Embodiment and drifting.

Talking to Heather about embodiment, being in your body. She had an idea that maybe when teenagers are focussed on having sex even when it is pretty “rape-y” and risky and not beneficial or pleasurable, it has partly to do with their lack of other ways to feel their physicality and be in their bodies. No access to nature, nowhere to safely walk, not allowed to play outside unsupervised, even encouraged to eliminate or replace all body odours, etc. That’s a lot of pressure on sex for being physical.

It got me thinking about how I relate to the internet. I’m on here a LOT, in this disembodied place.

Anyway. I’ve been realizing that one of my big ways to be in my body for the last year or so has been looking at things. Sensing with my eyes, and sensing the reactions my body has to colours and shapes (and letters, boy howdy). When I got to go to the UK with my mum last fall, and we spent so much time in art galleries because it was rainy, that was the most physically altered I’ve felt since I stopped eating psychedelic drugs. High on modern art— physically dizzy and speedy and sometimes getting auras like before a migraine, from seeing enough art nouveau in one room to really experience and understand the concept of biomorphic whiplash. I made this website these colours because they do similar things to me— they are stimulating and encouraging and they make me want to write. I remember using music that way in the past. Galen would come home sometimes and be able to tell when I was working on something important, because I’d be blasting some or other personal power music. In high school— I just remembered this— I did a lot with smells. Other people’s sweaters, specific incense, open window when it rained.

*** where does fucking fit in?? ***

So, notably, none of this involves movement or muscles. It’s all sensing and processing and information. It’s physical to me, but it’s what a lot of people would identify as being in your head.

My forays into physical activity are marked by a lot of head time, too. Office bike— the exercise bike I can pedal while I make websites. Wing chun— if I have to punch and kick to learn which way shoulders bend and how momentum works, I guess that’s alright. Fucking— “erotics is the process through which sex acquires meaning.” I think I get bored, otherwise.

I’ve been casting around for some more physical motion in my life, to make me stronger.

I have high hopes for a bastardized version of this pretentious French art thing, the dérive, or drift. Walking to nowhere. OK. I do not like walking for the sake of walking, even though I love walking. Growing up, my parents were all about taking a walk, but not so much about negotiating where to walk or talking about what they feel like on the walks or whatever, so I have a lot of stored up experience being deeply bored with walks.

Walking to nowhere: ok. Just paying attention to see where you want to walk the most: ok. Also, paying attention to local geography and how it feels, that can go on forever. I think this could be useful in trying to figure out more of how I relate to being a settler on colonized land.

So yeah, I’m glad I’ve practiced walking by myself, home alone from various locations. I’m glad Victoria is a mostly non-threatening place for me to walk around.

Survivalism as if self-sufficiency is an illusion.

How do I protect [my disaster supplies] from the unprepared and desperate have-nots if I don’t already have a fort-knox style bunker?

Obviously the first priority will be to avoid conflict in the first place, if possible. The cause of conflict in your question was a shortage of supplies, and the potential aggressors are disorganized. So the easiest way to avoid conflict in that case is to make sure that there are enough essential supplies to go around for your neighbours. . . . That’s why I think that community sufficiency is much more important than just self-sufficiency.

— Aric McBay on Strategies for shortages, from In The Wake: A Collective Manual-in-progress for Outliving Civilization

I often feel self-conscious reading (and liking!) a certain type of anti-civilization literature. I’m trying to come up with a concise way to explain the appeal without just making a joke out of it (crazy survivalists!). Part of it is this struggle to take care of oneself in a cooperative way. The whole anti-civilization argument, at least from the people I’ve been checking out, comes from the premise that civilization makes cooperative self-care impossible, because the civilized are always destroying and overshooting their (our) landbase and depending on imperialism to survive. It’s that situation where one competitive person can ruin a whole group’s attempt to use cooperation and consensus.

So there are a whole lot of ideas in there about resisting a hierarchical, destructive culture without creating a new hierarchical culture in its place.

I’m noticing how gardening books can be colonial.

Edible gardens have been part of human culture for thousands of years. Along with harnessing fire, developing the wheel and domesticating animals, cultivating food is one of the benchmarks of human advancement. Growing plants that provide food and learning to store it for times of scarcity were advancements that allowed humans to develop civilizations.

— First paragraph of the introduction to The Canadian Edible Garden: Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits & Seeds by Alison Beck.

It’s been awhile since something like “the benchmarks of human advancement” would have slipped by me as a neutral measurement (when you define everyone’s progress by how similar they are to you, you can assume have problems with privilege), but I think I am noticing more assumptions now about the value of civilization and technology. I’m also noticing that the author’s list of “advancements” that allow humans to create civilizations skipped over colonization, slavery, militarism, genocide and all that.

