Monday, August 24, 2009

Crashing in the Fog, Smelling the Smoke

I was always crazy. Bad things happened to me before I could spell my name; Gitmo-style bad things. The first escape I had was nature. I found that under a bush or up a tree was a fair place to hide from the lash. The second escape was reading.

For some reason the original Whole Earth Catalog was left in my families living room; and all subsequent editions. Imagine a second grader learning to read with that as source material. Yurts, dome homes, aikido, organic gardening, sexual revolution, birth control, dope, alternative politics. "The Man Who Planted Trees" was in one of those books. I was ruined for commerce. Then I started reading Heinlein, Pohl, Asimov, Bradbury, Benford, Bear and Spider Robinson. Worlds with different rules, and new ideas.

By the seventh grade I was pretty close to unschoolable. I already read more than all of the other students and most of the teachers. I had too many ideas and no experience. I lasted through tenth grade by taking two days off a week to go hiking and acing tests on the days I attended. Drove everybody around me batshit.

I was never convinced that chasing the almighty dollar was worth a damn. I dropped in and out of college. Did stints as a cook, mailroom clerk, barrista, masseur, house-dad, construction worker, cloth dyer, retail clerk, handyman, manager and a few other things that I forget. Got married, rehabbed a house for the wife's family, got booted with no thanks. Helped set up a co-housing community where the ex and kids still live. Never finished college due to a little encounter with black mold. Learning a bit about pain now; from the inside.

The business of America has been fraud for over 30 years IMHO. The fortunate stumble onto the personal computer revolution helped balance the books but honestly never got us to break-even. Education is on a downhill slide. Reading skills that would have flunked you out of my mediocre high school are tolerated among at the State University down the block. College juniors stumbling to read portions of the text out loud as if we were in fourth grade. Business fraud is so rampant that your insurance, bank and credit card contracts mean nothing. Try and read them; I dare you.

While ever increasing amounts of information are available fewer people than ever have any clue as to know what to do with it. As Joe Bageant and many other writers are pointing out our brains are being jammed as if thinking were a speech by Fidel Castro. We are being advertised, game-boy'd, porn'd, caffeinated, televised, entertained, sugared, salted, I-podded and cell phoned into the chair bound critter from the Wall-E movie. All of this leads to cascades of bad decisions that pile up on each other like freeway traffic in tule fog. We can hear the crashing in the distance but we can't see the shape of the wreckage.

It's BAD people. We FUCKED UP. Climate Change is real and is rolling downhill. Our food supply is dependent upon ever-increasing supplies of oil. The oil supply has topped out and is decreasing. Our medical system ignores fundamental facts about how bacteria and viruses work. We have about a billion young men in the world who can't support wives; a billion potential soldiers. Only a tiny few of understand jack about defusing anger, stress, trauma and sexual violence. The really nasty bit is the lubrication, the money, that has kept the machine working to date, the american dollar, is turning from the oil of commerce to the sand in the gears.

Old school thinking isn't going to get us out of this one. You can take your capitalism, communism, marxism, Book of Mormon, Ayn Rand tracts and Starhawk DVD's and light a bonfire of the vanities. We need to crack our brains open to new ideas and then test those ideas out in millions of experiments. It's time to break open the hallucinogen locker and hand out the goodies in Parliments, Cabinets, Congress and colleges the world over. Not for entertainment, or the pretty lights or to get everyone laid. We have to shatter our individual stories of reality again and again until what's left is what nature puts in front of us. To break the idea that we understand reality independent of the natural world.

Nothing else.

Right now we don't seem to be able to see shit but our stories. We keep hearing the banging in the distance. Now we're smelling the smoke. It would sure be nice to be able to clear this fog.