you work to cut back on your water usage by 20 percent, even though you know upwards of 85 percent of all water in California goes for farming (less than 10 percent is residential), and most of that goes to grow grain, to feed cattle, to feed our gluttonous meat/fast-food obsessions, to feed our obesity epidemic which feeds our love of pharmaceuticals and fad diets and hoping someone else figures it all out in time. Ah, the circle of life.

    Maybe you realize, deep in your bones, it’s no longer possible to turn it all around, and that there’s only so much you can do to adapt to severe unpredictability and the fact that Mother Nature always, nay always bats last. We’d try to whistle past the graveyard, if our lips weren’t so damn chapped.

  73. ulvfugl Says:

    My earlier comment didn’t appear.

    @ 18000days

    ‘Life is a continuous meaningful exploration of meaningful relationship’ Stuart Kauffman

    http://www.uttv.ee/naita?id=11059

  74. dairymandave Says:

    18000days: I have noticed that those in the group who understand and accept evolution have very little to say over time; the system did what the system does.

    The rest are still protesting and complaining about what went wrong and how we could’a should’a done this or that.

  75. Rick Says:

    Carolyn, thanks for a great essay that describes our journey in a way that validates us when our inner Gus’ are struggling to not go crazy. Not sure I want to read Part 2 or the conclusion but thanks again just the same.

  76. Guy McPherson Says:

    With thanks to Carolyn Baker for her essay, I’ve posted a new essay by Ray Jason. It’s here.

  77. pat Says:

    yes, since Daniel’s suicide post we’ve seen many regular posters go away and now we have new regular posters.

    The thought has been expressed many times here that it seems perfectly reasonable that many come here and lurk, read past posts and comments, become regular lurkers and then feel comfortable enough to actually post some comments – and some just go away – go on to live their lives as they see fit with whatever level of acceptance they have.

    The fact that there is no glue to hold us here, no organization to join, means many will come and go. There are organizations you can join, and maybe someday there might be some connection between all the like-minded groups.

    The problem is this: There is no consensus on what the goal is or on how to proceed.

    Just sitting on this runaway train, staring out the window.

    The Voluntary Extinction Movement
    Thou shalt not procreate.

    The Church of Euthanasia
    Save the planet, kill yourself.

  78. ulvfugl Says:

    @ dmd

    I have noticed that those in the group who understand and accept evolution have very little to say over time; the system did what the system does.
    The rest are still protesting and complaining about what went wrong and how we could’a should’a done this or that.

    Bizarre remark. I think I understand evolution as well as anyone, I have plenty to say. I’m trying hard to think of people here that comment who don’t understand evolution. Got any names, dmd ?

    You talk as if understanding evolution is akin to fatalistic religion and condemns believers to accepting God’s will, therefore it is inevitable that we have to eat GMOs and we simply have no choice or option as to what we do choose to do each day.

    Monsanto’s Bt-Toxins Found to Kill Human Embryo Cells

    http://therebel.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=738013:monsanto-s-bt-toxins-found-to-kill-human-embryo-cells&catid=244:natural-society&Itemid=2335

    @ pat

    What do you mean by ‘suicide post’ ?

    The problem is this: There is no consensus on what the goal is or on how to proceed.

    Why is that a problem ?

  79. AlreadyGone Says:

    “Another word for divinity might be “the sacred,” or “something greater or even “existential” —issues having to do with meaning and purpose”

    Existentialism deals with the meaning one can CREATE. The sacred deals with meaning and/or purpose that is IMPOSED (either by god or some amorphous universal spirit or the balanced melange of jungian archetypes etc). Of course one could further parse this, but you’re mixing things up here.

    “To those who argue that there is no meaning or purpose for our human experience, I would first of all say: I’m sorry for your loss. I would then wonder about the age of the person making the statement. “Life is meaningless” is a first-half-of-life declaration.”

    lol believing life has no intrinsic, over-arching meaning is the mark of the callow?

