Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Food and Love

I heard a guy on talk radio say, "Don't go to the feeding centers; don't go to the Super Dome."  Made me flashback at least five or six years ago to telling a girl who was pretending at that time to be my friend, "Don't go to the feeding centers."  I knew she didn't have much resilience and I knew I wasn't going to let her family come here so the best I could offer her was at least don't go there.

I remember telling a girl I worked with who moonlighted in real estate that it (real estate) couldn't continue like it was.  It was 2006 which, it turned out, was the height of it, and I said, "By 2012 the world will not be recognizable."  And it isn't.  It is certainly not in real estate and not in a whole lot of other ways too.  Although no one has been sent to feeding centers.  Yet.

And then a horrible warning decided to visit us.  We were generous to allow him to "hunt" our land and he could not even show up to scout and somehow thought that "hunting" involved 15 minutes and a clean shot given to him.  Not surprisingly, he saw no game although I guarantee you that game saw him.  He remarked that he'd "done his time" with wood heat and a lot of other things that I really don't need to catalog although I certainly took mental note.

As I tend to do with bad examples, I examined myself, ourselves, our life together here and now, for signs of what he could be mirroring for us.

The closest of "same-same" that I saw was when we butted heads over peak oil vs. abiogenic oil.  It was our house so he shut up but neither side was giving an inch.  He would spout oil field names and husband would spout how many barrels of oil were not there.  That sort of thing.  Probably the sort of thing that most "normal" people have never thought about.  I mean, really, say "abiogenic oil" or "Hubert's Peak" to anyone you choose and see if you don't draw a blank look back.

I suppose what disturbed me was the unthinkingness he displayed, which is pretty much what disturbs me about most people:  They decide they know how it is and they don't look again.  This guy spouted straight up talk radio talking points with no deviation, no deviation at all.  His money, his guns and his french fry oil will solve it all.

And then I read a piece about OWS and their "demands" working group.  And not unlike "don't go to the feeding centers" it seems so obvious to me: there is no list of demands.  It isn't a problem of demands. 

Essentially, money is a "demand" in that when you present it, you can "demand" something.  Supply and demand.  That sort of thing.  That's where demands are and they are equally at home in a capitalistic system, a socialist system, a communist system or a fascist system (and I would argue that our system, in fact the world's current system, is in fact all of those at once -- I might or might not be able to argue that cogently but it seems obvious to me nonetheless).

I have heard and even come to believe that one of the most important decisions that you make in your life is whether you see the universe as a place that is friendly toward you or hostile toward you:  does your life move toward fulfillment or is it a constant fight?  If your worldview is friendly, you will view and react and plan and live to events accordingly, and if your worldview is hostile, although the exact same things would happen, your view, reactions and plans for life would be totally different.  What we have, what we have had for a long time now, is a crisis of values, of how we view the world. 

I think we have to see the world as a place of abundance rather than a place of scarcity. 

Money is not real but a way to make what is scarce seem valuable.  I repeat, money is not real.  The economy is not real.  Jobs are not real.  Protests are not real.  They are all constructs, not unlike a planetary view of an atom -- perhaps useful in some contexts but not real, not what an atom really looks like.

What is real is food.  And love.

Eventually we get to the question of what does the world look like to us if we value what is abundant rather than what is rare?  I can tell you this;  changing values is a process not unlike dealing with an addiction, or changing a habit.  When I quit smoking I couldn't just decide to quit and that was it:  I had to decide anew to quit every.single.time I wanted a cigarette until finally I didn't want smoke anymore.  Changing values deliberately can be a lot like that -- getting rid of the bad habit of, say, covetousness or envy or desire (in the Buddhist sense) or thinking something is pretty or necessary that isn't or anything at all -- it is a matter of choice and decision, not feeling.  I decided not to shave anymore for many reasons all of them values (morality) based but it took me awhile to feel beautiful unshaven. 

Shaving and smoking are lightweights in the values department though.  It is everything about how we live every day and even think.  It is mindfulness.  It is the opposite of unthinkingness.  It is the opposite of reactive.  It is the opposite of popular and fashionable and being in the clique.  To view the world differently, abundantly, ironically requires some discomfort because you very wrongly think comfort is something that it isn't

If we value what is common instead of what is rare we see what is natural instead of what is contrived as beautiful.  I think people see "less" and think scarcity but really, look around, it is the sermon on the mount all over again, that's all.  This doesn't mean vilifying anyone, just refusing to value, to give weight or desire or admiration or envy to, say, rich people, or travel, or eating out, or having a new car, or even buying those new insulated coveralls when your old Salvation Army frayed ones are perfectly adequate.

I've had this piece of writing up on my computer for several days and it just does not look like it is ever going to come into any form of coherence.  So I'm going to point you to another bit of incoherence to think about.  It is long and it is so incoherent I'm going to point out the good parts:

A Million Gardens (for the 99% of the 99%)

1)  The problem with the system is not the driver.  It is the car.

