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.”

Catch 22

I’ve been “training” the people in my small local group of associations to accept my help without the measure and objectification of immediate pay. I say things like, if I need help sometime and you can, it goes around, comes around… It’s been taking awhile but they are getting into it. They offer me things now, food, special foods they grow in their gardens. Yesterday I got three really nice shirts I accepted to replace some fifteen year old aging and tattered ones in my closet. It felt like a sincere gesture.

In my review of history, both the fossil record and recorded civilized history, I’m not at all convinced in any measure of certainty that complex society can exist in any form long term. The period of human experiments with civilized order has been estimated to be about 10,000 years. That’s not long term when put up against the geologic time of the earth and its life sharing biosphere. So when I say long term I’m thinking that.

Since we humans began experimenting with civilized hierarchical orders, those all seem to necessarily include attempts to preserve those order with rules we elevate above our immediate human capacity to make sense of our environment in what were once flexible, adaptive and process-oriented ways. Tribal societies may have been more adaptive in that direction. Hunter gatherers were probably the most adaptive groups since they seem to have lasted as a strategy the longest. That is, I mean adaptive immediately with the group’s innate sense of what needs to be done to survive the ever changing environment we are part of…

Anyway, since we began our ten thousand year experiment with complex hierarchy, those various orders have all followed a pattern of growth to inevitable collapse. If the growth of that order were to take down the biosphere and most of the species in a sixth mass extinction, that pattern may end on its own. This could be the last attempt at such an adaptive strategy. Or as one person astutely notices, repeating the same behavior that doesn’t work in hopes it will is the definition of insanity. Mercifully the insanity eventually ends itself.

My own assessment is that we create with these orders an insurmountable paradox. Or as Joseph Heller termed it, a Catch 22 (Merriam Webster defines it).

The biosphere of the planet is in a constant state of change, and we are part of that change. Civilization itself is an attempt to codify the laws of the human world and make them stable in order to keep the human invented institutions ordered and stable. In the process we seem to lose sight of the original intentions of creating the institutions, that is, the underlying intention to create a means of adapting to the biosphere. We shift our adaptive capacities to our institutions while losing sight of the maladaptiveness those institutions tend to involve as they mechanically continue their designed purposes.

As the orders become less sensitive to change, and the people’s discontent inevitably rises, the orders need to be managed so that the humans will continue to follow the rules and keep everything functioning like a giant machine. In that process, society rigidifies and becomes unable to adapt to the ever changing environment. The logic of our species genius to create adaptive technologies now is called upon to serve the forces of conserving the system. The system then becomes its own maladaptive hubristic order. It becomes a malady. Some humans have become so addicted to the malady they will fight to the death to keep that order and impose it on anyone who disagrees. Expressions of that might be the very institutions of policing becoming aberrations of their own purpose, contradicting what’s considered the human-oriented spirit of the laws.

The emergence of anarchism, then, would be a sign of sorts from the whole group that change is needed… not just wanted for selfish reasons but needed for survival. Maybe anarchistic impulses are a deep expression of our collectively suppressed capacity for mutual aid rising from the subconscious of various minds in a desperate effort to help the group as a whole find ways to survive. Anarchistic thought in that sense emerges in hierarchical orderings in various guises as a kind of existential throwback impulse because a number of us realize we are stuck in a system that is not adaptive, at least for us, on an immediate level.


4 responses

  1. kathleen

    Hello Ren!!

    … just getting these emails … coupla times a month seems to be about my speed.

    … really appreciate this avenue for interaction-communication … will catch up w you soon, I hope and trust!

    … saw you on the bus not long ago … at least, it seemed that way to me … I want to share with you the DVD:

    “Origins of Movement” from Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen

    … can’t articulate right now, but _hugely_ _relevant_ exploration of cellular memory/awareness (we all have it) of the regenerative process from fetus forward (we’ve all been there – and still are, at the root of our being) …

    … so …, one of these days, either I find a way to Willapa, or you catch up with me on your way through Seattle, and I’ll tune you in to this amazingly effective approach for … awakening the core …?

    … thanks again Ren …,

    Kathleen )))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))) ______________________________________________

    July 5, 2015 at 02:14

    • Thanks for reminding me of Bonnie. I remember her work from my time with some artist friends when I was part of a group in the East Bay. We called ourselves Second Wednesday as a take off on San Francisco’s well known monthly First Thursday open studio events. I was doing Tai Chi at the time and it worked in with Bonnie’s stuff that others were into. Very important work.

      If you get over in this direction let me know. I haven’t been through Seattle in a couple of years now, but you never know.

      July 5, 2015 at 20:43

      • Hi .ren – I couldn’t agree more, this is very important work. Good to know you are aware of it. When I am able to travel, I will connect. Meanwhile, any chance you can edit out my phone # (keep it for future reference, but maybe not keep up on the page)?

        I am grateful to have a way to reach you other than the TH forum – more like a shooting gallery these days, it seems … in more sense than one, I would guess.

        Thanks again for sharing you views, .ren. I deeply appreciate the insight.

        Take Care – Be Well,


        July 9, 2015 at 22:02

  2. Edited…

    I agree, very important work. We, as in this latest iteration of the human species’ adaption through culture, are quickly losing our connections with our bodies and the natural world as we construct these “civilized” environments that forget their connections to the biosphere. This could be far-fetched, but I believe I am, to some extent, “witnessing” that process through my own view of it. Some of that is coming from my still vestigial clinging-to-body-knowing through a physical contact I invoke daily here in this deeply wounded spot of land I write about.

    You take care, as well… and be safe out there in the Internet!

    July 10, 2015 at 07:21

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