    “Yet even if one makes the statement in the second half of life, I must ask: If life is devoid of meaning, why have humans for billions of years attempted to make meaning of their experiences?”

    …because both our ratiocinative and creative faculties evolved as individual and group survival strategies, and further developed in the feedback loop known as human culture.

    the irony here is the writer goes on about the “ego” (an ill-defined thing at best), while maintaining an extremely anthropomorphic weltanschauung, to whit- that there is intrinsic meaning to existence.

  80. PMB Says:

    @ulvfugl

    Interesting that I could see your Reply #78 on: Today at 07:02:42 AM on the recent posts section of the Forum – Index, but not on blog from main page. Your later post to Pat was on both.

    To Clarify,

    I have no clue what has become of Daniel; last post he said goodbye as his life collapsed leaving him hanging and he wasn’t sure he could or wanted to rebuild again. Sadly, that is the way it goes in a virtual world. Some people come and go so quickly here.

    Writing, talking or even mentioning suicide is hugely taboo. I appreciated that Daniel raised the topic in his essay (and wrote about how it was a choice to be made giving someone more control over their life or death).

    It’s a topic I’d like to discuss more, yet don’t feel safe enough here or elsewhere. Maybe 18000 days is right about peak NBL.

    I see our behavior (not all of us) as suicidal (or omnicidal) and we seem to be okay with that. It’s kind of the head game/shell game we in USA play with pollution. We have been (the left, etc) so proud of our environmental efforts since the 70’s; only we’re consuming more and don’t seem to be aware that we moved those polluting industries elsewhere. That’s why the smog from China making its way westward is ironic (nature know no boundaries).

    People react to the topic of suicide based on societal rules and their own issues. If we truly are overpopulated and destroying the planet then why isn’t this response rational? My question is rhetorical as I understand the messages of the beast we live within and how the goal is to keep people alive is the message. If we allow any to take this action the fear is that it would spiral out of control.

    A recent piece by Robert Scribbler talked about the biologist who he knew as a child. He saw the death of the marine world and took his life. Was he too early or did he accept that he could not function in the world that allowed such destruction. That was the direction things were heading then and more so today.

    There was an exchange on NBL prior to Daniel’s piece between someone talking about suicide and Paul C that bothered me deeply. Paul seemed to be rigid and lacking in understanding that the experience this person had with not being heard or having a support system was as valid as Paul’s experience with people finding someone to listen. Luck is a huge part of life.

    Regarding Ran. I too came away from the blog confused. He’s changed which is obvious by what he writes. For good of bad I’m not sure. Why? Can only make assumptions. I’ve changed over the same period too. I wasted the last decade on things that never had a chance of working on the scale necessary. A warrior who has realized it’s not worth it to take his sword out of the scabbard.

    From the paragraph I quoted he appears to see Extinction as the road we are on, just not NTE. His time line goes out for a few centuries, which I don’t see how it is possible (but I’m aware that that length of time translates into so much pain and suffering for so many for so long and that is my personal ball of wax). By pushing extinction to 2300 it makes it so far out that it’s useless in our culture of immediacy to attempt to discuss it.

    I agree that we all want meaning. I’m not sure we all get it.

    Recently read blogger/Hollywood writer Mark Evanier’s blog as he mentioned a review of all the new electronic toys and that he wants some of them. Evanier is an example of someone inside a bubble. Not a clue as how this works. He also wrote about the recent fire in CA, but focused on it being caused by someone setting a fire. Evanier seems to have no clue there is a draught on. He believes in Climate Change, yet never really delves too deeply into the topic. Yet his blog is mostly bread and circuses and is rated by Time Magazine as one of the top blogs on the Internet.

    I’ve been following the discussion about Easter Island on Collapse and find my own head having to struggle to being open to Diamond being wrong. If Diamond is wrong then it puts a nail in the coffin of overshoot. I can see how losing the story of Easter Island will make it harder to push the case of what we are doing to the planet. It gives permaculturists and soil people (they have the answer) more weight and even the corporations (We’ve make a fuss about nothing.). It gives support to the human camp of ingenuity, creativity and resilence of humans. We can avoid Climate Change and NTE.

