The place of dead roads

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It seemed more fun when Burroughs wrote about it.

I said that I would return to matters of life and death, and now I am. I have reached the place of dead roads. The map, inner or outer, no longer works.  I’m still hovering on the outskirts of the London cancer, wondering how to cross.

Not only are the roads physically broken by potholes and cracked concrete, blocked by constant accidents and aimless digging, but the very network of roads in this place is broken, or never worked. It is increasingly clear that the roads here were all forced upon the land and the land and rivers and lines themselves tampered with to fit human needs.

Also, the inner map and navigation system is out of function. The goals and destinations I had in mind either don’t exist or has ceased to carry meaning. The reason for this is to be found in stories.

The more I travel, and the more I move to the outskirts of mind, body and civilization, there are two narratives, two mental threads, or roads, that emerge.

One is the story of the individual immortality. Unlike Burroughs, I can’t accept the way gods and the soul is presented to us. In all the stories we know, the individual has a body that perishes and a soul that is, or has the capacity to move on to, something everlasting. Often there are gods involved. Either to hinder the process, to further it, or as something to merge with at the end of the journey.

In some narratives, the body, or a representation of it, follows the soul, recreating an image of the person. In some, the soul is moved on to another being, but usually as a whole, self-contained set of memories and ideas.

What is however becoming increasingly clear in the world, is that in the attempt to reach longevity or individual immortality, humans have ruined their hope to survive, in any form. They have eaten up the earth and taken away the matter of their bodies, removed it from the cycle to be re-used. They have killed almost all other beings to make room for their offspring, their self-images. In their ideas of gods, human shaped or abstracted, they have removed themselves from the cycle of life and death.

There are, of course, images, ideas and stories about the circle, but always tainted with the implication that the human spirit is different, better in a way.  And while people can read and understand words about becoming one with nature, we have no real stories for it, and therefor we can’t understand what it means. The closest I can think of are Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and they don’t really cover it.

Also, those that denounce the spirit, do so in everything, because to them, if humans can’t have a soul, nothing can.

I like living as much as the next squirrel, eel or badger, I enjoy having a body.  I’m rather attached to it. But the body is made of matter, of cells. They come from something, from somewhere. From what you eat and drink and breathe. All human practice surrounding life and death has been an attempt of closing these cells off, hindering them to go back to the earth. To encapsulate them in stone, to freeze them in space and time, to burn them before the fungi and earthworm get to take back what we have borrowed. Because we do borrow all our matter from the earth. Not from your parents or children, not other humans, not some god. From nature. From everything that we construct ourselves of.

We are told that the pyramids are great achievements, that human immortality is a good and great goal and it isn’t. It’s a horror. It has always been and can only be a horror.

And all the things we are told to want are somehow linked up to this. Every item, every garden, everything constructed or spun as a story. Everything we think we know and think we want. The whole idea of self fulfillment, contrasted to being ruled over by gods or humans and given as the only option to this, gives rise to dreams and images that can only be sterile still life. We think of the scavenger and of rot as something vile, but it’s our only way to reach anything close to immortality. To be part of life and death once more. Your roads are broken because your stories are broken.

Human civilization holds nothing for me and the wild, the real, the world that balances itself, is temporarily ruined. And human tampering with it only makes matters worse, because it is done with the same, broken stories as guidelines.

To possibly slightly twist the meaning of the words of Poe; The play is the tragedy man and the hero the conqueror worm.

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Coming up: The need for a new apocalypse.

 

The road that is a web

Dào kě dào, fēi cháng dào, is the opening lines of the Chinese sacred text dao de jing, the way of the road, or simply, the road.  There are numerous translations of this phrase, but it can read something like this; the road that is the road is often the road.

And of course, sometimes it isn’t. Like when it’s a highway. But it wasn’t until I got to England that I saw the full impact of what this can mean.

