• It is as if…

    by  • August 29, 2011 • Everything Else • 5 Comments

    Right. Can’t sleep. Things needed done, and said.

    Let me frame this clearly: the dominant species is killing the planet. We are obsessed with political trivia and the defense of fantastic constructs like banks, while ignoring the biological and human holocaust we are unleashing on every side. Children starve, nuclear weapons slumber in their silos, and the ultra-rich buy second yachts.

    The wrongness, when you stop to think about it, is palpable. But the individualistic logic of material accumulation persuades us that all action outside of putting one foot in front of the other on the path to destruction is, in some sense, just not what people do. We continue to walk. We are enslaved by bad stories. And if you stop playing the game as it is framed, you will become homeless or broken, because the money must flow or there is no reason for you existing.

    What the fuck are we doing?

    Money is a unitized packet of violence. You can tell this because there are many actions you can perform if you have money, like taking an object from a shop, which will incite violence if you do not have money. The money itself comes from destructive and coercive practices almost without exception. The economy is murder.

    “How can you expect fairness or decency on a planet of sleeping people?” (G.I. Gurdjieff). (see)

    Now, all I can say is “watch the part of you that takes this in, but won’t act differently because of it.”

    That’s Satan. I don’t mean that literally, but it’s as good a concept as any for that part of human nature which simply refuses to change even in the face of overwhelming evidence that we are destroying each-other and the world.

    Just stop and look at it. You see it when you light a cigarette. You see it when you want to buy a nicer car. You see it when you make excuses, particularly for our political leadership. It’s every Catholic tithing money to an organization which makes NAMBLA look like amateurs. It’s every Democrat ignoring Guantanamo Bay now that Obama is in charge of it. It’s every Republican pretending that Obama made the national debt.

    Everywhere around you is the Black Iron Prison. We just sort of keep on going.

    I dug my heels in hard. I’ve tried to say “stop, this is insane.” I’ve packaged it as policy. I’ve built it as technology. I’ve tried to avoid any kind of mass movement. They never seem to achieve their goals.

    I want you to consider the possibility that the culture you are living in is sick, literally mentally ill. We know it can happen to people. We know it can happen to groups, like cults.

    Here we are, sane, free people in the Cult of Late State Nuclear Capitalism, watching as our insane culture destroys the planet that supports us all.

    When you think of it as mass mental illness, perhaps built of many individual madnesses combined in a whole-more-than-the-sum-of-its-parts you can see it all with a horrific clarity.

    We are killing the world we live on.

    We will not stop, because doing so might make us poorer.

    What you are seeing is a confluence of evolutionary ratchet behavior with complex systems, producing vast mass pathologies which don’t seem to have any origination point. Little things within us, magnified by social effects, turn our collective organizations like churches, markets and governments into monsters.

    This is what we’re looking at, folks. Individual transformation to the point where we can have sane groups is Not Likely. Reforming the groups without changing the people seems equally hopeless.

    All I’ve got for you is “classify it as madness, and stop participating as soon as possible.”

    For me, that looked like abandoning ideas of “success” and working as hard as I could on the root problems, for free.

    What’s your move?

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    Vinay Gupta is a consultant on disaster relief and risk management.


    5 Responses to It is as if…

    1. August 29, 2011 at 5:31 pm

      Been in the same place you describe for so long I don’t remember what it’s like to live as a ‘normal’ person. For us the only way through it we could find was giving up as much of our relationship with ‘the system’ as was feasible and moving to the wilds of the Outer Hebrides where we could focus on achieving our own solution to the agony of it all, which doesn’t depend on anyone else’s participation or approval or a dependence on anyone else’s madness (for more details of that see the transcript of my talk at this year’s Dark Mountain Festival: http://houseoftheravens.wordpress.com/2011/08/29/stories-that-connect-a-dark-mountain-talk/). The anger is always there but all I can do is subsume it into the wildness of this place. It’s like the Derek Mahon poem I quote in the talk: ‘I have abandoned the dream kitchens for a low fire…’ No more dream kitchens, no more participating. Sorry, that’s of no help or particular consequence other than to say we’ve been there and can’t find any better ways to handle it than trying to keep the bones of what is good and worthwhile alive through all this bullshit. Sometimes the search for any other solution seems like the ultimate madness. As you so evocatively point out, we ain’t going to stop it now.

    2. August 30, 2011 at 2:06 pm

      Hi Sharon,

      I think there’s a very important dialogue here between

      * burning out
      * exploding
      * retreating

      I think we need to acknowledge that each of these strategies has its place, and that actually to retreat rather than explode is a very good choice for some of us.

      It’s been a good choice for me, to move to the farmland of Ireland and cool my heels, slow down, take some time off, breathe and get space between me and The Problems for a while.

      How to participate and support the struggle from the backwoods is another question entirely, and I think that’s what the next phase of my life will be about, somehow.

      A pleasure, be in touch.

    3. August 30, 2011 at 5:35 pm

      You’re quite right. And the truth is that for years I’ve cycled between all of those. But every time I retreat something comes along (like a Dark Mountain Festival :-) which makes me realise that retreating is only for sometimes – like winter, the slow retreat into the dark to build the energy necessary for all the activities for spring. Maybe the cycling is natural. Love to discuss with you how to struggle from the backwoods. Am always looking for help! – especially when physical travel is so hard.

    4. tom
      September 11, 2011 at 5:05 pm

      In no particular order: Marrying a vegan, taking a templar oath, and so help me, considering a career in finance and data. There are invisible monsters to kill…

    5. Chris Naden
      December 13, 2011 at 8:59 am

      Retreat is a tool, not an endgame. As a tool, it’s survival, focus, loss of distraction. As an endgame it’s selfishness. I probably sound like an idiot, but then, I’m quite new to thinking this way. :)

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