Let Go, or Be Dragged

When called a quitter in somebody’s first-time comment in this space, my initial response was to serve the name-caller a big warm cup of ShutTheFuckUp. Then I gave it a bit more thought. One result is this essay.

Contrary to the respondent’s interpretation of my essay, I’m not suggesting we quit. Giving up is not giving in: Accepting our fate is not synonymous with jumping into the absurdly omnicidal main stream. Just because we’re opossums on the roadway doesn’t mean we should play possum. Resistance is fertile, after all. To employ a bit of The Boss: “In the end what you don’t surrender, well the world just strips away.”

Or, to employ a bit of Zen: Let go, or be dragged.

Or, to employ a bit of popular culture: Carpe diem.

Or, to employ a bit of Nietzsche: “Live as though the day were here.”

Climate chaos is well under way, and has become irreversible over temporal spans relevant to humans because of positive feedbacks. Such is the nature of reaching the acceleration phase of the nonlinear system that is climate catastrophe.

As a result of ongoing, accelerating climate change, I’m letting go of the notion that Homo sapiens will inhabit this planet beyond 2030. I’m letting go of the notion that Homo sapiens will inhabit this verdant little valley at the edge of American Empire after it turns to dust within a very few years. I’m letting go of the notion that, within a few short years, there will remain any habitat for humans in the interior of any large continent in the northern hemisphere. I’m letting go of the notion we’ll retain even a fraction of one percent of the species currently on Earth beyond 2050. But I’m not letting go of the notion of resistance, which is a moral imperative.

I will no longer judge people for buying into cultural conditioning. It’s far easier to live in a city, at the height of civilization’s excesses, than not. I know how easy it is to live in a city surrounded by beautiful distractions and pleasant interactions, and I fully understand the costs and consequences of dwelling there, as well as the price to be paid in the near future. I spent about half my life in various cities, and I understand the physical ease and existential pain of living at the apex of empire. Also, I know all about the small joys and great pains associated with living in the country. I spent the other half of my life in the country and in towns with fewer than 1,000 people. I understand why the country bumpkin is assigned stereotypical labels related to ignorance and, paradoxically, self-reliance.

It’s clearly too late to tear down this irredeemably corrupt system and realize any substantive benefits for humans or other organisms. And yet I strongly agree with activist Lierre Keith: “The task of an activist is not to navigate systems of oppressive power with as much personal integrity as possible; it is to dismantle those systems.” If it seems I’m filled with contradictions, color me hypocritical fully human in a Walt Whitman sort of way: “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”

Our remaining time on this orb is too short to cast aspersions at those who live differently from ourselves, as most people in industrialized countries have done throughout their lives. Most people in the industrialized world became cultural crack babies in the womb. There is little hope to break the addiction of ingestion at this late point in the era of industry, and I’m throwing in the towel on changing the minds of typically mindless Americans. No longer will I try to convince people to give up the crack pipe based on my perception of morality reality.

I’ll continue to speak. I’ll continue to write. But these efforts will be presented with less urgency than I’ve previously employed, and they will represent personal perspectives and actions. I’ll no longer recommend to others the path I’ve taken.

Nietzsche’s comment about seizing the day, every day, brings to mind the final words of Joseph Campbell’s 1949 book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces:

It is not society that is to guide and save the creative hero, but precisely the reverse. And so every one of us shares the supreme ordeal — carries the cross of the redeemer — not in the bright moments of his tribe’s great victories, but in the silences of his personal despair.

With the preceding dire news in mind, it would be easy to forget how fortunate we are. After all, we get to die. That simple fact alone is cause for celebration because it indicates we get to live. As I wrote more than five years ago, our knowledge of DNA assures us that the odds any one of us existing are greater than the odds against being a particular grain of sand on all the world’s beaches. No, the odds are much greater than that: they exceed the odds of being a single atom plucked from the entire universe. To quote the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, “In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I that are privileged to be here, privileged with eyes to see where we are and brains to wonder why.”

 

This essay is permalinked at Democratic Underground, The Refreshment Center and Seemorerocks.

Comments 306

  • Arthur Johnson you wrote “Tell me, is it so wrong to believe that beauty not only exists, but still matters?”

    I see you don’t get it either. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and no where else. A pile of poop it beauty to a dung beetle. If we humans go extinct along with most if not all of the life on the planet, there goes beauty – no beholders left. We are talking about EXTINCTION. Ie. no more humans ever. No more mammals, no more birds or insects, perhaps a few bacteria. Unless Aliens exist any beauty Dark Mountain creates in words or in the packaging of those words will disappear – no observers, no beauty.

  • Jeff Masters weighs in on Arctic Sea Ice Loss
    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=2237
    contains a nice rebuttal to the “But the Antarctic is gaining ice” folks that are sure to resurface. I don’t raise the subject with deniers any more-too damn frustrating.

  • As the horsemen of the Apocalypse race towards the finish line, the Congo is NOT succeeding at containing the latest outbreak of Ebola
    http://crofsblogs.typepad.com/h5n1/2012/09/dr-congo-76-ebola-cases-and-32-deaths-as-of-september-19.html
    DR Congo: 76 Ebola cases and 32 deaths as of September 19

    Seems like a small number to be concerned about, but since it is highly contagious and has an average case fatality rate of approximately 83% over 27 years and is a nasty way to die, it is of note when a new round shows up and starts increasing in numbers and range.

    Per wiki “The virus has been confirmed to be transmitted through body fluids. Transmission through oral exposure and through conjunctiva exposure is likely[42] and has been confirmed in non-human primates.[43] Filoviruses are not naturally transmitted by aerosol. They are, however, highly infectious as breathable 0.8–1.2 micrometre droplets in laboratory conditions;[44] because of this potential route of infection, these viruses have been classified as Category A biological weapons.[45]”

  • “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and no where else.”

    Nonsense. Is your pet dog that’s just been flattened by a truck as beautiful as when he or she was alive minutes before ?

    Any human alive with any sensitivity can tell the difference between a sublime work of art by a great master and a sewer full of stinking garbage.

    We are humans, we respond to certain things in certain ways, that’s true. But if you can’t tell the difference between the roar of a diesel engine and Bach’s music, or being on a deserted beach at the edge of the waves, and being in a sordid prison cell, then there’s something wrong with you, IMO.

  • Hey Kathy C. I just came across the snake worship video, mentioned in previous thread.

    Don’t know about anybody else’s aesthetic taste in music, but for me the guitar playing is amongst the best I’ve ever heard.

  • ulvfugl YOU don’t get it either. If there are no beholders left what happens to beauty. Once again all my comments relate to the impending extinction of all life on Earth except maybe thermopile bacteria.

    But regarding your example, what is more beautiful to a vulture – a dog running around or a dog flattened on the road?

  • ulvfugl sorry I forgot you think we have souls that continue on after our death. I suppose they will find it beautiful to see a world of no life or only bacteria and a landscape littered with beautifully bound pamphlets rotting. No wait, in the final throes of human life on earth pamphlets, violins, cash, pictures, anything left that burns will be used to cook (or heat if the thermocline fails). So much for the beauty of the creations of man. Hubris, all is hubris

  • ulvfugl YOU don’t get it either. If there are no beholders left what happens to beauty. Once again all my comments relate to the impending extinction of all life on Earth except maybe thermopile bacteria.

    But regarding your example, what is more beautiful to a vulture – a dog running around or a dog flattened on the road?

    if there are no humans around, everything that is now of concern to humans will no longer be of concern. I get that completely.

    I don’t mind if you want to deny YOUR OWN human nature, that’s your business, but I’ll be damned if I’ll let you deny MINE, and i have a highly developed sense of what is beautiful and what is not. I’m not a vulture or a dung beetle, I’m a man, and like rest of humanity, have a built in aesthetic sense.

  • ulvfugl sorry I forgot you think we have souls that continue on after our death. I suppose they will find it beautiful to see a world of no life or only bacteria and a landscape littered with beautifully bound pamphlets rotting. No wait, in the final throes of human life on earth pamphlets, violins, cash, pictures, anything left that burns will be used to cook (or heat if the thermocline fails). So much for the beauty of the creations of man. Hubris, all is hubris

    Well, that’s a great shame Kathy, I thought there was more to you than that. I thought we were having a serious and intelligent discussion. I have never ever said ‘I think we have souls that continue after death’, I have specifically said that that is NOT my view, but you obviously didn’t bother to read my comments, and now deliberately misrepresent my position to suit your own narrow prejudiced view, that’s really quite offensive.

    So you obviously prefer that we all live in squalor and ugliness NOW ? How perverse and ridiculous that is.

  • “i have a highly developed sense of what is beautiful and what is not. I’m not a vulture or a dung beetle, I’m a man, and like rest of humanity, have a built in aesthetic sense.”

    I have an aesthetic sense the encompasses the whole of life. The vulture and the dung beetle are a part of the beautiful completeness of the world we live in. To me no poem or work of art is as beautiful as the web of life. We are all indebted as humans to the life forms that digest our waste, whether from our ass or from our death, and turn it back into food to sustain us. It is this separation from nature, including the encapsulating of nature in art to own it, that is our downfall. I think vultures are beautiful beside being grateful for their road cleaning measures. I adore the smell of compost and rich dirt thanks to the millions of insects and microbes that create it. Nothing is more beautiful to me than my own real sunflowers and the goldfinches they attract despite the fact that I do like Van Goh’s sunflower pictures. Still the real thing, alive with pollinators and birds is far better. As I sit here I hear the music of the life outside that far surpasses any symphony.

    I did read that you said you didn’t think souls continue after death. Apologies, it is not my reading but my old brain remembering that is at fault. So say you can separate from your body but your soul you say doesn’t live on after your body dies?

    Given that 3 billion people live in squalor NOW and their labor to provide us with cheap goods and minerals provide us the “beauty” of art, I find that our art, our middle class lifestyles, my use of a computer, etc all to be an ugliness. I am part of it, and found I was unwilling to give up more than I have. I accept my guilt but I don’t glory in it. Maybe that is a distinction not worth making.

    Did you know that they cut of boys balls just to have boy sopranos for the works of some of our more revered classical musicians. Ah but art is worth it so the elite of that time could hear the beautiful and haunting strains of the castratos.

    The last castrato sings Ave Maria http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=711ZhavjIO4

  • Chimpanzees go out in gangs and murder their neighbours.

  • Yes, I knew about castrati. History is littered with horror, and yes, capitalism is killing around 20 million every year, and making the lives of many millions more utterly wretched, but nobody want to talk about that holocaust.

    I live as simply as I can, whilst still remaining effective.

  • Yorchichan & Ozman: With respect to your standard permutation calculation, the Baysian method would take into account the information coming to one after each draw.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayesian_probability

  • OzMan, it’s been awhile since I thought about the cancer analogy for the human race. ‘Uncontrolled growth = cancer’ is a little simplistic, but not wrong. To carry the analogy a little further, nuclear plants melting down around the planet will be our radiation “therapy” and chemical plants releasing all their nasties will be our chemo”therapy”.

