Irony in the Garden

Here’s my front yard. Note the flowers I have planted instead of a lawn. It has been a very exciting place lately. Dozens of species of bees and many species of beetles have been working it for weeks. They’ve all come down from the grassland up on the hill. A big neon-green toad has made her home here, and seems to be getting rich on it. Today, though, was special. Check out the pair of American Gold Finches feeding. They were there for an hour.
P1420041Now, here’s the thing: they were eating catnip seeds. Perhaps they were getting a nice buzz from it, I don’t know, but, um, the neighbour’s cats hang around this stuff. I’m not sure how wise all this is. Still, no harm done, and an hour of beauty. No mowing. How many acres of denuded grasslands have I replaced for these birds and insects in 300 square feet? Lots! Here’s the environmentally approved way of reclaiming grassland after invasive road construction. Note the species diversity.

P1420004

People aren’t meant to live alone on the planet. We’d all die of grief.

 

The Ethical Dimension

I’d like to talk ethics today, with East Germany in view, though, because it was a society that allowed an alternate vision, not only of what might have been possible (good and bad), but into what we were all like back before the Wall came down in 1989. For instance, out of a sense of common land, through a convoluted and violent process, East Germany adopted a communist mode of government after the Second World War. The choice resulted, among other things, in the infamous Plattenbau (prefabricated) apartment buildings of the Soviet block. They were infamous because they were done on the cheap, had no balconies and had common public space that the residents had to landscape with their own sweat, and out of their own organizational abilities. What happened to that positive energy after reunification with the West? Balconies were added to the apartments, as you can see below in Riesa, Germany, and, in some cases, North American style adventure playgrounds were added for the kids.P1130995   Doesn’t sound like much, I know, but look at the alternatives: a communal ping pong table … P1130994… and communal laundry facilities… P1130992_2 You can bet the piping was diverted from a state-sanctioned infrastructure project, because someone’s wife was in tears. And why was she in tears? Ah, imagine. You only got a nice modern apartment like this if you were married, so you did that the instant you got out of high school, and the next day the poor girl has to do laundry, but the social code of the laundry is controlled by the building communist block warden, and the girl hasn’t earned the space to hang up her new husband’s shirts, so, chances are, they wind up in the mud, and then the tears, see? It’s not as simple as it might look, though. In 1989, upon unification with the West, East Germany had the most progressive system of women’s rights and support for mothers and children in the world. The feminist movements of the West, including the Okanagan, are deeply in debt to 18-year-old East German women dealing with blocks wardens from Hell. The Western perception that East German communism was repressive misses the vital detail (among others) that the West, too, is built upon East German communism. The repression, in other words, is just good old fashioned human oppression and exploitation, following whatever patterns it can find and take advantage of. It’s what humans, a top predator, do. In my valley in Canada, that can look like this: P1390638 A boat, a Sea-doo, a boat pulling a kid in a tube, a kayaker, a guy swimming (good luck, Dude), and another boat, all in a tiny space. This use of a post-glacial lake and a local drinking water source is surely as insane, and as liberating, as the East German Plattenbau experience, and likely a lot more destructive of the environment and human relationships with it. Sometimes, this exploitation looks like this: wine The valley is famed for wine, or tells itself it is. Here is a bottle of cheap industrial chardonnay vented by a large Eastern Canadian winery that moved into the young Okanagan wine industry a couple decades back and transformed it from a farm-based industry, based on the work of farmers with the land, to a form of investment that created sales by marketing savvy alone. This bottle of wine, half-consumed at the site of a failed winery building in Vernon, suggests that someone came for the view, with a bottle of wine, and couldn’t stand to finish the damn thing. The most sensitive grassland in the North Okanagan was sacrificed to build this vineyard to help sell houses. The class of people who would do such a thing is, I believe, exactly the class of people who waylaid Luther on The Road, after he was excommunicated in the ancient Roman-German city of Worms, and walked out expecting to be killed that night by bandits, as an outlaw. It was not safe for anyone to be on The Road at night. Instead, Luther was abducted by a prince, who kept him under house arrest, feeding him bread and water until he agreed to translate the Bible into German. The translated Bible was then used to dismantle the Catholic Church in the North of Europe, in Luther’s name but against his wishes. The class of people who did that is precisely the class of people who transformed the young romantic poet Goethe into a symbol of Germany itself, and used him to create a state quite the opposite of the one he would have wished to see. The class of people who did that is precisely the class of people who reduced local Indian reserves by a factor of 90% upon annexation of British Columbia into Canada in 1871. This is not a new story. Within it, however, there have been few people who have shown us an alternate way, who have had the ethical courage to point out alternatives. Goethe was one. Without alternatives, there is only the illusion of choice.

