Warmer and hazier today. It’s nice not to be shivering, but I loved the brilliant, clear light of the cold days, the bay a deep blue-green, Mt. Diablo and the East Bay hills standing out sharply beyond. The cats followed the sun from window to window around the house and begged for laps when it disappeared. Today they’re wandering in and out the back door to play with Vinnie, the roaming black cat from up the hill, at present sitting on a high fence licking his paws. He sees me watching him from the window, and his eyes widen momentarily and gleam yellow, then he returns to licking, ignoring prying eyes–and I go back to my book.
I’m reading Derrick Jensen’s latest book, Dreams:
…Part of the reason that this culture is killing the planet is that it ignores, devalues, or demonizes messages from those places where writing comes from, where dreams come from, where so many other impulses and ideas and beings come from. It tries to create a rigid separation between what it calls the human on one hand, and what it calls the natural, and especially what it calls the supernatural, on the other; it then favors what it calls the human at the extreme expense of everyone else.
The fundamental difference between civilized and indigenous ways of being is that for even the most open-minded of the civilized, listening to the natural world is a metaphor. For traditional indigenous peoples, it is not a metaphor; it is how you relate to the real world.
I am not indigenous. Not in the slightest. I will never be indigenous. I am simply a living member of a living universe, and so are you. The experience of listening to and communicating with nonhumans–including other mammals, other animals, fungi, plants, bacteria, and others; and also beings this culture does not even consider to be living, such as rivers, rocks, mountains, stars, soil, and others; and also beings this culture does not even consider to exist, such as muses, dreamgivers, spirits, and others–is the birthright of every one of us. Our culturally imposed exile from these relationships–this culturally imposed echo chamber in which we find ourselves imprisoned–is one of the costs this culture inflicts upon us.
If I hadn’t read some of his earlier books, I’d think he was a little mad (he talks to rocks???); but since I already respect and admire his work, I’m left with no alternative to keeping an open mind.
I do so like books that make you feel like you’ve embarked on a wild ride to strange and distant places. Having mostly been what Jensen would call a “scientific, materialist, linear” sort of thinker, I resist other points of view, but with the planet on the brink of calamity, perhaps it’s time to be a tiny bit open-minded toward what I would’ve scoffed at before. If our culture is what got us here, maybe, as they say in AA, we should shut up and listen to somebody else’s best thinking.