Saturday, October 8, 2011


It's the morning of the Zombie Pub Crawl, and I have stepped out of the building awhile, as we are staffed to the hilt, I'm on overtime hours, and would-be zombies were not waiting for us to open the doors as they were last year. They did not come last night either, in the droves I had hoped for. They will come today, and whether we sell a great deal of merchandise or not, awareness will be heightened. But we have come to a point at which, we will have to do almost as much business each day as we did last year, for the partners to break even, as we have tracked to this point at less than 50%, compared to last year.

This news, despite that two local TV news anchors called me this week to schedule interviews in the store. Yesterday I fitted two reporters dogs with costumes on camera. Monday morning another will come, to tour the store and talk about HD Masks. I feel like I flubbed the first interview, though it was my second on-camera local TV interview this year (the first being Fox News, when the city tried to condemn my house for not having natural gas hooked up in the summertime.) Maybe I did, maybe I didn't. What really can one say about dog costumes? I'm not even especially fond of dogs, at least not so much as my fellow Americans are, spending more on our pets than the Gross Domestic Product of some nations of the world. One of these dogs once had a surgery, the cost of which would have corrected my eyesight. But then, I have never given comfort to that reporter, though I have long considered him as having more substance than most of the TV people in this town*.

John Michael Greer in his most recent post talked about initiation. I have been through several formal initiations in my life, all of which were transforming for me in a way that brought me to a more powerful, clear place in my life. I have made a practice of transformation, recognizing change as inherent to the human experience, and facing that change with intention, as opposed to what most do, avoiding it or denying it. I am in the midst of one now, I suppose, though this one is far more intense than any I have ever faced, and I have faced initiations that most would assiduously avoid. I have not chosen this, per se, and there doesn't seem to be a damn thing I can do to avoid it, this new financial reality, this place in which no rule that ever seemed to apply can be applied with any confidence anymore. What appears to me to be the impending dissolution of everything we have ever come to expect as normal, this unraveling of civilization that not a one of us is prepared for.

In the midst of that, I had a dream last night, feature length, following the long, tedious, collapse into insanity of a man who was like some aspect of myself. If I had to name him, I suppose I would call him my wounded victim, the Loser, that part of me that says I have always been a loser and a failure, as a son, as a brother, as a student, as a writer, as a builder, as a businessman, as a manager, as a baseball player, as a citizen, as a homeowner, as a lover, as a human. All of which are true in part - though I could build a comfortable off-the-grid house with hand tools from salvage, I could probably survive in the woods for a year with little more than a knife if I had to, I could feed far more people than myself if I had the seed, I'm a better writer than anyone I know personally, I dance in a way that stops people, I can sing extraordinarily, I have a fairly clear sense of who and what we are as a species and where we stand in relation to the Earth, I care about people and the Earth, and I am not afraid of anyone. But the Loser wants to die, because he is tired and he can not see anything but continued failure. He wants to give up, because he is a loser and there is no destiny for a loser but to give up and waste away and die.

I woke up finally when the Loser had come to a place in which he was nearly insane and ready to die, but he stopped because there was a young child who would find out and that young child would see, and know what he had done. I laid there a long time thinking about the Loser, wondering what to do about him. I still don't know. I don't want to kill him, I want to heal him, but I can't see yet how to do that, in the midst of all this upheaval and uncertainty in my life, this upheaval and uncertainty in the culture. It is a tremendous challenge, and I am stupefied. I am facing that challenge without any clear sense of what to do about it, except that I want to get clear so I can live.

Thirty-eight years old without children or a partner, without money to pay the bills for the house I cannot sell but at a great loss, without a stock of food, facing the Minnesota winter, managing a business that appears on the verge of failing, disenfranchised from the credit system, in the world's great Empire at the edge of dissolution, among a people who are waiting for a spiritual, or technological, or political, or alien Messiah who will never come.