Colonialism and the University in the Okanagan

The Canadian stretch of the Okanagan-Okanogan is not just the northern tip of a vast intermountain grassland created by the pressure effects of wet air being desiccated on its rise over the Coast Mountains and the Cascade Range to the west, or an endangered environment with aboriginal land abuses stretching back into the 1890s, or even the heart and soul of its children, like me, or like this mariposa lily above Okanagan Lake in Vernon…P1390561

 

It’s also the seat of a profound form of neo-colonialism, some of which is centred around a Vancouver university seeking to establish itself as a university of this place. Judging by the current excitement the alumni association of this university (I confess. One of my degrees is from this institution.) is trying to whip up…

ubc

Source: http://www.alumni.ubc.ca/2014/events/okanagan-days-summerfest/

… it has a long, long way to go. I must have missed something. I thought that universities were about knowledge, research and creativity. I am so behind the times on that, I tell you. A food truck rally? Games? A DJ? A beer garden? A historically ridiculous Hollywood movie? Meanwhile, the grassland is dying, the fruit industry is dying, the lake is in deep trouble, the cities are impoverished, wages are below the poverty line, the schools are on strike, the arts are anemic, the land claims are outstanding, and the history of the place is virtually forgotten. I could go on, but there’s no point. Here’s what the university says about itself:

Purpose-built for the 21st century, the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus opened in Kelowna in 2005. UBC is one of North America’s largest public research and teaching institutions, and one of only two Canadian institutions consistently ranked among the world’s 40 best universities.

…The Okanagan campus is an intimate learning community embracing bold new ways of thinking that attract exceptional students and faculty. More than 8,300 students from throughout the Okanagan region, across Canada and 80 other countries are enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs in eight faculties and schools. Here, students interact with one another and their professors on a daily basis, while becoming global citizens through interaction with their community and the world.

Source: http://ok.ubc.ca/about.html

A beer party to celebrate Indiana Jones? That’s a bold new way of thinking for the 21st Century? Here’s the constitution of the alumni association itself. It’s dry reading. Feel free to skip it and scroll down to the important part I’ve placed just below it:

constitution

Source: http://www.alumni.ubc.ca/about/constitution/

As promised, here’s the important part:

4

What on earth kind of responsibility is that? Does a beer party full of food trucks and a foreign movie that abuses very real history help with that? Hey, what do I know. Maybe it does. Here’s the vision of the university…

Vision

Source: http://strategicplan.ubc.ca/the-plan/vision-statement/

One of the world’s leading universities! I wonder if the Sorbonne engages in the kind of neo-colonialism practiced by the alumni association. I wonder if the Oxford University is showing 1980s American movies with deep Disneyland merchandizing links to bond its current students with its former ones in a larger intellectual community. I wonder if Berlin’s Humboldt University is showing Sleepless in Seattle to showcase its intellectual strengths and achievements or to anchor itself deeply into German culture. The concept is absurd. Here, apparently, it is not. Luckily (or maybe not) the university has values (whew):

values

Source: http://strategicplan.ubc.ca/the-plan/vision-statement/

Those are nice statements. I wish the alumni association would adhere to the integrity and respect that these statements express, because they are worthy of a world institution. Rather than answer the failures here one at a time, let me just say this: as a citizen of the Okanagan of German heritage (something very common in both British Columbia and this valley) I am deeply offended that my university’s alumni association would throw out scholarship and its expressed collective and social values to show a ridiculous, historically misleading anti-German and pro-American movie, when it could have shown a Canadian or even an Okanagan movie in its place (or heck, even one that treated German or American history with some scholarly respect) and upheld the academic and cultural standards admirably expressed by the university. The culture at play in such an act is one that does not in any way express the expressed vision of the university or the long-standing cultures, histories, or very real social and economic realities of the valley of which the university is trying to make itself a part. What the upcoming event does, perhaps, is express a new colonial culture that has imposed itself upon this place and replaced most of its pre-existing social forms. Well, that’s not new. That’s been happening here for decades. The only thing is, though, we’re running out of time to stop this runaway train. The writing is on the wall:

P1380331

Cheat Grass and Concrete

The little of the grassland that is left is mostly a garbage dump full of weeds. If the university, which is one of the few institutions with the capacity to do something about very real problems (and which is adept at garnering most of the resources for doing so), fails at returning a much-abused land to abundance, the valley doesn’t have a chance, and if the valley doesn’t have the chance, then the colonial, cultural lie will devour the university’s values from within. There’s only so much hypocrisy even humans can stomach before they start to embody it, even in their research and scholarly and artistic activities. This stuff matters. I went to this university because I believed that words and scholarship and knowledge of tradition matter. I went because I believed that inclusiveness mattered and that by extending my knowledge and my art I could add to the cultural growth of my valley and the province and country that claim ownership over it. At the moment, I am only deeply ashamed. I think that all of us in the Okanagan, alumni or not, should be. The university owes us more than this.

mrs

Coyote, Bella Vista

This is the Best Day

The future starts today. The Tsilhqot’in people have been recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada as having title to their own land. It has been a struggle lasting over 140 years. For those of you who might not know the background, the northern part of Oregon, the former British colony of British Columbia, more lately the westernmost province of Canada, never settled treaties with one of the most complex assemblages of indigenous peoples on the planet. Instead, it just took their earth and made it into a new thing: land. Now it has given an important piece of it back and, better yet, accepted the Tsilhqot’in, the ancient trading people who (back when Egypt was just beginning to organize itself) brought obsidian, ochre and flint to most of the North West and into the Great Plains, as a fellow level of governance. Our roads still follow the ancient trading trails, and, finally, we can build a country together. Here’s the news in full:

http://aptn.ca/news/2014/06/26/supreme-court-hands-tsilhqotin-major-victory-historic-ruling/

I gave my heart to this country years back, when Canada was moving into its cities. Out in the Chilcotin (as the region shows up on maps), the stars are different, wild, untamed and almost audible, and the lakes, well, they look like this:charlotte3

Charlotte Lake

This is the Illahie, the homeland. Whatever British Columbia, the government, or Vancouver, the city, is going on about, well, today, that all changed. 

I sing my joy to the skies.

 

What is Wild?

Is this smoke bush wild?

P1370953No. It was planted to give some red colour to a lot of green shrubs. Is the fact that it is growing a “wild” characteristic? Perhaps, but wouldn’t it be sad to say that life on earth is “wild” if not controlled by human intent? Wouldn’t it be at least as accurate to say that humans are wild, i.e. they have escaped the boundaries of balance that make stretches of land into living, mutually-enabling or mutually-supporting communities? Is this apple tree, then, wild, because it has been freed from human care?

P1370194Or was it wild before it was cut down? Yeah, the one on the top is the Golden Delicious apple tree I was nursing from a stump (i.e. wild, you see, as in not-intended) into a tree for a friend. We were one year away from a crop of lovely golden apples when someone got through or over or around the fence and chopped it down. Humans are terrible predators; most human laws and arrangements are set up to keep humans from preying on each other. Few are set to keep them from preying on the earth. Perhaps it’s all that humans can manage. Species-specific behaviour, however, is self-destructive behaviour if it doesn’t recognize its kinship with the life around it. The image below shows a non-human social group at work. These ants could easily be called “people”, with no loss to human social identity. In fact, we’d all be richer for it.

