Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bliss in the Midst of Collapse

It's already Thursday morning, and I have nothing prepared for a post. Usually I have a good idea what I'm going to write, by Sunday, and I've been publishing one post every week for some time now, usually by Wednesday. I think I'll just riff for a while, and see where the drift leads.

I just finished reading John Michael Greer's most recent post, on the Gasoline War. That's what he's calling the second world war, when the lessons of the tactics of Sherman in the American civil war gained considerably greater momentum, thanks to fossil fuel. Sherman you may recall, got in behind Gen. Lee, razing the southern states in the process.

Greer apologized to those readers of his in advance, who find talk of the history of war dull. I'm of the opinion, strategizing about what to do in the face of the decline and fall of American empire is easier with a clearer understanding of history than is otherwise available, most of what passes for American history either ideologically supportive of the idea that we are the greatest Nation ever, or the worst. The truth is a good deal more mundane, and Greer is doing a fine job of telling it.

I did find it curious that he offered at the end, words from Nostradamus, about the King of Terror, as evidence of the delusion of apocalyptic thinking. I'm no fan necessarily of Nostradamus, but this phrasing is about as accurate a metaphorical description of reality as anything Nostradamus ever wrote. If George Walker Bush is not the utterly mundane King of Terror, I don't know who could be. Two ten year wars, the evisceration of the Constitution with the Patriot Act, the invention of the vicious bitch cousin to the War on Drugs, the war against Terror that is not ever meant to end? GWB may not be Genghis Khan, but Genghis Khan couldn't have been elected President of the United States, commander-in-chief of the greatest killing machine ever devised. July, 1999, I imagine, is just about the time he decided to pursue the Republican nomination.

And then there's that black savior masquerading as a Democrat. Did you hear anyone who is not a shill for Wall Street or the Administration, advocating in favor of the Jobs Act? Huff-Post, which is a fairly mundane liberal publication, ridiculed it mostly. If you are an investor, take note, because just as the recent decision by the Supreme Court in Florence vs Burlington County, is an invitation to sadism, the Jobs Act is an invitation to fraud, an absolutely cynical attempt to initiate another tech bubble. Question is, do you get in on the front end and get rich, knowing it's all bullshit? Obama hopes you will, sooner rather than later, to help inflate the economy and thereby assure his re-election. For what? You never know; Romney may turn out to be more liberal than Obama. More of the same, the looting of America, most likely.

Another tech bubble. This one's not going to be about the Internet so much, though. This one is going to be about energy. Expect a flurry of high tech start-ups infused with big bank and angel funds, rocketing up in stock price, to be later revealed as absolutely hollow, little more than an office somewhere full of business and marketing majors, preying upon the fears of energy decline, managing the vision of utopia - collapsing sometime shortly after the big banks and angels pull out all their ill-gotten gains.

In a precursor, I heard a woman on Minnesota Public Radio advocating for the Smart Grid this morning, a high tech update to the existing electrical grid, except you will have to buy all new appliances, and these will be more expensive, and they still won't last more than ten years, and they won't be repairable. I knew she was rotten when she started off by saying, "you don't have to be a hippie, or a granola type," to care about the smart grid. These are the sort of people who put those traffic signals on the corner light posts, that talk to you in that command and control tone like you are an idiot: wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Great for blind people, but blind or not, who wants to be treated like you are stupid? The grid, smart or stupid, is doomed.

Public Radio is just about the worst of all the media outlets, when it comes to advocating for the economic delusions of empire - precisely because they should know better. I can hardly listen anymore, particularly to Sound Money, or Marketplace, the propaganda is so thick. It seems every time I tune in, someone is advocating for the idea that despite everything, humanity is much better off now than we ever were, and if we would only believe it, utopia is indeed the logical end of global economics, technological progress and American hegemony. As if there aren't about 2 billion more desperately poor people than there were a hundred years ago. I actually heard a woman on one of these programs recently, telling America's young that they have to start thinking about their college degree like people used to think about the high school degree, as if anyone ever came out of high school with $100,000 of debt, firmly entrenched in economic bondage. This idea of hers is not a new one, but it sure has import now, that so many people are coming out of college with a mountain of debt, as the economics of the last 30 years at least are revealed to be a kind of madness with no future. You will drink the Kool-Aid, and you will believe it, because we are acting in the public interest!

