I’m a sophomore in college and considering a double major in physics and mechanical engineering – I’m scientifically inclined in this regard and the subjects really engage my interest.

I’ve noticed the trend of people asking “What do I do? What job should I have?” I have to admit that reading your book and some others (Lord of the Rings and other fantasy) makes me feel close to nature. I know that sounds ridiculous, and you discourage use of the word nature, but that’s just the best way to sum up the emotion of a time and a place with no overwhelming, unsustainable technologies. And so I’ve found myself at a crossroads many times.

Do my scholastic interests conflict with my ideals? But the more I think about it, the more I feel that the world needs engineers who think like me – engineers who want to find creative ways to invent sustainable technologies. After all, engineers are not to blame for the state of our society. Ask an engineer how to go to war with the biosphere, and he can tell you. Ask an engineer how to make peace with the biosphere, and he can find a way. Have I found my way?

Say you have a group of people who have pooled their resources together to make a living and succeed and/or fail as a group. Their commitment is “one for all, all for one” in the sense that each member contributes to the group and that the group provides for each member. This would be tribe-like no?

Now, say that this group is successful and have been approached by someone who would like to join the group. If the group has already made commitments (loans or other obligations), then any new prospective member must be expected to “buy in” to those obligations as well, yes? All for one, one for all?

In our present culture, groups such as this would make binding legal contracts to secure a stable and “safe” relationship amongst its members. Wouldn’t this just be a business as opposed to making a living tribally?

Shouldn’t there be some sense of “belonging” amongst people who make their living tribally? I mean, what’s an example of an aboriginal method of keeping unscrupulous members from really hurting the tribe?

I mean, obviously, there are no courts amongst tribes (at least that I know of), but I imagine that there are safeguards and, failing those, justice of some kind.

On the Ish site the other day, a quote was displayed was about tribal people not having any question as to the status of their adulthood, just as George Bush has no question of his status as President. I think it’s about time I went out to seek my manhood vision and definitively draw a line separating my childhood from adulthood.

I mean this seriously. For countless generations, the natives of this area went off into the world alone and fasting until they were granted a vision that would help to define their life and guide them along their path. This can’t just be mumbo jumbo if so many people were rooted in it and learned from it.

A vision must have been accorded most everyone who sought one, or else they wouldn’t have kept seeking them, generation after generation. I’m curious as to whether such a vision can still be sought, and whether or not it will be granted. I wonder what your thoughts are on this.

Is this a foolish thing to pursue? In your opinion? Is there any merit in a 21st century digital white man wandering off alone into the vast open plains, eating nothing until he collapses into a hunger-induced hallucination that may or may not contain for him a guiding force to be present for the rest of his life?

I must admit that I was greatly disappointed with Beyond Civilization. Perhaps I am still too entrenched in the philosophies of the Takers, but I was hoping for something more tangible, a path to follow in my life. Writing this now, I feel like a whining child asking a parent how to get himself out of sticky situation but I feel that I must put it down anyhow.

You speak of tribes as if they are a dime a dozen, people just waiting around on street corners to abandon the only thing that they know to follow in this endeavor. I am sure that you speak to many people on this subject and you realize that the reason they have come to feel lost in society is because they are disconnected from those who might understand them.

Of all the people that I know (some who are the most intelligent and caring individuals that I have ever met), not one is willing to sacrifice the advantages that our culture has to offer for a heightened sense of personal fulfillment. Most believe that they can find everything they need within our culture, and I am not sure that they are wrong.

I do not have a tribe, Mr. Quinn, and I would go so far as to guess that most other people do not. It is frustrating for me to read your work and then apply it to my life. I am $20,000 dollars in debt to the federal government (the cost of improving myself through a college education), I work waiting tables while I try (unsuccessfully) to publish my short stories, and I save up money to travel to places around the world where (somewhere in my heart of hearts) I hope to find some kind of real freedom.

You have a wife that seems to share your ideals and (I assume) a group of friends and followers, you have had a successful job in publishing, and you are currently a successful writer. Surely you see that your plan is more easily applied to yourself than to those like me. There are no circuses in town for me to join (nor would I want to become a part of them) and I do not wish to live a homeless lifestyle if I cannot help it.

One career option I was considering was to work in virology, helping to find cures for diseases. Reading your book, though, I realized that this would be just another way humans are trying to control the planet and eliminate competition.

Everywhere we go we find new viruses that we try to kill, but viruses may just be the way nature is trying to restore balance on the planet.