Dave Pollard's environmental philosophy, creative works, business papers and essays.
In search of a better way to live and make a living, and a better understanding of how the world really works.



February 11, 2013

Every Picture Sells a Story

Filed under: Our Culture / Ourselves — Dave Pollard @ 14:12

(And now for something completely different. This article is a bit of a flight of fancy, since looking at photos can encourage such strange imaginings. It may come across as pat or angry but it’s not intended that way — it’s meant to be provocative, to get me (and you, if you’re so inclined) thinking in a different way about what we see, and what it means. Please don’t take my meanderings below too seriously — I’m just trying out some new ideas out loud. — Dave)

Take a look at these early colour photos, taken in the US between 1939-43: denver post photo

Take a look at the whole series, not just the one I’ve sampled above. Take your time. Look at each photo. What is it telling you?

Take a look, too, at these early colour photos, taken in Paris between 1909-30. paris-1914

And at these early colour photos, taken in Russia between 1909-12. Hard to believe they were all taken in the same country (then the Russian Empire), isn’t it?

russia-1909

Although the following photos have been colorized from high-quality black and white shots, they’re also worth a look. Here’s a photo of the Bowery in New York in 1905, by colorist Scott R at Shorpy’s vintage photo site; see the full-size version here if you want to look at the facial expressions:

TheBoweryLookingEastRockawayNYC1905

Here’s a version of a photo of flood victims lined up for assistance in 1937 in front of an ironic billboard, by the amazing Swedish colorist Sanna Dullaway for Time magazine from this collection:

flood-victims-1937

The reaction of a lot of people looking at these photos (based on the comments on several of these photosets’ websites) is: (1) life was much harder back then; things are much better now; and (2) people sure have changed since those days (for better or worse, depending on the commenter).

My reaction was the opposite. The median real annual income of a working person today is not significantly different from what it was at any time in the 20th century when these photos were taken. That’s using real inflation numbers, not the falsified ones published by self-interested governments. That’s medians, not averages skewed by the incomes of the ultra-rich. And that’s per worker, not per household (cost of living requires two incomes in most households today to provide the same purchasing power than one income provided in the first half of the 20th century). The median real net worth of a household today (again, in real-inflation-adjusted dollars) is not significantly different from what it was at any time in the 20th century — that is, nearly zero (most families have debts approximating the value of their assets, when those assets values are discounted by the bubble factors affecting most real estate and stock and bond investments today). And many households are “under water” i.e. they have a negative real net worth.

The women working for the defense industry in the first set of photos above (just about the only industry there was in war-time, end-of-depression-era years) are there because their husbands and fathers are fighting overseas; they will be immediately laid off as soon as the war is over.

So why do they look so poor? One reason: the banks had not yet decided to ratchet up the consumer economy by making credit available to everyone, and, working with the corporate sector and media, propagandizing the population to believe that having two or five times the assets, along with two or five times the debts, somehow represented an “improvement” in their lives, and that if they didn’t acquire all the assets their credit limit would allow, they would be considered economic “failures” by their superficially-”richer” neighbours and peers.

Where has this superficial “wealth” come from? From using cheap energy and cheap foreign (and domestic, non-unionized, minimum-wage-or-less) labour to exhaust the planet’s resources to make billions of shoddy, throw-away products (keep ‘em buying more). From indebting workers their whole lives so they will stay in thrall to the corporatist employers that exploit them, and then passing those debts on to their survivors. From using up, in a couple of generations, cheap (when costs are externalized) natural assets the planet took hundreds of millennia to produce, and hence depriving future generations of enough resources for them to live on, while saddling those future generations with mountains of garbage, toxic wastes and trillions of dollars in debts that can never be repaid without impossible, perpetual growth — debts that will come due and collapse the economy beyond recognition. From stealing land and resources from the commons, the people, for exploitation by a tiny minority of rich corporatists. From stealing the land and resources of third world nations and then saddling those nations with phoney, inflated “debts” and inflicting misery and deprivation on their people to punish them for the avarice and greed of corrupt “leaders” once sponsored and supported by the colonial corporatists in return for giving away that land and resources.

In other words, the current “wealth” is a fiction. If you were to take the photos in the sets above and photoshop them by putting obscenely expensive jewelry and clothing on all the people, replacing the cars and wagons with limousines and private airplanes, and “painting” the walls of all the buildings with marble and tapestries, you would get only a slightly exaggerated comparison with what today’s photographs, with our debt-laden buildings, vehicles and clothing, and our resource-exhausting, ecosystem-destroying and climate-destroying “wealth”, present. And for this, two people per household put in longer hours with less work “security” than past generations (some studies have suggested that for more than half of today’s “affluent nation” families, they would be bankrupt in 60 days or less if, due to some adversity, one family member suddenly lost their income).

