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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Horns of Elfland

In The Circle of Life I noted how “The early European settlers thought the civilization they were building here [in North America] would be a New Jerusalem, but they only rebuilt the ‘fleshpots of Egypt’ they sought to escape on an even greater scale of greed and destruction.” My novel Rats Live on no Evil Star, written later, picked up this theme: “Every planet homo sapiens has found...,” one passage contends, “it has turned into another Earth – another tedious Earth just like the one they couldn’t wait to leave.”

But, previous to my departing forever from the United States, I wrote nowhere about this phenomenon so furiously as I did in The Wings of the Morning:

He sees this beautiful land fill up with immigrants, new residents from Ur who come and buy or just appropriate land, who build houses and schools and hospitals and shops. He sees this land levelled, garrisons built, and houses, always more houses going up. It looks more and more like Ur every day, the Ur he thought he had left forever.

No more do people trust each other, but instead trust the power of law. No more do they accept each other’s word, but bind everything with these written contracts that presuppose the potential of false representation.
The land now is holy no longer. The ceremonies are forgotten almost overnight, and the land and sky fill up with junk. Cycles of nature are ignored, humanity’s relationship with nature is forgotten. ...

They wear clothes from Ur. They work at jobs. They marry members of the other tribe, or people from Ur. They have children who know no songs, no stories, of their ancestors. The tribe has no ancestors any more. It is broken up, displaced, existent no more. The tribal network, the delicate spiderweb of relationships, is gone. Depression sinks down into his very bones, darkness envelops him like a cloud of bleak despair.

He is once again a tribe of one.

Nor is that all. He realizes ... he was the virus, the seed of doom: he brought the eventual destruction that brought down this tribal way. …

A flood has engulfed the world, sweeping through this valley within the circle of mountains, a flood of sameness, sweeping upon him and the tribe like an irresistible tide.

By whatever name – Egypt, Ur, Earth, or the United States – this flood of sameness is much the same, and the waves of this inundation, having rolled over most of the Northern Hemisphere, are now crashing down on what few lands remain relatively undrowned thereunder. The root of my anger is in how the culture (more of an anticulture) of greed has spread through the world like a virus. I grew up among the bitter fruits of the conquest of Native America; one must remember that I was born less than a century after slavery had been ended, legally at least, and only some sixty years after the “Indian Wars” (wars won far more often by deceit than force of arms) were concluded, and that the struggle for civil rights – still not truly and fully concluded in the United States – became fully engaged as recently as my teenage years. I grew up not in a place, but in suburbia, the same ubiquitous noplace suburbia that extends across North America, western Europe, eastern Australia, Korea, and Japan.

Sometimes I wonder why it is I am writing this description of my adventures in Panamá. I began it to help myself to keep the details of events fresh in my memory, and to share with friends. I came to Panamá in large measure to escape this anticulture of consumeristic sameness. But if in a published version I describe too well the beauty and wonder of this land and its people I could inadvertently

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As they come to me to be written, new chapters will be added to this blog, so stay tuned! But the blogs up to a certain point are now chapters are now in a book.

So, to read more, you need the book A WRITER IN PANAMÁ.

The book is available in three formats:

HARDCOVER (large-size edition, photographs on nearly every page)
SOFTCOVER (large-size edition, photographs on nearly every page)
SOFTCOVER (smaller size edition, no interior photographs)
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1 comment:

  1. Rats off the ship, the ship needs a flip,
    Tables afloat, and bodies abloat,
    It was sad when the great ship went down!

    Leslie H.