Loons Confusing Eagles

I’ve watched loons intimately for 25 years, and I just noticed a couple of splendid bits of camouflage for the first time. The light was right. First, the tail. Not only does it hold a chick on that scooped back but in the absence of a young chick riding up there, it looks like one. Confuses an eagle like all get out, I suspect. Eagles aren’t that bright.P1200861 Thing is, there are two loons, rarely together, and usually one chick, often floating alone in the middle of the lake, on the principle that eagles are punctual (they are) and can be relied on (well, not really; they’re slouches). The chicks are often riding, though. When larger, they’re swimming at a parent’s breast, usually Mom’s, although Dad brings fish, so that’s good. And look at this second bit of camouflage: a ghost chick swimming along at the breast line. It’s all in the feathers.P1200878

Or is the chick in behind and slightly older, with its head peeking up, going in the opposite direction as Mom? An eagle is slouching at speed. It can count, but, sheesh, where to go? This moment’s hesitation is why there are still loons, because by the time the eagle has figured out, it has passed by. Beautiful!

Becoming the Earth

Scientific culture tells us there is no relationship between this energy …
P1190283 … and this energy …
P1190460 … or this one …

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… but it does propose a series of material causes and effects. They’re quite powerful. Science, however, lacks tools to view the patterns of connection between the above series with this …

P1190746 … or this …P1220635

… except to say that they form a part of an interlocking ecosystem based on competition (randomness creating pattern over time.) This viewpoint is cultural. To that culture, the pattern is inconsequential. The particular skill of this conception is its ability to become blind to pattern as a wholeness.

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For that, it gains narratives of cause. That’s what it’s looking for. Not the non-cause of this photograph of a frog…

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That the changes between energy states that lie within this world of chance are changes in manifestations of energy is not something its culture has the tools to measure, or cares to (it is looking for narrative, after all, which is a way of creating time out of unified space) so it ignores that image.

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Materiality doesn’t draw on these questions, because it can’t prove them (Ironically, it can’t prove them because it doesn’t consider them.) Poetry and art have the ability to embrace this material, but poetry grew to be ignored as a tool of making these measurements after it went through the romantic period as an expression of wordlessness (emotion.) That was a valuable role, but it was easily circumvented with more materiality. At that point, poets chose to become aesthetic, hoping that would be an antidote to the commodification or materialization of language through its proximity to materiality. Unfortunately, its emotions were too easily manipulated, even by poetry itself, and in the end it couldn’t compete with machine gun fire in Northern France. Modern ways of thinking, that grew up in the time of machine gun emplacements and trench warfare, looked for pan-cultural universality, at the expense of intimacy. Essentially, it was an attempt to stop war by finding universal human commonality. That was found — in more war. Post-modern modalities suggested that the way to re-balance these poetic failures was to use pursuits such as poetry in a self-aware way. Poetry would thereby become a kind of scientific measurement device, to replace the ones that miss these manifestations. It would measure measurement. The world, however, went on wordlessly, as more than a plane of random intersections. It was obviously neither a measurement device nor a measurement method nor human.

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The current fashion is to reformulate this failed solution by eschewing words completely and speaking of the non-space between words, where they are not (as if they were the things they named). This game insists that the space not be named or divided into forces, only honoured a new region of discovery called “vagueness.” Life (animation, energy) comes from it. Naming it kills its life.

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This is a profound return to ancient Judeo-Christian (and earth religion) principles. Like Judeo-Christian principles, it is based upon a source of energy that can never be viewed (if it can be seen, or spoken of, it is not the right one) — a conception that dives within itself and opens up to infinity in every moment, not as the end of a process of development (as science would have it, with its bias towards points of observation).

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Where’s the science that can match that dive into the moment? Where are the words that can unite its unity and disunity in one term, as science did nearly a century ago with the invention of quantum theory? Saying that poetry is social, which is poetry’s Big Idea today, and that even views of the earth are social product, is not an answer. I mean, look at this blown mustard.

