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Nathan    #15607
Edmonton    AB Canada     Posted: Tuesday, August 19, 2008 at 21:14:0 CST (GMT -6:00)

dlundy, what email address can I contact you at? The link in your post doesn't lead to your profile. My email is binnfourattelusplanetdotnet.

dlundy    #15606
pdx    USA     Posted: Tuesday, August 19, 2008 at 17:57:0 CST (GMT -6:00)

"Jensen puts his faith in destroying civilization; I put mine in changing minds. "

No one is motivated by their "mind" but by the vision that comes from a deeper center, as addictions and neuroscience and all behavioral history teaches. From the book Descartes Error onward...We are changed by a cognitive shift involving the "Myth" we see ourselves participating in, as George Lakhoff recently pointed out in his series of books.

Jensen sees civilization as doomed, in its current form. Most agree he's right. He puts no "faith" in that fact whatsoever. He trusts the energies of Nature to do their work, as a real animist would, not trying to do the job FOR nature and 'save' what brought us forth! Ludicrious and arrogant! Adolescent! Ive never heard a more cynical negative remark towards a dedicated worker. Or less accurate.

This will be my last visit to this gnarled corner of the web. Too many great voices elsewhere. In fact, everywhere.

No mind changes any other, but when emergence occurs (as Tolle teaches)it opens doors for everyone.

Write me at home, I wont be back.

Jaelyn    #15605
   USA     Posted: Tuesday, August 19, 2008 at 16:10:0 CST (GMT -6:00)

Christian~ Your post was pure poetry. Thank you.

Destry    #15604
Seattle    WA USA     Posted: Tuesday, August 19, 2008 at 11:43:0 CST (GMT -6:00)

I'm sure plenty of people out there are reading The Power of Now --- i highly recommend it to fellow Quinn readers, but of course WITH A FEW CAVIATS. Tolle is easily pegged as in the Humans Need To Evolve Futher To Survive On The Planet camp, and this makes no sense to me whatever. We didn't "evolve" away from sustainability, and certainly don't need to "evolve" back toward it --- unless of course you are speaking of CULTURAL evolution. But his macro philosophies aside Tolle's THE POWER OF NOW has, for me, on a personal little "micro" level, been an invaluable tool for empowerment. I would also caution AGAINST taking too much to heart Tolle's implication that our minds and intellects are inherently damaging or debilitating (they evolved BY WORKING along with all our other features, after all). But our cultural obsession with DEFINING ourselves as super-thinkers he describes to a T (Homo Sapiens Sapiens? WTF? "Man the All-Knowing"). I think Quinn might agree it's time to live in the Now (and acknowlege and accept and then ACT UPON the realities thereof).

Also anyone interested in the above may appreaciate Roger Fouts' book Next of Kin. Using Fouts' terminology our "mind-defined" condition might be described this way: We evolved a special ability to process information SEQUENTIALLY --- moving from conclusion to conclusion in a linear process based on more and more data. But we did not, in any genetic sense, lose our ability to process SIMULTANEOUSLY --- like a baseball batter does when he sees a pitch fly and computes in an instant what would take a physicist a slurry of Newtonian equations: how to smack it outta the park with a skinny-ass wooden stick. Fouts points out how good chimpanzees are at computing instantly from a gesture how someone feels, and we all know how "intuitive" dogs and some people can be. In our culture we've simply become obsessed with the EXCLUSIVE use of our sequential processing abilities --- and as Tolle points out our ability to deeply ponder the past and future. Wonderfull as those skills are (and useful as they can be), we need to realize that they are not the end-all be-all of human existance, nor, on a personal level, need they be the primary definers of ourselves. Descarte, roll over: I burn for now with a bit of the effectively eternal fire of life, and therefore I am.

Sam    #15603
   USA     Posted: Tuesday, August 19, 2008 at 9:0:0 CST (GMT -6:00)

Here is DQ's reply to John's question #15601:

In ISHMAEL (pages 105-110) I dubbed our civilization "the Taker Thunderbolt," a badly designed aircraft that began in free fall and is still in free fall--in the air but not in flight. Nowadays, Ishmael says, "Everyone is looking down, and it's obvious that the ground is rushing up toward you--and rushing up faster every year. Basic ecological and planetary systems are being impacted by the Taker Thunderbolt, and that impact increases in intensity every year. Basic, irreplaceable resources are being devoured every year--and they're being devoured more greedily every year. Whole species are disappearing as a result of your encroachment--and they're disappearing in greater numbers every year. Pessimists--or it may be that they're realists--look down and say, 'Well, the crash may be twenty years off or maybe as much as fifty years off. Actually it could happen anytime. There's no way to be sure.' But of course there are optimists as well, who say, 'We must have faith in our craft. After all, it has brought us this far in safety. What's ahead isn't doom, it's just a little hump that we can clear if we all just pedal a little harder. Then we'll soar into a glorious, endless future, and the Taker Thunderbolt will take us to the stars and we'll conquer the universe itself.' But your craft isn't going to save you. Quite the contrary, it's your craft that's carrying you toward catastrophe. Five billion of you pedaling away--or ten billion or twenty billion--can't make it fly. It's been in free fall from the beginning, and that fall is about to end."