    What did happen on Easter Island? I’d sure like to know. Yet, even if Easter Island was wrong this doesn’t seem to be the case for the deer on St. Matthews Island. They did eat themselves out of house and home with no predators. Would this have happened if deer had opposable thumbs and a large brain. Then they would be able to adapt to the island as humans were on Easter Island?

  81. Apneaman Says:

    To those who have found a belief system that gives them meaning and/or comfort and/or an explanation for life, I say good for you.

    To those who have found a belief system that gives them meaning and/or comfort and/or an explanation for life, and insist they are right and pity the unenlightened, I say FUCK YOU.

  82. Shaheer Says:

    I am a believer of NTE as described by Sam Carana at Arctic News blog, but I got off the train at Fukushima. The nuclear threat of it, and the other 400 reactors are much more manageable than climate change and peak oil.

  83. Kirk Hamilton Says:

    OK Apneaman, take a deep breath…:) I wouldn’t have missed that post for the world! Some folks got a way with words that tickle me pink. SEE, goddamn there’s still something to live for.

    PMB said, “In a way I’m envious of them. They are the frog being boiled in the pot and by the time reality dawns on them they will only have to suffer for a few seconds. They never even got on the platform while I was on a rapidly speeding train to where?”

    I agree PMB, they are lucky in a way. But they’re very unlucky in another: they won’t be prepared emotionally or physically. For them it’s going to be Panic City, Arizona! Actually, they are the most scary and disturbing thing about NTE. I mean, I could handle it all a lot easier if I thought that when my time comes I could die in peace. But hell, I see a time acomming when a lot more than shits going to be hitting the fan and there is no monster conceived that can out monster a hungry human. I say at the very least get a fucking revolver and a box of shells. It could be that your family will be grateful for that.

  84. ulvfugl Says:

    @ PMB

    Thanks for your thoughtful reply.

    Afaik, the late appearance of some comments, is because they get filtered into Guy’s WP spam, for some obscure reason, so have to await his attention to be retrieved. Seems to me the best advice is a little more patience. Perhaps Haniel will be able to fix this problem eventually, of that IS the problem, I’m just guessing.

    I don’t mind discussing suicide, if someone wants to start a thread on the Forum. I don’t see any ‘peak NBL’, seems to me it’s always up and down.

    Maybe 18000 days is right about peak NBL.

    We have been (the left, etc) so proud of our environmental efforts since the 70’s;

    Yes. Part of the Myth of Progress. It’s really shocking to see everything unwind. The latest Pacific and Atlantic ‘Trade’ agreements, that intend to scrap all the environmental and human rights and labour protection and food quality regulations. Latest I see is that in Greece there’s a proposal young people should have to work for a year without pay. Whilst that guy in Canada thinks it’s great that 85 people have the same wealth as half the global population because it gives them an incentive to climb to the top. This is the new global slavery, where humans are expendable and treated like battery cage chickens, fed on recycled shit.

    Regarding Ran. I too came away from the blog confused. He’s changed which is obvious by what he writes. For good of bad I’m not sure. Why? Can only make assumptions. I’ve changed over the same period too. I wasted the last decade on things that never had a chance of working on the scale necessary. A warrior who has realized it’s not worth it to take his sword out of the scabbard.

    I was on his forum for a few years and followed his blog and had occasional personal friendly exchanges with him. I don’t know what accounts for the change. Whatever it is, he seems no longer smart nor interesting, from my POV. Maybe since his mother passed away and he bought himself a house, he just seems stuck in self-indulgence. Ot doesn’t bother me, except for his complete lack if respect and understanding for nature and animals, and enthusiasm for genetic engineering which I find repugnant. I think for a grown man to be lost in the video games and similar adolescent nonsense that he indulges in is sort of escaping from what we here try to face up to.