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That’s not social, except as an escaped weed, but that’s pretty aestheticized. The romantic mode is still an option: it can be a part of contemporary poetry through emotion, for example, including address (‘O weed, I feel your branching’… that kind of thing — very big in eco-poetry circles.) Nonetheless, this mustard is an integral part of an ecosystem which includes human bodies, both physical and social. Furthermore, it includes the ability of humans to cast up two sides to unified questions, so humans can debate them and bring them back together. Humans love that. They also love taking things apart. They put words to this stuff, for example…

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… and it’s never unified again. Photography has proven more adept at that than words. What the Judeo-Christian tradition (which started with dividing the waters above from the waters below, in Genesis), and its science, and its poetry, have not done is to include the earth and its creatures within the social group, as non-human persons. This wasp hunter (below), for example, always moving for a better view right where I wanted to put my hand to get through this gate…

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… or this wetland morning.

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They look like poetry to Western eyes, I’m sure, just as I’m sure this entire conception does, and they’re certainly photography (although in its vagueness it lacks the vital bridging qualities of language.) Nonetheless, the work remains incomplete. Until we get past the idea that human-hood is person-hood or (its romantic-virtual incarnation) self-hood, or that being social is being human, we’re also stuck in such out-dated conceptions as male (or female) superiority, humans-as-language-monopolists, humans-as-the-rational-ones, and so on. We took the world apart, as part of a game, and for powerful reasons, most of them life-affirming. The other side of that game is to put it back together. Until then, we’re not fully human, because this…

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… or this …P1180232

… will be not us. It will be other. Humans don’t do particularly well with ‘other’s. Furthermore, may I add, this raven and this rock…

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… will continue to be seen as moments of the materialization of practical potentialities, rather than manifestations of unified energy that is, despite their difference, still unified.  Both are powerful modes. Neither precludes the other, except by force. Raven and rock are one. The word ‘habitat’ doesn’t really cover that, either, as it excludes the earth from the community of respect accorded to life. As a result, it loses the rights accorded to that respect, even so far as to be called “nature” (a human conception.) One consequence of failing to make this bridge is that men (culturally the holders of active force) will continue to be seen as road blockers to women (culturally the holders of receptive or attractive power), rather than being seen for what they are: together with women (and people of other genders and people of other species, including the earth) manifestations of a third, unified way. This cottonwood in wind at dusk, for example.

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All that stands between us is fear of losing ourselves, although that’s precisely what we need to do. Poets are well suited to participate in this work of self-making. They have given it over to fiction (narrative) for too long. It’s been fun, but it’s time to tell our children our family stories now. Our big family. It’s time to enter space and become time.

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The physicists and other cultural workers and beauticians will follow with their mathematics. They always have. Let’s welcome them heartfully and with full presence of mind.

Bear Going Nowhere

Two years ago, a mama bear taught her cub how to find grubs at Big Bar Lake, by knocking the cap off this old tree carcass.
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This year, as a two-year-old kicked out by mama and her three new cubs, she just doesn’t want to leave (perhaps because she’s a very tiny two-year-old), and had another go at it.
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But that’s a guess. It might have been Mama, back for another lesson. Either way, it shows an intimacy among resident bears, or perhaps female ones, that you’re just not going to see in a wandering bear. It is the same for us.

The Thing About Abstract Art

It isn’t abstract.V0021663

Concrete Forms of Water, Mass, Gravity and Light

Nice work by the raindrops, eh!

“Abstraction” is just a cultural term, signifying a preference to live within a certain group of projections of human bodily form (ones full of emotion, for example) which unify in human observation, like this …

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… instead of ones which unify outside of the point of observation, and outside of human concepts of unity, like this:

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… and this …V0000604

… at once. The snow buckwheat and the dried up puddle are the same amount of water climbing to the same sky. That is not an abstract observation. It just is beautiful, that’s what it is.

 

Dawn on Earth

It is a wave breaking on a shore.P1240161
It is sifted by trees that hold the night within themselves.

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The sun enters the water, and shines from there. (In the image below, it catches a tree that fell here before I was born, and has raised generations of trout in its weave.)P1240181

As the sun is filtered by the living trees over the shoulder of the forest, it lifts the water and the land together.

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During the day that follows, it is a memory, written in light.

wet2 This is when the wind carries the wave forward, through all the dimensions.wet

The water and the light flow with it, right through you.