    Once again, nature really DOES bat last. :-)

  • “I did read that you said you didn’t think souls continue after death. Apologies, it is not my reading but my old brain remembering that is at fault. So say you can separate from your body but your soul you say doesn’t live on after your body dies?”

    Apology accepted.

    My impression, and no doubt you’ll correct me where I’m mistaken is that your rejected the bigoted Christian fundamentalist literalism of your youth, and have replaced it with a sort of mirror image, an archaic 19thC. mechanistic, reductionist, materialist, positivist, scientism, that has been obsolete for a century.

    I mean, does your personal view of science take into account the interaction between mind and matter at all ? It does not appear to.

    Anyway, my position is neither of the above. When I talk about ‘soul’ I’m talking about something far more intellectually sophisticated than the concept of soul proposed by Christian literalists, something more along the lines of Subtle Body.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subtle_body

    What happens to it when I die ? How can I answer that, when I’m still alive ?

  • ulvfugl,

    I have encountered quite a few patients over the years with a bad opinion of medicines and vaccines (and doctors, too, but we won’t talk about that :-). In many cases, I agree.

    Your personal story reminded me of a story: I picked up a new patient in the hospital once who had a similar attitude as yours. She had been admitted by the ER and it was my first time to see her. When she expressed an opinion similar to yours, I said, “okay, let me go get your discharge orders ready”. She was astonished and said, “I can’t go home! I’m sick!”. So, we had a discussion about what hospitals are for, and she let me treat her. That was 5 years ago. She’s still my patient.

  • ulvfugl: thanks for responding to my question aways back (regarding what else is there besides the Christian viewpoint and reincarnation for whatever it is that we apparently (rationally or irrationally) believe will live on beyond our bodily extinction).

    i have a question: Is this the purpose of human evolution – to lead us to our own demise?

  • Ulvfgl you wrote “I mean, does your personal view of science take into account the interaction between mind and matter at all ? It does not appear to.” Well in this case you didn’t read me very well. Antonio Damaiso wrote a book about how he thought our extended consciousness, our sense of self arose from the interaction of the brain and the body. I told you I agreed with him. If that isn’t mind and matter I don’t know what is.

    I have personally stated many times that I think humans are best off as hunter-gatherers, living in intimate relationship with the web of life that supports them. I have stated that I am appreciative for the knowledge that science has given me but think that it will be our downfall.

    Tell me, can’t your soul see the beauty in a vulture. They are majestic. I don’t need science to tell me what a valuable part the play in our environment. Its pretty obvious. But their slow circling in the sky, the awkward but the graceful slow motion as they take off, those are beautiful.

    It took science to tell me that millions of microbes are in each teaspoon of soil, that there are fungi webs in undisturbed soil. Gads Darwin even wrote a hole paper on earthworms. To augment my feeling that rich brown soil makes healthy plants, that I can smell rich soil and it smells good, science has told me what is going on that I can’t see. I find that knowledge beautiful too. And it convinces me that my attraction to no-til gardening was right. I don’t have a soul, but I do have senses that are often underused that I can tap for pre-programed knowledge. And I have a brain that can seek out more knowledge and test it with its own scientific method program.

    The web of life is the most beautiful thing I know of and every part of it is beautiful. Can’t your soul see that beauty in the vulture even as it dines on road kill. Why can I who thinks I don’t have a soul, just a DNA created mind and body see that beauty. Thinking we have a soul IMHO is just another form of hubris. We are just one in a line of homo’s from a line of apes and thinking we are top shit because we have a soul OR because we have science is our downfall. We can go extinct and if we go before the vultures they will find beauty in us – I hear they go for the eyes first :)

  • Tom : i have a question: Is this the purpose of human evolution – to lead us to our own demise?

    I don’t know what the purpose is, or if there is any purpose. But having appeared in the Universe, and become conscious of our existence, it seems pretty bloody stupid to screw it up and cause our own extinction…

  • The REAL Dr House.. it’s quite odd for me to talk to a doctor as if they were an ordinary human being ;-) Thanks for the story :-)

  • Kathy Tell me, can’t your soul see the beauty in a vulture. They are majestic. I don’t need science to tell me what a valuable part the play in our environment. Its pretty obvious. But their slow circling in the sky, the awkward but the graceful slow motion as they take off, those are beautiful.

    What a bizarre question. Of course I see the beauty in a vulture. What has that to do with what we were talking about ?

    You suggested that beauty only exists in the eye of the beholder. I say that’s not true. All humans see aesthetic beauty, and also see ugliness and abhorrence. There’s consensus across a wide range. It appears to be an intrinsic part of human nature.

    “It took science to tell me that millions of microbes are in each teaspoon of soil, that there are fungi webs in undisturbed soil. Gads Darwin even wrote a hole paper on earthworms. To augment my feeling that rich brown soil makes healthy plants, that I can smell rich soil and it smells good, science has told me what is going on that I can’t see. I find that knowledge beautiful too. And it convinces me that my attraction to no-til gardening was right. I don’t have a soul, but I do have senses that are often underused that I can tap for pre-programed knowledge. And I have a brain that can seek out more knowledge and test it with its own scientific method program.”

    Of course science is wonderful, Darwin a great man, and so forth. Where we differ is that you fail to recognise that the consciousness which thinks it possesses a brain is your SOUL. :-)

    “The web of life is the most beautiful thing I know of and every part of it is beautiful. Can’t your soul see that beauty in the vulture even as it dines on road kill. Why can I who thinks I don’t have a soul, just a DNA created mind and body see that beauty. Thinking we have a soul IMHO is just another form of hubris. We are just one in a line of homo’s from a line of apes and thinking we are top shit because we have a soul OR because we have science is our downfall. We can go extinct and if we go before the vultures they will find beauty in us – I hear they go for the eyes first

    Totally weird that you think I cannot see nature as beautiful. I have no idea why you come to that conclusion.

    As I said before, I don’t THINK i have a soul, I AM my soul :-)

  • Tom

    the Baysian method would take into account the information coming to one after each draw.

    There is no information coming to one after each draw. OzMan stated he did not look at the cards after he predicted the colour so he did not know if he was correct or not. Even if he had looked at each card after he forecast it, in the null hypothesis of him not having special predictive powers it would not have affected the probability of predicting the correct sequence of all the cards. (In actuality it might have adversely affected his chances as the pressure built after knowing he had gotten 40+ cards correct so far!)

    The 1/(2^52) calculation would assume OzMan is not remembering the number of red/black predictions he has previously made. It gives a lower bound for the probability.

    The 1/(52!/(26!26!)) assumes OzMan is keeping count of the number of red/black predictions he has previously made. It gives an upper bound for the probability.

    Essentially, there are 52!/(26!26!) ways of arranging the cards by colour. OzMan therefore had at most a 1 in 52!/(26!26!) chance of getting the sequence correct if he was guessing at random.

  • Kathy C

    Well, 83% of 7 billion to die within 27 years, is….um… let’s see… about 1.2 billion survivors, give or take in a generation. That seems about right for the carrying capacity of the planet. But only if all cylenders are firing properly, which we seem to have strong indications it wont be.
    Looks like Ebola could do the trick, not that I’m wishing it in any way. One just has to imagine one’s own child or sibling or loved grandparent going that way. One of …”the thousand shocks the body’s heir to…”.
    a wicked simulation computer game , out 5 years or so ago is ‘Pandemic 2’. The goal is to successfully terminate human ife by engineering a pathogen that will go undetected long enough by health authorities so it will have wide continental coverage, and closing borders to shipping tourism and travel is too late to stop it.
    It is fairly sophisticated, enough IMO to teache an intellegent user t what are some of the standard countermeasures used in infection detection and disease control. Always too little too late in the game, these measures, if successful, usually only manage to save a small portion of humans on say Madagascar or New Zealand. I found rodents to be the most effective vectors, for they become endemic on shipping and that is usually a 100% penetration on the major land masses.
    I don’t play it anymore….I was too successful.

    Seriously however, it is a much safer option on how to scale down human population without any devious responsibility on the part of the PTB.

    Strangly coincidental is that the recent will Smith film, “I am Legent”, once produces as , “The Omega Man in the 1979’s, is on TV here tonight. TPTB like to rub our noses in it sometimes I suppose.

  • Again to Tom : i have a question: Is this the purpose of human evolution – to lead us to our own demise?

    I think there are probably two questions there. One is the purpose of all life, because we are obviously just one part of something that has been evolving for long time, and most scientists say ‘it’ has no purpose or direction or even meaning.

    Tom Campbell however, the NASA physicist I quite in my blog, says the purpose is to evolve and our purpose is to align ourselves with that evolution, rather than to hinder or resist it. I remain somewhat sceptical of his reasoning, although I admire his attempt at a Theory of Everything.

    But the second question is, is there a purpose for us each as individuals, in which case, I’d say yes, as in Jungian Individuation. And I’d phrase that as the quest to find our own individual soul. And then I’d say that, the seeker and the sought are actually identical :-)

  • ulvfugl

    You wrote:
    ” Chimpanzees go out in gangs and murder their neighbours.”

    I don’t have the full story on this but I remember reading some recent research that brought serious doubts as to the sociological causes of this definitly shocking observatios of Chimps. One point was that these groups of chimps contained some high proportion of individuals, and their young, that were the subjects of Jane Goodalls research, which she herself has acknowledged, may have been skewing her findings on innate primate behaviour. This was by way of the effects of food provision on behaviour. Initially they had success in getting access to the groups, but subsequently found they could observe more frequently by attracting the chimps with food left for them to retrieve.
    The second piont is that there were many groups of human malitia moving in and out of these chimps home ranges, and some researchers have theorised that the chimps may have imitated the human behaviour when it was obvious to them the battles were about food and resources. I don’t know if that is overstating the intellegence of the chimps, or overstating ours, with respect to the violent wars we wage, but if the chimps were fiddled with in terms of their natural relationship to food, and they came under pressure by way of habitat reduction, and they were witness to and/or traumatised by human warfare, it is a possibility that muddies the waters when attempting to conclude we are not the only species of primates who kill in organised groups.

  • Yes, I read that too, Ozman. My line was really just a quip in response to MB’s law of apes that stated only humans behaved that way, or whatever.

    I think we are just as closely related to bonobos, which have different and less violent behaviour.

  • ulvfugl

    You wrote:
    ” And then I’d say that, the seeker and the sought are actually identical”

    In this case there is a distinct difference in that the sought is unconscious, as per Jungian individuation, and therefor, the realisation, if the ‘one’ is not yet completed. In platonic language we could say…
    The shadow on the cave wall of the flickering fire is not yet fully aware it is essentially an effect of the inerplay of the fire and some interruption to its light with the wall. IMO it is most significant to see that although there is a unity in the ‘seeker’ and the ‘sought’, the seeker only seeks when the sought is not the realised condition of consciousness. In that fundamental understanding the seeker disolves or is burnt away as a early, temporary adaptation to self undertanding in the infinite void. Full consciousness, or ‘Total Recall’ is the only path in a developmental sense for self understanding, and yes, is a kind of letting go, because at some stage it is all just going to be ripped away from us anyway, as death of the body-mind arrives.