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Overstated symbolism is overstated

For me, to tread the road is a holy act. To travel is to weave a pattern. This pattern is sacred. When you move, you transport energy and mass from one place to another, you leave an impression, both very physically with the weight of yourself or your car or trailer, but also, I believe, on another level. Often, in modern life, walking or driving a road is done repeatedly along the same lines. To me, this creates deep scars in the world, in reality if you will.  Today’s form of travel on the modern, agricultural road, is to me a form of obsessive compulsion disorder, repeating an action until it does harm, to the world and to the spirit.

In England, all roads lead to London. If you look at the roads on a map, you’ll see a web, with London as the great spider in the middle, or also something like the circles of hell in Dante’s Inferno. It’s nearly impossible to get anywhere without at least touching in on one of it’s many threads. And the traffic never ceases. I will presume that most of the cars are driven by commuters, heading to and from work. I will also presume the quite a lot of these people are stressed, unhappy, ill, and worried. Or if they’re not, they will be after getting stuck in traffic.

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I blame the Romans. Here with the remains of Balkerne gate that Boadicea made a spirited attempt at ridding the world of and now dandelions are finishing the job. Hooray.

To create an entire construction of concrete and asphalt and to fill it with suffering cannot be explained as anything but hell. And the weight of this, mental, physical, spiritual, lies heavily on the world and on the surroundings. Both in accepted terms of pollution and noise, and in terms of the desperation and anguish it fills the air with.

I am currently in the outskirts of this vortex and I will soon try to cross it. I can’t help thinking of Edgar Allen Poe and his story Descent into the maelstrom

We need to talk about water, again

I have posted bits about water before, about the relation to rain, about the way and the road, but there is also the everyday need for and constant search for water.

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and we’re searching…

 

Recently, social media has been picking up an article from last summer from the guardian about plastic bottles.

The article and the response circles around the need to recycle the bottles, or call to companies to use recycled plastic in their bottles. The reporter also blames the want for a ‘western lifestyle’ for the bottled water consumption in countries like China.  This is both arrogant and helps hide the real problem.

The real problem is that practically all fresh water sources are being held hostage by governments or companies. When outside the system, you see this clearly, but seldom have a voice to point it out.

To get access to water, you need to buy your way into the system, one way or the other.  You need a house, or similar, either hooked up to a pipe system, or with large enough tanks to find and store water yourself. This water you either need to buy, indirectly by being at a caravan site or boat dock, or clean and filter yourself, something that also requires time, space and money. Or, of course, steal and risk being pushed even further away from the government-stolen necessities.

For now, I have the option of checking in to campsites now and then and fill the water tanks with safe, clean water, but not all do. Also, not all have a house or a car or anywhere to store water for longer periods of time.  Some gas stations will let you fill your tanks, but you need to get to them somehow. And means to transport the water. And water is bloody heavy.

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When poor and stuck in urban life, as a lot of people are, bottle water, expensive, polluting, and often not particularly good, is your only choice. Restaurants will leave bowls of water out for dogs, but not for poor people. Finding fresh water in a city can be a desperate search, and while food can be foraged in dumpsters, clean water can’t.

The fact that it has even gotten to this is the real tragedy and the real problem. And it won’t go away even if every single plastic bottle is recycled and reused. They should not exist in the first place.

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Why freedom is always better

Let’s get this settled once and for all, people. An unsafe life in freedom is always, always better than a supposedly safe one in captivity. This goes for both animals and humans and it has nothing to do with your own free will. It is a matter of the existence of life itself.

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Always. Even when the pleasant looking green on the ground are poison nettles that burn.

For the past months, pretty much nothing I have been doing has been safe, probably not much of it legal either. In just getting up in the morning and climbing out of bed I’m most likely violating several laws and regulations invented for what is termed ‘my own safety’. I have never been happier. And I never knew why before now. And it’s not about the rush, it’s not about roaming about, doing who and what I please.

