by Satish Musunuru

Geophilia is a moving commentary on the multitude of existential crises facing humanity and the planet.

I’m a former engineer living in Silicon Valley. I left my job at Google to research, ponder over and write about the larger issues of Civilization and Technological progress in the context of climate change, ecocide, species collapse and impending near-term extinction.

The dominant narrative of modern Civilization is about ever faster growth and change, glamorization of risk-taking and mastery over nature supposedly leading to a technological utopia. If only we could have that next breakthrough in Nanotechnology or Genetic Engineering, and we could solve all of the world’s problems … so goes the mainstream thinking in Silicon Valley. Contrast this with how we humans have lived for over 99% of our history on the planet. Misunderstood by forward-looking modern man as savage, brutish and barbaric, our ancestors (since all of us are descended from tribal peoples) actually lived rather plentiful lives in harmonious balance with the land that they inherently considered themselves to be part of.

In Geophilia, I present this contrast between older tribal cultures and our younger culture that we call Civilization. The powerful imagery, set to instrumental music makes for a melancholy piece of art that reaches into the viewer as it honors Mother Earth.

Having been trained as an engineer, when I bring my critical thinking skills to bear on the issue of climate change, I find myself in agreement with the analysis and interpretation of Guy McPherson. My ex-colleagues at Google are quite bullish on the promise of Technology but I am under no such illusion. When we really delve into the famous Albert Bartlett quote (“the greatest shortcoming of the human race is its inability to understand the exponential function”), we’d realize that abrupt climate change leading to near-term extinction is not only likely, it’s inevitable.

Check out my writing at, where I explore the issues of Civilization and Technology, and attempt to make sense of the human condition in the age of the extremes. I recommend starting with this blog post where I tie together several themes into a cohesive narrative that explains the times we live in.

We can approach the human experience in this hour as witnesses and observers as we deal with the depressing discoveries we are making on an almost daily basis. After all, we didn’t choose to be born!

Comments 85

  • (This comment is on the previous thread before this one was posted by Guy.)


    I was wondering about your beliefs and methods of coping as a native american.

    In these times there is no out. I’ve accepted this. I have sort of become immobile. The world is completely breaking down before our eyes. There seems to be no way to approach my children. How wd you handle this? Maybe u would be willing to write an essay for NBL?

    Or, it be a topical discussion in the *Batter Up* section of NBL?

  • The video was very moving. Made me feel. Thank you.

  • Satish,

    What a wonderful video!

    I’ll send it to all friends and family who still have a tiny bit of connectedness left, because that’s all most civilized people have left, a tiny bit, well hidden.
    It might even make them cry.

    It’s nice to know of another person here who seems well-adjusted to our demise and who really loves our Mother. You’ll be called a romantic (like me) by some people here. I’d call it a realist, somebody who’s not afraid to “look” and then form his/her own opinion, rather than relying on other peoples’ scientific theories about “human nature”

    I agree with you, it was simply about forgetting – our species could have taken a different fork in the road. And what have we forgotten! It’s hard to imagine.
    Tribal communities still functioning today are probably only a pale reflection of what they once were. How could they be more than that, now that we “civilised” people have thoroughly diminished them in every way, and that more or less since our “Renaissance”. The beginning of serious colonisation and imperialism.
    And aren’t Westerners proud of the “progress” they’ve made since they started the serious exploitation of the rest of the world. All our Western entitlement is based on that. That’s when the money men really got going. Instead of funding wars in Europe, they could start “investing” in “resources and technology”. And make some serious money!
    The rest is history.

    Thanks for posting this video and reminding people what’s really important: Geophilia. There’s nothing else left to do.

  • .
    Yes, inevitable. Civilization killed us.
    If only we could return to the wild. Kill nothing. Eat only that which falls from the trees. Sleep on the ground. Drink from the river. Plant no crops, build no cities.
    Do not have children.
    Just ridin’ on this runaway train, staring out the window, with a cat on my lap.

    The Voluntary Extinction Movement
    Thou shalt not procreate.
    The Church of Euthanasia
    Save the planet, kill yourself.

  • Satish, you are refreshing & then some – no blather, no flapdoodle, no fluff …

    “When we really delve into the famous Albert Bartlett quote (“the greatest shortcoming of the human race is its inability to understand the exponential function”), we’d realize that abrupt climate change leading to near-term extinction is not only likely, it’s inevitable.”

    Really abrupt Arctic methane release …

  • It’s All Good

    Some think we’ve done what we chose to,
    And caused kingdom come, where doom blows to;
    But energy and mass
    Determine our ass,
    And we just did what we’re supposed to.

  • I wonder how indigenous people controlled their sexual desires? I wonder if this is discussed in literature?

    The few remaining groups seem to have very small tribes to be able to stay out of site and as far away from us as possible? Why?

    “Civilization” again, I guess?

  • “Some think we’ve done what we chose to,
    And caused kingdom come, where doom blows to;
    But energy and mass
    Determine our ass,
    And we just did what we’re supposed to.”

    There is a significant choice left.
    Just search; “Five top regrets of the dying.”

  • Shep, I responded to your question on the other thread.

    Re: birth control and traditional practices. I don’t know that they “controlled” their desires. They didn’t have the same taboos we have, and sex was not “bad” or even something hidden. But they did have traditions that addressed population and other issues. They had many herbs they used for birth control, they also had prohibitions about sex at certain times in their lives for various reasons. My elder here, Rita, has told me about her very traditional life in Western Alaska 60 and 70 years ago. She said that she spent at least two weeks of every month apart from her husband, no sex, no meat, no handling meat or cooking it, and a number of other prohibitions that allowed her to “keep her power.” (I think they meant sanity.)

    In the lower 48 it was different but similar, and it depended on the culture. Also, you have to remember that their lives were extremely physical. They hunted and fished all the time, walked and ran everywhere, and were enthusiastic athletes and sportsmen. They had avenues for their energy every single day, and a community where whole families and even multiple families lived in single lodges. One complaint I read from some 18th Century Indians about their children who had been sent to the white guys’ schools to learn the white guys’ ways was that when they came back they were “useless.” They couldn’t run, they couldn’t hunt, and they couldn’t fit in the tribe anymore. They declined the offer to send more children to the white guys for education, and offered instead to educate some white children in their traditions.

    It cracked me up.

  • Satish,I very rarely comment on NBL but I have just read your “Tying in the Threads so far” piece linked in this post, it is easily the best description of the Human/Earth relationship currently unfolding before our very eyes and actually might be the best post I have ever read vis a vis helping me come to terms with how I should proceed in seeing out what remains of my time here on this planet, it reminds me of the effect Paul Chefurka’s incredible post on The Dawn of Cybernetic Civilization had on me, and I would be interested in Paul’s opinion on your piece should he have the time to read it
    A BIG thank you.

  • I recently read Sam Keen’s Foreword to Ernest Becker’s Pulitzer prize winning book, The Denial of Death (1973). It struck me that much of what Keen wrote relates in a number of important ways directly to many people’s interests here at NBL, including some of the emotional hostility. Becker’s philosophy as it emerges in Denial of Death works as a braid woven from four strands, which I have paraphrased from Sam Keen here:

    The first strand. We find the world a terrifying place. To say the least, Becker’s account of nature has little in common with Walt Disney. To us in our great ignorance, Mother Nature works as a brutal bitch, red in tooth and claw, who destroys what she creates. We live, Becker says, in a creation in which the routine activity for organisms involves “tearing others apart with teeth of all types—biting, grinding flesh, plant stalks, bones between molars, pushing the pulp greedily down the gullet with delight, incorporating its essence into one’s own organization, and then excreting with foul stench and gasses the residue.”

    The second strand. According to Becker, the basic motivation for human behavior involves our biological need to control our basic anxiety, to deny the terror of death. Human beings feel naturally anxious because we find ourselves ultimately helpless and abandoned in a world where we know we will die. “This is the terror: to have emerged from nothing, to have a name, consciousness of self, deep inner feelings, an excruciating inner yearning for life and self-expression—and with all this yet to die.”

    Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and Ernest Becker acted as strange allies in fomenting the cultural revolution that brought death and dying out of the closet. At the same time that Kubler-Ross gave us permission to practice the art of dying gracefully, Becker taught us that awe, fear, and ontological anxiety provide natural accompaniments to our contemplation of the fact of death.

    The third strand. Since we find the terror of death so overwhelming we conspire to keep it unconscious. “The vital lie of character” serves as the first line of defense that protects us from the painful awareness of our helplessness. Every child borrows power from adults and creates a personality by introjecting the qualities of the godlike being. Presumably, if I think, feel, and behave like my all-powerful father I will not die. So long as we stay obediently within the defense mechanisms of our personality, what Wilhelm Reich called “character armor” we feel safe and we can pretend that the world remains manageable. But we pay a high price. We repress our bodies to purchase an alleged soul or consciousness that time cannot destroy; we sacrifice pleasure to buy immortality; we encapsulate ourselves to avoid death. And life escapes us while we huddle within the defended fortress of character.

    Society provides the second line of defense against our natural impotence by creating a hero system that allows us to believe that we transcend death by participating in something of lasting worth. We achieve ersatz immortality by sacrificing ourselves to conquer an empire, to build a temple, to write a book, to establish a family, to accumulate a fortune, to further progress and prosperity, to create an information-society and global free market. Since the main task of human life involves becoming heroic and transcend death, every culture must provide its members with a covertly religious intricate symbolic system. This means that ideological conflicts between cultures work essentially as battles between immortality projects, as holy wars.

    One of Becker’s lasting contributions to social psychology has involved helping us understand that unconscious motives that have little to do with their stated goals may drive corporations and nations. Making a killing in business or on the battlefield frequently has less to do with economic need or political reality than with the need for assuring ourselves that we have achieved something of lasting worth. Consider, for instance, the war in Vietnam in which we found the United States driven not so much by a realistic economic or political interest but more by an overwhelming need to defeat “atheistic communism.”

    Becker’s fourth strand. Our heroic projects aimed at destroying “evil” have the paradoxical effect of bringing more “evil” into the world. Human conflicts occur as life and death struggles—my gods against your gods, my immortality project against your immortality project. According to Backer, the root of humanly caused evil lies not so much in human’s animal nature, not territorial aggression, or innate selfishness, but in our need to gain self-esteem, to deny our mortality, and to achieve a heroic self-image. Our desire for the best works as the cause of the worst. We want to clean up the world, make it perfect, keep it safe for democracy or communism, purify it of the enemies of god, eliminate evil, establish an alabaster city undimmed by human tears, or a thousand year Reich.

  • Beautiful, Satish. I am a geophiliac! When I was young, I told a fellow-farmer friend that I loved the earth so much that sometimes I had to just lie down on the grass or the sand and just feel it next to me. My friend replied that he loved the earth, but he never felt the need to lie down and embrace it. In the past native people talked frequently about sitting or reclining close to the earth, taking off our moccasins and walking on bare feet to feel it, and the sustenance that brings.

    I came to Alaska in 1990, and even then the salmon were so abundant! I used a dipnet to subsistence fish for several years, and I have never experienced anything like a big surge of salmon coming in on the tide. It is beyond words what it is like to feel the gifts of the earth in such abundance! Such security, such perfection and rightness.

    I have seen 50,000 fish come in on a single tide. The waters boil with them. All the animals come, the seals, the bears, the gulls, the humans, and feast on the salmon, and it is more beautiful, more powerful by far, than any feast any humans could ever create, no matter how much they want to. It feels like love pouring through you to see the giving Earth this way. This is very much what this culture seeks to destroy.

    I don’t think your technophile friends are ever going to understand.

  • Hi AC, thank you so much for your comment. I’m so glad to hear my post is a helpful way to interpret what we observe in the world around us. I will check out Paul Chefurka’s post on The Dawn of Cybernetic Civilization. If you ever get a chance to get his take on my post, I’d love to hear it too.

