I’m not blogging much right now, I’ve been busy just watching and waiting on events. There’s plenty to write about, but more to do. I’m losing interest in world affairs to some degree, call it burnout. I find a good book (non-fiction) is much more interesting then what’s happening at the present. The present news is just more of the same – the collapse is progressing rather nicely.
Books can take you away from all that in a sense. I picked up a .25 cent copy of the History of Western Civlizations the other day at a garage sale. This particular volume only covers 1772 – present, what I really wanted was volume I which covers the entire history of Western Civilization until the 1700’s.
Fascinating stuff, books. They contain reams and reams of forgotten and lost information. Not many people show an interest in the past, believing that it doesn’t make any real difference. The past is a reflection of the present. Not knowing the past and understanding its history dooms you to make the same mistakes as before.
I’m also reading a great many travel books, there’s really good one by Paul Thoreux that covers most of Oceania. I’ve also got books on many other countries that look pretty interesting. At another garage sale, I picked up a whole bunch of travel videos, oriented mostly for tourists for places I’ve never been, but interesting nonetheless.
What the author of the videos didn’t intend to convey was the overbuilt nature of the world’s major cities. It’s amazing really that we have let things go so far, so fast. It wasn’t that long ago that many of these places were relatively small hamlets, surrounded by forest and farmland, but are now booming megalopolis teeming with millions and millions of people. It can’t be that hard to see the danger that these monstrosities are creating, but it seems to escape most peoples attention.
Many modern videos depict the life and crime in these infested places, Hollywood fictionalized stories for sure, but based upon a lot of truth also. Corrupt cops, dirty people and drug dealers – a common movie theme plot, yet found in actual abundance everywhere you go. I can’t even imagine living among such wretchedness, but many people do. The lack of sunlight, real dirt you can walk on, freely growing trees and clean water to drink would have me going batty in less then a week.
How do people do it? Pile on top of each other and live like rats in cages? It looks horrifying and yet that is exactly what a lot of people willingly choose. I don’t pretend to understand it. Life is more then a paycheck, more then money. I don’t find these things as true motivators, in fact, they repel me in many ways. The quality of life that I seek cannot be found in the cement jungles amid the teeming millions for the sake of a job. To think that it could causes me to shudder in horror.
But that’s me. That’s what I “see” and feel when I see these giant megalopolis. I realize others don’t see it this way at all. To them, the cities represent security, sanctuary and safety. The upright walls, the narrow corridors and the enclosed spaces provide them with a sense of comfort. They know their paths through the concrete corridors, where the waterholes are and where food can be found.
Not me. I’m quite literally lost in the city, clueless on what to do there, where to go and how to even get around. Finding my destination is always a chore, uncomfortable, painful and disturbing. The souless streets are barriers to my preferred path, but I’m not allowed to simply traipse cross country. I’d probaby be arrested or at least harrassed by some overzealous shop owner.
If you’ve grown up in the city, the city life can see very normal, whereas the country life can seem very strange, even scary. The level of dependence seems to go hand in hand the farther you are removed from the country. Instead of making, building, growing or assembling things, the city allows you to buy things. Anything. The cornicopia of what’s available to buy is amazing.
But there are things you cannot buy. The city doesn’t sell them because they are literally priceless, and no entrepreneur or capitalist or mega-corporation has yet managed to find a way to package it up and stack it on the shelves for mass purchase, although they have tried. But the plastic palaces with the fake trees and artificial gardens that they have created fall short of the real thing.
Quiet. Peace. Solitude. Wilderness. Forests. Free ranging animals. Birds. A flowing river. The wind blowing unhindred through the trees. Clear skies. A starry night.
None of these things are found in the city and cannot be bought, traded, bartered or sold. To find these things, you must go elsewhere and leave the city. Put its noise, dust, pollution, lights, smog and honking horns and wailing sirens behind you and venture forth into the great unknown, unfettered by asphalt and cement, glass and steel and brave the elements bare chested and unprotected by artificial encumbrances.
