Thursday, November 7, 2013

A lot of words from an enthusiastic space on some dark evening in November

I wrote about Wilder Quarterly a year ago, when I had (more of) all the time in the world to revel in super-saturated full-page photos of geodes, and all desire to get back into a world on paper.

(Pardon me for all the reflection, lately.)

But there's a new issue of Wilder, and though I ordered it with the same paper-hungry eyes, it's sat around for a few weeks languishing on my newly-hewn coffee table, because I kinda feel like doing things when I'm not at work, on the computer.

I even felt like doing things this evening, but it's dark and quiet and after a long cold dog walk and a big bowl of garlicky greens, there was nothing much on the docket.

So I finally read the piece de resistance of this Wilder issue, for me, an interview with a mythical being who turns out to be an actual human, a teeny tiny Q&A that instantly lit up the Indra's Net of my neural patchwork, caused me to pull old books off my bookshelf and buy new books on the goddamn internet, thank you universe for Alicia Bay Laurel.
 
(This may be a long post.)

When I was in college, a even-now-dear friend gave me a copy of Living on the Earth, Bay Laurel's compendium of life-affirming skills. Without proselytizing, it defined the priorities of a skills-based revolution. I made its sauerkraut and carried it all over the country with me as I moved, flashing the manage-the-birth-of-your-own-child DIY and the know-your-clouds tutorial and the "hatha yoga keeps you stoned" meditation tools bit. My favorite part: how to survive potential drowning.
 

When I was in publishing, my only Editor's Note consisted solely of her how-to-build-a-fence page.

And the thing is, the whole while, while I waxed nostalgic about the communes that were, Alicia Bay Laurel has been kicking around. Here's the Indra part: Her cousin was married to John Fahey, who taught her guitar. She lived for a short time in San Francisco Bay on Agnes Varda's uncle's houseboat. One of her mentors, Stephen Gaskin, whose wife was Ina May Gaskin, was a student of Suzuki Roshi. These are incredibly influential figures that you may not know about! Click the links!

(I may be highly excitable right now, for some reason, but it's such a great feeling.)
 

And now I've again picked up an some important books, for me, and  reminded myself about this movement that resonates as the most radical, most utopic, most brave and influential thing I can recognize, and about the reasons why I'm interested in and terrified of it.

I went to Canaan this weekend to take part in a dialogue about shared space, resilience, experimental business incubation, communal life and participatory democracy. It was infuriating and inspiring, and full of the kind of energy that must have driven Alicia Bay Laurel to write this kind of book // live this kind of life // learn to do things, learn together, grow and use and eat and remark and mark the time and space in which it's all done.

So where does this fit into the Flower Scout scheme? How about this: After the fall of the commune for which Living on the Earth was originally written, after the residents had lost their bid to deed the land to God, and after the judge stated that "God is not a person, natural or artificial," and after the police had kicked everyone but the owner off the land, arresting some of them for possession of ginseng and vitamins, Hugh Gardner writes, "Over at Morning Star the only thing left standing was a rose trellis in full bloom."