    Thanks again, AC!

  • Poignant, eloquent, beautiful! Your friend, DrDignity

  • Hi AC, I just read Paul Chefurka’s piece on the super-organism here – Very valid and timely analogy. I agree with this analysis. I can see how my post reminded you of his article. We both talk of human beings as cells in a vast super-organism that has taken on a life of its own.

  • Thank you, Wendy, Sabine, Dredd, DrDignity, and every one else for your kind words and support. Glad to hear from like-minded folks here on NBL.

  • Should I have written “geophile”? I think I should have. I think a geophiliac would be someone with a disease.


  • @AC and Satish,

    You rang? :-)

    Needless to say, I agree with most of it. I really appreciated your linked blogpost and its introduction to Dr. Hern’s work. Hern’s comparison of human growth to a malignant neoplasm could not be more stark, and puts flesh on the bones of the well-worn saying, “Growth without limits is the ideology of a cancer cell.”

    Rapid, uncontrolled growth is a principal characteristic of one kind of neoplasm (new growth), that of a malignant neoplasm. Malignant neoplasms display four main characteristics:

    • Rapid, uncontrolled growth;
    • Invasion and destruction of adjacent normal tissues;
    • De-differentiation (loss of distinctiveness of individual components); and
    • Metastasis to different sites

    Cancers also show what cancer biologists call progression, or an evolution toward greater malignancy, with less differentiation of cells, faster growth, and more metastatically aggressive cells.

    The comparison couldn’t be more obvious.

    I demur somewhat from the views of Quinn and Sahlins about pre-agricultural man (views that I once enthusiastically supported), and suggest reading Stephen LeBlanc and Lawrence Keeley for an opposing view. But that’s really neither here nor there in the big picture. We are who we are today, and on that issue your assessment and that of Dr. Hern are spot-on.

    I’m generally more interested in the “why” rather than the “how” of things. As a result my recent focus has been on the interaction of non-equilibrium thermodynamics, complex adaptive systems and cybernetics, evolutionary psychology and Marvin Harris’ anthropological framework of “Cultural Materialism” as an explanatory framework for the Global Clusterfuck.

    That investigation solidified my conviction that we have always been on a one-way train to the edge of the cliff, and at this point there is no way back. We can wax nostalgic about our ancient ancestors if we wish, but we have to deal with the situation we’re in today, and unfortunately there’s just no way to fix it.

    In the face of such finality, we each choose our own response – even though we realize it’s only a way to get from here to there with a modicum of self-respect. Some fight back through political activism, others choose routes of direct action, education, community-building, permaculture, etc. My response has been to recognize and accept the utter irrelevance of all the insights I’ve gained over the last few years. This has prompted my retreat into a quasi-Taoist quietism – at least for now.

    My article on Cybernetic Civilization is here:

    You might be interested in a couple of my other thermodynamic-oriented essays as well.

    Best Regards,

  • Hi Sabine, thanks for sharing it with your friends who still have a little bit left of that connectedness, as you aptly put it. There’s this one good friend of mine with who I have debated at length about these issues for well over an year. I didn’t make much sense to him. Then when I sent him the video, this is what he said, “Not only are you addressing a life-and-death issue, but you’re tapping into our brain at the EMOTIONAL level (right lobe, the path to our soul) which, in the end, can be more powerful than the rational level (the left lobe, the realm of our egoīc mind). By the end I was choking and had tears running down my cheeks… :)”

    So, who knows, maybe one or two of your friends will connect with a piece of art like Geophilia.

    Yes, I have been called a romantic and been accused of romanticizing the past. I have heard that phrase so many times that it makes me think it’s a meme that comes from our dominant culture here. I had never heard it in India.

    I was surprised to find out that there are still tribal people living in forests. I was even more surprised when I heard there are still a few uncontacted tribes in the Amazon. But they are all at risk from the incursions of modern civilization into their ancestral lands. The thirst for resources that civilization has is mind-boggling. Here’s a sad yet revealing story on how a nexus of capitalism and religion went after the indigenous peoples of South America –

    I believe some native peoples still hold enormous amounts of wisdom and knowledge (for example, see, but I highly doubt very many civilized men will stop to listen to them. We’re too arrogant and prideful of our material achievements.

  • @Gerald

    Talking about the exponential function, it’s as if we’re right now in the middle of an explosion. Imagine one of those Hollywood flicks where they show an explosion in slow motion. Windows breaking, glass shattering, fragments flying off, and accelerating as they move from the center of the explosion toward the periphery… then imagine each small fragment to be a conscious entity. Each would look around and see everything around it as quite stable. A fragment’s field of view is limited to just a foot or two inside which everything seems just normal, as if things were always that way and will always be. Other fragments in its view are also moving roughly at the same speed and in the same direction. In super slow motion, the fragment is even enjoying its journey. The rush of air is refreshing. Change is welcome.

    When we consider that humans have been on this planet for 2 Million years, and that in just the last 2 hundred years, we have set in motion a vast explosion called the industrial revolution, and in just the last 20 years, we gave it a boost with hi-tech, we are not unlike the fragments in slow motion in the middle of an explosion. We look around and things seem normal. It’s hard to be conscious of the fact that we’re witnessing an infinitesimal part, just 0.001% of our history, the part where change is accelerating, the part where the rush of air against our faces is refreshing and life is good (for some anyway).

    Just about every trend that is indicative of the metaphorical explosion has accelerated in the last 20 years – species collapse, ocean acidification, deforestation, carbon emissions, inequality, addiction, suicide rate, urbanization, soil loss, water shortages, etc.

  • @Dredd

    Like your blog… Doomsday clock set to 3 minutes before 12. Makes sense. The currency war and the resource war between the elites of the world is intensifying. The sociopaths… err… leaders in charge of the planet are running amok!

  • @shep

    The book “Sex at Dawn” goes into how our ancestors viewed sexuality. It was not a taboo like it is today. oldgrowthforest is right on about herbs and natural methods of birth control in the past. Also pertinent is the book “Rockefeller Medicine Men” about how traditional medicine was wiped out in favor of the highly profitable synthetic pharmaceutical-industrial complex in the early 20th century.

    Apologies for so many comments. But my math is getting better every time I submit one. 9 + nine = 18 :)

  • Satish –

    very nice work with the video. and I second AC’s comments about the strength of your “tying it all together” post/story. I am going to enjoy exploring the rest of your blog.

    yes, the “romanticizing the past” thing is a meme, used for furthering the purposes of the cancer.

  • I enjoyed the essay. I think a lot of technophiles are also geophiles (and who truly isn’t a geophile? An infant that throws up or poops on his/her mother doesn’t mean it stops loving his mother.) However, the integration and balance I think is currently out of whack. As I read and wrote elsewhere, it’s sort of a test. I think evolution of a complex system always takes us to this point and the point beyond this involves crossing this hump and ending up with the right homeostatic arrangement with our environment (unlikely though it may seem in the case of our trajectory, there will be others). There’s no returning to the past. The evolution of a species like ours is not only one of the ways directed genetic engineering can be performed, but always a way that life can go on beyond our planet and solar system.

    I think we’ve always behaved as part of a giant organism: it’s encoded in our genes. When I last did the calculation, there was about a 30% overlap between the binding sites of human protein structures (3D arrangement of atoms) and protein structures from Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the pathogen that causes tuberculosis (we were doing it to figure out where to target drugs). This is from observed structures, not from modelled ones. One of the fascinating results from our CANDO project ( was that I obtained *better* results identifying cures/treatments for human diseases using the universe of all protein structures from sources *other than humans* than from using human gene products. This is rigourous evidence not only pointing to the cause of all the diseases we have but how interconnected we are. (And we already know that most of our current drugs are small molecules from some other organism.) There is very little in a human proteome that we know of that is unique to humans structurally (i.e., in terms of the 3D shape).

    As I wrote above, there’s no turning the clock back. Our technological development mirrors our biological evolution and I think our drive with regards to creating computing devices is related to our biological imperative to reproduce and evolve. In my simulations of complex systems that could be perpetuated arbitrarily, there was a complex equilibrium achieved between the autonomy (degrees of freedom in a space that could be explored) an individual interacting unit had vs. its autonomy restrained by the other interacting units as well as the environment. (This relates to the thermodynamic and statistical mechanics concepts of enthalpy and entropy.) You can observe any other group of organisms, particularly ones that have existed and evolved for billions or hundreds of millions of years on this planet (archaea, bacteria, and plants, for example) and you can observe this dynamic.

    Look up sociomicrobiology. While I like the cancer analogy to humans, we’re more like a virulent pathogen that is killing off its own host and itself in the process. This happens frequently and it looks like the trajectory we’re on now but what also happens once in a while is that the pathogen and the host coevolve and learn to exist symbiotically. There are a lot of examples of the latter (and it’s a series of events like these that gave rise to the human species), and this is the trajectory we needed to have ended up on.

  • It strikes me that many people today often use “consciousness” as a more modern, politically correct, secular code word to replace the ever-so-popular, alleged, much older “immortal soul”: how we supposedly cheat death, not “really” dying. Meanwhile in biology and medical science it refers to an entirely different and mortal concept: a process that occurs at different levels during the day and during trauma or illness, and that ends when a person or other conscious living organism dies. Ah, the games we play with each other and with ourselves: the bargaining we try so desperately to do with death. It strikes me, too, that in discussing consciousness in order to avoid confusion the participants would best get clear about which consciousness they address their remarks to: the immortal or the mortal version—or some other supposed ghost in the machine hybrid version.

    Satish Musunuru,

    Beautifully done video! I really like the art, the music, and the way you combined them! Esthetically very well done in my opinion! You wrote “Yes, I have been called a romantic and been accused of romanticizing the past. I have heard that phrase so many times that it makes me think it’s a meme that comes from our dominant culture here. I had never heard it in India.” I agree that you do (beautifully!) romanticize the human past. In this context romantic means largely belonging to or characteristic of Romanticism or the Romantic Movement in the arts. Or it may refer to: not sensible about practical matters; idealistic and unrealistic. Romanticism refers to a movement in literature and art during the late 18th and early 19th centuries that celebrated nature, and it valued imagination and emotion over rationality. Given the major historical impact of Romanticism, beginning with the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rosseau in the mid-1700s, I feel surprised that you never heard of it in India. It definitely does not occur as “a meme that comes from our dominant culture here”. It refers to a quite old process of idealizing human art and emotion. Given the powerful death-related anxieties the prospects of NTHE elicit, it comes as no surprise that Romantic ideas and ideals appeal greatly to many people, as well as the idea of an immortal consciousness.

  • Hi Satish, I studied Sanskrit formally from 8th grade to the 12th. I can assure that the concept of romanticism exists in India and goes back more than 2000 years. I’m sure you’re familiar with Kalidasa? I read some of his work as part of course work, definitely romantic in all kinds of ways. Goethe was impressed with Kalidasa’s work. He wrote (translated from German and copied from Wikipedia):

    “Wouldst thou the young year’s blossoms and the fruits of its decline
    And all by which the soul is charmed, enraptured, feasted, fed,
    Wouldst thou the earth and heaven itself in one sole name combine?
    I name thee, O Shakuntala! and all at once is said. ”

    The predictable tradition of many Indian films (not my thing) where both the lovers perish is a romantic idea.

  • @Ram “I think a lot of technophiles are also geophiles”

    No technophile I know could be considered a geophile.

    Technophiles are all about Control, as the presentation suggested. They don’t think the world works well enough the way it is, and they have lots of ideas for how to tweak it, as you do.

    Just reading in the local paper how a small tech./voc./ag. college in our town had gotten a $3+million grant to install an anaerobic biomass digester to Generate Electricity. No one questions whether the electricity is, in fact, needed, number one. They just want to do it to show they can. No money will be saved.. it’s all sheer waste and consumption and diddling. The reason it was in the paper again is because neighbors are complaining it stinks. This, when the temps are about 20°F for the highs.

