Monday, March 12, 2012

Re-Wilding the Self, First.

In the most recent issue of "The Backwoodsman", a magazine I indulge in whenever I happen across a new issue, there is a request for articles pertaining to Re-Wilding your land and the plants to begin the process. The magazine content usually revolves around skills and stories of bushcraft, not delving so much into the concepts of anti-civ or post civ thought, so the request for articles surrounding wildness is exciting, even if it is a short-end view of the possibilities. The land we live on certainly could use our assistance in ridding it of the confines of agriculture and domestication, but the real threat to the land is not limited to the crab grass the neighborhood association planted. The real threat is the neighborhood association itself. If anything can be learned from civilization, it is that no matter how "wild"the land is, if encroached upon by those with a directive of ownership and control, the appanages of destruction are readily present. 

 The term "re-wilding" is heard with more frequency as of late, and I attribute this to multiple reasons, but the overarching cause, I believe, is the growing interest in pre-civilized life or the ever growing DIS-interest in civilization, whichever way you choose to view it. Either way you go, it piques my affections along with a few innocent suspicions. It is not that I could ever see "re-wilding" as a bad thing, a deed done to the misfortune of domestication is a good deed, indeed. No, the suspicions I have is of the depth of the roots. If we are concerned only with making superficial changes, i.e. to land, to government, to diet, etc., and do not begin to re-establish our connections, we are doomed to suffer the cycles of HIStory.

A quick side-rant: I participate as often as I can in re-learning "primitive" technologies. This, of course, includes knapping stone tools. There is a small but very dedicated group of people, outside of the hunter/gatherer peoples of today,  who have taken in this obsession and thus there are enumerable articles written by both academics and crafters alike surrounding archeological finds of knapped stone. There are flakes and cores found dating back around 2.5 million years and hunter/gatherer populations still using possibly exact skills today to obtain hunting tools. This shows that for well over 2 million years humans have used this technology, with no obsolescence.  In many of the articles concerning the how-to aspect of knapping, it is followed by a request to mark and date your blades, arrowheads, etc. in order to "protect the archeological record." I understand that our culture is so far removed from our roots that we actually see ourselves as separate from our ancestors. I get that. But I have to ask why. What separates, or impregnates the value of a stone tool that was made 1 million years ago from that of one that fed a tribe yesterday? To continue to place these levels of segregation of ourselves to our ancestors, is to propagate the lie of civilization itself. That you are not wild. Bah, I say, and BAH! again. Protecting the archeological record would be better achieved by closing the gap of our existence today and our birthplace. The thought that we have gone too far, usually worded "come too far", to return to our ancestral way of life is one I hear touted quite often by techno-apologists, and I must point only to their own "science" to see that this is a fallacy.

Studies of feral populations of animals, that is: animals who broke out of the confines of domestication to strike out and become sufficient without the controls of humans, show that it is of no significance the amount of time spent domesticated to become feral. Goats are one of the longest domesticated animals aside from humans, and will go feral readily. In fact, a side effect of feral goats encountering domesticated goats is the creation of more feral goats! I am not sure who wrote the article on wikipedia for "feral", but after reading this line: "Accidental crossbreeding by feral animals may result in harm to breeding programs of pedigreed animals; their presence may also excite domestic animals and push them to escape." I'd like to make them dinner! How exciting, really. Damn the archeological record, up the connections!

