3.22.2011

Resistance

This is from the film, "Surfwise." Is living a nomad life with one's family still even possible?

The conditions of modern life — at least in the US, at least in San Francisco, at least for me — have become untenable. Or, to use a much used phrase, unsustainable: the demands of life are eliminating life. As I've argued elsewhere, the shortsighted consumption of fossil fuels — and the general pillaging of the planet — is not the primary resource that's running dry: it's human vitality.

But rather than enumerate the ills once again, I thought I'd give the question of resistance a shot.

So what are we to do? Or, more selfishly, what am I to do? Capitalism — and its police state — have become so smart and so fast, folding all modes of resistance into its spectacle at near infinite speed — John Lennon's "Instant Karma" is in a Chase ad, for god's sake. Corporations like Google, Apple, and Nike have made it seem cool to work endless days for enormous, soulless global beasts. It's unnerving.

But we can't just take off for the hills, anymore, as the hills have all been bought. Sure, there are remnants of this country where perhaps one can live inexpensively and enjoy the basic pleasures of life — slow food, slow sex, slow thinking, peace and health. But thanks to landgrabs and satellites, there is really no "off the grid" anymore.

My brother left NYC for Thailand 7 years ago. I don't think he's coming back.

Have y'all seen the film, "Surfwise"? This dude, back in the 50s, breeds like a madman and takes his whole enormous family off the grid, setting up camp on different beaches and surfing. No school, no house, working only when he needed to to have a little money. It's inspiring. But all I kept thinking is: try that today and you'd be in jail and your kids taken away.

So if we can't just head to the hills, what are we to do?

Well, first and foremost, I'd say: don't breed. Having kids adds a complexity — financial, legal, and emotional — that makes slipping into the cracks of life difficult. Could I pack up my little beast, find some quiet spot in the middle of the desert, and home school him while living on rice and beans? Sure, I probably could. But I don't have the courage for that. Nor do I have the appetite.

So, once again, what is one to do?

In The Practice of Everyday Life, Michel de Certeau talks about various kinds of ruses, most notably, one he calls la perruque (the wig): you work for the Man but use His resources for your own purposes. So you sit at your computer looking like you're working but you're really writing your novel and running your porn site. That is, you dissimulate and, behind your mask, you find your enjoyment, your vitality, your profits.

I believe there are little things one can do everyday, little ways to jam the bullshit circuit. These may seem trivial — and in many ways they are trivial — but they are the little things I do to foment a little revolution around me.

I try to drive generously. That is, I don't assume I'm the only one on the road who matters, the only one in a rush. I let people into my lane who need in. I don't floor it through yellow lights. And in this exceedingly small way, I try to make life a little better. For, jesus fucking christ, the utter lack of civility people show on the roads is unsettling. And I hope that by introducing a little civility, I may alter the flow of traffic, the flow of the day, the flow of life, even if only a little. Try it. Let's start the civil driving revolution and see if it makes life in general more civil.

I try to jam the cliche circuits in conversations with whomever crosses my path — barristas, neighbors, fellow drunks at the bar. That is, the media creates a creepy uniformity of how we talk about things, a discourse that controls and limits our thinking. Was that movie good or bad? Are you a red state or a blue state? All that shit is built on stupidity and the violence of opposition. And so I actively refuse those terms and try to introduce different terms. Rather than saying whether I liked or didn't like a movie, I'll say what I thought was interesting or not about it, formally and emotively. Or I'll introduce an aesthetic claim into a moral discussion — "I think so-and-so is cool looking."

I know, I know: trivial, useless. And the fact is all this usually does is make people hate me. There's a reason my phone never, ever, rings — except when my mother calls.

But my hope is that I can introduce slightly different ways of talking about things, at least in my own community, at least for the people I speak to. Because the fact is I find talking to people exhausting — I have to give so many caveats and qualifiers before I get to my point that I've lost my audience before I got there. Wouldn't it be nice — wouldn't it be revolutionary — if in everyday conversation people expected independent thought, new ways of approaching things rather than confirmation of the same old bullshit?

I know there are more radical, systemic modes of resistance. There are communes. There are urban communities where people support each other, take turns bearing the financial duties. There are Mike Reynolds' Earth Ships: self-sustainable homes, homes that are literally unplugged, using solar for its electricity and heat, rainwater for its water, a greenhouse for growing food. How do we take this "biotecture" to the city? Or do we have to leave the city?

I am not offering answers because, obviously, I just don't have any. Do you? Tell me, please.

24 comments:

Ryland Walker Knight said...

