Becoming the Earth

Scientific culture tells us there is no relationship between this energy …
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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 …

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… 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.

Sustaining the Okanagan 17: Environmental Depreciation Tax

At the moment, farmers can mine gravel on their land and deduct the income from their taxes, as a loss of value. The result can be a vineyard, like the one below. Yes, a vineyard… do you see any grape plants? No, there are just roads, gravel, and dumped concrete scraps used as fill. The grapes are up higher.P1180299

Above this weedy bank.

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Early this summer, the farmer spent many thousands of dollars building a loading area and a lovely wide road big enough for a semi-trailer, to a small vineyard block at the end of his property.

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The cost of doing that is called an expense and can be written off against farm income. Of course, this behaviour comes with an environmental cost, which subsidizes that income but does not otherwise enter into the accounting. Private income, in other words, is subsidized by public loss. We can fix this. Putting through legislation requiring environmental values to be maintained … well, we already have that, and it’s not much use. But there is a way. Currently, farmland is taxed at a low value, which is a direct subsidy for farming, on the principle that farming provides public value. Such taxation subsidies could be removed for land that is stripped of environmental productivity. The same for land developers of any other kind. The housing development below, for instance. In this case, the yellow clover is doing its best.

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Even the trashed, unproductive grassland in behind. Squeezed between an inability to develop land into housing and an inability to trash it wantonly, farmers and developers, who are very smart people, would do the right thing.

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Mariposa Lily: a Grassland Crop Not Just for the Sweat Bees

Sustaining the Okanagan 16: Let’s Get Syrian

This is one of a series of posts  on creating sustainability in the Okanagan/Okanogan, a valley between the Monashee, Okanagan and Pasayten Ranges in north western North America. This valley, and the shrub steppe it is the shore of, is hot, dry, wet and cold, depending on when you encounter it. My part of it is also flush with Canadians seeking an American South all of their own. The “American” part of it is flush with families from the American South, who came seeking industrial farms, after the collapse of slavery made industrial farming questionable in the South. What my beautiful country doesn’t have a lot of is people who regard it on its own terms and learn to move lightly on its land. For that, I suggest a large influx of Syrians. Instead of another generation of people from Canada, retiring to my northern half of the valley for an image of wine bars and Eden, and another generation of people from Seattle retiring to the central region of this shrub steppe for the same gosh-darned thing, let’s have a people who know how to live on hot, mixed climactic zones. Let’s have our brothers and sisters from Syria, who have been driven away from the land into the cities of Europe, Turkey and North America, where they are not at home. Here, we could learn from them. We need to learn from them. This, for example, is here:P1050165

Vernon: the Canadian VersionP1120768

Yakima: the American Version

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Lake Lenore Caves, the Sinkiuse Version

And this is Syria.
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This is Syria, too:

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There is so much talk of the political danger of bringing people from the Middle East to Canada, but, for the love of Allah and Jehovah, at the heart of Islam is the land. This land:land_jabal_tareeq_hama

And by the heart of Islam, I mean the individual heart of each of the faithful. Our brothers and sisters have been keeping the land for, what, 20,000 years? 50,000? Let’s welcome them home from the wars colonialism dumped on them like shrapnel. Let’s say, “after your long journey, welcome home, look how beautiful you are.” And let’s sit at their feet and work at their sides, turning our bungled retirement subdivisions into living space:

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And I don’t mean for us. For a hundred generations hence. Sure, we could just go to the Okanagan Indian Band and achieve the same thing. Let’s do that, too. As for beauty, look:

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Look again:

UN Warns Half the Syrian People on the Move

Look again:

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Aren’t they just great? I need these people as my neighbours. I don’t need this bullshit:

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http://www.thewinefestivals.com

Let’s stop drugging ourselves.

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

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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.