What if we were to do the opposite, and “photoshop” today’s photographs to eliminate all the “wealth” that hasn’t been paid for and for which there is no reasonable expectation that it ever can be repaid? And to eliminate all the “wealth” that came from stealing from future generations, third-world nations and a million times our share of nature’s resources? My answer? Pretty much this: Seven billion naked, starving, clueless people scrounging through garbage and exhausted soil for clean water and their next meal. That’s the real story our modern photos tell.

So much for things being better now.

Have people really changed in the last 100 years? Some of the commenters on the sites where these photos were published write with either nostalgia (that life was simpler and people better-behaved then) or self-satisfaction (that life provides far more freedoms now).

That’s not what I see in these old photos, or the faces in them. What I see is conformity, resignation and mindless obedience to the beliefs and standards of behaviour and appearance of the day. For these people, regardless of their place (country of residence or social situation), there is just one correct way to live. The costumes are different but uniform in each picture. So is the behaviour, and, implicit in the exhibitions of patriotism, of work, of posture and action and dress, so are the beliefs. I look at these faces and recall what my parents believed, and my grandparents, and, from my research and my grandparents’ stories, what their parents and grandparents before them believed. They all believed what they were told, by their parents, by their “leaders”, by their bosses, by the politicians and media and, most of all, by their peers and friends and spouses. Their actions were in accordance with these beliefs. Non-conformity and rebellion and disobedience were tolerated in youth, in moderation, with the knowledge that the relentless and combined effect of the homogeneous culture would soon grind down such misbehaviour and recalcitrance and remake every individual into, as EE Cummings put it, “everybody else”. Not just like everybody else. Into everybody else.

But that’s changed, right? Look at today’s photos and you see a vast divergence and high tolerance for and displays of diversity of appearance, beliefs and behaviours? No?

No. Go ahead, look at the photos in your newspaper, your yearbook, Flickr, or Facebook, or the iconic photos in the magazine racks. What do you notice about these photos? They’re all the same. Just like a century ago, we’re all brainwashed, from birth, to dress, think and act like everybody else. To be everybody else.

There is one significant difference between the photos of a century ago and those of today. A century ago the homogeneity was within each culture. And there were lots of somewhat different cultures then. Today there is only one culture, and it’s global. It is eating up the remaining cultures and the last vestiges of diversity of dress, of thought, and of action, just as it’s eating up the resources of the planet, at a dizzying pace. Everyone is becoming, more and more, everybody else. It’s a corporatist’s wet dream.

That’s what I see, in these photos of the past, and the present. Perhaps I’m seeing something most others are not. Or perhaps I’m missing what they’re seeing. Or what they want to believe they’re seeing.

Every photo is a story, and as soon as it’s taken, it’s a story of the past. It’s a fiction. It’s only a story, though it’s our story, or so we tell ourselves. It’s only sensible that we want to capture it, recall it, tell it again. How much harm can there be in that?

February 6, 2013

Getting Out Of My Head: My “Presence” Practice

Filed under: Our Culture / Ourselves — Dave Pollard @ 01:00

fears

For the last few weeks I’ve been practicing learning to be “present” using a combination of methods from Adyashanti, Eckart Tolle, Richard Moss and Gabor Maté (more about him in a later post). I have yet to be “awakened to my true natural state”, but I feel closer to that than I ever have before, and am really enjoying the journey. Here’s a summary of what I’ve been doing.

Rather than just focusing on meditation, Adyashanti combines it with an “inquiry and contemplation” practice. They work together like this (indents are from my study notes, with my paraphrasing, vetted by my friend Paul Heft, who’s also studying his work):

Three Core Practices are used together, to enable “awakening to your true self”:

1. Meditation|Being Still: Dropping resistance to the present moment, and relaxing into the silence of being and awareness; realizing that your mind and its egoic consciousness is only a part of you, reliquishing its control over you, and realizing you are a connected part of everything.
2. Inquiry: Questioning who/what we are (the answer is not a noun/thing and can’t be put into words) and what is real, from that still state, discarding the ego’s intellectual preconceptions and emotions (you are not your thoughts or your feelings or your mind), and going deeper and questioning everything (is it true/real? that is meaningful/important to you).
3. Contemplation: Holding a phrase/idea/question in your awareness openly and non-analytically until meaning emerges, e.g. contemplate why what we do and what we think we want to do are different; this is a “letting come” process less intellectual than inquiry.