In western philosophy, freedom been given a problem of justification, of relativisation, explained as a personal matter, as being able to say words you find pleasing and wear the clothes you like. It has been reduced to a hypothetical question of free will, and then caught up in the discussion if there is such a thing as will at all. Or worse, reduced to a consumers choice of breakfast cereals. But it goes far beyond that.

If incarcerated, either by force or by the more subtle means of a net of expectations and invented needs, or just the massive overbuilding of cities, making houses a necessity as everything else is made unpleasant or impossible, it’s not your free will that suffers the most, it’s your attachment to the earth. The possibility to be part of a greater network of life that is night and light and day and death, of the mould and the fungi. It is having severed every little thread that attached you to the previous and the possible lives, from the great old trees to the tiny mayfly.  Most people today might not be aware of this, but your bodies are, even if your minds don’t have the language. By making freedom about the individual, and an individual choice, we’re really making it into a concept to be discussed rather than the obvious way of living.

I have earlier written about the fear of the dark indoors, and it’s this. The fear of knowing that you’re not part of life, and in a way, already dead, or in the limbo that civilisation is. Nowadays, there are really no places left to be truly free, for everything is touched by civilisation, and the freedom you have is really mostly marginalisation in society. But I believe it’s possible to push those margins until they become a space.

To be locked indoors is to be denied communication with trees and rain and shift your body through existence knowing that you interact with a greater network of life. And to have someone believe they can decide where your body goes, in life and in death, is to claim a piece of matter away from life itself.

To remove anything from the cycle of life and death is, indeed, the only true evil. It has nothing to do with your soul, or what western people think of as the soul, or gods, or a succession of new humans. It has to do with the physical pieces needed to make other things, to make life possible.

These claims will probably disturb a lot of kind, well meaning people, who want to protect their loved ones, human and animal, from harm, but you can’t. And it is the invention of the idea that you can that is really killing the earth.

This, I will get back to in my next post.

 

The road is not the road

Look very carefully. This is a road.

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To move along it, on water or land, is to travel. Following the paths animals make through the woods, is to follow a road, for they know where they are going.

Humans, as a rule, don’t.

I have said it before and I will again, a highway is not a road. All roads that are roads are in some way linked to water. Either by the movement of water or by paths animals make to find water, it follows underground sources and roots of trees, carrying water. Sometimes humans alter the course of water, creating floods or droughts. And highways were invented to carry soldiers and weapons to invade your neighbor. They are not anything close to a road merely tools for human destruction.

I have no illustrative pictures of highways, because when I land on one, I’m quite enough busy with finding my way off again.

This past week I’ve been driving for longer stretches than usual. One drawback of having a car-towed house is that you’re confined to mostly false roads made for cars, and they are only built for transporting things and humans from place to place, and therefore extremely uncomfortable, with no time to think, or to look or to consider where you’re going. I’ve kept to county lanes, when possible, but even here it’s too easy to take one wrong turn and then be caught on a lane with no turning back.

The lane of no turning back is a narrative I understand that people like to use as a metaphor for life choices. This is, of course, a construct and has nothing at all to do with real roads, or real lives. There are no straight roads, and if there are, they’re human inventions. And there are no straight stories, no inherent cause and effect. And always another way.

Fear of the dark

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I’ve always been afraid of the dark. Not outdoors, but inside, in houses. Not that there was anything there. The problem was you noticed there wasn’t. It took decades, of course to realize this, where I’d search films and literature for monsters to explain and embody this nameless fear. I had no real idea of what I was afraid of. In reading books and newspapers and meeting people, I soon found there were a lot of options, but none of them could really explain the reluctance to the dark room. Nothing that is dangerous for a human is more or less dangerous depending on the degree of light.

But you can’t really hide where you are in the dark. It reveals everything. It’s a common misconception that light shows things as they really are, but it doesn’t All light does is narrow down your perspective and make you focus on few enough items or ideas to make your surroundings bearable.

In the dark, you can’t set your mind to one thing and look away from all the others. Everything is apparent at once. And if then you’re trapped in tonnes of concrete, you’ll notice. And go mad with fear. Indeed, most modern humans are quite insane.