And it won’t kill you. What’s “out there” isn’t foreign or alien or ugly or scary or anything like that. What’s out there is the natural world, the world that supports and sustains everything else, including everything found within the city. All of that asphalt and cement and glass and steel and wood and electricty and cars and food and supermarkets and everything else all came from out there. It all orginated out there in a completely different natural form before it was mined and processed, packaged and distributed into bite sized chunks, unrecognizable and unknown from its original form.
And it won’t scare you. It’s the natural world that is inherited by all living beings on this planet, sharing the same common ancestory and source of sustenance and existence. The natural world is the place in which all things began, the way things once were all over the world before mankind ripped apart its layers of soil and wood and forests and refashioned and reshaped it all into his image and his desire, leaving behind mountains and mountains of tailings and huge wastedumps and gigantic garbage heaps. So the cities could be built. So the lights could burn through the night. So that the air could be choked with smog and pollution. So that bite size pieces of chicken bits could be precooked, processed and packaged into cellophane wrappers and instant “meals”. So that cars could clog the paved streets and take you where you once used to walk. So that everything around you was bought and sold, processed and refined, packaged and priced, constructed, created and painted. So that you could work work in a plastic cubicle with processed air eating processed food selling processed junk everyday of your life to pay for it all.
The injustice that mankind has wreaked upon the earth is truly incalulable. The cities are the highest artform of man’s vengeance upon his natural environment. His hatred for all things natural and pristine, left to its own existence within the natural cycles of life and death, evaporation and hydration, weathering and erosion. But this isn’t just art, nor a hatred for what is natural, it’s also the highest form of slavery every devised for the planetary inhabitants.
A fair trade for convienence, price and selection? For sheltering from the elements, from the heat and the cold, for easy transportation and job security? I think not. Not when you weigh in the actual costs in natural resources, time, money, labor and the real biggie as far as humans are concerned – human slavery. This is a cost that is truly incalculable, shaping entire civilizations, cultures, values and belief systems.
Yet, despite all of this, the cities endure. They contine to be built, occupied and expanded. Their true costs are not calculated, but their benefits are. Convienence, efficiency, division of labor, social stratification, arts, entertainment, transportation, schools, shopping, jobs and variety. These are the values and benefits to mankind, but are they really? Cultural values placed on monetary worth are, well, worthless and extremely damaging. The so-called “hidden costs” of civilization are now evident everywhere. Fractures of cultural collapse and the downfall of civilization are in evidence throughout the world.
The things which mankind cannot create, fabricate or devise are quite literally, priceless for that very reason alone. They are beyond our ability to manufacture and even manipulate, making them unique and unquestionably valuable. And they are the very thing that we are destroying at an unbelievable rate, remanufacturing them into our own image and desire, cheapening and ruining what was once priceless.
A starry night, unfettered and unclouded by smog, lights, noise and distractions. The planet sailing through the night among the twinkling stars, carrying its burden of humanity as they blink out, one by one until the sky itself is choked with the refuse of our civilization and the lifeforms underneath this choking canopy of poisonous vapors asphyxiate with gasping breaths for what once was.
Surely we can do better then this. It can’t be that hard. Not when we understand our own history from these forgotten books. Life was different before and undoubtedly better. Cultures were different, values, beliefs, living, all of it different and based upon a different set of expectations, desires, viewpoints and ambitions.
It wasn’t all better, but if we are to compare “this” to “that”, who are we to say that our poisoned and choked world with its devastated environment and enslaved peoples are “better” then the world before? The trade-offs we have made are many, but the end of these trade-offs is now in sight. And so is the end of the human race. Our claims to a “superior” culture is then, absurd. We’re wreaking the planet, our home, at a breathtaking pace and extinguishing species by the thousands every year.
“Better” doesn’t describe our present world. “Insane” is more like it. The ancient world wasn’t free of problems, but the quality of life, slower pace and limited impacts (comparitively speaking) were of far less impact than what we have today.
History has much to teach us if we would only listen. Books can teach us that. So can the surviving indigenous peoples. The lessons to be learned are right in front of our faces, but if we don’t write them on our hearts, it won’t make any difference. We will go the way other collapsed civilizations have gone, down into the dustbin of history, leaving behind our monuments, our idols and our towers and this time, a wreaked planet unfit for human habitation anywhere.