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destry    #15648
   USA     Posted: Tuesday, September 23, 2008 at 9:55:0 CST (GMT -6:00)

Yes, yes. That's it. Hate to keep jabbering here: way sacred space.

Edit the, um, seveth paragraph:

"If our culture --- which is just a metaphore for US Jensen has mistaken for an intependant entity --- isn't "willing" to undergo a voluntary change..."

thank you that is all


destry    #15645
SLC    UT USA     Posted: Monday, September 22, 2008 at 13:19:0 CST (GMT -6:00)

Spittin' My Two Cents:

*Just don't see "Ishmaelian" catching on. I get why it's preferable, getting the focus away from men and toward ideas and all, but, sorry, my guess: "Quinnian" 'll be the thing.

*I've been waiting for some mention of the book Mutant Message Down Under around here. Lemme search real quick. Ok, looks like that's been brought up plenty of times. Now one more.

*On the difference between the Quinnian and Jensenian perspectives, let's have a few sub-bullets:

*How do you fight the "enemy" when the enemy is you? Does it even make sense to perceive there an enemy to be fought, rather than just situations to be dealt with and problems to be acknowledged and worked on? What if there is no "other," but just six billion of us living very unsustainably? What's easier to change, you or someone else? Who needs to change? The bad men at the top of the heirarchy? Zoom out to the six billion of us: who's at the top of the heirarchy? Are you a "bad" man or woman?

*Squint and look a Jensen's message. Hate, hate, hate. He hates people who he thinks hate the wrong people. He hates rape and rapists and racists and civilization. OUR civilization. He doesn't even make that distinction. I just get a lot of anger from him. Justified anger? Sure: easily justified. But usefull?

*If our culture isn't "willing" to undergo a voluntary change, then how are so many of us changing? How are we even having this conversation? Quinn himself is a victim of cultural collapse. Me too. It sucks. But, luckily for us, it appears that cultures have a tendency to collapse in the face of catastrophic failures such as ours. The generation gap is a spot-on indicator. Practically DEFINES cultural change. Jensen's position amounts to claiming that children are unwilling to be different from their parents. Jensen needs a visit from URU: he's still sleeping with one eye open, kicking and screaming in his dreams. You can fight an unwinnable fight or calmly walk away from an incredibly stupid, consumptive and destructive battle. You can live in denial and concieve of the civilized as your enemy and take on the most unstoppable vertebrate force this planet has ever seen, or you can undermine it from within, and start by changing yourself. You can point the finger, or set about digging our culture's values out of your own brain. You can go on bawling people out for what they do, or inspire them to something new.

Lauren Alnwick-Pfund    #15644
Corvallis    OR USA     Posted: Monday, September 22, 2008 at 11:19:0 CST (GMT -6:00)

I just visited Rimsky's on the way through Portland, it was awesome to connect with people who get it, if only for one evening!

Also, the piece called Talk About Wealth is an inspiration, especially as I stumbled upon it while trying to process the horrors related to my recent foray into the world of city family caseworkers.

I am committed to creating and living in a truly sustainable, supportive and rich community. Thank you so much for all that you do.

Sam    #15643
   USA     Posted: Sunday, September 21, 2008 at 18:50:0 CST (GMT -6:00)

Hi all--

The Quinns are still without electricity in Houston, but think they might have it back tomorrow. Otherwise they are fine. Thanks for thinking of them.


Scott    #15642
Lincoln    NEbraska USA     Posted: Saturday, September 20, 2008 at 11:18:0 CST (GMT -6:00)

If Daniel Quinn's explorations of animism in Providence and The Story of B spark your interest, give David Abram's "The Spell of the Sensuous" a look. (yeah, I know I've plugged this book a dozen times here)

Take a look at this amazing interview between Derrick Jensen and David Abram:

Steven Earl Salmony    #15641
Chapel Hill    NC USA     Posted: Saturday, September 20, 2008 at 6:26:0 CST (GMT -6:00)

Can we find adequate enough ways of warning each other in the humanity of impending danger.

