Red Coral

by Duncan Charles Mason Mason pic

Googling images of the phrase “blood red coral” had only revealed an endless stream of images of red coral “crafted” into jewelry, as if it only existed set in silver or gold or in combination with gemstones and other precious materials. Only here or there on the scrolling web page did the coral appear in its natural state in the endlessly shifting panoply of the aquatic depths. The irony of this, apropos but unexpected, only served to steel resolve.

Getting off the plane into the dazzling light and heat was a welcome relief after the stifling restrictions of the airplane cabin and the frigid, frozen wasteland of winter left far behind.

Long haul flights to tropical climes, once upon a time, ended with the slightly stressful process of keeping a tired (but glad to be standing) body hunched over a luggage cart while tensely waiting for bags to be launched on to the carousel, wrestled into position, and wheeled out of the baggage area into the dazzling pleasure potential of the holiday destination: sunshine, palm trees, beaches, coral.

This time, however, only a small backpack as carry on baggage and a trippingly simple stroll through to the airport’s exit and the waiting taxis. A half hour ride through palm treed streets punctuated by glimpses of jungle, humble homes, shops and institutions of learning and then the sign that beckons to the chosen spot, the elysian destination for some serious rest, relaxation, resolution.

Divorce, like death, greatly focuses the mind. Grown up children are easily left behind, at least in terms of one’s direct sense of responsibility to and for them. Dreams of a better life, dreams of living off the land, organic gardens, tenured positions in academia, a critically accepted novel, a successful string of gallery exhibitions, the intermittent attempts at poetry are all now also easily left behind.
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Dreams do die hard, but after a certain amount of time has passed or a certain level of realization achieved, they all become passing show settled into quiescence, like household dust settled into forgotten corners, or detritus sifted to the bottom of a pond to nestle in silence and gradually rot into oblivion.

The chosen accommodation is all that has been desired: a jungle cabin nestled into the hillside, one entire wall is the natural stone of an enormous boulder, the cabin incorporated into the hillside. A kitchen area leads out on to the verandah, a sleeping loft with its ubiquitous mosquito net beckons above.

The spa and cooling pool, which is a waterfall gracefully draping over an enormous boulder, is a short walk away along gravel and flag stone paths lined with pots containing lotus flowers. The enormous hexagonal cabana that serves as a platform for dance, yoga, martial arts, meditation, can also be seen from the verandah through the gently arcing trunks of the trees.

There was thought of a simpler and less luxurious location, perhaps just a simple beach house and tiny kitchen. But being a little more upmarket ensures a certain distance from the oft-times debauched and sordid (and noisy) revelers who congregate in tropical paradises in resorts at the low end of the socio-economic spectrum.

This was a final indulgence, and as such had to be perfect.

Once the diagnosis had been accepted the decision to end things this way was easy, the only question that remained was where and how. A few months spent wrapping up the loose ends of a somewhat peripatetic life had been relatively straightforward, and possessions were easily disposed of, or, so as not to raise suspicion, put into storage. Remarkable how little is left when one truly chooses to divorce oneself from the trappings of a modern 21st century lifestyle: cars, bedding, lamps, books (all those once precious books), clothes, ornaments, foods once cherished now merely a minor, though pleasurable, part of one’s daily routine.

The diagnosis, once accepted, changed everything. At first the grief was inconsolable, as all grief is. As T.S. Eliot says, “Time is no healer, the patient is no longer here”. What was difficult was the inability to discuss one’s fears and realizations with others. No one wanted to ‘go there’. Eyebrows were raised, frowns creased, one was labelled negative and the hurdy gurdy of ‘positive thinking’ was cranked up to drown out the gnawing teeth of truth. Friends turned away. Lovers chose to ignore. The topic was tentatively broached with a spouse or an adult child or teenage nephew; attempts were made to gauge the waters, to dip one’s toe into the slough of despond, to ascertain whether a pithy quote might be given to help the loved one when the time came for their own realization of the encroaching inevitabilities.

In the end the choked down despair is unstably settled, somewhere in the guts, and the mind begins to roam freely once more, painting pictures of an exit strategy created with all the passion, precision and creativity available to the aesthetically sensitive, richly educated, modern mind; an aesthetic quest for the anesthetic.

Solace — unavailable for the most part from those treasured ‘others’ of one’s acquaintance — is found in timeless classics: Mahler’s Fifth, Faure’s Requiem, Schubert’s Trout Quintet, the poet laureates of the counterculture — Joni, Neil, David, Bob, Bruce, Carlos, Jimi; the poets — Eliot, Blake, McCarthy, Kafka, Mann; the painters Venosa, O’Keefe, Bateman, Dali. A long list, much pain transmuted into art; much art transmuted into pain.

Then, too, the consolations of wisdom: Rumi, Prajnaparamita, the zen masters, Osho, Patanjali, the Sufi poets, the music of India.

The laptop contains a library and gallery of beauty and wisdom, the artifacts of a life spent in pursuit of value, of truth, of a loving kindness toward all that exists. Reflections all of an acknowledgement that this planet itself is alive to its uttermost recesses, and registers everything done upon it, just as our own bodies are crisscrossed with the tracks and traces of our own journey in consciousness, sensation and endeavour.

A quote comes to mind from a long ago book (and a beautiful film):

We die, we die,
We die rich with lovers & tribes
tastes we have swallowed
bodies we have entered
& swum up like rivers
fears we’ve hidden in.
I want all this marked on my body
where the real country is
— not this wretched cave —
not the boundaries drawn on maps,
the names of powerful men.
I know you’ll come & carry me out
into the palace of winds
That’s all I’ve wanted
to walk in such a place with you
with friends on earth without maps.
The lamp’s gone out
and I’m writing in the darkness. (Ondaatje)

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The lovers, the love, perhaps all that remains alongside this sense of gentle resignation and profound, poignant sorrow.

The first evening, a long walk on the beach is followed by a sojourn in the steam room, the cooling pool — head pummeled by the falling water, a gentle stroll back to the jungle cabin where a basket of fruit and lemon ginger tea (as requested) waits in the small fridge. The birds are quieting down as the sun quickly dips toward darkness.

A large lizard has left a ‘gift,’ a good sized turd, in the middle of the large slab of stone that is the coffee table of the living area. Looking up a beady eye and a fat, lizard body are glimpsed in a crevice where the warm tones of the wood of the ceiling meet the native stone of the wall. ‘This is my home,’ it seems to say, ‘You are merely a visitor here’.

The next morning, yoga, coffee on the terrace, letters and post cards are written — farewells to friends and acquaintances, gracious acknowledgements of the ‘thank-yous’ from charitable organizations to which donations have been given over the last few months.

Three days and three nights seems a very short time to say goodbye to life. In truth this has been building for years.

A Pentagon report, discovered online while a death-dealing president on the opposite side of the Potomac was denying that global warming even existed, was one of many milestones along the way. On the one hand denial, on the other the military flexing its steel claws to curb, to contain, to acquire.

Then the video by a presidential candidate who through his quiet humility and integrity made us realize at the same time the awful (and so inconvenient) truth of our dilemma and the heart-breaking loss of what might have been had the democratic process not been hijacked by greed, perversity and arrogance.

And then, despite the horrors already proclaimed, the ongoing realization of the feedback loops already in motion, discovered piecemeal over time in the news reports and on the websites of courageous individuals — some of whom had already walked away from the trappings of empire in order to attempt to reinvent what it means to be human. And all of this occurring against a background susurrus of beached whales, drowned polar bears, falling bats and birds, dead bees, plastic gyres, thawing permafrost, fracking and famine.