  • The REAL Dr. House
    Re the cancer thing I wrote. I don’t equate humans as a cancer, far from it. To clarify, years ago when studying Macrobiotics, I came accross the diagnosis that cancer was an unbalanced Yin energy process, because it was a bout growth and differentiation and multiplicity, which is considdered by some to be a Yin phenomena. Yang being contracted, hard and dense. The type of situation humans are presently in is an expansion, Yin phase if you like. Out of balance siuations bring equally forceful balancing energy by attraction, so it goes in Tao. I merely was pointing out that the cancer cell is in most respects a normal cell, excepting it has mutated to be stuck in the cell dicision stage of its life cycle, which paradoxically is near enough to its death phase if it can be said there is a death phase in a cell cycle, that continually has cell division in the cycle.
    I also want to add that although I caan be as rough and crude with my humour, my brother died of Lymphoblastic Luekemia when we were 13 year lods, and I hold the Nuclear industry, and the elites in Governments and those PTW then responsible. I don’t take any offence, and I full get the humour you are alluding to. The world wide radiation blanket that looms is one scenario I suspect could be what TPTB think is a saving adaptive throw of the dice for some species to evolve and survive, even us or our survivor mutations down the track. I see it as a chance that the radiation can produce far greater mutation rates in us and other life forms, and the majority will be fatal, but some may have an adaptive advantage in the mess that is high order temperature changes to world climate. If certain thinktanks have crunched the numbers and also found that humans cannot survive, then their only solution, in a kind of Dr Strangelove mentality, is to help us adapt as fast as we can, and much higher background radiation could do the trick. Although it would be no trick ,and no going back. Some bean counter probably worked on an influential beurocrat and came up with the ‘Double recessive protocal’ and there we have it. I’m not sure of cours, just a maligned hunch.
    BTW, most are not aware that the animal gene for five digits, or Pentadactylism, which amongst other things, gives higher primates like us great dexterity, and an opposable thumb, is a recessive gene. It is so successful in conferring a survival advantage, over Polydactylism, or multi digit apendages, that the dominant genes were almost entirely selected out. Everyone who has five digits is a double recessive for Pentadactylism. A genetic variation in a population does not have to be a dominant genetic aleal, it an also be recessive. This is also how our surviving mechanism can retain ‘stored’ variations that can be extemely uncommon, but highly successful if environments change and it eventuats they are an advantage at some later stage. Natural selection is itself a way of preserving life in this form

  • Thank you, Guy. This is, I think, a very realistic and even satisfying place to rest.

    I have no ability to affect the outcome. Any efforts I’ve made have been more than easily counterbalanced by all the oil/coal/gas being burned (along with all the activity that enables) by the other 6,999,999,999 people in the world.

    I used to think that Peak Oil would break civilization, and that Climate Change would be a medium term effect. I now realize that I was wrong. Climate impacts on the food supply are here now, and will get worse as time goes on (look north to the ice…)

    However, it’s going to be thje convergence of problems that fractures civilization: problems with the food supply, energy supply, water supply, money supply and governance in the face of massive refugee movements – all coming to a head over the next decade or two.

    Actually I’ll go further than just saying, “I have no ability to affect the outcome”. I don’t WANT to affect the outcome. I actually want to see what happens over the next two or three decades: global warming, species extinctions, food/water/energy shortages, ocean acidification, chemical pollution, overfishing, deforestation, desertification, overpopulation, social breakdown – the whole nine yards.

    We are in the unique position of living through the real life manifestation of every dystopian SF novel ever written, and I really want to see how it turns out. I feel no particular concern about the fact that I’ve decided to take my shoulder off the tinker’s wheel and instead devote my energies to the things I want to do, the things that I have decided are more important in this situation.

    I used to want to change things; I hoped to help put out the “fire on the roof of the world” or at least show people how that might be done. Then I wanted to wake people up to the fact that the roof was on fire in the hope that *they* would act. Both of those have turned out to be forlorn hopes. Now I I have turned my attention and energies inward instead. My involvement with the outer (physical) world has shifted to simply watching. And sometimes I remind people that there’s no shame in being a witness.

    I mentioned my idea of a Kubler-Ross Stage 6 (“Looking for the Gift”) in a comment on another thread. Once we stop screaming and bargaining we can begin look for the gift in all these upheavals. Examples of that “gift” might be:

    * Understanding that humanity is a special animal, and that both our specialness and our animal nature must be a factor in all we do;
    * Realizing that we are a part of nature, not apart from her.
    * The awareness that our sense of control is an illusion born of fear;
    * Recognizing our personal and collective limitations, and reorienting our action within them;
    * Awakening to the fact that change is not the enemy, but the nature of reality;
    * Realizing that what humanity faces is not a set of physical problems, but the turmoil that always accompanies a transition from adolescence into adulthood.

    It’s time for us to stop thinking in terms of “fixing” things (especially when what’s broken isn’t just the climate and the oil supply, but a couple of dozen interlocking wicked problems – including tipping points we’ve demonstrably passed already.)

    It’s time to think about the best ways we can come up with to live happy, caring, cooperative, altruistic, mindful, joyous, and even sacred lives in the midst of a world we have defaced forever..

    There is a very good reason why the concept of “Surrender” is at the core of all the world’s sacred philosophies. Unlike the defeatist Western interpretation of the word, this form of surrender means accepting that there are some things that can’t be done, and choosing instead to do the very best of those things that can be done. We’re about to find out for ourselves that the opposite of surrender isn’t victory, but final defeat. I don’t like the idea of defeat, frankly, so I’ve chosen to surrender to What Is.

    Grant me this day
    The courage to change those things I can,
    The serenity to accept those things I cannot change –
    And above all, the wisdom to know the difference.

  • Re. allergies – a pandemic caused by our War on Microbes.

    ———–

    An Immune Disorder at the Root of Autism

    Since time immemorial, a very specific community of organisms — microbes, parasites, some viruses — has aggregated to form the human superorganism. Mounds of evidence suggest that our immune system anticipates these inputs and that, when they go missing, the organism comes unhinged.

    “We were willing to put up with hay fever, even some autoimmune disease,” he told me recently. “But autism? That’s it! You’ve got to stop this insanity.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/26/opinion/sunday/immune-disorders-and-autism.html?pagewanted=all

  • So, the answer to the question about what we should do is that it doesn’t matter because now, whether one knows it or not, we are all condemned to nothingness.

    Those who hew to the Judaeo part of the “Judaeo”-Christian tradition might be unperturbed:

    “In other words, “Ein Sof” signifies “the nameless being.” In another passage the Zohar reduces the term to “Ein” (non-existent), because God so transcends human understanding as to be practically non-existent.”

    My impression, and no doubt you’ll correct me where I’m mistaken is that your rejected the bigoted Christian fundamentalist literalism of your youth, and have replaced it with a sort of mirror image, an archaic 19thC. mechanistic, reductionist, materialist, positivist, scientism, that has been obsolete for a century.

    The rejection arises from a very deep bitterness at the failure of the prescribed mode of faith to mitigate the harshness of reality.

  • OzMan, you may have entered contentious territory, but IMO that’s exactly where a deep acceptance of our situation leads.

    “IMO it is most significant to see that although there is a unity in the ‘seeker’ and the ‘sought’, the seeker only seeks when the sought is not the realised condition of consciousness.”

    I agree. This realization is the purpose behind Ramana Maharshi’s eternal question, “Who am I?” If “I” am not my self (in its conventional sense of an amalgam of body, thoughts, feelings and memories) what is my true Self?

    “In that fundamental understanding the seeker disolves or is burnt away as a early, temporary adaptation to self undertanding in the infinite void.”

    Yes, the seeker and all further seeking vanishes in that moment of realization. However, even in that moment, “self understanding” can be a slippery thing. Am “I” pure awareness? Or does awareness simply provide the container within which the sense of “I” arises, along with everything else? Should “I” strive to understand the answer? For me the most profoundly satisfying answer to the question “What am I?” is, “I don’t know.”

  • Tom,

    “Is this the purpose of human evolution – to lead us to our own demise?”

    Evolution is a process without intentions – no “purpose.” Evolution is the effect of life moving through time and changing circumstances. That is it.

    Ask yourself, “is the purpose of gravity to lead us to our own demise?”

  • Regarding …the meaning of human life, or all life…
    Yes I’ll have a go at it, why not ….?

    My son and I were discussing how the function of mutations, and variation in form and function in life is the singular most important adaptation this life process has developed. We got there because as my son was understanding some of the basic genetics I was telling him about, he realised that without the mutations there would be no life now, because the key situation on this planet is environmental change and variation. So even as some scientists have theorised that some highly conservative,(genetically speaking) simple life forms may have been among the early planet colonisers, they did not survive, and only the ones that could mutate at sufficiently stable enough rates and small degrees survived.

    So it follows for me that a primary purpose of life is to remain alive, via any form of reproduction or replication possible on this planet. I have read that in Hinduism, and some Buddhism schools it is said that all is required is for life to continue, until the lifetime arises where realisation can take place.
    A symbol used is the Marla beads; the chain of beads in Hinduism represents the chain of lifetimes that are ordinary incarnations. The larger Marla bead, of which there is only one per necklace, however, represents the one lifetime of realisation of Self in human form.
    So in some ways I am sympathetic to that view, but not a believer in the world belief cosmology of Hinduism, per say.

    To broarden the considdration to the personal …

    Popular culture sometimes broaches the great eternal themes of the classics, and when it does it can be grand IMO, because it has managed to reach a wider audience than each category on it’s own can lay claim to.
    The 1982 film directed by Ridley Scott, titled ‘Blade Runner’, starring Sean Young, Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer, brings up the issues of personal meaning in an individuals life when death is known to be a certainty. Based on a Phillip K. Dick novel, titled, ‘Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?’, the film follows an Urberman, a superhuman replicant synthetic robot, Roy Batty, attempting to find a solution to his own mortality, and when his efforts come to no avail, in his dying moments he expresses a highly compassionate and moving action that saves the life of another, the one trying to kill him.

    ‘BladeRunner – Complete Rooftop Scene ‘

    A link here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuBToeQeeEU

    This scene with Batty, expressing passionate but restrained love and awareness of conscious understanding as a base condition of his being, is similar in tone to Hamlet’s question, “What is this quintescence of dust?”.
    The replicant Roy Batty’s final words are both poetic and spiritually elevated to broaching selftranscendent concerns, by their moment to moment realisation of the limits of his bodily vehicle and lifetime’s meaning, when he calmly but resolutely speaks to Deckard and says,

    “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. [pause] Time to die.”