We in the family of humanity are going to be forced to do better in our efforts to communicate in a more reality-oriented way about ominously looming threats of an human-driven, global calamity of some kind. If we keep doing precisely what our leaders are saying and doing now, the future for our children looks bleak. We can surely do more and do it better. After all, human beings are remarkably intelligent, ingenious and adaptive.

Before we can determine what new and different to do, perhaps a brief analysis of our current, distinctly human-induced, global predicament is in order. Consider for a moment some of the ways in which my generation of leaders has gone so terribly wrong.

First, the leaders in my generation of elders wish to live without having to accept limits to growth of seemingly endless economic globalization, of increasing per capita consumption and skyrocketing human population numbers; our desires are evidently insatiable. We choose to believe anything that is politically convenient, economically expedient and socially agreeable; our way of life is not negotiable. We dare anyone to question our values or behaviors.

We religiously promote our widely shared and consensually-validated fantasies of `real' endless economic growth and soon to become unsustainable overconsumption, overproduction and overpopulation activities, and in so doing deny that Earth has limited resources and frangible ecosystems upon which the survival of life as we know it depends.

Second, my not-so-great generation appears to be doing a disservice to everything and everyone but ourselves. We are the "what's in it for me generation." We demonstrate precious little regard for the maintenance of the integrity of Earth; shallow willingness to actually protect the environment from crippling degradation; lack of serious consideration for the preservation of biodiversity, wilderness, and a good enough future for our children and coming generations; and no appreciation of the vital understanding that humans are no more or less than magnificent living beings with "feet of clay."

Perhaps we live in unsustainable ways in our planetary home; but we are proud of it nonetheless. Certainly, we will "have our cake and eat it, too." We will own fleets of cars, fly around in thousands of private jets, live in McMansions, exchange secret handshakes, frequent exclusive clubs and distant hideouts, and risk nothing of value to us. We will live long, large and free. Please do not bother us with the problems of the world. We choose not to hear, see or speak of them. We are the economic powerbrokers, their bought-and-paid-for politicians and the many minions in the mass media. We hold the much of the world's wealth and the extraordinary power great wealth purchases. If left to our own devices, we will continue in the exercise of our `inalienable rights' to outrageously consume Earth's limited resources; to recklessly expand economic globalization unto every corner of our natural world and, guess what, beyond; and to carelessly consent to the unbridled global growth of human numbers so that where there are now 6+ billion people, by 2050 we will have 9+ billion members of the human community and, guess what, even more people, perhaps billions more in the distant future, if that is what we desire.

We are the reigning, self-proclaimed masters of the universe..... the thousands of greedy little kings of capital concentration, big business potentates and governmental sinecurists. We enjoy freedom and living without limits. Of course, we adamantly eschew any talk of the personal responsibilities that come with the exercise of personal freedoms or discussions of the existence of biophysical limitations of any kind.

We deny the existence of human limits and Earth's limitations.

Please understand that we do not want anyone presenting us with scientific evidence that we could be living unsustainably in an artificially designed, temporary world of our own making....a manmade world filling up with gigantic enterprises, virtual mountains of material possessions, and boundless amounts of filthy lucre.

Third, most of our top rank experts appear not to have found adequate ways of communicating to the family of humanity what people somehow need to hear, see and understand: the rapacious dissipation of Earth's limited resources, the relentless degradation of the planet's environment, and the approaching destruction of the Earth as a fit place for human habitation by the human species, when taken together, appear to be proceeding at breakneck speed toward the precipitation of a catastrophic ecological wreckage of some sort unless, of course, the world's colossal, ever expanding, artificially designed, manmade global political economy continues to speed headlong toward the monolithic `wall' called "unsustainability" at which point the runaway economy crashes before Earth's ecology is collapsed.

Who knows, perhaps we can realistically and hopefully hold onto the expectation that behavioral changes in the direction of sustainable production, per human consumption, and propagation are in the offing.....changes that save both the economy and the Creation.

