Monthly Archives: September 2013
Try this on for size (found and slightly edited from the internet):
“The beauty of modern man is not in the persons, but in the disastrous rhythm, the heavy and mobile masses, the dance of the dream-led masses down the dark mountain.” Robinson Jeffers, 1935
As any historian could confirm, human civilization is an intensely fragile construction, built on little more than belief – in the rightness of its values, the strength of its system of law and order, its currency, and, above all perhaps, belief in its future. We believe that art must look over the edge, face the coming world with a steady eye, and rise to the challenge of ecocide with an artistic response to the crumbling of the empires of the mind.
Uncivilized writing, for example, sets out to paint a picture of homo sapiens which a being from another world or, better, a being from our own – a blue whale, an albatross, a mountain hare – might recognize as something approaching a truth. It sets out to pull our attention away from ourselves and turn it outwards, putting civilization into perspective. It’s writing that comes not, as most writing still does, from the self-absorbed and self-congratulatory metropolitan centers of civilization, but from somewhere on its wilder fringes. Somewhere woody and weedy and largely avoided, from where insistent, uncomfortable truths about ourselves drift in; truths which we’re not keen on hearing. Writing which unflinchingly stares us down, however uncomfortable this may prove.
It’s not environmental writing, for there is much of that about already, and most of it fails to jump the barrier which marks the limit of our collective human ego; much of it, indeed, ends up shoring up that ego, and helping us persist in our civilizational delusions. It’s not nature writing, for there is no such thing as nature as distinct from people, and to suggest otherwise is to perpetuate the attitude that’s brought us here. Neither is it political writing, with which the world is already flooded, for politics is a human confection, complicit in ecocide and decaying from within.
Uncivilized writing is more rooted than any of these. Above all, it’s determined to shift our worldview, not feed into it. It’s writing for outsiders, with the aim of shifting the emphasis from man to not-man – to un-humanize our views a little, and become “confident as the rock and ocean that we were made from.” This isn’t a rejection of our humanity – it’s an affirmation of the wonder of what it means to be truly human: accepting the world for what it is and to making our home here rather than dreaming of relocating to the stars or existing in a man-forged bubble and pretending to ourselves that there is nothing outside it to which we have any connection at all.
Think of Wendell Berry, Mary Oliver, and others whose writings approach the shores of the uncivilized. They know their place in the physical sense and remain wary of the siren cries of metrovincial fashion and civilized excitement. We name particular writers whose work embodies what we’re arguing for not to place them more prominently on the existing map of literary reputations, but rather, taking their work seriously and redrawing the maps altogether – not only the map of literary reputations, but those by which we navigate all areas of life.
Even here, we go carefully, for cartography itself is not a neutral activity. The civilized eye seeks to view the world from above, as something we can stand over and survey. The uncivilized writer knows the world is, rather, something we’re enmeshed in – a patchwork and a framework of places, experiences, sights, smells, sounds. Maps can lead, but can also mislead. Our maps must be the kind sketched in the dust with a stick, washed away by the next rain. They can be read only by those who ask to see them, and they cannot be bought.
THE EIGHT PRINCIPLES OF UNCIVILIZATION
We live in a time of social, economic, and ecological unraveling. All around us are signs that our way of living is passing into history. We will face this reality honestly and learn how to live with it.
We reject the faith which holds that the converging crises of our times can be reduced to a set of ‘problems’ in need of technological or political ‘solutions.’
We believe that the roots of these crises lie in the stories we’ve been telling ourselves. We challenge the stories underpinning our civilization: the myth of progress, the myth of human centrality, and the myth of our separation from ‘nature’ and from each other. These myths are more dangerous for the fact that we’ve forgotten they’re myths. We reassert the role of storytelling as more than mere entertainment, since it’s through stories that we weave our version of reality.
Humans are not the point and purpose of the planet. Our art will begin with the attempt to step outside the human bubble. Carefully attentive, we’ll reengage with the non-human world.
We celebrate writing and art grounded in a sense of place and of time. Our literature has been dominated for too long by those who inhabit the cosmopolitan citadels. We won’t lose ourselves in the elaboration of theories or ideologies. Our words will be elemental. We write with dirt under our fingernails.
The end of the world as we know it is not the end of the world. Together, we’ll find the hope beyond hope, the paths which lead to the unknown world ahead of us.