Understanding the following 4 Principles of Practice can help you in the above activities:

Suffering is a function and result of our identifying with our personal and collective egoic consciousness.
Ego is a fiction created by circular patterns of addictive thinking based on the idea of the separate self.
Freedom from ego comes from awakening to your true nature as “conscious spirit”, a kind of ineffable (can’t be explained in language) presence; the meditative still state is our natural state of being.
Conscious spirit (unlike the ego’s values that are based in separation) universally and inherently values truthfulness, unity (which is something more than just ‘connectedness’), freedom, peace, love, gratitude and appreciation.

The following 4 Orienting Ideas can guide you to what you’re looking to achieve in your practice:

1. Awakening to “being”: alive, intuitive, relaxed awareness in unity that can only be understood through experience; just like balancing (on a bicycle etc.) you can’t figure it out in your head or teach it, you can only practice it until you start to be competent, and “get” it, this natural state of being.
2. Giving up the “false self”: letting go of all the things you think and/or feel about yourself, which can then allow us to free ourselves from and realize this self as “not us” when we begin to awaken to being.
3. Recognizing the “dream state” for what it is, which is not reality: ridding ourselves of the personal and collective worldview we create with the false self, the unreality in which most of us normally live.
4. Finding what works for you: This process is largely a matter of overcoming our resistance to (and fear of) just perceiving what is. It’s understandable to fear this because what’s left is like an empty space; surrender is frightening, but the fear and the assumptions of what you’re afraid of are just part of the dream state. You just have to keep trying things, through meditation and inquiry and contemplation, until you find something that works, until you realize that you (we all) have the innate capacity to free ourselves, to awaken to being and give up the false self and its dream state.

There are also 5 Prerequisites of self-knowledge and self-discipline; you should be able to answer these 5 questions knowingly and affirmatively, both before you begin and as you create your practice:

1. What is important to you here and now?: Being aware of your aspirations and values, both in your thoughts and as manifested by your actions.
2. Are you willing to follow through?: Being aware of and willing to do/not do what is necessary to move toward your practice’s aspirations, every moment, not just during your practices.
3. Can you accept responsibility and authority for your own process?: It’s not the teacher’s role to provide the learning and to pursue the practice; it’s yours. Most of the work is solo and self-directed and unique to you.
4. Can you be honest with yourself without judgement?: Can you bring sufficient self-knowledge, self-awareness and self-management to your practice that you are not ‘at war with your mind’ (this is tough)!
5. Will you give each moment of your life authentic attention?: without avoidance, denial, or magical thinking.

And finally there are three Purposes or Attainments for these practices, which practitioners tend to pursue sequentially as their practice ‘deepens’:

1. To reduce personal suffering.
2. To know the truth about yourself and the world: to follow your passion, beyond mere intellectual curiosity and emotional longing, to learn and know what really is.
3. To surrender the self, which occurs in several stages: First, giving up the ‘lower self’, the ego/will, without ceding or surrendering it to another’s (teacher’s) ego/will. Then, achieving a fundamental shift of identity and the realization of the unity of everything (while avoiding the temptation to allow the ego to re-establish itself as a self-aggrandizing ‘enlightened’ or ‘spiritual’ self). And finally, allowing the falling away of the ‘higher self’, including all one’s experiences and spirituality, all aspects of self-referential being.

This is pretty heavy stuff, to be sure, but I find it more pragmatic and empowering, and better articulated than a lot of more rigid, dogmatic and “master/student” approaches. It respects that we all learn and discover differently. I also like that it embraces the idea from Eckart Tolle that much of our lives is spent inside our heads helplessly retreading the ‘stories’ that the egoic mind tells us (of four types, as Richard Moss delineates: stories about the past, about the future, about ourselves, and about others/the ‘outside’ world), and these stories invoke ‘pain-body’ emotions (regret and shame and nostalgia about the past, dread or unreasonable hope for the future, shame and sadness about ourselves, anger and grief about others and the state of the world etc.). The vicious cycle of intellectualized stories and debilitating emotions combine to possess us, so we can no longer see what’s real.

fear cycle

What’s wrong with us, or our minds, that so many of us live in this debilitated, unreal state, not present, alive, now, in the moment? My sense is that our brains have grown too large and complex for our own good.