    A type of plea for greater understanding like Hamlets that tries to process what possible purpose could be had if there is such an absurd extinguishing of ‘My’ life and consciousness, accompanied by all the ‘love’ of life I have known, expressed and experienced.

    Although not in the original script, the actor Rutger Hauer, who played Roy Batty improvised the ‘Tears in rain soliloquy’. The superhuman events Batty mentions are allusions to the atypical and heroic journey he himself has been on, (which move his life into an Archetypal frame), and the places he refers to are actually celestial destinations emergent from an earlier European stellar cosmology, and mythology. The ‘Tannhäuser Gate’ is a reference to a portal considdered in earlier Germanic legends (of the Christian influence) and Wagnerian opera of the same name, to represent a door from the mortal Earthly realm to the proto-underwold called Venusworld, populated by carnal desire and sensate pleasures. The opera’s central concern thematically, according to Wiki is:

    “…the struggle between sacred and profane love, and redemption through love…”

    ‘Tannhäuser (opera)’

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tannh%C3%A4user_(opera)

    Batty’s reference is mythical in scope, but draws us linguistically into a recognition that he has lived an extraordinary life, beyond the heroic life of an enslaved supersoldier, prevailing off-world for the benifit of the Tyrell Corporation,(a distopian endgame depiction of corporation dominated Empire).

    He has penetrated the central questions of mortality and broaches the mystery of life’s purpose. His journey has brought him to find a solution to beat death, which is embedded in his genetic code, while being chased by Deckard, a cop sent to nutralise him.
    Batty represents the best of humans abilities to rise to the challenge of meaning amidst the reality of mortality. But in my view it only hints at other alternatives for a solution. Deckard, wounded and feeling he is about to be beaten by a far superior adversary, is as shocked as the audience when at the moment of his own death-fall, Batty saves his life. Although the Directors Cut has no later end scene and no Harrison Ford voiceover, the studio release version has Deckard explaining to the audience, from wikiquote.org :

    “I don’t know why he saved my life. Maybe in those last moments he loved life more than he ever had before. Not just his life… anybody’s life… my life…”

    As it turns out Rutger Hauer rewrote his final lines the night before shooting the scene, and commenting about the prevoius script version of the dialogue…:

    From Wiki again:

    “Hauer described this as “opera talk” and “hi-tech speech” with no bearing on the rest of the film, so he “put a knife in it” the night before filming, without Scott’s knowledge.[7] In interview with Dan Jolin, Hauer said that these final lines showed that Batty wanted to “make his mark on existence … the robot in the final scene, by dying, shows Deckard what a real man is made of.”[8]

    When Hauer performed the scene, the film crew applauded and some even cried. This was due to the power of the dying speech coming at the end of an exhausting shoot”.”

    IMO in saving Deckard’s life Batty is elevated, or he elevates himself beyond the mode of attempting to be a survivor of mortality, but to one who understands all life is the point of existance, and in true theatrical form this happens at the moments he accepts death. I would go as far as to write that it would be hard to find a better depiction of a death scene that incorporates no personal fear, where the central concern is to find a way, having exhausted a search for a way, to preserve the heart’s passion for the privelage of a body-mind to be in, to exist in, or simply to be. What is rarely accomplished in dramatic depiction, and is successfully performed here, is an authentic exaltation of life’s spiritual yearnings amidst death. Exaltation is a key to the triumphant nature of Batty’s realisation and queessance and universal compassion comperable to the extraordinary life he has experienced, (and indeed he was ‘created’ for).

    That may merely be my projection, however, I think it is consistant with Batty’s passion for life.

    To conclude, I feel the central meaning of life is its utter full realisation by the emergence of the transcendental Heart as the real mode of existance.
    While dramatised in Blade Runner, as a struggle with mortality, and in Hamlet as a considderation of how to proceed when faced with mortality, the real foundation process of bodily existance is conservation of life, or being.
    Be alive, and live, until the ultimate conditions of existance are revealed, to love to the outshining moment.

  • Kathy C,

    I see you don’t get it either.

    Oh, I get it. Human extinction by 2030, all life by 2050, due to global warming. The world a 196,939,990-sq-mi charnel house of unimaginable, agonizing death by starvation, dehydration or predation for all life forms.

    That’s pretty much it, right?

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and no where else. A pile of poop it beauty to a dung beetle.

    Partly no and partly yes. Humans and non-humans have a natural preference for symmetrical over non-symmetrical form, whether that form be visual, aural, or tactile. This is true even for dung beetles. This innate sense of “beauty” is then filtered through whatever human or non-human culture the particular individual is living in. Guy can provide you with the evolutionary biological details of why this is so.

    If we humans go extinct along with most if not all of the life on the planet,

    IF? Don’t you mean WHEN? Or do you have some doubts about Guy’s claim that human extinction by 2030 is a lock (“already baked in the cake”, as it were)? If you have doubts about this, what else do you have doubts about?

    there goes beauty – no beholders left. We are talking about EXTINCTION. Ie. no more humans ever. No more mammals, no more birds or insects, perhaps a few bacteria.

    I believe there is now some observational evidence suggesting that even bacteria may have an innate preference for symmetrical form. If so, then beauty…survives.

    Unless Aliens exist any beauty Dark Mountain creates in words or in the packaging of those words will disappear – no observers, no beauty.

    Interesting idea. DO Aliens exist? If humans only have 18 years left before extinction, as you and Guy claim, would it be worthwhile for Dark Mountain–or anyone else–to create beauty for the benefit of those Aliens?

  • Morocco Bama

    Yes a great ending scene but ultimately a pointless response to the problems depicted here at NBL. No reason not to though IMO. Any response is as good as any other response if that’s how one sees the situation, that is.

    There may not be a better modern dramatic depiction IMO of the perils of decadent corruption and abuse of privelage by TPTB than Stanley Kubrik last ‘fingers up to you fuckers’ film you link to “Eyes Wide Shut”.
    If ever there was a film that wanted to bring home to North Americans that they are not in the top 1% of the game this is it. Tom and Nicole are very little fish, and Kubrik is esentially saying to middle North America,
    “You will never get the chance to enjoy these types of human excesses, and hedonistic pleasures, and power, but and so be content with your little pleasures, and be awake to the ordinary love you have right at hand.”
    Some of that is a calling to be awake and satisfied with real love, which sounds fine, but another aspect is to stay in your place and let the big boys continue to FUBAR anyting they like, and play by hidden but nevertheless deadly rules or codes…. Face it, little fish don’t have any power to alter the situation anyhow.
    Like I wrote, it could be one way to ride out the collapse, so to speak….

  • “In other words, “Ein Sof” signifies “the nameless being.” In another passage the Zohar reduces the term to “Ein” (non-existent), because God so transcends human understanding as to be practically non-existent.”

    Yes, that’s my understanding too, Robin, and Ein Sof correlates with its equivalent term in other traditions, e.g. the 8th jhana, and the Cloud of Unknowing, etc.

    “The rejection arises from a very deep bitterness at the failure of the prescribed mode of faith to mitigate the harshness of reality.”

    Yes. I think we can expect to see huge waves of that phenomenon as the crises deepen, and dis-illusioned individuals inflict their anger and pain upon others as a sort of retaliatory revenge… probably it’ll be harnessed as a political force, as it was in the 1930s blackshirts and brownshirts. I think we see it in the angry destruction of sufi tombs in Timbuktu, and it happened during the English civil war, when stained glass windows in churches and cathedrals, as if destroying an inanimate symbol releases the pain of perceived betrayal.

  • MB :Well, it was an idiotic quip that completely missed the point.

    Yes, idiotic, perfectly matching the tone and tenor of your idiotic contribution. If you had said something profound and insightful, then I’d have matched that quality, and we might have had a productive worthwhile exchange, but as it is you continue your loudmouth vituperation on topics that you have made no serious attempt to understand. Shame.

  • Paul Chefurka :“Yes, the seeker and all further seeking vanishes in that moment of realization. However, even in that moment, “self understanding” can be a slippery thing. Am “I” pure awareness? Or does awareness simply provide the container within which the sense of “I” arises, along with everything else? Should “I” strive to understand the answer? For me the most profoundly satisfying answer to the question “What am I?” is, “I don’t know.””

    No knower, and no known. No awareness, only Void. That’s where the big mistake of the Western scientific quest was made, by Descartes, who never persevered to that point, and so settled for ‘I think, therefore I am’, and we’ve been stuck with the consequences ever since. Derrida would call it logocentrism, an unbalanced emphasis upon logos and verbal knowledge.

    As I understand it, regular entry into that level of Unknowing, doing it for no reason at all, produces immense and profound changes to everything one is.

  • One of my favorite funny movies is Pecker http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0126604/
    Its also one of the best commentaries I have ever seen on the elite art world. And had I not seen it I wouldn’t have known why the Tea Party folks calling themselves tea baggers was so funny. Pecker is a young amateur photographer who takes pictures of his community. He is discovered by a talent scout and makes it big time in the art world, but almost loses the people he loves. His family is a hoot – his mother dresses street people to be fashionable in a second hand clothing store. His grandmother has a virgin mary statue that talks, his sister works at a male dance club, and his girlfriend is the most dedicated laundromat owner you have ever seen. His crazy world is absolute sanity compared to the elite art world. Its a gem of a movie and a great commentary on what is important in life especially here as we sit at the blog at the end of the world.

  • Thanks again everyone for your thoughtful responses. Much to ponder, nothing to do but be until life’s over.

  • John Day,

    Thank you for sharing your insight into the shenanigans Monsanto uses to shape the outcome of the studies it funds to find its products “safe” for humans and the environment. None of this surprises me, although I was not aware of many of the manipulations you mentioned.

    I was wondering if you would mind my copying your comment and sharing it with friends, both via email and my FB page. I would be happy to leave out your name, if you wish, since it’s not really necessary to get the message through.

    Thank you again, John, for posting this.

    Judy

  • “nothing to do but be until life’s over.”
    Or
    “The only living boy in New York.
    I get the news I need on the weather report.
    I can gather all the news I need on the weather report.
    Hey, I’ve got nothing to do today but smile. ” Simon and Garfunkle

  • We’ve known for a long time about basic polar amplification. Warming melts highly reflective white ice and snow, which is replaced by the dark blue sea or dark land, both of which absorb far more sunlight and hence far more solar energy.

    More recently another insidious feedback has become obvious — as the Arctic ice retreats, big oil companies can drill for more fossil fuels whose combustion will accelerate warming and ice retreat. You might call this the “brainless frog” feedback.

    Now Reuters reports on yet another feedback:

    Local pollution in the Arctic from shipping and oil and gas industries, which have expanded in the region due to a thawing of sea ice caused by global warming, could further accelerate that thaw, experts say.

    The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) said there was an urgent need to calculate risks of local pollutants such as soot, or “black carbon”, in the Arctic. Soot darkens ice, making it soak up more of the sun’s heat and quickening a melt….

    “There is a grim irony here that as the ice melts … humanity is going for more of the natural resources fuelling this meltdown,” he said. Large amounts of soot in the Arctic come from more distant sources such as forest fires or industry.

