Tuesday, January 05, 2010

"Do As I Say, Not As I Do"

In mainstream America, there’s no need for the promoters of information to actually practice it themselves. For example, there’s no need for an environmentalist to actually live in an environmentally-sound manner, or for a “man of God” to actually be a man of God. All that counts is how good you are at spinning hype. The audience seems unable to look skeptically at a hypester, and connect the dots. Like credulous children, they take things at face value, and are therefore easily manipulated by those who feed them information.

(I’m getting back to my brief comment about Kunstler yesterday.)

I’ve been living this way for so long, I’ve gone through “periods.” (Much like Picasso had his Blue Period, his Cubist Period, etc.) What I’m going through right now is my “Let’s Get This Wrapped Up At Long Last” Period. So I’m doing my final (hopefully) spasm of infrastructure-building, refurbishing old neglected infrastructure, and getting rid of some of the ridiculous overabundance of biomass I’ve created around myself here. Then, in the future, all I’ll have left is annual maintenance on everything (which isn’t such a big deal), and food production. Food production, if done in a serious way, will require lots of time and energy, hence my desire to get all my other projects out of the way ahead of time.

I’m not promoting “homesteading” anymore. I got that one whomped out of me when I put out Earth Quarterly 10 years ago. We got some enthusiastic feedback, but encountered mostly indifference. So I changed course back then, deciding to concentrate mostly on my family and my honey business. Only in the past few years have I been possessed by this urge to finish building and finish cleaning up the bio-mess I’ve created here. I’m seeking a sense of closure with the past, so that I can enter The Long Emergency unencumbered.

Kunstler seems to feel that The Long Emergency will offer enough stability that humans will learn to cope with it. My own sense is that the situation will ratchet steadily downward into the massive dieoff zone. There might be temporary periods of semi-stability, but they won’t last. Thus I don’t feel that homesteading offers any kind of permanent solution, even though it’s the only way of life that has ever made sense to me. The modern homesteading concept has its roots in the Great Depression, during which the people that owned their land free and clear, and practiced subsistence agriculture, at least had a roof over their heads and food on the table... even if they had little or no money. Present-day homesteading is the modern version of a 1930s lifestyle. Modern homesteaders might have high-tech accouterments (solar panels, plastic water tanks), but some things never change (wood heater, gardening).

Homesteading was never intended to cope with the death of the biosphere or the breakdown of civilization. But even so, a homesteader might be able to ride things out to a certain extent. And in the right location, who really knows? I think it’s impossible to predict, given the information we now have, which remnant human populations will survive. It’ll probably be a matter of chance as much as anything. Thus, all that people can do is prepare as best they can, or in the case of the overwhelming majority, do nothing at all. Cast our fate to the winds, why not? Can we really do any better than that?

At any rate, I like this way of life. I like hearing the owls at night and watching the deer emerge from the willow thickets across the river. So even though I’m not promoting anything (except for, hopefully, some truth), I enjoy posting pictures of the natural world, oddball architecture, and my latest cool projects. Whatever people will make of this, they will. I suspect that 10 will be at least as fascinating as 09, which I supposed is a threat more than a promise.