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The first day is spent snorkeling, the joyous buoyancy of the coral reef, the symphony of clicks and ticks and whispers of the water in the ears of the witness. The sharks, the sea turtles, the multi-coloured fish, the lobsters, cuttlefish, the coral, the coral, the coral: soft, hard, pink, purple, blue, red — blood red.

Later, exhausted, feeling that languorous exhaustion that only comes from hours spent in warm salty water, the pleasant dehydration as the moisture is pulled from the body by the higher salt content of our mother, the sea. That first slug of cold water after the swim — “Ah, so good!”

Simple pleasures: a shower after the snorkeling, yoga on the grass in the waning afternoon sun, the steam room, the waterfall cooling pool, the fruit, the ginger tea, the setting sun.

A fresh lizard turd is there again — smack dab in the center of the slab of stone — the beady eye still watches from the niche above. Joy in the audacity of its simple, primordial gesture of territoriality. A coffee cup raised in salute, in acknowledgment: “I get it. Thanks for letting me share your space for a while – and don’t worry, I’ll be leaving soon.”

Wondering how old the lizard is — it is almost as long as my arm from tip to tail. How many guests have shared this space — how does it get out at night to hunt, what secret egress known only to itself leads out into the teeming night jungle?

A peaceful night of deep dream-punctuated sleep. The first moments of slumber a riot of colour and light as memories of the reef play across the eyelid screen of consciousness.

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The second day begins with a climb up the slopes behind the resort, sweat pouring after only a few minutes in the humid, tropical heat. Gradually a view over a chain of green islands, glistening ocean, cloudless empyrean, below a prospect of endless palm trees, some plantations of coconut, banana trees, here and there a glimpse of house or road. In the near distance a trio of elephants are moving along a jungle track, probably on their way to work, their masters strolling beside them.

Ivory, bear gall, rhino horn, feathers, leathers, gemstones, oil. How difficult it is to imagine a human civilization without an internal combustion engine, a drive shaft, a model T. What would be doing now if the car had never been invented? Horses and elephants and donkeys and asses and camels and llamas everywhere? The dog sled and the travois? Historical records of the amount of manure collected from the streets of London during the time of Dickens is enough to make one question the viability of that. There are only so many fields upon which such mountains of waste can be spread.

Climbing higher now, the distant prospect is a pure gradation of ocean into sky. Here and there ships pass — a commercial vessel, a sailboat, a Phinisi. Thoughts of the news bouncing off satellites emerge in my mind — CNN, BBC, Fox, CBC, Reuters – a cacophony of infamy and misery. Better left alone, better this peace, this false peace purchased by Western privilege and atmosphere-corrupting airliners; the guilty pleasure of comfort at 20,000 feet.

Approaching noon of the second day — this is the halfway point.

Descending the winding pathway to the cabin below, a light brunch of pineapple and apple slices, cold jasmine tea, then grab the snorkel, mask, and flippers and go back to the gently purling surf: the coral beckons.

The sharks are the ‘ferraris of the deep’, breathtaking in their streamlined purity, their singleness of purpose, their smooth simplicity. A large lobster bobs gently between two boulders, its antennae almost as long as its body – it seems about half a meter long in the magnified clarity of the coral surf. Closer inspection reveals a single bite has removed the entire back carapace. Moving in closer for a better view, the claws are tempting – a lot of meat there. But who knows how long it has been dead. Probably taken only this morning, a 6o year old life ended so one shark could have one unnoticed bite as it swam on in search of further nourishment. Then the realization that the ‘smell’ of the dead lobster, its ‘blood’ leaking into the surrounding waters might attract other sharks, time to move on.

Another evening of sunset silence, mp3 player playing Imee Oii’s beautiful version of the prajnaparamita sutra as the water falls over the stone into the cooling pool. Lizard turd and ginger tea, beady eye and sweet repose.

I sit on the verandah late into the night, drinking green tea, gazing at the stars.

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Morning awakens early from a vivid nightmare — a duel with a demon or perhaps Satan himself (itself?). Echoes of loud noises in the mind, of thunders and shouting, dark chanting. A vivid memory of confronting the demon, man-like, human, of being struck physically by its fist. Of calling down the forces of light with a raised right hand and delivering them to the accursed enemy with a pointing left index finger: invoking Higher Self, Vajrasattva, Sanat Kumara, Helios. On awakening a sense of quiet joy, a shy smile at the realization that one’s own dreams could be so vivid and so dramatic — the star of one’s own movie. Astonishing.

The third day, the last day, the self-agreed upon term of life’s rich pageant; the cusp of farewell, the horizon of eternity. The past is gone, completely gone, forever gone. The future is unwritten and unwanted. The here is now. The moment is all.

Osho, in one of his numerous books on zen tells the story of the zen master who died standing up. It seems impossible, but zen stories are like that — impossible inspiration.

At the end of his book on the Prajnaparamita Sutra, Osho explains that the first “Gate” (pronounced “Ga-tay”) — the sanskrit word meaning ‘gone’ or ‘beyond’ refers to the emerging consciousness transcending the mineral realm, matter, the geosphere, the timeless consciouslessness, the timeless deep sleep of the rocks, boulders, mountains. Wandering over I place a warm palm on the cool boulder wall of the jungle cabin, grateful for its enclosing shelter these last couple of days, of the lizard’s hospitable indulgence, the first “GATE!” is spoken. Goodbye.

The second “GATE” is bidding farewell to the realm of the biosphere, the preconscious realm of the plants and animals. The animals live out of the past, out of instinct, genetic inheritance. The beady eye is watching. A nod of thanks to the lizard and a ‘namaste’ gesture. Then a short walk across the verandah, down the stairs, fingers trailing through leaves and flowers, tracing the delicate web of plant life, eyes acknowledging bird and butterfly, palm leaves overhead clattering in the warm breeze. Gratitude, acknowledgment: “GATE!” Goodbye.

Moving across the beach, baking in the late morning light, moving toward the gentle surf, turquoise and aquamarine, donning fins, mask and snorkel, leaving sandals and shirt on the beach, taking the yellow-handled razor knife from the bag. Turning at the water’s edge, the spindrift border, to walk backwards into the waves, feeling the delicious warm coolness creep up my legs to my thighs, the electric thrill of the water enveloping crotch, the first chakra, the hara, then the second chakra, the belly button, and then the diaphragm, the third, lungs expanding spontaneously, freely as the water now covers the heart chakra — I am buoyant now, I am becoming a fish again.

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The next realm to transcend is the noosphere, the mind, self-consciousness, the razor’s edge of self, the dweller on the threshold. The first realm, the geosphere, is unconsciousness — Gate, goodbye; the second realm, the biosphere, is preconsciousness — Gate, goodbye. Now, time to say goodbye to “I”. The self is the central dilemma, yet also the gift of this precious human incarnation — the mind of the ever arising future; the still point, the moving point of light between stillness and arising, between the point and the wave, between the atom and the galaxy.

Me — such a small word for such a complexity. And ‘my’ gift to humanity at this time of NTE? The extraction of myself from this beautiful tormented planet. How strange to arrive at a place in one’s heart and soul where one can only conclude that to end one’s life of humble privilege is the best gift one can give to this planet, its creatures, the human race itself.

With progress, there must always be anxiety. With the ego, there must always be the dark night of the soul. The acquisition of healing hands necessitates the sojourn in the crying desert, the encounter with the shadow, the gracious gifts of fire and pain.

Saying goodbye to the human form.

