Reading: Vulture by Robinson Jeffers

Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962) wrote narrative poetry about the Californian coast. He was an icon of the environmental movement who loved nature more than man, influenced by Whitman and Wordsworth. He even called his ideas ‘inhumanism’ because he desired to change the focus from man to not man. Poets like Robert Hass , William Everson or Gary Snyder were influenced by Jeffers.
I read an observation about a wheeling vulture:

I had walked since dawn and lay down to rest on a bare hillside
Above the ocean. I saw through half-shut eyelids a vulture wheeling
high up in heaven,
And presently it passed again, but lower and nearer, its orbit
I understood then
That I was under inspection. I lay death-still and heard the flight-
Whistle above me and make their circle and come nearer.
I could see the naked red head between the great wings
Bear downward staring. I said, ‘My dear bird, we are wasting time
These old bones will still work; they are not for you.’ But how
he looked, gliding down
On those great sails; how beautiful he looked, veering away in the
over the precipice. I tell you solemnly
That I was sorry to have disappointed him. To be eaten by that beak
become part of him, to share those wings and those eyes–
What a sublime end of one’s body, what an enskyment; what a life
after death.

I see a sober yet intimate invocation of that longing to be part of something greater, to be literally incorporated in the vulture who glides overhead. Solemnity, veering away in the sea-light, great sails for wings, these will be interpreted as religious symbols just because we can. Let’s not. They word ‘enskyment’ is a great find, the literal opposite of ‘enterrement’, a life after death as part of the magnificence of nature.

It is a very simple event, a hiker who sees a predator bird in the sky. And look what poetry can make of it.

Reading: Vulture by Robinson Jeffers was originally published on Meandering home


A birthday wish

One year ago, for my 38th birthday, all I could wish and hope for was the absence of toothache. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t get it. ‘If and only if’, my daily mantra became, ‘my mind is not distracted by that pain in the upper jaw, so very close to the brain, I will do great things’. My life pretty much revolved around this and it contitutes a dent in my biography, so to speak.

I have been working on a job that lacks even a shimmer of meaning when measured by my admittedly high standards (now, that sounds a lot more eloquent than ‘I hate my fucking job’ doesn’t it?) to earn the money for half a dozen dentists to drill, fill, crown, and whatever, my mouth. As of yet, that pain isn’t totally gone and for my 39th I wish, again, the absence of irritation and the ability to focus.

This might sound dramatic but it really isn’t so bad. I know of people whose wife died of cancer or, perhaps worse, suicide (read about our remarkable ‘ice man’ Wim Hof and how he overcame his wife’s suicide), people who have aids and tbc yet refuse to be defeated, athletes with hand nor feet and – I’ll be damned if life is a pissing contest of doom and gloom.

For this new year I wish focus. To me personally, that translates into no more nasty nervous distractions like that toothache, so that I can focus on getting focused. I can focus on doing my regular meditation, eating a healthy diet, taking cold showers, doing physical exercise, you name it. These things both seem to require and produce focus, so what I wish for the new year is a way into this catch-22 vortex.

a religion or some other story that pictures the unintelligible as an anthropomorphic and often sadistic power that manufactures ultimate meaning and always perverts one of our noblest feelings, that of humility.

It wil be my fortieth year and I am going to say here that a good way to celebrate such a milestone in a human life is to find a Cause that is ‘bigger than yourself’. By that I don’t mean a religion or some other story that pictures the unintelligible as an anthropomorphic and often sadistic power that manufactures ultimate meaning and always perverts one of our noblest feelings, that of humility. It is no trivial task either: I think that now, 129 years after Nietzsche collapsed on the streets of Torino, the specter of nihilism goes around again, and can poison our fragile idea of a shared goal that can claim ultimate meaningfulness. We may stammer our enlightened formula of the greatest happiness for the greatest number, and still the nihilist will shrug because the existence of humanity is no ultimate goal. Indeed I think we can speak of practical philosophy as a way of countering this nihilism, or to put it more aggressively, to cut off its oxygen supply.