    They are cornering the market on organic waste in the area, meaning there is less for applying directly to fields of crops, pastures or garden beds. Robbing Peter to pay Paul.

    Another “university”, a military college in my area, installed a wood biomass central heating for their campus. Many news articles boasted how they had contracted future wood supply from as much as 100 miles away. These institutions will bleed the local population dry, but they couldn’t care less…

  • @Bud, I don’t at all connect consciousness with “a soul”. They are completely different to me. Consciousness is an individual’s immediate and ongoing apprehension; the “soul” is generally understood to be a.) independent of the body and/or b.) persistent after death. I don’t agree with either of those latter propositions.

  • Lidia, as I wrote, if a child throws up or poops on its mother, does it mean that it doesn’t love its mother? I have yet to meet someone personally who says that they don’t love this planet and really want to destroy it. Then I would agree they were not a geophile.

    Or perhaps it’s a case of always hurting the one you love. :/

    I think the world is what it is, I really don’t do anything for the sake of the world but yeah, I have a lot of opinions (so does everyone else). Everything I do is done using a computing device. And I write papers on what I discover. If others want to tweak the world with that, that is their prerogative. The consequences of what they do with that information is theirs, just as the consequences of my actions are mine. Just because alcohol is good for precipitating DNA doesn’t mean you should drink it (I’ve said that since I was 17).

    I’m sorry you’re having issues with your local colleges. As I said, humanity is like a pathogen that is killing off the host supporting it instead of learning to live symbiotically with it. This trajectory was on its course before I was born and all my studies point to this trajectory selection being a matter of chance beyond any individual’s directed control.

  • @ Gerald Spezio: Just search “determinism.” ;)

  • Well yes.. Many rapists and domestic abusers would maintain they “love” their victims.

    A newborn has the excuse of not being aware of what it does.
    If tomorrow you were to intentionally shit on your wife or daughter’s chest, she might have something to say about it…

    and Yes, Yes, we know that You Don’t Do Anything Except By Way Of.. computing devices, universities, other people’s companies, and so on.. you’re completely innocent!

    If you don’t see guilt, why do you protest?? If there is guilt, why persist in denying it?

    Earlier, you took issue with my label, “autist”. I think that’s actually very pertinent. I see that a lot of “doomers” appear to be autists: Greer admits to Asperger’s, my personal opinion is that Dmitry Orlov may be “on the spectrum”. I don’t deem this a bad thing, merely curious: I think a degree of autism permits one to see the mechanisms of society as an outsider.

    Autists aren’t hindered by emotional and political constructs they don’t adhere to anyway, so looking at the evidence and blurting out that “the emperor has no clothes” isn’t difficult for them; rather, it is an imperative. Autists are said to be incapable of lying (I know that not to be true; they dislike lying in others, but some are perfectly capable of lying when it suits them.. or perhaps they are not lying in that they truly believe in an alternate version of the truth… No, Aunt Lidia, I never crept into your room at night or opened your suitcase!). As to lack of empathy, I may even have some of those traits..

    My nephew has a degree of autism.. while he is mainstreamed in school he will likely never function coherently in society. What’s pertinent about autism is the aspect of not understanding or caring what the social context may be before rendering an analysis. So an autist can frankly write on their homework, “this is stupid”, and get an “F” while theoretically deserving an “A”.

    At the same time, their comprehension can be cramped and crabbed, and their analyses flawed. [I say this from many years’ experience at MIT]. From my experience, autists have the tendency of viewing other living entities as toys or machines, and when these toys/machines don’t conform to the autist’s will or idea of how they should behave, they are “broken”. Teachers are broken… computers are broken… policemen are broken… algorithms are broken… parents are broken… social laws are broken… pets are broken… because they do not conform to the autist’s will or expectation. This is my lived experience. I’m not saying this is true of all autists, just to the extent that I have observed these tendencies.

    There’s some interesting genetic study coming out about behavior. I don’t see the worth in pursuing it myself because I don’t see us having the time or resources to elicit coherent findings. But I think that the humans of today are not necessarily the same creatures as the humans of hundreds of thousands of years ago, not any more than the canine species or the equine or any other species are wholly comparable…

  • This is the joy: to have emerged from the infinite, to have Being, consciousness of Self, deep inner feelings, an exquisite inner yearning for connection and sharing – and with all of this – yet to know you have only just begun.

  • I’m not sure why this post hasn’t shown up yet, so I’m trying again:

    Lidia, indeed. And some it may well be true. Love makes people do strange things. But what I said is that I’ve not met anyone who doesn’t love their planet, at least not that I could perceive. The actions of humanity with regards to this planet has been called a rape, besides being called a cancer, a disease, and an infestation. Yet some humans do love this planet and this universe.

    I’m not talking about guilt and innocence. These are judgements. I’m talking about what I do, what I think, what my opinion and perspectives are, and the outcomes of my research. These are statements, not judgements (of myself or of others). I’m not protesting anything except this statement. You’re welcome to judge people however you wish but I think judging yourself or other humans isn’t productive or useful. My philosophy about judgements is “let they who are without sin cast the first stone.” More importantly, our discussions have NOTHING to do with guilt and innocence (at least from my end). I see them as a matter of choice and causality, and largely chance. Alcohol can be used to precipitate DNA (the consequences of which are the ability do some cool molecular biology) or get drunk (the consequences of which I don’t wish to experience).

    My remark about your autism statement was tongue in cheek and there was an emoticon to indicate as much (the “wry smilie”, looks like this: :/ ). I believe I said why are you insulting people with Aspergers by comparing them to Elon Musk. It was really taking issue with you comparing people to Musk, not with autists per se, and that’s if you take it seriously and ignore the emoticon, the tongue firmly embedded in cheek (of course you couldn’t see that but I sincerely thought my statements were dripping with sarcasm :) ).

    I have no disagreement with your remarks about autism and autists. I’m just having fun, in case you’ve not figured it out. I don’t mean it negatively at all. I also notice that your MIT experience left a mark on you. I know a lot of people from MIT, and I can see their geekiness. I can relate but I don’t roll with that crowd. They’re very academic, and while I’ve been considered for a faculty position in MIT, I’d never fit in (though I’d probably be good for them).

    I think complex behaviour is complex and largely determined by the environment, not by genetics. Humans and the rest of the planet are constantly changing exponentially relative to any other trajectory, that’s the nature of a complex system (by definition). This is the same for all complex systems and subsystems. Bacteria and plants have been evolving exponentially as well, as has the entire Earth system (even before humans came about).

    First post of Jan 24, 2015.

  • Ram, all –

    sometimes a post will get incorrectly flagged as spam. I’ve got a stuttering mouse – it will sometimes send a double click message on the submit button when I am only doing a click. the system will catch this as a spam attempt, and will send your post into the spam bin. then when you try to post the same message again, it won’t go through. your first post was in the bin. other flukey things may possibly trigger this as well. you can add a bit of text to change the post (as you did) and then it will go through.

  • A Quote “humans more concerned with having then being” not A Quote love without peace, peace without freedom, freedom without independence, independence without health. I don’t think so. Life without mother earth ?

  • @oldgrowthforest

    Thank you for bringing in some of your Native wisdom and parables and tales into our consciousness. I like the word “geophiliac”. It’s like uber-geophile. What can I say? Love can be a disease. One can be stricken with love for the Earth.

    We don’t touch the Earth with our bare hands or feet much these days. The symbols of progress like carpets, shoes, cars, sky-rises insulate us from the Mother. There is evidence that a plant rooted in the soil of the Earth grows healthier than one rooted in the soil of a pot. There’s a documentary somewhere on YouTube about “Earthing” that explores the benefits of being in contact with the ground under our feet. The Scientific explanation about free radicals and electrons not withstanding, it just feels good to sit in a chair with bare feet touching a slightly damp ground.

    I like your tale about the elder, Rita. What some of us consider as superstitious and out-dated rituals were/are in fact time-tested generations-old methods of living in balance with the land. One of the most important priorities for a tribe was to keep themselves from over-running the carrying capacity of their habitat. They were finely attuned to their surroundings. They were good listeners. It’s not that they didn’t try new things. Some of us modern people tend to think of pre-historic man’s (as well as today’s tribal man’s) life as dull and boring. “They do the same limited number of things year after year, generation after generation”, we say. Well, not quite. Our ancestors definitely didn’t look forward to a new iPhone every couple of years, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t try new things and experiment with new things. It’s precisely because they experimented all the time that finally one of them started planting seeds in his backyard somewhere in the Fertile Crescent. In fact, they had to adapt to changing habitats from time to time and a tribe that forgot how to change went extinct. Why did the tribal person not change as fast we do? Because they were great listeners. They had a keen sense of observation. They would spend endless hours watching anything and everything patiently. A number of times, their experiments told them they shouldn’t proceed. And they listened and stopped. Contrast this with our modern culture. Do we stop to listen? Do we pay attention? Do we watch what our actions are doing to the planet? Do we take the time to observe? No, we do things just for the sake of change. Change for its own sake. We glamorize extreme risk-taking. We have a hero culture where those who resort to dare-devilry are idolized and splashed on the front page of our popular magazines, as examples and role models.

    I recall reading about this particular band of Indians in California’s central valley in the 1850s in a book called “Indian Summer”. Written by a White man who was brought up by the Indians when his mother died, the book is very insightful as it explores Indian life just prior to them getting wiped out. The writer talks about how the Indians would come by and stare into the writer’s family home for hours on end. Why did they do that? Why would they do something that would be considered so rude today? The writer’s family didn’t seem to mind the Indians so much because they knew what they were doing. They were observing and watching. They were curious about this new family that moved in next to them. It’s not unlike an astronomer peering through a telescope for a few hours every week. How rude, right?

    If we stopped and listened, we would realize that our ancestors and today’s tribal/indigenous peoples are as smart, as intelligent, as curious, as bright as any of our most accomplished specimens today. Anatomically identical humans with the same brain size as us have walked the Earth for 200,000 years.

    Yes, you are right, oldgrowthforest… most of my technophile friends would never see it this way. Theirs is a forward-looking culture where today is better than yesterday and tomorrow will be even better. They fail to see that progress and growth for them come at a great cost to others. The others here are the billions of people who live closer to the land than they do, all the animals, plants, mountains and rivers on Mother Earth. My technophile friends sit near the top of a pyramid. It’s hard for them to see that they are propped up and supported by everyone and everything underneath them who are being forced to sacrifice their quality of life, if not their very lives, for the next new gadget. One of the attractions at CES this year in Las Vegas is an Internet-connected rifle scope… so your friends and family can see you take that perfect shot at an endangered animal from the comfort of their home!

  • @ Paul Chefurka
    @ Bud Nye
    @ Ram Samudrala

    I often get the same response around where I live and from my circle of friends and acquaintances when I talk about how we humans used to lead more cultured, more plentiful and joyous lives in the past compared to the present. I’m charged with romanticizing the past. Of course, I am romanticizing the past. The reason I say I get “charged” and “accused” of it is because of the way it’s done. It’s as if I just committed a sin if I mention how the Choinumne Indians or the Masai lived a carefree life. Sometimes, I don’t even have to make a comparison to modern life before the knee-jerk reaction appears. It’s followed by “WE CAN’T GO BACK”. Of course, we can’t. Modern Science is yet to figure out this time travel thingy. The other thing I hear is it wasn’t perfect back then. Of course, it’s never been perfect. I never say that.

    What I find interesting is this quest for perfection itself. Why is modern man so obsessed with perfection? And who defines this thing called “perfection”?

    It appears that there are two stories in contention with each other. But first, let’s see what we can agree on. We all seem to agree that things are pretty messed up the way they are now. We might even agree that said things can’t be fixed.

