American Anti-culture: A lament

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Published on Epiphany Now on June 22, 2015

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Every Friday I drive up the mountain to intern with Keiji Oshima. He's teaching me about bamboo. Some days the lesson is to sit in a Sasa Veitchi patch and pull weeds, and on others it's learning the art of splitting bamboo for the purposes of weaving it into baskets. I'm learning how to farm bamboo for the health of the grove. The goal is to produce quality bamboo canes for craft and the table. Bamboo is a way of life that creates a culture. In the United States we don't have a culture, and I'm pretty sure we don't want one. There are houses that are lived in on this Earth that are made up entirely of bamboo. That means you can literally live in bamboo, and you can eat it with utensils made of it while you sit in a bamboo chair at a bamboo table in a bamboo house…bamboo! You can do all of that with wood as well, but wood can't grow 47 inches in 24 hours like Phyllostachy Edulis (moso) can, and good luck trying to eat wood. Bamboo has the highest protein count of any vegetable, but this is not an essay about bamboo, it's more a lament about the sucking void of an anti-culture that I live in. Quite simply this is therapy for me. Read on at your own emotional risk because I've got no warm fuzzies for you about the future.

 

In my yard I have a diverse array of food growing: apple, peach, cherry, black locust, hazelnut, pomegranate, bamboo, grapevine, black berry, raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, corn, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, gourds, all manner of cucurbit, peas, beans, herbs, chickens, and others. Diversity is my main tactic. There's also swales, hugelkulture, key hole gardens, cob, and vernal pools. I've done the best job I can designing and installing permaculture into this yard. I don't even like calling it a yard any longer because that word doesn't honor the sweat, blood, thought, emotion, and intentionality I've put into the food forest that is my "yard." A yard is something that is terrorized by mechanical tyranny and synthetic chemicals every other week. The goal of this anti-culture way of thinking is to somehow control nature, to keep it in straight lines and caged in a delusion of the collective human mind. We have dominion over a collapsing way of life contained in a biosphere that is becoming hostile to life. I'm not going to now launch into a list of all the problems our world is facing right now. This would be a good point in the essay to do so, but there are plenty of blogs in the doomosphere that can supply that list for you. The list of food growing in my "yard" is the only list you'll find in this particular rant.
 
The great irony of my life is that when I'm not permaculturing in my yard I'm riding a lawn mower and operating a weed eather, and yes I even spray round up from time to time. Nobody wants to pay me for my permaculture knowledge in this anti-culture, but they will gladly pay me to keep nature in line in their yards. All of that food growing in my yard and I still shop at costco. Regardless of my hyperactive distaste of hypocrisy it seems I'm unable to help myself from participating in it. Why do I buy and spray Monsanto round up and shop at Costco? Because I live in an anti-culture. I get paid to spray round up, not plant fruit trees (or god forbid, bamboo), and I shop at Costco because it's the cheapest way to feed two young boys. I'm not operating under the fantasy that paying 30% more for "organic" food is going to make my boys much healthier or save anything from my species. The air we breath is toxic and there are over 200 synthetic chemicals in the human body, and I'm supposed to believe that shopping at the local organic box store is going to keep me and my family more healthy!
 
I go to work and sweat…a lot. It's very hot and humid in the American South. After each job I'll take my T-shirt off and wring out a couple hundred cc's of sweat. I'll drink over a gallon of water in a day and I might pee once. I work very hard for the money I make, and so decisions like shop at costco and save a lot of money, or shop at Organic Box Store and piss my money away like I do all that water I drink, aren't really decisions at all…just common sense. I've got more food growing in my yard than probably 99% of the average home owner and yet I'm still dependent on Costco to supply the bulk of my families calories. Permaculture doesn't work without real community, and it damn sure doesn't work in an American anti-culture. It requires whole communities of people to all be concerned with food, medicine, and material cultivation. My neighbor tills his "garden spot" and then applies petrochemicals to it, and down the road there are 1000's of peach trees all in a line that get sprayed copiously all of the time. Without those petrochemicals my neighbor, and that atrocity of a "peach orchard" down the road, would all learn the hard way what petroleum dependency has done to our anti-culture.
 
