Thursday, February 5, 2009

"My instincts are propelling me forward, to make even more changes, to simplify my life dramatically, to become truly the space through which stuff passes:

... a part of the unfathomably complex dance of all-life-on-Earth, learning to improvise which of that passing-through stuff to touch, and which to just let go. "Ah, I know how I can make this better, or clearer, or more interesting, or more useful, or more innovative, or more fun -- there!" Just being the space, and touching the right stuff in just the right way as it passes through.

I am filled with impatience, with fury, with a sense that my own fears are holding me back from this journey, from what comes next, what is meant for me. What underlies that fear is all the gunk that I have acquired over the years, gunk telling me what is the correct and incorrect way to behave, and live.

That gunk has a name: Culture. The very word, with its agri-roots, implies control, tending, keeping in line. Culture tells us what others have a right to expect of us, and what we must do to live up to those expectations. Culture tells us that the punishment for not doing these things is social ostracism -- loneliness, unacceptability, unpopularity, reproachment, exclusion, abandonment, rejection and punishment. You must be obedient, says our culture, or there will be dire consequences. Without us, says our culture, you cannot survive -- you will starve, freeze, wither away. You will be left alone.
The answer does not lie in activism, in counter-culture, in revolution. Despite Heath and Potter's wishful thinking, solutions "compulsory for the entire population" will only be forthcoming in a totalitarian state, and then not in the interests of that population. And certainly the answer does not lie in technology -- as John Gray has argued so eloquently, every new technology creates many more problems than it solves.

The answer lies not in salvos from, or experiments on, The Edge, but beyond it, over the edge, the precipice. And, horror of horrors, we have to go over it, plunge into the abyss, alone. We have to walk away, and start over. Give up on everything we believe, everything we fear, scrape off all the gunk that is sticking to us, holding us back. Inviting those we love to walk away with us, knowing that they will probably decline, because they are still addicted to the culture, still believe that counter-culture, elections, revolutions, activism, collective consciousness, education, faith or technology will somehow work, transform the culture in time or allow some tiny new culture to survive in its nuclear shadow."

Dave Pollard