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Now more fish than human being, floating weightless in our mother, the sea, gently rising and falling with the waves, focusing on breathing as deeply and gently as possible through the plastic snorkel, meditative, eyes scan the reef below.

And there, below me, Picasso trigger fish, a pair, such gorgeous coloration, such evocative, extravagant display. Two large blue green fish with tails like crescent moons appear above the endlessly shifting sun-dappled sand and coral a meter below — they swim in darting circles around the ends of my fins. They are playing with me and I with them, we are toying with each other. Around me, here near the surface, the small yellow and black banded fish form a dappled pattern of inquisitive life, their tiny, always-surprised eyes come in close and regard me with wonder.

Here a pair of cuttlefish, male and female, so close I could reach out and touch them. I marvel at the ever changing pattern as they move over the ever-shifting texture and colour of reef and rock, coral and sand. My ears are filled with the endlessly varying clicks and quirks of sound created by the waves among the corals and, no doubt, by the fish themselves. Raising my eyes I see the black-tipped reef sharks, harmless to humans, shoot by, just below the surface, graceful streamlined hunters, ever moving, gliding through the water as if it is air.

I feel a pang of regret, for although I have my scuba diving certificate and have done a number of dives, I have never had the privilege of swimming with dolphins, those laughing, smiling carnival barkers of the deep. I have never been blessed by the graceful presence of manta rays, surely my favourite marine creature, never seen them fly through the ocean depths and felt the gentle, timeless rhythm of that aquatic flight. But it is time to say goodbye and I now know, with a sense of gently settling finality, that I will never see them.

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I consider my throat chakra, my third eye, ajna chakra, my crown chakra gently massaged by my hair waving back and forth in the ripples of mother ocean. The third goodbye is “Paragate”, going beyond.

The three levels we are transcending here — sleep “Gate”, dream “Gate” and wakefulness “Paragate” — are not the wakefulness of a Buddha, but the wakefulness of you and me which contains within itself dreams, fantasies, sleep, ego, ambition, love, sorrow. For us to rest we must retreat from the world into light sleep — going backwards into dream and then into deeper dreamless sleep to return refreshed to our daily life. It is almost like we are regressing back through the animal state of slumber into the dreamless, timeless sleep of the mountains themselves.

Now, transcending all of this, we are saying goodbye to rock, plant and animal, human being. Paragate means ‘gone beyond’, ‘gone forever’, ‘always going’, the never ending pilgrimage of consciousness, of the wanderer awakening.

And suddenly I feel blessed. Two green sea turtles, gentle, venerable fellow travelers appear, and I laugh through my snorkel to see them — such delight. Their shells are dappled with barnacles from which stream green tendrils of plant life. Their beaks gnaw on the rocks, scraping off the green nourishment they thrive on. I watch them for several minutes and then, on an impulse — slightly naughty, truly delighted, I transfer the yellow handled razor knife to my left hand and dive down to touch the shell of the female with my right forefinger while she is preoccupied with the scrumptious buffet before her.

I feel slightly guilty as, shocked, she shoots away, her paddle-like forelimbs propelling her so swiftly away from me. The male follows her immediately, keeping close.

I say a little prayer of thanks.

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My mind has now become completely silent — silent chitta — I am only a deeply breathing witness in human form to the astonishing beauty around me: dappled sunlight, living colour moving in fishy form, soft corals waving, hard corals dappled with light and shadow and colour.

Such an impossibility to truly capture in paint or word this scene. I transcend the image and the word. I seek the gracious peace that ‘surpasseth’ understanding. I transfer the razor knife to my right hand, turn the black knob that locks the superbly sharp, wafer thin steel blade and extend the blade a finger’s length from the yellow plastic handle — superb technology purchased for very little.

I think of what an object like this would have meant to a neolithic hunter skinning the day’s catch. What a blade this sharp would have meant to a fishermen landing his catch on the banks of some river in Dark Age Europe. I think of why children today in Africa don’t even have pencils for their school work, while students in high schools in the West whine if they don’t have the latest smart phone on which to record and disseminate their ‘selfies’. I shake my head, and return to the present, and the now, and the silence, and the beauty.

The final goodbye is a complex one: Parasamgate — transcending even the concept of transcendence, going beyond the beyond. Releasing even the desire for enlightenment, the desire to become saint, arhat, boddhisattva, Buddha. Residing in the past is easy — and there is a kind of silence there. Looking for and moving into the future breeds anxiety — it is risky, there is always a chance of a mistake. But the final doorway is the ego itself and the dropping of it. Traumatic this encounter with the shadow on the doorstep, the watcher in the water, the dweller on the threshold. But this is what the Buddhas and the Christs have done, this is what we are enjoined to do – to disappear into the silence of the Buddhasphere, the Christophere, the Krishnasphere, what the Sufis call “fana”, the annihilation of the self, going beyond yourself, beyond your Self — the Tao of no-mind, consciousness without a center, with no mind in it, no name, no form, emptiness, shunyata, nirvana — the extinguished candle of the eternal now — timeless and eternal.

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I think back to the first time I heard of the Bodhisattvas and the Bodhisattvic Vow — I was 18 and attending a week long ‘Summer Festival in the Dharma’ at Manjushri Institute, Conishead Priory, Ulverston, in Cumbria, on the legendary borderland between England and Wales, the land of Taliesin and Merlin. Lama Zopa and Lama Yeshe — thank you.

I think of all the hours spent reading the sacred texts, the hours of struggling with meditation, the yoga classes, karate classes, the pilgrimages, of changing diapers, feeding colds, starving fevers, of cleaning pots and pans ‘just because’, of chastising myself for getting angry in traffic, for being disingenuous, for betrayals, recriminations, regrets. I chastise myself for not loving enough, for loving too much.

And I balance this with gratitude for all the moments of beauty, of truth, of communion, of sex, of love, of affection given and received. I remember a character in a movie I once saw — Ricky Fitts, who said: “That’s the day I realized that there was this entire life behind things, and this incredibly benevolent force that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid, ever. Video’s a poor excuse, I know. But it helps me remember … I need to remember … Sometimes there’s so much beauty in the world, I feel like I can’t take it, and my heart is just going to cave in.”

And here, now, the chosen spot, they loom in front of me — the blood red corals, the coral garden, the crimson corals I remember so clearly from my first experience snorkelling with one whom I loved so very deeply. One who is now gone from my life — and to whom, yesterday, I posted a letter of forgiveness and gratitude. For all love is pain — for me, in this life at least, it has always seemed a fifty/fifty bargain. And I was always willing, well, almost always willing, to pay the price of lovers, spouses, children, friends.

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Love is all we have. Love is. Love abides.

“Parasamgate!”

I draw the superbly sharp blade across my left wrist, the cut is so thin, the blade so sharp, the water so warm – almost matching my body temperature — that there is no pain. I watch the crimson cloud flow out of me and dissipate into carmine, into ruby, rose, amaranth, carnation, pale pink cloud disappearing … And I transfer the blade to my left hand and cut my right wrist. I drop the knife and watch the yellow handle spiral swiftly to the fine white sand below, catching the light winking off the spiraling silver steel of the blade. “Goodbye.”

I think of my minerals, my salt flowing outwards, diluting and disappearing into the rich soup of life that is the ocean. I laugh through my snorkel as I think of me nourishing all this beauty around me. I smile. And words come into my mind unbidden: “So the drop disappears into the ocean as the ocean flows into the drop.”

I breathe ever more deeply, extend my arms out in front of me and raise my eyes to see the gentle rhythm of the two sea turtles as they swim back towards me.