It is the Monday after the Zombie Pub Crawl, and while it was a success, there was still only 60% of the traffic through the store, compared to last year when we were in Uptown, though this year we are located on the route of the Pub Crawl. That speaks directly to the economy. Some are acting as if there is no problem with the economy, many are not. I heard on the radio this morning, a piece on Halloween spending, something to the effect, "The economy may be sluggish, but Halloween spending is not..." The voice went on to claim that Americans will spend 7 Billion this Halloween season. Maybe we will, but I thought when I heard this, that it wasn't anything but incantation, an attempt to influence, a kind of shamanic trick. Go forth and spend. Which may work when people have money, but it doesn't when they don't.

I recently watched Inside Job, the Academy Award-winning documentary on the financial crisis of 2008. Such information in the past would have infuriated me, but it's worthy of a shrug at this point. There is no undoing the path we are on. The Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party people are basically fighting the same thing, only the one wants a government solution, and the other wants to give the country to God, which is to say, to those Americans who propose to speak for God. Somebody dropped a pamphlet in the store the other day. The cover said something about five prescriptions for Joy in service to God, but all five are prescriptions for tyranny, as in, bow down to the will of the powerful, and expect to be destroyed if you don't. As for government prescriptions, two recent Federal bills proposed, involve the spread of American drug policy world wide, and the other is a bill to prevent bullying - which are two sides of a coin called delusion. Two perspectives on the exercise of power, neither clear enough to see that the problem is the will to exercise it. Tyranny, one way or the other. If you think our drug policy is healthier for this country than drugs, then you are a tyrant or a sycophant or a fool. And if you don't know what I mean by a Federal bill to prevent bullying as an exercise in tyranny, then you have never had to deal with the myriad petty bullies working for government at every level.

The unraveling of civilization is going to be an exercise in responsibility, for every one of us. We are seeing currently, all around us, people defaulting to methods of command and control, or collapsing into subservience to the powerful, grasping and clawing, or simply collapsing. The Loser in me sees it coming, and he does not want the responsibility. He is tired of thinking about it. He is tired of writing about it. He knows he will not likely live to see the Eden that is possible, in the aftermath of contraction. He has been waiting for a Messiah.

I know that I have not been practicing the art of transformation to simply give up and waste away and die. I know that we humans can create Eden, if we will only get clear about reality. I know I am here to treat this life as an artwork, to transform myself with each new reality I am faced with, to create the beauty and abundance I envision, to share and to give. I know that I am my own Messiah, and I cannot be one for any other. I know that I create my own reality, out of my experience. I know there is not a one of us who understands fully, or can.

I am alive. I am.

Oh yeah. And I did another local TV interview this morning. It went very well, I think. Better than the first two, for sure. I know this much about that - if anyone had told me last year I would be interviewed for television three times this year, I would have called them insane. None of these interviews make me want to do TV. And really, if I were William Hunter Duncan to these people, instead of Hunter Duncan, they wouldn't interview me. As far as Google is concerned, Hunter Duncan does not exist. "William Hunter Duncan" leads you here.

* I would like to say, if not for this reporter, we would not be on TV. And I still think he is one of the most solid and substantive TV anchors in this town.


keith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
keith said...

Life is challenging and we all have obstacles we must overcome. This is what makes life hard at times, rewarding at others and keeps it interesting.

How do you define success?

These, of course, are not mine but seem applicable:

There are a no failures- only lessons.


When one door closes another door opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us. Alexander Graham Bell


It is always darkest before the dawn.

keith said...

Life is challenging- that is what keeps it interesting, we each have our own obstacles we need to overcome.

How do you define success or failure?

These aren't mine but seem applicable:

There are no failures, only lessons.

When one door closes another door opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones?which open for us."Alexander Graham Bell


It is always darkest before the dawn.

William Hunter Duncan said...


Yes, it does depend on how one defines success. If I am defined according to cultural expectations, I am an abject failure in almost every respect. By my own measurement, I have achieved more success than most, and more than I thought possible. I am quite happy with what I am and am becoming. I am not at all short of available doors to walk through - there are more than can be counted. It is a question whether any will lead to me doing right by my Father, my neighborhood and my house.