    As for the two stories, one goes like this:

    Things were good back in the day. Not “perfect” but good enough. Then something happened. The elements of control are always present in nature, in creation, in the Universe and at some point, they gained the upper hand. They crossed a threshold. Things started getting worse from that point onward leading us to this day and age where we see control at its extreme so far… man controlling man, man controlling animal, man controlling everything he can find.

    The second story goes like this:

    Things were never that good neither for us humans not for the rest of creation. The world was violent, full of competition and only the fittest survived. Man made it through all that. Then we tried to make things better. We succeeded in some ways. We accomplished quite a bit, in fact. Here, we point to modern culture, technology, electronic music, the space age, etc. But there was a cost to it all. Our efforts killed off much of creation. We almost would have made it. May be we still will, at least some of us. If we make it, all that we lost would have been worth it. Some might say even if one of us made it alive and was off to a distant planet, it would have been all worth it. But if didn’t, well, too bad. We tried. That’s what humans do… we go after challenging problems. We strive for perfection. Some might say maybe we humans are fundamentally flawed. In any case, if it doesn’t work out, oh well. The train just couldn’t make it to the station. We were almost there. We were going at full speed but we ran out of fuel.

    I did take the liberty there to throw a bunch of different things into the second story there and some might want to split it into multiple stories. Or come up with an altogether different story.

    There are plenty of people, web sites, blogs, academic papers, journal articles, statistical analyses and what not that purport to prove one story or another. What we ultimately connect with has more to do with our circumstances and situation and station in life at the moment. As Paul said, he used to be in favor of Quinn and Sahlins but then he found the work of Keeley and LeBlanc more interesting and appropriate. What changed? Why do our stories change? And if we know that they can change and sometimes do change, why do we get attached to one or the other story so much? And how are we to know that our story won’t change again in the near future? After all, it changed once. It can happen again.

    I pondered over this and captured some of my thoughts here –

    Having said that, short of becoming story-less monks full of bliss (and I say this with all seriousness because I think it’s worthwhile to aspire to go beyond all stories where we might get in touch with something more interesting), we need stories to function in the world. We have always needed stories. The tribe had its creation story. We have our stories. We don’t call them that. We call it reality. We call it “the way things are”. Just the way the tribe referred to their story.

    So which story should we go with? I personally connect better with story number one above. In a culture that values confidence and where over-confident men rule, I might be shouted out of this discussion if I said I reserve the right to alter my story somewhat in the future. In fact, the word “story” is itself off-putting to some for it lacks concreteness. It lacks a sense of certainty.

    But for now, I have plenty to say in defense of story number one. It’s not that the train ran out of fuel and fell short of the station, we lost control of the train a long time ago and it’s headed for the cliff. It’s getting there faster and faster.

    All the accomplishments of modern civilization have accrued to an ever shrinking fraction of the population. Most of us in this discussion, with the Internet access that it takes to be here, with the time to write long comments :|, with the time to read books, with the time to research these issues, with the luxury of engaging in debate, are part of that select fraction of the 7+ Billion people on this planet. We do not represent the vast majority of people, much less the rest of creation. And in order to understand where we stand and where we come from, we have to try and step into the shoes of one of those who John Bodley calls “Victims of Progress”. If you ask any farmer anywhere in the world, I doubt he would say things are better for him today than they were for his parents and ancestors. I’m not talking about the farmer in the US Mid West who relies on government subsidies and cheap oil to engage in large-scale industrial agriculture, but the farmer who lives closer to the land. Ask the billions of people who are forced to migrate from their native places into towns and cities, sleeping in train stations and sidewalks looking for work, if they live better lives than their ancestors.

    The way I see it is the quality of life for the average inhabitant of this planet, be it man or animal or plant, has been getting progressively worse over time and has accelerated in the last couple hundred years and more so in the last 20 years. This is despite the bounty of oil that we have extracted from the planet and burned up. This is despite all the technological advances of modern civilization. A cell phone is but a consolation prize to the young man who is forced to move to the city to seek construction work so he can send money back to his destitute family. A family made destitute not due to the vagaries of nature or their own incompetence as modern man would like to believe, but due to the extremes of control exerted by a few through the apparatus of the state and corporation.

    The way I see it, there’s been one important trend afoot in the world since the dawn of civilization. It’s centralization and intensification of power and control. Technology enabled it and accelerated it. It continues to. Control has never been beneficial to the controlled. Ultimately, it ends up being not so beneficial to the controller as well. The elements of control have always been there and as long as they remained in balance, we had non-state decentralized societies that offered plenitude and contentment. But sooner or later, the balance tilts and if it crosses a threshold, it breaks. Things get worse from that point on. At the eleventh hour, we end up debating what the hell happened and why and writing really long comments into the middle of the night! Isn’t it ironic that it’s only because of massive centralization and hi-tech wizardry that we are able to piece together the puzzle?

  • @ Lidia

    My story matches yours. I resonate with what you have to say:

    “No technophile I know could be considered a geophile.

    Technophiles are all about Control, as the presentation suggested. They don’t think the world works well enough the way it is, and they have lots of ideas for how to tweak it, as you do.”

  • Satish: thanks for your time, wisdom and effort in your work and bringing that gift here to the Beach of Doom. Watching the video was hard, but reading your many replies shows where you’re heart is and it’s a lovely place. i clicked through to read the material on your site and also that of Doc Hern, which introduces one to the idea of humanity as a cancer – one i’ve encountered (over at CoIC, specifically). The concept fits and our actions seem to warrant this label, but humanity, like all species given an “advantage,” extends their reach as much as possible, before being curtailed by natural reaction from the supporting ecosystem. In our case the vast amount of pollution of all kinds from our industrial civilization has caused the crash of life in the ocean (Fukushima, plastic, nitrogen-rich run-off, etc), the changing of the chemistry of the atmosphere (via CO2 and now CH4 as well as many other man-made ones), and the depletion of the soil (factory farming) among other life-ending consequences.

    We lost our way as a species long ago, and now we’ve run out of time to effect enough positive change to counteract the accumulated damage. Your message feels good – atonement, thankfulness, and love of what’s left while we still can. Thanks again, Satish.

  • Satish,

    That you received a rational “lecture” about what romanticism really is (was): a 19th century art and literary movement, doesn’t surprise me at all. We obviously didn’t know this and were using the word incorrectly.
    Well, at least now I know, and I’ll have to thank Bud for the lesson. That was necessary! I’ll now re-read all my German romantic poets, lest I forget again.

    Anyway, you’re right, it is a meme spooking around in our dominant culture and used to shut down all conversation about this subject, to make a person feel uneducated and emotional.But there you go….

    Try and post here once in a while. Your voice and experience is needed.

  • Satish,

    Thank goodness Guy ran into you. You have a way of hugging anyone. It has helped NBL beyond measure. Yes, please post and weigh in here. We all need understanding and love to ride on out. Of course, it will not be long now.

  • Ram Samudrala,

    I think we’ve always behaved as part of a giant organism: it’s encoded in our genes.”

    That is not the consensus any more (On The Origin of Genieology, 2).
    if a child throws up or poops on its mother, does it mean that it doesn’t love its mother?

    That is not the case.

    The case is a brutal, careless murder of a mother by a psychopathic child, no longer capable of love.

    Think matricide preceded by heinous torture.

  • Dredd, since when did you accept the consensus? :) I clarified in detail what I meant with that comment. It has to do with the dynamics of complex adaptive systems, not saying that everything is determined by our genes 100% (which is what the URL you pointed to seemed to be saying—in general I think if one has an argument to make, they should do so in their posts, but expecting people to read extensive links is unrealistic). Furthermore, my comment, as long as evolution is occurring, is a tautology. It is just saying we’re always evolving (not just individually but collectively). I have yet to see a consensus view emerge that says that evolution isn’t operating on us collectively anymore.

    I also simply don’t agree with you about your characterisation of every human. Are you saying each and every single human that is a psychopath murdering their mother? Please see the arguments of Wester, oldgrowthforest, et al. to refute that claim.

    Satish, thanks for the response. To be precise, when I say “we can’t go back” I don’t mean it literally or even in terms of outcome. I mean that we can’t reverse the chaotic trajectory of evolution. When a pathogen becomes extremely virulent and starts killing off its host thereby killing itself, it is acting in accordance with evolution. When it lives in a symbiotic manner in harmony with the host, it is also acting in accordance with evolution. These are but two trajectories from an infinite number that said pathogen can take (and are akin to your “stories”). These trajectories in any biological systems at least are largely determined by chance, with different outcomes when evaluated after a certain number of steps in each trajectory. Once past a certain tipping point, the pathogen can’t ask for a “do over” of any kind (time travel, forward actions that create the same situation, etc.). It’s evolution taking its course and the momentum is too great to reverse or change course. That doesn’t necessarily mean that any outcome is completely sealed off, but to the baggage (evolutionary history) is always there and the course taken is inescapable.

    I think this desire to better ourselves is simply acting in accordance with the evolutionary paradigm, though “better” is always relative (which is what gets confused often) and there is no “perfection” or some destination we are to achieve. It is the process that matters, not the goal. The path you take to achieve something is more important than the achievement, and this has definitely been forgotten in our capitalistic and materialistic society. This path is what determines quality of life. If one confuses the path (process) with the goal, then quality of life will necessarily be poor (and it may be otherwise also, but not necessarily). So it’s a matter of perception IMO. Regardless of the trajectory you’re on, the only thing you can control is your perception of it. And it’s always relative. Yes, you can see our current civilisation as inventing ever more capable instruments of death and destruction than ever before, killing children and breaking their parents’ hearts, or you can see infant mortality as being greatly reduced, bringing hope and joy to parents.

    If you practice being still for long periods, i.e., quiet your mind (in other words “meditate”) you can break upon the doors of perception. By long I mean hours and repeating this for months and years (or you can take mind altering drugs or other shortcuts, but they will only let you see what’s possible by your mind, not comprehend it). It’s hard for me to express this in words but others have written about it here on NBL. You’ll get to the same point that the Buddhist monks (among others) got to, letting go of all attachment. At this point, all desires fade away, even the one to constantly better yourself. You are in the moment, which is all that matters. In the material world, you are however subject to constraints of evolution, which IMO transcends biology (as Dredd likes to remind us here).

    I am grateful for many things, and I’m grateful that I am part of this journey called life.

    Second post of Jan 24, 2015.

  • Tom Says:
    January 24th, 2015 at 4:30 am

    You wrote “i clicked through to read the material on your site and also that of Doc Hern, which introduces one to the idea of humanity as a cancer – one i’ve encountered (over at CoIC, specifically). The concept fits and our actions seem to warrant this label …”
    The research of Dr. Eshel Ben-Jacob shows that cancer tumors are organized groups somewhat like slime mold (i.e. groups with “social intelligence”).

    I agree that cancer is a valid concept to metaphorically represent Petroleum Civilization.

    A pathogenic virus or bacterial pathogen is also valid IMO (but most viruses and microbes are NOT pathogenic, they are mutualistic or symbiotic).

    Cancer entities are not known to return from rogue pathology to become normal again, however, microbes and viruses are known to change, from time to time, away from pathogenic behavior back into mutualistic / symbiotic behavior.

    The video at the bottom of this post (Hypothesis: How Toxins of Power Are Neutralized or Removed) is a presentation by Professor Eshel Ben-Jacob on these dynamics.

    The english is not great, however it is an interesting and eye opening lecture.

    For example, he intimates, among other things, that a cancerous tumor is an organized group with an agenda.

    What is striking is his research into epigenetics for these microscopic groups.

    In other words they are not bound to the genetics they inherited, and they can change their own genetic make-up when called for.

  • Just reading all of these collective posts, from all of you wonderful people, makes me a better person, I thank you all for sharing the wisdom you have attained, really I do so wonderful almost off the charts wonderful.