I speak through my snorkel: “Thank you, thank you, thank you …”

For just a moment I think of sharks and their sensitivity to blood in the water. I can almost feel them, like telepathy, like radar, like sonar, I sense them swimming in the water surrounding me, out of sight. They will come soon, but I will be gone:

“Bodhi!”

“Svaha!”

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Duncan C. Mason (B.Ed., M.Ed.) is an educator in art, literature and the English language with more than twenty years experience teaching in Canada, Japan and the Middle East. He has a novel entitled Muse (Amazon, Barnes & Noble), which is a modern riff on the Orpheus myth, and his website contains some of his other writings and artwork. He loves life, coral, trees, and dark chocolate.

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McPherson is interviewed for Peak Moment TV. Catch the action here (transcript is here).

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The following ad hit the top of the CLASSIFIEDS page a couple days ago:

We sold our home, featured in the 2007 Solar Tour. We literally built it ourselves, with a bit of help. It was the home of our dreams, and we designed it thinking, I’m planning on leaving, only with a tag around my toe.

So, now what? Well we have identified a lovely parcel that is very amenable to setting up a durable set of living arrangements at. It has 2 sources of water, irrigation rights to 8 flat acres, and a good woodlot as well. Total acreage is 15 to 20 acres.

The problem that is elucidated so well, here and at the Doomstead Diner, is we realize we can’t do this alone, too old, too much to do, and community seems to be the toughest ingredient but that is the solution to seeing this maybe work.

Hence this ad.

We are a couple, ages 60 and 56, respectively. The skill set we bring to this arrangement is our biggest contribution. We keep bees, and KNOW how to grow food and put it up, we are in the greenhouse business and plan on setting 2 at 30′ X 96′ for growing food, most of all 4 seasons. There is room for chickens, goats, rabbits, and maybe a cow/calf operation. With rotational grazing, we think we can raise enough to feed a sizable group, say up to 8-10 small groups. Maybe room for 30.

The first hurdle will be the zoning folks, but we may have a work-around about them, too.

Then how to go about attracting folks, what the buy in cost is, to retire any mortgages or other encumbrances, and what sort of mix or skill set gives this any so much as a whisper of a chance.

Initial cost per couple looks to be $10K, for a whisper of a chance. Then when governance is decided, what to purchase, barter, trade for to harden up the farm, plan for resilience, what tools, skills give the best shot at random chance.

Check with Guy is to who he saw and felt when he spent some time in our care.

The work to pull this off, the resources needed in the way of human inputs in lieu of unlimited and then gone all fossil fuels, will stagger and perhaps defeat most, who can say.

We will keep an open mind, if someone has a stronger idea, but this is our means of making a stand, attempting to leave someone or something for those that may follow.

The complete set of skills we have obtained is something we can talk over the web or on the phone.

Interested parties contact us at through Guy at guy.r.mcpherson@gmail.com. He will forward serious inquires.

Rick and Anna

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Sunday, 30 March 2014, 3:00 p.m., Multi Kulti, 1000 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, sponsored by the Chicago Chapter of System Change Not Climate Change, “Climate Chaos” (follow on Facebook here)

Tuesday, 1 April 2014, 7:00 p.m., Paul Henry’s Art Gallery, 416 Sibley Street, Hammond, Indiana, “Climate Chaos” (follow on Facebook here)

East-coast tour (detailed information to come, including exact locations and times; follow on Facebook here):

5 April 2014, Ithaca, New York

6 April 2014, Niagara Falls, New York

Monday, 7 April 2014, 7:00 p.m., McMartin House National Historic Site, 125 Gore Street Perth, Ontario, Canada. RSVP and follow on Facebook here.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014, 7:00 p.m. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Conversation With Paul Beckwith (to be live-streamed)

Wednesday, 9 April 2014, 6:00 p.m., Steelworker’s Hall, 66 Brady Street, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, “Climate Chaos” (Facebook announcement and invitation)

Thursday, 10 April 2014, 12:00 noon, Meeting Room 1, Greater Sudbury Public Library, 74 Mackenzie Street, Greater Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, “Responding to Climate Chaos” (Facebook announcement and invitation)

14 April 2014, Westchester County, New York

20 April 2014, Potluck dinner with attendees of last May’s presentation at the Mt. Kisco Library

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

Late October through early November 2014, European tour. Details forthcoming. Follow on Facebook here.

Comments 47

  • I’m glad you are someone who knows about chakras, etc.

    Looking for and moving into the future breeds anxiety — it is risky, there is always a chance of a mistake.

    Hmm. Nasty surprises. 🙂

    Is it a frogfish. Or a sponge.

    Superficial appearances can be deceptive.

    Anxiety does not help.

  • Re the CLASSIFIED AD,
    I agree totally that the most difficult thing in this attempt at living/surviving sustainably, while the Earth seems in Her death throes, is finding community, True Community.

    Hubby and I, both ageing hippies are in the same boat as Rick and Anna. We grow much of our food, live as sustainably as possible for 2014, but know we cannot “do this alone” when “it” all falls apart.

    We do have a wonderful community of friends who could not or would not imagine giving up their civilized lifestyle for longer than a couple of hours. So, we still have not found our tribe. Rick and Anna know what I mean by “tribe”.

    In preparation for what is to come, we have long ago given up growing food with the use of fossil fuels. Yes, we turn the garden by hand, but amazingly, with mulching year after year, one finds that the soil becomes so loose as to not need much, if any, turning.

    Maybe I’ll contact Rick and Anna.

  • We have lived on these 31 acres for seven years now and know not only the value of tribe but how nearly impossible it is to find. I knew also that we could not do it alone but naively figured that it all would work out. I try to do as much as I can but it feels like we are barely marking time. Us old hippies have finally reached the end of our road. As Simon and Garfunkel said, “How very strange to be seventy.”

  • Here’s my advice – get a (small) RV and discard all of your permanent possessions; anything that can tie you down.

    Now, I know this isn’t a novel suggestion, but by the look of things up & down the Calif coast, it really is sort of amazing how many people have taken to wheels.

    Farming is for the young – if you’re over 55, you should be looking after the current farmer’s kids or grand-kids, or helping maintain the home/equipment/tools, while they are out working the fields.

    Not sure why anyone would try and re-invent the wheel – traditional (OMG patriarchal!), multi-generational families have a successful track record stretching back thousands of years.

    Boomers who came of age during the absolute peak of plenty (1973) should simply continue along the path they’ve been taking all along. Why change?

  • Duncan, you are so full of literature & love, love, love, especially for the Inuit in the arctic.

    I assume that you flew home – safely.

    Gawd bless.

    Humans can change the environment in which they live: a few humans with limited technology make small changes;

    Many humans with powerful technology make huge changes. Corollary: humans must be personally and individually careful of what they do to the world around them.

    ——

    Following A.J. Lotka’s principle on exosomatic tools. giving humans tremendous power to consume & pollute.

    Here are some powerful yet short phrases to drive home the catastrophic ENERGY COST of jet air travel.

    Some wisearse Brits call it; PLANE STUPID.

    “Let’s make clear what this means. A long international flight once per year has an energy
    cost slightly bigger than leaving a 1 kW electric heater (1000 watts) on, non-stop, 24 hours
    a day, all year.”

    Moreover, One intercontinental flight produces two pounds of CO2 absorbed into our planet’s atmosphere PER PASSENGER PER MILE.
    This is caused largely by the weight of the extra fuel.