V0000315

Ants Feeding in the Cottonwoods

In any event, what to my friend and I had been made domestic, i.e. household, a Golden Delicious, was to some other man “wild”, and thus presumably of no value. Against that big ethical error, there was that moment at which we brought the tree in from the wild and accorded it human care. After that point, the human act against the tree was an act of predation of one human against another. Now, let’s look at that another way: what happens when “wild”ness invades human social space? This, perhaps:

V0000390

Scotch Thistle: a Noxious Weed

It is against the law to harbour weeds like this, yet this vineyard owner can do it with impunity… yet, what is the point of the law? To protect grazing land. And what is grazing land? The right of other men to set their (domestic) cattle to graze off the last of (wild) indigenous flowers and grasses from either private land or public land to which they have purchased private grazing rights. Is it ethical to ignore such laws? 

Tough questions. At any rate, If we had not accorded our apple tree care, the ethical transgression against the earth might not have been noticed, or at least might be viewable as the same act as climbing over a fence to chop a bunch of scotch thistles down. A man’s land is an extension of his realm of care. “Wild”-ness is, like “wilderness” or “nature” or “rogue state” is an infinitely moveable line. It is just a word, which contains a knot of contrary energies, which it poorly modulates or contains. “Law” (or hand saws) is not going to untie that knot. Talk is. And the earth needs a voice at those talks.

 

Frankenstein, Humans, Art and God

There is a seed in the pile of broken glass below.

P1370801

To put it another way, humans see. The earth seeds. They are the same thing. See?

P1370869

Making Seed: Male Sumac Flowers in Full Glory

Only in human sight do they look like spiritual energies, like this.

The spirit above is a human signature. When it is absent, humans say they are in the presence of the dead. Still, there is the seed produced by the action of bees on these flowers, and then on the female flowers on sumacs down the path and around the corner and the other corner a ways. That is a different kind of tracking from a human one, but not one that a human cannot follow. How it is followed, ah, that’s the rub.

p1320414

Female Staghorn Sumac?

No, It’s the Big Bang

Humans often seed the earth with human-ness. There’s a human mouth in that pile of art studio raw material I showed you above. This human mouth was shaped out of sand, filled once with sweet Rhenisch (from the Pfalz) or Rhenish (from the Rhine Gorge) wine, and then broken down into raw material. Not into sand, though:

P1370780

What it was broken down into is human raw material. This is what “seed” looks like in human language. This is ‘seed human’.  From it will be made a human social product called art, which is a way of honouring human history, just not in Herodotus’s long-winded stories of the self. It honours it in the unfolding presence and interactions of objects and a certain kind of energy that is commonly called “wildness” today (more on that below). This is one way in which humans see the earth in themselves. It’s like this show at her Headbones Gallery that artist Julie Oakes has made out of the glass I showed you above:

julieblue

Julie Oakes’ Blue Toronado http://www.julieoakes.com/Awestruck_Calendar_of_Ecology/Blue_Tornado/blue_tornado.htm

A complex scripting of beauty and violence: the same, separating, coming together, and exploding in blueness. This is the way to make human self images into piles of broken glass and then to guide them by touch into new forms. The “touch” is inferred, but no less felt for that. Contemporary humans would say that all this happens through the visual cortex. Ancient humans, the ones who started the art processes that Oakes is keeping alive, would point to non-visual forms of perception.This, too, is part of the tension within these pieces. Much is being honoured here. Breakage is part of the honouring.

Another way in which humans see the earth within themselves is in the echoes of water and sky within the ruins of industrial and social process (below). There’s no water in the following image, and no sky, but lots of human-ness, in many forms: industrial processes, trade, fullness, emptiness, bling, breakage, beauty, violence, and so much more. It’s a powder keg of undefined human form and connection.

P1370769

This pile (and its re-creation into new tracks) is how humans talk. They make paths through their perceptions and memories of earth and sky and water. They do this by tracing their interactions with each other and examining the spoor of their own feelings and cognitive and biological attention as rigorously as they would the tracks of a leopard and a springbok. Then they make maps of what they “see” (to accent the spiritual component within the “modern” visual process). Like this:

12-bowriver-suite-640x291-1

Katie Brennan Gives Us 32 Views of the Bow River (Or Is It Just One?)

http://oook.ca/2012/02/this-oookian-makes-art-too-katie-brennan-at-headbones-gallery-opens-tomorrow/

It’s not a map. It’s not a quilt. It’s not a human. It’s not the earth. It’s not a deconstruction, because it’s also a reconstruction. One could go on, playing the old Monk’s game that by name what God is not, in the end the un-nameable God will be present by default.

