Friday, August 29, 2008
I find myself feeling very melancholy tonight... Haunted by I'm not quite sure what. I think it will be awhile before I get to sleep. Part of the reason is probably because I'm the only one awake right now... My sister is away at a friends cottage for the weekend, and my parents decided to go to bed early. Although I've been called a loner before, I'm not really. I don't like large groups all that much, but neither do I like being entirely alone. Since someone in my home is almost always up to all hours with me, it feels exceedingly lonely being the only one awake. Another reason is probably that I learned that one of my favorite authors of all time has early onset Alzheimer's. If you know anything about that disease, you'll know that is a very bad thing. You lose your memories, your mind. Usually it happens only to those who are quite old, Terry Pratchett is not even 60 yet, as far as I know. I doubt he will be writing for much longer, and I will greatly miss his satirical, wise, and eye-opening words, as well as grieving for someone I feel I know, since I've read so many of his words. Just to add to everything else, I've progressed through much of Derrick Jensen's amazing book The Culture Of Make Believe. The atrocities our culture has perpetrated, the lives lost, the destruction wrought. His prose is beautiful, fascinating, and impossible to ignore, but at times also heartbreaking. I've actually been in tears during parts, which is something that very rarely happens to me while reading a non-fiction book. A quote I like from him, although not from the book I am currently reading, it is the first paragraph from his book Endgame. It reads as follows:
"As a longtime grassroots environmental activist, and as a creature living in the thrashing endgame of civilization, I am intimately acquainted with the landscape of loss, and have grown accustomed to carrying the daily weight of despair. I have walked clearcuts that wrap around mountains, drop into valleys, then climb ridges to fragment watershed after watershed, and I’ve sat silent near empty streams that two generations ago were “lashed into whiteness” by uncountable salmon coming home to spawn and die."
"As a creature living in the thrashing endgame of civilization, I am intimately acquainted with the landscape of loss, and have grown accustomed to carrying the daily weight of despair". Those words haunt me, and feel very true to me tonight, perhaps even more so than when I first heard them in the online video of a talk he gave a couple of years ago. He is a brilliant speaker and writer, his passion, hope, and despair come through unfailingly clear. Surprisingly, usually when I read his book it does not depress me. Make me sad, yes. Depress, no. More than anything, it makes me fucking angry. And determined to change things, to not let our culture destroy all that is good and beautiful in the world. Because like it or not, whether you blind yourself and pretend nothing is happening, it is. Our world is dying. Our home. It's our only one. But instead of living in peace, we're destroying it utterly. Species go extinct daily thanks to us. So many are already gone, never to return. So much land is polluted beyond saving. Water made undrinkable for the foreseeable future. How can we do this? It's suicide on a grand scale, since we can no more live on a polluted planet than can all the animals who no longer do live. I want to help. No. I need to help. Need to change things. I'm going to find a way, and I'm going to in any way I can. Because you know what? I do hope. I'm eternally an optimist. I have to have hope, hold it close and nurse it, keep it strong. That's what we all need, hope and determination. Determination to make a difference, to change the world, and not let our consumerist culture consume our very lives, as well as every other life on this planet we all call home. I hope...
Monday, August 18, 2008
Sunday, August 17, 2008
- Wrote the reviews that were due for the magazine I write for
- Discussed (online and with friends and family) anarcho-primitivism and direct action
- Discussed (online) education, the educational system, and how it could be improved, with an education specialist
- Watched a fascinating video of a lecture by this anarcho-primitivism guy called Derrick Jensen, who's books I am now reading (http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=derrick+jensen&sitesearch=#)
- Listened to lots of music with tin whistles in it
- Found out where to buy tin whistles and made plans to get one
- Sat and soaked up the beautiful outdoors
- Took a series of photo's of a spider in it's web
- Watched lots of stuff from the Olympics
- Greeted a friend who just returned home
- Went for brisk (and pretty long!) walks two days in a row
- Wrote a poem, which can be found at my poetry blog www.art-is-expressions.blogspot.com
- Pulled a million burs off of the stupid dog
- Danced around excitedly
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
The last several days, I've been having lots of debates with my mother and sister about such topics as anarcho-primitivism, anarchy, "direct action" (destructive action) and similar.
I'l l try and write tonight...
Leading from my research into anarcho-primitivism the previous day, I did some research on various groups and organizations that seek to save the planet. The most extreme, and also most fascinating, of these is the Earth Liberation Front, or ELF. Deemed by the US government as one of the top American based homeland security threats. Despite that, they have yet to cause a single death, or even injury. They have, however, destroyed hundreds of millions of dollars worth of property, in the name of saving the environment (some targets have been: Mansions that put wetlands in danger, a ski resort that planed to cut down hundreds more trees, and similar things). Although I'm in no way in favour of blowing stuff up, I can understand with the world we live in how easy it is to get discouraged, and to feel that bringing it all down, piece by piece, is the only way left to go.