    Therefore, a six thousand mile intercontinental flight from San Francisco to Paris (12 thousand miles round trip) produces a total of 12 tons of CO2 per passenger.

    12 TONS!

    Here is part five of David MacKay’s book entitled; “Planes.”
    http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/withouthotair/c5/page_35.shtml

    Mackay made the entire book available online because he knows that the FUTURE OF HUMANITY IS ON THE LINE.

  • Superb writing, Mr. Mason! Even the New Age sewage is seamlessly incorporated, with both the context and the ending so deftly defining how the narrating character has been wallowing in it. Should serve as a warning to the prudent.

  • @ilinda;

    Thanks for the kind words. We are not naive as to how much toil it will take to give this a whisper of a chance.

    Over time we have acquired the tools and the knowledge to use them, that would be quite familiar to our grandparents time before all the “labor” saving devices that fail at being durable, or can’t be repaired became the rage.

    The list of items or skills to make a go of this is a bit long, but doable.

    Having plenty of blue water miles of experience, this is actually a bit easier. Planning for contingencies, have 3-4 deep redundancies, putting a medical kit to cover even minor surgery, because when your half way to HI, there is only the radio for contact, no one’s coming to your rescue in most cases. On the farm, help is often the closest neighbor, and plenty of stuff to scrounge from. Seeking shelter from the elements is easier too.

    “Does anyone know where the love of god goes, when the waves turn the minutes into hours”
    G. Lightfoot, ‘Wreck of the Fitz’

    The experience gained by being in close quarters for weeks was more than a teachable moment, living with other peoples idiosyncrasies showed me a lot about my ego and what works and what not so much.

    But the biggest challenge is finding our tribe.

    Here and at the Diner seem the best place to seek same, and weeding out the wannabees from the worker bees will always be hard. So what.

    Yes we have taken heed of Guy’s experience, but don’t see a way not to repeat it in some ways, if we don’t at least try. Eddie at the Diner has a good start at setting out some principles of governance. Its a start, something to crib from and perhaps build upon. Who knows.

    Love, work, laughter, music, singing, dancing; all will be celebrated.

    So if you like pinacolladas , getting caught in the rain, if you’re not into health food, if you have half a brain——-DON”T CALL US lol

    We’ll be too busy to put up with more than our share of horse puckey.

    bkpr

  • Duncan – a beautiful story. thank you. I really like:

    “On awakening a sense of quiet joy, a shy smile at the realization that one’s own dreams could be so vivid and so dramatic — the star of one’s own movie. Astonishing.”

    also much beauty on your website.

    bkpr – good luck with your very worthy venture!

  • I love good writing, hope to contribute someday to the collection.

    I know young people (possibly “old souls”) read here, and are open to and swept by many strong ideas. Many things sound logical, in the contexts of available events and emotions. But time stretches out, in lengthening ways we cannot now imagine, and we look back on many, many lives lived in one.

    I have a bias against the suicide of healthy individuals, but each of course has their own choice to make. Free will is the power we must learn to properly use. “Take your place on the Great Mandala… and if you lose, you’ve only wasted your life,” sang Peter Paul & Mary so beautifully, and in Mary’s most haunting harmony ever.

    Under the theory of metaphysics, the “soul” awakens to its continuation, now dis-embodied, and usually says “Oh shit! Did I guess wrong on that one! Oh well,” and heads for the recycling room. Maybe so, maybe not. Make your wager, along with M. Pascal.

    The first time many of us heard of Buddhists, they were burning themselves in front of the US Embassy in Saigon, and were the beginning of the end of US domination of that country. A few sacrificed themselves similarly in the U.S., as Robert McNamara was unable to forget for the rest of his life.

    The photos of the White House fences and the pipeline protests in front come to mind. Hmmmmm…. I mean, if you’re going to… But then, maybe I’ve been watching too much Derrick and Lierre?

    For those of us who spent a lifetime against war and militarism, fighting in retreat these three decades past, we must speculate: Do you think we’d be discussing planetary extinction now if a humanity that could have learned a lesson about intra-human war, and inspired by the USA’s example at giving up its quest for Empire, might have also continued on to end its Industrial War against all of Life? A stretch, I know, but War was the gateway drug to IndCiv, and made all other crimes seem to pale by comparison, for so long occupying us, and thus to no avail now.

    (And here, we teeter on the knife edge of the usual divides, meaning vs. meaninglessness, art for art’s sake, politics for the hell of it, quitters never win, etc. etc. Someone can always invoke one of these to shoot down an opinion offered from another category, rather than trying to add to and improve upon it. So it goes. Have at it.)

    ====

    @ Gerald — welcome back, and thanks — I’ll read it. One of my own weak points, that I need to work on.

  • Duncan: that was a great short story.

    When I was a teen I wrote something similar, but not with all the spirituality, because I didn’t have it then, and it was no where near the high quality your piece illustrates. It ended with the narrator stepping off a high cliff (one of my biggest fears, falling) and his last thoughts on the way down. This story of yours brought back that moment so long ago. Thank you.

    I waited for a month for a book to come to the public library on inter-library loan (from Washington state no less). It’s called Going Dark.

  • @ Henry and Tom: Thanks!

    @ Duncan Charles Mason: Holy crap!
    ==

    Henry says: “Summertime”

    Summertime

    One of these mornings, we’ll fly:
    Spread our wings, and take to the sky;
    No more suffering harm
    After buying the farm
    And saying to people “Goodbye.”
    ==

    Henry says: “Mama Cass”

    Twelve Thirty

    Underneath irrelevant squawking,
    Doom from deep canyons comes stalking;
    I can’t keep my eyes closed
    To how badly we’re hosed,
    And I can’t keep myself from talking.
    ==

    Henry says: “Take your place on the Great Mandala….”

    The Great Mandala

    Act your role on the great wheel of strife
    With a combo of sweet smile and knife;
    You don’t get to choose
    If you win or you lose:
    If you lose, tough shit, that’s your life.

  • buz painter says: “Simon and Garfunkel”

    Feeling Groovy

    Once living was quite undefined,
    And there was no such word as resigned,
    And the future in sight
    Looked almost as bright
    As the explosions inside your mind.

  • Very eloquent story Duncan. Your website is full of fantastic art too!!
    Way to go….or go out.

    On another topic…
    Here in Afraidia:

    ‘The Problem – Why Australia Is A Wake Up Call For The Rest Of The World On Climate Change’

    http://www.climatecouncil.org.au/australia-in-the-firing-line-on-climate-change

    “Australia is a microcosm of the dilemma the world faces over climate change as the Australian government, businesses and the general public grapple with the tensions, conflicts and complexities that surround the issue….
    Extreme weather events made world news in January when the Australian Open Tennis Tournament was suspended due to excessive heat. But extreme weather has far more serious consequences.

    In 2009 over 500 Australians died in a savage heatwave and massive bushfires in Melbourne and the surrounding area. In 2010, about 78% of the state of Queensland – an area larger than Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark combined – was flooded, with damages of at least AUD 5 billion…. ”

    It is a short read, but makes a good case- business versus what keeps humans(and most life) alive.

    One thing about the term:

    “extreme weather”….
    We need a better descriptor to signify what is now normal.

    I suppose it is attempting to get above the surrounding textual noise, so it suffices, but…just not cutting it for me from now on.

    Slight tangent, the crowdfunded Australian Climate Council offers a free online crash course in, you guessed it, Climate Change!

    Come to think of it even Climate Change is sort of redundant as a descriptor.

    Climate Changed ?

    I can feel the lexicon expanding.

