Taoist mythology, Lanna history, mythology, the nature of time and other considered ramblings

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Location: Chiangrai, Chiangrai, Thailand

Author of many self-published books, including several about Thailand and Chiang Rai, Joel Barlow lived in Bangkok 1964-65, attending 6th grade with the International School of Bangkok's only Thai teacher. He first visited ChiangRai in 1988, and moved there in 1998.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Alpha Griz

To further empower the super-rich isn’t just counter-productive, it’s counter-intuitive. They’re the way they are because they’re mostly unhappy, resentful, unsuccessfully socialized spoiled and overprotected children (of whatever age) who never really learned either to compete or to share, but only to cheat.

In response to a recent Derrick Jensen article in Orion Magazine (“World Gone Mad” – which has parts quite reminiscent of my 10 Jan, 2010 re-post here on Mythorelics of “The Egocentric Predicament”), Alpha Griz wrote (Sep 14, 2010) “Mr. Jensen gives the impression the madness is a recent thing. I believe the madness began with the rise of civilization in the Fertile Crescent, where it all began 6,000 years ago, and is now reaching its logical conclusion. The rise of the city-state was accompanied by big agriculture, authoritarian religion, ideology, militarism, the money economy, and the conquest of indigenous peoples and nature. Driving that conquest has been hubris, beginning with Gilgamesh clear-cutting the cedars of Lebanon, defying the gods and destroying the forest guardian, Humbaba, leading to the ecological collapse and desertification that destroyed the early Mesopotamian civilization in the Tigris-Euphrates valley where present-day Iraq is located. Although Mesopotamian civilization did not survive, its legacy of deforestation, overgrazing, water depletion, soil erosion, and war lived on, spreading throughout the Middle East, further West to Greece and Rome, then followed Western civilization to America. Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida have deep roots in this first civilization. So does Europe. So, for that matter, does America, from the Columbian landfall to Manifest Destiny,and our current, politically dysfunctional, hyper-consumerist society. The madness always existed but industrialism has multiplied the effects of the madness by increasing the technological power of destruction.
“So Mr. Jensen. The world has not gone mad. It always has been, at least since civilization began. You are just seeing its intensification.
“But there are pockets of sanity. Always were. They are everywhere. In our more peaceable communities, in our art and music, our literature, and in indigenous cultures. Are they enough to stop the madness? I have no answer. I believe industrial civilization will consume itself. I see a dying way of life in the grip of ever more desperate temper tantrums, industrial civilization’s final frenzy, clinging to an ideology of power, wealth and the exploitation and control of nature that will only consume itself, a hyper-capitalistic Götterdammerung – a spasm from the dying of a rough beast. We may either destroy ourselves, or what is left of humanity will regroup and come out better in the long run. Continued human survival will depend on a shift from being creatures predisposed as they are now to violence, territoriality, ideology, self-interest, and destructive use of nature to being creatures predisposed to awareness, mindfulness, compassion, generosity, love, and, in Wendell Berry’s terms, ‘kindly use of nature.’
“Another point: Mr. Jensen should pay attention to how nature is fighting back. Look at the violent weather in 2010 around the world. Devastating whole regions with violent thunderstorms, drought, wildfires, epic flooding and it will only get worse as the planet fights back against its abuse by human industrial civilization, fights back against CO2 emissions. He calls for humans to resist the power structure that continues this 6,000-year abuse, but nature is already beginning a mighty resistance. I say, we humans better yield now if know what is good for us. And maybe try to get along with nature… “
Later he added: “Decentralized societies organized around democratic communities and watersheds, with no standing armies, no more nation-state, no capitalism or macro-economies aside from perhaps loosely organized trade federations since some trade will be required. Other than that, economies will be strictly localized. This society could have computers and advanced technological medicine but also more hand tools, more reliance on naturepathy, midwives, and most certainly utilize sustainable practices however these come to be defined and take shape. And no more “wilderness areas” - we will like or primitive ancestors walk through a wilderness without boundaries. Wildness will be the standard for human society (still think Gary Snyder’s The Practice of the Wild has some real good things to say on this score). My vision of alternative society is very crude at best, I admit it, but we need much more discussion of what post-civilization will look like. I am not talking about eco-topias or utopias - away with them! I am talking about what an alternative way of life would look like in practical, concrete down to earth terms. Where’s the discussion of this? Especially with the 6,000-year civilization coming to its inevitable end, a fascinating but seriously flawed model. We better get on with the business of replacing it - now!”
And then, “Ideology and authoritarian religion are basically instances of arrested development, the permanently adolescent state that modern humans find themselves in and this idealism plays itself out in what are supposed to be mature adults with incredible violence. However, if humans answer to the primal heritage (Pleistocene) that is part of our DNA a different organization of society will emerge bearing fundamental similarities to those of our distant ancestors even though on the surface it may have a different look because of the technological innovations that have occurred in the meantime. But things are bad now. Groups like al-Qaida and the tea party are examples of infantile temper tantrums thrown by adult humans in a state of arrested adolescence. Modern civilization carries within it the seeds of its own destruction (the seeds being capitalism, industrialism, capitalism, individualism in some cases, and fundamentalist religion). We cannot destroy it. It can only destroy itself. That’s why I say we must get out of the way and answer to the beating of our own wild hearts, the yearning for connection, for community, the complete integration of domesticity and wildness, to our own love of story and the natural rhythms of cyclical time. But in answering to this, we must have some intentionality, some practical discussions of what this new society may look like. I enjoy literacy and I do not see computers as necessarily bad things, but I think we will know what technologies are useful and what are not if humans can survive post-civilization without major trauma or even extinction. If we see time as cyclical rather than linear, we may not be at the end of anything but rather emerging out of the winter of our discontent to find a return of spring. Kinda trite way of putting it, but I believe human epochs are similar in this regard to seasons. Winter is not the end of things, but only a pre-emergent time. We may find ourselves in this pre-emergent time. Those of us trying to recover our sanity need to be telling our story of disintegration and re-integration, of connection, of community, or living within nature’s arrangements even if we do not do so skillfully.”



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