Monday, December 14, 2009


"It would be best to consider this a continuing 'revolution of consciousness' which will be won not by guns but by seizing the key images, myths, archetypes, eschatologies, and ecstasies so that life won't seem worth living unless one's on the transforming energy's side."
Gary Snyder
Four Changes, 1969

That didn't turn out well, did it?  We humans seem to have a Shiva Complex.  We seem to have a destructive side that will not be denied.  We seem to have no choice but to sell our divine birthright for the proverbial mess of pottage, and look at what it always get us:  a big mess of pottage, at the expense of our souls.  It's the usual Faustian bargain, and we're suckers for it every time.  The Woodstock Generation couldn't wait to abandon the "transforming energy" for our share of the pottage,  and in exchange we got a dying planet, a dying civilization, and a profound sense of helplessness.  It's a pity that the nihilistic philosophy of domination and exploitation dominated so effortlessly, but that's one way in which the Shiva Complex plays itself out.  We really can't help it.

Our civilization is fast approaching a breaking point.  We can expect the pottage to hit the fan in a major way before long.  Only when the stranglehold of the status quo loses its grip can we expect another opportunity for change (the first since the late 60s), and the most likely outcome will be a teabagger-enabled authoritarian dictatorship.  People will gladly trade their last shreds of "freedom" for a little security once they get a little taste of chaos and anarchy.  This isn't a happy vision, but it's a realistic one.

It's a shame that Snyder's positive vision didn't catch on.  I'm still plugging away at it:

"Master the archaic and the primitive, as models of basic nature-related cultural styles, as well as the most imaginative future possibilities of science and technology, and build a community where these two vectors cross."


"Our own heads: Is where it starts. Knowing that we are the first human beings in history to have all of man's culture and previous experience available to our study, and being free enough of the weight of traditional cultures to seek out a larger identity. - The first members of a civilized society since the early Neolithic to wish to look clearly into the eyes of the wild and see our selfhood, our family, there. We have these advantages to set off the obvious disadvantages of being as screwed up as we are."

I think it's time for another gardening post.