    I agree that we all want meaning. I’m not sure we all get it.

    I’m certain that we do NOT all get it. I think it’s an amazingly rich and interesting vein to dig down into. Last tim, on the old dead NTE forum, with Paul C. Stuart Kauffman had come up with his own definition of life, following on from entropy and thermodynamics, something along the lines of two cycles of work, I don’t recall exactly. Now he’s moved on and has incorporated semiotics into his work, which is slightly maddening. How arrogant, lazy and hubristic these high flying American professors are. All that information was freely available 15 years ago, I could have explained it to him myself and how the dots connected. He is also one who is in a bubble. He rants about the bankers. He’s a biologist. No mention of climate or species loss or ecology. They live in their own fantasies.

    I’ve been following the discussion about Easter Island on Collapse and find my own head having to struggle to being open to Diamond being wrong. If Diamond is wrong then it puts a nail in the coffin of overshoot. I can see how losing the story of Easter Island will make it harder to push the case of what we are doing to the planet. It gives permaculturists and soil people (they have the answer) more weight and even the corporations (We’ve make a fuss about nothing.). It gives support to the human camp of ingenuity, creativity and resilence of humans. We can avoid Climate Change and NTE.

    Look, personally, I think I have a primary loyalty towards honesty and truth. I have a primary loyalty towards evidence-based empirical science. I think that has to take precedence over everything else, doesn’t it ?

    Even then, it’s a very difficult world because, often, you’re given weird results. You know, the damn thing is a wave and a particle at the same time, ffs.

    But I think that HAS to BE the gold standard. And that means an awful lot of ‘reality’ gets left out, because there’s an awful lot that can’t be measured at all.

    But I’ve studied the theory of archaeology in some depth. I’ve followed the argument re Easter Island. For years, I’d used it as an example of the Earth, in microcosm, to explain to people what we are doing and what was going to happen.

    Seems I was mistaken, it was a bad example. These things happen. Others may, -others WILL, hahaha- disagree. But that’s MY assessment.

    It doesn’t put a nail in the coffin of overshoot at all. It’s just that that one example is not a good example.

    Sure, if you’re into the propaganda war, and politics (which I AM) this is a blow. It’s disappointing. But what matters more ? I maintain that honesty and integrity MUST have precedence and priority.

    I’m all in favour of throwing everything we’ve got at the enemy, they ARE lying bastards. But that doesn’t mean I can tell lies, does it.
    You know, I’ve fought with Gail, I’ve fought with Lidia, I’ve fought with Paul C., since I cam on the internet in the 90’s I’ve done nothing but fight with people all the time, ahaha, trying to sort out what’s really going on, because I want TRUTH. I want TRUTH so bad, I don’t care if it means I get burned alive or chopped into little pieces. I think TRUTH MATTERS.

    It’s really, really hard even to know if there is such a thing as truth, especially concerning what happened hundreds of years ago on a little island in the Pacific. But, you know, like in a court of law, do we hang the wrong guy, or let the murderer go free, just because we like someone’s face ? That island is riddled with caves. People have been crawling through them inspecting the fine detail in a way that was never done before. Turns out the old story was much too simple.

    What did happen on Easter Island? I’d sure like to know. Yet, even if Easter Island was wrong this doesn’t seem to be the case for the deer on St. Matthews Island. They did eat themselves out of house and home with no predators. Would this have happened if deer had opposable thumbs and a large brain. Then they would be able to adapt to the island as humans were on Easter Island?

    Indeed. The case for overshoot does not rest on just those two examples, it’s part of theoretical ecology which has a huge vast database of examples and a huge vast library of scholarly literature. Guy knows all about this stuff, much more than I do, he’s a Professor of Conservation Biology, ffs, ask him ! :)

  85. Lidia Says:

    @PMB: “I agree that we all want meaning.”

    Speak for yourself. To me, this seems purely optional.