  • Our minds, hands, our bodies overall have evolved to use and depend upon technology. This has been relatively rapid. The energy and other resource gradients that exist(ed) pulled us towards their use even though the rapid expansion and use of finite resources is a dead end. Evolution has no foresight, it just takes off in a direction that may end in extinction. But our evolution was rather rapid, like that of a cancer mutation that suddenly endows a cell with the tools necessary to grow beyond its normal niche and into all niches. There are some differences between the type of molecular changes that make cells cancerous and what has occurred with humans, but the parallels IMO make cancer the closest parallel to human civilization. You may notice that human civilization is endowed with new tools on a macro scale with mega-sized infrastructure to go with it. Some may say the novel complexity discounts any relation to life and the cancer on the cellular/molecular level but they would be mistaken. I’ve worked out the details, the molecular analogs etc, but am a bit reluctant to put it on a billboard, I don’t think it would be well received by those moderating the thoughts of the average citizen. Needless to say, and as Guy has elaborated upon, we are in some deep quicksand here and the more we do, the deeper we sink.

  • Satish, THANK YOU for such an incredibly moving video. But I must say you nearly killed me!

    OK, I was doing my morning ritual of “oil pulling”, then began reading your short introduction, then viewed the video. Things were going so well during the first beautiful scenes, and then BAM!

    I nearly choked to death while simultaneously bursting into tears and attempting to keep the oil in my mouth. Enough of that.

    I commend you on an absolutely riveting and wonderful video. It just proves that a talented person can create a “story” in such a concise form (your video) that has the potential to open the eyes of even a few technophiles (but certainly not all, and probably not most).

    Like Sabine, I plan to send the link to several friends who have shown even the remotest interest in our Mother and why treating Her well is important.

    BTW, Sabine, and also Dredd, thanks to you both as well.

  • @Satish,

    You wrote:

    The way I see it is the quality of life for the average inhabitant of this planet, be it man or animal or plant, has been getting progressively worse over time and has accelerated in the last couple hundred years and more so in the last 20 years. This is despite the bounty of oil that we have extracted from the planet and burned up. This is despite all the technological advances of modern civilization.

    I would invite you to re-consider the same paragraph with only two words changed:

    The way I see it is the quality of life for the average inhabitant of this planet, be it man or animal or plant, has been getting progressively worse over time and has accelerated in the last couple hundred years and more so in the last 20 years. This is because of the bounty of oil that we have extracted from the planet and burned up. This is because of all the technological advances of modern civilization.

    Your formulation is technophilic, while mine is thermodynamic. There’s a huge difference.

    You asked what changed to cause my story-allegiance to switch from a Rousseauian perspective to a Hobbesian one. There were two reasons. One is that the Keeley/LeBlanc viewpoint fits far better with what I see around me in the world today. Its explanatory power doesn’t require us to have “lost our way” in some mysterious yet blame-worthy sense, it simply assumes we are more or less the same humans we’ve always been. Occam gets a closer shave, in other words.

    That’s not to say that I think “all humanity is warlike” or some such absolutist nonsense. It’s more of an acceptance that we exhibit a complex mix of traits, and that our behavior in any moment expresses the unique combination of our evolutionary heritage, our cultural history and our current circumstances.

    The other reason I give short shrift to Quinn et al these days is deeply personal. Romanticizing the past has inspired enormous guilt, blame and anger. For me these feelings sprang from the view that humanity had either made an egregious, inexplicable mistake or was morally, spiritually and psychologically broken from the beginning, and thus unable to avoid the error. These feelings caused me unbearable anguish and despair, with no obvious way out. That’s not a sustainable emotional life.

    Eventually I got tired of the pain, and decided that there had to be an alternate story that lifted the load off both humanity’s shoulders and my own. Thus began my search for natural sources of irreversibility in human physical, psychological and cultural evolution. Lo and behold, the more I looked the more I found. After a few years of re-arranging the jigsaw pieces, I had a picture of our current situation that back-cast nicely onto our species’ previous behavior, and didn’t require any particular moral discontinuities to explain how we got from there to here. At that point the pain lifted.

    My position is that the stories we tell ourselves personally are those that explain the world in such a way as to justify our presence in it and our feelings about it. The stories we tell ourselves collectively are a different matter. Those spring from a far deeper well. IMO its source waters can be traced back to influences we are generally not aware of: non-equilibrium thermodynamics as expressed in principles like MPP and MEPP; the exigencies of survival in the context of natural selection; our evolved neuropsychology; and last but by no means least, the various cultural histories we are all embedded in.

    Most peoples’ personal stories have their roots in their culture’s collective story. Even renegades like us can’t fully escape its various unseen influences. But one of the great glories of being human is told in the story of Icarus: we can follow the urge to try and reach escape velocity, hubris or not.

    In the end, I’ve accepted that no story is true or false. They are simply either more or less useful to those telling them. This realization, in conjunction with a whole lot of meditation, has allowed me to detach from the outcomes of all this story-telling, and just live my life.

  • Good point Paul.

    Anthropocene, Capitalocene, or Ecology For All
    The Natural History Museum

    Published on Dec 1, 2014

    With Christian Parenti, Jason Moore, and Razmig Keucheyan. Moderated by Liza Featherstone.

    Edward Abbey compares capitalism with cancer: growth for the sake of growth.

  • After much thought and contemplation,including meeting and spending time with Guy McPherson, I conclude Guy McPherson is not telling the entire story. Guy, when are you going to fill in the blanks?

  • Yours is a common response, Dave Thompson. I’ll start filling in the blanks when I have more time. I suspect it’ll take a few thousand years to tell the story, with appropriate nuance, from the last decade or so.

  • OGF,

    Ok. Not sure how this cd work but, we have got to figure out, how, literally, some of us can walk in ur slippers!

    Some would like to have a pair, I’m sure, except maybe for the Cartesians in the room. They might come along too?


    Please reject the notion w/silence if it is asking too much.

  • Guy, the fact that you are being targeted by hostile people concerns me. Cuidado.

    shep, that’s so cute, walk in my slippers. I want to make a moccasin style but it’s a completely different process. But I will one day. And then you can walk in my moccasins. Write to me at oldgrowthforest 2 mtaonline . net, and I will send you a link to see what I do.

  • I wouldn’t be too concerned, OGF. Remember Gandhi’s quote: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

    The fact that people are now being hostile rather than simply dismissive is actually a good sign.

  • “In Geophilia, I present this contrast between older tribal cultures and our younger culture that we call Civilization.”
    Perhaps, but the survival of the fittest evolutionary agenda was present in both ages. is not .

    “The greatest shortcoming of the human race is its inability to understand the exponential function”), we’d realize that abrupt climate change leading to near-term extinction is not only likely, it’s inevitable.
    But we can’t have it both ways. We would not have acquired the concept of an exponential function in ancient times, but did so in modern civilizations. As far as we know, all things eventually come to pass, i8ncluding humanity. In our case however, I’m not so sure.

    “Civilization and Technology, and attempt to make sense of the human condition in the age of the extremes.
    ” We didn’t live during other times, and so our consciousness about those ages are speculative at best. But in general, I would suspect that like all evolutionary events, things got better as times went on, which is in effect based on the theories of evolution.

  • Thanks,Satish.
    For those still suffering from the delusion that Keeley and LeBlanc represent authoritative scholarship,perhaps you should read’War,Peace and Human Nature’,edited by Douglas Fry.See amazon for details.

  • Satish,

    This discussion has gone on for a really long time. You are so correct about the demand for perfection and the fantasy idealism that drives the debate on one side in this conversation. It is bizarre.

    “It’s as if I just committed a sin if I mention how the Choinumne Indians or the Masai lived a carefree life.” Yes, you have Noble Savage Syndrome, they say. You can never say anything positive about indigenous people without being accused of having NSS. Tribal people were dirty, frightened, hungry, primitive human beings, who, as people have suggested here, were afraid of the sun and the skies. The animals were terrifying, too, we are told, even though the people who left them alone say they really liked the animals and understood a lot about them, just as the lecturer on the people of the Amazon states in that great link on your site. They were sophisticated, at least my ancestors were. (Other people’s ancestors may have been brutish, frightened idiots who were afraid of the skies, but my ancestors were knowledgeable astronomers and had been for a long time.)

    This goes back a long time, and Noble Savage is not from Rousseau, it is from Dryden, and it first appeared in a play. It is from the late 17th Century, and it isn’t even what the current accusers of NSS say it is. It is a single culture discussing another culture with itself, from minimal information, usually by people who had never seen a Native American. For the first 130+ years, from the late 1600s to the early 1800s, the only people who really discussed “the Noble Savage” were Europeans. Americans were too busy killing them.

    Then, in the early-mid 19th century, among East Coast Americans who had long exterminated the tribes in those states, there was a romantic ideal of Native Americans, similar to but not exactly the same as the European Noble Savage concept. It affected the American populace and generated sympathy for those tribes that were under attack under that noble Manifest Destiny entitlement. There was tremendous academic, philosophical, political (which was far more philosophical in those days) and moral discussion about the “Indian Wars” which went on from the mid-1600s until (officially) 1890. Ever since that short romantic fever of the early 19th century, if anyone says anything positive about indigenous people or their cultures, they get accused of having Noble Savage Syndrome, of “believing” the “myth of the Noble Savage.”

    It is so bad it provided one the most memorable experiences I’ve ever had. I was walking beside a friend of mine in quite cold temperatures, about 17F, in Texas. Almost no one had clothing for those temps in Texas. I was complaining about the cold and my friend, knowing of my heritage, smiled and asked me what “we” did before white people got here. I thought about it for a moment, and answered in truth and in meaning, “We all wore fur coats.”

    The snort this man let out, the open contempt, the incredulity that was conveyed with his response and the way he said it stunned me. He laughed and said, “Yeah, right!” Everyone knows the natives were too stupid to keep warm. It’s amazing they made it until Europeans got here.

    Edward Curtis would have been surprised to hear that, but my friend had graduated from Yale, and had a jurisprudence degree from Harvard, and he was reflecting an attitude that has been systemic in academia for about 160 years or more. Apologists for empire (“genociders,” Wester says).

    What you are experiencing is something I have experienced all my life whenever I have tried to say something positive about Native Americans. There is something very morally disturbing in that dismissive perspective considering the very real genocide that occurred. Maybe it’s because a truly horrific genocide occurred, and not just of the indigenous people, but also the animals, the waters, the forests, the mountains, that such a presumptuous perspective is necessary. I don’t know. I don’t think that way. I find it a strange perspective (and Wester is still my hero).

    I am concerned about the attention from that sector. I said before there is something very stalker-ish going on.

  • david,

    If this was the journal Science, then “authoritative scholarship” would be expected in support of one’s findings. However, this is not Science, it’s NBL. And these are not scientific findings, they are largely our personal Stories of Life. IMO, the only reason to use a scholastic argument from authority to support one’s own Story of Life is if one is still unsure what it is.

    Thanks for the reference to Fry. I’ll take a look.

  • Excellent essay, Saltish! I really liked you bringing up Marshal Sahlins. And i like this,
    “I believe some native peoples still hold enormous amounts of wisdom and knowledge (for example, see, but I highly doubt very many civilized men will stop to listen to them. We’re too arrogant and prideful of our material achievements.”

    I would have posted earlier, but was computer-less for a couple of days, mine had to be serviced. Funny to discover how much time i spend on that machine, when i don’t do it.And don’t stress about people here who don’t wish to believe that ancient people behaved differently than homo hi-techus. It’s easier to believe that than to accept that our current behavior is changeable.

  • Paul,
    Perhaps we should go back over the last year and count the number of times that Bud and you have referred to Keeley and LeBlanc in support of your views.If you regard their books as not important,why bother mentioning them?