    So the direct pollution from shipping and fossil fuel extraction could speed up Arctic melt.
    http://www.energybulletin.net/stories/2012-09-20/arctic-death-spiral-new-local-shipping-and-drilling-pollution-may-speed-polar-war

  • MB,

    Tonight is wine night! Time to chill (and that includes me-in spades) :-)

  • It was insightful, but you’re not here to share, you’re here to monologue and blow wind. You don’t impress me in the least, but obviously, you do impress yourself. You’re full of hot air…that’s it. You do have a way with words, but your words lack depth and substance, and you both repeat yourself and contradict yourself repeatedly. The fact that you find so little common ground with anyone or anything shows me that you’re just here to relieve your hard-on to argue ad nauseam about everything, and yet nothing. I take particular pleasure in knowing that when this thing finally does go down, so too will what I just described. Hallelujah!!

    Insightful ?? Oh sure. Idiot. Now why would I want to impress YOU ? Shallow, superficial, opinionated fool.
    You have not done the work, but you want to claim the fruits. That makes you a fraud, a con man, a huckster, trying to gain status under false pretenses. Shame.

  • MB,

    I’m already there, and I understand!

  • “When it comes right down to it, our modern categories of “real” and “unreal,” and also the subdivision of the unreal into “imaginary” and “hallucinated,” are essentially linguistic and conceptual political plays. They’re ways of policing consciousness by giving people ways to pigeonhole their experiences in prefabricated ontological slots. And—to grossly misquote Shakespeare—reality itself flows right through and past those slots, because there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our current flatland versions of philosophy and psychology. Fortunately, recent developments like the resurgence of psychedelic research and thought, the birth of the “paranthropology” movement as exemplified by Jack Hunter’s excellent journal of that title, and the serious philosophical attention being given to shamanism are all addressing the imperialism and shortcomings of the modern Western mindset.”

    http://cosmicomicon.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/tc-blog-review-interview-matt-cardin.html

  • ulvfugl,

    Isn’t it obvious [why the DMM is made available in physical form]?

    To spread the work around, to give money and hope to good people whom you like and respect, people dedicated to creating beauty, rather than to some anonymous corporation where nobody cares and they just churn out whatever satisfies the lowest common denominator and maximises profit margins.

    Exactly.

    It’s about QUALITY. Quality in everything you do, ( as an expression of soul!)…I think the idea of ‘quality’ has a lot to contribute. Each step, each breath, each word, each push of the trowel into the earth, each kiss on the cheek, every expression of what we are, has immense potential

    Yes.

    We cannot say, with any precision, when we will die, as individuals, or when the entire planet will become uninhabitable, or when civilisation will collapse. We can foresee that it WILL happen, inevitably, some time…but all these events have to have error bars, uncertainty, so we cannot be sure whether the graph will drop off a cliff, go down like a staircase, or be a long arc.

    Just to speculate, prevention of Guy’s runaway climate change/ELE (extinction level event) scenario might require a combination of global economic collapse (to collapse carbon emissions) plus a volcanic eruption large enough to throw enough sulfur into the atmosphere to dramatically cool the planet for several years (to put the Arctic into a long hard freeze to rebuild the ice cap).

    So, while we witness this thing roll out, what do we do? It would be nice to change the course of history and bring everyone back to sanity. But that doesn’t seem to be possible. So then what do we do? Keep trying? Give up? Or accept powerlessness and enjoy each moment being as happy as we can manage to be?

    From the moment we wake, devote ourselves to the perfection of whatever we pursue. The perfect apple is a rare thing. We could spend our entire lives looking for one and it would not be a wasted life.

  • Oz,

    I love it that your son noticed the necessity of mutations – no life without them.

    “So it follows for me that a primary purpose of life is to remain alive, via any form of reproduction or replication possible on this planet. ”

    I would disagree with the “purpose” part. “Purpose” comes after-the-fact and is the opinion of the observer (some critter smart enough to recognize it is alive). Life is just a result of the process we call a universe – more of an mostly unintended consequence that is bound to happen than anything else maybe?

    Like the stars – stars do not have a “purpose” that I am aware of. But the process of life required the creation of all the elements by the stars, and requires the star’s corralling and heating of orbiting planets, so maybe we can think the purpose of the stars is to generate life?

    I don’t think so. But, that is the opinion of this one observer only. FWIW ; )

  • ulvfugl, thanks for the insight into “Descartes’ Mistake”. It rang a great big bell for me.

    Arthur Johnson, “From the moment we wake, devote ourselves to the perfection of whatever we pursue.” Like speaking the perfect admonition, perhaps? Very well said.

  • “From the moment we wake, devote ourselves to the perfection of whatever we pursue. The perfect apple is a rare thing. We could spend our entire lives looking for one and it would not be a wasted life.”

    That’s interesting, AJ. Yes, I went through a long phase holding that view. I think it’s valuable, instructive, important, make it habitual. But then I sort of let it all go, left that phase behind, because I found the perfection was always there anyway, requiring no effort or devotion. But I wouldn’t have found that if I hadn’t done the disciplined bit, the quest, first.

    I think it’s a bit like those Japanese tea ceremony places. They manicure the garden to achieve absolute perfection. Then the tea master goes out and looks and is sort of horrified by the imposed orderliness from the immaculate grooming and has to spread some dead leaves around to add a touch of natural messy scruffiness.

  • “thanks for the insight into “Descartes’ Mistake”. It rang a great big bell for me.”

    Thanks for the thanks, Paul. :-)

    Yes, I’m wanting to write a proper blog post on that, because it seems so fundamental and needs to be thought through in a coherent lucid manner… but I keep getting distracted by other stuff…. this internet is like a conveyor belt, keeps on bringing new stuff faster than I can keep up :-)

  • ulvfugl, I think what you’re referring to is called “wabi sabi”. Persian carpetmakers deliberately put mistakes into their carpets for much the same reason.

    However, there is a big difference between deliberately eschewing the search for perfection and simply not caring enough to try in the first place.

  • …Perhaps simple mindfulness is enough.

  • AJ : “Just to speculate, prevention of Guy’s runaway climate change/ELE (extinction level event) scenario might require a combination of global economic collapse (to collapse carbon emissions) plus a volcanic eruption large enough to throw enough sulfur into the atmosphere to dramatically cool the planet for several years (to put the Arctic into a long hard freeze to rebuild the ice cap).”

    Yeah, but to speculate around that line of thought. What if the whole system has a sort of Gaian physiology, along the lines I wrote about on my blog, so we can think of it as a unique (as far as we know) organism or quasi-organism, in its own right, with it’s own obscure homeostatic vitality, then perhaps it ‘wants’ to develop a fever, to rid itself of this parasitic plague that our species has become…

    In which case, our ignorant attempts to fix it may be counter-productive, or not… We’re totally in the dark, like a bunch of peasants, in flickering candle light, around a sick family member, who is obviously seriously ill, possibly near death, but we are unable to diagnose or to cure…. and we’re arguing about whether to apply more leeches or whether to try trepanation…

    My intuition says, ffs, let’s stop making things even worse, with insane schemes to extract Arctic oil and put mirrors into space and so forth… but TPTB are going to do whatever they are going to do… :-(

  • Paul : “However, there is a big difference between deliberately eschewing the search for perfection and simply not caring enough to try in the first place.”

    Oh yes, indeed. I should have made that clear. Maybe half a lifetime seeking perfection, and another half forgetting about it ;-)

    “…Perhaps simple mindfulness is enough.”

    Yes. A great teacher. Every minute zen. Never missing anything.

    Possibly that practice re-engineers the entire brain, as shown in a video I posted recently by a young woman whose name escapes me for the moment, so that after long practice, practice is automatic, effortless.

    But then there is also the inner work to consider, the jhanas, etc, which is a bit different to mindfulness.

    But, thinking about it, working at mindfulness could be a mistake, because it’s imposing a pre-conception.
    Maybe the Soto thing, just observe intently, no attempt to change anything, like watching clouds.

  • My understanding of mindfulness is what you describe as Soto – simply observing intently. Not a practice, just a way of being. Communication would be so much easier if it wasn’t for all this language getting in the way.

    I’m not a Buddhist, but my caution about jhanas is that it’s very easy for the monkey-mind to get caught in states of consciousness, and mistake them for the end-point. Neti neti – states are not it, any more than thoughts or feelings, body or mind.

  • Humans and non-humans have a natural preference for symmetrical over non-symmetrical form, whether that form be visual, aural, or tactile.

    But of course: birds of a feather flock together:

    “The bilateria are all animals having a bilateral symmetry, i.e. they have a front and a back end, as well as an upside and downside. Radially symmetrical animals like jellyfish have a topside and downside, but no front and back. The bilateralia are a subregnum (a major group) of animals, including the majority of phyla; the most notable exceptions are the sponges, belonging to Parazoa, and cnidarians belonging to Radiata. For the most part, Bilateria have bodies that develop from three different germ layers, called the endoderm, mesoderm, and ectoderm. From this they are called triploblastic. Nearly all are bilaterally symmetrical, or approximately so. The most notable exception is the echinoderms, which achieve near-radial symmetry as adults, but are bilaterally symmetrical as larvae.”

    But beauty lies in the eye of the beerholder: one man’s meat is another man’s poison.

  • Paul, again re …Perhaps simple mindfulness is enough.

    I think there are actually different schools of thought on that, and probably, it’s not wise to offer a blanket response, because it should be tailored to the specific individual and their current attitude and character.

    The way I see it, we have our own inherent wisdom, built in, natural human nature, and we should respect that. It’s sort of intrinsic, in our body and unconscious mind. So we don’t want to screw it up even more than it’s already been screwed up by the usual process of education and socialization and cultural colonisation of our being.

    I mean, it’s possible for mindfulness to be misunderstood. I’ve met people who claimed to be doing it, who were actually trying to force themselves to conform to some sort of ridiculous code of behaviour, suppressing everything that they thought was unacceptable, etc.

  • Judy,
    I post things with my very own name, because I have nothing to hide.
    In fact I’m flattered if people find my work useful and even more flattered if they bandy my name about.
    there are a lot of John Days, anyway, even some non-human John Days in Oregon, and a fish by that name, oddly enough…

  • Robin Datta,

    But beauty lies in the eye of the beerholder: one man’s meat is another man’s poison.

    Yes. Hence the importance of the rest of what I wrote: “This innate sense of “beauty” [preference for symmetrical over non-symmetrical forms] is then filtered through whatever human or non-human culture the particular individual is living in.”

  • “My understanding of mindfulness is what you describe as Soto – simply observing intently. Not a practice, just a way of being.”

    Oh good. That’s sort of what I meant. Learning and insight just happens automatically and effortlessly, you just have to pay close attention and put all the ego crap out of the way, and let yourself be the thing that you are

    “I’m not a Buddhist, but my caution about jhanas is that it’s very easy for the monkey-mind to get caught in states of consciousness, and mistake them for the end-point. Neti neti – states are not it, any more than thoughts or feelings, body or mind.