    @ulvfugl, you’re too intelligent to be conflating Science either with religion or with Monsanto. It’s true that Science is used for corporate and political ends which, while not seeming evil on the surface in some cases, only further degrade our living situation. If breaking down energy gradients is our raison d’être, scientific endeavours certainly excel at that, you must admit.

    The definition of science is knowing, seeing. Of course, one does tend to see what one wants to look for, many times, and the power of the vision acts to inform only the segment of society willing to pay for the investigation: all investigation is not created equal.

    But still, the “science religion” meme, usually proposed by theists, is tiresome, because “believing in” science is like not like believing in arbitrary deities with arbitrary pronouncements, or like believing in unproven events of human construction and human psychic projection… Believing in science is more like believing in a hammer. You can’t not believe in a hammer. The scientific method is a tool, which works, pretty much without fail, when it is correctly applied. It’s knowledge of the world based on observation and experimentation. As such, when practiced correctly, it has no particular endpoint or goal, although the process can certainly be corrupted. But just as a bookkeeper embezzling funds doesn’t render all business accounting an unreasonable practice, bad acts using science are just bad acts. Science cum process is not to blame.

  86. ulvfugl Says:

    @ Lidia

    I’m not quite certain what you are referring to ?

    If breaking down energy gradients is our raison d’être..

    This being Paul C. and other people’s notion, I take it, that you refer to, as the sort of thermodynamic Universe going from the Big Bang to the Exxon board room.

    Yes, well that’s one way of looking at it.

    I’m not happy about this, on several counts.

    One, the whole thing can be turned upside down, any time because the 2nd Law may not be what everyone assumes it is, because some NEW insight changes everything. This is happening almost weekly. Stephen Hawking now says Black Holes are not what he said they were, blabla, Lee Smolin says the Laws of Physics are evolving blabla, the quantum stuff is continually revealing new craziness, and I think it is far from safe to conclude that the matter is settled…

    However, it’s a reasonable way to look at things. But as conscious thoughtful creatures with free will, able to understand that much…

    Well, anyway, second, science is one of the major contributors to our demise, because it’s divorced from all other inputs, and is out of control. Pandora’s Box. Francis Bacon warned about this at the outset. Everybody has forgotten. It’s like a little kid up in the attic who has found grand dad’s old trunk and is pulling out all the stuff to play with… live hand grenades, sticks of gelignite, loaded service revolver, cut throat razor, gas canister, matches… what could go wrong ? Problem is there’s no adult supervision.

    ..bad acts using science are just bad acts. Science cum process is not to blame.

    Except that’s not really good enough when it comes to causing a mass extinction event, is it.

    Third, people NEED a belief system that satisfies their human needs.

    Meaning may be optional to YOU. Just as Dawkins may be perfectly happy in his atheism, and humanists may be happy in their humanism, etc.

    What is perfectly obvious and apparent from any survey of the way people are, is the absolute confusion and muddle and alienation.

    Nobody can say that we are surrounded by happy, healthy, fulfilled, satisfied communities. America is totally dysfunctional. UK is almost as bad, but in very different ways.

    Because religion has gone off in one direction and science has gone off in another, then what’s filled in the gap is fucking shopping, capitalism, turn everything into money as fast as possible. Great for the bankers who rule the world.

    I mean, I don’t think there IS any chance of fixing this, but I like to understand it.

  87. PMB Says:

    @Lidia,

    My intent was not to speak for anyone else. I was echoing/paraphrasing u’s comment “Everybody wants meaning. Everybody seeks meaning.” which I agreed with and had no real issue with. On some level it does appear that way to me, but yes it is optional.

    So, if it’s easy enough please delete and backspace in your mind what I wrote and change it to “I agree. I’m looking for meaning.”

    @@ulvfugl

    The entire Easter Island reevaluation IS about truth and honesty. I certainly don’t want a Ox-Bow Incident on my hands. I’d rather admit I was wrong then to hold onto beliefs because I’m stubborn.