The not breeding seems key. Otherwise, I'm still trying to solve this riddle--while working FT. That is, progress is slow on this construction (of a life worth living, of the world I want to be a part of, or my own worth emotionally as much as financially). So, yes, I'm all ears, too.

dustygravel said...

"The more the division of labor and the application of machinery extend, the more does competition extend among the workers, the more do their wages shrink together."
-Karl Marx

For Guattari disire=production


"Where the whole man is involved there is no work. Work begins with the division of labor."
Marshall McLuhan

production+wholeinvolvement=leisure

what the Tee Vee taught said...

Find your courage, you fucking wuss!

Take biotecture to the city? Obviously, the mere suggestion is fucking insane: It's later than you think... a city is inherently unsustainable. Humans derive their live from the land... not from a concrete jungle. Leave it.

The "solution" (read: way to survive) is quite simple:

1) Acquire skills: Growing food, building and repairing useful structures. Thankfully, the knowledge is sitting at the library. Gehring's Back to Basics is a good start... served me well. And practice your skills: bring your boy. Teach him.

2) Acquire useful things: Quality Tools — this means copper; Rural Land — water, reasonably good soil... your land needs these things (think Northern California or southern oregon... a shitty old house on several acres is relatively cheap — some of these places already have greenhouses and barns... useful structures that you need to know how to repair).


Adapt to the changing world around you. Oil will not longer be cheap or reliable... we know this. All cities — now and forever — run on:

a) peasants or slaves
b) reliable transportation

Abandon the city.

You already know the world you live in. Consider yourself done with this world. Time for a new world.

Daniel Coffeen said...

Well, yeah...but there are things I like about the city — sushi and tequila and, most of all, women. Is this my clinging to bourgeois ideals, the infiltration of the spectacle into my desires? Have I become a foil of capital through and through?

Yes, I think so. Still, it's hard to give up the women. Find me one good woman who'd head for the hills with me and I'd go.

Til then, I seek urban remedy.

what the Tee Vee taught said...

Have I been tasked with a good woman search? If so, I accept. Wish me luck.

What I be telling ya... your bourgeois urban comforts/tranquilizers (most all of them) are placed oh-so precariously — the way a pair of sunglasses rest on a dashboard. If you turn, the glasses will fall. If you keep going... eventually, you'll run out of road.

Either/Or

Perhaps.

li'l girl blue said...

I would so dearly love to be able to contribute something pithily insightful but after a half day of brain-rackery the best I can come up with is...

Do you own a bicycle!?

dg said...

So about 7 years ago, I'm in an auto crash. An SUV is fishtailing, coming sideways straight for me. I remember thinking there's nothing to be done; either this is it or it isn't.

I'm curious: Why do you think there's an answer/something to be done?

Perhaps this is how extinction goes. Some theorize; some head for the hills.

Chad Lott said...

I think it's well past doom o' clock for any back to land movement that isn't served with a healthy side of mass human die offs.

City life is here to stay until there is no life.

You know who makes it then? Rednecks and primitives (not quite, but almost the same, and I mean that in a good way).

Ted Nugent may very well end up being a feudal lord when it all comes down.

Jeff M. said...

I don't know what I think about this idea yet, but I'll pass it along anyway.

Capitalism without capitalists:

http://www.peterfrase.com/2011/03/capitalism-without-capitalists/

I would also say to Tee Vee that if the industrialized world is really on the verge of a Kunstleresque collapse, then you might as well just cross your fingers and hope for the best. Preparing for the end of the world is futile. Survival will be a matter of luck and ruthlessness (but mostly luck), not preparation.

I don't have the expertize to evaluate the likelihood of collapse scenarios, such as Kunstler's Long Emergency, but psychologically it seems to me healthier to invest one's time and energy on the living here and now rather than the death that surely comes tomorrow.

(On the other hand, music, art and literature would suck if everybody was psychologically healthy).

Daniel Coffeen said...

@ Everyone: Fucking love this exchange!

@ Tee Vee: Not sure why your last comment is not showing up — I got it emailed to me but it's not on Blogger. Which proves your point: the system is collapsing!

I'm with you, of course: fossil fuel fuels it all and said fuel is running low. There are two questions:

1. Does this mean imminent collapse?

2. And, either way, how are we to live everyday?

It sounds to me like both you and Jeff M are on the same page, in a sense: you are both suggesting that the task is to live well. For you, that means cultivating food and the like. For Jeff M, perhaps, it's urban shenanigans.

Of course, if the shit comes down, I'm moving in with you.

Where's my woman, anyway?

@ l'il girl: I do have a bike. But it's a 3 speed and has a basket. Not sure if it's Mad Max enough to withstand the unruly heathens. But it will get me from point A to point B as long as the hills ain't too steep.

