Back home, of course, we have other problems, not least of which is testing the winds, sticking to the shadows, and leaning into the whispers to avoid becoming Canned Goods ourselves. There is more truth in that than many would like to believe, our obsession with “safety” having now trumped any real concerns with fundamental liberty.
It was a meal to celebrate a series of victories–over the madding world that overburdens modern humans with regulation and minutia, crushes us under the weight of absurdity, and tries like hell to prevent us from escaping the reservation to simply get out, get on a boat, and go fishing. To get from our homes and meet in Reno took 14 hours of combined driving, of dodging the world of yahoos who consistently overestimate their driving abilities, and any number of logistical hurdles between work, family, and the freight of modern obligations.
I’m not romantic about coyotes, at least not in the way that absolves them of their predatory nature, and so becomes blind to that nature and ends up doing them a disservice. I see a lot of people do that wolves, and the more they try to sell the warm and fuzzy routine the less credibility they have.
We live in strange times, which I realize is something of an understatement. But given the rarity of understatements in the current climate I am now a full-bore and unapologetic campaigner for understatements wherever, and whenever, I can find them.
Occasionally we get lucky and stumble across interesting works of art buried deep in the cultural mud—where they would probably stay—if folk like us weren’t out there dirt-fishing for hidden gems.
But even teaching, which allowed the greatest latitude for my manias, often provoked my inner Younger Bear, and so I found myself frequently on maneuvers against the robotic administration, or dropping a lecture on Wendell Berry to teach my students how to build field-expedient claymores–mostly as a kind of anti-academic protest and also as an instructional aid on building narrative structures.
Things aren’t as complicated as we’ve made them. If you don’t want to get fat stop eating so much and go for a walk. If you don’t want to destroy your liver and wreck your personal relationships stop drinking. That’s not a message Americans want to hear. They’d rather believe that big pharma is going to produce a pill that can do all of that while they sit around on throw rugs in a cloud of incense, banging on gongs and worshipping photos of Noam Chomsky while being angry at big pharma.
Blackouts are good when you don’t want to get bombed, but I’m in the trenches like everybody else and if I want to light a cigarette I’m going to light it. That’s late stage trench-madness and severely pisses off the Company Commander, but he spends most days in his dugout with the rats and a broken whistle writing bad poems to his ugly wife. If I’m going over the top I’m going to fire up a hand-rolled smoke before being turned into hamburger at the bottom of a crater by Jeff Bezos, Fox News, or the Omicron Variant.
These days I’m reduced to taking coffee at a place where the coffee is actually good, but the ambiance feels like a hospital waiting-room. Another reason I don’t love the place is that I frequently see a lunatic woman there who I know to a moral certainty burgled my home during an HOA meeting.
One longs for politicians with the wisdom and foresight of Ben Franklin, the raw intelligence of Jefferson, or the sheer tenacity of John Adams. These were careful, competent, and extremely brave men, willing to risk everything they had and whose calculations were underwritten by the determination to live and to defeat tyranny at any price.
There is, I suppose, a Heraclitian aspect to our film because nothing is fixed in the outback. The petroglyphs weather and the granite grows its rinds of colorful lichen, the courses of creeks and rivers change in drought or in flood, wildfire scorches the sage and forests alike. The horses and cattle most certainly change, and so too do the people change, adapting to time and circumstance to meet the challenges of the wider cultural evolution, markets, and technology.
Yesterday, due to the on-going calamity of representational government known as the State of Oregon, I was forced to drive six hours – round trip – to renew my driver’s license. This was because only about half of the very expensive government apparatus of this state is actually working in their offices at any one time, and also because the long-promised on-line renewal program is not on-line and no one seems to know when it might actually be on-line. By contrast, information about the next planned fire-bombing of the Federal building in Portland is readily available on the internet