2)  This crisis is not short-term, and it will force people to adopt new tactics for everyday life.  It represents both a trauma and an opportunity; but that opportunity, in my opinion, is not available through policy.

3)  People have been captured by their dependency upon a vast, technocratic apparatus that has de-skilled them and rendered them 100% (not 99%) dependent on money.  (that isn't real -- you see the problem?)

4)  What I am about to say is that institutions – all of them, even your favorites – are inherently and unavoidably corruptible.  (I'd say, are corrupt right now)

5)  My own trick for categorizing these relations is to think of them as covenantal as opposed to casual or contractual.  Your relation to your boss is contractual.   Your relation to a grocery clerk you see once a week is casual.  Your relation to your friend, lover, child, mother, etc, is covenantal.  These covenantal relations are built on care, on trust and empathy.  They imply certain non-monetized, highly personal duties and obligations to one another that are accepted out of love.  These relations do not require formal rules; and in fact, formal rules would have a deleterious effect on these relations.
  (quite nicely, my relationship with my boss is more covenantal than contractual so don't take definitions too seriously but catch the drift)

6)  As the power of administrators grows, an ethic of care becomes more and more antithetical to the rules-regime of administration.  Impersonality metastasizes, and we wake up to find ourselves not living in the world but moving plugs around on a switchboard to get what we need from the technocratic grid.

7)  While the masters of the financial universe at Wall Street protect their guarded walls and ensure the system keeps paying the imperial tribute, we are making do.  We do things that they can’t control or fully account for.  We barter, clip coupons, work under the table, trade labor, share tasks and expenses with friends… all those little cheats to bypass the more disadvantageous routes along the Grid.  Making do.  Bricolage.  Bricolage is so detailed, so numerous in instance, so adaptable, that much of it escapes the notice of the Big Strategists; more importantly, it is beyond their power to control.

8)  And bricolage ends up being growing food.  Any makes a difference but more is better.  Go down to your local mill and buy some wheat.  Salad is fine but make room for some storage staples.  Keep some hens.  Some bees.  Have an adventure.  Do something meaningful.

Food and love.  Because the rest of that sh*t, it's just sh*t.


Kate said...

Bricolage. Had to look it up (thanks!), and I like it! I'm sort of wondering if "feeding centers" is some sort of cultural reference that I should know about but don't. I think I know what you're saying, but I wonder if I'm missing subtext. I wonder too if "skills" or "competence" doesn't deserve a place alongside the food and love. Acquiring more of those has been profoundly satisfying to me, and they seem pretty real to me.

Nice hearing from you again after a while.

CG said...

I think skills and competence are subsets of food and love. I don't think you are missing any cultural references. Hope you went to the other guy's post for "bricolage" since all the stuff in italic is his.

Kate said...

Hmm. Interesting that skills and competence for your are subsets of food and love. In thinking more on your post, it occurred to me that food and love are sort of redundant. I'm not sure I can tell the difference between food and love, really. Two aspects of the same thing.

Will check out the other guy's post over my morning cuppa.

Heather said...

I don't think it's surprising that I drew a blank on the concept of "feeding centers" and had to look it up and after that thought about Soylent Green. I had to look up bricolage as well and I sure do like that word but I'm going to have to go to the other post for a better contextual use in this case.

OCS. Dammit. I know you know I really want there to be something under all that yelling and frustration. I always want there to be something under the noise other than sniveling and entitlement.

lostinthewoods said...

This post of yours mirrors what I've felt, practiced and 'preached' for decades now. I thought it very cogent and a revelatory manner. It's unfortunate that people decide to numb themselves and become sheeple...plugged into the advertising gimmicks of television/radio...advertising/propaganda. Same same. Our economic system(s) are predicated on growth. So is cancer.


CG said...

Kate, I think you are right but I also think putting food separate helps people visualize the work involved in love and not just, ummm, you know, sort of lie about love. And it reminds me of a post Madcap did years ago about what jobs people would do in a commune and I swear, not one person did anything really useful except maybe cook which frankly *everyone* has to do. There was all this "networking" and "educating" and "coordinating" type of stuff, not cleaning out the outhouse and using the stuff on the fruit trees if you know what I mean.

and lostinthewoods, yes. Exactly. And I'll tell you the part of your experience that I'd be especially interested in learning about -- where your paradigm interfaces with the dominant paradigm.

I don't know why my mind made up "feeding centers" so long ago as sort of a shorthand for what I fear could happen. When the government, any government, wants to control people, it concentrates them. It would need some control if there were food shortages. And the whole Super Dome fiasco (which I blame equally those who set that up and those who went).

"Bricolage" I only know in the context of that post . . . point me out of my ignorance . . .

VonWolfen said...

Very interesting post. Timely, since parts of the nation are voicing dissatisfaction over the wealth distribution and corporate versus individual inequities. You seem to have to have a knack for discerning original thought...I wish I could! You probably have a working knowledge of Ralph Borsodi and his many books and public works....if not, I feel certain he is your kind of a number of ways. I hope you keep writing.