to JB 12/22/06 w/ minor ed.
I’m writing you from south Florida between trips into the Everglades and out on the Keys. It’s fascinating how many ecosystems you can fit in a small place when you really try! The weather has been cloudy by very pleasant, 80 deg., warm sun & rains that don’t get you wet, no crouds!, lots of beauty, and we have a simply marvelous place to stay. More later.
I mostly want to thank you for getting me to read a little more ‘useless pop psychology’… Of course, now that I’m at least up to the point where he defines his natural laws of competition I’m really wondering why you or someone else didn’t mention Ishmael to me before, too. Didn’t you notice that this approach to the subject, the use of natural laws of how to live that are readily read from the physical world but missing from the popular discussion of [how the world works], is precisely what I’ve been so patiently exploring and talking about for the last, yep, count-em, 30 years??
[Quinn is remarkably clear and accruate on some of the functional perceptions he identifies, but] one of the fasinating and informative things about the book is how Quinn makes the same mistake all the other great thinkers focusing on the subject I know of make, like Al Gore & the environmentalists generally, Bernard Lietaer & E.F.Schumacher leading the financial visionary group utopians, etc. They all note that humans are guided by moral principles and assume that the problem is not having the right ones, forgetting that it’s our conception of moral principles itself that is ‘infected with this little ‘bug’ of ours.
As I see it, the real problem is that we don’t periodically check our moral principles against the shifting sands of physical reality, that we hold our sacred ‘ideals’ above all else. The better foundation is that sea of meaningless grey stuff in which we’re bobbing around…and we should occasionally check the [physical] meaning of what [we think] ‘good’ is.
What I found back in 76 was a really cool larger set of principles of evolution and behavioral choice that have been missing, and that can extend thinking well beyond the immediate core issue of what man will deside is ‘enough’. I’m not sure what terminology Quinn will finally settle on (since I’m only on p129), or if the ‘e’ word will even appear, but that’s the common point on which we agree entirely.
Natural systems that survive tend to know what’s enough from within themselves, and don’t need to be beaten down by experience and forced to contend with woeful inadequacy and opressive disparity as the people of our culture are so inclined to. Of course, Quinn also doesn’t deal with all the many many counter examples to his statement of the problem, but [if you] hold that in reserve and give him the benefit of the doubt [then] it’s a very lucid telling of how we have been living by a profoundly false story for centuries.
I think there are two steps to consider a little further upstream from where Quinn and most others call the beginning of the problem. One is the set of a-moral principles of what is physically possible for evolving systems (the all-system absolute limits of growth, etc). The other is the series of events that caused the creative center of human culture to become so misguided. Both are great subjects for productively entertaining exploration, and there’s lots to say on them.
In a nutshell the first has to do with the ‘internalities’ of growth (rather than the ‘externalities’ that distract so many), and where you would naturally need to draw the line and declare ‘enough’ for one’s own survival. Without self-constraint the limit of growth is confusion, as we can see coming for the growth world quite clearly now.
The second has to do with how our species got things mixed up in the first place, and begins, I think, with the change in perception at 60k, the Cro-Magnon dawn of conceptual thinking [a tell-tale sign of which is the cave paintings which render the animals but show the humans as stick figures]. That’s when images and the meanings we overlayed on them (our own construction of artificial worlds in our brains to guide us) became more compelling and began to conceal the actual features of reality. That marks, for me, when the ’story’ became dominant and reality lost out.
What I think then happened at roughly 10k is that the leading creative community happened to have one or a series of rulers who used highly abusive measures to rigidly control their flock, essentially tortured them into subservience. Driven by despiration to avoid the pain people [could have convinced themselves that] simply having a self (being a ‘captive’ of the natural separation from the world anything built from the inside has) was proof that we and all other things in nature should be subserviant to the ‘lord’, and, if we behaved ourselves, we could share in the ‘lord’s’ generosity to obedient underlings. Driven by traumatic stress to commit the mortal sin of subjugating our own selves to an abuser forms the [heritable trap of thinking everything should be controlled that I think we’re all taught as ‘the way things are’] and that we need to free ourselves from.
So, that’s about my limit for a warm sunny morning! Is there any of what’s new to you here that connects with your reading of Quinn or your own suspicions? We’re back in NYC tomorrow and will be in touch.
Phil Henshaw ¸¸¸¸.·´ ¯ `·.¸¸¸¸