    Easter Island is only a single example. There are many others. The Fertile Cresent. The Carrier Pigeon. Ocean life.

    I’ve read The Mortal Sea and that goes into the history of why Europeans (due to overfishing) made the journey across the Atlantic. The illusion of super abundance is part of the myth of history.
    We used to be able to catch fish off the shore, then we had to go out in boats, and had to send the boats out further and further.

    The same thing happened with the whaling industry and not over a very long time frame. From the shores of Cape Cod, out to the Atlantic, having to sail longer and longer distances as they diminished the population (all without electricity, engines, behemoth trawlers.) That’s why Moby Dick took place where it did. They weren’t going there for a Sunday trip, they had no choice. If they wanted whales they had to go where they were left.

    Shampoo, Lather, Rinse, Repeat. We’ve done this cycle globally.

    Asking Guy about the history of overshoot is something i’ll do. Or i could just start a topic on the board about Overshoot which seems a bit safer then starting one on suicide (for me).

    @Kirk Hamilton

    Interesting. Agree that the human monster is the one to beware of, but that was what Mary Shelly was really writing about.

    @Shaheer Says:

    Regarding your train stop. Could you say more? Did you get off because you think we could manage those 400 reactors. Do you think that with China’s plan to build more reactors it makes the situation more or a game of chance?
    Do you think we are moving in the direction of managing those 400 plants. Is there anything that could happen where you’d get back on the train?

  88. ulvfugl Says:

    @ PMB

    I think, re the ‘everybody wants meaning’ thing, they do, but it’s usually well-covered over, because there’s always stuff to do, raising kids, entertainment, survival, people don’t often confront the matter explicitly, do they ? Not like in the sense of going on a zen retreat and spending hours and hours facing a blank wall, and demanding and answer ‘what does this mean ?’ sort of way :-)

    I think most usually only think about it when the continuum of their life gets interrupted by losing a job, or being very ill, or the death of someone significant, get sent to prison, or something like that.

    Ox-Bow Incident brings back a memory, from around when I was 8, the things one finds on this virtual Beach :-)

    Easter Island is only a single example. There are many others. The Fertile Cresent. The Carrier Pigeon. Ocean life.

    Easter Island was not quite comparable to those, it was sort of self-contained, like Earth, and your other example, St Matthew’s, but yes I know what you mean. Point is though, we so often get a simple, easy, popular version, that seems obvious, and then there’s the actual real version which is hard to understand and takes a lot more work, is very complicated, and… well, lots of examples, another being the Amazon Forest being ‘pristine natural untouched by humans’ as opposed to densely populated and largely created by humans

    We’ve done this cycle globally.

    Yes.

    Asking Guy about the history of overshoot is something i’ll do. Or i could just start a topic on the board about Overshoot which seems a bit safer then starting one on suicide (for me).

    Perhaps a place to start might be Carrying Capacity. You know, wolves need to eat deer. Deer need wolves. Leopold’s beautiful and famous ‘Thinking like a mountain’. We should be ‘Thinking like a planet’. But we don’t. I know it’s too late, but just to get the story straight.

    We’re not like wolves. We can start at the top and eat the whales and the mammoths and when they’ve all gone, we can work our way done, eat more or less anything edible, until we’re living on tadpoles and fungi and when they’ve all gone we can pretty much survive on recycling our own shit and waste the way they do for feedlot cattle and pigs and chickens in industrial batteries.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thinking_like_a_mountain

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrying_capacity

  89. 18000days Says:

    @PMB/Ulvfugl:
    “peak NBL”
    Just to set the record straight, I have been slightly misquoted, or selectively quoted, or incompletely quoted- What I said was; “peak NBL comments”. Quantitatively at least, I think I’m correct in saying that Daniel’s essay represents the high-water mark which we’ve seldom got much more than half-way to since? Of course data-collection is ongoing until fat ladies sing…

  90. ulvfugl Says:

    @ 18000days

    yup..

    doggerel..