@ dg: Why do I seek an answer? Well, it's mostly selfish: the demands of my life are literally unsustainable. And methinks I'm not an exception to life in general.

rolland said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dustygravel said...

I agree that we must unplug from "the system".
I don't think the back-to-wilderness thing is really the most viable option, its inherently expansionist there for imperialistic there for oppressive.
Thats what the settler has always been, an imperialist.
Well, I understand that there are proubobly non-imperialist ways to go back-to-nature, and some might be able to do them with sustainable resorts bu just imagination if we all did it, thats just urban expansion. Yes, we might as well stay in the citys. That way at least the problem (us) is contained, relitively speaking of course.

Thats not to say that theres no hope, we just give up, and take whats coming to us. On the contrary seting up camp in the hurt of the best is a fare more radical opption, and this way we won't have to give up social existence. Can you think of anything more un-natural then isolation? To cut you're self off is suffocation.

No we are people, inflecting and reflecting each other is what we do, It's fun.

What needs to be consider is the way energy flows throw the system. Are all the components of the system being sustained or are some being sucked dry? Are some components heaping up becouse they have no where to go? That's polution. Are other components drying up because of over use? Thats depletion. Balance is finding inputs for all the output and output for all the inputs.

Production isent the problem all of nature desires production. D&G tells us about this in Anti-oedipus
"Infinite flux: for example, the anuse-machine and the intestine-machine, the intestine-machine
and the stumach-machine, the stumach-machine and the mouthe machine, the mouth machine and the flow of milk of a herd of dairy cattle("and then...and then... and then....") In a word every machine functions as a break in the flow in relation to the machine to which it is connected, but at the same time is also a flow itself, or the production of flows, in relation to the machine connected to it. this is the law of production of production." Nature is really production because it conuinse the flow, human society just suck because it doesn't.

So we need systums that continue this interconnectedness.
Permaculture is the design of such systems, it is the way to fight vampires.

Here are some links to some people who have been working on the desine such systumes.

http://www.urbanpermacultureguild.org/

http://cityrepair.org/

http://www.permaculture.org/nm/index.php/site/index/

dustygravel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dustygravel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dustygravel said...

I agree that we must unplug from "the system".
I don't think the back-to-wilderness thing is really the most viable option, its inherently expansionist there for imperialistic there for oppressive.
Thats what the settler has always been, an imperialist.
Well, I understand that there are proubobly non-imperialist ways to go back-to-wilderness, and some might be able to do them with sustainable resorts bu just imagination if we all did it, thats just urban expansion. Yes, we might as well stay in the citys. That way at least the problem (us) is contained, relitively speaking of course.


Thats not to say that theres no hope, we just give up, and take whats coming to us. On the contrary seting up camp in the hurt of the best is a fare more radical opption, and this way we won't have to give up social existence. Can you think of anything more un-natural then isolation? To cut you're self off is suffocation.

I propose bringing the wilderness to the city.

We are people, inflecting and reflecting each other is what we do, It's fun.

What needs to be consider is the way energy flows throw the system. Are all the components of the system being sustained or are some being sucked dry? Are some components heaping up becouse they have no where to go? That's polution. Are other components drying up because of over use? Thats depletion. Balance is finding inputs for all the output and output for all the inputs.

Production isent the problem all of nature desires production. D&G tells us about this in Anti-oedipus
"Infinite flux: for example, the anuse-machine and the intestine-machine, the intestine-machine
and the stumach-machine, the stumach-machine and the mouthe machine, the mouth machine and the flow of milk of a herd of dairy cattle("and then...and then... and then....") In a word every machine functions as a break in the flow in relation to the machine to which it is connected, but at the same time is also a flow itself, or the production of flows, in relation to the machine connected to it. this is the law of production of production." Nature is really production because it conuinse the flow, human society just suck because it doesn't.

So we need systums that continue this interconnectedness.
Permaculture is the design of such systems, it is the way to fight vampires.

Here are some links to some people who have been working on the desine such systumes.

http://www.urbanpermacultureguild.org/

http://cityrepair.org/

http://www.permaculture.org/nm/index.php/site/index/

mickseppala said...

I agree that we must unplug from "the system".
I don't think the back-to-wilderness thing is really the most viable option, its inherently expansionist there for imperialistic there for oppressive.
Thats what the settler has always been, an imperialist.
Well, I understand that there are proubobly non-imperialist ways to go back-to-wilderness, and some might be able to do them with sustainable resorts bu just imagination if we all did it, thats just urban expansion. Yes, we might as well stay in the citys. That way at least the problem (us) is contained, relitively speaking of course.


