Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Thoughts in a Book: February 2016

Feb 18

There is a feeling here of being on the periphery of humanity. If the news is to be believed, the masses of humanity are concerned with oil prices, stock markets, elections. Urban concerns brought on by so many people living shoulder to shoulder. Unions, parties. Nations, borders, waves of migration and the blocks against that tide.
Those things don’t touch us except in a few ways – the price of propane and gas, worries about Trump and the tenor of political debate.
We are concerned about the human sphere, but we are peripheral to it. Perhaps I should say the ‘civilized’ sphere. We enter it when we go to town, when we buy groceries and gas. We enter it when we use Facebook and Google. We are steadily working out of that frame of reference here, where life is centered on soil, vegetables, chickens, dogs, hawks, herons and turkeys, mountains, pines and firs, snow, rain and sun, rivers and ponds, frogs and skunks. The personal, individual relationships, human and non.
It’s a matter of recognition, that we were always in this greater sphere of the Earth, of living matter. There is no way to leave it. The civilized sphere (human culture centered on cities) in that frame seems impossibly small, both in space and time. In this Venn diagram, the sphere of living matter is huge, the civilized sphere is somewhere inside it, no part of it outside the larger circle, and so small as to be invisible. In fact, if we want to examine it closely, we have to zoom in so far that the borders of the outer sphere are invisible. Then the civilized circle seems to be the only one.
Simple by discussing the fact that civilization has borders, that life is viable outside it, puts one on its periphery, relating to it, but with one foot outside it. Working to grow food on a personal scale, small enough to have some measure of a relationship with each plant, each patch of ground, puts one on the periphery.