Okay, back to the topic. I was tempted to write an article for the Backwoodsman outlining some of these ideas, but I am not sure how helpful I could possibly be. I mean, how can you have a how-to on discovering who you are? I am not fully aware of who I am most times, or to what extent I have completely swallowed the pills of civilization. It is much easier to go into the lawn and pull out ivy than it is to unlearn a lifetime of gender binary and control imperative, of this I am sure. But I suppose there is a starting place. I suppose, much like a suburban lawn, we can be dug up and have seeds planted. What are ideas if not seeds of tomorrow's action? Of course, I can not go into a book and necessarily find what values my ancestral tribes held that gave them fluid commune with one another and land, but I can seek out which ideas are helpful to me and which are not. It is easier spoken at times than done, but often, that is where it starts. Speaking to one another. Opening our communication, verbally, physically, and spiritually is as beneficial or more than all the books on native species we can find. Of course, we have to get wrong answers to find the right questions, but there can be no how-to guide on how we do that. Many of our failures come from following procedures over allowing for processes. The magic of control begins superficially, doing little more than redefining what we already know, so as to masque it's true nature and by proxy, our own nature. We are not meant to control, which is showcased not only by ideals but by the outcomes of control. Anxiety is so much sewn to the fabric of society that many social scientists now put forth that certain levels of anxiety are necessary  for our health, postulating that it is anxiety and fear that have led to our evolution as a species. Such garbage! A base study of biology shows us that defensive instincts help us to escape or evade dangerous interactions but also stifle our ability to grow. The periods when we grow are in rest and relaxation, when we can stretch our proverbial wings and take in the day. An animal in constant fear is an animal that is most easily controlled, this is also true. Fear and love are two base emotions from which most other emotions stem. Both are measurable in the frequencies they emit and can therefore be studied by modern magic to find what ancient magic already knew. That beings who emit love are more centered and relaxed, and over time found to be generally happier (duh) and healthier (tada!). Beings who emit more fear are more likely to lash out in violent fits and suffer from heart problems (remember, the heart is truly our center and life force, giving our body the electromagnetic waves that create and sustain life). Fear also does some other interesting things, such as not allow your body to fire on all points. This means that you have a more honed sense of physical strength but a weakened sense of empathetic capabilities. Now, take all this in and consider the larger picture of mass society and what it's goals are. Of the two base emotions that create and sustain life, love and fear, which emotions create an easier environment for control? You cannot force someone to love you, but you certainly can force fear. Fear is the emotion that can be used against your better will, to maintain and control your responses. Fear is the hallmark of domestication and the battery of civilization. To "re-wild", is to abandon fear. Do not fear the wildness that you are from, but embrace it.

In biblical terms, which I am not prone to citing, but find it to be just as good a source as any other fucking book, the mono-theistic god of the Israelite people warned them of fear. In Exodus we see a period of great significance to the battle of wildness and civilization. The people of Israel are led away from captivity in Egypt (foundation of civilization as we know it) and out in to the the wilderness where they knew freedom existed. There they feared for having no food, as they were no longer in civilized life and their god showed them the benefits of hunting and gathering. Quail to hunt the night and "manna" in the mornings. This "manna" could have very well been acorns, as they were in the great forests of the fertile crescent that are now barren deserts thanks to civilized life and bread was made from what they gathered on the ground. This hunter gatherer life sustained them and helped them to create a culture of their own, with music, dance, and stories that were uniquely theirs. The moment they re-entered settled, civilized life, the "manna" was no more. This is a great tale of a re-wilding of a people, only to return to civilization and lose all that wildness had brought them.  The bible does not go into much detail of the quality of life of the people of Israel in this time, but we can see how "progress" and kingship, chiefdom and civilized life affected them in later chapters. We see the wars without end, the class divisions, the patriarchy and the /master/slave mentality sprouting up without pause. It is a shame that most Christians do not take these stories with much meaning. Our friends who work on In The Land Of the Living certainly delve into this and many other interesting aspects of spirituality as resistance to civilization, and their work deserves much consideration.

The point of most of this is to ask the question of limits. What limits do we place on ourselves? What limits are placed on us by civilized thought? And finally, how far are we willing to go to understand our true nature? I, for one, am on a constant search for the roots of our being, and in that search have learned much about who I am, and who I want to become. Who do you want to become?


  1. I'm not sure if the parallel connection was intentional, but the illustrative similarities of the "feral goats/captive goats" and the "exodus/return to civ" illuminate some potential comparable conclusions.

