The Hamlet Syndrome

 

Private land is not land. To illustrate that, here’s some private property, degraded from a grassland supporting a few hundred people to a weed land for about three cows, for about three weeks. Yet, it is socially very valuable, to one man.

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Let’s look more closely. Here’s the land. As you can see, to a human it’s about a road. This road, a line of will, leads into the land, where it becomes diffuse. Beautiful.land

When this land is considered in its entirety, though, you can see how human perception, and the road which represents it, leads to a horizon, not to the land. It is a boundary. There everything changes.horizon

At that point, the body stops representing itself as the land but represents itself as potential, energy, and a limitless future.

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It’s a trick of human intelligence. It creates a human narrative — ownership, or social posturing — out of unity.

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In this way, humans become aware of themselves. “To be or not to be,” said Hamlet, in a tragedy that was really a love story, in which the lovers, Hamlet, a gloomy sort, and Ophelia, another gloomy sort, were gloomy because they were separated. The separation led to high drama and tragedy (and to Hamlet usurping Ophelia’s story, sigh, which led to her death —logically, as she had been turned into nature)…

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The thing is, she isn’t, and neither is this:

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It is an act of separation, which creates drama. The problem with drama — and separation — is that the lovers die.

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Wouldn’t it be better if we helped them? No more To Be or Not to Be, for one thing. Love,  “land” and identity are not “not being” or “being” or any combination of them. Those are tricks of language and consciousness that divide earth from sky. Christ suggested that we bring them together. Then we brought him down.

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Peter Paul Rubens, The Descent from the Cross, 1616

The point was not the separation of body from spirit, but the union of sky and earth, potential and realization, self and other, right here, in every moment. That is not a narrative. That is consciousness. Selling consciousness, or Christ, or Ophelia, as a view is Hamlet’s problem.

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We could at least try to not make it ours.

 

 

 

 

Sustaining the Okanagan 14: Plant Tech

We exceeded the valley’s population carrying capacity 25 years ago. Our issue is water. You’d think it would limit human population expansion, but humans are socially clever and limit social access to water instead. To forestall an inevitable class revolution, it’s time to develop new water technology now. The plant world offers many examples of what can be done. All that is absent is the application of human cleverness to something other than social manipulation and IT. For example, the beautiful weed, Bladder Campion…P1180659

Silene latifolia

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Look at how the flower forms around an open chamber, with a spray of petals around its lips.

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This arrangement is not designed to capture water, but no matter. We have the technology to use this example to create water collection devices, which could stand inert until it rained, catch the rain, and store it by funnelling it from their petals into their bells. At that point, the water could be drawn down a hollow stem (tube) into a larger collection device, or when the level in each bell reached a certain weight the bell could tip, the water would pour out into a trough, which would then deliver it to a collection or distribution point. Alternately, little collectors like this (or banks of them) could be placed beside individual plants. They could collect rain, just as the plant, its root systems and the soil do, with this exception: when the water evaporated out of the soil with the sun that follows rain these little bladders could release more water, slowly, to make up for the loss. I’m sure devices could even be built that could be laid out as sheets, or which could be laid out in banks like solar panels. We have the technological intelligence, we have the manufacturing ability, we have a university, we have the thunderstorms, we have a great need, we have burgeoning social pressures, and we still have the possibility of a bright future. Bright futures are made. We would do well to get in focus.

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The Mystery of Surfaces

Do surfaces have edges? Or do edges have surfaces? Is an edge the limit to a surface? Is a surface the space between two edges, that is given substance because the edges separate it from the nothing around it?P1180691

Cat Tails

And that nothing around it, that is called “air” or “space”, what is that stuff? Is it a surface or an edge or, as our ancestors put it, a room? Is that why we say “children need room to grow?” Is the lack of such a room an edge? If so, does that make a room a surface? Is a three-dimensional surface a room? Is a two-dimensional room a surface? Is a one dimensional surface an edge? And what about the surface of water? What’s with that? 

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I ask, not because I want to unravel the mysteries of the world (I love them just fine) but because these are really questions about the human mind and how it sorts the world, which is a unified whole and, I suppose, not a room. Look how complicated edges and surfaces can get.

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Mustard in Her Finery

And yet we can read them perfectly. Why not. We are looking at ourselves. What the world  looks like, well, that’s the wrong way to approach it. It doesn’t look like anything.

Sustaining the Okanagan 13: Public Hardwood Lumber Woodlots

Plant a maple tree. Plant it beside a road.P1180856

Roads collect water. Roads shed water. Ditches, which line roads, collect water. Or maybe they’re just barren spaces, and just for show and meeting government regulations, but great for gophers, yes. Yes, great for gophers. (Note: Don’t worry. I didn’t fall over. I was just lurching. Don’t know why.)

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Or rocks. You could get all up-to-date, low-maintenance, weedless, hip and modern. It’ll cost a fortune, I know, but with dump trucks and loaders and diesel engines all over the place, which is fun, and, bonus, you’ll never have to do a thing again, ever.  Ever. Ever ever ever.

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Well, maybe not weedless.

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Maybe rocks collect dust and water and seeds, which is the whole point of rocks.

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Well, forget the ditches, then. Just do the whole yard in gravel. That way you won’t have to mow.

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Oh, right. Gravel is small rocks. Rocks and dust and water and seed all have a thing going. Shoot.

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So, back to basics.

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Plant a maple seed. After all, a road is just a big long rock, that collects dust and water and seeds. You can help, right? In a dry climate, where water gets more expensive and harder to source every year, why don’t we do away with ditches that don’t ditch and plant trees that take all that water away. I know, I know, they’re going to look pretty great and be full of orioles and gold finches and blue birds, but, hey, trees are like rocks. They collect things.

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For the cost of a handful of maple seeds, our grandchildren will have a hardwood lumber industry. No irrigation required. The choice is clear: either no labour with that or hours of weed whacking every year with this:

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And gophers eating your carrots. Sustainability is not hard. It’s often the easiest thing of all.