Thursday, November 27, 2008

big sprouts in big pavement

Susan Freinkel's American Chestnut: The Life, Death, and Rebirth of a Perfect Treet is an easy primer on the situation. Castanea dentata was decimated by a fungus in our great-grandparents' time. Since then, humans who appreciate it's amazing fecundity and generosity have struggled, pulling it off death row and now back into the forest. One way they are doing this, now that the tree is close to having been selectively bred for sufficient blight resistance, is to reclaim abandoned mines by starting chestnut groves on top of the rubble. According to the author, these experimental plantings are growing with tantalizing success. However, she feels that working in tandem with "King Coal" is morally dubious.

Sometimes when idealists get passionate, our eyes lose focus and cause and effect run together. This is useful for seeing that humans have colonized every terrestrial ecosystem on the planet, and in too many cases degraded their productivity (a big idea). Retooling for an energy industry that isn't radically unbalancing, and instead is regenerative and extropian, requires planning for the processes that are certain to occur. This applies to small-scale biofuel like our woodburning stoves- timber stand management for the good of all in suburbs- as well as coast-hugging windfarms, and possibly to nuclear reactors whose waste gets pitched into the sun. People at my school are doing scientific legwork on chestnut mine reclamation, and since I want to play with the tree this is interesting work whenever ethical.

Environmentalist get very upset about MTR, and with reason. The local impacts of mountaintop removal are equivalent to carpet bombing. A mountain gets cut in half and out goes the deep seem of coal. Naturally, the absence of any kind of ecosystem will pull down biodiversity in the surrounding forest. The mountaintop gets dumped in streams that were formerly on the mountain's side, and when sulfites decoct out of the tailings, these streams undergo acidification to the point of undrinkability and sterilization. Sludge ponds from coal processing are left behind and pose long-term health hazard to local humans. Also, consider the coal's intended combustion releases serious atmospheric pollution. Katuah coal is high in sulfur, so burning it releases gaseous sulfur oxides resulting in acid rain, carbon dioxide and particulate matter that triggers asthma. A volcano may as well have erupted, except that the fire is in hydrocarbon-burning factories. There are many other effects to consider, but that's a start: a stretch Earth of gets totally wrecked by this resource extraction.

The mining industrialists would like to ignore these problems, in practice. They attempt to meet shallow government-mandated atonement standards, such as planting lawn grass over abandoned mines. In good conscience, we cannot condone MTR until it is has been ceased and made up for. We can't yet forgive them for the what they continue to do. King Coal defends its actions on the basis of its contributing role in domestic energy production, but that's not nearly good enough- didn't keep us out of Iraq! The type of restoration they must undertake is in kind: to truly make amends requires powering the switch to green energy. That's why chestnut restoration should be treated as an honestly separate process. There's a big forest opening in the wake of MTR's ruin, and Nature will take a long time to scab it over. We'll expedite that function, and benefit mutually from a new woody friend. The process is hopeful. After decades of thoughtful work going into this, culmination should be wholesale "green job" creation around chestnut's gifts of nuts and timber. That our Victory occurs on what was once an old killing field shouldn't disgust us- our own bodies are made of recycled material.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Iron John

Just finished reading Iron John, by Robert Bly. He starts off describing most guys today as not having a well-established sense of identity. To change that situation, he reads a Grimm's faerie-tale as an archetypal male initiation sequence which was in effect since the Neolithic, and then unpacks his understanding of it.

I suppose that contemplating these ideas and progressively applying their principles into life, is supposed to catalyze one's personal development comparably to Iron John's initiation. These days, when I feel the force of an impersonal force from without or within I pay attention to it and see what I can learn. That's why I appreciate personal truth in much of Robert Bly's thinking and really enjoyed this book. The names of the days of the week come from Norse and Roman deities, + the 7 ancient astrological planets. Bly's roundup of male archetypes (The Wild Man, the Magician, the Warrior, the Trickster, the King, the Lover, and the Grief Man) enriches that understanding for me. Every day, I am reminded by cosmology to stir up and sip on and embody these previously ignored, hidden or forgotten qualities in my self.

I am also thankful for the literary criticism provided by Paul Wolf-Light, and Charles Upton. Society has changed a lot since the Neolithic; that the Wild Man has been going MIA in white culture since the rise of asceticism several thousand years ago reflects it. If there were bad reasons for his disappearance, I assume there were also some good ones. Inequality between the sexes has been rejected, so sexed archetypes that apply to both sexes can seem ridiculous. Also, if you're like me you got sick and spit up lots of the initiation/indoctrination of our native society. With climate chaos, zombies and robots running towards us, we have our work cut out! We are reinventing culture, keeping our subjective reality based on truth, and in the end passing a beautiful, sufficient way of life to our kids. I know my friends in the Little House in the Ghetto are doing this, anyway- investment analysts could learn a lot from you guys! Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 03, 2008

brass jug wonder and a famous Christian reactionary

Talking about sacred use of metals, here's a cool anecdote empty vessels:

"Scientists from Britain and India recently investigated a long-held belief among people in India that storing water in brass pitchers can ward off illness. (Brass is an allow of copper and zinc.) They filled brass pitchers with sterile water inoculated with E. coli bacteria and filled other brass pitchers with contaminated river water from India. In both cases, they found that fecal bacteria counts dropped from as high as 1,000,000 bacteria per mililiter to zero in two days. In contrast, bacteria levels stayed high in plastic or earthenware pots. Apparently, just enough copper ions are released by the brass to kill the bacteria but not enough to affect humans." pg. 327 Chemistry and Chemical Reactivity, 7th edition

In other news, I speculate that Chronicles of Narnia author C.S. Lewis was a reactionary by the most basic definition of the word. Unless I miss my mark, Narnia books were created to counter Robert Graves' theories about pre-modern, matriarchal Middle Eastern and European societies which primarily honored female deity. Lewis' first Narnia book was published to years after Graves', in 1950 C.E. Here's my evidence, you be the judge.

"Graves' thesis was, among other things, that greatness was a pathology; “great men” were essentially destroyers and “great” poets not much better (his arch-enemies were Virgil, Milton and Pound), that all real poetry is and has always been a mythic celebration of an ancient Supreme Goddess, of whom Frazer had only confused glimmerings, and whose matriarchal followers were conquered and destroyed by Hitler's beloved Aryan hoards when they emerged from the Ukrainian Steppes in the early Bronze Age (though they survived a bit longer in Minoan Crete). In a book called The White Goddess: An Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth, he claimed to map out the rudiments of her calendar rites in different parts of Europe, focusing on the periodic ritual murder of the Goddess‟ royal consorts, among other things a surefire way of guaranteeing would-be great men do not get out of hand, and ending the book with a call for an eventual industrial collapse."
(pg 9-10, "Anarchist Anthropology" by David Graeber)

The first novel in C.S. Lewis' series of 7 is titled "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe". In his story, 4 Earth children are transported to a fantasy land of Judeo-Christian humans, animals, satyrs, and centaurs. There, the creator God is a lion named Aslan who deems to leave Narnia to its own devices after he's finished making it. His exit is followed by the inauguration of dictatorship. A near-omnipotent being simply known as "the White Witch" has the place under martial law, and keeps Narnia's seasons from progressing past the heart of winter through her magic. (Later, we are to learn that she is an alien from yet another parallel world, who committed planetary genocide by uttering a forbidden magic word and escaped into Narnia at the beginning of history with Aslan's permission.) Aslan comes back and with the help of the Earth children, kills the White Witch and sets up the 4 children as rulers in her stead and leaves again.

I'm feeling very un-Christian today.