  • ogf –

    Maybe it’s because a truly horrific genocide occurred, and not just of the indigenous people, but also the animals, the waters, the forests, the mountains, that such a presumptuous perspective is necessary.

    the shadow that stalks,
    grows ever longer,
    as the sun does set.

    headlong into darkness,
    eyes shut, as blind,
    the black knife falls,
    just missing.

    walking now in a dull wash,
    on a gray gravel path,
    through a cold gray fog.
    only shuffling, free of all shadow,
    the murderer has escaped.

  • @Ram: “I’ve not met anyone who doesn’t love their planet, at least not that I could perceive.

    Perhaps you can’t recognize or individuate the many forms this “not love” takes.

    “I’m not talking about guilt and innocence. … [me, me,me, me, me] … I see them as a matter of choice and causality, and largely chance. Alcohol can be used to precipitate DNA (the consequences of which are the ability do some cool molecular biology) or get drunk (the consequences of which I don’t wish to experience).”

    Well, see here you opt for the techno-interventionalist value system (vector for cool experiments) over the lay-human value system (alcohol is a good way to preserve food, create clean potable libations, furnish a social lubricant or sacrament…). Some lady friends of mine were mechanical engineers, and they went off to work at places like Hughes Aircraft and Lockheed-Martin because they were working on things like “really cool switching mechanisms”. Who cares that they triggered bombs and missiles.. THEY WERE FUCKING COOL! Autism. I probably recounted here, but it bears repeating, the story of my acquaintance who ran a biology lab there, the one who still plans to have his severed head frozen after he dies.. that’s the kind of autism I’m talking about, although no one would label this guy such.. he doesn’t rock back and forth like Bill Gates before his handlers trained him not to…

    “why are you insulting people with Aspergers by comparing them to Elon Musk.”

    Yes, that is humorous, to be sure. But Musk is still a poster child for that cohort, and any number of people are mesmerized and encouraged by the promises of such charlatans.

    “I’ve been considered for a faculty position in MIT, I’d never fit in (though I’d probably be good for them).”

    Oh, I think you would fit in perfectly, absolutely, unless things have changed a lot there in 35 years. They have enormous wherewithal, and will provide you with anything you need to further your ends.

    “I think complex behaviour is complex and largely determined by the environment, not by genetics. Humans and the rest of the planet are constantly changing exponentially relative to any other trajectory, that’s the nature of a complex system (by definition). This is the same for all complex systems and subsystems. Bacteria and plants have been evolving exponentially as well, as has the entire Earth system (even before humans came about).”

    I find this a very strange statement, that our behavior is determined by environment rather than by genetics. Genetics is part of our environment. We assume genetic material from the food we eat and the virii and bacteria that form the biological lake we swim in. It’s all one. There isn’t justification for saying that we are on some trajectory that does not include our associated plant and animal cohorts, down to a microscopic level.

    To quote GWB, “this sucker’s going down.”

    I went to a seminar held by Elaine Ingham, a soil microbiologist. Her assertion is that soils don’t need amending—all soils everywhere contain enough of the minerals needed to support plant life—it’s just that minerals are not made available to plants through the action of microbes. Her prescription is to develop compost and apply compost teas with a high level of microbes to soils with little such activity. (In the back of my mind always is Gail Zawacki’s observance of dying trees.) Some people asked Elaine where one could get a good variety of microbes to inoculate one’s compost, and she said to find some rich forest soil. At a different point, she made the comment that, in visiting Europe, she found no forest soils there to be healthy. So these are places with no compaction, no GMOs and no Round-up… Do we know what the effect of twice the baseline CO2 and three times the methane has on tiny soil critters? Is anyone studying that? or are they only studying cool switches, AI, Mars rockets and other testosterone-fuelled human-projection-and-aggrandizement nonsense?

    @oldgrowth, thanks for your fur coat story. I have a hand-me-down from my mom but am afraid to wear it. I think you are right to talk about the horrific genocide. However, what are we to do now, given the sheer number of humans growing at an exponential rate? I talked to my Italian sister-in-law today, an intelligent person.. a science teacher!.. who cannot fathom why humans should not take over every corner of existence. Her daughter has come upon the chance to build a vineyard on a tiny volcanic island in the middle of the Mediterranean (Linosa). SIL is angry that the mayor of the town wants to maintain undeveloped areas as nature preserves (it’s a notable stop for sea turtles to lay eggs, and for migrating birds). SIL spat out with venom: “those people of the left, they always want to put “nature” ahead of human beings..” I wanted to laugh and cry, not least because “the left” always wants more for humans, too.

    Robert frequently gives us the huge list of atrocities, the degree to which humans and our domestic animal vertebrate biomass have crowded out most other species. But it will never be enough. Modern humans will want more. They don’t want to leave their infants out in the bush to be eaten, like the !Kung and others. Sister-in-law is upset that we are childless and that we are not happy to hear of her many new grandchildren all the time.

  • Even writing here is a form of “not love”. I remember seeing a tiny ecovillage farm trying to take root somewhere south of Rome. They had a website, but on the farm they did not use electricity, saying “electricity hurts our Mother”. They are correct.

  • When Hollywood incorporates the Hern hypothesis into movie scripts, a broad societal consensus is developing:

    With thanks to Pat for providing an example from The Matrix and Planet of the Apes:

    I would like to share a revelation I had during my time among the human race. It came to me when I tried to classify your species. I realized that you are not true mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium- a symbiotic relationship- with the surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area and replicate without any natural limits to population growth until every natural resource is consumed and all other life is extinguished. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same destructive pattern- a virus. Human beings are a pernicious disease- a metastasizing cancer on Mother Earth. You are a plague and we are the cure.

    Beware the beast Man, for he cometh from hell as Lucifer’s spawn. Alone among God’s primates, he kills for sport, and lust, and greed. Without conscience, he wrecks devastation upon the good and bountiful Mother Earth. Shun him: If he is permitted to breed in great numbers, he will make a desert of his home and yours. For he is, The Great Destroyer. ~~29th Scroll, 6th Verse~~

  • Lidia, perhaps. Perhaps you don’t recognise the different forms love can take. :/

    Like you don’t recognise my dislike of alcohol for human ingestion and therefore finding a technointerventionalist use for it as really stemming from a strong human-centric evaluation of alcohol as a drug that causes only destruction and death. I don’t see any value in consuming alcohol for the fun of it. I think it’s an extremely destructive drug when ingested—that is a very human-centred evaluation. But that’s my prerogative. Just because I do it like that in that one instance, doesn’t mean I would in others. Psilocybin could be used to treat cluster headaches, but I’d rather trip out on it. Marijuana could be used to treat pain and a number of other diseases, and probably have a lot of industrial and techno-utilitarian uses, but I’d not use them for that. So I don’t make the comment about using alcohol to precipitate DNA because I find molecular biology cool, but because I dislike alcohol ingestion.

    The food we consume is broken down into small molecules. To say something is genetic means it has to involve expression of a gene, and it’s typically the host genome being referred to (unless specified otherwise). In a sense everything is genetic, since gene expression is involved in every activity we perform (better labelled epigenetic) but when it complex to a complex genetic trait which involves the interaction of many gene products, it’s the proteins interacting that determines ultimate outcome. This is a chaotic system and thefore any initial genetic influence rapidly fades. That’s why the genetic influence of complex traits is limited to the attractors (if they exist).

    Of course, “it’s all one.” But you brought up the topic of “genetic study of behaviour.” I am pretty sure by “genetic” they mean the term as it s used in the field of genetics (i.e. involving genes) and to me it means the causal basis has to be elucidated, otherwise I don’t buy any claims about behaviour and genetics. The field has fallen short on many of the statements made in initial publications about genetics and behaviour, often confusing correlation with causality. So far, when it comes to complex traits, I’ve yet to see a genetic influence that is greater than the environmental influence. In this context, genetic means the trait has to be inherited. Otherwise it is epigenetic (which is also genetic, but not inherited).

    I would not fit in at a place like MIT. It’s simple as that. Just because they’d give me whatever I want doesn’t mean I’d do anything they ask of me. That’s the issue. I don’t care about such things as school rankings, etc. I realise however that society does. In a place like MIT or Harvard or any of the top ranked schools, you need to play the game a certain way and if you don’t, you won’t belong. I refuse to play that game.

    I am also not motivated to do anything to further my ends, and I don’t need anything other than computing to do my research. I can do it from anywhere in the world and I typically do.

    One can’t study everything and people will pick and choose whatever interests them. If you find soil health interesting you should study it. I don’t study anything because it is cool but because it invokes passion in me. I would study soil health if I could model it as a complex system but to do so I’d need some intiial starting data. My passion is for the study of complex systems. I also don’t study anything because it is useful. But what I do study sometimes turns out to be useful to others and they use it. I think science should be done as pure a manner as possible so it’s not corrupted. I’m not trying to accomplish anything. I’m exploring and seeing where the data takes me.

    Sorry for the overpost.

  • “I’ve yet to see a genetic influence that is greater than the environmental influence. ”

    Do you know anyone with a dog?

    My dog was of a breed selected to herd cows, and he would herd us, sitting on our feet or pressing against our legs when we were standing. A chihuahua would not do that. Our dog would not retrieve. Retrievers retrieve. Etc.

    Genetic influence is huge. I almost had a heart attack when I noticed myself stroking my feet, one over the other, in the Exact Gesture my father did when he was alive. Then you have epigenetics, which carries environmental influences into the genes themselves, which is even freakier.

  • Ram Samudrala,

    Thanks for some of the older history of the Romanticism meme. I do not feel surprised that it goes back much further than Jean-Jacques Rosseau, occurring in other cultures and earlier times as well.


    Apparently you prefer the mortal view of consciousness, as I do. Most others appear to prefer the immortal view, and some prefer the hybrid view.


    If one acknowledges that the Romanticism meme has at least a 300 year-old history in Western civilization, and that it seems much older in other cultures in earlier times, I do not understand how it make sense then to claim that “…it’s a meme that comes from our dominant culture here”.

  • @Ram: “Perhaps you don’t recognise the different forms love can take. :/”
    I recognize that most, if not all, forms of “love” are forms of self-interest. That’s the autist in me. ;-)

    Too bad the forum is broken.. let me make a topic there we can contribute to…

  • Mutiny Of The Soul

    Depression, anxiety, and fatigue are an essential part of a process of metamorphosis that is unfolding on the planet today, and highly significant for the light they shed on the transition from an old world to a new.

    When a growing fatigue or depression becomes serious, and we get a diagnosis of Epstein-Barr or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or hypothyroid or low serotonin, we typically feel relief and alarm. Alarm: something is wrong with me. Relief: at least I know I’m not imagining things; now that I have a diagnosis, I can be cured, and life can go back to normal. But of course, a cure for these conditions is elusive.

    The notion of a cure starts with the question, “What has gone wrong?” But there is another, radically different way of seeing fatigue and depression that starts by asking, “What is the body, in its perfect wisdom, responding to?” When would it be the wisest choice for someone to be unable to summon the energy to fully participate in life?

    The answer is staring us in the face. When our soul-body is saying No to life, through fatigue or depression, the first thing to ask is, “Is life as I am living it the right life for me right now?” When the soul-body is saying No to participation in the world, the first thing to ask is, “Does the world as it is presented me merit my full participation?”

    What if there is something so fundamentally wrong with the world, the lives, and the way of being offered us, that withdrawal is the only sane response? Withdrawal, followed by a reentry into a world, a life, and a way of being wholly different from the one left behind?

    The unspoken goal of modern life seems to be to live as long and as comfortably as possible, to minimize risk and to maximize security. We see this priority in the educational system, which tries to train us to be “competitive” so that we can “make a living”. We see it in the medical system, where the goal of prolonging life trumps any consideration of whether, sometimes, the time has come to die. We see it in our economic system, which assumes that all people are motivated by “rational self-interest”, defined in terms of money, associated with security and survival. (And have you ever thought about the phrase “the cost of living”?) We are supposed to be practical, not idealistic; we are supposed to put work before play. Ask someone why she stays in a job she hates, and as often as not the answer is, “For the health insurance.” In other words, we stay in jobs that leave us feeling dead in order to gain the assurance of staying alive. When we choose health insurance over passion, we are choosing survival over life.

