The plant lives in an environment where the plant finds what it needs to live without moving much: light, moisture, nutrients, maybe some oxygen … Animals add locomotion to the formula. Humans move all over hell and gone thinking all resources rightly belong to us.
Our ancestors gathered, and scavenged, then learned to hunt: became very good at hunting. The environment supplied the light, the air, the water … the plants, the animals, the space …
I was born in New York City in 1938. My father was a lawyer. He did deeds and wills and things, people gave him money to do them, there were stores around where the money bought food, a house, a car, gas … My mother kept the house, bore my sister, me … I was sent off to Columbia to learn to do the same sorts of things. I was taught to cease earning money the way I had: grass cutting, delivering newspapers, jerking sodas, stocking shelves in the market … I could have gone on like that, making money, getting a girl, a house, a car, making children. I could have gone to law school and starting making wills and doing deeds for people. But something went wrong: and it wasn’t just me. I stopped making money, and starting spending all I had, and all my family had, on something called higher education. I paused to earn a very small amount of money to say things about Shakespeare and other Renaissance literature to college students. Promises were made to me that when I finished my PhD I would learn a little more money, and could talk about Shakespeare from a higher platform. Except the PhD proved to be infinitely remote. I don’t know if my college students understood what I said about Shakespeare, no positive evidence has come back to me, but it was clear that my university didn’t understand: and felt no obligation to listen very carefully. My professors felt free to interrupt me: after grading papers they clearly hadn’t understood, and in some cases hadn’t even read.
I thought of something, with a lot of help from Ivan Illich, to do about it: offer a digital library of volunteered public information, listing Human resources, material resources, using the digital data base to match people by common interests, and using this new digital library to post feedback on the resources. In other words I wanted to bring the school and university into the new information world: in 1970. Computers could have served us to create an electronic village such as Bucky, and McLuhan, envisaged.
When Colt found a way to manufacture guns, money rained on him. Colt didn’t need to find a berry and put it in his mouth: he had money, to go to the store. When Ford found a way to apply Colt’s methods to cars, lots of money rained on him: he could buy berries, and carcasses, and houses, and have children. What I offered was all the public needed to get free of being told what to do by people who were ossifying methods of interrupting them, not listening, and grading work they hadn’t read or understood: or could have been had they helped me lay the infrastructure for them.
I’m sorry, it happens again and again: I started saying what I meant, saying it well, then let too much detail stick to new points. Instead of flying, I bogged. I’ll have to streamline later, right now I jump:
Our ancestor put the berry in her mouth. She could live, and bear, so long as her environment provided air, water, berries, mates … She made her own living. Her environment made such a living possible. The setting makes the kind of individuals that can live in that setting. Then other ancestors planted edible grasses deliberately, had more children, planted more, had still more children. Until the more and more and more children were all bogged down growing grasses. Then the children had to become soldiers, to beat off other children, other grasses: the wheat growers fighting the rice growers fighting the bean growers. We ran out of lions to fight, having only each other to fight; from all those grasses.
Now we live in a society that cages us in schools that don’t listen, that dictate, deaf to feedback. The deaf dictators stole my internet to enslave the rest of you further, pouring your money on themselves, diverting it from me. (You let them!) The schools drill you in something someone else wants you to learn to do for still someone else, what individuals want erased, repressed, perverted: more and more interferers establsihing themselves between you and the berry and the water and the carcass.
How do you get food, a house, a girl, children? How complex is the chain between the berry and your mouth? How many middlemen have wedged themselves into your life?
The lion finds you, puts you in his mouth, the lion lives, the lion bears. The school puts you into WalMart’s mouth. The state takes your penny from WalMart and gives it to some fat cretin in the MVB. Lawyers don’t do deeds, they wait till the state gives them the money the state didn’t give to the handicapped.
Our lucky ancestors got the berry they wanted. Does wanting have anything to do with what you do with your time?
Would our ancestors have wanted any of the things we’re conditioned to want? a BlackBerry? an iPod?
If Adam or Eve saw Colt’s great great great great grand kid, would they be pleased? or would they want to abort? How many “jobs” on the “job market” are things any sane ancestor would want to do?
How indirect, how full of middle men our wanting has become.
Don’t worry: it can’t last.