I'm being forced to make up a culture. I've had no initiation into adulthood, unless you count bombing Afghanistan from the bowels of an aircraft carrier for control of the worlds heroine and petroleum as an initiation. I have no elders to look up to. My father has forsaken me and my family on account of arrogant pride. My mother does the best that she can, but she's got no idea either really…well she's got Jesus at least. I have no grandparents left. My wife is even worse off. Her daddy put a 30 aught 6 in his mouth a year before I met her, and her mother is an out of control narcissists that does more harm than good wherever she goes. She has no surviving grandparents either, and what did the whole lot teach us about our world and how we should make our way in it? Our way of life is to consume for profit sake while terrorizing resource rich countries with weapons of mass destruction, and that pretty much sums up America and it's grand ordeals about inalienable rights and freedom. I suppose we have a culture of "lawn care." If you're reading this during the daytime and you listen hard enough I'm sure you can hear a small engine attempting to control nature somewhere (and this privilage American's kill brown people of culture with drones for). Could there be a better way to vent our collective frustration then to grow just grass that has got to be mowed every other week…and fueled by petroleum I might add. Henry Ford and his ilk knew what they were doing with the invention of carcentric suburbia. They were being industrious, which is the highest good as long as it supports profit.
 
What am I to tell my two young boys about the world and their place in it? The future has no place for them. If they're lucky there will at least be some good human supporting biospheres left when it's their turn to start making babies, that is if the nuclear industry hasn't finished the job of making us all sterile. That industry is definitely doing their level best to destroy all ocean life. For a long time I used permaculture as a blank screen on which to project my hopium. I resigned from a low paying career as a medic after a short stent on fukitol didn't resolve my cognizant dissonance. Dissonance which was resonating from existence in an anti-culture. I went on a permaculture crusade of hope. Three years later my permaculture business partner realizes that hugelkulture isn't going to save the world and threw in the towel. Not that I blame him. Our anti-culture requires us to make money, not to dream up ways to fix this mess.
 
I'm supposed to remain optimistic in the face of all of this bad news. I'm supposed to somehow realize that our anti-culture is collapsing around us in all the ways that count, but yet there's reason to rejoice! There is a large for profit prison industry in this country for cryin' out loud. What the fuck! People are literally making millions of dollars on non-violent drug addicts turned industrial prison complex for profit slaves. They were only drug addicts in the first place because there was no place for them in our anti-culture. Who can blame them? Yet now they make our military uniforms. I suppose at least we're using our own domestic slaves now rather than the rest of the worlds. There is even a very entertaining show about it on Netflix called "Orange is the New Black." My wife and I have watched all three seasons. In the last season the women of the prison make panties for a lingerie company. Most Americans watching probably have no idea that the show is depicting reality. At any rate we watch it to escape from reality. One of the most important prescriptions for life in an American anti-culture is the remedy of sitting on our fattening asses while eating food chemicals anesthetized on a television screen, beer, and fukitol. I'm supposed to be optimistic. I have a tendency to forget that.
 
There is one small silver lining in the fight for optimism and hopium. The SUN foundation, a 501c3 non-profit of which I'm the CFO (chief financial officer), has a chance at receiving one million dollars to design a "Sunstead." You can read all about what that is by going to sun4living.com and reading our prospectus. If anything can give me hope it's SUN. As you have no doubt deduced at this point I need some hopium. We all do, at least those of us with our eyes wide open. I hope that SUN can shine and help to create at least one answer to this mess we are in. Now I'm off with my truck and trailer full of nature tyranny dispensation so that I can make some money to buy some Costco food to feed my family. At least I did provide them some home grown Irish cobler taters and zucinni for dinner last night. I'll take the small victories. I suppose I'm more prepared for the future than 99% of the rest of the non-1% Americans. On another optimistic note…my state finally took the confederate flag off of the state capitol building today. I guess my state's no longer stuck in the mid 1800's intellectually any longer?
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