Saturday, March 01, 2008

the years of rice and salt

This is a book I read, that Hakim is reading now, by Kim Stanley Robinson. Love history, sci fi, and feel an overwhelming need to change your self and the world? You will enjoy this book, and 600 pages will not be enough. The premise is that Europe's population has been wiped out by plague. The rest of the world keeps happening, and in a much different way than white people taking over everything. The characters are a band of souls, inhabiting different but same characters though a journey of reincarnation, learning and changing, always attempting to live life to the fullest, and giving the human spirit a lift from civilization's never-ending oppression.

I went to a small school, and my knowledge of world history, excluding Europe and America is scant. I felt like I learned a lot, even if much of it didn't happen. The book is definitely plausible, and because it brings up the same themes of this life in this time, it also provides for a lot of brain-poking questions. What are the keys out of the black iron prison? Passion, bravery, love, care, nurturing, knowledge, experimentation, slyness, being true to one's self...

We are illuminating the walls and trying to find what we are seeking: our escape into the world we know is possible. I am sure many of us can feel it in our bones. There has got to be a better way for us all. It's a challenge, but we're human. We have big brains and we can use them. Changing seems to be a key. If we keep doing the same things as previous generations, what are the odds that we'll wander out of the black iron prison that is also the cave of treasures? Either way you look at it, we're trapped. But we can smell the paradise outside the prison walls. We know there has to be a way out. But I am getting very off-topic from discussing the book.

If you have read The Culture of Make Believe by Derrick Jensen, you will recognize it in this book, as it catalogs civilization's wars, and all the cruelty and depravity they engender. It is simply history. I also was reminded of Fredy Perlman's Against His-Story, Against Leviathan, in that it was a history of some of the same places in the same times, and the themes show a cycle of war, suffering, empires rising and falling, which also is simply history. Not that this book is anything like those, but you will see some of the same themes.

I think I recognized my friends in the characters in this book--the magicians, the jesters, the sly foxes, the lovers, the mothers, the warriors, the engineers, the healers, the wise women and men. Did I forget anyone? I have always felt like an underdog, living life against the odds. My own mother will tell you that I have a really rotten birth star chart and it's no wonder I'm not a raving success. When I was a kid, I always rooted for the Indians to shoot John Wayne, and that was before I found out I'm only about 90% white. This book was written for me, for all of us who find ourselves at the bottom of the pyramid, wandering around and thinking there's got to be a better way, while rowing the galleys of MacDonalds and getting coffees and credit cards, watching tv when we get home because we're too tired to think about it, likewise for our fast non-nutritious food.

There is a better way, many of them. There are so many paths, I can't even begin to tell you of them. Actually, I can only see my own fairly clearly, and it has something to do with throwing of the shackles of not good enough, something to do with nourishing my body with nutritious food, laughing heartily, and caring a whole lot, sharing my everything with everyone I love. I still reside in the black iron prison, but I can see the garden popping up here and there. Fractals! as my daughter would say. There's the rise and fall of empires, bell curves of empires, empires of civilization. And here's the big 10,000 year long bell curve of civilization that is skidding down on wars, their technology, and our ignorance in killing off our host.

It's not going back, but forward, on the path that will take us into...something so beautiful maybe we'll never be able to name it.

Yesterday's quote from the zomban calendar, from February 29:
When the day comes that the sky is emptied of stars, and the sun is black, and the distraught winds have only the void for their lament, I am sure that somewhere [people] will be merry together, somewhere good hearts will greet good hearts and somewhere our dreams of unbroken love and good talk and laughter will have come true. This is a glorious Somewhere, and it is nearer to us than the stars.



donald423 said...

(<3 x <3) to the power of <3 ...

shadowcrrew said...

Someone could say that I'm unfree by my spiritual non-fear of death. But no matter what happens, I could die happy knowing you're in my community. We might not be able to see the stars because of pollution, but the people who seem to have lost their way and don't appear to be looking for it as they continue purposefully perpetuating the cycle of empire, these people won't ever put out the stars. This reminds me of the theme-song to Firefly:

"Take my love, take my land
Take me where I cannot stand
I don't care, I'm still free
You can't take the sky from me
Take me out to the black
Tell them I ain't comin' back
Burn the land and boil the sea
You can't take the sky from me
There's no place I can be
Since I found Serenity
But you can't take the sky from me..."

The Years of Rice and Salt sounds like it should be on my reading list! High quality lit on the subjects that matter is one of my favorite things in life, though admittedly I have a lot of favorite things in life. When we visit we could maybe do a book trade?

It's early in the morning, and I'm vowing to get more sleep and ignore my bosses attempts to project careerism onto me. With more sleep and attention, I'm getting back to reading the Tree of Life by Israel Regardie, which is a classic, accessible text on Western esoterica. Also, The Shell Game, which is well-written in the political/intrigue genre. Besides the highly readable style, the plot is outstanding: how does the oil-addict war share the same motivations as the 9/11/01 false flag attacks? Because the plans are drawn up by the same tortured Archon assholes, that's how, and the author wrote this as a warning that maybe the next one is gonna be with nukes. I understand Portland was scared they were being targeted this past summer, but thankfully that didn't follow the worst-case scenario.

I'm gonna quote you in my next post, if that's okay.