Category Archives: Uncivilization

Societal Simulacra’s Rest Frame

Does the universe have a rest frame?

This little article got me thinking. Classically, we don’t have a non-inertial reference frame – the Big Bang happened, everything is moving, and we have no way to discern its point of origin, or more correctly there isn’t any location that isn’t accelerating relative to another. Keep in mind physical space is expanding. This image is one of the least confusing ways to envision it.

Our Expanding Universe

Our Expanding Universe

The inception, expansion, and prognosis for our civilization is something we ought to consider in a similar fashion.

 

Our species arose early in the Quarternary; a period of alternating stadials of continent spanning glaciers and warmer interglacial periods. We are children of ice and chaos. I am again at one of those points where Baudrillard’s Simulacra & Simulation is sitting in the center of my desktop, taunting me over the time quanta I dedicated to proper reading. I wonder if we face a similar problem as a species – a lack of a universal rest frame from which we can relate all the societal simulacra we inhabit. If you’ve never read Baudrillard, spend ten minutes here and you’ll get the gist of his work.

 

Accepting Baudrillard, perhaps lacking the time to delve deeper in the area, simulacra began when we began communicating other than face to face. Gutenberg’s printing press nearly six hundred years ago marks the beginning of the commoditization of communication, but we evolved one to many communication much earlier than that.

Lascaux Cave

Lascaux Cave

My first direct encounter with ancient art were the petroglyphs of Rinconada Canyon, literally the day before Lyme changed my life forever.

Rinconada Canyon Petroglyph

Rinconada Canyon Petroglyph

As I reflect while writing this, I think I had subconsciously already started up the Dark Mountain trail just a little while prior to that. I snapped this unremarkable sunrise photo at a truly remarkable place – somewhere off in the distance lies Blackwater Draw, a nearly 12,000 year old Clovis culture site in eastern New Mexico.

Encamped Near Blackwater Draw

Encamped Near Blackwater Draw

The zero point for modern humans is 200,000 years in the past, the two thirds of our time before the Toba bottleneck. Male hunters, female gatherers, children tagging along, in and out of camp, with regular moves when the urge to go became too strong to ignore. I know this feeling, not because I sought it out, but because our society simply discarded me when I became ill.

For all its material advantages, the sedentary life has left us edgy, unfulfilled.

Even after four hundred generations in villages and cities, we haven’t forgotten.

The open road still softly calls, like a nearly forgotten song of childhood.

 

Things are changing again, changing as dramatically as the Quarternary cycles that drove our evolution. Discarded just as I was, this quarter of U.K. youth who’ve faced homelessness  are arguably the descendants of our roaming ancestors in a much deeper way that just genetics. We should look to them, alone and in small groups, for stories academics won’t explore, because they are simply unequipped with the experiences needed to interpret them.

But is that the resting frame for our species? Buddhists might say this is avyakata, a question for which there is no answer, or that which is meaningless in context for us.

Eight Principles Of Uncivilization

I have been sharing my recent free floating, angsty writing with a friend, and he just turned me on to The Dark Mountain Project. I’m reproducing the eight key points from their manifesto here for future reference.

 

  1. We live in a time of social, economic and ecological unravelling. All around us are signs that our whole way of living is already passing into history. We will face this reality honestly and learn how to live with it.
  2. We reject the faith which holds that the converging crises of our times can be reduced to a set of ‘problems’ in need of technological or political ‘solutions’.
  3. We believe that the roots of these crises lie in the stories we have been telling ourselves. We intend to challenge the stories which underpin our civilization: the myth of progress, the myth of human centrality, and the myth of our separation from ‘nature’. These myths are more dangerous for the fact that we have forgotten they are myths.
  4. We will reassert the role of storytelling as more than mere entertainment. It is through stories that we weave reality.
  5. Humans are not the point and purpose of the planet. Our art will begin with the attempt to step outside the human bubble. By careful attention, we will reengage with the non-human world.
  6. We will celebrate writing and art which is grounded in a sense of place and of time. Our literature has been dominated for too long by those who inhabit the cosmopolitan citadels.
  7. We will not lose ourselves in the elaboration of theories or ideologies. Our words will be elemental. We write with dirt under our fingernails.
  8. The end of the world as we know it is not the end of the world full stop. Together, we will find the hope beyond hope, the paths which lead to the unknown world ahead of us.
Eight Principles

Eight Principles

Mt Elbert

Mt Elbert