Derrick Jensen sees as clearly as I do the disastrous impact the Taker Thunderbolt is having on our planet. It is at this point that our visions diverge. I would like to avert the crash if at all possible by making the "passengers" of the Thunderbolt understand WHY the Thunderbolt can't stay in the air–and never could have. I want them to understand this for two reasons: first, to get them working on making the Thunderbolt airworthy, and second, if they can't do that–if the Thunderbolt crashes–to make sure they understand that they must not just BUILD IT AGAIN. Jensen merely wants to accelerate the crash. My point is that, if that crash were to occur tomorrow, the people of the world would, I believe, immediately begin rebuilding the Thunderbolt, putting themselves in a position to repeat the catastrophe once again someday in the future. As I say, I would like to avert the catastrophe; but if that's not possible, I would like time to make as many people as possible understand WHY it happened and that we must not just start doing it all over again. Jensen puts his faith in destroying civilization; I put mine in changing minds.

dlundy    #15602
pdx    USA     Posted: Monday, August 18, 2008 at 22:40:0 CST (GMT -6:00)

Just saw your note Nathan. No, but I will refer you to the books because your question deserves a through answer and Im not very focused on this presently. I dont have an essay up my sleeve on this presently. But the answers are clear enough.

Thom Hartmann has a great reading list that includes 'Beyond Belief' by Elaine Pagels and 'The Chalice and the Blade' by Riane Eisler and each of these describe the contrasting christian threads of orthodox power structure versus more gnostic contemplative traditions that continue to be expressed as a powerful undercurrent. (this is the non-roman tradition one could expand and expand on)The Dessert Fathers to Barry Lopez, perhaps a present day animist who has christian roots. Not to apply any labels, he escapes them.

And no, its not about the tradition whether Islam, Christianity or Zoroastrianism. Each tradition has its tyranies and its transformational reforms. Its about the uses made of it. Both Vonnegut in Man Without a Country and Fates Worse than Death, and Leonard Cohen in "The Future" and "the Faith" powerfully clarify these points. And yes, have a look. I cant reproduce this here! Vonnegut says the problem is not teaching christ but teaching him as "a way to win" that is the real atrocity.

Actually the worst victims of christian opresson are not the non-christians but its own mystical adherents, the St Joans and Francis types...I understand more gnostic heretics were crucified by the first popes than original followers were ever fed to the lions. And Native american orthodox Christians persecuted the Native american shaker cult similarly. Its a very familiar conflict which takes many forms. Yes, patterns and systems tend to repeat parallel dynamics, in individuals,in families, in history...the whole emerging science of systems is based on the value of this very fact. Us and the Incas? Im sure we can quarrel this indefinitely...

I dont think you could ask for a practice more animist in nature than the ghost dance, which was thoroughly pacifist and also thoroughly christian in imagery, yet thoroughly native in origin and character. This is what I am talking about. Im sure the definition of all this can be more finely honed by others than myself.

john kurmann    #15601
Kansas City    MO USA     Posted: Monday, August 18, 2008 at 13:35:0 CST (GMT -6:00)

This post is addressed to Daniel Quinn:

I first heard about Derrick Jensen's work through a recommendation you made on your reading list several years ago for his book A Language Older Than Words. I thought Language was a deeply moving and beautiful book--still do--and I also admired his next book, The Culture of Make Believe, though its subject was so dark as to make it far from enjoyable for me.

In his more recent work, though, Jensen has expressed his conviction that "[t]his culture will not undergo any sort of voluntary transformation to a sane and sustainable way of living" (quoting from Endgame). Based on that assumption, he's argued that the very best those who love the world can do is to try to bring civilization down as soon as possible in a sort of planned demolition, like taking down a condemned building. While I don't agree with Jensen and see no reason to think you do based on my understanding of your work, my impression is that many people with an earnest desire to save the world have read books by both of you and would likely be interested in reading your reaction to his clarion call for us to "bring it all down."