    Well, finding the jhanas and then getting into them properly is extremely hard work, which is why so few people know anything about it :-)

    Yes, ‘states are not it’, but I see the jhanas as kind of like having a bath. You do it when it’s appropriate. The rest of the time you do mindfulness in everyday life. Then, without any effort or intention, the jhanas show up in everyday life and everyday life becomes a magic carpet ride, instead of a confused and confusing chore ;-)

  • This was the video lecture I meant, by Sara Lazar. if changes can be detected after three months, what does that mean for someone whose done it for a lifetime ? It kinda says that you can make your own self to your own specification… just as bodybuilders make their physique, you can consciously grow your brain into different ways of being…

    http://www.monsangelorum.net/?p=4104&cpage=1#comment-871

  • Morocco,

    I don’t know if the spectrum of autistic traits are being “selected,” or favored, because I have no idea if they increase the chance of survival and reproduction.

    It looks more and more like autism and many other diseases are an unintended consequence of industrial culture. See the “hygiene hypothesis.”

    That’s an interesting link, thanks. I suppose the behaviors of autism could be sort of a default pattern our brain goes back to – sort of “a remnant of our past as foragers.” But I would not say the resurgence of autism is in “anticipation” of anything – anticipation by whom/what ???

  • Kathy, I’m sorry, but I take issue with your potshot against art.

    I’m pretty sure the family in that movie is just as bad as the art world. Clothing stores, laundromats, stuff, stuff, STUFF. That’s supposed to be the “good alternative?” Consumerism helped cause the whole environmental mess to begin with.

    Jeez, artists paint about the natural world all the time and have been warning us for years that the American way of life is shallow and empty, and THEY’RE the ones you’re calling the enemy?

    I recently took a visit to the National Art Gallery in DC, looking at the beautiful paintings there. The artists painted gritty stuff like people in villages sewing clothes together and turning it into play, or people living in East Side Manhattan streets, etc.

    So here’s irony for you: as elite as you might find art, it’s the only way to rise above the ocean of kitsch. Ironically, the only way to be “real” is to reject the “reality” our culture presents us with, as artists have skill in doing.

  • ulvfugl,

    Re: the direction being taken by DM.

    Since I’m not familiar with any of the details wrt your experiences with DM and the Unciv forum moderators, there’s not a whole lot I can say. From a distance, the origins of the dispute appear to lie in genuine differences in perspective: how precisely “civilization” needs to be defined/understood, which path (story vs. scientific theory vs. some blend of the two) is the better way forward in dealing with the coming calamity, DM as a refuge vs as a force for fundamental cultural change, etc. All of which was then amplified by personality issues leading to the break-up. Unfortunate.

    Personally, being in the U.S., I’ve done little more than lurk. My impression, though, at least wrt the website, is that most of the valuable, insightful stuff takes place at the blog, or in the books, at the workshops, etc., not at the unciv forum. It’s important to keep in mind just how difficult it is to try to do what PK and DH are trying to do. They’re literally trying to re-connect people to the wild, most of whom have never actually experienced before, as well as change their entire internal psychology, and the stories and narratives that internally drive them. That’s a very tall order to fill in a short period of time. It’s only been a little more than three years since the Manifesto was published. So I wouldn’t count DM out just yet. They’re only at round 4 of a 15-round match.

  • ulvfugl,

    Again, re the quality of the book. Is there any point in publishing and printing books at all anymore ? Most information is now digital and virtual,

    But, of course, you know the answer. Per the Manifesto:

    “because virtual reality is, ultimately, no reality at all.”

  • AJ, what you say re DM is probably very fair, I’m not really an objective observer. I have to avoid the temptation to be drawn into malicious gossip about the neighbours, so to speak, just because we had an acrimonious altercation about how the boundary hedge should be trimmed. Yes, the whole thing is in flux, rather like college, a new batch of students repeating the same old questions and opinions as last year’s, not realising that the teacher has heard it all before, over and over

    Yes, but by extension, if one takes Kathy’s argument, that there’s no point in making a hand-sewn book, because we’re going to become extinct, therefore all is hubris and vanity… then there’s no point in doing anything at all, good, bad, or indifferent.

    That’s the sort of miserable nihilism that alcoholics and junkies often use to explain their condition. I know that world. What’s the point in being born, if you’re going to die anyway ? What’s the point in getting educated if there are no jobs ? Negative feedback loops to justify and conceal some inner fear. Existentialism spent a lot of time bogged down in that sort of paralysis and despair.

    But all these things are just lines of thought, neuro-chemical activity, electric pulses across synapses. I’t just as easy to have the thought ‘I am a good person’ as it is to have the thought ‘I am a bad person’. Neither has any substantial connection to the reality of what you are. They’re just ‘thought’, stories we tell ourselves.

    Most people never get to have a break in the internal story telling, and mistake it for reality.

    Zen knows how to break the impasse. A silent mind. Direct sensual awareness without commentary. That sort of thing.

  • I recall that Castenada called it ‘Stopping the world’.

  • As an antidote – I find this is wonderful. The world is full of such astounding mystery and marvel. Oh, if I could have my life over again, and spend time in that sublime valley, exploring those caves….

    http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2012/10/mustang-caves/finkel-text

  • Navid, you wrote “I would disagree with the “purpose” part. “Purpose” comes after-the-fact and is the opinion of the observer (some critter smart enough to recognize it is alive). Life is just a result of the process we call a universe – more of an mostly unintended consequence that is bound to happen than anything else maybe?”

    Glad to hear someone making sense in this increasingly insane discussion.

    Ways to deny that we are mortal
    Religion
    Pseudo religion
    Belief in civilization and art as proof that we are unique (we are unique but we are still mortal)
    Belief that we carry on in our progeny (after a few generations it is possible that none of our unique genes are still there)
    Belief that we carry on in our species (all species go extinct)
    Belief in a purpose for our lives
    Belief that the universe matters

    All desperate attempts to not look death in the face. What matters is not good art, souls, religion, lasting longer than others etc. What matters is the moment and it is death that gives our every moment meaning for at any moment we could have no more moments. So smile, dance, and hug someone you love.

    Ah well when the stench of 7 billion people dying earlier than expected fills our nostrils people may finally get it.

  • Arthur Johnson, your comment “story vs. scientific theory vs. some blend of the two” suggests a gap in understanding. IMO the idea of science is every bit as much a cultural story as Norse mythology. It’s part of the foundational narrative of our culture – how we explain who we are to ourselves.

    DM isn’t suggesting a substitution of story for science. Instead they are suggesting a shift in the stories we tell about ourselves. Science will remain a part of them, but as I understand it they mainly want to blunt the razor’s edge of our separationist, dominationist stories with respect to our place within nature and with respect to each other.

    It’s common for people in our culture to think of cultural narratives or myths as something that only “uncivilized” peoples have. While scientific theories and the scientific method itself are unique tools by which we explore our universe, the “idea of science” is a story. In other words science is a tool but scientism is a story – one to which Western industrial civilization is very much in thrall.

  • John Day, thank you. I received both of your messages, and I’ll will be happy to bandy about your name along with what you wrote.

    judy

  • Paul Chefurka

    To jump in on your discusson with Arthur Johnson…

    IMHO religions were/are foundation stories that are psychologically supportive of childhood mentality and consciousness. Science is IMHO an attempt to reconcile the earlier state of consciousness of the religion business cosmology with developmental growth impulses. Science take a typically adolescent independant and thesis/antithesis approach to it’s earlier foundation of religion.
    I agree in principle with you that religion and science are complexes of stories and self talk that bare no semblence to a complete understanding of reality, (my paraphrase with that). However, IMHO, there is a futher stage of growth and that is what we confront as we become,(if) fully human adults. Religion and science are commonly recognised as limitations on consciousness, in part on a collective level now, for their misplaced destruction of the biosphere.

    The adult psychologically has grown beyond the need or desire to relate, or be, in reality through models. The real unmediated experience of existance is required. As in the Matrix, the red pill is now the only option:

    “The red pill and its opposite, the blue pill, are pop culture symbols representing the choice between the blissful ignorance of illusion (blue) and embracing the sometimes painful truth of reality (red).”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_pill_and_blue_pill

    That may also be an inflection point of the adolescent, the desire or impulse to know the truth, but the adolescent is still carrying the baggage of the childhood conditioning, and is attemting to throw off those stories and patterns of thought and action. Still in reaction to earlier conditioning and adaptation.

    There is a tendency for many to disclaim and dispise the previous adaptation from which they possibly have struggled to emerge, (retaining sanity sometimes even, it can be that critical) and antismokers who are previous smokers is a popular example of too much emphasis on the badness of smoking and not enough care to the person who is struggling, even refusing to give up.

    Also people who were once religious, and then have found huge weaknesses and corruption in the mainstream heart of their faith, or even subtle limitations of being embedded therein, can have a wound that is difficult to visit, let alone heal.
    When they jump ship to a new view, say science, or some form of agnosticism, or nihlism, or even hedonism, it can be for the right reasons, but hold the pain of the tearing apart of the previous self and all its compassionate endeavour, and desire for great divine love to be the decisive healing force in the world.
    I am thinking now in some ways of what I know of Kathy C’s history with Christianity, (oversiplified here and taken as she has put down recently, without judgmnetalism intended on my part). Jumping ship is a natural attempt to grow beyond what were devotional adaptations to the world of universal suffering and the cure in universal love.

    The codified stories of Christianity, for example of a foundation religion, are concerned with individuals who have gone through great transformation due mostly to divine intervention and love, and compassion. Paul’s conversion on the raod to Damascus, on his way to persecute the new Christians, and Christs defence of the woman who is so be stoned to death, with ‘He who has not sinned shall cast the first stone” come to mind. These stories BTW move me too, but not to be a Christian, just to undo prejudice and the motivation to hatered.

    So IMHO childhood, adolescence, and adulthood are where we are at, and there is no need to serverly denounce any of these cosmologies or stages or adaptations, but more important is to recognise that individuals and groups and world cultures can be dominated by the needs and viewpoints of their particular adaptaions to the growth cycle. IMHO that helps to posit any solutions to big problems.

    Because vulnerability and innocence, even gullability are qualities of small children, we attempt to protect them from the harder issues and traumas possible in real existance, in the physical as well as the emotional sense. Adolescence is marked by a more critical and even defiant capacity for resilliance and self governance in terms of emotional and physical self management. The mind is also more robust and able to interrogate and navigate prejudice, implied fallacies of cultural conditioning, and subjectivity. Or at least attempt to. In part that change involves a reassessment, and very often a struggle to come to new individual values on cultural and family views, cosmology and life obligation. The impulse is to discover what is really going on, and in the context of emerging from a particular world view. The human environment can bare strongly on the ease or difficulty encountered, as many of us know from our own family experiences.

