String Theory and Black Holes in the Summer of Smoke

There is a way of increasing the effects of gravity. Here is a picture of the string theory of contemporary physics, out of the laboratory and in the real world.

Call it the black hole effect, if you like. Physicists weren’t the first to work out its possibilities.

But the weavers were. Anyone who enters their gravity wells find themselves moving slowly. Gravity for them is quadrupled, if not more.

Every event horizon has its mistress.


And its beauty.

In a year without birds, the managers of the universe, driven away by our drought and our fires, these systems proliferate.

The Earth returns. The web below is an image of her gravity, made into a living thing.

That’s the kind of place it is. Simple as that.

Sustaining the Okanagan 19: Humans, Class and Environment

This is one of a series of posts about how to maintain a local landscape in the face of technological pressure. In this case, both the primary observation (all land and landscape is a system of ethics) and the intervention (be human) are simple. That’s not as obvious as it might sound. Let me try to explain. As an example, the grassland fly below is sitting on a cedar fence post from the 1960s, that is about to be pushed down to make room for a (guess) $1,500,000 house, affordable only to someone who did not make their money in this place, because this place no longer has the capacity to build its own houses in its most desirable spots for its own people — surely a measure of societal sustainability and success. (Selling the most desirable land to people from other cultures is not a recipe for cultural survival. It is a recipe for cultural replacement, with the notion of replacement becoming the culture.)

Something else you might notice: this fencepost is made from an old growth cedar tree from the British Columbia Coast, one of the 1,000 year old trees of pre-European civilization. It was stolen and transported here. What’s done is done, of course, and theft is not the issue. The issue is that this fly is standing on this history, in a world controlled by technology, yet is unable to control it. That right has been given to one particular class of inhabitants: homo sapiens. Within that group of critters, only one particular class has the means to control the technology, and that is a class of system managers from outside of this region, and those who serve them. That’s class behaviour, and that’s my point. It’s a method of human display and power-positioning to which the earth has now been enslaved. It makes all of us slavers. Those are harsh words, perhaps, but this is important. Please let me keep trying to explain. The image below shows a surviving bit of grassland, very close to where the green fly above was foraging. This is a mariposa lily with its pod open, waiting for a deer to brush it and knock its seeds into the bacterial crust on the soil. The timing of deer migrations and water patterns is probably exquisitely timed.


The only thing is, this is all taking place on a piece of land adjacent to the doomed fencepost, and likely the next plot of land for the next house. It is, in other words, also a class space. It is soon going to vanish. Eventually, so will the fly. So, putting all that together, we get something like this: in this piece of earth, a certain class of a certain class of inhabitants have the rights to self-determination, and others don’t. They are destined to extinction, in the manner that indigenous peoples were considered destined for extinction during the colonial period, due to their susceptibility to disease. (Of course, the disease was more the result of slavery and starvation than outright susceptibility, but that’s the secret few mention.) In this socially-charged landscape, the rightful inhabitants who don’t have land-ownership rights within human society are called “wild” or “nature” or “lazy” or “poor”, in the case of homo sapiens. Class behaviour for sure. The only thing is, every last one of us is equal in this place, and all of us are growing in the sun, and whatever this place is we are all part of how it is unfolding. Any deviation from that is a chose deviation, with class repercussions, not just for homo sapiens but for everything else that is here. Currently, this situation is being managed through technology, ownership and notions of capital (all pretty much the same thing), which draw down the energy of the land so it can be transferred into social energy, for class-based profit. That’s pretty efficient. It gives us houses (well, castles) like the one dominating a coyote, porcupine, bear and deer trail below.


And that bring us to another point: that house rises from the same set of social webs and the same set of class behaviours as the fencepost, the fly and the workers who built the house. It dominates the landscape exactly in the manner of its wealthy owners. It, too, is class behaviour. What’s more, as it stands in for a human, and is an expression of human bodily consciousness and social positioning, it is a special kind of human: a corporate human, much like the corporations which have the rights of biological humans to create the wealth that allows such houses to be built. And that’s my point: we can’t make accurate maps of social and material interfaces on this land without defining class and humanity. Including that house in the group of humans (calling it a specific class of human) makes discussions of land use more meaningful, in exactly the same way that including the drawn-down energy of the earth into financial calculations makes real costs and benefits more visible and more capable of being grasped and discussed. Check out this group of cows and their kids, put on the grass to eat autumn’s invasive weeds (nothing else is worth eating anymore, in this formerly wealthy landscape). Who needs a fence, eh. p1250920

Truth is, the fence is as much to assert control of other humans as it is to assert control over cows. It is an extension of human will. Those who live by it are bound to that human will. In other words, just like the house above let’s accord the cows, the invasive weeds, the surviving sagebrush and the fence human class rights as well. Does that sound strange? I hope it does. I hope it demonstrates how the word ‘human’ has been mis-used, along class lines, blurring equality between creatures, earth, societies, relationships and even virtual states. They are all humans. (Preposterous? Feel free to insert another word in place of ‘human’ and discard ‘human’ as an operative term.) After all, humans aren’t biological creatures. We are human because out of biological origins we have built up a parallel, virtual system of identity, based on the foundation of an interest in mark-making, such as the trail a five year old child made the other day, on the trail put over the old irrigation ditch made by Earl Grey back when this place was British. Elsewhere, he’s known for tea. Here, he’s a place to create identity — whatever identity you want.p1260050