In the end, reductions like Brennan’s come to this: maps of (or moments of attention to) perception and intuition are, really, humans. They’re not biological humans, but they’re humans nonetheless. In other words, the image below is Frankenstein (who was cobbled together from corpses and blasted with electricity so that he’d get up and walk and talk [in Frankie's case, with bolts in his neck.])

P1370786

Frankenstein 2014!

In this case, the ‘electricity’ is human. To make art that isn’t just a mirror, or isn’t a substitute human, an Adam or an Eve or a Book of Noah, that’s a most difficult thing, and usually it’s just not going to be art, because art is that human-ness.That pile of blue glass above, for instance, is the dead from which new life springs. It’s not a pile of human ancestors, such as exist within each word we speak (for more of this, do check out www.earthwords.net) but human meta-ancestors, those artificial humans — those Frankensteins — that other humans have made before, such as this:

P1370024

Frankenstein, Downtown Vernon

Looking for friends, he is. I mean, beyond his Sancho Panza, that bungie cord to the left.

And yet, if you remember, there is that seed.

seed

And, well, this:

P1370767

Headbones Gallery Parking Lot Installation, Swan Lake

 The cart that was full, which is now empty, the cart that is in the shadow while the blue, perhaps it’s former load, is in the light, the ruined Eden surrounding it, the blank canvas of gravel before it, and the shock of all that blue. “Painting” would reduce this.

Another human! Just a bigger one, that you can walk around on and in and through (you can even pull up your artificial human, your Honda, let’s say, and leave it there, so dead without you, while you huffed up the steps to the gallery, sensing yourself getting ever further from it, feeling the line of energy that binds you). The one thing, though, that you can’t do, ever, ever ever ever, is walk out of that artificial human. Here, for example:

P1360826

Frankenstein 2014 (aka Yellow Dock Seeds), Bella Vista

(Yellow for the root, not these pink and mint beauties)  This invasive weed is taking over swatches of old Syilx “medicine” hillsides, where the activities of humans (trail making that cuts into the soil atmosphere of a syncline slope) make more room for human followers (weeds) than the plants that humans followed (medicines, or traditional ‘wild’ crops). Note: not a bit of nature in sight.

Here, too:

P1370010

Frankenstein Allium, the Vernon Queen

She’s a fun type, for sure. What a party girl Frankenstein, she is! Note the beige artificial humans in the background and the herd of metal frankensteins resting ‘dead’ in front of them, plus the carefully channelled and regulated track for moving these frankensteins from place to place.

The trees and flower in the above image are called nature. They represent a non-human life drive, that makes biological humans less ill-at-ease within their maps of the dead and artfully made, and provide as well the potential of a continuously available source of energy outside of the social. That’s comforting, and humans, being mortal creatures, need a bit of comfort, now and then, in the face of oblivion. Mind you, those “plants” are, of course, socially planted, as manipulations of human states of mind. See: http://earthwords.net/2014/04/23/grow/

three

Three Points of the Energy of Growth …placed there to mine it.

(From earthwords.net)

That’s art. This artwork, this Frankenstein, is ‘nature’. Or, to put it another way, in the industrial era, Nature became Frankenstein. Like that blue glass, transformed by fire from sand and gold, there’s no way back. You have to go forward, eh.

P1360090

Frankenstein, the Grass Version, The Rise

This Frankenstein (Nature) has a crown, as befits a goddess.

P1360079

This is Not a Grassy Field

This is alien grass sewn to prevent erosion, after creating house building lots (for the visual view) by moving vast amounts of old glacial till around with a bulldozer. This is pretty much a one species environment, fulfilling its intended goal, with the illusion of being nature, because nature is the point of views. These are pure signs of the presence of Frankenstein. 

