Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Degrees of seperation from the world as we know it

Just got a new issue of Wilderness Way Magazine today. Why do I subscribe to stuff like this? One guy with a big beard writes about how to make a fur parka, another beardie gives instructions on how to set up snares. It's basically a magazine for scouts who have grown up and now believe, not so much in the Jungle Book, as in the apocalypse.
The world of back-to-the-land publications spans the whole spectrum from the futuristic, sf-like Home Power at one end to the incredibly gritty Bulletin of Primitive Technology on the other. The first one is basically about generating a gazillion solar-powered watts in your back yard, the last one reads like it's edited by Ötzi and has stuff is about how to make fire if you've lost your piece of flint. There's Mother Earth News, originally for neo-amish long haired dreamers, today for the Prius-driving vegetarian Democrat. "Mother"'s redeeming quality is the fact that the entire backlog is available online, an unbelievable trove of hippie wisdom and half-truths.
Then there's Backwoods Home, for the gun-toting survivalist, with some really good gardening tips, completely redundant solar-power information and fascinating stuff about firearms.
Perhaps one of the friendliest magazines is Countryside & Small Stock Journal, which is written and illustrated entirely by it's readers. You get all kinds here, from down-and-outers living in trailers who need recipes for squirrel stew, to starry-eyed homesteaders who forge their own wood ovens.
Comparing American publications to European ones can be an eye-opener, as the attitudes to the same challenges and interests can be strikingly different. British Permaculture Magazine is full of people who make beautiful low-impact vegetable gardens and take on Indian-sounding names, Swedish Åter takes a strikingly communal view, and focuses a lot on cooperation and communal living.
"Lunatics, every single one of them," I mutter while stroking my beard, reading by my kerosene light.

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