    How about Real Weather and Real Climate, both inhospitable to life, or a walk in the the park ?

    From the previous Thread:

    Bud
    I enjoyed your travelogue of your neck of the woods, or err mountains. I was aware of the Ididerod – met some Canadians in my 20’s who briefed me – but I was not aware of the vaccine issue origin.

    Hard to beat mountains for a place to be, so beautiful, and powerful in their …persistence compared to humans.

    Cheers all.

  • OK, Benjamin — you asked for it: Once more, not the primo stuff I’d like to create, but you seem to be bangin’ out the hits, and evoking an era …

    (when, in all relevance here, Climate Chaos could have been stopped — but only if IndCiv was stopped on a dime at the first Earth Day. Quite the stretch that would have been, even for us, who had no inkling of the big picture. There were even a few long-haired sons shot by their fathers — imagine coming home to your oil-marketing Dad with the sad news about his future job prospects!)

    I’m not sure S&G would have made it big folk-singing in Lim’rickese, or Janis, or Jimi, but maybe Soupy Sales, or Pee Wee Herman could have been the Superstars instead? Missed our callings, we did.

    There once was a chemist named Owsley

    Who thought Western culture looked lousy,

    So he woke them with acid;

    Now they’ve turned old and flaccid,

    And most of the time just feel drowsy.

  • This one has the same flavor as the Hospice story a while back, fictionalizing somebody’s final glorious walk into the Great Beyond.

    Good Grief, even in the worst case scenario everybody is not going to Die in the next week or the next year even. When the Flesh Eating Zombies come out, THEN you can do your Glorious Exit.

    Jumping the Gun just a bit here.

    RE

  • Latest Frostbite Falls Daily Rant. 🙂

    PEAK STUPIDITY!

    RE

  • Further considerations regarding the animal mutilation enigma:

    Some of you have asked me a question that has plagued me as well. Why would the perpetrators of these heinous acts return the mutilated bodies? I believe the mutilators are attempting to send humanity a POWERFUL message. This deliberate lack of an attempt to conceal the carcass is a ruthless warning to mankind that we have contaminated the entire food chain with prion associated infectious agents. Remember Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy has an incubation period of 20 to 30 years. There is no cure. There are no treatments. Infection is 100% fatal.

  • BtD: awesome as usual. You’re inspirational (as Henry and others have shown) because you make it look so easy. Given any topic, you’re like a gun-slinger, quick on the draw and shooting holes in tossed coins.

    Henry: great job!

    This item is making the rounds on the news:

    http://edition.cnn.com/2014/03/27/health/cdc-autism/

    CDC: 1 in 68 U.S. children has autism

    One in 68 U.S. children has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a 30% increase from 1 in 88 two years ago, according to a new report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    This newest estimate is based on the CDC’s evaluation of health and educational records of all 8-year-old children in 11 states: Alabama, Wisconsin, Colorado, Missouri, Georgia, Arkansas, Arizona, Maryland, North Carolina, Utah and New Jersey.

    The incidence of autism ranged from a low of 1 in 175 children in Alabama to a high of 1 in 45 in New Jersey, according to the CDC.

    Children with autism continue to be overwhelmingly male. According to the new report, the CDC estimates 1 in 42 boys has autism, 4.5 times as many as girls (1 in 189).
    [there’s more]

  • Well, of course, the Suicide is Painless bit in MASH was a small, but major, scene in which no one committed suicide, but the sad man’s impotency was cured and as a result he was no longer suicidal.

    BUT why bother understanding what you’re seeing when you can take it out of context to prove a point no one is paying attention to?

  • “Remember Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy has an incubation period of 20 to 30 years. There is no cure. There are no treatments. Infection is 100% fatal.”

    George Carlin mentioned that death is caused by swallowing small amounts of saliva over a long period of time.

  • @ Grant

    Life is a terminal dis ease

  • I believe the mutilators are attempting to send humanity a POWERFUL message.

    If they know a tenth as much about human nature as did Herr Joseph Goebbels, with their advanced technology they could have hacked into prime time television and radio networks worldwide to deliver an unambiguous message.

  • @Robin, you mean they haven’t already?

    😉

  • Thanks Tom!
    ==

    Henry, good one!

    You know, the 59th Street Bridge Song suddenly reminded me there actually *was* a time when people felt groovy. Strangest experience I had all yesterday.

  • @B9K9

    Thought about this a bit as an option. Ex and I are the plank holders of the SV ‘Lucky Dog’, a 47′ center cockpit, cutter rigged sloop. I took her up and down the West coast and then to HI.

    Pacific Ocean is IMO, no longer an option, even hiding in a cove off the inside straight to AK. OK, so your tied to shore and can forage, protein and fauna, the ocean is dead, the food in it, not so good to eat, and then while in that part of the world, a watermaker from salt to fresh could kill you, much like those poor souls on the USS Reagan. oops.

    Can you catch enough rainwater, store it and get through thirsty times? For how many, how long until then next rain. Tough call.

    IMHO, the truly hardest part after overcoming inertia and?or the paralysis of analysis, is finding your tribe, now, while communications still work, test drives are possible, meet and greets still can be done.

    While having a bit of a meal with Guy, I started old Chinese proverb, “Better to be thought the fool”, he chimes in with the punch line, “than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt”

    Well, guess that makes me a fool, worse an old fool, so what, nobody that matters to us gives a shit what we do, as long as we don’t harm them in what they do/need.

    Selfish I may be for wanting company as the curtain falls on what will be the ghastly spectacle of our future, so what, we are social mammals, who given the chance wouldn’t want companionship until the clock runs out?

    Yiddish Proverb, “man plans, god laughs”

    So rather than sit in the last Chance Saloon, waiting for the tsunami that is coming, we choose to do something, rather than merely while away the time waiting. Either choice is valid, because the end is the same. Just a different way of experiencing the journey that’s left.

    Besides the bartender looks like he has the personality of RE. lol

    bkpr

  • @BenjaminTheDonkey

    B the D U My Muse

    H/T Simon and Garfunkel

    59th Minute Song

    Oh no, we moved too fast.
    Didn’t make the carbon last.
    Just kicked the can down the road.
    No more fun and feelin’ Doomy.

    Ba da, Ba da, Ba da, Ba da…Feelin’ Doomy.

    Hello losers,
    What cha knowin’?
    I’ve come to watch your species goin’.
    Ain’t cha got no tears for me?
    Doot-in’ doo-doo,
    Feelin’ Doomy.

    Got no dirty deeds to do,
    No promises to un-keep.
    I’m starving and diseased and ready to sleep.
    Let Mother Nature drop all of her fury on me.
    Life, I’ll miss you,
    All is Doomy.

  • Apneaman, that is REALLY good! Kudos! Bravo!
    ==

    Strange Days

    Strange days have found us in gloom,
    Strange days now all else subsume;
    We won’t get away,
    But we run from the day
    Into a strange night of doom.

  • Oh, yes. It’s all quite obvious to me now; in my past lifetime, I was a mutilated cow.

    @ Apneaman: You, too, brilliant! Nailed it!

    @ Tom — you da best.

    @ bkpr — My tribe, apparently, does not speak English, at least, rarely; but they do let me hang around at the edge of the village, and throw me a few scraps.

    @ Benjamin — I see what you’re getting at, Benjamin. For me, Mr Mojo was the medicine man trying to chant the invocation to revolt in our time, could have become the powerful spell cast against IndCiv, which would have been the minimum needed to get humans out of their cars in time. Is there another?