In the next days and weeks, as we wait to see whether diplomatic negotiations begun at the behest of Russia can help to moderate the crisis in Syria, we should remember a couple of things:
(1) The use of force, as well as the threat of the use of force, is forbidden by international law. But we don’t even think of that when Obama talks about his “red lines,” because, as Noam Chomsky said on “Democracy Now” yesterday, the United States is a rogue state that doesn’t think it has to follow international law. We can become inured to that, given the media’s acceptance of it, but we shouldn’t. The only other state that behaves this way, with impunity at least, is US ally Israel. Notice that our government isn’t calling for Israel to give up or allow inspections of its chemical and/or nuclear weapons or offering to do the same itself.
(2) Bashar Assad is by no means my hero, but I had to agree with him when he said recently that Obama can draw all the red lines he wants, but he doesn’t have the authority to draw them for other countries. Nor have any other Syrians asked for missiles to be lobbed their way.
(3) The United States is historically the biggest user of chemical weapons (Agent Orange in Vietnam and white phosphorus and depleted uranium in Iraq, all of which are still causing illness and birth defects). Not to mention nuclear weapons — which the US is the only country ever to have used. We have neither the moral high ground, nor the right to dictate to and threaten force against other countries. Only the UN has that right.
P.S. Don’t believe Kerry and Obama when they deny that the US is seeking regime change in Syria. The CIA has been sending arms to Syrian rebel troops, which include al Qaeda fighters, for weeks. Hawks in the US government (and Obama is one, just as much as Bush ever was) has been plotting the downfall of Syria and Iran since the year 2000. Iraq, still torn by sectarian conflict thanks to its destabilization by the US invasion and occupation, was on that list, too, of course. And its sectarian battles — Sunni vs Shia — have intensified the same in Syria (that’s largely what the civil war is all about), Lebanon, and elsewhere. It’s not about morality or saving little children from harm — it’s strictly geopolitics, a game of big power interests that’s tearing the Middle East apart.
If you haven’t already seen the 2011 documentary film “Five Broken Cameras,” please go to Hulu, iTunes, Netflix, or the PBS/POV website asap and do so! This is an amazing film about a small village in the Occupied West Bank and a courageous Palestinian farmer who filmed demonstrations there against illegal Israeli settlements and the building of a so-called security wall that cut villagers off from their land. The story is interwoven with the story of the filmmaker’s family, especially that of his youngest son, who watches the death of a friend at Israeli hands.
Films like this can be watched for free for a limited time at pbs.org/pov, so hurry if you don’t have the other services. You can also go to the filmmaker’s website, emadburnat.com to offer your support.
As Americans, we need to do whatever we can to oppose our country’s support of illegal Israeli policies against Palestinians. Not satisfied with having taken most of their land, the Israeli government is determined to take the rest by making life untenable in Gaza and the Occupied Territories. Not only does this take a devastating toll on the Palestinian people (who’ve suffered this way for over 65 years), but it’s tearing up a beautiful, ancient land of hills planted with olive trees. We see beautiful, probably very old olive trees being uprooted with bulldozers and burned by Israeli settlers in this film, as well as a little Palestinian boy (the filmmaker’s son, Gibreel) offering an olive branch to an Israeli soldier.
Watch it, and see for yourself.
I have a long list of other films and books on the subject that I’ll post about in the future.
I was just looking over my notes on a book I read several months ago, and got excited enough to want to share them with you. The book, published in 2012, is Birth 2012 and Beyond: Humanity’s Great Shift to the Age of Conscious Evolution by Barbara Marx Hubbard. Full disclosure: when I take notes on a book, I edit the author’s words (without changing the meaning) for brevity and, I believe, better understanding. I don’t use quotes for the most part, so you won’t always know how and where I’ve edited. This is done in the spirit of open access to information, as well as co-creativity, a concept this author believes in. If you want to read the author’s words exactly as written, get ahold of the book!
What’s being required of us, if we wish to avoid extinction, Hubbard says, is learning how to “co-evolve with nature and co-create with Spirit.” If it takes place, this will involve the maturation of a significant portion (critical mass?) of humanity. This is all part of natural evolution, which involves “jumps in synergy and cooperation within and among species.”
We’re being called upon to shift from egocentrism to living from our Essential Selves, so that we can give our unique gift(s) to this shift. Hubbard saw 12-22-12, the Mayan solstice, as the first day, the birth day, of the next era of evolution, the beginning of our opportunity to shift.