  91. Kirk Hamilton Says:

    Nice song, Grant! And great advise for Margarets. We can’t stay mad or pissed for the entire death spiral, can we? But, yeah, I ‘hate’ the heartless, thoughtless scuts too. I cope, but like Margarets, my disdain for the masses boarders on darkness.

    I read Eckhart Tolle’s book, A New Earth. In it I happened on a phrase that I use regularly as one of my coping mantras: “On This Planet, Normal Equals Insane.” And it’s sooooo truuuuu! Full spectrum loony tunes fruitloopedum! Starting with the true bottom feeders, those willing to follow orders to rape, plunder or kill anything that stands in the way. They’re the worst because they enable, empower and support TPTB! They suck for their supper. On the other end there are the homicidal maniacs who give the rest of us our marching orders.

    Well, not quite all the rest of us. Hidden among the swarm are those who See. Wise enough to keep our heads down, we watch the horror show play itself out. Instead of trying to figure out how to get that Porshe, we endeavor to maintain humility in spite of being SMARTER than everybody else!

    Anyway, Margatets, try to smile. Feel that? It’s like drinking a cold glass of fresh squeezed orange juice. Kind of lights you up inside. Nothing you can do about it except be honest with yourself. But keep your friends, no matter how backwards they are. People can be a comfort, at times, though it’s hard to believe. Don’t isolate yourself. Be a caregiver.

  92. Kirk Hamilton Says:

    HAHA! I planted the above in the wrong plot!

  93. ulvfugl Says:

    Clumsy fool, Kirk, just think if it was a genetically engineered germ warfare experimental bioagent and instead of disposing of it safely you’ve gone and flushed it down the toilet because you’re too stoned and careless and you’re not paying attention to what you’re doing and where you put things, and NOW MILLIONS of innocent men, women and children are going to be turned into some sort of horrible gooey mess, all because of YOU ! Sigh…

  94. Kirk Hamilton Says:

    Whoopie!! We’re all gonna’ die!! :)

  95. ulvfugl Says:

    @ Kirk

    Send me $9.99, I’ll send you a copy of my fantastic ebook DIY Brain Surgery for Dummies,see the chapter titled How to make the most of your stupid mistakes, new career path awaits you, my friend… and then you die…yes, of course…

  96. pmb Says:

    @18000days,

    @PMB said:

    It’s a topic I’d like to discuss more, yet don’t feel safe enough here or elsewhere. Maybe 18000 days is right about peak NBL.

    18000days Says:

    January 25th, 2014 at 5:46 am

    @PMB/Ulvfugl:
    “peak NBL”
    “Just to set the record straight, I have been slightly misquoted, or selectively quoted, or incompletely quoted- What I said was; “peak NBL comments”. Quantitatively at least, I think I’m correct in saying that Daniel’s essay represents the high-water mark which we’ve seldom got much more than half-way to since? Of course data-collection is ongoing until fat ladies sing…”

    I want to make sure the record is straight on my end as well. It is very difficult or near impossible in email interchange to take advantage of the more subtle aspects that are part of in person exchanges of communication.

    The mistake was purely an over-site on my part.

    In U’s response to me he was quoting my comment, and my comment merely left out the final word “comments”. Were U and I talking about the same topic despite my leaving out the final word? I hope so, as that was my assumption from his response, but with your pointing out the miscommunication he can let us know (if he chooses).

    Happily, this is one of the less egregious mistakes of being human (while dolphins are being slaughtered in Denmark (aren’t those Danes civilized) as well as by the Japanese) and one easily corrected on my part by clarifying what I intended to say.

    It was a comment I agreed with on the surface. “Peak NBL” would be a different connotation; one possibly worth pursuing, yet not the same as “peak NBL comments”.

  97. Kirk Hamilton Says:

    Surgery a complete success! My only real difficulty was in both holding myself down and performing such a delicate operation. If you decide to try this I suggest going to the bathroom first. Hopefully you’ll turn out as good as me!

    See results, I’m a happy man at last!


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