Battle Cry: The Positive Conscious Adaptation Revolution

We yearn for a wild existence regardless of our culture. Regardless of our age, our gender, or our religion. A wild world surrounds us; we breathe it in; we consume it on our plates; we make it into our homes.

Not many know or remember, but at one point every telephone pole from Michigan to the coast of California was made from the trunk of a white cedar growing in Minnesota. Not long after Minnesota’s own rich hematite- the beloved iron ore of our Vermilion, Cuyuna, and Mesabi Range- would undergo a fantastic and devastating transformation from mere rock into the steel that would make almost every American car on the highway and every tank on Uncle Sam’s battlefield. Our wilderness is the fabric that builds our cities, fights our wars, and provides the space and raw material for our agriculture.

Science and industry and perhaps in some ways even our religions have done a fine job at giving us a kind of subconscious coziness about our resources. We have a selective deafness about them. We understand that they come from somewhere, but we purposely plead ignorance in order to save ourselves the responsibility.

It’s not implausible to me that this could be the fundamental issue we have going forward in building a wild and working world. We must bridge worlds that have not been linked in the West in two hundred years. A conscious adaptation must occur, and now, if we are to maintain our humanity, and avoid finding ourselves waking up as a creature we do not know, we do not love, and do not wish to be.

The transformation is occurring now. Transhuman elements are finding viable combination. Humanity does wish to be the android, but we have been given a false mythology that it is our destiny. This is Manifest Destiny, alive and well today, and embodied in Silicon Valley and the liberal techno-culture of the Millennial age. The principles of Manifest Destiny do not simply apply to our relations to Native America, as we have been taught. It applies to our relationship to the world in its entirety. Make no mistake: when the elites speak of a “transhuman” or even techno-religious idea like “Singularity,” what they are talking about is the fulfillment of Manifest Destiny.

One of the things that troubles the industrial doers and shakers as they deal with the Native America “issue” and a culture of displacement and extreme disenchantment, is that it cannot be removed in a cultural sense from the land. Where their culture goes so too does reverence for a wild world, which is at odds with the colonial domesticated world. Although the Native people of North America were definitely dealing with “agriculture”, it is hard to see the practices we use in our agricultural pursuits as related, save that it involves in some way seeds and soil. So this reverence for what is wild has a habit of trying to preserve itself in the face of a relentless economic machine, and the machine doesn’t like it.

As people who abide by the principles of earth to the best that we know how, we have to be prepared to fight for our vision of a reversely-assimilated world. This time it will be capitalism and industry that must learn to assimilate to the wild, and not some other way around. We do not need to protest or to politicize to achieve this end. In fact, that may do the vision in. As we see in hyper-politicized movements like “third-wave” or “liberal” feminism, division can breed quickly and without warning in any fast-paced “revolution”. One morning you’re all on the same page and the next you’re accusing each other of hate speech, misrepresentation, and slander. Most of those who believe in the “cause” are honest and logical. But there are outliers who take their tribal motivations too far, and these agents have the very real power to collapse movements with great momentum. A small jaunt into the history of the hippie years of the 1960s gives revealing insight into this danger.

Instead, it would do us better to seek brilliant minds who can bridge these gaps, in the field, and in our philosophies (from the without and within). Most importantly, it would be beneficial to start with an entirely new and thorough analysis of the wild, which is in fact what I seek to help engender over the course of my literary and artistic lifetime.

Currently, in our model of “sustainability”, we do not start with the wild; we begin with industry and try to figure out how to preserve that first. Really, a great deal of the environmental movement at this point can be said to be more of a “corporate preservation” movement, not a wild preservation movement. Each inclement of preservation ekes out from the baseline of corporate mega-profits. Any profit that may fall below these astronomically unbalanced projections and models of wealth is taken as a threat to the ruling order and to our way of lives- because it is. The economists are not incorrect in seeing the world from this lens. But it is not a holistic or complete view, and that is where the issue lies. Our knee jerk reactions are not necessary however. Our worry of a dangerous wild world is unfounded.

It is not the farmer that will be hurt by this movement.

It is not the Native person on the reservation that will be hurt by this movement.

It is the not the rural landowner that will be hurt.

It is not the hard worker who thinks quickly on their feet that will be hurt by this new environmentalism.

It will not be the philosopher who will be upended.

It will be those who have no values. Who have no will. In a harsh terminology, the parasitic elements among us will shrivel. I do not mean this as a kind of battle cry. It’s not at all like that. There are no good guys and bad guys. There is no ideology, in my assessment, that has done a damn thing about our depleting wilderness, so it is pointless to turn to ideology for answers in these matters anyway. I won’t speak for anyone else, but this is my observation. Instead of a heated debate, a community picnic would probably be far more revolutionary regarding this change. A hike, doubly so. A week long excursion to the forest? Now we’re on fire.