Night outside is rarely dark, and never quiet. Unless you live in an overly populated human habitat where the only sounds are sounds of desperation, others trying hard to hide where they are with mind- numbing musical sounds.

I have said before that I wanted to build walls I didn’t need to hide from and I think I have. I fully trust that if I should die inside of my house, both me and the house will dissolve and revolve properly. Because it is ultimately the entrapment of the soul that is the horror of houses. The worst ghost under the bed is your own.

Treading the space between

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In earlier years, I traveled the world as one does, as a body moving through space and time. It’s easy, and encouraged in western soliptic society, to see travel just like this, a comet, isolated, moving through the world. But you don’t and you’re not. You move energy.

Now that I have a whole house, a microcosmos, I move around quite a lot of things I had never foreseen.

There’s the physical movement of things, the car and the trailer, the energy needed and the roads needed.

And there are the materials, outside and in, things that I have found, changed, shifted on the way. Windowpanes from one place, a bench made of driftwood here, a horseshoe from a farm there, a piece of amber found on a beach. I take things and, rather than shift them from one place to another, move them about. This does something, but I’m not sure what.

But then there is the movement of thoughts, and of wonder. I bring with me a sense of ‘what on earth is that’. People wonder what the house is, and how, and why. And this is something I’m starting to physically feel the presence of. And I think this was something I had in mind all along and part of the whole point of this piece of enclosed air and dream.

An object placed somewhere might evoke wonder at first, and then gradually be defined by its surroundings. But my house is a shape-shifter. It is not one place, one thing. It changes form, appearance and purpose from place to place and time of day. For me , of course, it stays the same, for I know it’s soul. But it will never be one thing, and nor will I.

Rediscovering the radio

Video might have killed the radio star, but living with close, warm walls have revived her in my world.

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When I was little, I used to listen to the radio all the time. This was before cable TV, certainly before netflix and The Internet was still a wild idea somewhere at CERN.

Gradually, these new and noisy things took the place of the radio, filling the space between walls with more and more light and colour. Somehow, around the same time, the walls grew hard and glaring. The interior of the modern appartement became increasingly impossible to look at, harsh and vast like a blazing desert of chrome and white. In this new and hostile environment, filling the void with sound and colour from a screen became the go-to option. So much so that I didn’t even notice how the need for outside stimuli grew. Silence was simply not an option, then the walls would simply start screaming at you until you drowned out the noise with more noise.

When I built La Chouette, it was with hope for silence in mind. To be inside a space where the walls had an integrity and a beauty of their own, walls I did not need to hide from, and where the distractions of a single book or a small radio was more than sufficient company.

I’m happy to say it does. The soft wooden panels and leather tapestries echoes Bach, Mendelssohn or Modest Musorgskij, radio plays, the occasional mindless chatter of an early morning news programme, or weather forecast in a way that quite filles the space and from where there is no need to hide.

Winter crossing

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These past weeks I have been moving la Chouette out of the country. I’m still in Scandinavia, it’s still winter. And the best way to move, is by boat.

I have always had a love for the sea and I was a bit worried that building and living in a house on wheels would make me too land-bound. But using ferries to get across borders has so far been surprisingly easy. Of course, I can’t live in the house during transit. But I can park it near the ocean when I reach my destination.

During moving and living more actively on the road I have also discovered quite a few repairs and adjustments I need to make. So now I’ll try to find somewhere slightly secluded, preferably near the sea, where i can work on my house, preparing it for further adventures.

I also notice more than before the dual pull of comfort and push of the road. Having found somewhere I’m comfy I find myself both longing to move on after a short while, felling that I’m done with that place for now, and a desire to stay inside my newfound comfortsone. Having the possibility to leave and live somewhere else on very short notice has brought this internal conflict into the light. I suppose the friction of these kind of conflicts are what keeps life truly interesting. Never do I wish to be without any doubt. I think. Possibly.