On surviving the technological vortex.
Your essay’s thoughtful vibe followed me away from the computer screen, and into conversations with family members, and now I come back wondering, What is the water cask? Maybe our ship is always sinking, often in little ways, yet ways that accumulate and can become real dangers (even before the Great Ship sinks)? Maybe we ought to be daily practicing leaping into the waters?
Excellent piece. I especially love how the surviving brother repurposed an ordinary object, a water cask, to save himself. That is the kind of adaption we may have to make to survive what is coming. I think it is also necessary to check our assumptions of what the future might look like. The past is prelude, but prelude to what? I assume it will be a gradual decline, and there is already evidence for that, but there might also be a few downdrafts coming. Best to prepare for both possibilities.
Adjusting out mindsets and acquiring skills are both required, and I would give a premium on the former. I think we must, in the words of poet William Everson, "build [a] program for action based on repose." The substacks, I believe, are for the reposing part, and that is great for a beginning. I think the skills part will grow more urgent as we see that the time is running out. That may be sooner than we think.
We are feeding the machine which is eating us
I was sat in a ‘meeting’ last evening (please someone give me a more truthful word than the ‘m’ word!) in which we were coming together as two aged care providers seeking better ways of working together. All I could see was shrinkage and decline but no New Creation. We were sat across the road from the city’s major ‘benefactor’ an ‘investment’ company, which effectively operates by creating’value’ by immersing less powerful players in debt.
The maelstrom is like a tornado, or a Gordian knot, it just squeezes all the vitality out of everything it touches, but so few see this or even dare to name it. (Guenon’s ‘The Age of Quantity’ speaks to this in a different manner)
Hebrews 13:13 comes to mind. My recent preaching has been around this ‘idea’. On the ship we have no lasting city, to mix metaphors.
Rhyd W asked me about how in my context we do this sort of stuff. Agency troubles me as it’s our default
I think that it’s more ‘getting thrown off the boat’ to use Eugene Peterson’s lovely phrase. The World vomits out that which would be its Salvation but the Eucatastrophe reveals this as its Salvation.
Rather like the Silence that refuses to play the game - non activity in a world of total human agency perhaps has its place.
Thanks again for a most evocative piece
Trust you are well
"But it is also a very easy to get lost in an unending intellectual pursuit. There are always more books, more articles, more podccasts more substacks, on and on and on."
Talk about a powerfult trap / habit. My tendency ,unfortunately, is simultaneous awareness of this trap but also little hesitation in buying by next substack monthly subscription!
It seems so "on and on and on."--a real compulsion probably linked to crumbs of recognition/prestige / power which I seem to think I can't do without--even as I close in on the age of 80. In fact, greater and greater awarness of my own mortality often serves to accelerate this knowledge compulsion.
Thanks Jack. A beautiful composition; admire the clarity and precision of the call to act. Will be returning to this often over the next few days.
Hi Jack, I know there's a never-ending temptation to read just one more substack, but have you looked at Graham Pardun's new one? I just subscribed for a month so I could read the rest of an essay and I wanted to gift you a subscription. Turns out I can't do that without your email. Would you like that? I especially thought you'd like the one called 'The idea of a Forest Liturgy at the End of Time'. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org if you send me yours I'll go through with the gift.
Great piece and much to ponder. God give us grace to escape the Machine.
So, are you going to plant a little garden at the monastery this spring? I believe you'd enjoy it; and you'd gain some skills. Seeds are cheap.
Intriguing and well thought out, Jack, and what a fascinating tale by Poe. I will have to look that one up. Some of us will cling so tightly to our mental poles that we will not see the storm, let alone have the wherewithal to see possibilities to escape its wrath.
Very thoughtful and meaningful piece. Or are they pieces? From the part about McLuhan to the maelstrom – great metaphor – to the “Providence of mammon” – another perfect phrase that expresses it all – not to mention the quote from the Tao te Ching (one of many transliterations) – this is one beautiful and valuable, and useful, article. Thanks for writing it! One thing about diving into the maelstrom – its rugged individual solution is never as good as what you touched on in the piece that followed, that we do need to form human alliances within that maelstrom to pool our solutions and cooperate a collective out of it. Noah did not ship out alone, and neither should we. But how do people taught it’s every one for himself form alliances? There’s a difference between one small off the coast maelstrom that threatens some lives and a global maelstrom that threatens humanity wholesale.
Thank you for this. It called me out of the never ending intellectual pursuit.
I just listened to Descent into the Maelstrom on a youtube audiobook, here:
It’s about 37 minutes, and skillfully read. A gripping short story, and great to listen to with the themes of this essay floating in the background.
Nice one Jack. Really enjoyed your observations / reflections.
excellent! it's wonderful to see this "be like water" approach gaining traction in the wider consciousness
at the risk of promoting "yet another substack" (ha)—i've been working on pulling apart the metanarrative that underpins all this: the idea that we are only safe when we (or those we empower) can control the world. i'm looking more toward the work of repairing the myths that we use to interpret reality; your imperative to learn about making, growing and fixing things is a vital corollary in the material world. thanks for sharing.
Excellent article Jack! "We are in the maelstrom. There is no escaping it anymore. The ship is coming apart." I just finished a radio piece today on the dire state of mental health of young people caused by the abyss of social media (based on Jon Haidt's research on After Babel). The young are trapped as the net of depression and anxiety is cast onto the entire cohort (even those who reject social media experience isolation because everyone around them lives in their phones).
"A necessary disintegralism will need to begin by helping us disentangle ourselves from the kind of thinking and intuitions that the system has fostered in us." As a homeschool educator I have found that stepping outside the system provides an opportunity for children to grow up with different lenses. When I observe students in my homeschool co-ops I feel hopeful that they are finding ways to disentangle themselves from the Machine and, as you put it, "thrive in the margins".