Sunday, January 27, 2013


“To live in a storied world is to know that intelligence is not an exclusively human faculty located somewhere inside our skulls, but rather a power of the animate earth itself, in which in which we humans along with the hawks and the thrumming frogs, all participate. It is to know, further, that each land, each watershed, each community of plants and animals and soils, has its particular style of intelligence, its unique mind and or imagination evident in the particular patterns that play out there, in the living stories that unfold in that valley, and that are told and retold by the people of that place. Each ecology has its own psyche, and the local people bind their imaginations to the psyche of the place by letting the land dream its tales through them.” David Abram quoted in The Salmon in the Spring.

Which is an elaborate way of saying that the stories told by say the Po Valley in Italy will be different from the stories told by the Willamette Valley in Oregon. At least what would have been told by the native peoples who lived in the valley, hunting elk and digging the camas roots before the European settlers arrived.

But, what stories are we telling each other in this modern America of ours? “For us, it's not about love. It's about domination. Of the world, of our fellow animals, of each other. It's about "this is MINE!" We don't love anything, and we certainly don't care if it loves us back.” This is from Lisa. And she’s right, at least for the national mythology that powers our economic and political actions.

We’ve heard some of the stories during the last election cycles. This is a Christian Nation. Well, yes; most of the original colonists were Christians. Too bad they came from wildly divergent sects; most of them didn’t get along with each other. Except for the Quakers, and everybody else considered THEM to be heretics and kicked them out of THEIR colonies.

The constitution is Holy Writ. Well again, yeah sort of. It’s really a well crafted set of compromises designed to get as many states to ratify it as possible. The Electoral College to mollify the little states like New Hampshire. Counting people who would never get a chance to vote as three fifths of a person to satisfy the southern states like South Carolina.

And worse, the majority doesn’t hear stories from nature. The natural world is there to be dominated and conquered. Anyone ever see the film How The West Was Won? Especially the epilogue. Granted it was released in the very early sixties. It’s a collage of images. Huge farms, multi layered freeways, strip mining, old growth trees being loaded on ships for export. It’s a tale of conquest and exploitation. 

Any stories that the valley’s of the Mississippi and Ohio had to tell were drowned out, the native peoples who knew the stories forced west away from their stories and the land that told them. We've buried the Snake River and the Columbia in water caught behind dams for flood control and power stations. The tribal fishing grounds at Celilo Falls. Gone. The valley of the Hetch Hetchie, gone to supply water for San Francisco. The stories gone. the tales the people and animals could tell. Gone. The tapestry ripped and torn. If we don't find a way to reweave the fabric our very humanity is in danger. 

And in spite of the damage we've done the mantra continues. A tree that doesn't make it to the mill is wasted. That you can cut logs over and over. You can but you've lost the ecosystem and its stories forever. Buried under logging roads, herbicides and pesticides. That fresh water that makes it to the sea instead of our faucets is wasted. Even though too many rivers are loaded with those same herbicides and pesticides so that we're slowly poisoning the waters that gave us birth. We clean up our air, but export coal and dirty oil over seas only to have the pollution ride the jet stream back to haunt us.

It's like trying to bail the ocean with a teaspoon, but I'll search out the stories and bellow them at the top of my lungs...or keyboard. Anybody got some good stories out there? Lisa's birds. My vision of a fox. Reweave the world. 

1 comment:

Lisa :-] said...

and yet, we witness the Earth renewing herself. The wolves coming back. The eagles coming back. The coyotes coming back. And it vexes us. We try to figure out ways to thwart Mother Earth when she proves that she is stronger than we are. Kill the wolves. Take the eagles off the "endangered" list. Shoot coyotes for sport. So then Mother Earth sends a tsunami. Or a hurricane. I really don't think we want to piss her off... We will not win.