Thursday, October 15, 2009

On the edge

Look at it: It seams recognizable...

This is not my home. It's Ted Kaczynki's place. Or rather his former place. He's in prison now, of course.
Ted Kaczynski is perhaps better known as the Unabomber. If I had lived in a culture where he was better known than the one I'm in, I think he would have cropped up quite often in conversations when it dawns on people how I live.
And I have to say, I wouldn't have blamed them.
Even though I don't share his politics, there are some common denominators when it comes to preferences in real estate and interior decoration.

Just look at it: For chrissake.

Supposedly a news report, just following his arrest, went like this:
On-site reporter: Apparently, the Unabomber, now revealed to be former professor Ted Kaczynski, lived in this remote cabin without electricity or running water.
Anchorwoman: And still no suspicions were raised?

I am thinking about Kaczynski now, because I am reading a book called "What We Leave Behind" by Derrick Jensen and Aric McBay. They are this close to suggesting their readers blow something up. Their premise is that civilization is just flat out unsustainable, and any attempts to jerry rig solutions are going to fail.
This is bleak stuff.

Mostly, I find it pretty good, too. It fits well with what I think and believe, those rare instances where I don't sensor myself. I've developed quite a knack for sounding slightly less insane in polite company than I really am. It's a survival thing.
But it's become a habit. Now I hardly even whisper to myself how worried I am, how unsure I am that we will be able to tidy things up.
Some parts of the book make me cringe a bit. I find it hard to accept the way environmentalists lump together American Indians as if they were one homogeneous group. Some of them had (and have) very admirable cultures, others less so. Anything else would be crazy. They're not ├╝bermensch, those Indians.
Surprisingly, the chapter about aborigines and magic is quite readable. The authors manage to show respect while avoiding the new-agey baloney that normally surrounds this topic.

Kevin Kelly of Cool Tools fame has a kind of response to the kind of thinking held by Jensen and (to some extent) Ted Kaczynski. That's were I found the pictures here, too.


Brendon said...

Thanks a ton for the 'What We Leave Behind' reference. I picked it up and am devouring it (on my iPhone, ironically). Derrick Jensen just got a new raving fan.

And thanks also for the great blogging you do. I've been a huge fan for a while.

--Bren (one of the BikeHacks guys)

Northmark said...

Yes, isn't it a wonderful book! After worrying for a long while if it was espousing some really cold-blooded fanaticism, I was relieved to read the last chapter about how difficult times can lead to very unpleasant scapegoating, and how a "culture of resistance" is necessary precisely to counteract these tendencies.
I am really, really glad you like it.