Steven Earl Salmony AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population, established 2001

Sam    #15640
   USA     Posted: Tuesday, September 16, 2008 at 9:29:0 CST (GMT -6:00)

Hi All--Rennie called and said that they, the Quinns, are doing fine. They don't have electricity. They do have water and gas as well as battery-powered radios. It is not terribly hot in Houston at the moment, so they are fairly comfortable. Thanks for your concern.

The webmaster will be putting a statement from the Quinns on the website soon.

Cheers! Sam

Brigitte    #15639
Vienna    Austria     Posted: Monday, September 15, 2008 at 16:54:0 CST (GMT -6:00)

For the past few years, there have been lots of reports that agriculture didn't actually originate in Mesopotamia. Like that there are earlier traces of it in places Anatolia (today Turkey) and even in Romania.

Not wanting to rediscuss Quinn's theories, I believe that we know too little to tie events with certainty to geographical locations.

Or, as an anthropologist once told me: "We might find traces of a culture in the remnants of some settlements, but really ancient finds never tell us with certainty what kind of social hierarchy or lack thereof they had.

"And that's when we get ideologically-induced battles, where one group might think that they have proof that this was a hierarchically organized town-like settlement, another group might think that they were basically farmers and herders who happened to congregate in a settlement, and a third group claims that they definitely were hunters and gatherers who just preferred to live in the same place.

"And anything we claim about who was on top of that society which didn't anything in writing is always pure speculation based on people's hobby horses and pet theories. Pre-historic traces are basically hardly ever conclusive enough to really know for sure. If you want to hear my honest serious appraisal."

Curt    #15638
Springbrook    WI USA     Posted: Monday, September 15, 2008 at 5:17:0 CST (GMT -6:00)

In response to question number 729, Daniel Quinn wrote this: "What I meant by this in MY ISHMAEL is that the best system that is known is the one practiced among humans for three million years with great success for all, in which children were allowed the freedom of the tribe and could go anywhere and learn whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. In Houston a few years ago, one teacher started an experimental program based on this idea. It was so successful (and such a life-changing experience for the students involved) that it aroused the ire and envy of all the other teachers, and it was ended after its first year.In our society as it's presently organized it wouldn't be possible for an individual parent to follow this plan, so even if it's only a "lesser evil," home schooling is the best alternative available to you."

Did this teacher write anything about this experience? If so, where can I find those writings? I'm curious to know what some of the reasons were as to why the program was ended. I'm also curious to hear about how some of the students were changed by this experience.

Thank you.

Scott    #15637
Lincoln    NE USA     Posted: Friday, September 12, 2008 at 9:9:0 CST (GMT -6:00)

Thanks, Zot, for your sanity-reinforcing words. I feel the same. What's done is done is gone forever. We can't wish back indigenous knowledge that has been obliterated or bludgeoned, crippled into submission. We can't learn from all the inter-species social relationships that we have blasted apart. When it's our goal to subject all human children to industrial schooling, and entering into communication with other species (like talking to trees or taking "hallucinogens") is ridiculed or criminalized, we're pretty straightforwardly getting what we ask for. Of course, there are other things to ask for, and other stories to live in to get them.

p.s....thinking this weekend of the Quinn's and everyone else based near Houston!

john kurmann    #15635
Kansas City    MO USA     Posted: Tuesday, September 9, 2008 at 12:45:0 CST (GMT -6:00)

Hi, Nathan. My understanding is that there is generally thought to have been little or no evidence of influence on early Egyptian civilization by preexisting Sumerian civilization. Even if Egyptian civilization developed before Sumerian civilization, the lack of evidence of influence would seem to me to hold in reverse, as well--but I'm certainly no expert in these matters.

