Getting Down – with Dmitry, Derrick, and Teddy K

[I wrote this post on February 27, 2017, shortly after having the relevant dream.]

The other night I dreamed: I was on an upper level of a multi-story structure; I needed to reach the ground. Descending a winding exterior stone stair, I stopped short at a great gap. Was there any way I could safely jump to the next step? No, there was not. I would need to try something else.

Then I was indoors, on what seemed like a lower level of the same structure, still seeking a path down. How about that thick rope, just beyond a railing? Or the rope ladder a few feet farther away? The rope, in both cases, looked like jute or hemp – light brown, furry, likely to fray. Someone I’m inclined to trust on such matters (a builder from Earthaven) assured me the rope in the ladder would hold my weight. Still. Either I simply wanted additional options, or the risk seemed too great. I ventured further into the building’s interior, seeking another way. Continue reading

The Dream of Descent

Last night I dreamed about descent – again. This time I was in a cylindrical elevator, with six other people (three adults and three children, none recognizable from real life), on a high floor of a steel-glass tower. I knew we had enemies within the building, whom we’d had to elude to reach the elevator, who might yet prevent us from reaching ground and getting out. Yes, the doors were closed – we were safe for the moment – but it was a long way down. Continue reading

Beyond Bounded Choice

Let’s talk about bounded choice.

Years ago, on my way out of Zendik, I read a book of that title (subtitle: True Believers and Charismatic Cults). The author, Janja Lalich, had become a sociologist, specializing in cultic studies, after ten years in a political cult that dissolved when the followers lost faith in the leader. In the book, she draws on her own experience, as well as her research into other groups (Heaven’s Gate, in particular) to show that cult members are neither stupid nor mindless, that they do think and choose for themselves – it’s just that great swaths have been removed from their field of possibility. So they operate within an extremely narrow range.

This last election, and its aftermath, have confirmed for me that yes, industrial civilization is a cult, and yes, its true believers experience, and act from, a condition of bounded choice. Continue reading

Meet Me in the Meadow of Miracles

Imagination is a muscle. It strengthens with use.

This coming Saturday, my dear friend Deborah and I will be leading a workshop called Building Imaginal Bridges here at Earthaven Ecovillage, in Black Mountain, North Carolina. Earthaven is just down the road from the old Zendik Farm, where I first encountered “imagine” as a future-forming verb.

At Zendik, we believed that we could spark change by envisioning our “imajia” world, our “imajia” selves; we called our utopia “Ecolibrium,” short for “ecological equilibrium.” Continue reading

Derrick Jensen and Charles Eisenstein Fistfight in Heaven

I have just read Charles Eisenstein’s freshly published essay, Standing Rock: A Change of Heart. This is fortuitous, since I’d been wanting to write about how it feels to be immersed in Derrick Jensen’s perspective versus how it feels to be immersed in Charles Eisenstein’s.

Reading A Language Older Than Words a few weeks ago (followed by What We Leave Behind), I noticed ghosts rising up, between the lines – whose voice does this voice remind me of? Oh yes, I realized – Jensen’s writing style echoes Eisenstein’s. Both take a measured approach to potentially inflammatory material; both logically, methodically build a fully furnished conceptual structure in which a reader could choose to live. Both marry clarity with eloquence; both work (I am guessing) extremely hard to avoid being misunderstood.

Yet the results – the conceptual houses, and how it feels to inhabit them – could not be more different. Continue reading

I Heart “the Environment”

The phrase “the environment” makes me gag. Why?

Here’s a puppet example: “Let’s cover a million square miles of desert with solar panels! It’ll help the environment.” What’s wrong with this picture?

First, the picture frames “the environment” as optional. We can “help” it or not – we choose. And “helping” doesn’t involve radical rediscovery of who we are, or deep reassessment of how we live – it means (can mean) implementing yet another industrial megaproject that fits in with business (monetization of the commons) as usual. Continue reading

“Development” as Home-icide: Cover Your Eyes

I’ve been reading Derrick Jensen’s semi-memoir, A Language Older Than Words. In a chapter called “Seeking a Third Way,” he describes making a comment at a public meeting that breaks “the basic commandment of our culture: Thou shalt pretend there is nothing wrong.” Later, in “The Goal Is the Process,” he ponders what to name the people responsible for destroying the forest near his home, so they can build houses. His dictionary, he says, “defines develop as to cause to become gradually fuller, larger, better” – which is not what happens when a thriving – albeit non-human – community is replaced with a monocrop of petro-cement apartment blocks. I too have struggled with this question; when I dare, I replace “develop” with “monetize” – knowing I’m breaking the social consensus, yet loath to let the easier, falser word constrict my throat. Continue reading