Monday, March 23, 2009


From James Howard Kunstler’s "Clusterfuck Nation" update today:

Everything we’re doing right now is engineered to avoid reality, to sustain the
unsustainable, to recover the unrecoverable, when the mandate of reality compels
us to face our losses in order to move on to the next chapter of a collective
American life. The next chapter would be a society that runs on a much more
local and modest scale, centered on essential activities like growing food,
requiring harder physical work, and focused attention -- in other words, the
opposite of a society lost in abstractions, long-range daisy chains of off-loaded responsibility, and incessant pleasure-seeking.

Well glory be, he’s talking about the way I’ve been living since 1970! As the poet Gary Snyder put it, "Living from the sun and green of one spot." It’s a great way to live: very physical, but rewarding in its own way. Lots of heavy lifting: hay, dirt, rocks, lumber, fertilizer, firewood... anything liftable can and will be lifted. It’s the Zen "haul wood, carry water" – a way of being present, and open, and whole.

As I wrote 10 years ago in Earth Quarterly (a magazine Laura and I used to put out):

Sometimes when I’m feeling contemplative, this natural lifestyle (where birth and death are always close at hand) reminds me very much of Ecclesiastes. There is a depth, a gravity to that Book that I appreciate. It reminds me of real life. Consider some examples:

The generations pass; the Earth abides. The wind blows to the north, and then to the south. The sun rises, and the sun sets. The rivers run to the sea and yet the sea is not filled. Our spirits are restless — the eye is not satisfied with seeing, and the ear is not filled with hearing. The wise man has eyes to see, but the fool walks in darkness. Vainly we chase the wind. It is good to enjoy our food, our drink, and our work. We come from dust and return to dust. God has put eternity in our hearts. Life is a never-ending and fundamentally incomprehensible spiral of birth, death, love, hate, marriage, divorce, planting, harvesting, killing, healing, dancing, mourning, laughing, weeping, embracing, not embracing, casting away stones, gathering stones together.

There is a continuity, a connectedness, in all of that, which stands in stark contrast to the
superficiality of a mass culture in which our main task, other than to accumulate as much "stuff" as possible, is to remain thoroughly entertained at all times. It’s no wonder that so many people are feeling an unsatisfied soul hunger these days! I find strength in living what is in many ways an ancient way of life. I partake of age-old rituals — I plant the seed, and it sprouts, grows,
bears fruit, and feeds my family and myself. People have done this for millennia, and there is a rightness to it that I want to share.

Hopefully, I will be able to point the way to this older, deeper, mode of being. I do not claim to have any "answers." But I do have a lot of interesting information to share.


Anonymous Jacques Conejo said...

Great perspective supporter huh?

As you pointed out, this is what you've been saying for almost 40 years... I suppose there might be some consolation in realizing that should the world go to hell in a hand basket, at least you were able to spend your life in that state of "continuity and connectedness that you describe... partaking of the "age-old rituals". So many of us held the views you espouse and lost them along the way... You remain true to those principles... You are truly an exceptional role model.

Now, as the rest of the world comes to terms with the fruits of their labor, your "Irrigation" article demonstrates the fruits of yours... It's a strange, strange world we live in, Master Jack...

I really like the "Ark" standing stoically in the background of that photo... It all looks so neat and orderly...

I appreciate that you've continued to share the process you live with the rest of us... I doubt a single soul could deny the primal feeling of "rightness" that your updates exude... You are sharing it... it's coming through loud and clear.

Keep it up big G. Thanks for providing a grounding spot for the psyche...


8:26 PM  

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