I recently read Endgame: The Problem of Civilization & Resistance (thanks for the tip, Sarah), which is a thorough take-down of the assumption that civilization is an advanced way of living (vs. unsustainable and terrorist), that the point of technology is to become advanced (vs. to maintain a relationship with your landbase), that agriculture is an efficient way to gather food (vs. temporary and destructive). I think that was the book that got me reading about destroying agriculture. I’ve been reading a lot of books at once; it’s hard to keep track.

I am seeing this garden book as much more oppressive than I would have before, with a Eurocentric, anti-indigenous, environmentally unconscious position.

This is good, it gets me thinking about my love of gardening. I’m realizing that what I care about is getting to know plants and soil and living systems, resisting consumerism and capitalism by gathering my own food, and taking time to physically experience and love a patch of the outdoors. None of that actually requires a garden. I could be wildcrafting, or working more with local plant permaculture and forest gardens. Those are difficult when land is privately owned and violently policed, and wilderness is mostly destroyed and constantly under threat. Wild forests don’t need me in there taking all my food right now. And it’s hard to conceive of perennial ecosystems on temporarily rented space.

So… how could I be talking with my neighbours about guerrilla permaculture and land reclamation?

I hope this ends well.

I posted this on Craigslist today (personals > strictly platonic?).

Can I poop in your composting toilet?

Date: 2009-03-25, 12:34PM PDT

Or even just see it and ask you a couple of questions?

They seem so cool in theory, but I would like to try one out in person before I get too excited about the “convenience” and “lack of smell.”

Thanks in advance for sharing your humanure revolution.

  • Location: victoria
  • it’s NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

Curling, graininess suitably expressing surreality.

Uh, me curling.

I went curling after hours at a rink owned by some friends of my cousin, out near Sidney.

  • It was surprisingly fun, in the way that bocci, billiards and croquet are fun. Minimally-confrontational exercises in physics.
  • So far I’ve never once been a fan of flattening large areas of land (parking lots, malls, golf courses…), especially land where I understand something about it having been colonized and occupied. It’s extra absurd when the flattening is done for sports. Non-cooperation overload.
  • If I were actually into playing sports, I would set up a beautiful place to play for once. Rinks, fields, courses and courts are all so ugly! Wow. I wonder if spending time in artificially lit, flattened out, weirdly-proportioned, echo-y, energy sinkhole type spaces might be damaging on its own, even without the formalized competition and violence and the addiction to contrived adrenaline rushes. (Hi, I have fun ideas about sports!) Certainly people say that about office cubicles, that the ugliness is demoralizing, even without the bureaucratic hierarchy crap.
  • And, curling was really fun. Pushing heavy things across ice with measurement marks is basically sensory play. Balance, momentum, angles, stretching, muscles. I bet curling kink parties would be fun.

Persepolis, surprises, posting to the future

This year’s Mystery Movie surprise screening at Cinecenta was Persepolis! I’d never been before, but the idea is that they screen something anticipated that hasn’t been released over here yet. Our only guess was that it might be that crazy Bob Dylan movie with multiple people trading the lead role… and then as soon as we had any kind of guess, I was worried that when we were wrong it would be disappointing. Surprises are fragile.

Seeing the film come up in black and white animation was so optimal that it felt sort of charming. This was the only upcoming movie I’ve been looking forward to, and almost the only one I even knew anything about. It’s hard to be more fun than anticipation, but I don’t think that accomplishment was the charming part. A guy from the Cinecenta staff had come out and introduced the screening beforehand, so already it was feeling like a human social event rather than a commercial transaction, and then it turned out to be a movie made by people I could picture in my head from watching the little making of feature on the movie website. Lots of people involved, rather than only vague forces of fame and culture and money. I think that was what felt so warm and fuzzy. (Maybe especially after considering a movie about Bob Dylan as a sort of opaque, unknowable icon?)

I don’t understand why more cinemas don’t put an effort into spectacles and gimmicks like this on a regular basis. Surprise movies (old or new) are going on my local cinema wishlist, along with having a human introduce each screening, offering table seating, downloadable mp3 commentary tracks, loveseat-style seating in more places than just the back row of The Roxy, and beer in non-plastic containers.

I’m not much for movie reviews, but I suppose I should mention that I liked Persepolis. Funny parts, sad parts, angry parts, cute parts, and a lot of characters processing ethics out loud, and integrating external wars and politics with internal, personal feelings. The animation was very beautiful. (And boy do I like the various Arabic Persian nose shapes that Satrapi draws.) I think you could check out the books and the movie in any order without wrecking anything.

This whole episode has been a curious test of my 7-day posting lag. When I realized which film was showing, I felt like I’d been hoarding information because none of my companions could read the future archives of my blog, where I’d stashed links and details about the movie. That’s exactly counter to my anti-exclusive motives for posting to the future. And then I felt disappointed that I wanted to write a follow-up post when the first thing I wrote about Persepolis might be due to publish less than a week in the future— my follow-up was at risk of being weirdly late. It turned out to be pretty well-timed after all, but it is hilarious the way media influences real life reactions. This is more disconcerting than the “I wish I’d brought my camera / Kodak moment” feeling.