Heaven and Earth are everlasting
The reason Heaven and Earth can last forever
Is that they do not exist for themselves
Thus they can last forever
Therefore the sages:
Place themselves last but end up in front
Are outside of themselves and yet survive
Is it not due to their selflessness?
That is how they can achieve their own goals
– Tao Te Ching
On The Menu:
A Week Of It
Buster The Kitty
Anne Briggs (1971)
A Week Of It:
So… it has been a week of it. The trees are going nuts, the sky is either bright blue, or pounding down with rain, with little between. Perfect spring weather. We lost our old cat Buster to the grinding wheels of time yesterday. It was expected but what a shock. None of the 4 footed now remain in our tribe.
Today: So I got up really early and took a long walk. My health has been a bit of a concern, so I am spending less time sitting on the computer, and trying to get back up on the whole idea of exercising. So… there it is about 6:30 in the morning, and I am out walking thinking about the passed week, and the plans for the new week. Not much going on in the here and now until I got into the walk, and discovered part of the South West Portland Trail set up. I had been meandering along and all of a sudden I found a trail head in an area I had no idea that the trail existed in. Kind of neat finding it.
I arrived at home, fixed coffee, and proceeded to work on art. Whilst working on a new piece with pen and ink I came to realize that with Buster’s passing that I hadn’t accepted fully that we were entering a new phase in our lives. I understood that there had to be a ceremonial break, and after working on the Land Cruiser with Mary getting it ready for the week, I went into the shop, and retrieved the poetry box that has been gathering dust. I went out to the front, dug a hole for the post, and put the box up:
Jessa took this photo of yours truly, dishevelled, and happy:
You have to make a clean break of it. I always had, but the last bunch of changes have been on a new level all together. Time to move along, time.
The first poem was the last one posted at the old digs. Wendell Berry, who grows ever so in my estimations:
“Circles of Our Lives”
Within the circles of our lives
we dance the circles of the years,
the circles of the seasons
within the circles of the years,
the cycles of the moon
within the circles of the seasons,
the circles of our reasons
within the cycles of the moon.
Again, again we come and go,
changed, changing. Hands
join, unjoin in love and fear,
grief and joy. The circles turn,
each giving into each, into all.
Only music keeps us here,
each by all the others held.
In the hold of hands and eyes
we turn in pairs, that joining
joining each to all again.
And then we turn aside, alone,
out of the sunlight gone
into the darker circles of return.
Buster The Kitty:
It has been a week of joy & sorrow. Our old kitty Buster passed away, just shy of his 18th birthday. The week in many ways was formed around him and the process he was in. Here is Buster at the place in the yard where the birdbath was. As he no longer hunted, he would wait for the Wren to bath in the morning, after which he would walk over/and later pull himself to, and drink his fill.
Buster came to us the day we moved into our old house on 22nd. A neighbor slipped him to Rowan who was about 5 at the time. I was really ticked off, as we already had a cat, but he soon made his way into our hearts. He would run up my leg (thank goodness for denim!) when he heard the can opener. He always loved his food.
Being the Beta cat, he ran the outside whilst Nickey our older kitty ruled the roost. Buster was a known terror of the neighborhood, who took on the task of Rat & Squirrel master. He would leave presents of what I called “Rat On A Stick” the bottom half eaten and the top half with a look of “Surprise!”. I would come out, and there he would be, prancing back and forth. I would have to retrieve the half rat, and make noises of praise, on which the strutting would get even more pronounced.
He was known locally in the old neighborhood as “Schwarzen-Kitteh” as he was very buff, though small. He was solid muscle, and the neighbors used to complain about his pursuits of squirrels through the upper trees, across roofs, through yards… He was a fierce hunter.
As he got older he mellowed out considerably. After Nicky passed away, he moved more into the house, and became a great companion. He always wanted to be in your lap, and loved hanging out with people. The only time he would make him self scarce was during Solstice and other large gatherings, to reappear and resume his place and dialog with the family. He became more vocal, and loved nothing better than hanging out lounging against my leg when I was on the computer. Eventually he took to sleeping with us, and he ruled the bed until he started losing it later on in life.
I think the move was hard on him. He had known but one place in his life. He was not happy at first in the new place. I don’t think he quite adjusted to it. In the last 4 months of his time with us he lost the use of his hind legs due to a Thrombus, and even that didn’t slow him down. He would pull himself through the house at a furious rate, though the last month found him not up to it anymore. He would come into the office, and want to be held, or he would lean against my leg for hours at a time. The last weeks were spent in a near constant communion with him when we were at home. Towards the end he wanted to be in our presence at all times.
When he finally died, he was being held by all of us. He went peacefully. We miss him already.
By – Anon
Translated by Seamus Heaney
From the ninth-century Irish poem
Pangur Bán and I at work,
Adepts, equals, cat and clerk:
His whole instinct is to hunt,
Mine to free the meaning pent.