    On a deep level, which I call the soul level, we want none of that. We recognize that we are here on earth to enact a sacred purpose, and that most of the jobs on offer are beneath our dignity as human beings. But we might be too afraid to leave our jobs, our planned-out lives, our health insurance, or whatever other security and comfort we have received in exchange for our divine gifts. Deep down, we recognize this security and comfort as slaves’ wages, and we yearn to be free.

    So, the soul rebels. Afraid to make the conscious choice to step away from a slave’s life, we make the choice unconsciously instead. We can no longer muster the energy to go through the motions. We enact this withdrawal from life through a variety of means. We might summon the Epstein-Barr virus into our bodies, or mononucleosis, or some other vector of chronic fatigue. We might shut down our thyroid or adrenal glands. We might shut down our production of serotonin in the brain. Other people take a different route, incinerating the excess life energy in the fires of addiction. Either way, we are in some way refusing to participate. We are shying away from ignoble complicity in a world gone wrong. We are refusing to contribute our divine gifts to the aggrandizement of that world.

    That is why the conventional approach of fixing the problem so that we can return to normal life will not work. It might work temporarily, but the body will find other ways to resist. Raise serotonin levels with SSRIs, and the brain will prune some receptor sites, thinking in its wisdom, “Hey, I’m not supposed to feel good about the life I am living right now.” In the end, there is always suicide, a common endpoint of the pharmaceutical regimes that seek to make us happy with something inimical to our very purpose and being. You can only force yourself to abide in wrongness so long. When the soul’s rebellion is suppressed too long, it can explode outward in bloody revolution. Significantly, all of the school shootings in the last decade have involved people on anti-depression medication. All of them! For a jaw-dropping glimpse of the results of the pharmaceutical regime of control, scroll down this compilation of suicide/homicide cases involving SSRIs. I am not using “jaw-dropping” as a figure of speech. My jaw literally dropped open.

    Back in the 1970s, dissidents in the Soviet Union were often hospitalized in mental institutions and given drugs similar to the ones used to treat depression today. The reasoning was that you had to be insane to be unhappy in the Socialist Workers’ Utopia. When the people treating depression receive status and prestige from the very system that their patients are unhappy with, they are unlikely to affirm the basic validity of the patient’s withdrawal from life. “The system has to be sound — after all, it validates my professional status — therefore the problem must be with you.”

    Unfortunately, “holistic” approaches are no different, as long as they deny the wisdom of the body’s rebellion. When they do seem to work, usually that is because they coincide with some other shift. When someone goes out and gets help, or makes a radical switch of modalities, it works as a ritual communication to the unconscious mind of a genuine life change. Rituals have the power to make conscious decisions real to the unconscious. They can be part of taking back one’s power.

    I have met countless people of great compassion and sensitivity, people who would describe themselves as “conscious” or “spiritual”, who have battled with CFS, depression, thyroid deficiency, and so on. These are people who have come to a transition point in their lives where they become physically incapable of living the old life in the old world. That is because, in fact, the world presented to us as normal and acceptable is anything but. It is a monstrosity. Ours is a planet in pain. If you need me to convince you of that, if you are unaware of the destruction of forests, oceans, wetlands, cultures, soil, health, beauty, dignity, and spirit that underlies the System we live in, then I have nothing to say to you. I only am speaking to you if you do believe that there is something deeply wrong with the way we are living on this planet.

    A related syndrome comprises various “attention deficit” and anxiety “disorders” (forgive me, I cannot write down these words without the ironic quotation marks) which reflect an unconscious knowledge that something is wrong around here. Anxiety, like all emotions, has a proper function. Suppose you left a pot on the stove and you know you forgot something, you just can’t remember what. You cannot rest at ease. Something is bothering you, something is wrong. Subliminally you smell smoke. You obsess: did I leave the water running? Did I forget to pay the mortgage? The anxiety keeps you awake and alert; it doesn’t let you rest; it keeps your mind churning, worrying. This is good. This is what saves your life. Eventually you realize — the house is on fire! — and anxiety turns into panic, and action.

    So if you suffer from anxiety, maybe you don’t have a “disorder” at all — maybe the house is on fire. Anxiety is simply the emotion corresponding to “Something is dangerously wrong and I don’t know what it is.” That is only a disorder if there is in fact nothing dangerously wrong. “Nothing is wrong, just you” is the message that any therapy gives when it tries to fix you. I disagree with that message. The problem is not with you. You have very good reason to be anxious. Anxiety keeps part of your attention away from your tasks of polishing the silverware as the house burns down, of playing the violin as the Titanic sinks. Unfortunately, the wrongness you are tapping into might be beyond the cognizance of the psychiatrists who treat you, who then conclude that the problem must be your brain.

    Similarly, Attention Deficit Disorder, ADHD, and my favorite, Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) are only disorders if we believe that the things presented for our attention are worth paying attention to. We cannot admit, without calling into question the whole edifice of our school system, that it may be completely healthy for a ten-year-old boy to not sit still for six hours in a classroom learning about long division and Vasco de Gama. Perhaps the current generation of children, that some call the Indigos, simply have a lower tolerance for school’s agenda of conformity, obedience, external motivation, right-and-wrong answers, the quantification of performance, rules and bells, report cards and grades and your permanent record. So we try to enforce their attention with stimulants, and subdue their heroic intuitive rebellion against the spirit-wrecking machine.

    As I write about the “wrongness” against which we all rebel, I can hear some readers asking, “What about the metaphysical principle that it’s ‘all good’?” Just relax, I am told, nothing is wrong, all is part of the divine plan. You only perceive it as wrong because of your limited human perspective. All of this is only here for our own development. War: it gives people wonderful opportunities to make heroic choices and burn off bad karma. Life is wonderful, Charles, why do you have to make it wrong?

    I am sorry, but usually such reasoning is just a sop to the conscience. If it is all good, then that is only because we perceive and experience it as terribly wrong. The perception of iniquity moves us to right it.

    Nonetheless, it would be ignorant and fruitless to pass judgment upon those who do not see anything wrong, who, oblivious to the facts of destruction, think everything is basically fine. There is a natural awakening process, in which first we proceed full speed ahead participating in the world, believing in it, seeking to contribute to the Ascent of Humanity. Eventually, we encounter something that is undeniably wrong, perhaps a flagrant injustice or a serious health problem or a tragedy near at hand. Our first response is to think this is an isolated problem, remediable with some effort, within a system that is basically sound. But when we try to fix it, we discover deeper and deeper levels of wrongness. The rot spreads; we see that no injustice, no horror can stand in isolation. We see that the disappeared dissidents in South America, the child laborers in Pakistan, the clearcut forests of the Amazon, are all intimately linked together in a grotesque tapestry that includes every aspect of modern life. We realize that the problems are too big to fix. We are called to live in an entirely different way, starting with our most fundamental values and priorities.

    All of us go through this process, repeatedly, in various realms of our lives; all parts of the process are right and necessary. The phase of full participation is a growth phase in which we develop gifts that will be applied very differently later. The phase of trying to fix, to endure, to soldier on with a life that isn’t working is a maturation phase that develops qualities of patience and determination and strength. The phase of discovering the all-encompassing nature of the problem is usually a phase of despair, but it need not be. Properly, it is a phase of rest, of stillness, of withdrawal, of preparation for a push. The push is a birth-push. Crises in our lives converge and propel us into a new life, a new being that we hardly imagine could exist, except that we’d heard rumors of it, echoes, and maybe even caught a glimpse of it here and there, been granted through grace a brief preview.

    If you are in the midst of this process, you need not suffer if you cooperate with it. I can offer you two things. First is self-trust. Trust your own urge to withdraw even when a million messages are telling you, “The world is fine, what’s wrong with you? Get with the program.” Trust your innate belief that you are here on earth for something magnificent, even when a thousand disappointments have told you you are ordinary. Trust your idealism, buried in your eternal child’s heart, that says that a far more beautiful world than this is possible. Trust your impatience that says “good enough” is not good enough. Do not label your noble refusal to participate as laziness and do not medicalize it as an illness. Your heroic body has merely made a few sacrifices to serve your growth.

    The second thing I can offer you is a map. The journey I have described is not always linear, and you may find yourself from time to time revisiting earlier territory. When you find the right life, when you find the right expression of your gifts, you will receive an unmistakable signal. You will feel excited and alive. Many people have preceded you on this journey, and many more will follow in times to come. Because the old world is falling apart, and the crises that initiate the journey are converging upon us. Soon many people will follow the paths we have pioneered. Each journey is unique, but all share the same basic dynamics I have described. When you have passed through it, and understood the necessity and rightness of each of its phases, you will be prepared to midwife others through it as well. Your condition, all the years of it, has prepared you for this. It has prepared you to ease the passage of those who will follow. Everything you have gone through, every bit of the despair, has been necessary to forge you into a healer and a guide. The need is great. The time is coming soon.

  • thank you for that, Mr. Kling. just to clarify the source:

  • “Eerie Blue Glow in Hong Kong Waters Is Beautiful Yet Disturbing”

    A mesmerizing blue light is illuminating Hong Kong’s waters, but the lights aren’t just beautiful. Marine biologists are saying they’re potentially toxic.

    This stunning light is a strong indicator a harmful algal bloom is present. Noctiluca scintillans, also known as Sea Sparkle, is known to create this type of bloom.

    Noctiluca is a single-celled organism and a wonder in itself, as it functions as both a plant and animal. The organism can act and look like algae, even though, it is not.

    These types of blooms are triggered by farm pollution that can be devastating to marine life and local fisheries, according to University of Georgia oceanographer Samantha Joye, who was shown Associated Press photos of the glowing water.

    “Those pictures are magnificent. It’s just extremely unfortunate that the mysterious and majestic blue hue is created by a Noctiluca,” Joye wrote in an email Thursday.

    This Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015 photo made with a long exposure shows the glow from a Noctiluca scintillans algal bloom along the seashore in Hong Kong. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
    This is part of a problem that is growing worldwide, said Joye and other scientists.

    Noctiluca is a type of single-cell life that eats plankton and is eaten by other species. The plankton and Noctiluca become more abundant when nitrogen and phosphorous from farm run-off increase.

    Unlike similar organisms, Noctiluca doesn’t directly produce chemicals that can attack the nervous system or parts of the body.

    But recent studies show it is much more complicated and links them to blooms that have been harmful to marine life. Noctiluca’s role as both prey and predator can eventually magnify the accumulation of algae toxins in the food chain, according to oceanographer R. Eugene Turner at Louisiana State University.

  • Death is the only escape from dependency. Life is based on it. Most of us rely upon other human beings to fulfill many of our dependencies. In a mercantile society these are vulnerabilities. Avenues to pain and suffering. Inevitable pain and suffering. These are legitimate reasons to feel powerless and helpless, exposed. Most humans, to some extent, live within the impersonal marketplace, the abstracted ecology of ‘civilization’, where we peddle our life’s time to eke out existence. Few of us can produce food, clothing, shelter or medicine for ourselves. Except perhaps by absence, none of us can enable a healthy biosphere; it is mutually exclusive to humans living in the bubble called ‘civilization’. Of course, we depend on factors like food and a copasetic biosphere. There is every reason to feel as though essential aspects of our lives are beyond our control… beyond our reach… They are. We, defenseless in our masses, are disenfranchised from the Earth.

    Most people who exist within the bowels of ‘civilization’ don’t spend a lot of time thinking about their situation of dire dependency upon its undependable artifice. Perhaps because it is so painful and unnerving, and humiliating. The opposite to emancipation from human oppression and reassuring faith in the fecundity of nature. Ignorance lounges in the shadow of neglect.