Thats not to say that theres no hope, we just give up, and take whats coming to us. On the contrary seting up camp in the hurt of the best is a fare more radical opption, and this way we won't have to give up social existence. Can you think of anything more un-natural then isolation? To cut you're self off is suffocation.

I propose bringing the wilderness to the city.

No we are people, inflecting and reflecting each other is what we do, It's fun.

What needs to be consider is the way energy flows throw the system. Are all the components of the system being sustained or are some being sucked dry? Are some components heaping up becouse they have no where to go? That's polution. Are other components drying up because of over use? Thats depletion. Balance is finding inputs for all the output and output for all the inputs.

Production isent the problem all of nature desires production. D&G tells us about this in Anti-oedipus
"Infinite flux: for example, the anuse-machine and the intestine-machine, the intestine-machine
and the stumach-machine, the stumach-machine and the mouthe machine, the mouth machine and the flow of milk of a herd of dairy cattle("and then...and then... and then....") In a word every machine functions as a break in the flow in relation to the machine to which it is connected, but at the same time is also a flow itself, or the production of flows, in relation to the machine connected to it. this is the law of production of production." Nature is really production because it conuinse the flow, human society just suck because it doesn't.

So we need systums that continue this interconnectedness.
Permaculture is the design of such systems, it is the way to fight vampires.

Here are some links to some people who have been working on the desine such systumes.

http://www.urbanpermacultureguild.org/

http://cityrepair.org/

http://www.permaculture.org/nm/index.php/site/index/

what the Tee Vee taught said...

(yeah, that internet gobbled up my comment... didn't like it. Anyway, I begin my rambling)

Clay Davis style: Shieeeeeeeeeeet... where's your woman? You had 40 years and I only get one day? Patience, grasshopper.

As for the big shift

Always remember: the earth can't import more energy... we have to make due with what we have. To conceptualize, think only about the energy around you... for an entire day. You'll be exhausted in an hour.

Imminent? We the people use 90 million barrels of the oily stuff every day... but I don't know. Too many variables to bother saying 4 years, 8, 12. However, many things are easy enough to "know":

The governments — and the powerful people who operate them for their own ends — who control energy resources will stop exporting them. You think the Russians and Iranians are going to continue to sell their beautiful energy? For what? American Power will flail destructively and insanely — as they are wont to do — open up Alaska, give every last bit of government land to BIG ENERGY (which we've done for over a century, they'll stick with the playbook) or maybe we'll completely overhaul our energy infrastructure starting tomorrow... having serious conversations about what is ahead of us... or something.

Power needed to get serious about renewable energy 40 years ago. 40 years of nothing later... and nothing. And why? American Hegemony doesn't run on wind... I suppose.

However, "running dry" isn't the problem for the citizen. The problem will hit as costs cross barriers: most of our activities will become cost prohibitive. The first thing to go — obviously — will be activities that operate on tight margins, where energy costs play a significant factor. This includes... well, just about everything.

The "for profit" model will come back to fuck the people one last time.

Remember (you'll like this), It's all a network — NETWORK ENERGY. As oil prices rise, the cost of blowing up mountain tops will rise too... causing coal powered energy (read: electricity) to jump. And now come up with your own example, FUN!

The financial element can't be understated. All of today's debts will be absolutely impossible to repay... which means (gasp!) nobody will know how to price goods and services. How much is my dollar worth? Nobody fucking knows! Madness! This is, obviously, already happening.

But, our bodies don't. give. a shit. about any of this.



Dmitry Orlov is hilarious and smart... these words — more than anything else I'm aware of — convinced me to get busy and have some fun with it.

I hope it is enjoyed

http://cluborlov.blogspot.com/2010/06/checkmate.html

what the Tee Vee taught said...

And, to use even more words:

How do we live everyday?

Get prepared now, get a good setup, and you can live pretty damn well!

Take your books. Your toys.

Stand alone energy systems can get a little expensive, but they'll keep you running (not the endless electricity of today, but some quality juice).

Using modern methods and tools to live an agrarian lifestyle is not that challenging.

People... you could do it.

dustygravel said...

agree that we must unplug from "the system".
I don't think the back-to-wilderness thing is really the most viable option, its inherently expansionist there for imperialistic there for oppressive.
Thats what the settler has always been, an imperialist.
Well, I understand that there are proubobly non-imperialist ways to go back-to-wilderness, and some might be able to do them with sustainable resorts bu just imagination if we all did it, thats just urban expansion. Yes, we might as well stay in the citys. That way at least the problem (us) is contained, relitively speaking of course.