We will have to work together, slowly, surely, and damn critically. As was the case a thousand years ago, entire sequences of generations will be put to this task as a kind of trans-temporal teamwork. The ahistorical nature of Nature will reemerge with the revelation of a human who thrives in a natural equilibrium with their environment. We have not lost everything yet, and there is no reason it must be banished.

Is this in any way a political movement?

No, it is a process of perhaps agonizingly slow conscious positive adaptation.

Will it take a class war?

No, it will take lots of camping.

Will it take years of back-breaking labor and pints of blood and sweat and gallons of ingenuity?

Yes. But is that not the struggle America is founded on? Whether you came to this continent 11,000 years ago over a land bridge now unremembered, or on a jumbo plane in 2006, we are a nation of strength and cleverness that cannot and has never been beat, and this is precisely because of our relationship to our wilderness. Whether your origins are in the colonial battle against the ruthless elements or in the harmony and reverence for the natural world practiced by the Indigenous Nations, you have been raised in a culture surrounded by and entrenched in wilderness. Even the Native Nations have had to modify their behavior over the years to find a path towards CPA. In the West we have painted our Indigenous cultures as either savage foes or angelic fawns who are like a fairy kingdom await in the loving peaceful wild. In fact, the precolonial cultures of North America were not much different than the colonial ones in terms of their individual struggles, aspirations, and passions, except that their core cultural principles were expanded beyond the world of humanity to a model of reality that encompasses both nature and supernature. It does not take a lengthy study of Mexico and Canada to see a similarly rugged bloody and beautiful history, filled with danger, exploration, warfare, love, passion, and truth. Humanity. Raw and exposed in layers of basalt and limestone.

Our humanity is anchored to the wild. What makes us us springs from the soils of our wild places like strong cedar trees.

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Earth, and its Dark Spots

IMG_0156by Ethan Fleisher

 

woe to the thief who catches wind of the truth.

woe to the bandit that sees his reflection

flashing in a drug store window.

woe to the river dog who watches a last pine fall

from his reward has come his doom, and not so late.

woe to the tyrant who kills his last serf,

to see his kingdom emptied of its blood.

woe to the woman who kisses a boy

to make jealous another, so only to find

he will never trust her because of it.

woe to the writer who pens all his secrets

exposed and naked he withers in winds.

woe to the god who makes smart all his monkeys

replaced by the creature, usurped by creation.

woe to the poem that words out the world’s magic

brujos add potion to the inkwell and quill.

Genocide and Time Schisms: Today’s Psychology of Wilderness and Progress

My grandfather tells me stories.

When winters came through the jack pine barrens of northwest Minnesota with such tenacity that the world was washed away. Disappeared in a violent white. -50 wind-chill, 80mph winds. They tied a rope from the door of the house to the barn so that they could find their way through the snow blind to feed the cattle. The creek below the hill, tucked back in a low slough shrouded by white pine, would stay open and running through the winter months. They boiled the frigid waters. Wandered bleary eyed in the morning to fill a basin. A kitchen saturated in the smell of woodsmoke and side pork.

Sometimes he talks about those ancient beasts that were so commonplace to his prior universe. Characters not only roaming the scablands of the post-depression era but of his heart. His eyes impart a depth when he gets to these parts of the tale.

 

He describes the Prairie Chicken.

A small beast. A mostly ground-dwelling bird, about the size of a small chicken (and similar shape, hence the name). “Well we used to just lean right out the windows of our car at times,” he admits. “They would be feeding in the cornfield, see, and we would just lean right out the window and pop em off. That was the last time I ever saw one around here, actually. I stopped on the way home and popped one and drove up and down the road, because it was illegal to shoot them even at that time. Then I took home. A dark meat. Really good eating. But I think about it now, and that was the last we ever saw of em. Beautiful birds too. You don’t see them now. Not at all.”

But I did see a Prairie Chicken recently. Oddly enough, near the very cornfield my grandfather remembers shooting the last chicken he ever saw. I saw the little bird making its way below the spruce at the rim of the field, its plumage dark and luxurious. It was bent low and scrounging for grub. I did not think about it enough when I saw it: that it may be the place of the last Prairie Chicken I ever see, too.

The Greater Prairie Chicken was a colorful bird once commonplace in Western Minnesota. Although it was first thought to dominate only the American midwest, “blocking out the sun” of the Great Plains and the tall-grass prairie. But forks and fingers of the tallgrass prairie reach throughout North Dakota, western Minnesota, and into the southern tallgrass plains of Manitoba, and one way or another the birds made their way into the furthest reaches of the northern prairie. There is debate as to when and how the birds came to exist there, but all the same, they did.

Today, it is rare to find a Greater Prairie Chicken anywhere, but even rarer in western Minnesota. I have that image of the bird frozen in my mind now, but already it’s melting away. Turning fuzzy. Just like the conifer bog where I laid eyes on it, my memory of the Prairie Chicken will continue to change, to shrink, and to blur, until one day, it will not be a memory at all, but a story, a half-true yarn, kept in a half-true history, shrouded and dust-covered in some corner of my failing mind.