Sam    #15600
   USA     Posted: Monday, August 18, 2008 at 11:30:0 CST (GMT -6:00)

Hi John--Here is DQ's answer to your question:

My answer in this case is that I discontinued the Q&A when I found I was for the most part just repeating myself or looking up questions that questioners should have looked up themselves. Anyone following the guestbook closely will see that when original questions turn up there now, I post a reply.


john kurmann    #15599
Kansas City    MO USA     Posted: Monday, August 18, 2008 at 8:1:0 CST (GMT -6:00)


I was already formulating a question to submit to Quinn, then I read Nicholas's post and Daniel's reply posted by Sam. So I went looking for the "Ask a Question" link and couldn't find it. Sam, do you know why it was eliminated? Surely not every worthwhile question has been asked?

Steven Earl Salmony    #15598
Chapel Hill    NC USA     Posted: Monday, August 18, 2008 at 7:14:0 CST (GMT -6:00)

When I was a boy, we were taught that each generation had responsibilities to assume and duties to perform with regard to the acknowledgement and acceptance of the challenges that are presented to us, so that the next generation can have a chance at a better life. Under no circumstances, would it be correct to pose as willfully blind, hysterically deaf or electively mute in the face of any challenge, as many too many in my not-so-great generation are doing in these days.

What has happened to the misguided leaders of my generation? So many in the elder generation have determined to let the looming challenges in our time fall into the laps of our children. At least to me, today’s leaders show an astonishing unwillingness to examine the prospects of a good life for those who directly follow us, let alone coming generations.

After my single, not-so-great generation finishes the `missions’ (ie, fools’ errands) the leading, self-proclaimed “masters of the universe” among us have set before the human community, what resources will be left for our children to consume; how many more people will have to share what remains of the dissipated and degraded resources; where will they find clean air to breathe, clean water to drink? I shudder when thinking about what our children might say about what we have done so poorly and failed to do so spectacularly, all for sake of selfishly fulfilling our insatiable desires for endless material possessions and freedom without responsibility.....come what may for the children, coming generations, global biodiversity, the environment and Earth’s body. How could one generation go so wrong? Here are some of the ways.

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 be 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 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. 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 any discussion 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, est. 2001

Sam    #15597
   USA     Posted: Friday, August 15, 2008 at 11:21:0 CST (GMT -6:00)

Hi all-

Daniel Quinn has this to say about the Inca post:

The Inca had their OWN Mother Culture (as each culture does). They didn't have ours. To SAY that their Mother Culture "parallels" ours is as meaningless as saying that their roads "parallel" ours (which of course they did, since roads are pretty much roads wherever they're found).

In its thousand year run, the Inca empire (2 million Sq. Km) took over about 0.05% of the New World (42 million Sq. Km). In half this amount of time, our own culture has taken over virtually the whole of the New World–I'd say 90% at the least. Comparing the Inca takeover (0.05% in a thousand years) with our own takeover (90% in 500 years) seems to me to make it absurd to to compare the two cultures. It's like comparing Hank's Auto Shop (two service bays, six gas pumps, and a candy counter) to the Ford Motor Company.

If the Inca's Mother Culture does in some way "parallel" ours (which is certainly debatable), this hardly supports the idea that our world-consuming culture was somehow "a human inevitability."

Zla'od    #15596
Taipei    Taiwan     Posted: Thursday, August 14, 2008 at 22:50:0 CST (GMT -6:00)

Hi Nicholas,

While I can't speak to the Inca example, or know whether historical events are "inevitable," I suspect that you are right, and that unchecked human population growth through mass agriculture turns out to be genetically beneficial to the population groups taking part in it. This to my mind represents a crucial weakness in Quinn's theory.

Quinn fans will protest that it does not help to have lots of offspring if they are all doomed to die in the coming famine--better to go live on a remote island somewhere. Well, this might possibly be true provided we could know the time of the collapse. Unfortunately, if it comes a generation or so too late, then our descendents (living on the remote island) can expect to be swamped by descendents of the mainstream civilization (who have access to more food, as well as other resources such as military / political power). In fact, the inhabitants of remote islands and mountains tend to be the disadvantaged groups whose ancestors were expelled from the coasts and plains of better lands.

This means that over the long term, it would be more genetically advantageous to follow a "Taker" rather than a "Leaver" lifestyle. Even if the collapse comes by surprise, a much larger population would be that much more likely to see a number of individuals from it survive, and to be able to prevail over their rivals in the new political climate.

In fact, rather than a single "collapse" per se, I think a more likely scenario would be a steady cycle of localized collapses and rallies. If oil and food stop coming to the cities, for example, then we can expect to see martial law--perhaps for decades--with as many of the structures of the previous society as they can maintain. Obviously this sort of thing has happened many times in the past, and I do not see why globalization or greater population levels would change things.