Nature (Frankenstein seen through the looking glass) is very big, but she’s not the earth.

p1080363

Deer and Geese at Daisy, Washington

This Nature. She is the intersection of impounded waters of Lake Roosevelt, behind the Grand Coulee Dam, with the old Inchelium world the reservoir (in the parlance of Nature, “lake”) replaced. Whatever the earth is, she is an energy outside of this. 

Nature is a created artifact. (That’s not the same as saying that the energies that, in the Western tradition, flow through Nature are not vital. They are.) This, for example:

P1370026

“Nature”, as Humans Call It, Making Her Move

In this world of interlocked artificial humans, Nature is much like a mosquito, that you want to swat, to get it off of yourself, or a spider crawling down the neck of your shirt, eeeeyewwwweeeeeeee! It takes some acculturation to see this wild lettuce as both art and child, to be nurtured, but there she is. (Note as well the discarded bouquet of flowers. Seemingly, this space of “nature” viewed as garbage was deemed the appropriate receptacle for some dead “nature” after it served its purpose as a human social gesture.

It’s quite a thing to be human, to have consciousness, of a sort, and to have to deduce the living earth from tracks of your own body and mind. It’s not the earth that humans see, or work with, but the effects of their working with the earth, and somehow, humbly, or with flaming pride (or, as usual, some muddle in between) humans sometimes task themselves with bridging that gap and becoming all facets of that moment at once: human and earth together. It is one solution, to be the moment of these interactions all at once, but it is, of course, not sustainable (Note: Heaven, as humanly conceived, is the deferred state of final attainment of this unity.) Humans call that art. It is a way —a path. It is not a destination, because you cannot stay there.

P1360949

The Art of the Syilx, the People of this Place, Was to Make Rich Tapestries of Life

This “life” bridged human and non-human energies. It was not called Nature.

At other times, humans call art the use of the materials of the earth to intentionally create physical maps of human social and cognitive states, like this:

mbhg

http://www.headbonesgallery.com

You could call this the tattooing of the spirit or the dancing of the leaf within the mind, but then you’d be talking like a poet, one who walks between worlds carrying material back and forth and breathing with the earth, and that’s a different way of paying attention.

plink

The Poem Formerly Known as Harold Rhenisch Speaks

Ah, even for the poet on the edge of the human and the flame, there is a tantalizing sense of wildness that is called the earth, even within human speech. You could just as well call it life. Dylan Thomas did. He called it “The force that through the green fuse drives the flower…”

P1370989

Yes, That’s Dylan Thomas Gathering Pollen on His Fused and Exploding “Poem”

Forget Freud! This is a female structure.

Whatever humans are channelling in their tracking and art making and travelling between worlds is that force. Contemporary humans often call it “wildness” or “presence,” if they don’t just give up and call it “nature”. These are just words. There’s an energy there, of course, despite that. It’s a bit of a maze, which is one reason we have art, to guide us through it in pre-verbal ways (or, in poetic terms, in ways in which the words are spirit). To define that wildness against the background of human activity, however, as is common contemporary practice, is a sure guarantee that one is not talking about wildness. At that point, one is talking about relationships and interrelationships of human power. One is talking about this:

P1370994

A Linear Garden of Eden Designed for Viewing at Speed by Car

If you walk this trail it just looks so completely impoverished. It is not meant for viewing at biological speed. To do so is like standing in front of your big-screen TV with your face 2 inches from the glass.

At that distance Angelina Jolie is going to cease to be an illusion and start to be a grid, like a bee’s eye.

yellowbee2

Angelina Jolie, Up Close

Closer:

pixels

Angelina Jolie as a Pile of Yellow Glass

Art as speed, written in mathematical vectors across the living Syilx earth, is also the face of art. Here, once again:

P1370996

Vrroomm!

Notice the crushed bedrock (from below the floors of ancient seas) used to decorate the sidewalk (and to keep down weeds… um, yeah, sure.)