 

***

Wild animals and the landscapes they live in have occupied their own wonderful, innate, and sometimes fearful position in the human heart. For thousands of years they were central to understanding of our understanding of the universe. We saw the world as an inherently wild place. The world was Cormac McCarthy’s Mexico: there was no order in it “save that which death has put there.”

Things have changed.

When our new generations view the world, they see it through the lens of an android, not the eyes of an animal. No other shift in perception has changed the world more. Not first wave feminism, neo-liberalism, or even capitalism. It was however the primary shift that engendered these movements: we saw ourselves as awaking from a nasty, brutish chrysalis into some new beautiful meta-human. Spiritually, we witnessed ourselves ascend from the status of half-man, half-animal, into a half-man half-angel. Today we can update that viewpoint one step further to half-man half-machine. We are androidian. 

Although this shift from animal to android brought unprecedented wealth to certain parts of civilization, it had cataclysmic effects on our wilderness. The wild inordinate world is no longer our psychological foreground. It is an afterthought. A mythic place set in the past.

Nothing could put our wild environments in a more precarious position. Wilderness still exists, though much of our government sponsored “environmentalists” claim the opposite. But it exists as a kind of waking dream. It is a place that embodies collectively our past but no part of our future: from the very origin of our species to the second Industrial Revolution. Yet it does not, in our new androidian hive-mind, represent anything resembling the world we see as our present and future. What has occurred is that the present-future vectors of our psychology have been cleaved in two. There is present-future on one temporal axis, and past on another. In our hyper-technological world, present-future can be lumped into one category. We remind ourselves of this ontology often in the expression, “the future is now.”

Somehow, however, the past has been shoved into a state of perpetual extinction. It is waning away; we are weaning ourselves off it like a teenager leaving the comfort of their parent’s guidance. As a result, there is very little hope that wilderness will survive into the future; it is effectively gated out of the dominant human world-view. It is set in a temporal landscape that looks like a cemetery. Everything is declared dead there regardless of its taciturn locus in the present. Its purpose in the present-future complex is simply to remind us that a past existed at all.

Think about this. The future has not happened yet, but it can be shaped by what is occurring in the present. That is why they are being seen as interconnected elements. But the past is gone. It is inert. It is a fossil.

Our wild places and our wild societies are being fossilized before they’re even dead.

Although it may seem like a natural psychological progression given humanity’s “progress”, but we must remember that this is progress designed by the colonial industrial ruling class. In fact, we can really begin to see how insidious this mindset is when we admit to ourselves that the whole of the world’s population of indigenous peoples fits into this categorical past-life as well. Along with the wild world they have built their societies around, indigenous people are being sent to the gulags and gas chambers of civilization’s past, right along with the staples of their worldviews: wilderness.

***

When wilderness and our last standing wild places are placed in a world that, to dominant industrial culture, stands outside of our current and future realm, it stands no chance of survival. The psychological schism we are creating in the new generations will the last damnation it could possibly suffer. They have already forgotten wilderness. Their idea of environmentalism looks more like gardening and shopping splurges at Trader Joe’s than it does the actual environments they pretend to somehow represent. The past is not the past if it is still living today.

Let me be perfect clear here. What I am describing is the psychological finishing touches on a thousand-year old genocide that will finally be finished when our new generations come to fruition in the world. The industrial ruling class has weaponized everything to this end. To finish off and decimate that last annoying splinters of the earth’s natural world so that the new “present-future” view of the earth can take over in totality. We are weaponized. Our industries are weaponized.

“The past is never where you left it.” Katherine Anne Porter

 

First Monday in Boreal Time

Time sings in the forest
places have their songs
linear melodies break down
a cadence solders
but the melody might as well be
water
or sky
what it sounds like where they meet
I come to crossroads
crossing streams
horizon rushing on toward
aurora
boreal time signatures
are like wings on falcons
time dives and reaches
cloud-sewn peaks
nothing and then
hours, disappearing days,
arriving nights;
those moonsun temples
you cannot stay in one song
long.
Everything has a song
and we are the cherubim,
and we lament so that
evil sounds beautiful
by its beauty it is conquered.
From dark bogs
static spirits flash in peripherals
eyes detect the spirit but
concrete minds shut out
a million shades of one note
leave the angels suspended
the spirits half cocked.

Manchurian Pageantry

 

Where the stoicism met mercurial wings,

And tragic circumference of eventuality,

The battered redeemer was calling into pits.

halo of red light

Candles of tallow

Hung on walls of many hopeful iris,

Like great maps of humanity’s color

Illuminated of the boar.

Below the glow the recluse

As alone in this

World, as is the world alone

Among innumerable stars and

Scorched eternal things,

Of which finite subjects populate

The far-flung shores,

Cells that die,

Bones that break.

So swaddle about you your coat of many

Colors, and

empty your ashtray of

Mortal bread.

Recognize the stillness at the center

Of every beast, man, or lady lurks

Manchurian pageantry, so be on your toes

And say nothing quickly.