Oh dear. Paid work is so uncool for my blogging. Anyway, here's a small parable. As the rain falls in Brisbane and grows my Black Russians like beanstalks...
I know of two worlds. One I live in but don’t believe in. The other I believe in but can’t quite reach.
One has mobile phone towers and kept lawns, suburb to city commutes and satellites orbiting through space to get us there. It breathes air-conditioning upon us, which stealthily sucks our lifeforce. It has a strange obsession with plastic packaging, which it goes to greath lengths to manufacture, only to immediately throw away. It squeezes us through a series of institutions designed to crush our uniqueness, creativity and spirit, so that we may become full and conforming participants in the Economy. With its high demands on our time, the Economy keeps thought trimmed inside little boxes. This world relies on insulating constructs that remove us from our humanity, that deny our relationship with the earth, that impose falsity at every turn and propagate rampant unwellness. This world is a bubble of unreality. Inside the bubble there is only the bubble; it is difficult to imagine an outside to the bubble. Perhaps this is because, for the most part, we don’t see the bubble, let alone recognise its delicate nature.
The other world has none of these things. It has land and sea scapes and natural abundance and diversity and community and art and stories and ideas. It lacks disposable income but has bountiful simplicity and mass wellbeing. It has a different kind of knowledge. It knows about growing, building, sharing and looking after people. And it is not just one world, but many. They are the many small, purposed and felt traditional worlds of humankind.
These small, bountiful worlds once held us all, to varying degrees, in their embrace. But then agriculture was born in the Fertile Crescent. We domesticated plants and animals, stored food and became settled. Well-fed populations trebled. Land was put under lock and key, and with it, the freedom to feed your family by the sweat of your brow. Many peasants were ‘freed’ from food production to toil in trades. Labour was divided, giving us artisans, who were later replaced by experts. One of whom invented the modern steam engine, giving birth to Industralisation and exploding us into a new age of mechanised largesse. The bubble blew bigger and bigger. With our armies of well-fed experts, technology bounded ahead and distributed knowledge to the masses – which told us to buy, buy, buy. And so the bubble bulged until it was bulbously magnificent.
Now grows a small movement that can’t make sense of the bubble. Some intuit the bubble’s wrongness but are caught in its maw. They believe life is inherently combative and destructive. They believe in the inevitabilty of our culture: you can hear them teach it to others by saying things like ‘such is life’. Such believed impotency makes them sad. Through this immobilised sadness they press on with air-conditioning and kept lawns and the distraction of new dresses, growing ever more deeply indebted to the bubble they can neither make sense of, nor escape. They are the anxious and depressed.
Some others – artists, landholders, marginalised liberals – increasingly muse that the bubble is precariously inflated and not at all magnificent. Their worldview is unrelentingly at odds with the bubble. They sing of those other small worlds of bounty. Their voices grow in volume and number. Somehow, whilst living in the world that shoehorns thought, they are able to imagine real and beautiful alternatives. Some of them have gone beyond imagination, beyond the bubble. They are true visionaries, who have the sense of self to play what they hear in a world that is largely tonedeaf. They inhabit the world I believe in... those worlds beyond the bubble.