My thoughts about culture and our present conditions. As Dianne Moore says in Learning to Love a Wounded World, "This requires a willingness to feel everything…. the horror and the beauty of what is here…. the fear and the Love.”

Talking Blogs

I try to catch Joe Begeant’s essays on his blog whenever he gets around to posting them. I like that  he’s not OC disordered and in a big hurry to post them.  I have plenty to do in between. He’s got a nifty way of turning a phrase, and he summarizes, in a cogent and folksy way, much of the world as I have struggled to see it.  Maybe it’s because we have traversed about the same time span on this planet and the world spun out an experiential story much the same for both of us to view, frame by frame.  Of course not everyone translates the frames exactly the same, or even close.  In fact, I find that only a very few of us seem remotely simpatico in that regard.  So I appreciate Joe.

This most recent essay, posted June 27, 2010, brought me out of my more than two month post BP Gusher funk; so to celebrate I wrote him a letter and I’m posting it here, talking blog to blog, so to speak.  The essay in question: Live From Planet Norte

Here are a couple of classic Joe-isms from the essay:

For example, now faced with what may be the biggest ecological disaster
in human history, I’m hearing average Americans up here talk of the Gulf
oil "spill" (when they speak of it at all — TV gives the illusion
those outside the Gulf region give a shit), in terms of its effect on:
(A) the price of seafood; and (B) jobs in tourism and fishing. Only
trolls stunted by generations of inbred American style capitalism could
do such a thing: reduce a massive ocean dead zone to the cost of a
shrimp cocktail or a car payment.

For a thinking person, a low-grade depression settles in, alongside an
unspoken fatalism about the future of the human race, particularly the
American portion. That’s the point I reached a year or so ago. I would
probably be ashamed to admit it, if I did not receive hundreds of emails
from readers who feel the same way.

So here’s my letter to Joe:

Dear Joe,

Regarding your latest, and possibly one of your greatest
summaries of the advanced state of insanity called the USofA: is that
insightful outpouring what happens when a low grade depression settles into a thinking
person?  

I ask rhetorically only because I need some kind of gauge right
now, just to keep track of my own ever declining mind. I’m guessing by that
measure I hit the low grade depression when I finally dropped out of the
centers of it all in 2002, somewhere between invasion Afghanistan
and invasion Iraq.
 (I hit the medium grade depression back
about 1967 when I was part of the ongoing invasion of Vietnam.  I didn’t quite drop out, then, I detached.)   

I get that bit where you describe how a fatalism about the
human race settles in, truly, but with the medium and low grade depressions I
found I too still kept rattling away, working my way down my own checklist of
diasporatic dissonance, like your “totalitarian democracy.” Or, as one of our longer
running terriers of truth, Sheldon Wolin, put it a couple years back, when he
finally gave in to his lowest grade depression in the last years of his
eighties, “Democracy Inc.: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted
Totalitarianism.”

After a numerous visitations by the inverted totalitarian
specter of a managed democracy, from the insanity of bringing freedom to
Vietnamese in the Sixties, to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, I’ve
drifted away from the centers of this advanced state of insanity and made my
home with the wrecked ecologies here in a resource provisionary periphery of
industrial civilization, the Willapa Watershed of Southwestern Washington State.

I now write about my experienced environment, which I explore daily usually by
taking long walks in the clearcut patchwork of commercially harvested forests
behind my home that go for miles and miles. I also work on making my home an
art environment that complements the tragic but still wonder filled remnants of
an abused nature surrounding me.

When the Gulf geyser first gushed, my ongoing mental decline suddenly
dipped below low grade. I knew immediately that it was very bad.  I simply know too much for my own mental health. Oh, why did I ever study ecology! I’m only now
beginning to find a voice again. Reading your latest I found myself with enough
strength to enter the same vision of life that you described in your return
from Mexico.  In some vaguely contradictory way I found it
uplifting.  Thank you for helping me get back
to low grade depression.  I don’t know
what I can do, but I’m not giving up yet.

Ren

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