Thats not to say that theres no hope, we just give up, and take whats coming to us. On the contrary setting up camp in the heart of the beast is a far more radical option, and this way we won't have to give up social existence. Can you think of anything more un-natural then isolation? To cut you're self off is suffocation.

No we are people, inflecting and reflecting each other is what we do, It's fun.

If we want to sustain.
What needs to be consider is the way energy flows throw the system. Are all the components of the system being sustained or are some being sucked dry? Are some components heaping up becouse they have no where to go? That's polution. Are other components drying up because of over use? Thats depletion. Balance is finding inputs for all the output and output for all the inputs.

Production isent the problem all of nature desires production. D&G tells us about this in Anti-oedipus
"Infinite flux: for example, the anuse-machine and the intestine-machine, the intestine-machine
and the stumach-machine, the stumach-machine and the mouthe machine, the mouth machine and the flow of milk of a herd of dairy cattle("and then...and then... and then....") In a word every machine functions as a break in the flow in relation to the machine to which it is connected, but at the same time is also a flow itself, or the production of flows, in relation to the machine connected to it. this is the law of production of production." Nature is really production because it conuinse the flow, human society just suck because it doesn't.

So we need systums that continue this interconnectedness.
Permaculture is the design of such systems, it is the way to fight vampires.

Here are some links to some people who have been working on the desine such systumes.

http://www.urbanpermacultureguild.org/

http://cityrepair.org/

http://www.permaculture.org/nm/index.php/site/index/

dustygravel said...

I agree that we must unplug from "the system".
I don't think the back-to-wilderness thing is really the most viable option, its inherently expansionist there for imperialistic there for oppressive.
Thats what the settler has always been, an imperialist.
Well, I understand that there are proubobly non-imperialist ways to go back-to(the)wilderness, and some might be able to do them with sustainable results but just imagination if we all did it, thats just urban expansion again. Yes, we might as well stay in the cities. That way at least the problem (us) is contained, relitively speaking of course.



Thats not to say that theres no hope, so we should just give up, and take whats coming to us. I think living sustainably in the city is possible besides setting up camp in the heart of the beast is a far more radical option. That way we won't have to give up social existence. Can you think of anything more un-natural then isolation? To cut you're self off is suffocation.

No, we are social animals. It's more fun this way.

If we want sustainability what needs to be consider is the way energy flows throw the system. Are all the components of the system being sustained or are some being sucked dry? Are some components heaping up becouse they have no where to go? That's polution. Are other components drying up because of over use? Thats depletion. Balance is finding inputs for all the output and output for all the inputs.

Production isent the problem all of nature desires production. D&G explains how production is at the heart of interconnectedness in Anti-oedipus, watch as they sting body parts together into a production of production,
"Infinite flux: for example, the anuse-machine and the intestine-machine, the intestine-machine
and the stumach-machine, the stumach-machine and the mouth machine, the mouth machine and the flow of milk of a herd of dairy cattle("and then...and then... and then....") In a word every machine functions as a break in the flow in relation to the machine to which it is connected, but at the same time is also a flow itself, or the production of flows, in relation to the machine connected to it. this is the law of production of production." Nature is really production because it conuinse the flow, human society just sucks because it doesn't.

So we need systems that continue this interconnectedness.
Permaculture is the design of such systems, it is the way to fight vampires.

Here are some links to some people who have been working on the design of such systumes.

http://www.urbanpermacultureguild.org/

http://cityrepair.org/

http://www.permaculture.org/nm/index.php/site/index/

Daniel Coffeen said...

@ Ah, TV: Compelling through and through....I'm persuaded. Just need that woman and a few more bucks. I'm working on it.

On energy: it's funny to me that we still burn shit.It's so prehistoric. And there is so much energy about, streaming through the world — and yet no one is seriously thinking about how to access it. It's the great thing about The Matrix: the machines used human beings as electricity....Which, of course, is what capitalism already does.

what the Tee Vee taught said...

Nah, the alchemists are out there... doing what they do.

Prehistoric? Oh, I suppose... but that seems like a decidedly odd way to think about "burning shit".

Combustion is rather exciting — the pleasure of lighting a candle. But ultimately, our burning shit is "just" our attempts to use the laws of thermodynamics — and that's the universe we live.

Essential to what all of "this" is. Transfer of heat... thank you Sun.

Chad Lott said...

I saw a Volt on the road today.

I'm pretty sure with a solar charging station and that car you could get ass well past the peak oil dark ages.

Chad Lott said...

Sorry, Tesla, not Volt. The Volt is for squares.