This kind of art-making uses the same basic materials as Julie Oakes’ pile of blue glass, but rearranges them towards a different line of energy and power, one which negates the past and creates a present out of the intersection of civic regulations, Frankenstein technology, and human biological perception. (In comparison, Oakes’ pile allows for outcomes that dip into the past and into the future… each a new organization. It is a giving away, as opposed to a capitalization.) Frankensteins themselves would find this roadway artwork looking much like Oakes’ pile of blue glass does to humans: the broken shards of Frankensteins, to be built into post-Frankensteinian dreams. This, maybe…

P1370965

A Home for Frankensteins? Or Just Another Frankenstein?

High country water funnelled through petroleum tubes and called “life”. Such art installations are the purpose of the road above. It is meant to convince humans to feel safe within them. It appears to work very well.

Humans are spiritual creatures. That they see themselves as practical ones is sheer hubris: a transcending of ethical and spiritual norms that leads to the state of tragedy. As an illustration of where that can lead to, here’s Satan in his moment of hubris:

800px-Paradise_Lost_12Falling, Falling, Falling, Falling from Unity to Earth (Doré’s Paradiso)

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubris#mediaviewer/File:Paradise_Lost_12.jpg

There are many ancient guides to hubris, most of them spiritual. They come from the ability of humans to set up a very special type of artificial human called a god, to which humans then give a large part of their cognitive ability. In other words, these guides come from a time in which humans allowed for their consciousnesses to exist outside of their biological bodies, and were comfortable with that. I should say “are”, because these guys still operate like that, although in a recognizably cynical contemporary way:

image

ISIS at Work in Iraq

The whole artifice of rationality was meant to be a work around against distortions such as the one above. Well, it’s a world in which humans don’t always have the above form of comfort. Societies still resisting the transformation of rationality into irrationality, as evidenced in the image above, have the university tradition and its work at deconstructing human biological motives in favour of cognitive distances, on the one hand, along with industry, which mines the earth for energy, so that humans don’t have to be mined for it (a treacherous distinction) and, on the other hand, art, poetry, and other forms of attention to tracks laid down in pure energy, and their interactions with matter. The latter attempt to manipulate the social processes within the blue glass heaps of the other two approaches. Poets and artists have been comfortable in their skins, as representing those parts of tradition that stand apart from or against exploitation, violence and power. Hardly so. The question is not how to stand apart from artificial humans but what kind of artificial humans one is going to make. The faculties of attention one uses in work at human-making goes into the humans one makes. A combined stop sign and street sign, perhaps, for organizing and regulating traffic?

P1370990

(Note the shadow.)

Or an early Christian cross?

P1370992

Or what? There’s no use asking “What is art?” The question is absurd. It asks “what is the abstract generalization I have made by observing human-making” by viewing particular instances of human-making. It’s like saying, “I will measure my actions by a particular class of artificial human called “reason”, in place of the old one called “God”, by creating a class of actions which are not “reasonable” but are biological, and then comparing the “reasonable” ones with the “unreasonable” ones. Well, you can have a nice philosophical debate with yourself that way, but in the end, there is, still, a seed.

seed2

It catches something unseen, called ‘wind’. While some people put it to use (or dis-use), some people keep it alive and blowing. A society that does not keep this dynamic alive will die. Rationality (or irrationality) is no defence against that.

Human and Inhuman Environments

Where humans became human.

deerfleurs

 

Bella Vista Hills

Imagine living here. It’s possible.

Where humans became inhuman.

Vernon

Now, imagine living here. The temptation to pave the Bella Vista creek bed above would be extreme. (And is.)

Excuses aren’t much use.

The Secret to Contemporary Landscape Design Success

It’s about imagining what might be there, behind the anti-deer netting.

P1240501Why Bother?

I dunno.

Check out the beautiful ground cover, too. If you’re wondering what that stuff is, apart from the petrochemical installations, it’s ground up trees from urban lots, mixed with rotted leaves and a bit of sewage outflow, that is capable of supporting zero plant life but looks rich and fertile when it’s new. You might think that if you were spending $700,000 on a house, you’d want to set it off nicely, and you’re right. This is what setting it off nicely looks like! (Note: This is what cultures look like shortly before they die from the inability to sustain their contradictions. It’s great art, though!)