I suppose the reason why this question isn't as important to me as it is to some other folks (such as those researchers who promote Africa as the site of the earliest civilization) is that I don't put civilization on a pedestal. Consequently, I don't think it's any credit to "Whites" if they were the 1st to build a civilization nor any slight to "Blacks"; if their positions were reversed, it wouldn't matter to me. I gather that those who argue for an African origin think their evidence isn't given a fair hearing because of covert racism--and they might even be right--but I think Jared Diamond has persuasively explained in his book Guns, Germs, and Steel why Eurasian civilizations were powerful enough to conquer other civilizations and colonize much of the rest of the world rather than the reverse, and the answer certainly isn't that they were "racially superior."

zotlynn szurgot    #15633
erosive    corrosive     Posted: Monday, September 8, 2008 at 21:33:0 CST (GMT -6:00)


Loss, loss. As influence worms its way through desperate peoples in transitions, What Works becomes diluted, estranged, lost, imitated, fetishized, lost, denigrated, replaced, abandoned, lost. Or, how old/evolved/developed are the traditions and taboos being broken and lost? Are they post-contact? Post-colonial? They appear sexist to us - is this a recent development? Is this appearance mistaken? Am i mourning what Doesn't Work, developed only decades ago in response to incursions? Am i mourning what Didn't Work, but was incorporated into a tribal pattern that worked well enough for other reasons? Am i mourning unfortunate side effects of What Works? Did division of labor and roles answer survival and blossoming questions for all Maasai? How much ignorance do i have? How am i to understand these developments?

Nathan    #15628
Edmonton    AB Canada     Posted: Thursday, September 4, 2008 at 16:35:0 CST (GMT -6:00)

I guess Egypt is generally considered Taker. :-)I have, however come across evidence to convince me otherwise. Let's set that aside though, I don't want to go into an in-depth argument. Instead, let's just take the Afro-centric hypothesis as given for now, and consider the implications. Let's say it's true that Egypt is older than Sumer, rooted in African culture (part of the hypothesis is that traditional depictions of Ancient Egyptians as Asiatic are false), and that Egypt actually influenced Sumer's development. What implications would it have generally, and for Quinn's hypothesis in particular, if Egypt had not been Taker? Anybody else have any thoughts or insights on that?

One implication I can think of, just for instance: According to the Afrocentric theory the original Bible was the Egyptian Book of the Coming Forth by Day, better known as the Book of the Dead. If Egypt had not been Taker, then the Bible would not be a Taker accomplishment anymore, it would be a perversion of a Leaver accomplishment.

Anyway, Afrocentric theories are gaining ground, and they're fun to think about. And I think they are significant.

john kurmann    #15625
Kansas City    MO USA     Posted: Monday, September 1, 2008 at 19:0:0 CST (GMT -6:00)


Quinn clearly considers the ancient Egyptian civilization to be Taker and I've never come across any evidence to convince me otherwise. The Harappan civilization of the Indus Valley also seems to have begun independently of Mesopotamian civilizations, and it's generally accepted that agriculture coupled with settlement had other centers of independent origin, as well. The point Quinn makes (check out Q&A #623) is that our culture isn't just about agriculture and settlement, it's about the assumptions that the world is ours to conquer and rule, our way is the one right way to live, and everyone else in the world must be force to live our way, too--or eradicated--and that complex of ideas only originated in one culture, though it spread throughout the world over time.

Nathan    #15624
Edmonton    AB Canada     Posted: Monday, September 1, 2008 at 13:39:0 CST (GMT -6:00)

On a related topic, is Ancient Egypt considered Taker? American Civilations (Olmec, Aztec, Maya, etc.) aren't considered Taker, although they locked up the food, because they didn't have the concept of the one right way to live, or the idea that the world belonged to humans to conquer and rule. I've been reading some Afrocentric theories that argue that Ancient Egypt was Black, and had its roots in an earlier Ethiopean Civilization, not in Mesopotamia, where the Taker culture is supposed to have originated. This has led me to believe that Ancient Egypt could be considered to be more similar to American non-Taker Civilizations than to Eurasian Taker Civilizations. Any thoughts?

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