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Where they become one is where you are. Only there. In all this universe. Earth creature, this is what your thinking looks like.

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Right through dusk. Of the day and of the year.

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Into the night.

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Then it begins again.

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That is your mathematics, earth dweller.

P1230289That is your music.You who live where the sun and the water meet …

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… and become one.P1230277

If you understand that, or find yourself trying to understand that, or think that these words or this conception is poetry, or that these are images of nature or psychology, please go back …

P1240196 … and try again.P1240219

 

And again.

 

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And again.

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Please take your time.

 

 

Sustaining the Okanagan 18: Truth and Reconciliation Through Indigenous Selfhood

Five days ago, I found a psychological diagram attached to a dropped hand-out for the truth and reconciliation process for creating healthy selves in adults who had suffered personal or cultural violence during Canada’s residential school program, which was intended to erase indigenous political issues in Canada by removing indigenous languages and cultures, including attachment to land and place. The diagram was a black and white variation of this famous pyramid:_69571892_triangles_464

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

It works on this principle: you need to sustain your body; only then can you look after your security; only then can you love and build community; only then can you receive positive reinforcement and find pride; only then can you actualize a particular technology within your body, called a self, which directs this step-by-step program and internalizes exterior cultural and environmental forces. 

I was struck by how colonial this process is, and how it is, in itself, a form of de-indiginization. After all, it contains a hierarchy, in which having a “self” is given priority, on this hierarchy:

  1. Food and shelter. These are”resources” taken from the environment (which is not on the chart).
  2. Safety, security, and so forth. These are things separated from the environment and from the environment of other people competing, seemingly violently, for the same “resources”.
  3. Love, family and community. These are things built within safety, which is separated from the environment, which remains as a competitive, violent source of “resources.”
  4. Esteem, honour, praise, worth. These are things built out of family or social life, which is built within safety, which is separated from the environment, which remains as a competitive, violent source of “resources.”
  5. Self Actualization. This is a integrated, interiorized representation of the entire pyramid, which makes this ladder of competition and protection into a self-standing process, both supporting society and independent of it.

Nothing could be more “US American” in the world. In Indigenous identity, the very premise of this hierarchy is not present, because identity and environment are one. That means that there are no resources, that safety and food, or community and earth, or praise and shelter, and so on, are not separate as they are on this list, but are all present at once in a unity, which is not “the self,” actualized or otherwise. Sort of like this:

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Toad Hanging Out

… or this Native American image of all that:

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There is no hierarchy here. The diagram shows four different forms of the same energy, which is the energy at the centre of the wheel, or this (for example):

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Thule Reeds and Kayak Waves

Houses, mats, food, sources of feminine power, vital trade goods, and important energy for many other living forms of energy, such as loons and dragonflies and beavers and trout.

In comparison to that, all that this …

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… can do is to replace indigenous identity with a social code, for use in interacting with a non-indigenous culture that forms abstract patterns and divisions in place of unities. And that is the colonization project in a nutshell. It has some use in a power-oriented society based on certain classes of privilege, but at the very least the image could include a foundational step, called Earth Needs. At best, it should be a circle, with the understanding that humans are part of their environment, are formed in response to it, and that all points of self, from 1 to 5 on this chart, are always present, although always formed by what comes through from the “previous” level. If the levels are barriers, or doorways, then only what can pass through barriers or doorways can pass and be available for the next level. If the transfers are points of unity instead, then what can pass through unity will be available for the next energization. If all transfers transfer unity, then 5 won’t be self-actualization but world actualization, instead of the actualized self living inside a 5-walled fortress, in a world it has a part in only by “taking” and owning. I’m sorry, but we can do better, by giving not taking, along a unified flow between spirit, body, mind and emotion, from one to the next, within unity. Like our sister, Siya?

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Who gives. Who we know as the sound of children moving through her and accepting this gift, among birds and deer and bees. Who we care for so we can give her to them, and them to her, for their training. These children who bring us berries on her behalf. Berries which bring us into the afternoon summer sun:

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World actualization, earth actualization, valley actualization or indigenous actualization would all help sustain us in our earth. This…

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…does not. We should put it in a museum.