    In your case of the goats, they must first be domesticated to go feral, and then, once feral, will breed more feral goats from domesticated ones. Here, your concern of "depth of the roots" seems as if it could apply in that domestication precluding harms to wildness might take the form of diseases, specific human bred traits and other potentially self-replicating domesticated corruptions being introduced in to feral populations of the goats. It seems then that "up the connections" doesn't necessarily, or I'd argue, likely lend to as exciting possibilities as preferred or assumed. When the millions of years it takes for a grey wold species to hone its own skills harmoniously to its environmental conditions can be resultant of the canine chihuahua breed in mere centuries, excitement of "up the connections" can only be optimistically speculative at best (as grey wolves and chihuahuas will not be "connecting" in those ways any time soon). The "roots" just as well may be that feral goats only exist as an available example to you because of the depths to which civilization and its pervasiveness has *already* shaped the natural environment in a way that even allows for their existence at all. Such as, if there were more grey wolves and less chihuahuas... I don't think "gone too far" is so easily dismissed.

    The Exodus story, from your writings, seems to suggest offering a sub-textual question unrelated to the intended lessons of the story: Why did they even bother going back to civilized life? You claim that "This hunter gatherer life sustained them and helped them to create a culture of their own, with music, dance, and stories that were uniquely theirs." Like with the heralding of the goat example, saying "their own" forgoes their *contextual* origins that make attempts at calling anything "uniquely theirs" either false/misleading or preclude that "uniquely" must always mean "relatively" (root word: RELATE). So, the subtext question; Why did they even return? Why do domesticated and feral goats connect so readily? It's not for the appeal of being feral/rewilded itself. If the wild of Egypt was freedom, why return to civilization? It's not for the appeal of civilization itself, either.

    The context of the questions posed by this piece are constrained by how relative the particulars are to the totality of broader, less specifically identifiable conditions. For instance, human return to Egypt and goat return to wild aside, if "wild" is something separate from now and embodies "freedom" with an appeal that can be made: *Why* did civilization occur at all? Can that be answered? I can see the question of *how* being answered, but not of *why.*

    (apparently I exceeded length restrictions... part two: )

  2. However, connections amiss from the rational of this piece seems obvious to me. Most of the questions (and/or points) you summarize apply in what you offer as "both" directions.

    Civilized human: "What limits do we place on ourselves? What limits are placed on us by civilized thought?

    Wild human: What limits do we place on ourselves? What limits are placed on us by wildness?

    Civilized human: "To "re-wild", is to abandon fear. Do not fear the wildness that you are from, but embrace it."

    Wild human: To cultivate is to abandon fear. Do not fear the control you might have, but embrace it.

    The counter-posing of those questions apply both to your specific examples of wild-civ-wild-civ, and to speculating the origins of wildness to civilization itself, and "back" again...

    I think the problematic results of dichotomous categorization of "wild/civilized" are summarized by the questions posed in the conclusion: "And finally, how far are we willing to go to understand our true nature? I, for one, am on a constant search for the roots of our being, and in that search have learned much about who I am, and who I want to become. Who do you want to become?"

    Who's asking, the pre-civlized human or post-? Does it make a difference?

    If the "true nature" you refer to actually just elusively exists as opposed to being an ideological phantom, perhaps the closest answer that can be given is that conceptual "true nature" explains both civilized and wild tendencies, not respectively, but inseparably.

    Have we "gone too far," or have we "come too far," or are we always here, regardless of what we "want to become?"

    Has the grey wolf "gone too far" in how it relates to its environment? What of 99% of species ever existing being extinct? By their environment itself changing to not suit them, them changing it to suit them, or themselves being changed by enviromental changes... Gone too far? Even if we are our own biggest disaster, there is no difference. It's all environmental, it all pertains to what conditions the world that we are *a part of* has allowed.

    Post-civ is inevitable, and fighting authority and systems is preferable regardless of civilization, but I think anti-civ is naive... precisely because I agree with:

    Up the connections!

    1. Okay, great comment, great questions, and I fucking swear I had a thought out reply to this all typed into this little fucking box when I hit a back key that deleted the whole thing. So, I will only say this for now. Naive is exactly the word for anti-civ. Up The Etymology! Other than that, I will be replying later, probably from fucking smart phone. Up The Contradictions! Until then, thanks again for the reply. Up The Communications!

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  4. I would really like to hear your answer to that question , Wylden.