    However, as with the earlier stage adolescence does run its course, and a new impulse to directly experience reality, without models of reality in the way arises, and IMHO this is what many of the esoteric schools within mainstream religions were attempting to accomplish. Indeed it is what Science was motivated to accomplish, but it has been caught in the trap of overlegitimisation of its counter-religious precepts, and has denied much experience and evidence that contradicts its methods and cosmological models. Again, Science emerged from the limitations of religion, (still there in some place in the world).

    Also, an adult experiences reality in a direct, observant and clear way, knowing the limits of present knowledge in a situation, and when to act and what to do. Without the conditioning, and the reaction to conditioning that so ditorts and disturbs many, being is far simpler.
    The fact that this is a very rare individual in our times is testament to the difficulties of getting beyond the earlier conditioning and reaction to conditioning.
    Many people feel that they can never go back and undo all that they term the wasted years doing things that came to nothing. I have always been able to accept that if I desire to develop the full self, and be truly human, and infinitly happy, then where I are now is only because of all that I was in the past, and that ‘now’ I am always in a position to continue growing.
    Lots of caviets apply here of course, and I am not disregarding the 1 billion still struggling to feed themselves and their children etc.
    Religion and science have got us to this point in time, and many can point to these two pillars of Empire as the root cause of the planetary predicament, accepting that human population overshoot is here.

    However, the root cause IMHO of the mess of unstoppable Empire is our inability to experience reality directly, and our collective desire to be stuck in these early stages of adaptation to the universe, with their models of reality.
    Satisfaction, or not, with the dominant narratives of religions or science is no longer a game changer for the future of the planet, as Guy has communicated. What is done is done, and yes still being done with 3% annual growth, (…funny how cutting down trees and habitat loss can be termed ‘growth’ by any rubric).
    What we do is still of importance IMHO, because if we continue to grow we will be able to respond to reality with greater intellegence, and assist our fellow beings, of all forms along the way.
    No solution here, but Being can be a solution of sorts. it all depends on how we live each moment.

    (Kath C – I make no attempt here to summarise your life of be critical of your journey, I just felt I wanted to compassionatly recognise some of the deep wound it appears you feel in the previous humanitarian endeavours you put your whole self into. I could never account for another’s life and so called ‘stage of development’. I write in broard terms about culture, and it is in our own hearts that we are thus or thus, not for others to pontificate upon. I hope you accept this clarification.)

  • Morocco Bama

    I just noticed your mentioning my name in an earlier post in connection with Antichrist. In order that you can forget about this once and for all, I want to point out that my abandoning the film after a few minutes tells you very little about the film and a lot about me. I watch a lot of movies at the cinema and its difficult for my small screen to compete. Any film I watch at home had better convince me of its merits pretty damn quickly or I’ll get bored and switch off. The majority don’t. Similarly, a long time ago I used to like watching “major” sporting events, but it got to the point where even if I’d been looking forward to an “important” final, I’d inevitably lose interest and switch off after a few minutes. Now I don’t have access to television any more because I don’t want to waste my life watching it. I don’t spend much time on the internet either. The only other two web sites I visit are hotmail and the bbc (apart from the odd link from this blog I click on).

    ulvfugl

    Despite our initial exchange of name calling, I have warmed to you. Partly because I admire your passion and what you’ve done for the virgin forest and partly because my grandma was from Pontypool! I’m even prepared to believe your story about knowing the type of mail you were receiving whilst still asleep, whether through subliminal messages or unexplained powers of the mind. It’s easy to see how some kinds of sixth sense would be of benefit in evolution and therefore given our incomplete understanding of physics I won’t rule them out. However, when you tell stories about objects appearing by magic just when you need them, then I start to doubt your sanity. It’s similar to when Guy or the articles he links to talk about extinction of all life by mid century. I doubt even the disasters you mentioned could cause this to happen. Nothing save a nearby star going supernova or the oceans boiling dry could cause total extinction of all life on earth.

    Morocco and ulvfugl

    This isn’t intended as criticism, but your frequent bickering reminds me of one of the reasons I prefer living in SE Asia to the UK. People here are far less competitive and confrontational, at least in a direct way. When a group of Westerners get together and talk there is often a competitive edge to the conversation that is not present when the locals talk together.

    Because I am from the West, I think there is nothing wrong with the occasional heated exchange so long as you don’t carry it around with you. The people I’ve always got on with the best are those who don’t bear grudges. I’ve had real fights with people occasionally (long ago) and the next day it was as if it never happened. How it should be IMHO.

  • unholy crap Kathy! LOL.

    Reality is a bitch, ain’t HeShe?! Life itself is just sort of a “splash” in time, and each of us just a drop-in-the-moment during that very, very long splash. Or “dust in the wind” as per Guy’s most excellent choice of song-tags for a post.

    Remember Douglas Adam’s whale that “improbably” appeared 800 miles above a moon… and then slowly recognized itself as a self… hearing noise and saying, “Hmmm , I wonder what that is ???” and “Hmmm, I can move this… flipper…and…” then >SMACK/SplasH< into the surface of the moon.

    I think we humans are in the process of one of those kinds of moments ; )

    Glad to hear someone making sense in this increasingly insane discussion.

    Ways to deny that we are mortal
    Religion
    Pseudo religion
    Belief in civilization and art as proof that we are unique (we are unique but we are still mortal)
    Belief that we carry on in our progeny (after a few generations it is possible that none of our unique genes are still there)
    Belief that we carry on in our species (all species go extinct)
    Belief in a purpose for our lives
    Belief that the universe matters

    All desperate attempts to not look death in the face. What matters is not good art, souls, religion, lasting longer than others etc. What matters is the moment and it is death that gives our every moment meaning for at any moment we could have no more moments. So smile, dance, and hug someone you love.

    Ah well when the stench of 7 billion people dying earlier than expected fills our nostrils people may finally get it.

  • The intractability of the problem of reconciling science with “spirituality” stems from the lack of discernment of consciousness which illumines the material world.

    Within the material world can be recognised gross manifestations such as the body (and the brain). There are also subtle manifestations such a the functions of the reptilian brain (emotions, instincts) the mammalian brain (values, morals, ethics) and the primate brain (intellect). All of these are affected by conditions that affect the brain (physical trauma, chemicals, tumours, diseases, etc).

    Consciousness is not apparent as an object. Light itself if not directly seen is invisible. A beam of light passing from left to right in front of a person is apparently non-existent unless there is some material object – even a particle of dust or a wisp of smoke – in its path. But one can see such a light if one steps into the beam and looks directly at it. So too, objectless consciousness can be perceived directly be the intellect.

    But just as a reflection of the sun in a lake full of waves and ripples is seen as the glistening and glittering of the waves and ripples, so too consciousness reflected off “objects” in the mind/ego/intellect is recognised as the perception of those objects. It is said that “perception” is reality. It is actually the process by which an image of some phenomenon (an external object, a memory, etc.) is made into an object in the mind/ego/intellect. When this object is illumined by the consciousness it is is recognised as being “perceived” by the “perceiver”. External “reality” is dependent on the process of creation of an object in the mind/ego/intellect: the ears of a bat, the nose of a dog, the eyes of a butterfly (sensitive to ultraviolet light) all create different “realities” from our own.

    The “I” is the consciousness illuminating the mind/ego/intellect. This “I”nidentifies with the body/brain, and thence with other characteristics including those derived from gender, society, relationships, etc.

    Consciousness itself is not an object and has no parts. It is therefore referred to in some traditions as the Emptiness or the Void. But unlike light, for which there are external objects, in the absence of consciousness there are no objects: it is not an emergent property of objects; objects are an appearance because of it. Conditioned in many ways, it seems to be the manifold separate consciousnesses. It is neither an “I” nor a “not-I”.

    Science is valid where it does not venture into domains where it has to address consciousness, a veritable quagmire because the primacy of consciousness is not understood.

  • One of the biggest things to Let Go:

    The Last Day

  • Paul Chefurka : Arthur Johnson, your comment “story vs. scientific theory vs. some blend of the two” suggests a gap in understanding. IMO the idea of science is every bit as much a cultural story as Norse mythology. It’s part of the foundational narrative of our culture – how we explain who we are to ourselves.

    DM isn’t suggesting a substitution of story for science. Instead they are suggesting a shift in the stories we tell about ourselves. Science will remain a part of them, but as I understand it they mainly want to blunt the razor’s edge of our separationist, dominationist stories with respect to our place within nature and with respect to each other.

    It’s common for people in our culture to think of cultural narratives or myths as something that only “uncivilized” peoples have. While scientific theories and the scientific method itself are unique tools by which we explore our universe, the “idea of science” is a story. In other words science is a tool but scientism is a story – one to which Western industrial civilization is very much in thrall.

    I’ve given thought to this area and its problems, so I’ll offer my take, if I may.

    Some of the confusion stems from the fact that the subject crosses many different academic disciplines, anthropology, psychology, philosophy, literature, etc, etc, each with their own territorial boundaries and technical jargon.

    So, if we start with that word, culture, and think of it very simply and crudely, as a bundle of stories that are in people’s heads. Of course, that’s inadequate, because we are talking of many millions of people, and immensely complex stories with roots that go back several millennia. As you said, these stories are how we explain who we are, to ourselves. They are how we orientate ourselves, moment to moment, day to day, in relationship to all that exists and all we experience. They give our lives and activities meaning. And it’s not a static thing, it’s a flux, a river.

    So then we can split these stories into two main categories, surprisingly easily. Mythos and logos. There appears to be a reason why it is so easy.
    That’s because of our brain structure. Left brain and right brain, which for some peculiar reason, have very different, and conflicting, preferences as to ‘how to know’.

    Mythos knowledge is poetic, intuitive, emotive, sensual. Logos knowledge is literal, logical, reasoned, cerebral.

    It’s not the case that one or the other is ‘better’, both are valid and essential. But typically, individuals tend to favour one or the other, because one or other side of their brain dominates, at a particular time. Grossly oversimplified, musicians and painters are right brain folk, lawyers and scientists are left brain folk.

    This physically-based biological heritage often makes it almost impossible for individuals to communicate and have mutual understanding, because they are coming from such radically different world-views. But we can try, what else can we do ? :-)

    I differ slightly from what you say, Paul, re science. I think that ALL we HAVE are stories, and that includes science, a logos-type story. However, science ( and law ) are a special sub-category of story. Their stories have to be attached to empirical evidence. The narrative, in other words, has to conform to some tangible, testable, measurable, logical, demonstrable terrain, in a rather precise way. Same goes for evidence in a court case.

    The exact relationship that is required between a science story and empirically testable phenomena, is extremely interesting and very hard to establish. I mean, we are talking about a statement emanating from a human mind, and the relationship of that statement to some corresponding aspect of reality. People once thought that this correspondence was simple, obvious, common-sense. ( That’s left us with the archaic heritage of logical positivism and scientism.) The more closely you study the matter, however, the more bewildering and problematic it gets.