The mind evolved, according to a theory espoused by Stewart and Cohen, as a ‘feature detection’ system, for the collective benefit of our body’s constituent cells and organs, the ‘creature’ that is us; the ability to recognize and react to different ‘features’ of the ‘real’ world was evolutionarily selected for. But this evolution had an unintended consequence: eventually this feature detection system began to confuse its representation of these ‘features’ (figments of reality) with reality (akin to confusing a map with the territory) and began to confuse its ‘self” (the feature detection system) with the constituent cells and organs (the creature) it evolved to serve, ‘believing’ that this ‘self’ was real. Stewart and Cohen (in Figments of Reality) explain it this way:

Our minds lead a dual existence… It is a duality of interpretations, just as a map can be a sheet of paper but represent a world. Features of the outside world are converted, via our senses, into ‘figments’ in our brains. On one level (brain) these are ordinary real-world processes involving chemicals, electrons, whatever; but simultaneously on another level (mind) they are mental maps of a very different order of reality, [representations of] tigers and cows and people’s faces. This kind of two-level feedback… provides a key to the curious ‘dual’ nature of brain/mind. For example, why does the real world seem so vivid? Why does red look so utterly different from green – and yet why do we find it impossible to imagine a colour that is different from the standard repertoire? Why is touch so sensual, why is pain so immediate, impossible to ignore, and just plain nasty?

On the ‘figment’ level our brains do not perceive the universe in a passive manner; instead, they project the inner world of figments back on to (our conception of) the outer world of reality, so that our private inner world appears to us – but not to anybody else – to be ‘out there’. (What others perceive ‘out there’ is their own back-projection of their mental figments. However, on the whole different observers agree on what is projected, because it all stems from that common external reality, and is produced by similar brains, trained by similar Make-a-Human Kits [cultures].) Our brains, in this sense, create their own realities – and this enables them to attach vivid labels to prosaic reality, labels that are vivid because they are inside our minds where our personal identities also reside; but also labels that have evolved to be vivid because we survive much better if they are… Labels and associations that originally exist in the external world can, over time, be replaced by internal feedback loops in the mind which mimic the external loop sufficiently closely to have survival value. So our inner world of vivid figments must match the external realities well; for if it did not then we might easily imagine a tiger to be a rock, and try to sit on it, an action that would not be conducive to survival. It is evolution that binds the brain/mind strange loop together so that it evolves as a whole, ensuring that what mind chooses to perceive is usefully related to what is really there. And mind ‘decorates’ the important sensory messages with qualia like ‘red’, ‘bang!’ and ‘ouch!’

This leads to a delightful paradox. Perceived reality (as opposed to real reality) seems vivid to our perceptions, not because it is real, but because it is virtual. ‘Red’ is a vivid construct of our minds, which we plaster over our perceptions by projecting them back into the outside world. There is an objective sense in which the outside world is red too – it reflects light of an appropriate wavelength. But that is a different kind of ‘redness’ altogether, with none of the vividness that our minds use for ‘red’ decoration of London buses and blood. It’s just light bouncing around. Indeed ‘wavelength red’ does not correlate perfectly with ‘sensual red’: our colour vision is buffered against severe variations in observing conditions, such as changes in light intensity created by shadows or bright sunlight… The bee’s virtual world is different from our virtual world, and while they both are rooted in the same objective reality, they are different interpretations of it…

Smell… and taste… are perhaps more obvious cases where our vivid sensual impression has no direct external match: we smell ‘bacon’ but the real world just produces molecules; the response they excite has much more to do with our sensory apparatus than with any natural feature of the molecules… Most adult humans are ‘smell-blind’ along at least one dimension of smell-space. So our personal experiences of smell, and yours, are very probably different – an interesting case where we can do experiments on ‘what it is like to be’ somebody else. If you really want proof that the world of our senses is a figment of reality, go to the nearest amusement arcade and put on a Virtual Reality headset. The crude, blocky computer-generated images that these gadgets present to the eye ‘possess’ – that is give our minds a vivid impression of – the same solidity as the more refined images of reality that our eyes present to our brains. Yet here the actual external reality is quite different: a pair of tiny TV screens carrying images that have been tailored specifically to create the illusion of depth. The three-dimensional world that they appear to depict exists only as a mathematical map in the computer’s memory. Despite this, they have depth, presence … they look real. This is because ‘red’ is the ‘decorated’ picture that the brain cooks up when the eye is stimulated by light of certain wavelengths: our decorated version of reality is virtual.