In other news, I also wrote a piece on unschooling, entitled What is Unschooling? Here it is...
What is unschooling? That’s always the first question asked when I tell people that I’m unschooled. Blank looks and curiosity. Homeschooling has now become, if not mainstream, at least well known, with high profile stories of homeschoolers and Harvard. Unschooling, however, although wide spread, is still relatively unknown. Even among some homeschoolers! So what is it you ask? Well, it is a form of homeschooling I suppose, in the sense that unschoolers do not go to school, but whereas homeschooling tends to imply a school-at-home type setup, unschooling is completely different. The unschooling child or teenager directs their own education. Yes, you read that right.
Unschooling Versus Traditional Schools
Unschooling works on the principle that people are born with the desire to learn, and will therefore have quite enough motivation to learn about anything and everything they want to. We taught ourselves to speak, didn’t we? Why would we be unable to teach ourselves anything else we’re interested in? Schools, however, seem to think that we as human beings are born dumb, incapable of using common sense or making our own way in the world. Instead, schools seek to control the child’s/teens life completely, to hold their hands and guide, nay shove, them in all the “right” directions. Schools teach obedience, conformity, and many useless facts. Something few people are aware of is that originally, our school system was designed to educate the lower class, teach absolute obedience to authority, and give the minimum education needed for them to be good factory workers. Our noble, and narrow, views of “Education” are rooted in nothing more than control.
Dispelling Some Common Myths About Homeschooling and Unschooling or What Does an Unschooler Do?
As an unschooler, the parents are not “teachers”. They are there to help as facilitators, helping the child to discover resources and those knowledgeable in different subjects. Although many people equate homeschooling with staying at home and becoming little more than a hermit, most unschoolers spend quite a bit, or even most of, their time outside of the home. Volunteering, working, participating in apprenticeships, getting involved in activism, visiting museums and libraries… When actually in the home (or at a library, or a café, or sitting on the grass in a pleasant field…), many unschoolers devour books. There are amazing non-fiction (and fiction) books on any subject you choose, whether your interests lie in poetry, space shuttle construction, shoe making or calculus. The possibilities are endless, and the unschooler finds themselves unhindered in their learning and growing by the time consuming, creativity squashing school system. Will your average unschooler end up flipping burgers all their life? Absolutely not. Unschoolers regularly score above average on SAT and/or GED tests, or have extremely impressive portfolios of work if they choose not to take tests due to their beliefs on the folly of standardized testing. They get into colleges and universities, some quite prestigious ones, if they so choose. They also quite often decide not to do any formal schooling, and instead pursue their dreams of starting a ballet or circus company, opening a retail store, becoming an organic farmer, starting a home business fixing computers… The opportunities are truly endless.
Am I biased? Obviously. But I do not regret the years I’ve spent in free exploration, in learning everything that I want to learn, not what my government believes I should learn. Is it for everyone? Perhaps not. But it certainly is a viable option, one that will let you or your kids grow naturally, freely, and follow YOUR dreams, to think outside the box, not the narrow range of college dreams deemed acceptable by the schooling system, and sadly, society in general. Let your love of learning fly as high as the clouds, not get trampled into the polluted muck below.
I don't think it's all that good personally, but the editor of the homeschooling magazine I write for wants me to re-work it into a longer article (including my experiences at Not Back To School Camp) and publish it. Go figure. On a similar not, I'm SO FREAKING LOOKING FORWARD TO THAT CAMP!! Only a month away...
I read all kinds of absolutely fascinating essays and things on DeviantArt. Mostly to do with Anarcho-Primitivism. Anarcho-Primitivism is one of the many versions, or perhaps philosophies is a better word, of how anarchy should/would work. Followers of that particular view believe that everything started to go wrong with the advent of agriculture. As soon as there was any ownership or concept of personal property, they argue, fighting was bound to start, and everything went downhill from there. This is backed up by anthropologists apparently, although I haven't personally traced the sources. So basically, anarcho-primitivists wish to go back to the days of the hunter gatherer, where people lived with no hierarchical structure or authority, and were the earth was respected, not desecrated. That's a condensed version of how I understand it, from reading essays and writing back and forth with a guy who truly believes this is what's best for the world. If I got some stuff wrong, I'm sorry, and feel free to add corrections via comments on this post! I find these views fascinating, and it really does seem to make sense... Cool stuff.
Monday, August 11, 2008
I didn't enjoy the adult company there particularly... All of these people have know me since before I could crawl, and they still treat me like a kid. And around them, I feel like a kid. Normally, I talk quite happily to any age, without feeling inferior, but that group just makes me feel... Little I guess is the right word. Not great. I still had an okay time though. Here are some pictures...
So thats a bout it for the vacation week I guess. I'm rather happy to be home, and I'm looking forward to seeing the friend my sister and I have been writing to, since he's coming back this week! I'll write a post for yesterday and today...