More than loud acclaim, I love
Books, silence, thought, my alcove.
Happy for me, Pangur Bán
Child-plays round some mouse’s den.
Truth to tell, just being here,
Housed alone, housed together,
Adds up to its own reward:
Concentration, stealthy art.
Next thing an unwary mouse
Bares his flank: Pangur pounces.
Next thing lines that held and held
Meaning back begin to yield.
All the while, his round bright eye
Fixes on the wall, while I
Focus my less piercing gaze
On the challenge of the page.
With his unsheathed, perfect nails
Pangur springs, exults and kills.
When the longed-for, difficult
Answers come, I too exult.
So it goes. To each his own.
No vying. No vexation.
Taking pleasure, taking pains,
Kindred spirits, veterans.
Day and night, soft purr, soft pad,
Pangur Bán has learned his trade.
Day and night, my own hard work
Solves the cruxes, makes a mark.
Great album by one of Britain’s great interpreters of traditional music.
Anne Briggs (1971)
Reading his works again. Always something to find in his writings!
By Hakim Bey
As a writer, I am distressed and depressed by the suspicion that “dissident media” has become a contradiction in terms – an impossibility. Not because of any triumph of censorship however, but the reverse. There is no real censorship in our society, as Chomsky points out. Suppression of dissent is instead paradoxically achieved by allowing media to absorb (or “co-opt”) all dissent as image.
Once processed as commodity, all rebellion is reduced to the image of rebellion, first as spectacle, and last as simulation. (See Debord, Baudrillard, etc.) The more powerful the dissent as art (or “discourse”) the more powerless it becomes as commodity. In a world of Global Capital, where all media function collectively as the perfect mirror of Capital, we can recognize a global Image or universal imaginaire, universally mediated, lacking any outside or margin. All Image has undergone Enclosure, and as a result it seems that all art is rendered powerless in the sphere of the social. In fact, we can no longer even assume the existence of any “sphere of the social. All human relations can be—and are—expressed as commodity relations.
In this situation, it would seem “reform” has also become an impossibility, since all partial ameliorizations of society will be transformed (by the same paradox that determines the global Image) into means of sustaining and enhancing the power of the commodity. For example, “reform” and “democracy” have now become code-words for the forcible imposition of commodity relations on the former Second and Third Worlds. “Freedom” means freedom of corporations, not of human societies.
From this point of view, I have grave reservations about the reform program of the anti-Drug-Warriors and legalizationists. I would even go so far as to say that I am “against legalization.”
Needless to add that I consider the Drug War an abomination, and that I would demand immediate unconditional amnesty for all “prisoners of consciousness”—assuming that I had any power to make demands! But in a world where all reform can be instantaneously turned into new means of control, according to the “paradox” sketched in the above paragraphs, it makes no sense to go on demanding legalization simply because it seems rational and humane.
For example, consider what might result from the legalization of “medical marijuana”—clearly the will of the people in at least six states. The herb would instantly fall under drastic new regulations from “Above” (the AMA, the courts, insurance companies, etc.). Monsanto would probably acquire the DNA patents and “intellectual ownership” of the plant’s genetic structure. Laws would probably be tightened against illegal marijuana for “recreational uses.” Smokers would be defined (by law) as “sick.” As a commodity, Cannabis would soon be denatured like other legal psychotropics such as coffee, tobacco, or chocolate.
Terence McKenna once pointed out that virtually all useful research on psychotropics is carried out illegally and is often largely funded from underground. Legalization would make possible a much tighter control from above over all drug research. The valuable contributions of the entheogenic underground would probably diminish or cease altogether. Terence suggested that we stop wasting time and energy petitioning the authorities for permission to do what we’re doing, and simply get on with it.
Yes, the Drug War is evil and irrational. Let us not forget, however, that as an economic activity, the War makes quite good sense. I’m not even going to mention the booming “corrections industry,” the bloated police and intelligence budgets, or the interests of the pharmaceutical cartels. Economists estimate that some ten percent of circulating capital in the world is “gray money” derived from illegal activity (largely drug and weapon sales). This gray area is actually a kind of free-floating frontier for Global Capital itself, a small wave that precedes the big wave and provides its “sense of direction.” (For example gray money or “offshore” capital is always the first to migrate from depressed markets to thriving markets.) “War is the health of the State” as Randolph Bourne once said—but war is no longer so profitable as in the old days of booty, tribute and chattel slavery. Economic war increasingly takes its place, and the Drug War is an almost “pure” form of economic war. And since the Neo-liberal State has given up so much power to corporations and “markets” since 1989, it might justly be said that the War on Drugs constitutes the “health” of Capital itself.
