So I am doing a little update concerning this project, tied into a bunch of personal reflections, whatever. In no particular order:
My post, “Nihilist Parenting Tips” was mentioned elsewhere on the Internet. While the post is not portrayed in a negative light, the author did say this:
I might be guilty of wishing them to – in my own aforementioned desires to have children – as Cabrera puts it “sacrifice themselves for an ideal they have no stake in”. But as I see myself and other living beings (and as I argue in Feral Consciousness), my selfhood is perpetually an extension of Being, which is part of a ecological community that spans bioregion of this planet. So in an entirely non-idealised and egoist sense, I have an immediate stake in this stuff and they would also. So that part of Cabrera’s argument is one I do not share.
This might open a whole can of worms, so I’ll just say, I feel I have an “immediate stake.” I am just under no illusions that I can do anything about it. I feel that the one thing people simply DO NOT GET about Atassa or eco-extremism or whatever is that this ISN’T ABOUT HUMANS! Indeed, I just got done translating the 22nd Communique and it’s pretty blatant about that. I don’t see humanity as anything else other than a pawn to be sacrificed in the great scheme of things. True, I am not the one playing, but when the rook takes pawn, or queen takes pawn, it’s not big deal in the end.
“But won’t somebody think of the children!” I think about my children, of course. I spend more time with my kids than the average Western father does. I don’t parent radically different from the average Western parent. I am not training my kids for collapse, or to be especially militant. I love my children. I like to be with my children. Long ago, someone said to me that a father who is there is the best father of all, even if he doesn’t know what he’s doing. I don’t know what I’m doing, but I have made a special effort to be there at least.
The cited passage then is not about “giving up” on my kids or not caring about the destruction of the Earth, or anything of that sort. It’s more about realizing that the game is rigged and the more one “fights” in the conventional sense, the more stuck in the mire of complexity one becomes (think of the Chinese finger puzzle). I oppose the concept of “humanity”. Heck, I oppose the concept of the “biosphere”. Coyotes, alligators, finches, etc. don’t think globally, they don’t think about saving a “world” they know nothing about, so why should I get worked up over it? The fact that we conceive of it as a system is part of the problem. The fact that we distinguish the “whole” from the “part” is what sinks us. That is why I like the eco-extremist term “Wild Nature” (Naturaleza Salvaje) and how the eco-extremists talk of “el desconocido”: literally, “the Unknown” but I tend to translate it as “Ineffable” (“traduttore, traditore” so sue me!) It’s an admission that I don’t know shit about what I am thinking or talking about (and that I shouldn’t). I know it gets me angry, I know I would rather techno-industrial civilization not be there. I know I should believe in something higher than myself that I cannot access, but I don’t, and I can’t. And I certainly won’t imbue belief in such a false civilized idol into my kids. That’s what the phrase “sacrifice themselves for an ideal they have no stake in” meant. Sorry, I hate doing a midrash of my own occasional writings, but there it is.
As for having kids, my heart goes out to that author if he really wanted them. Mine were sort of accidental, but o felix culpa. Having kids made me more nihilistic, to be honest. I was still a devout (sort of) Catholic when I had my first child, and my last prayer to God when I was holding her during Mass was something like, “How can I guide this little one if I am so lost myself?” After that, “God” went silent. So I am used to being lost but loved now. I know that the love that we sacks of flesh and bones have for each other is fleeting, fragile, and mutable. That has made me appreciate it all the more. It has not made me try to codify it into morality, or societal obligation, or try to demand a meaning from the universe. It just is what it is. I look at the change and decay ever present in the cosmos and see in it the condition of all the beauty and love that I cherish in it: the opposite of what most others do, I suppose. They refuse to go gentle into that good night. I realized long ago that I am already in it.
I found it curious as well to find an anonymous note over at La Manta Mojada blog by a person getting angry while walking through a forest and citing ITS communiques. Yes, I too know this feeling. I don’t know how even some of the most anti-civ people advocate “forest bathing” as some sort of healing exercise, as if it feeds our “hunger” for wildness. Poppycock, I say. And there is forest in the Southeast that is pretty darn secluded: still you hear in the distance the gunshots of hunters and the muffled conversations of campers. These forests and swamps are products of civilization: parts of the wilderness that civilization has spared. It’s like saying a house servant is free but the field hand isn’t: they’re both slaves, I don’t know how you can lie to yourself otherwise. If your entire anti-civ praxis is dependent on the United States Department of the Interior, I don’t think it is very “anti-civ” at all. And you aren’t escaping anything.
The last time I was in such a forest I was struck with great melancholy. The children had been whisked away by relatives, so I was by myself, which is seldom the case these days. I entered the forest and I prayed. Now mind you, if you read my controversial Apophatic Animism post, you would know that I am not very rigorous or even firm in my beliefs. Who or what I was praying to, I don’t know. I don’t try to usurp any traditions that aren’t mine: I am just not comfortable with that (not judging anyone else, though). But I prayed, for my children, for myself, for strength. It was the first time in a long time, but I felt that agony of the Earth most of all, or perhaps that agony within. I suppose my own definition of maturity, spiritual or otherwise, is that if I am comfortable, more than likely I am being deceived. It is discomfort, the active life that leads one back to the Earth from the clouds, the tales without the happy endings, the tragedies without pleasant resolutions, that provide me now with the most “peace”. If someone tells you something that consoles you or makes you comfortable, they are lying to you (even if they care for you). That one line from Pascal haunts me, I suppose: Jésus sera en agonie jusqu’à la fin du monde. Il ne faut pas dormir pendant ce temps-là.
The projects keep coming, but “normal life” gets in the way. Stay tuned…