    In mythos-type stories, this isn’t a problem. The relationship is whatever you imagine it to be. A ginger-bread house is a ginger-bread house because the story says so. But in quantum physics, the photon is a wave, or a particle, depending upon whether someone observes it or not, and Schroedinger’s Cat, inside the box, is simultaneously alive and dead, until you look, and it instantly becomes the one or the other.

    The manner in which these conundrums can best be comprehended remains to be resolved…. Nobody, as yet, has come up with a new paradigm which can contain and explain all the anomalies and enigmas. For me, that means the fundamental paradigm for reality, that we hold in our heads as a mental model, is mistaken, incorrect. The world is not what we think it is, nor how we think it is.

  • Nobody, as yet, has come up with a new paradigm which can contain and explain all the anomalies and enigmas.

    That’s true. Perhaps such a paradigm has not been formulated because it is unsayable:

    Nourishment is to live things that are unsayable, that cannot be formulated. This is awareness other than by force of will. If this is what is in store for us, it will not be uninteresting. I say this not as a voyeur but as one whose empathy is to the cohesion of the voyage. I believe the sign is displayed in fragments already on the scene, but the picture has to be put together. The problem of modern man isn’t to escape from one ideology to another, nor to escape from one formulation to find another; our problem is to live in the presence and in the attributes of reality. Then we will be able to put the picture together. This picture can only be the outcome of all the empathy given to many things observed in common. When many things are observed in common by the many who constitute a society, we will have reached a condition worth celebrating. — Frederick Sommer, ‘The Poetic Logic of Art and Aesthetics’

  • Hi Martin Knight

    “Perhaps such a paradigm has not been formulated because it is unsayable:

    I suppose that’s where Wittgenstein arrived, with his famous remark ‘Of that which we cannot speak we must remain silent’, but I’m not completely convinced that we cannot say more…

    I’m probably in full full agreement with Robin’s model, as outlined above, re consciousness. I suspect any differences between us are merely a matter of alternative wording. I think that that model is near enough to work with, as a general paradigm of reality.

    If we accept the analysis that I outlined above, re stories, then bring zen into the picture, I’d say zen is a special kind of story, one that eats all stories, both mythos and logos. It’s the direct confrontation of mind with reality, with no further commentary or interpretation.

    And what does zen have to say, concerning that enterprise and that encounter ? Well, it’s famous for it’s ‘direct pointings’, that defy all cultural conventions and analytic paradigms. The silent mind, whose consciousness is unified with the consciousness that pervades all things, the consciousness which pervades, indeed possibly IS, the whole Universe.

  • ex·tinct   [ik-stingkt]
    1. no longer in existence; that has ended or died out: an extinct species of fish.

    per Guy at the article he wrote for transition voice.

    http://transitionvoice.com/2012/08/not-even-a-spoonful-of-sugar-could-help/
    Every day, we have more reliable knowledge about the abyss into which we’ve plunged. Consider, for example, the International Energy Agency’s forecast of business-as-usual leading to a 6 C warmer planet by 2035.
    Malcolm Light, writing for the Arctic Methane Emergency Group, considers one of the many positive feedbacks we’ve triggered in one planetary region and reaches this conclusion:
    This process of methane release will accelerate exponentially, release huge quantities of methane into the atmosphere and lead to the demise of all life on earth before the middle of this century.

    Navid, yes I think it is time to dust off all my Doug Adams books – what better reading for these times. I forgot about the whale.

  • Navid and Kathy C, I agree. I think I’ll put out my Douglas Adams collection and reread those. It’s a clear reminder that The Virgin Terry is right: we live in a surreal world!

    In fact, the last 18 hours or so have had their own surreal quality for me. I’ve had to hire a nurse practitioner to help out with the madness at my office. She’s a middle aged woman who is a typical white, middle class, conservative Christian, mother of two.

    For some reason, while we were talking at the end of the day yesterday, she mentioned that Barack Obama was a Muslim. I almost fell out of my chair. On questioning, she admitted that she didn’t really know that he was a Muslim but that he “acted like he was”. The more we talked, the more I realized how deficient she is with critical thinking skills – at least as regards anything outside her traditional right-wing conservative viewpoint. She only works for me for two days a week. The rest of the time, she’s a teacher of other nurses. I just found the whole experience to be surreal, particularly when juxtaposed with the frequent conversations here about trying to educate people about collapse, etc.

    Later, we went to the county fair. I hadn’t been in decades, but now that we have goats and chickens, I wanted to go see the livestock. That part was a lot of fun – I met several local goat growers/farmers – but it was in stark contrast to all the little fat kids with fat parents running around (Arkansas is one of the most obese places on the planet) eating funnel cakes and cotton candy. No Earth-shattering wisdom to come from that, but it just seemed surreal. — Full disclosure: I had a couple bites of funnel cake myself. :-)

    Then, as Josh and I got on the Tilt-a-Whirl, I was again impressed with the surreality of the situation as a 52 year old doctor was screaming like a kid while riding a fair ride with his gay partner. Fun, but different.

  • When a group of Westerners get together and talk there is often a competitive edge to the conversation that is not present when the locals talk together.

    Morris Berman once asked a friend of his who practised the Feldenkrais technique what he had gained from it. After some thought, the practitioner replied that he had noticed that it was less and less important for him to win an argument.

  • Kathy and House, I just found this cut. The Improbable Whale moment for Humanity has lasted the a few hundred years – we are just starting to realize we have flippers !!! and that wind… hmmm “:

    “…It is important to note that suddenly, and against all probability, a Sperm Whale had been called into existence, several miles above the surface of an alien planet and since this is not a naturally tenable position for a whale, this innocent creature had very little time to come to terms with its identity. This is what it thought, as it fell:

    The Whale: Ahhh! Woooh! What’s happening? Who am I? Why am I here? What’s my purpose in life? What do I mean by who am I? Okay okay, calm down calm down get a grip now. Ooh, this is an interesting sensation. What is it? Its a sort of tingling in my… well I suppose I better start finding names for things. Lets call it a… tail! Yeah! Tail! And hey, what’s this roaring sound, whooshing past what I’m suddenly gonna call my head? Wind! Is that a good name? It’ll do. Yeah, this is really exciting. I’m dizzy with anticipation! Or is it the wind? There’s an awful lot of that now isn’t it? And what’s this thing coming toward me very fast? So big and flat and round, it needs a big wide sounding name like ‘Ow’, ‘Ownge’, ‘Round’, ‘Ground’! That’s it! Ground! Ha! I wonder if it’ll be friends with me? Hello Ground!… (whale dies).

    Curiously the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias, as it fell, was, ‘Oh no, not again.’ Many people have speculated that if we knew exactly *why* the bowl of petunias had thought that we would know a lot more about the nature of the universe than we do now.

    —–

    Don’t Panic!

    http://fuckyeahh2g2.tumblr.com/page/2

  • Tis a privilege to watch the Beginning
    Tis a privilege to watch the End
    Tis a privilege to raise the sword
    And to struggle by tooth and claw
    Tis a privilege to raise the hand
    And to caress both lover and child
    Tis a privilege to be conscious
    That hub of this eternal Now

  • Kathy,

    Intelligent humor like “HitchHiker’s Guide” is better than drugs or alcohol ; ).

    We really can’t take any of this personal, I think. We are happening because of what happened in the past. We do not have any real collective self-control. And there is no “purpose” that we are destined to fulfill… and we hate that. Especially the lack of self-control, and the lack of control over our destiny… blah, blah, blah. Goddamn, this is worser than when I learned there really wasn’t a Santa – I mean it. That sucked. This is worse.

    I have no idea how much if any life will make it through this transition. But this song is what I think of now when I think of things like this:

    ——————–

    House – it sounds like the nurse practitioner added to the madness in your office ; 0. She sounds pretty normal to me. Like you describe, I find myself sort of “shocked” once in a while to realize the majority of people around me at any given moment think mostly like your assistant. I am really glad you included the details of your night out – experience the surreality first hand once in a while.

  • oops… monkey fingers.

  • Dr. House I just had a neighbor tell me she would rather have a Mormon in the White House than a president. Must be that Fox News is gearing up the Muslim issue. I told her I didn’t think he was a Muslim or a Christian, that I didn’t think anyone in high office was religious at all. Egads Muslims don’t pray in the morning at school, they pray what 5 times a day on a rug facing Mecca. 4 years he has hidden that. And they were willing to impeach Clinton for a blow job but not Obama for forging a birth certificate and gaining the presidency illegally. Come on Inhoffe, come on Orin Hatch, come on Ryan and Romney – do your duty call out the Muslim for what he is.

    Clearly Fox and friends can subvert critical thinking (if it ever existed). Sometimes I will watch a Colbert clip or a clip from the Daily Show. I do love when the pull out the various Fox commentator comments and you get to hear them one after the other deliver the same line. Its the only time I ever see Fox except the waiting rooms of Dr’s offices. I am always appalled.

    There are times when I do not mourn the passing of human life on the planet. And other times that I can barely stand it – Raffi Big Beautiful Planet http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vk9aCy7vXs0

  • Dr. House – glad you had a good time at the fair. I always loved the rollercoaster – haven’t ridden for years but looks like we are at the top of the world rollercoaster and about to shoot down. What a ride it is going to be. Consider your enjoying the rides a preparation :)

  • Re. “Mormons”…

    Who gets into heaven ?… “The correct answer was…”

    http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/152270/abandon-all-hope

  • ulvfugl,

    I totally get what Kathy C is saying. It’s not nihilism. Think about it for a minute. She completely buys Guy’s claim that catastrophic global warming will cause human extinction by 2030 and extinction of all life by 2050. it’s a lock. It’s baked in the cake. No power on Earth or beyond can change that now. Humans have no more than 18 years to live. It’s a terminal condition. There.is.no.uncertainty. There.are.no.error.bars.

    If you accept that, if you buy Guy’s and Kathy C’s claim on that, then her advice on what to do in these last few years of human existence (“smile, dance, and hug someone you love”) makes perfect sense. Don’t you see? Kathy C is saying that it’s time to start the process of saying good-bye to all those you love or simply care about. The time has come to say all those things that you always wanted to say, or always meant to say, but for whatever reasons, you just couldn’t bring yourself to say. Now is the time to do that, because the time left is short. Very, very short. It’s time to “put all your affairs in order”, so to speak.

    Tick tock.

  • Arctic Sea Ice: What, Why, and What Next

    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2012/09/21/arctic-sea-ice-what-why-and-what-next/

    ————-
    Figure 3 is particularly interesting. The “phase-change” that Ugo Bardi talks about :

    “Kinnard was kind enough to send me the team’s underlying data. Combining it with satellite based observations from 1979 onward, the last few decades pop out. Ice coverage fluctuates for centuries, but stays in a narrow band, until suddenly, in the last few decades, the amount of ice left in late summer plunges.”

  • [Crosspost:]

    At first, it seems pretty bizarre,
    Our whole species crossing the bar;
    But we’re hearing the knell,
    So we might just as well
    See things as they really are.

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