Sunday, May 20, 2012


A little less than two years ago, I bought a camera. It was a Canon, which I bought from Best Buy for about $120, which I took about 500 pictures with, before the camera lens wouldn't extend – lens error, restarting camera - and the camera quit working. It was replaced by Best Buy, with a similar version, which I paid another $25 for, which took about 400 pictures before the lens extended and wouldn't go back in – lens error, restarting camera – and the camera wouldn't work anymore. Best Buy sent the camera to Canon, but Canon wouldn't fix it, so Best Buy gave me another of the same model, off the shelf – which was priced at $89. I didn't get a refund. The new camera, my third camera, the third of the only three digital cameras I have ever owned, took about a thousand pictures. Then I was about to take a picture of my newly remodeled bathroom, when the thing spun out of my hands, airborne. I reached for it to grab it, and thereby hit it and smashed it into the newly finished hardwoods, lens first, crushing the extended lens at an angle to the camera – lens error, restarting camera.

Which was a bummer, because I had planned a whole series of posts about this house, showcasing the work, and speaking about shelter generally. I was just starting to video myself singing, to hear what I actually sound like (it was duly horrifying). I enjoyed that camera very much, and have taken a number of memorable (to me) pictures, that have brought me joy, and I think in some cases, added texture and context to this blog. I'm not normally clumsy, and it was exceptionally disappointing. Strangely though, I didn't flip out about it when it happened. The next day I couldn't find a tool I needed at the time, and I stomped around the house for thirty minutes, furious at myself that I couldn't find it. Weird. There's an omen there.

Let's think about that series of cameras for a moment. Effectively, I paid about $48, for each of the three. They took exceptional pictures, with all the digital options I could want, and then some. Now consider the thousands of tiny little pieces that were manufactured, to become part of all three cameras, and all the exotic materials required, and all the fossil fuels to run the processes of mining, refining, fabricating, assembling, packaging, shipping, retailing - for $48, for six months of function. This is economical, how? Eco-logical?

But they brought me so such joy! Yes, I say to myself, but that is a very expensive kind of joy, systemically thinking, and we can't possibly expect to continue that kind of joy-facilitation, and still have a planet worth living on, turning so much of what the earth offers freely, into effective garbage.

If I buy another camera, it will be a used one. Unless they start making cameras that are made entirely with recycled materials, energy neutral, and every single piece gets used for some re-purpose when it ceases to be a functioning camera, with not less than seven human generations of function for every single aspect. I recognize there is such a thing as entropy, but I'm sick of buying product of any kind that isn't made with a sense of responsibility beyond the bottom line. Throwaway trash, the vast majority of consumer products, the very foundation of this economy.

What the fuck, America? Americans. Humans. I heard a story from Denmark this week that makes me shiver. Not just dumping it, burning it all.


Those who care to be stewards of this great nation, may notice how easily Europeans have reverted to totalitarian edict (and madness), in the face of a threat to the power of the banks. Dare to leave the Union, Greece? We shall ruin you, make an example of you, that no other nation dare step out of economic line. You shall feed the consumer debt machine, or you shall perish. If I were a Greek national, I'd be inclined to grow as much food as I could, tell the Troika to piss off, build a gift economy, restructure local economic communities, and rebuild the nation in defiance of tyranny. It looks like they might opt for civil war instead, and whatever tyrants come out on top in that never ending cycle, apparently. They're going to do what they know, I guess.

If I were dictator of the world, I would be inclined to wipe out all debt, and declare usury punishable by death. It's a good thing I'm not dictator of the world then, and frankly, if I suddenly were dictator of the world by some magical happenstance, I would decline to issue the edict, and abdicate, effective immediately. Because such a thing cannot be anything but a democratic choice, telling banks and the bankers to fuck off, and make 'em start from zero just like everybody else.

But we're too busy bowing at the feet of the money changers. We mock them, but we don't quibble much with the system they manage. Remember how much we thought Greenspan was some kind of Merlin of Finance, (until we were like, wait a minute, you set up the tech and housing bubbles!) Jamie Dimon, “the perfect Treasury Secretary[?]” Bernank, the magic money maker. It's so very lucrative.

I don't know if it was Christ that got it wrong, our his followers claiming power in His name, but the temple is the earth, and it's a combination of usury and fossil fuel consumption that has brought us to this economic predicament, consuming and expanding to the verge of something very like potential apocalyptic mayhem. Picture that.

I don't know what's going to happen to me, and my garden and this house. It is a very uncertain time, for all of us. I do think my house and garden is becoming very much like a kind of eden for someone in love. I think this whole city could be like that. The whole nation, the globe, if that's what we wanted. A beautiful garden in which to build beautiful abodes.

Having lived here, I know that I can heal the soil. That's my magic. And I don't need consumer society, with its usury and insatiability, it's consumer trash, it's systems of debt bondage, it's will to dominate and control, to do it.

Note: I highly appreciate the work of Ashvin Pandurangi, @ The Automatic Earth, of late, starting with FUBAR: Planet Earth. As advertised, not for the faint of heart.


Anonymous said...

Hi There, I can relate to your camera frustration. Early in my hobby of digital photography, I had a similar inexpensive camera. I then was taking about 100 +- photographs a day of wildlife in my neighborhood so I quickly outgrew that camera. I have a five year old digital Nikon (three years that I have owned it) and Sigma lenses. I get my money's worth out of the set-up and have taken many thousands of shots. Go with what you need and yes, get used if possible. Have a super nice day!

William Hunter Duncan said...


Thanks for the advice.

Jason Heppenstall said...

William - from trashy to not so trashy. I was clearing out my dad's house of stuff last month (he has gone into care)and found an old single reflex camera in a box in the attic. It's the kind that you hold down near your navel and look through a window in the top as you point it at the subject.

It must be at least 80 years old and has a nice leather finish on it. Of course, it would still seem to work just fine.

All I have to do is figure out where to get film for this ancient apparition making device ...

William Hunter Duncan said...


If you can get film for that - in a decade, you might make a living using it. If I ever have the opportunity, I'd like to get an old print press running.

John D. Wheeler said...

I wouldn't make usury punishable by death, I'd tax it into oblivion. I'd still let them write off bad debts, but then I would tax them the inverse of their fractional reserve. So, if they only had to have $1 to lend out $10, I would tax 90% of the net interest they collect.

William Hunter Duncan said...


Yeah, that's probably a better idea.