So really, everything that our mind conceives and perceives is ‘unreal’ — it is a simplified, culturally-influenced model or representation, a ‘story’ about reality, that is not ‘true’ at all. Reality just is; it exists outside of our minds and is something utterly different from the ‘figments of reality’ our minds (for cultural and evolutionary reasons) invent, or are persuaded are ‘real’ by our culture. (I confess that’s a phenomenological argument, and one, I should caution, I’m no longer particularly interested in debating.)

This has led me to believe that most creatures spend most of their lives in the moment, completely present. They are at once relaxed and aware. On rare occasions, a situation arises that causes adrenaline to flow, and provokes a fight/flight response. The response is largely instinctive, but, in many creatures, the experience is processed by the mind to inform future responses. Then these creatures return to their normal ‘now time’ state. I’m not so sure that this is equally true for domesticated creatures that have grown up under the influence of modern human culture; the desperate symptoms of ‘separation anxiety’ and the dreadful symptoms of fear-conditioning in human-abused animals, leads me to believe that you don’t need language or a large brain to develop a pain-body or be ‘taught to believe’ the terrifying stories of a damaged human egoic mind.

Nevertheless, here we are, we humans, possessed of this amazing intellect that can invent a false self and a dream state ‘world’, and persuade ourselves (and/or be persuaded) that these are real, to the point we ‘forget’ our knowledge of what is really real. This is what I mean when I say that because of our brains’ complexity we have become “too smart for our own good”.

I have been quick to blame our culture for doing this to each of us (seven billion to one is pretty unfair odds) but I’m beginning to appreciate that our culture co-evolved with our brains. I’m beginning to believe that long before we realized (all too recently) that the artifacts and processes of our culture are bringing about the end of stable climate, the end of the industrial economy on which we all utterly depend, and the end of cheap energy (and ultimately, the end of civilization and the sixth great extinction of life on Earth), our big, fierce, intelligent brains were already doing a job on us. The history of pre-industrial eras, from the genocide of Neanderthals and the extinction of large mammals by ‘indigenous’ peoples, to the staggering cruelty and suffering and enslavement of the dynasties of China, the Roman Empire, the Crusades and the Dark Ages, is one of a species already disconnected, already massively mentally ill, already the victim of a brain that can imagine and realize fears and atrocities enough to doom it to quick and nasty (and evolutionarily appropriate) extinction.

This is a far more depressing realization than the one that we have inadvertently overtaxed our planet’s resources to the point of collapse. As I put it in a recent note to Paul:

Evolution of wings, originally for body temperature regulation, to eventually enable creatures to fly — brilliant evolutionary success. Evolution of minds, originally as a feature detection system for the protection and mobility of ‘bodies’ of organs, to eventually create dream states so convincing that the creature mistakes them for reality — ghastly evolutionary mistake.

But here we are. Hence my desire to learn ‘presence’ — to realize who I really am, beneath my mind’s false self, and to realize what the world, the ‘unity’ of which I am an apparently indistinguishable part, really is, beyond my limited perceptions deep within this dream state my mind has concocted.

My reason for reproducing the two diagrams above (from previous posts) is that, between earnest attempts at meditation, I have been focusing my complementary “inquiry and contemplation” practices on the following questions:

  1. What are the fears/anxieties/suffering/triggered emotional reactions I am trying to let go of? What is behind them? Are they ‘real’?
  2. If I am able to “awaken to my true self” and see the world/myself as it/I really is/am, how will my experience of living, and in particular of anxiety, fear, suffering, grief and anger, change?

The top chart above (with the 7 yellow diamonds) shows what I am (and I think most people to some extent are) afraid of. Fears of the three types on the left, I think, are universal to all creatures, and are instinctive — we’ve evolved to fear them because failure to do so has led the fearless to demise and removal from the gene pool. I’m told that many aboriginal tribes won’t camp overnight under some kinds of large trees because they know that the risk of them falling is relatively high and the consequences of being under them if they do, life-altering. Most wild creatures show far more aversion to risk of entrapment or confinement than to risk of short-term, even acute pain — for good reason.

Fears on the right of this chart are, I think, inculcated by human culture (and afflict our domesticated creatures as well as humans). These are the ones, I think, that we might be free of if we could ‘awaken’ to our true nature. I have a great fear of driving on black ice (I had a one-car accident in 2008, and was part of a 30-car pile-up forty years ago, the only accidents I’ve ever been in, both due to black ice). Part of this is a fear of pain, and of being permanently injured (I’m not really afraid of dying if it’s painless). Part is the fear of being trapped (in an overturned car or away from my ‘safe’ destination). Part is the fear of lack of control, and the fear that my incapacity might cause financial or psychological pain and hardship to others “due to my own stupidity” (fear of embarrassment).