So, what sort of goal could be ‘bigger than myself’? And should it be a whole lot bigger or is it enough when it’s just a little bit bigger? Could it be something like ensuring permanence of human culture on this blue planet (permaculture) or helping this human species and its successors to colonize the rest of our solar system and ultimately escape before the sun gobbles up the earth (elonmuskism)? Or are these ideas too big, so that ‘being a part of it’ is no meaningful concept, like it is not meaningful for an atom to be part of an acorn as much as it is meaningful for the acorn to be part of the oak. Perhaps I should ponder ideas that provide both myself and the greater whatever-it-is-we-are-in-it-all-together with the optimal amount of meaning, where optimal is something like the greatest leverage?

Above, I wrote I wish focus. In the last two paragraphs I lost that focus in an attempt to ‘flow’ writingly to someplace beautiful. To repeat it for a world in which the beast of nihilism has been slain (shouldn’t we slay it every night in our dreams lest we cease to be human?): Focus translates into our better cooperation on the rapidly aggravating problems humanity faces. More serious grown-up work that adresses inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, poverty, illiteracy, diseases, religious fanaticism, species extinction, habitat destruction, and here we go again – focusing on one thing that is only meaningfully bigger than yourself is not easy. But I have an entire year.

A birthday wish was originally published on Meandering home

Revolutionary Rant

Buckminster Fuller.
Buckminster Fuller. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Contrary to my habits (but what are habits worth), I republish a piece of raw text originally meant as a small comment on a social network. It was about a quote of Buckminster Fuller, saying that we keep inventing new jobs to control each other, while the real work can be done by an ever decreasing proportion of us.
But let’s discuss this more seriously. What Buck (!) said in 1970 is very true now, just look at the job titles. It is the old discussion of a leisure-only and work-free utopia (see Ernst Bloch) and the “innate” need of humans to feel they are somehow useful, which translates into “working” (and outsourcing the task of telling you that you are useful to a leviathan called society). That is dangerous. I see so many jobs the world would be so much better off without. If all these  busy people regain sanity there would be a huge need for shrinks. That at least might be a useful job.

But Spass beiseite, this is a serious matter. Automating (automating making automobiles!) won’t halt, ever. The friends of the planet are the enemies of the machine. They will suffer, look at the indigenous chiefs in Brazil. It is us who are fucking them in their asses. We cannot feel shame. Because we are “organized”.

But I digress. Arbeit macht eben nicht frei. Labour = slavery of capital. All we can do is make friends with a small peace of this still green planet and live an exemplary life there. Hoping others will follow. That is a sustainable revolution. Not a revolution that relies on resource extraction and plastic and high tech to disperse their fancy slogans .

But I digress again. What is it we want? Peace and satisfaction in our hearts. Freedom from the shadows of our abusers (especially the subtle abuse by our parents “ihr habt den Krieg nicht erlebt/je hebt de oorlog niet meegemaakt”), clean water, fresh air, being surrounded by healthy loved ones, the knowledge that we are part of a natural cycle and are not disrupting it. And our insane culture is structurally destroying ALL of these things. Fluoride and other toxins in water (not to mention the harmful practice of bottling water), dioxin in breast milk, smog, elbow-society.

So yes, we should go back to school but let the land we inhabit be our school. We want to (and will) live in healthy communities freed from the craze of the “system”. A few bright minds will be honored because they lend their heads to the community. And instead of “earning a living” (that present-day variation of the Christian and appalling notion of original sin) the rest of us will re-invent living. Yes,we will defy the capitalist propaganda that we “need to do something” (meaning exploit ourselves so that the rich can continue their sadistic execution of the planet). And we will discover that there are other, more meaningful ways of existing together.

Helping the weak build a house, teaching each other how to dance, sing, or cook, reading, studying, telling each other stories, and above all regaining our fantasy so that we our children can play with sticks and stones and experience them in “Full super-bright high-definition 3-D surround-sound” without the need of a civilization raping the planet.

thanks for reading this far

hasta la victoria siempre


Enhanced by Zemanta