Snuff It #4
Black Elk Speaks, John G. Neihardt. After having a great vision
at an early age, Black Elk became a medicine man. He spent the rest of his
life trying to realize his dream for the Lakota--and for all people--of the
tree of life blooming at the center of the sacred hoop. His dream ended in
the butchering at Wounded Knee. Years later, with tears running down his
face, Black Elk tells the Great Spirit that the tree never bloomed, and is
withered: "A pitiful old man, you see me here, and I have fallen away
and done nothing...It may be that some little root of the sacred tree still
lives. Nourish it then, that it may leaf and bloom and fill with singing
birds." To see how things could be, but be powerless to make them so,
surely nothing is harder. Does the preservation of Black Elk's vision in
a popular book lessen his defeat? The author thought so, but I'm unsure.
Even if the tree still lives, how can I nourish it when I can barely nourish
myself? Or are these two are the same, because the tree is in each of us?
I also have a vision, and feel unable to realize it. Will I end up like
O-Zone, Paul Theroux. Industrial society concentrates its power
in cities, but only by ceding control over outlying areas, as Hakim Bey
and others have observed. Already the elite submit to surveillance, and
willingly trade freedom of movement for increased security. Today's
"knowledge workers" telecommute, and rarely leave their gated
communities, complete with shopping malls, recreation facilities, and
private police. How much longer will it be before cities become walled
cities? Are we returning to a feudal world? Theroux's answer is yes,
and his bone-chilling novel searches for life outside the walls.
"I'm an Owner...get out of my way and let me through!"
On Behalf of Wolf and the First Peoples, Joseph Marshall III.
Unlike hundreds of tribes that became stacks of paper, names on a list,
or nothing at all, the Lakota are alive, with a surprising amount of
their heritage intact. Marshall moves easily in the white man's world,
but he also listens to his ancestors, and their voices permeate his essays.
They stress the importance of knowing one's place, and living within the
limits of the shared physical world. Every species has a part to play in
the dance of life, and possesses unique strengths that enable it to survive.
The first peoples "did not see their ability to reason or understand
as anything that made them superior; instead, it was simply their
key to survival." Like Vonnegut, Marshall distinguishes the Europeans
not by their technology, but by their arrogance. Their merciless
campaign to exterminate the wolf--and the remaining first peoples--in the
late 1800s is one of many examples.
The Only Planet of Choice: Essential Briefings from Deep Space, Phyllis
V. Schlemmer and Mary Bennett. After three hundred pages of channelled
interviews with the Being who speaks for the Council of Nine (also known as
Tom), the mind boggles. The good news is that total destruction won't be
permitted, but other than that, it's up to us, as usual. Eyebrow-raising
topics include universal civilizations, Atlantis, and Hebrew aliens. Despite
urgent warnings to get "unstuck," overall the message is positive:
"You all have come to Earth to beautify it, to purify it, to love it
and be in joy with it. Know this: in your time, through your and others'
dedication, through the quality of your being on Planet Earth, you may bring
it to the fulfillment of its creation. That is for us a great joy and we
thank you." The Being who visited me was considerably less cheerful.
How do you say "don't count your chickens"?
The Wanting Seed, Anthony Burgess. In this outrageous Malthusian
comedy from the author of A Clockwork Orange, overpopulation is so
bad that the government promotes homosexuality. Their slogan: "It's
Sapiens to be Homo." The humor is very British, of course, and it
overwhelms in places, but civilization is demolished, and three out of four
pillars are covered, in short order. Fans of Aldous Huxley's Brave New
World (written thirty years earlier) will notice many interesting
similarities and differences. Thank you, William, for making me read
Where White Men Fear To Tread, Russell Means with Marvin J. Wolf.
Means--another Lakota--achieved lasting fame as one of the most outspoken
leaders of the American Indian Movement (AIM), for which he and many others
suffered almost unimaginable violence. His autobiography is white-hot with
anger, and it left me exhausted, racked by alternating spasms of self-hate
and self-pity from which I'm still recovering. I can't overcome all of my
social conditioning in one lifetime; it's too much to ask. I was born and
raised in a city, and indoctrinated into the intellectual elite. As a child,
my knowledge of the world came from books. I thought food came from behind
the mirrors in the supermarket: I didn't know any better. I learned to read
and write and control machines, and the damage is done. My skills are only
useful to industrial society, and it tempts me, with distractions and a
comfortable existence. I drink its poison, and my spirit is sick. I have no
tradition, and I can't be a Lakota, no matter how much I purify myself. I'm
an outsider, a mental European. Sometimes I want to live in a right way, but
I'm weak, and Microsoft is big. I weep for myself, I'm so ashamed.
There's an internally recognized beauty of motion and balance on any
man-healthy planet... You see in this beauty a dynamic stabilizing effect
essential to all life. Its aim is simple: to maintain and produce
coordinated patterns of greater and greater diversity. Life improves
the closed system's capacity to sustain life. Life--all life--is in the
service of life. Necessary nutrients are made available to life by
life in greater and greater richness as the diversity of life increases.
The entire landscape comes alive, filled with relationships and relationships
-Pardot Kynes, First Planetologist of Arrakis
More Recommended Reading...
index #4 ·