Oh, and then there's that 25 billion dollar mortgage settlement for the American people, that has lead to a radical increase in foreclosures. So wtf was that 25 billion for, and for whom? Light is dark, and dark is light, and the Banks and your Attorneys Generals are acting in your best interest, and renting is better than owning, because it is better to buy your food than grow it. And maybe if it comes to it, you can grow the food, but they will own it - along with you?


My fruit trees arrived yesterday. The UPS man made mulberry jam last year; I recommended the mulberry margarita. He didn't think we could grow peaches here in Minnesota, but there is precedent with the Contender. Which is why I planted it on the south half of the yard, where there is more shade, where the ground will warm up later, so the blossoms don't come out too early and freeze. We had a freeze the last three nights, and more to come next week, more typical April after a March like late May or June. The fruit harvest all across the northern half of the country is imperiled.

Only six of the eight trees I ordered arrived; the Grimes Golden and the Honeycrisp apples were sold out. I did get the Calville Blanc apple, the Clapp Favorite and Summercrisp pears, the Stella sweet cherry and the Mesabi sour cherry, and the peach. My neighbor stopped by as I was planting, asking how I could plant fruit trees and then put the house up for sale. It doesn't make any sense, I agreed. But little that I do, does. If sense is defined by the culture, I want next to nothing of it. Planting those trees was one of the most joyous things I've done in recent memory; I sang to them, as inspiration grew to delve into fruit tree propagation.

There isn't any more guarantee that the house will sell, than I won't come up with the money to pay for it. The issue is, I'm 38, and all my adult life, I've gone out and gotten whatever job was available. Does it make less sense to plant fruit trees on land I might not own by the time they take root, than say, manufacturing poison, or bombs, or high tech junk that breaks down in ten years or less, or spending the next several years going into debt bondage earning another degree, or taking any job doing anything I don't believe in, so I can plant fruit trees? There are jobs I do believe in, I'm looking into. I'm making some money, building things, landscaping organically. But mostly, I'm writing books, and treating my yard like a canvas. I don't want this house or this land, if I'm not able to do that, to follow my bliss. I am following my bliss, and I will continue to do so. In an empire that is so clearly unraveling, what else really is there to do?

Whatever happens, I will need help. We all do. Whether that help comes in the form of an employer providing the funds to pay for this house and land, or people reading my books, or whatever, I can't do it alone. And if the funds do not come, and I become destitute, and all is lost, so what? What does anyone care, if I decide the pursuit of my bliss is more important than my doing some mundane part in helping keep this ridiculous ship that is American empire afloat? Who is to say the collapse of globalism is not precisely what humanity needs, and any attempt to maintain it is an attempt to help destroy the biosphere, thereby guaranteeing collapse?

All I know for certain, is there isn't anybody with perfect knowledge of what is really going on. I'm of the opinion that humanity is facing an imminent reckoning, and we are increasingly going crazy, rather than facing it directly, desperately hanging on despite all the available evidence, to whatever we have known. Those of us who are facing it are trying to prepare, but how can one, really?

If there is anything to do but be present, with people, with plants, with whatever is my bliss, I don't know what that is.


Luciddreams said...

it seems we agree entirely about what to do. When awake in the knowledge concerning the death of this empire, planting food seems the only intelligent thing to do, regardless of your transient seat in the empire.

William Hunter Duncan said...


I don't know of any more important skill, in the face of America's almost total ignorance about food, than to be able to grow it, nurture it, collect it and preserve it.

Cathy McGuire said...

Well said! I recently got 4 apples, 2 pears and 3 grapes at a scion swap - I don't expect all of them to grow, as grafting is an art and a skill, but if some do, I'll be very pleased. I also see people going crazy all over (in the past week, two neighbors have cut down about 250 cumulative years of tree growth, and my heart grieves)... so much denial about the basic facts of this collapse... gas at $4/gal and still using tractor mowers and using backhoes to carry a wheelbarrow load across an acre... nuts. And I just keep planting food, and try to be conscious, and accept that I don't know what will happen even in the near future, let alone the next decade. Hang in there!!

William Hunter Duncan said...


Best of luck with the grafting. I'm trying to grow some apple saplings, to practice. I hope that 250 years of tree growth gets put to good use, rather than say, for the purpose of growing sod. A neighbor two years ago cut down a mature pear tree, in August with the fruit on it.

Thanks for checking in, and the kind words.

Unknown said...

U teh truth! My goodness

William Hunter Duncan said...

I am fond of the truth, unknown.