Nicholas Maggiulli    #15595
Los Angeles    CA USA     Posted: Thursday, August 14, 2008 at 15:42:0 CST (GMT -6:00)

I am a fan of Daniel Quinn and I have a question that I need answered, if there is an answer. I have read most of Quinn's books (Ishmael, My Ishmael, Story of B, Beyond Civilization, Lined Paper Write Sideways) and I have found one seemingly unignorable fact which seems to contradict Quinn's argument on the "cultural meme" which he describes in Beyond Civilization. This contradiction comes in the form of four letters: INCA

The Inca civilization is one civilization unlike any other in the New World. That is due to the fact that it had a cultural meme very close to that of Mother Culture, though it developed independantly of Mother Culture. More on that later.

If we observe all the empires and civilizations of the New World, Quinn is correct when he states that the problem wasn't agriculture but it was the "cultural meme" or "ideology" which caused Mother Culture to expand. This idea that "we live the correct way, and you live the incorrect way" did not exist in any of the New World empires besides that of the Inca.

The Inca had a belief system which they thought could never be reversed (Fiat accompli), therefore they expanded and taught "their" way of living to whomever they conquered. This was only present in one other culture on the planet, and that other culture was Mother Culture itself.

A startling fact in Inca society is this: An Inca ruler believed that lands conquered in the past belonged to previous Inca rulers who had died. They believed that the spirit still ruled over the lands they had conquered in their lifetime. Therefore, once a new Inca ruler took power, he would have to conquer MORE lands for himself. This lead to a perpetual expansion and spread of Inca culture or Inca ideology throughout the New World. Though this expansion was slow, it was still an expansion by any means. The only thing that prevented the Inca from expanding further was when the Spanish arrived. Though I do not want to get into hypotheticals over the situation, if the Spanish hadn't arrived, I believe the Inca would have expanded their own Mother Culture until the entire New World was under their ideology.

Now the question I have is: If Inca culture parallels Mother Culture so much, then can't we infer that Mother Culture was not a mistake but merely a human inevitability?

Note: I have refused the possibility that both the Inca Culture and the Fertile Cresent (Mother Culture) are both mistakes. The possibility of this is too astronomical.

By the way, I am not here to bash Quinn or collapse an argument. I have a serious question and I believe that there is a serious answer out there. Everything I have come across while learning SUPPORTS Quinn's overall theory, besides this INCA dilemma. If I had a logical answer to this question then I would KNOW, without a doubt, that Quinn is right. Please help me find the answer to this.

Christian    #15594
Denver    CO USA     Posted: Wednesday, August 13, 2008 at 17:21:0 CST (GMT -6:00)

Every morning when the alarm goes off, you hear it whispered in your ear: it could be worse. Sitting in traffic, it could be worse. Computing and producing to the beat of society’s demands, it could be worse. Nine to five, it could be worse. Monday to Friday, it could be worse. January to December, cradle to grave, it could be worse. Repeating, repeating, repeating, it could be worse, it could be worse, it could be worse.

The media convinces you, showing you images of the suffering hordes, it could be worse. Medication and illusion pacify you and further entrench the maxim, it could be worse. You hear it from your parents from the time you are born, it could be worse. People in Africa want clean water, it could be worse. People in hell want ice water, it could be worse.

Every moment of every day you are reminded of the horrible world in which you live as it rings in your ears, it could be worse. It could be worse, so strive, strive til it’s better, better than your wretched neighbor.

But what I wonder is this: could it be better? And as I survey the immensity of our prison, my hope is obliterated.

All that is left to do is marvel as we consume ourselves.

John Kurmann    #15593
Kansas City    MO USA     Posted: Sunday, August 10, 2008 at 11:37:0 CST (GMT -6:00)

Hi, Sam. I looked up the Q about the 3 ingredients that make up Taker culture in The Ishmael Companion, but that still leaves the questioner without an answer as to what the 3 ingredients are. I'm trying to think of a specific passage in Ishmael that the Q refers to but nothing comes immediately to mind. If no passage refers specifically to 3 ingredients, as the reply you posted from Quinn indicates, I can understand Bob's befuddlement. If I had to guess, I'd say these are the 3 ingredients referred to by the question, using only the language found in Ishmael, not the later books:

* Takers assume and, therefore, behave as if the world was made for us and we were made to conquer and rule it.

* Takers violate the Law of Limited Competition, acting as if all the food in the world is human food, assuming we can grow without limit.

* Takers believe that they have the one right way to live, therefore all other cultures must either be forced to live that way or destroyed when Taker culture comes into contact with them.

These are listed as the "three characteristics" Takers exhibit in Q&A #48 but one of the terms mentioned, "totalitarian agriculture," would not be familiar to folks who had only read Ishmael because it 1st appeared in The Story of B.

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