    We can expect our insecurities to fester and intensify. Then, as collapse ensues and engulfs the privileged, as supply lines of necessities are choked off, as unfulfillable dependencies are starkly revealed – unimagined physical suffering will seep up like a rising flood of septic misery. No potpourri of complaints will protect the pampered from the stench. But I predict that even as we will all undeniably see that all of our flesh is dying, we will be subjected to assignment of blame – and, as usual, it will surely be levied upon the weakest victims. The savagery of bullies haunting us to the end. Earth enters extinction, this time with howls only humans can make.

  • Thanks MoFlow:

    “Mutiny of the Soul” and other writings can be found at Charles Einstein’s blog.

  • I bit I posted on a previous thread:

    “Patriarchy is not really domination by the mature male psyche.

    Patriarchy looks like adolescent male rejection of the Mother.

    Mother does many things, but two key things are creating and maintaining a close loving protective family situation, and lifelong connection and immersion(with experiential knowledge) in the ‘natural’ world.

    Adolescent male energy typically rejects this form of relation and is defiant and asserts an unrealisable independent stance relating to that dependence.

    Patriarchy is the collective delusion that human civilisation does not need the mother force as a root archetype to live on the planet.

    These two things, stable fear-free connection to country and community are what Professor Bruce K Alexander selects as key to a resilient and loving individual and social cohesion.

    Conversely, Alexander asserts the interruption to or forced premature separation from these two factors produces deep anxiety,(terror), and subsequent displacement behaviours like addictions, both gross and subtle.(qv: ‘War on Terror’ = very, very, very, fucked in the head framing!!IMHO)

    The signs of this are clear in individuals poorly adapted to relational life, as they feel compelled to frequently seek the substances or experiences of choice, to feel calm and connected, stable, but only to pacify the terrified child still locked inside.

    Collectively, when an entire civilisation, or as now, an entire world, is in the grip of the rejection of the Mother force, we see adolescent defiant,’me first’, ‘I’ll live forever’ behaviour everywhere. To those not quite so disposed, this collective arrogance seems like a selfish Meme, and a madness. Many here over the years have confused this type of behaviour with ‘Human Behaviour’ by definition, but I prefer to see it as a stalled adolescent condition, unable to be free to move on to a more mature and free recognition of the Mother, almost universally associated with the Earth itself.
    Of particular note is that the two universal constraints on an individual in the world of Hunter Gatherers, being: 1) the material world we now call ‘Nature’, and 2) the community of known family of clan/tribe, are what the adolescent begins to push back on in defiance and wants independence from.

    These are the very same constraints the Uber-rich 1% have effectively sought to be free of. They typically can eat at any location in the world any night of the week, and can have the best material existence, living with food, housing and servants in many locations around the planet. They live effectively unconstrained by those two factors, Nature and Community, and are typically defiant, and rejecting of any assertion of accountability. So too their basic economic instrument: the Transnational Corporation(having a status as ‘Person’, but strangely unaccountable as a real individual usually is-go figure!)

    These two constraints have, however, only been addressed in a ‘material’ way. The psychological rejection of the Mother by the adolescent mind will never mature if it succeeds in adapting within that defiant framing. The adolescent can only ‘outgrow’ that defiant stance by being brought up against the real reliance for survival on those two factors.
    Well, we all now have to cope with the reality constraint of Catastrophic Climate Change.

    Civilisations arose perhaps in part as an attempt to collectively break free of those constraints, and have lead to the silly idea we can colonise space, which is really to leave the Mother altogether.

    My contention is that the now dominant West has sought to do that ‘materially’- with currency, and space ships, but the East attempted to do it Spiritually by getting off the wheel of reincarnation.

    All I can say is NBL, and the reality of catastrophic climate change, are a good general education on the folly of the former.
    Better would have been to adopt a mature relation to Mother, by respect and love, and understanding that only through Love, to infinity, will we truly reach the stars.(IMHO).

    Patriarchy is the collective adolescent male force organised in a hierarchy of competitive aggression based dominance governance structures, that is not typically open to conceiving of equality and inclusion either in political deliberations, or the sharing of the essentials of life.

    Now we can see how unwise an existence Patriarchy is, can we move on by growing out of it please? ;)”

    A new movie about to come out in my neck of the woods:

    ‘Black Hole’ Documentary

    Its about a coal mine, and attempts to stop it.

  • Bud,

    When I used the expression “meme” with regard to romanticism (e.g. when replying to Satish), I meant to underline the negative, almost derogatory use of the word when shutting people up, who are deemed to have a “romantic” (implying irrational or at least unrealistic) view of the world. I talk from experience here. I know that this “view”, the one we call “romantic”, has been around for a long time. It’s just that we, in our dominant western culture, have made a habit of opposing this view to a “rational” one. And since reason has been the torchbearer of our European Enlightenment, this “opposition” has become more and more pronounced. Anyway, that’s the way I see it.

    By the way, the German word for “reason” (Vernunft) the way Kant uses it, also includes, what in English is understood as common sense. And to confuse the issue even further, a sense of obligation is also implied, all supposed to result in maturity. As you can see, in German, this word expresses and implies a variety of concepts.

    Therefore, to me, a lot of what we understand to be “romantic” is plain common sense, thus very reasonable (in the true sense, when you truly experience it) but, of course not always rational to some people. I am only too aware of that. Could that be a reason for so much misunderstanding regarding this subject? Could it also be that I can’t leave my cultural conditioning behind, like most of us?

  • @Satish Musunuru

    Thanks for your contribution to NBL. When I noticed the images of the Kogi I knew it was a winner. Videos are fun to make if you have the time, software and codecs. :-)


  • With my thanks to Satish for his provocative contribution, I’ve posted anew. Included is an hour-long interview with Andrew Harvey. It’s here.

  • Hey Ram. i’m glad you found that video. i disagree with their conclusion however. If it was CO2, a lighter than air gas, it would have harmlessly risen from the lakes and dispersed into the atmosphere. It was MUCH MORE likely H2S which has been doing the very thing they claimed – pluming (from water sources especially), spreading out and causing death, and combined with the methane we KNOW is also pluming from the same sources, causes explosions and fire all over the planet.

    from today’s update at

    2015-01-23 – Iowa State University researcher studying therapies for hydrogen sulfide poisoning survivors

    Quote: “Wilson Rumbeiha, a professor of veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine, said the poison targets multiple systems in the human body, including the respiratory and cardiovascular systems and the brain. In high enough concentrations, exposure to the gas can be acutely fatal. But Rumbeiha’s research is focused on the long-term consequences of hydrogen sulfide poisoning in survivors. He said exposure can bring about psychological and neurological problems in humans, sometimes months after the exposure. ‘In some cases, survivors can end up in a permanent vegetative state,’ Rumbeiha sad. ‘We don’t have an antidote, and little is known about the mechanisms behind how it works. It’s really a novel area that hasn’t been investigated very well.'”

    Note: So as more people continue to get hit by hydrogen sulfide around the world, peoples’ brains will take damage and they’ll experience psychological and neurological problems, sometimes months AFTER exposure. In other words, people are going to be going crazy in rising numbers and from I’ve seen so far it looks like a fairly high percentage of people so afflicted tend to be violent – sometimes extremely violent – as they succumb and go insane.

    Another question that it would be useful to have answered: Is the neurological damage the same, better or worse if the poisoning occurs via respiration, as compared with being poisoned via touch or via ingestion? And how about damage to other organs, like kidneys and livers and hearts – is that different depending on the method of poisoning? I suspect that breathing hydrogen sulfide gas does the most damage to the brain and being poisoned via ingestion does the most damage to the kidneys and livers, and it probably makes some difference where on your body you’re poisoned when it’s via skin contact, like when you touch garbage or wood or car upholstery or whatever on the day after a cloud blows through in the wee hours…

    click on the link, read the full hypothesis and read down the list of today’s casualties (this has been documented here for YEARS now).

    Let me know what you think.

  • Okay, wait – i misspoke: apparently CO2 is ALSO a heavier than air gas and absolutely COULD have (and probably DID) cause the events depicted. However, that was way back before the temperature of the ocean and planet have jumped to the point that now it’s not just CO2.

    No need to waste your time Ram. My mistake.

    All the best!

  • @ Sabine
    @ Ram
    @ Bud
    @ mo flow

    I wasn’t very clear when I said those few words about me being called a “romantic” in an early post. I am aware of the movement in the arts and literature and the time in history that it is associated with. But I was using the word “romantic” in a colloquial sense. As Bud referred to, it’s used to mean “idealistic”, even “impractical”, “irrational”, and “emotional”. This usage is not separable from Rousseau or the movement for it has its roots there, but in colloquial usage, “romantic” has little to do with the Romantic Era or Romanticism and simply means “idealistic” or “sentimental” and when referring to the past, a romantic longs for the past, and grieves for what’s been lost.

    Both Hobbes and Rousseau talked about the “nature of man”. While one viewed our ancestors as inherently nasty, brutish and savage, the other thought of man as inherently good in his natural state. I am in favor of Rousseau’s view because it’s far less individualistic than Hobbes’. Every human being, whether today or in the past, is no more separable from the environment and culture that raises him/her than the health of the heart or pancreas is separable from the health of the rest of the body. A body out of balance leads to heart attacks and pancreatic cancer. A healthy and loving family raises a happy child that grows into a balanced and responsible adult. An out-of-balance family (that itself is part of an out-of-balance culture) puts forth competitive and narcissistic “individuals”. As much as we like to think of ourselves as individuals with our own unadulterated free will, we are imprints of our culture and the environment that we live in. If we are such independent individuals, why does it take our culture (government, media and textbooks) to tell us that? Not only are we taught that in grade school, we’re reminded about our individualism again and again throughout our lives. If we were truly individuals, we would figure that out ourselves, wouldn’t we?

    It turns out that we are not exactly skin-enclosed pieces of consciousness distinct and separate from other skin-enclosed pieces around us and the larger culture we are all part of. Even our physical bodies are not that separate from our immediate environment. And our immediate environment is not that separate from the larger one. The skin is more porous than we imagine. There are more bacterial cells in the human body than there are human cells.

    We’d like to think we are separate individuals but we are made and sustained by everything around us. In our natural state of living in close proximity to the land, be it tropical jungles or arid areas, humans were more in balance with their environments. This time of relative balance (even if there are perturbations here and there for some amount of time, there was balance on a planetary scale) constitutes 99.99% of our history on the planet. The tribesman considered himself such an integral part and parcel of the tribe that he took the dreams of his fellow tribesman as seriously as he did his own. And if a tribesman became ill, it was as if the whole tribe was ill. And they looked for clues not in their bodies alone but in their habitats and even their stories. There was no real distinction between them all.

    So is man good or bad? Neither! We are good when we are in balance with what’s immediately around us. And balance breeds good humans. We are bad when the balance is disturbed. There is no blame on anyone in this saga. We don’t really “choose” to be in balance or imbalance. A major natural disaster can easily throw a tribe out of balance. And in that sense, both balance and imbalance are “natural”. Even our out-of-balance culture, at some level, can be seen as a natural phenomenon. And that consoles me and makes me feel less guilty of my role.

    So when I romanticize the past, I long for that healthy balance and grieve over it. Such a balance is probably not coming back. Not for a few million years anyway. What I referred to as a meme that is more prevalent in the more advanced and forward-looking cultures of the world is not “romanticizing the past” itself but the accusatory connotation behind it when people say it. Even in the US, I am willing to bet that such a connotation is more prevalent in Silicon Valley or New York than in the Midwest or the South. Perhaps it’s related to the liberal vs. conservative debate but let’s not get into that. I don’t put myself in either camp. I prefer to stand outside and listen to and observe all sides. But that’s hard because I’m not really an “individual” :)