The trail goes under these cottonwoods…p1260046

… planted to create a barrier between the poisonous chemicals sprayed on the orchard below and walkers on the trail. In other words, like cattle, or people separated from land by fences of private ownership (i.e. by capital), this tree has been assigned a class and slave relationship within its virtual living space, contemporary society. It too is human. It’s one thing to define our age as the anthropocene, the age in which humans have the power to control or destroy everything on earth, and it’s one thing to extend rights of power to all human groups, by race, gender, social class, country of origin and so one, but it’s a totally incomplete effort without extending that dignity and those rights to all that we assert control over and all the means by which we do it. If the world is controlled by homo sapiens, the world lives within the human social grid. It has been enslaved. If there are parts which lie outside that grid, let’s give them the respect of real difference, which means to break down the fences in our heads that tell us we have the power to control them. If there are parts which lie within the grid, let’s give them the respect of social inclusion, and talk about the pattern of social hierarchies that control not only them but all of us as well. Otherwise, the lives we really live, and the grids of power we live it within, remain invisible and every choice we make will founder, because it is based on a big lie. Is a society likely to take on this program? Of course not. Power is power, after all. However, a primary change is possible: to stop living from the proceeds of slavery. This we can change. It will create different patterns of individual and social identity, which will create more sustainable landscapes. Will it take 50 years? That’s nothing. I remember when those fence posts first came to the valley. That’s not so long. Will it take 100 years? That’s nothing. The mariposa lily I showed you has survived 100 years of overgrazing and fire suppression, and is still capable of springing back to abundance if given a chance. Does it matter? Yes. We will guarantee abundance for our children’s children’s children if we give them a place in the land. Sometimes things are exactly what they are. It’s not exactly that the nodding onion below (a vital and exquisite indigenous food plant) is “human”.


It’s that “human” and “nodding onion” are the same thing. The word “human” is a fence. We need to bust it down.


If you don’t know how, ask a cow.


Suburban Body Painting

Every house is a representation of a human body…P1050219

… including social representations of that body …P1050220

… and its cognitive sense of itself, inviolate in otherwise empty and invisible space…


So, of course, you’re going to want to decorate it with jewelry and bling…


These rhinestones are called “gardens”. You buy them. You, understandably, root out any plant that chooses to grow there on its own. It is not a gesture. It is the erasure of a gesture. Gestures are about tidiness. And boundaries. What is over the boundary is empty space. It is invisible. It should stay that way. If it crosses the boundary to the human body, it starts making the jewelry look cheap, and what kind of investment is that?


These jewels are very industrial (an old word for “creative”), that’s the thing, as you would expect from an industrial culture that invented artificial diamonds, so top marks for that. Just don’t let anything in through the skin. These jewels are also very ordered, as you would expect from a managerial culture.


Beauty has nothing to do with it. Beauty is a transient gesture. You can find it in any old lavender plant, and then move on, sated.


A glimpse will do you. The little gold choker around this body’s neck, for instance. Cute.


The only thing is, humans are, well human, and their minds wander and before you know it, they have made other little bodies and they scatter them all over the place. Oh, those humans! They like languages in which every word is discrete.


No connection between them except the gesture of setting them there. They clap their hands at this. “Beautiful!” they say.


These big apes are in love with artifice.


It’s reality they have troubles with.


Shoo! That’s body jewelry you’re eating there! Shoo, boys, shoo!



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.


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.

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.


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


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)…


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


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


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.


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.



We could at least try to not make it ours.





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? 


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.


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.

The Anthropocene Is An Illusion

You know the idea that the earth has entered a new geological age, one created by humans? For sure, humans have messed the earth up, big time. This is called a tide zone now.


Abandoned capitalized petrochemical killing nets.

But let’s just step aside from this macabre human interest in death and human greatness. It’s vanity. For instance, this islet …


… has more than one face. Seen from the north, it looks like this:


Yes, it’s a giant walking through the sea, neck deep. Is it just a rock? Of course it is a rock, but that’s not the point. The point is words. Here’s one: island. Like all words bound with the earth, it is a word that narrates perspective. Is it a rock jutting out of the sea?


Or is it one with the sea?


One leads to the anthropocene, one leads away from it. That’s a human capacity, a kind of generalness that irons out specificity. Like all words, island doesn’t just come from nowhere. It comes from deep observation of the world by indigenous, ancestral humans. It’s a point in the sea that is a thickening, a point of observation. You can see it from a distance and guide yourself by it, or you can stand on it and be within the sea and see the sea as part of yourself. Either way, it is a space of seeing, that looks out and looks in. Here are two:

joseph3Joseph of the Nimíipuu

The spheres hanging from his ears make 2 into 4 and all the world.

Ancestrally, to the people who made English (and Old Norse) out of their lives in the world, an island was a space of power that could take two forms, depending on your position. It is not a space of rock in the sea, but an eye. That’s not to say that it is modelled on human or animal eyes, but that the eye, the clot, the point of interchange precedes them both. Here it is:


That’s right, a yolk, the eye in the egg, the island in the shell. This is the word, the y, the ey, the eye, the egg, and so on. It’s not rock, a human sight organ, or a part of an egg. It’s this:

P2280417 redheart P2260373 zenheart P2280545 P2260332 P2260157Please, let’s not diminish it by saying it is a human recognition of human bodies written in the world. Of course, it’s that, but it’s also  a point of energy interface. Human bodies and human intentions, as our ancestors saw them, were one with the world. You have to deviate from that to create the anthropocene, which means deviating from indigenous peoples, including your ancestors, and a form of energy reliant on a perspective based upon the earth, for one based upon a different eye, the I, which is based on that abstracting principle. So, please, if you care about this planet, if you want to heal her, start from this one principle:

humans today have been trained not to interact with the energy transfer systems of the earth except through technology, including art.

If you don’t see the eye in the islet and the islet in the eye, that’s all the proof you need. Talking about the anthropocene, when humans have the capacity to fix this with every spoken word, is just vain and obscene. Don’t leave your art lying around on the shore.


And please don’t relativize this message.