Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Cliff Dwellers, Gorrillas and Bidder Number 70

It's Velvet's birthday.
He's somewhere in Utah, out of contact with "The World." The last time I talked to him, he was saying that after talking to friends and family here in The World - he didn't feel like coming back to civilization at all.
I can't blame him.

He'll be back in about six weeks, though, whether he likes it or not, and I'll be glad to see him.  I'm betting Cupcake will be happy to see him too.

I've been following the story of Tim DeChristopher - the young, passionate Environmental Activist who went to jail because he impersonated a bidder at an oil and gas auction in 2008.  He went because the auction was kind of like George W's last gift to the bastards who would destroy the planet simply because they own the mineral rights.  As if God Himself gave them that right when He allegedly gave them Dominion over the Earth and all its creatures.  As he watched the last surviving areas of Utah wilderness being gobbled up by Dominionist Bastards, Tim was compelled to pick up a paddle and start bidding.  He bought a shit load of leases before the Domionists figured out what was going on.  They were so confounded that the auction was stopped so they could send Tim to jail (Bidder 70, Robert Redford, 03.03.2011).

He's touring the country now, speaking about climate change and other environmental issues until his appeal is heard.  Anyway, Velvet has been floating down a river and hiking through canyons in the very same area of the country that Tim DeChristopher successfully protected for a little while.  People say, "Think Globally, act locally."  That's what Tim did.

As it happens, the same sentiment motivated Martin Luther King, Jr during that bus boycott where legend has it, a bunch of pissed off, passionate "colored" church ladies pressed young Martin into service.  Martin was standing with sanitation workers when he was killed on April 4, 1968.

I'm pretty sure national politics are so fucked up that we should all be focusing on making changes in our own little corner of the world in the hope that little by little, those changes will be felt nationwide.  My mother says that's what those John Birching Baptists did over the last forty years or so - maybe longer.  Look where it's gotten them today.  I'll say this for the Dominionists, once they decide to take over something, they don't play around. 

Woody recommended that I read a book called Ishmael by Daniell Quinn.

The story is about a gorilla who achieves consciousness and the conversations he has with his human pupil.  Those conversations focus on Leavers and Takers - two kinds of human culture that have evolved over the past 10,000 years since agriculture was introduced.  The Leavers adhere to the laws of nature.  The Takers have bent the planet to their will so that every living thing - including other humans who don't comply - is killed off over time.  According to Ishmael, we're standing on the brink of destruction - and that was in 1990.

There is hope, however. Ishmael leaves the man with the notion that if the man can teach 100 people about The Leavers and those 100 can teach 100, then the human perspective will shift enough to save the world.Other people say the same thing all the time - they just don't use the term Leavers and Takers. Eckhart Tolle talks about ego vs enlightenment. Marianne Williamson and others talk about Love vs Fear. If I remember correctly, the Unity Church addresses Love vs Fear all the time.But people will get nervous talking about Spiritual stuff - so it's nice to have a gorilla doing the talking for people who like to intellectualize their spirituality so that it's more comfortable.

It's all the same message, ultimately, presented through different channels.  I'm pretty sure Carlos Castaneda made the same point about Hunter Warriors in all those Don Juan books.  My dad was totally into the Lessons of Don Juan when I was a kid, and he confirms that Castaneda frequently recommended setting ego-based notions aside.  Ishmael the Gorilla doesn't talk about Ego, however, and he never uses the term "Dominionist."  He's more interested in deconstructing the development of culture so that we see how modern man - a Taker - holds himself above the natural order of things.  Things like Seasons and Gravity, for example.  Leavers, on the other hand, recognize that man is part of nature and learns how to work with it.

That seems to be the point Tim DeChristopher was trying to make when he grabbed a paddle and became Bidder Number 70.

I'm hoping that Velvet absorbs some of that spirit while he's hiking through canyons filled with the relics of the Anasazi cliff dwellings.  When he came home at Thanksgiving, Velvet was convinced that the only way we would ever see justice in this country is if the Banksters were six feet under ground (Subverting Family Traditions at Black Magpie).  Although I had no argument with his opinion, I had to tell Velvet that I wasn't into the idea of him being a violent revolutionary.  He acknowledged that it wasn't very Zen and went on to talk about the image of himself that would appear on T-Shirts and his admiration for Pablo Escabar.

I would much prefer for Velvet to follow in the footsteps of Bidder Number 70 than of Pablo Escabar.


mac said...

I was listening to an old Queensryche song earlier (Revelution Calling) , and I couldn't help but think the lyrics still apply today, much like the story of Ishmael and this post.

Velvet likes the wilderness a bit much? Worse things could happen, you know :-)

I have to wonder, would a gorilla be better off not having human conciousness? In many ways, they are superior beasts. Perhaps, humans might do well to obtain gorilla conciousness.

Joseph McEvoy said...

Drip, drop, stream, river, flood, ocean, waves, Change!

PENolan said...

One mind at at time, Brother Joe. One mind at a time. Or as my mother taught me, "Each one teach one."

mac, I expect that's exactly what the gorilla was hoping to achieve when he advertised for pupils who had an earnest desire to change the world.

Vancouver Voyeur said...

I started reading _Ishmael_ and then it disappeared from the stack of books in the bathroom. I've also attended Unity churches in the past where the "each one reach one" message is espoused. It seems hopeless and overwhelming to keep pushing forward over the long-term when you so seldom see change over the short-term, but it does work. Look at how far the gay movement has come in our generation alone. Locally for me, Tuesday night we got all 3 of our candidates on the City Council. For the first time in 20 years, the homeowners now control local government. It took me 8 years of fighting, and the others 20 years before the residents finally had a big victory over the landlords. So I guess it can and does happen, just how patient and determined are we?

Gail said...


"Happy Birthday" to Velvet - :-) and I think he has got it right by staying away from 'the world'. If I/we could figure out how to 'hide' and still get the medications we need to live we would be gone in a heart beat! :-)
Love you Texas

PENolan said...

V.V. Congratulations on your victory! It's amazing that local officials have a ton of influence on all our lives but so few people actually vote in the elections. You know the Texas Taliban - aka the Texas State School Board who fucked with the text books? 5,000 voted in that election out of the entire dang state. And look what happened.

Patience and determination, indeed.

Thanks, Gail. It was kind of hard for me to only have a vague notion of where my son was on his birthday, and to not be able to at least sing to him over the phone. In many ways it's good for me to "cut the cord," as it were, but still . . .

intelliwench said...

A colleague was telling me that his son decided to defer college for a year to do NOLS. I'm happy that there is still an environmental consciousness among young people. Even the business majors at the university where I work often start entrepneurial ventures with a focus on the environment and/or sustainability!

I guess our generation did something right, raising kids like these.


happy birthday velvet..and this was a terrific post..thanks.

Susan Tiner said...

I am so glad Velvet is absorbed in his experience and doesn't feel like coming back.

It's hard to change minds. And anyway, where I live in the SF Bay Area, we liberals are all huddled together so there aren't many minds here to change.

I sing and try to be kind.

PENolan said...

Thanks, Granny. Can't wait to see you again.

Intelli, I honestly believe Velvet is my greatest accomplishment - and when I meet his friends, and the kids of my friends and their friends, I have no doubt that the world will be a little bit better because of them.

Susan, I sing and try to be kind too. I'm willing to be that is about the best anyone can ever do. I'm very happy to have the kind of job where I can burst into song whenever I want. Even show tunes ;)

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