If I were to be able to achieve a persistent state of presence, would these fears change? I’m not sure. As I say, I think the fears on the left side are more “existential”, “real”, and hence I’d guess that being ‘present’ would have less impact on these fears than those on the right (though my ‘presence’ might open me to information that showed fears in both columns to be unwarranted unless I was actually skidding on the ice at that moment). But some would have me believe I would be completely fearless if I were completely present. Maybe so.

I sense that ‘presence’ would have a stronger impact on my (chronic) anxieties than on my (immediate) fears, because they are inherently less existential and more likely to be caused by triggers or ‘feedback loops’ of the types shown in the second chart above (the one with the pink squares). Likewise, while I doubt (despite the reassurance of some yogis and their followers) my experience of (physical) pain would be much affected by learning to reconnect and live in the moment, I’m guessing my experience of (psychological) suffering might be dramatically reduced if not eliminated. And while I expect that some situations of immediate, real threat or directly experienced tragedy might still evoke brief flashes of acute anger and/or sadness, my sense is that it would pass more quickly, and be less likely to be re-triggered by memories or associations of the ‘false self’, if I were successful in my ‘presencing’ practice.

If that were so, the first chart above might lose its entire right half, and the second chart above might start to look like this (this is how I imagine the birds outside my window live):

present-fear-pain

Of course, if I were in a situation where real threats were constant (e.g. living under relentless harassment) or the pain was constant (e.g. with chronic pain syndrome or in the situation of the woman stuck looking after a highly autistic son in A Long Way Down), I don’t think I’d be able to ‘awaken’ to a state free of anxiety, suffering, or incessant sorrow. Could you?

How do I imagine, in my moments of inquiry and contemplation, my normal state of living if I were able to awaken, connect, and realize who/what I (and the unity of which I am inextricably a part) really am, every moment?

I imagine myself in a state that is at once very relaxed and very aware. A state where my intellect is largely at rest (and damn it needs a rest!) and where my emotions are calm, even, compassionate, and playful — not “under control” but just at peace. A state where my senses and instinct come to the fore, with my senses acute, noticing, connected, taking in, feeling-at-one-with, enjoying, and my instincts are ‘directing’ ‘me’, gently, letting go, letting things come, just being present, being generous, ‘touching’ appropriately when that ‘touch’ would be helpful.

No longer my ‘self’.

I imagine myself being just a part, flying, floating. Green and blue and white, flowing and glowing.

Softening. Getting lighter.

Vanishing.

Thanks to the many people I’ve been speaking with about this in recent weeks, and especially to Paul Heft for the lengthy back-and-forth discussion that has helped me design my “presence” practice and draft this explanation of how and why I am pursuing it. I’ll let you know how it goes.

February 4, 2013

Preparing for Collapse: The New Political Map

Filed under: Preparing for Civilization's End — Dave Pollard @ 13:44

New Political Map

 

Couldn’t sleep last night. Perhaps it’s my meditation practice — my mind is fighting back against my attempts to quiet it. At any rate I finally gave up, got up, and sketched what was going through my mind. This is it. I think it’s self-explanatory.

In 2008 I was, I think, in camp F, because I believed in the power of the people, unchained.

In 2009 I was, I think, in camp G, because I’d begun to believe collapse was already too far along.

In 2010 I was, I think, in camp H, because I’d given up hope, but still wanted to do something.

In 2011 I was, I think, in camp I, because I realized the Jevons Paradox effect will negate the effects of any activism, and because I was afraid of being hurt or imprisoned as an activist.

In 2012 I was, I think, in camp J, because I realize that people will start to build real communities only when they have no other choice. The late great Joe Bageant rightly said: Community is born of necessity.

But I haven’t abandoned camp F, because I really want to believe, and really admire Charles Eisenstein, and because fellow phenomenologist David Abram is there.

And I haven’t abandoned camp G, because I really like Transition’s pragmatism, and really admire Rob Hopkins.

And I haven’t abandoned camp H, because my instincts tell me we have to fight, and because I really admire Derrick Jensen.

And I haven’t abandoned camp I, because we’ll have to do this work eventually, and because I’m always trying to get ahead of the game.

But as long as the media and many/most of the people I know are still in camp A, this map gives me some comfort that I’m not crazy, and some sense of where I’ve come from. Hope you find it useful, or at least fun.

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