In 1966 Hubbard realized that empathy – the pain of one being felt by all – was starting to spread throughout the planet. We were connecting with each other, feeling with each other as members of one body, she says. The Spirit within was rising up in each person like a great tide of love, inspiration, and oneness with the source of our being, activating us by the millions. Hubbard saw that when enough of us felt this connection, there would be a shared feeling of joy and “global coherence.” Our story, she believes, is the birth of humankind as one body, made possible as more and more people recognize that we’re one, we’re good (whole), and we’re being born/consciously evolving.
We’re now at a chaos point, Hubbard says, meaning that our present state is breaking down and can no longer be returned to prior, more stable states. In fact, efforts to restore or reform are intensifying the crisis. We’ll either break down completely, Hubbard says, or break through to a new structure and mode of operation.
“Cultural creatives,” “universal humans,” are waking up and connecting and communicating, in person and digitally. What’s emerging is, and has to be, more than a new religion, political party, or enterprise – because these are never truly inclusive. And we’re all together on this ride.
We have the resources, technologies, and know-how to make the world work for everyone, but do we have the will and the courage to make it happen?
Coherence is a heartfelt connection with others, feeling them as part of oneself. What we need now is global coherence, an awakening of the global heart, the feeling of being one interconnected planetary body with a shared purpose of mutual growth for the sake of the whole earth community. Hubbard believes this is beginning to happen.
It happens on an individual basis when we no longer see each other as “other.” Our hearts are open, and we know we are, that everyone is, one with All That Is.
When you feel frustrated, discontented, or depressed, as if that your life lacks meaning, it doesn’t mean something’s wrong with you. It means that something more wants to be expressed through you. Recognizing this is the first step. The second is to reach out to others you’re attracted to in the spirit of creative synergy and co-creation.
What do you want to give others, the world?
Hubbard says that through daily meditation, she’s realized/remembered that her essence is Spirit/Love, that she, like all of us, is part of the divine. With the help of continued meditation, she’s integrating her local, separated, egoic self with that essence. The next step, she says, is to create a “resonant core group,” an evolutionary or Shift circle with a friend or two, in which you can share essence to essence. “Resonance” in this sense means reflecting or echoing back the Essential Self in one another.
Spirit, Hubbard reminds us, is our essence – it doesn’t need to be projected onto a god.
The question becomes “What is my unique way of expressing essence that’s both self-rewarding and of service to others?” Also, “How can I remain in essence while making my contribution?”
A New Myth for Our Times
The last great myth took root during the Renaissance: the myth of progress through knowledge, science, liberal democracy, and technology. This “big story” began to collapse after the two world wars, in which tens of millions of people were killed by the most sophisticated nations and technologies. Since then, things have only gotten worse – weapons of mass destruction, pollution, an increasing gap between haves and have-nots, etc. New technologies are actually dangerous in our current state of self-centered separation consciousness.
The only new myth that’s arisen to give us a sense of meaning, direction, and hope, Hubbard says, is the one she’s describing: being part of an evolving and expanding universe in which we have an intrinsic part to play, lovingly and creatively.
We learn from biologist Elisabet Sahtouris that when a species is young it tends to overpopulate, pollute, and compete with and eventually destroy its environment. It either learns to cooperate with itself, its environment, and other species, or it goes extinct. We can certainly see the meaning of these lessons for us!
The birth/crisis is happening either way. We can make it easier and give it more of a chance for a positive outcome, if we act consciously together with love. The suffering prevalent in the world today can activate the empathy, love, compassion, creativity, and courage needed for us to mature as a species.
The attractive and attracted energy that’s moved the evolutionary process all along became (self) conscious in us. It just needs to move to the next level.
Create times outside of time in which you can temper the compulsions, obsessions, and fears of your local egoic self, the manifestor, with the realization, the remembering, that your essence is divine, is Spirit, is one with All That Is – that you and all other beings are one, in this together, in love. In this inner sanctuary you can hear your inner wisdom, feel at peace, and experience limitless joy. Cultivate global coherence by engaging in any heart-based, essence-experiencing spiritual practice on a regular basis. When we do this on our own, we’re ready to experience love and engage in synergistic co-creation when we’re together, however we connect.
Sounds good to me. Want to start a group?