From this perspective, reform and legalization would clearly be doomed to failure for deep “infrastructural” reasons, and therefore all agitation for reform would constitute wasted effort—a tragedy of misdirected idealism. Global Capital cannot be “reformed” because all reformation is deformed when the form itself is distorted in its very essence. Agitation for reform is allowed so that an image of free speech and permitted dissidence can be maintained, but reform itself is never permitted. Anarchists and Marxists were right to maintain that the structure itself must be changed, not merely its secondary characteristics. Unfortunately the “movement of the social” itself seems to have failed, and even its deep underlying structures must now be “re-invented” almost from scratch. The War on Drugs is going to go on. Perhaps we should consider how to act as warriors rather than reformers. Nietzsche says somewhere that he has no interest in overthrowing the stupidity of the law, since such reform would leave nothing for the “free spirit” to accomplish—nothing to “overcome.” I wouldn’t go so far as to recommend such an “immoral” and starkly existentialist position. But I do think we could do with a dose of stoicism.
Beyond (or aside from) economic considerations, the ban on (some) psychotropics can also be considered from a “shamanic” perspective. Global Capital and universal Image seem able to absorb almost any “outside” and transform it into an area of commodification and control. But somehow, for some strange reason, Capital appears unable or unwilling to absorb the entheogenic dimension. It persists in making war on mind-altering or transformative substance, rather than attempting to “co-opt” and hegemonize their power.
In other words it would seem that some sort of authentic power is at stake here. Global Capital reacts to this power with the same basic strategy as the Inquisition—by attempting to suppress it from the outside rather than control it from within. (“Project MKULTRA” was the government’s secret attempt to penetrate the occult interior of psychotropism-–it appears to have failed miserably.) In a world that has abolished the Outside by the triumph of the Image, it seems that at least one “outside” nevertheless persists. Power can deal with this outside only as a form of the unconscious, i.e., by suppression rather than realization. But this leaves open the possibility that those who manage to attain “direct awareness” of this power might actually be able to wield it and implement it. If “entheogenic neo-shamanism” (or whatever you want to call it) cannot be betrayed and absorbed into the power-structure of the Image, then we may hypothesize that it represents a genuine Other, a viable alternative to the “one world” of triumphant Capital. It is (or could be) our source of power.
The “Magic of the State” (as M. Taussig calls it), which is also the magic of Capital itself, consists of social control through the manipulation of symbols. This is attained through mediation, including the ultimate medium, money as hieroglyphic text, money as pure Imagination as “social fiction” or mass hallucination. This real illusion has taken the place of both religion and ideology as delusionary sources of social power. This power therefore possesses (or is possessed by) a secret goal; that all human relations be defined according to this hieroglyphic mediation, this “magic.” But neo-shamanism proposes with all seriousness that another magic may exist, an effective mode of consciousness that cannot be hexed by the sign of the commodity. If this were so, it would help explain why the Image appears unable or unwilling to deal “rationally” with the “issue of drugs.” In fact, a magical analysis of power might emerge from the observed fact of this radical incompatibility of the Global Imaginaire and shamanic consciousness.
In such a case, what could our power consist of in actual empirical terms? I am far from proposing that “winning” the War on Drugs would somehow constitute The Revolution—or even that “shamanic power” could contest the magic of the State in any strategic manner. Clearly however the very existence of entheogenism as a true difference—in a world where true difference is denied—marks the historic validity of an Other, of an authentic Outside. In the (unlikely) event of legalization, this Outside would be breached, entered, colonized, betrayed, and turned into sheer simulation. A major source of initiation, still accessible in a world apparently devoid of mystery and of will, would be dissolved into empty representation, a pseudo-rite of passage into the timeless/spaceless enclosure of the Image. In short, we would have sacrificed our potential power to the ersatz reform of legalization, and we would win nothing thereby but the simulacrum of tolerance at the expense of the triumph of Control.
Again: I have no idea what our strategy shall be. I believe however that the time has come to admit that a tactics of mere contingency can no longer sustain us. “Permitted dissent” has become an empty category, and reform merely a mask for recuperation. The more we struggle on “their” terms the more we lose. The drug legalization movement has never won a single battle. Not in America anyway—and America is the “sole superpower” of Global Capital. We boast of our outlaw status as outsiders or marginals, as guerilla ontologists; why then, do we continually beg for authenticity and validation (either as “reward” or as “punishment”) from authority? What good would it do us if we were to be granted this status, this “legality”?
The Reform movement has upheld true rationality and it has championed real human values. Honor where honor is due. Given the profound failure of the movement however, might it not be timely to say a few words for the irrational, for the irreducible wildness of shamanism, and even a single word for the values of the warrior? “Not peace, but a sword.”
The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named is not the eternal name
The nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth
The named is the mother of myriad things
Thus, constantly without desire, one observes its essence
Constantly with desire, one observes its manifestations
These two emerge together but differ in name
The unity is said to be the mystery
Mystery of mysteries, the door to all wonders
– Tao Te Ching