Monday, May 26, 2014

Werner Herzog quotes Martin Luther re: apocalypse

It doesn’t make me nervous that we’ll become extinct, it doesn’t frighten me at all. There is a wonderful thing that Martin Luther the reformer said when he was asked, “What would you do if the world would disappear tomorrow in the apocalypse?” And Luther said, “Today, I would plant an apple tree.”
 Interview with Werner Herzog

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Tolkien's Numenore

From The Silmarillion, "Akallabeth"

. . . Manwe put forth Morgoth and shut him beyond the World . . . Yet the seeds that he had planted still grew and sprouted. . . . A land was made for the Edain to dwell in . . . nearer to Valinor . . . raised by Osse out of the depths . . . established by Aule . . . enriched by Yavanna . . . Eldar brought thither flowers and fountains . . . Star of Earendil shone bright in the West as a token that all was made ready . . .
. . . beginning of that people . . . called the Dunedain: the Numenoreans, Kings among Men. . . . grew wise and glorious.
. . . while Middle-earth went backward and light and wisdom faded, the Dunedain dwelt under the protection of the Valar and in the friendship with the Eldar, and they increased in stature both of mind and body.
. . . they were become men of peace. . . . ship-building and sea craft . . . mariners . . .
. . . Lords of Valinor forbade them to sail so far westward that the coasts of Numenor could no longer be seen . . .
 . . . at times the Firstborn still would come sailing to Numenor . . . gifts:  birds of song, and fragrant flowers, and herbs of great virtue. . . . White Tree . . .
... sailed about MIddle-earth... took pity on the forsaken world... Numenoreans taught them many things.  Corn and wine... instructed Men in the sowing of seed and the grinding of grain, in the hewing of wood and the shaping of stone, and in ordering of their life, such as it might be in the lands of swift death and little bliss.
Then the Men of Middle-earth were comforted... unlearned their terror of the dark... revered the memory of the tall Sea-kings... Eastward they must sail, but ever west their hearts returned.
...yearning grew greater... desire for everlasting life... and ever as their power and glory grew greater their unquiet increased.  Thus it was that a shadow fell upon them...
'Why do the Lords of the West sit there in peace unending, while we must die...
'Have we not become mighty among the people of Arda?'
...Manwe was grieved, seeing a cloud gather on the noon-tide of Numenor.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Dmitry Orlov's Communities that Abide

Communities that Abide:  Part I

Communities that Abide:  Part II

Communities that Abide:  Part III

Communities that Abide:  Part IV:  Causes of Failure

Communities that Abide:  The XIII Comandments

I. You Probably Shouldn't come together willy-nilly.
II. You Probably Shouldn't trap people within the community.
III. You Probably Shouldn't carry on as if the community doesn't matter.
IV. You Probably Shouldn't spread out across the landscape.
V. You Probably Shouldn't allow creeping privatization. 
VI. You Probably Shouldn't try to figure out what to do on your own.
VII. You Probably Shouldn't let outsiders order you around.
VIII. You Probably Shouldn't question the wonderful goodness of your community.
IX. You Probably Shouldn't pretend that your life is more important than the life of your children and grandchildren.
X. You Probably Shouldn't try to use violence, because it probably won't work.
XI. You Probably Shouldn't let your community get too big.
XII. You Probably Shouldn't let your community get too rich.
XIII. You Probably Shouldn't let your community get too cozy with the neighbors.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Uncivilization & Dark Mountain

Words and images can change minds, hearts, even the course of history. Their makers shape the stories people carry through their lives, unearth old ones and breathe them back to life, add new twists, point to unexpected endings. It is time to pick up the threads and make the stories new, as they must always be made new, starting from where we are.
Uncivilisation: The Dark Mountain Manifesto (2009)

Freeing Space for a New Cosmology
On a deeper level, the invader incursions represent the replacement of countless grounded cosmologies with an increasingly singular cosmology rooted in longing. And the farthest conceivable reaches of the invader’s longing is the sky.
 divinity found its source in the dependability of the heavens, up and away from the increasing messiness and unreliability of earth, never mind that the biotic abundance on which human corporeality and wellbeing depended originated in the soil’s translation of sunlight into life.
 I imagine many of those stories would be about a long overdue homecoming set on a world that grows ever more wild, verdant and beautiful every day. A world with people struggling, longing, ceaselessly living to be grounded, integral parts of it all.


From Greer:
According to the mimeographed lessons I studied back in the day, as it became clear that Atlantean technology had the potential to bring about terrifying blowback, the Atlanteans divided into two factions: the Children of the Law of One, who took the warnings seriously and tried to get the rest of Atlantean society to do so, and the Servants of the Dark Face, who dismissed the whole issue—I don’t know for a fact that these latter went around saying “I’m sure the priests of the Sun Temple will think of something,” “orichalcum will always be with us,” “the ice age wasn’t ended by an ice shortage,” and the like, but it seems likely.
First Inundation . . . the shock managed to convince a lot of Atlanteans that the Children of the Law of One had a point . . . immediate memories of the Inundation faded . . . and went back to their old habits . . . Second Inundation . . . Children of the Law of One were marginalized even further . . . years between the Second Inundation and the Third and last one, so the story goes, Atlantis was for all practical purposes a madhouse with the inmates in charge . . . Children of the Law of One . . . sailed off to distant lands to become the seedbearers of the new age of the world.
From Wiki:

Plato borrowed some of his allegories and metaphors from older traditions, most notably the story of Gyges,[7] causing some scholars to investigate possible inspiration of Atlantis from Egyptian records of the Thera eruption, the Sea Peoples invasion, or the Trojan War.[8][9][10]
The early Christian apologist writer Arnobius also believed Atlantis once existed but blamed its destruction on pagans.[47]
Early influential literature
The term "utopia" (from "no place") was coined by Sir Thomas More in Utopia, his 16th Century work of fiction.[54] Inspired by Plato's Atlantis and travelers' accounts of the Americas, More described an imaginary land set in the New World.[55] His idealistic vision established a connection between the Americas and utopian societies, a theme which was further solidified by Sir Francis Bacon in The New Atlantis (c. 1623).[53] Bacon describes a utopian society that he called "Bensalem," located off the western coast of America. A character in the narrative gives a history of Atlantis that is similar to Plato's and places Atlantis in America. People had begun believing that the Mayan and Aztec ruins could possibly be the remnants of Atlantis.[54]
Impact of Mayanism
The Europeans believed the indigenous people to be inferior and incapable of building that which was now in ruins and by sharing a common history they insinuate that another race must have been responsible.
Ignatius Donnelly
The 1882 publication of Atlantis: the Antediluvian World
. . . attempted to establish that all known ancient civilizations were descended from Atlantis . . . parallels between creation stories in the Old and New Worlds, attributing the connections to Atlantis, where he believed existed the Biblical Garden of Eden.[59] As implied by the title of his book, he also believed that Atlantis was destroyed by the Great Flood mentioned in the Bible.
Madame Blavatsky and the Theosophists
 Blavatsky took up Donnelly's interpretations when she wrote The Secret Doctrine (1888), which she claimed was originally dictated in Atlantis itself . . . Atlanteans were cultural heroes . . . racial evolution (as opposed to primate evolution), in which the Atlanteans were the fourth "Root Race", succeeded by the fifth and most superior "Aryan race" (her own race).[54]
...destroyed itself through internal warfare brought about by the inhabitants' dangerous use of psychic and supernatural powers
Atlantis in Popular Culture wiki
In The Sandman: Brief Lives, by writer Neil Gaiman, a chapter called "The People Who Remember Atlantis" speaks of "echo-Atlantises" and (many) other equatable prehistoric civilizations, and explores the theme of the bulk of human history and knowledge being lost to the modern world.

Plato's Timaeus
There were of old, he said, great and marvellous actions of the Athenian city, which have passed into oblivion through lapse of time and the destruction of mankind, and one in particular, greater than all the rest.
he began to tell about the most ancient things in our part of the world-about Phoroneus, who is called "the first man," and about Niobe; and after the Deluge, of the survival of Deucalion and Pyrrha;... There have been, and will be again, many destructions of mankind arising out of many causes; the greatest have been brought about by the agencies of fire and water,... once upon a time Paethon, the son of Helios, having yoked the steeds in his father's chariot, because he was not able to drive them in the path of his father, burnt up all that was upon the earth, and was himself destroyed by a thunderbolt... 
 you do not know that there formerly dwelt in your land the fairest and noblest race of men which ever lived, and that you and your whole city are descended from a small seed or remnant of them which survived. And this was unknown to you, because, for many generations, the survivors of that destruction died, leaving no written word.
Now in this island of Atlantis there was a great and wonderful empire which had rule over the whole island and several others,... But afterwards there occurred violent earthquakes and floods; and in a single day and night of misfortune all your warlike men in a body sank into the earth, and the island of Atlantis in like manner disappeared in the depths of the sea.

Mythology of resilience sandbox

I never keep these blogs going for long, but I'm just going to turn this one into a sandbox for now.

I'd like to start working on the Mythology of Resilience.  I'd like to tell stories in photos and words about the decline of industrial civilization.  These aren't optimistic stories, but they're hopeful stories.  That is, they imagine a world that is much poorer in energy and material wealth, but as with all crises, offers opportunity, opportunity for a world both more grounded in reality rather than abstraction and representation, and maybe a bit more spiritually fulfilling.

I'll acknowledge some influences here.  James Howard Kunstler and John Michael Greer have been most influential in the past 5 years or so in shaping my picture of the future, maybe a bit of Dmitry Orlov thrown in for good measure.  In broad strokes, we're on the jagged plateau of peak oil right now.  From this point forward, available energy per capita is going to decrease, and along with it economic activity and material wealth.  I've yet to read Greer's Ecotechnic Future, but I'd like to give it a whirl.

I'm interested in myth.  I'd like these stories to have what you might call a mythical element . . . maybe some dabbling in the supernatural, but not in a deus ex machina sort of manner.  Perhaps it's just a reclaiming of intuition, a sixth sense, after our minds are able to think their own thoughts after most of the screens have blinked out.  There are no rings of power in these tales.  Anywho, it'd be nice to create a system of symbols, signs, stories, characters, etc. that are archetypal in a way.  Along these lines, I'd like to draw from Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung, even Strauss and Howe's generational archetypes they lay out in The Fourth Turning.  They identify the Prophet, Nomad, Hero, and Artist archetypal generations, and we hear a lot in our stories about the prophets and heroes, and I'd like to focus more on the artist and nomad.

Taking a note from Greer, Atlantis seems a good place to start . . . a myth of the decline and collapse of civilization.  For that matter, Tolkien's Numenor will work.