    But he died, and hypnotized humans have been listening to bad Bernaysian shamanry from the Other Team ever since…

    We counted from Five down to One
    And just when we thought we were done,
    The Beast came alive,
    Ran us back up to Five,
    And our numbers disappeared down to None.

    “When I was back in seminary school, …”
    “…the future’s uncertain, and the end is always near.”

    =====

    I am going to propose here, at least tentatively, that Mc Pherson’s work in our time is the seed/spark/contribution to a philosophical and ethical revival on the order of the Renaissance, which was sparked by the discovery of Lucretius’ “de Rerum Natura”, and a fatigue with fearful Medieval superstitions, and is attempting to provide us a first step into a new Stoicism/Epicureanism that was so highly developed two millennia back:

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

    best depicted in Stephen Greenblatt’s book, “The Swerve”.

    And all they had to worry about was Mt Vesuvius blowing its top once in awhile…

    You heard it here first.

  • “Runaway” by Cordell Barker

    – The Runaway Train

    H/t to Gail (Wit’s End)

  • FriedrichKling

    Seems to me that the biggest mistake most people make, is to believe that we (humans) are important.
    Biosphere does not need us.
    Aliens don´t care about us. They do not need us too.
    They already tried in the past to show us the right way to becomes viable, but we did not seriously pay attention to all the lessons and messages given at that time.
    We are just an experiment, that has gone too far, as we are about to destroy the lab.
    We can go extinct with no problem, as has happened with so many other species in the past.

    As I said, if I am correct, they (aliens, Biogens) can create a new human. With some adjustments, to try to correct what is wrong with us. Clearly, there are some things out of balance in our characteristics. We do not lack of creative power, we lack of the capacity to develop the judgment required to properly handle our intelligence.
    As a designer, I can assure you that there is no such thing like the perfect design. There is always room for mistakes (made by the designer, based in the lack of knowledge when you try new things). Mistakes that usually are corrected with the next generation. Just like in our case, with Cro-magnon, and other failed pre-homo-sapiens-sapiens. It seems we are showing that we are not viable too.
    About the impact of climate change, if some humans survive, they may learn the lessons. I guess we (theoretically) have the capacity to learn from our mistakes. But at the same time, we forget the lessons too easily. Will we able to reach the next level?
    If we humans go extinct, our creators will probably wait until the biosphere reaches a level good enough for life again. As it has happened in the past. And probably we will see a new human walking around. Fourth or fifth generation so far. And probably other species too, because they will be needed too.

  • If interested, I sent my comments recently posted here about the Michael Tobis article to Scott Johnson at Fractal Planet blog who, among others, prominently posted the Tobis article. Johnson responded to my comments about the Tobis article and I responded in turn, the two comments copied below. I think that this kind of argument can continue essentially without end, so I will not continue it with him after this. I did think the concepts important enough to warrant one response to his comment.

    SJ (Scott Johnson, Fractal Planet blog) commented (http://fractalplanet.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/how-guy-mcpherson-gets-it-wrong/?cpage=2#comment-392) on How Guy McPherson gets it wrong (http://fractalplanet.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/how-guy-mcpherson-gets-it-wrong/).

    in response to Bud Nye:

    The first two-thirds of this comment is pointless. I’m just leaving the second-to-last paragraph alone.

    The final paragraph is difficult for me to wrap my head around. McPherson’s entire argument rests on those feedbacks adding up to imminent and catastrophic warming. If they do not, he has no argument. I detest the use of the word “reductionist” as a pejorative in this kind of context. (And it’s pretty hard to apply it to climate science, anyway, which is inherently a systems science.) The details matter. The math matters. Otherwise, what are we talking about? Someone’s “gut feeling”? That’s not how science works, “holistic” or no.

    McPherson says, “The science says x.” But the science says no such thing. McPherson says x. This is important.

    My response:

    Scott,

    Regarding your first sentence, if Tobis writes them and you post them, we presumably have valid, worthy points. But if someone responds to those points, then they become “pointless”. Interesting and confusing double standard.

    I did NOT use, or mean to use, “reductionist” in any pejorative way in my comment as you suggest, as if calling someone a “nitwit” or a “scalawag”, which pejorative means. I did not mean it as any kind of personal attack on Tobis’, yours, or anyone else’s character and I feel surprised that you interpreted it in that pejorative way. In order to understand my comment, anyone who reads it needs to tell themselves and others a story radically different from that one. I simply meant to emphasize how commonly people use reductionist thinking, especially scientists. I meant to point out how, along with its positive results, taken to its fairly obvious logical and practical ends on our finite planet, on a global scale reductionist, Baconian-Cartesian thinking focused on dominating and controlling nature has produced its 100% predictable, horrific ecological consequences for us, for other species (at least 200 every day extinct), and for the planet throughout civilization’s history, but especially during the past 300 years through reductionist science’s many applications to technology while heavily supporting industrial capitalism. (What percentage of scientific research occurs directly or indirectly through corporate financial support? Ninety percent? Ninty-five percent? Ninety-eight?)

    As Tobis demonstrates so nicely, and you do as well in your comment, even presumably holistic thinkers like planet scientists often fall into the Cartesian-Baconian trap of reductionist thinking. Thank you for your correct emphasis that much of McPherson’s argument rests on those feedbacks adding up to imminent and catastrophic warming in completely unpredictable, complex, and chaotic ways—whatEVER precise, mathematical functions may end up accurately describing them individually or taken together, if anyone ever determines those mathematical relationships, something that much more likely than not will never happen. Tobis does not address those additive effects in his critique at all. To the best of my knowledge, he makes, and has made, no attempt to assess how they will interact to produce their combined effects. Of course, neither does Guy McPherson who only reports them. But at least McPherson acknowledges the importance of the combined effects, which certainly exist, and he stresses that, based on the evidence available, especially taken together those combined effects will probably come hard and soon. I would predict that if Tobis did create a computer model that included all of the different climate change processes we now see hapening, as well as Prigogine’s Chaos Theory considerations—a wonderful project for him seriously to consider!—he would quickly come to conclusions similar to McPherson’s. I expect that you would too. But, remaining rigidly and analytically reductionist in his thinking, Tobis, unlike McPherson, does not even acknowledge the combined change process issue. Yet he presumably thinks holistically because “climate science is inherently a systems science”? I do not follow that reasoning and do not agree with that assertion. As I originally emphasized, the little I know about Tobis demonstrates that he remains narrowly focused in a strongly analytical, classically reductionist way, and completely silent regarding the longer-term effects of the many different climate change processes now combining in infinitely complex, chaotic ways. Meanwhile, I agree with McPherson that those combined “long term effects” will, much more likely than not, look and feel more like short-term effects whether we, with our Baconian-Cartesian, human supremacist views like it, or not..

    It seems to me that Tobis’ style of analytical, reductionist thinking about this forms a new kind of psychologically sophisticated, human supremacist, technologically utopian denial of the global ecological catastrophe we have created with our reductionist science and technology. Needless to say, his reasoning appeals strongly to many people’s wishful thinking and their frantic search for a “solution” to “the problem”. This problem/solution search, in itself, works in an analytial, reductionist way to frame the situation. Geoengineering “solutions”, anyone, for the global warming “problem”? Typically, and blatantly, reductionist. Like all technology created to solve other problems created by technology, that geoengineering will surely make a tragic situation still worse for both us and the species that will remain after we have left the scene. Meanwhile, from a more holistic perspective, we do not have a “problem” to “solve”, here, but instead an incredibly painful predicament to cope with during this sixth and, apparently, largest mass extinction in geological history that we–you and I, among others–have created.

