response to Kirkpatrick Sale "The Mother of All' essayThu, July 5, 2007 - 12:17 PM
Response to "Mother of All"
What I've learned… still some unlearning to do on my part…
What insights I've gained…as an intro it gave a lot of good ideas on defining and refining a bio-regional vision.
My thoughts and feelings on the piece itself…
I love good utopian vision. I thrive on it. It's sad, no, it's tragic that many humans readily dismiss utopian visions as unattainable, preposterous, unrealistic, mere imagination, simple dreaming, even dangerous. Maybe it's because we so love to cling to our pessimism and pain, our suffering and stories. And maybe it's because so many are too busy looking for 'heaven' everywhere except where it truly exists: right under foot.
I'm glad that Sale wrote this essay. I enjoyed reading his introduction to his vision of a bio-regional world view. I agree with much of it, question some parts and perhaps disagree on a point or two, but I'll give my thoughts and impressions another assessment after I finish reading Sale's book.
As I'm reading, I will especially be paying attention to:
Sale's take on the greeks in a bit greater detail
personal note: what I have learned from living atop fault lines and very close to the two most active volcanos in the world. ("She became the symbol of all that was sacred and the font of all wisdom, and at the fissures and rifts in her surface—")
RE: 'she would impart her knowledge to those oracles who knew how to hear it."
(Does Sale discuss language and it's role in the expression of bio-regionalism)
RE: "And even in those societies that eventually came to displace the earth goddess with other deities, most typically the sky god—a male figure,… even in those societies the earth was still considered a living being, sentient and organic, and still retained its character as a deity."
(this seems intuitively true but my forgetfulness of history (the American sickness!) says don't just jump on the bandwagon So I'll be looking at Sale's telling of that history--I'll see how many of my brain cells it fires up.)
RE: 'It was not until the development of European science, from about the sixteenth century on, that this animistic conception of the earth finally gave way, to be replaced by one supported by the new insights of physics, chemistry, mechanics, astronomy, and mathematics.'
(Well this view, in increasing numbers of scientific circles is being turned on its head thanks to understandings of quantum physics, holography, Dr. Emotos' work with water molecules, the gaia 'hypothesis' itself etc. Scientific rationalism which led the human species away from Gaea now appears to bring us back around to her. New physics, if you wish to call it that, is finally making science admit that indigenous and animist cultures (it helped destroy) learned this stuff about the nature of life and it's manifestations on earth, a long long time ago. Does Sale address this? (some of this knowledge has been disseminated after Sale's book was published so maybe not)
Also: (I'm not convinced that science is to be held more responsible for the decline of animism than the rise of the Catholic Church. Let’s not forget that the scientific rationalism and humanistic philosophy, that flourished during the Renaissance was also a direct reaction to the near total domination of western Europe by the Catholic Church during the Middle Ages.)
RE: 'as Descartes put it for all of European science, be “masters and possessors of Nature”
(…the desire to control all, know all, explain all = death, embracing the mystery and the flow of it all = life)
RE: —became ingrained into not only the scientific but also all scholarly and most popular thinking in the Western world and now shapes the perceptions of our senses and the patterns of our psyches
And if at the end of the twentieth century we see the earth as a static and neutral arena-
(THIS is perhaps the most tragic result of the arrogance of modern science and society,)
RE: "... that is alterable by our chemicals and controllable by our technologies; if we see ourselves as a superior species.. etc."
(I'll be paying special attention to the rest of Sale's thoughts here)
RE: 'if we believe we have the power to reorder earth’s atoms and reassemble its genes, to contrive weapons and machines fueled by our own invented elements and capable of destroying forever most of its organic life;'
(well, but we do have that power, and we haven't been able to put the lid back on Pandora's box. What we do not have is the right to exercise such power...)
RE: 'It (scientific worldview) has become the foundation and sustenance not only of our various social systems—of education, agriculture, medicine, religion, energy, communication, transportation—but of our most basic economic and political institutions as well.'
(And this is arrogant wrong-headed thinking and must be turned full circle--how does Sale further suggest going about this?)
RE: “that man is the servant of this world, or at least a trustee,”
(Not sure I agree; humans are co-participants and co-creators in this world--we are both servants and served, how does Sale view co-creation?)
RE: Economy: nature is inherently stable (is it?), working in all times and places toward what ecology calls a "climax,"
(Can we say dynamic equilibrium instead? Again I've come to question this clinging to the notion of ecological climax over the years.
I'll be paying particular attention to this chapter in the book.)
Just a thought RE:"And this is why, as he points out, conventional economics makes no distinctions at all between primary goods, “which man has to win from nature,” and secondary goods manufactured from them or between renewable and nonrenewable resources or the environmental and social costs of developing one against the other."
( paper money further objectifies this--when we bartered, ordinary items had extraordinary meaning and value--if you bartered in seashells and salt then you were directly connected to the ocean for your livelihood. It's hard to turn away from the earth's wisdom when that's the case.)
RES: politics: I'll be looking at:
'Similar lessons may be derived from the patterns of human nature'
(this is a huge assumption and I'm not disagreeing but I'm not letting Sale have his point until he tells me what he sees those patterns as being, ad how he defines human nature.
RE: 'power' structures: 'even the queen bee is queen only because we designate her so'.
( don’t know I agree with this--the queen is queen due to biological as well as social factors, and predators certainly always dominate a region's 'economy'
what criteria Sale uses to define what is' good'
RE: Urbanization: I'll be looking at'
It follows that the aim must be a pattern of urbanization so that every rural area has a nearby city, near enough so that people can visit it and be back the same day.
(on foot, on horse? on bike? bus? car? the automobile throws a glitch in this…it's very easyto go outside of one's bioregion, and why relegate food production only to the country? What does Sale have to say about that/
RE: "On the one hand, the city would be necessary as a producer of certain kinds of goods, as a center of artistic culture,
(useful perhaps but necessary?)"
RE: "...no larger than fifty thousand or one hundred thousand people..."
(this is even be too large I'd say 25-30K is more like it depending on topography.)—
RE: the smallest child knows that water does not come from a pipe in the basement and that you can’t throw anything away because there is no "away."
(yes I agree this is essential)
RE: Current trends: I'll be paying particular attention to:
We are refragmenting and retribalizing ourselves.”
(-an innate understanding w/in us that to see oneness we must be able to see infinite diversity?)
More on: 'The concern for place, for the preservation of nature, the return to such traditional American values'
RE: like the overarching processes of Gaea herself, not revolutionary and cataclysmic but, like the drift of the continents on their tectonic plates, steady, slow, continuous, regular, and inevitable.
(sometimes those processes are cataclysmic…)
And does Sale anywhere in his book mention eco-psychology?
Those are some of things I want Sale to address more fully in the book. I'll see what I think once I get cover to cover.
thanks for reading,
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he does go into more int he dwellers in the land book...which is think answers alot of questions and then also creates alot more...
utopian visions are often times just that... visions comeing from visionaries... ( i can relate) and we are left wanting more... the more though we are going to have to be the ones to supply... if you like a utopian vision carry it and use your co-creative abilities to manifest it.