Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Poetry of Gary Snyder and Radical Revolution

Editorial Prologue:  Yeah, yeah, I know regular readers of this blog might recall I wanted future posts to be more visually oriented.  But sometimes I'm inspired to just write.  When one of my closest friends left southern California for greener pastures about a year and a half ago, he left behind a collection of Gary Snyder poems titled No Nature.  I finally got around to reading it recently and loved it.  Two poems in particular I found especially inspiring as I felt they reflected my feelings on the conundrum of human existence within the confines of that paradigm we call civilization.  So I put fingers to the keyboard and cooked this blog entry up.  I'm not sure if this blog entry really lends itself to a visual component, but if you really want to see Robert Paulsen give a poetry reading, by all means hit me up in the comments section.  If I can get at least three comments in favor of a poetry reading, I'll film it and edit the post to put the video in!

The Poetry of Gary Snyder and Radical Revolution

Full Definition of radical
1 :  of, relating to, or proceeding from a root: as
a (1) :  of or growing from the root of a plant <radical tubers> (2) :  growing from the base of a stem, from a rootlike stem, or from a stem that does not rise above the ground <radical leaves>
b :  of, relating to, or constituting a linguistic root
c :  of or relating to a mathematical root
d :  designed to remove the root of a disease or all diseased and potentially diseased tissue <radical surgery> <radical mastectomy>

TOMORROW'S SONG by Gary Snyder

The USA slowly lost its mandate
in the middle and later twentieth century
it never gave the mountains and rivers,
              trees and animals,
                       a vote.
all the people turned away from it
            myths die; even continents are impermanent

     Turtle Island returned.
     my friend broke open a dried coyote-scat
     removed a ground squirrel tooth
     pierced it, hung it
     from the gold ring
     in his ear.

We look to the future with pleasure
we need no fossil fuel
get power within
grow strong on less.

Grasp the tools and move in rhythm side by side
     flash gleams of wit and silent knowledge
                            eye to eye
sit still like cats or snakes or stones
     as whole and holding as
                            the blue black sky.
gentle and innocent as wolves
                            as tricky as a prince.

At work and in our place:

     in the service
     of the wilderness
     of life
     of death
     of the Mother's breasts!

War, politics, economics, energy.  These are all concepts intrinsic to human civilization.  War is the continuation of politics by other means, politics is the continuation of economics by other means, economics is the continuation of energy by other means.  While the concept of energy may not originate with human civilization, it is intrinsic and in contrast with the other three continuations of it, energy alone is separate from humanity as a part of nature.  Try as we might to show how sophisticated we are with our ever expanding technological advances, we can't escape the fact that we are a part of nature and disregarding the significance of this not only has repercussions on the natural world around us, but also on the very civilization so many in vanity try to place above the natural world.

If there is one concept intrinsic to human civilization that connects energy to its most direct continuation, economics, it is money.  As with technology in general, it is a concept that many of its most ardent advocates like to pretend is divorced from the natural world; that all the currency manipulation, derivatives and speculators rise above such terrestrial inconveniences as natural resources.  But our monetary system is predicated on infinite growth.  And you cannot have infinite growth on a finite planet.  This is an important concept to grasp if you really care about a real revolution in human civilization that is truly radical, if you define radical as mentioned above, proceeding from a root

We must get to the root of what truly ails us.  Every symptom of the sickness ailing society, income inequality, student debt, global warming, famine, you name it - all borne out of the same root problem: human civilization uses a monetary system predicated on infinite growth on a finite planet.  A metastasizing malignant cancer on our seven billion strong and growing human body that is destined for destruction - all we have to do is maintain business as usual to watch this prognosis play out.  Unless you change the way money works, you change nothing.  It's easy to get confused and think the answer to this problem lies in how we distribute money.  Capitalism doesn't work so try socialism.  Socialism doesn't work so try communism.  Communism doesn't work so try capitalism.  A shell game solving some symptoms, exacerbating others.

So maybe the problem is money itself.  Maybe the problem is that the way money is currently constituted - fiat currency, fractional reserves, compound interest - is intrinsically a Ponzi scheme.  Money is debt when it is predicated on an infinite growth system.  That's regardless of whether your standard is pegged to gold, silver or the almighty buck.  So how do we make the root of our monetary system more aligned with the natural world?  Maybe the answer is to change the way money is currently constituted so that instead of being predicated on debt, it is predicated on energy.  Specify and detail exactly how energy is utilized in our society; both the energy found in natural resources and the human energy of our labor.  To insure the replacement of the Infinite Growth paradigm with sustainability, insist on renewable natural resource usage and re-localize economic allocations to sustain human energy and prioritize fair labor practices.

This new system will address all the symptoms that ail us.  Until, like every other continuation of energy in the past, human beings find a way to corrupt that system.

So maybe the root problem is the continuation itself.  When did human beings first abandon their direct connection with the natural world of energy in favor of developing that civilized continuation we call economics?  I believe this occurred with the advent of agriculture.  We've been on a collision course with our own extinction ever since.  Not because agriculture itself is inherently environmentally corrosive, but because of the human greed that made agriculture inherently totalitarian as described by Daniel Quinn: "it all belongs to us: everything; every bit of it and we can do with it what we want."

So maybe if we abandon our continuations, i.e. civilization, we'll get a truly radical revolution that addresses the real root problem: greed.

Not that that will solve all our problems.  We're only human.


The country surrounds the city
The back country surrounds the country

"From the masses to the masses" the most
Revolutionary consciousness is to be found
Among the most ruthlessly exploited classes:
Animals, trees, water, air, grasses

We must pass through the stage of the
"Dictatorship of the Unconscious" before we can
Hope for the withering-away of the states
And finally arrive at true Communionism.

If the capitalists and imperialists
          are the exploiters, the masses are the workers.
                    and the party
                    is the communist.

If civilization
          is the exploiter, the masses is nature.
                    and the party
                    is the poets.

If the abstract rational intellect
          is the exploiter, the masses is the unconscious.
                    and the party
                    is the yogins.

comes out of the seed-syllables of mantras.


AgTip said...

What? No interrogation, no joining, and I can comment?
Thank you for this refreshing of the Gary Snyder receptors among my neurons.
Today North Korea is telling Trump that nuclear war is fine with them. Trump cannot intimidate them. Russia is shaking the nuclear spear. Isis is killing randomly. Assad is using poison gas on his own people. What we call civilization has nothing to do with being civil.
When I regard the earth around Chernobyl, nature is doing OK. Everything is returning except people.
If it weren't for my grandchildren I would nod and say, "Good ahead, destroy yourselves. Destroy OURselves. Reduce us to a few survivors looking for a defendable cave. Watch the fire in the evenings instead of TV. Talk instead of Messaging. Take 40 thousand years to build the technology back up to suicidal levels."
I am corrupt myself, so how can I judge others?
The wilderness is my Bible.
IT IS NOT MAN'S NATURE TO DESTROY HIMSELF. We are acting out "internal combustion". Man is suffering a betrayal of his/her inner nature.
Earth is healing.
Let's return.

commie sympathizer said...

I don't agree with Daniel Quinn's take on "totalitarian agriculture". As you should know from your eye-opening description of how the LA population (plus those people living in The Inland Empire, as we call it---I grew up in Fontana) was deprived of the public transit it wanted, GM was one of the conspirators in that monumental attack on the public interest. But it was one of the CEOs of GM who famously said: "we're not in business to make cars---we are in business to make money". So today the agriculture industry could easily say: "We're not in business to make food---we're in business to make money". Quinn's picture does not take that into account.