    I love Jared Diamond’s statement in his book, The Third Chimpanzee, that “The past was a Golden Age, of ignorance, while the present is an Iron Age of willful blindness.” As Barbara Ehrenreich describes so well in her book, Bright-Sided, How Positive Thinking Is UNDERMINING America (2009), it seems clear to me that positive, hopeful, wishful, technotopian thinking contributes significantly to that willful blindness, especially related to the perfect storm of economic, social, ecological, peak oil, global warming, and nuclear power plant collapses now well under way as I write this and as others read it largely created through the kind of reductionist reasoning that Tobis demonstrates so well. For sure, one’s developing an understanding of the nature of the changes so rapidly occurring, as well as the implications of those combining changes for all humans and other species, produces massive cognitive dissonance, anxiety, fear, anger and other related psychological and emotional responses. Wishful, hopeful, technologically utopian thinking may help one to feel better in the short term, but it ultimately only compounds and worsens the longer-term, negative consequences for all humans and other life on Earth.

    Kindest Regards,
    Bud

  • Bud: I gave up on Scott Johnson after he continually ignored what I was saying about methane release being wide-spread and becoming global – telling me I made it up as an emotional response (as if I WANT total collapse and NTE to be the case)! He’s just looking for page hits, in my opinion, not unlike RE and the Diner.

  • Also, “Ship of Fools” (Doors, Morrison Hotel, 1970)

    The human race was dying out
    No one left to scream and shout.
    People walking on the moon
    Smog will get you pretty soon.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gprfOWilt7U

    @ Robin & Gail: Thanks for “Runaway”

    “What have they done to the Earth?
    What have they done to our fair sister?
    Ravaged and plundered and ripped her and bit her.
    Stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn
    And tied her with fences and dragged her down
    I hear a very gentle sound with your ear down to the ground ”

    It’s not like we haven’t always known what is coming; it’s just getting through all of our cerebral jelly mass, a mass of Delay and Denial, that’s taken this much time.

    We here were like the guy at the big loud party who wanders over to the window, and sees the next-door neighbor on the phone, calling the police. Tries to go back in to tell everyone the police will likely be arriving soon, so tone it down. “Party pooper! Don’t spoil our fun.”

  • Waking Up Is Hard To Do

    Remember, we hadn’t a clue—
    Now we know that extinction is true;
    Whatever we try
    Will lead to goodbye,
    So waking up’s hard to do.

  • ‘we must retreat from the world into light sleep — going backwards into dream and then into deeper dreamless sleep to return refreshed to our daily life. It is almost like we are regressing back through the animal state of slumber into the dreamless, timeless sleep of the mountains themselves.’ -Duncan C. Mason

    never thought of it that way. cool. thanks. quite the story, btw. i too have reached the conclusion that suicide is the ultimate solution for whatever it is that ails one, as well as gaia. i related well, enjoyed the vicarious sharing of beauty, appreciation for the gift of life, and a desirable death. acceptance. mr.mason.

    r.e., great rant on ‘peak stupidity’. another thing i highly relate to, as it aligns with my own observations for some time now. thanks to u 2.

    apneaman (sleep apnea?) i too am feeling doomy. looks like btd’s inspired a great deal of emulation, brought out much talent for rhyme, here in doomersville. i know it’s gettting old, but thanks again.

  • if anyone ever determines those mathematical relationships, something that much more likely than not will never happen.

    Adding and multiplying are taught very early: folks who were then snoozing may have missed out. The EXACT relationships will be visible in the rear-view mirror, but only if there is someone left to peer into that mirror.

    He’s just looking for page hits, in my opinion, not unlike RE and the Diner.

    Which is also fine as frog’s hair: caveat emptor, EFFIT all, etc.!

    Some folks note that they have trouble finding their tribe. There has been only one tribe since the first replicating organic molecules: the tribe that makes more biomass (and energy stores) out of inorganic matter and energy flows. Every branch and twig of that tribe seeks to perpetuate its clade in the same manner. Manoeuvring around the inevitable innumerable dead ends would demand sapience from each species so confronted; a verdict on the sapience of Homo sapiens may be in shortly.

  • CLIMATE DARK AGE

    “Dr. Michael Jennings says Earth’s climate is already beyond the worst scenarios. Could a new Dark Age save us? Dr. Sing C. Chew says we are due. It’s edutainment for troubled times. Radio Ecoshock 2014.03.19”

    – They say we have “very little time” to take effective action: fail to mention the four-decade lag in effects of greenhouse gas emissions and overlook the nature of the system, geared to ever faster resource extraction and use.

  • http://www.desdemonadespair.net/2014/03/climate-change-here-and-now-interview.html

    Climate change here and now: Interview with climate scientist Michael Mann – ‘Many regions of the globe will literally be unlivable’

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is meeting in Japan to release its latest report, on the impact of climate change on society and the planet. Penn State professor Michael Mann and host Steve Curwood discuss how the report anticipates that increased conflict and declining supplies of food and water lie ahead. [check it out]

  • ‘a verdict on the sapience of Homo sapiens may be in shortly.’

    the verdict is already in, as far as i’m concerned (quite sure many others here concur, right, RE?) regardless of what the future holds. i just looked up the latin word for foolish: ‘inanis’. homo inanis.

  • “Mantle Methane” from Malcolm Light (a month ago — glad to see him at work, but this gigantic thesis — Whew! Totally, totally new stuff for me, dealing in sub-Arctic geology and chemistry.)

    https://arctic-news.blogspot.ca/2014/02/mantle-methane.html

    Don’t remember if I picked this up here or elsewhere, no time to read all; as if hydrates weren’t too much for 99% of people. This one is enough to throw off another .99 % and ask us “How many ways can you spell SKEE-ROOED!!!?”

  • TVT

    ” i know it’s gettting old…”

    Agreed. Good to see you back.

  • @the virgin terry

    Yes sleep apnea. I now understand why sleep deprivation is the foundation of torture. It will break your mind no matter who you are. I’m all better now because of CPAP, but it took two years before I felt normal again. No one needs to a apologize for going over the same ground. It’s normal. We are chattering social monkeys; that’s what we do and we will be doing right up to doomsday.

  • T.V.T,
    I think it was W.Catton who dubbed us H.collosus,another one was H.rapiens,H.inanis
    gives us another option,then again since such a high percentage of the species are up themselves,maybe another possibility could H.inanus.

  • ‘H.inanus’ lol!

    artleads, nbl is unique in several ways i find very appealling, as well as a prominent ‘doom’ blog, of which there are pitifully few. one of the great appeals is the camaraderie that develops among many of the chronic contributors, based upon an essential sharing/understanding of surreality that most if not all of us severely lack otherwise, from family and personal friends/acquaintances. thanks for your caring/love.

    apneaman, glad u got a handle on your debilitating condition. i suffered often from insomnia (depression related) for years, until making the serendipitous discovery that a much maligned and prohibited medicinal herb worked wonders for those ailments in my case. turns out the ‘war on drugs’ is just another example of homo inanis at work, driving what should be common knowledge underground. now i’m very grateful for nature’s medicine and sadly aware of the vulgarity/commonality of human deceit/delusion.

  • homo inanis. how do you spell that phonetically? homo in anus?

  • Fiction is so boring to me these days but I did at least skim to the end and just for reference I read over at another dodgy forum that if you slit your wrists across the width then it doesn’t actually lead to the falsely romanticised death so beloved of storytellers infact what it leads to is excrutiating agony and a desperate call to the emergency services.