9 04 2014

written by Martin

Twenty years ago, when I was living in Vermont, a friend of mine moved from there down to middle Tennessee to join a startup permaculture community that was going to be centered around one of the big names in permaculture–honestly, I forget just who.  She returned to Vermont a few months later, saying she had been unable to get along with the guy well enough to stay.  We’re not talking boyfriend/girlfriend here, just being members of the same team/community.  Apparently, she was not the only person who couldn’t make it work with this particular guy, whoever he was, because he is no longer here in middle Tennessee, nor is there a twenty-year old, permaculture-based community in this area, to the best of my knowledge.

While I would love to be proved wrong about this and have members of this community emerge from obscurity and say, “We are here, we have been here, and here are at all the amazing things we’ve done in 20 years,” this apparently failed community is only one of a number of examples I could cite.  It seems that the tricky part of manifesting the long-term vision that permaculture demands isn’t molding the landscape, but forming and keeping together a community of people who can forge a common vision and implement it.  The same holds true for the whole spectrum of groups committed to “paradigm shift,” including, to name the first few that come to mind, political/environmental activism, the Transition Town movement, and healing centers and intentional communities. I have seen such difficulties arise, and disrupt communities and movements, numerous times over the course of my life.  That’s what I’m going to be discussing in this blog post:  what I have learned from my 40+ year involvement with intentional communities.

In college, I joined Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), and was one of those who burned his draft card in Central Park in the late 60’s.  I attended enough SDS meetings to become discouraged by its failure to address the egos and emotions of those with a neurotic urge towards leadership and/or martyrdom, and its failure to “be the change it wanted to see.”ghandi Later I moved to San Francisco and witnessed the unravelling of the Haight-Ashbury as a viable community.  (In retrospect, my own neediness and lack of social and material skills probably helped propel that downfall, although I’m sure it all would have come apart just fine without me!)  I joined a small group that aspired to the model Robert Heinlein created in the science fiction novel “Stranger in a Strange Land,” but that succumbed to the neuroses of its founders within a month.  I slept for one night and one night only at a Digger crash pad that had slid so far down the tubes that people were peeing in a sink full of dirty dishes, because the toilets had long ago stopped working.  (OK, that was actually on the Lower East Side of New York, but it was The Diggers.)  I attended what turned to be the last meeting of the San Francisco Diggers, where those who had been in the movement for a while bemoaned the fact that they didn’t own the buildings that they were trying to maintain as The Free Store and the Community Kitchen.  I met several times with a group of people who were getting together to buy land in southern Oregon. That disintegrated in the face of actually coming up with the cash necessary for the deal.  I hung out with the folks from the Harbinger Community, who had the use of a hot spring/resort hotel north of San Francisco.  They lasted a few months before dissolving in a cloud of bad drugs and irresponsible people. Read the rest of this entry »


11 12 2010

In closing, and in the spirit of rending that “veil of illusion,” here’s an extended quote from Robert Anton Wilson’s “Illuminati Papers” on various forms of stupidity, and how to heal them.

26. Biosurvival stupidity is imprinted almost immediately after birth, is caused by traumatic fright (due to our primitive child-rearing practices), and takes the form of chronic anxiety. This is epidemic in our society; In 1968, a U.S. public health survey showed that 85% of the population have some symptom of chronic anxiety, eg., heart palpitations, frequent nightmares, dizzy spells, etc.. Chronic depression usually accompanies this, in the extreme forms, one finds autism or catatonia, which are biopsychic or cellular decisions that human beings are just too nasty to be worth relating to, or paranoia, the fine art of finding enemies everywhere, especially among ones’ friends.

27. Biosurvival stupidity causes so much stress on the organism, and so much alienation from other humans, that it creates stupidity on all the other neural circuits as well, and thereby prevents the development of a high level of intelligence on any circuit.

28. Biosurvival stupidity can be alleviated by the practice of various martial arts (aikido, karate, kung-fu, etc.); by asana, the yogic technique of holding ones’ posture for long periods of time every day; or by psychotherapy. Asana and psychotherapy take much longer to produce dramatic effects than martial arts do, but may be necessary in acute cases.

29. Emotional stupidity is imprinted when the toddler is first learning “family politics” (mammalian hierarchy games) typically, the victim confronts all problematic situations in interpersonal relations with one stereo-typed emotional game, (e.g., A good long sulk, a temper tantrum, “depression”, a drunken bender, suicidal thoughts, howling or blustering in traditional angry-primate matter, etc.) One or another of these robotic emotional reflexes can be found in about 99% of the population.

30. Emotional stupidity can be alleviated by the yogic breathing technique known as pranayama, or by Gurdjieff techniques of establishing an internal “observer” who monitors the emotional reflexes, .ie., makes them conscious instead of mechanical. Pranayama produces quicker results; the Gurdjieff techniques ultimately produce deeper, more long-lasting results.

31. Semantic stupidity is imprinted when the older child begins dealing with words and concepts (abstract artifacts produced by the higher brain centers after the human stock separated out from the other primates.) The most pervasive form of semantic stupidity consists of confusing the local (tribal) reality map with the all of reality. Dogmatism, rigid ideological systems and bizarre reality maps (ideological schizophrenias) are also rampant. Symbol blindness ranging from verbal illiteracy, is also common and often found in those who are very skillful in handling one narrow range of symbols, e.g., the painter who can’t solve a quadratic equation, the scientist who can’t or won’t read poetry , etc..

32. Semantic stupidity can be alleviated by a diet rich in lecithin and protein, by courses in remedial reading, logic and scientific method, and by practices in general semantics.

33. Socio-sexual stupidity is imprinted when the DNA blueprint triggers the mutation to puberty. It consists of robotic repetition of one stereo-typed sex role, usually accompanied by a deep-seated conviction that all other sex-roles are abnormal. (“mad” or “bad”)

34. The only alleviations of socio-sexual stupidity currently available are the various forms of psychotherapy, of which group encounter is probably most effective.

35. Alleviating or totally curing these four types of stupidity would produce human beings roughly matching the idealistic definition given by Robert Heinlein in “Time Enough for Love”: ” A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, design a building, sail a ship, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyse a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight effectively, die gallantly. ”

36. Roughly speaking, if you can handle 14 out of Heinlein’s 21 programs, you have released 2/3 of your potential intelligence, and are 2/3 of a human being. If you can handle 7 of them, you are 1/3 of a human being. Scores above 14 mean you’re probably a genius and probably know it; scores below 7 mean you’re certainly a moron and certainly don’t know it. (.ie., you are convinced, are you not, that the world really is a terrible place and that your inability to cope is due to the world’s evil rather than to your own stupidity?)

37. A quicker intelligence test, which also indicates the trajectory of your development, is this: If the world seems to be getting bigger and funnier all the time, your intelligence is steadily increasing. If the world seems to be getting smaller and nastier all the time, your stupidity is steadily increasing.

music:  The Beatles, “Sgt. Pepper Reprise>A Day in the Life”

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