OK now, I understand you might not like being called a “savage”, but before you do something rash (like stop reading), let me explain. Continue reading
“If you are here because you feel sorry for me, you are wasting your time, but if you are here because your life and destiny are linked with mine, then we will make a difference…” – Elizabeth Penashue, an Innu elder
Once, quite a few years ago, I spent Thanksgiving day with a group of young activists on the Navajo reservation. We were there working with an organization based out of Boulder Colorado, called the “Traditional Support Caravan”. Continue reading
Often when folks find out I’m into primitive living in places like the Northwoods of Wisconsin or the Interior of Alaska, one of the first questions they ask me is “How do you deal with mosquitoes?” Or “What’s the best natural mosquito repellent?”
For a long time I was unsure how to answer, there didn’t seem to be one simple replacement for DEET. But it finally dawned on me. Continue reading
“You can’t go back.”
“We must go forward.”
…now take a moment, look away from the computer, and think of a pink elephant hovering over your head. Continue reading
“The land looks like a fairytale.” — Roald Amundsen (1872—1928) about Antarctica.
“Great God! this is an awful place.” — Robert Falcon Scott (1868—1912), also about Antarctica.
Antarctica. What does that have to do with primitivism?
Probably not much. In fact, maybe just this: Antarctica told me that Mars sucks. Oh, and that Star Trek is a load of bull.
Yeah, honest. That’s what she said.
Now let me explain. Continue reading
“Traditional people of Indian nations have interpreted the two roads that face the light-skinned race as the road to technology and the road to spirituality. We feel that the road to technology…. Continue reading
“Hmmm…interesting”, I thought. (After all, what self-respecting primitivist wouldn’t enjoy a story about a guy living in a cave?)
It also said he had given up the use of money about 10 years prior, and hadn’t used a penny since.
“Wow. Seriously?” Continue reading
“The accusation that we’ve lost our soul resonates with a very modern concern about authenticity.” –Patricia Hewitt
Alright, since I’m traveling down in the southwest at the moment…Colorado to be exact, I’d like to share with you one of my favorite old cowboy sayings. And ironically, it fits real well with most cowboy culture here in colorful Colorado.
The saying goes: “That cowboy is all hat and no cattle.” Continue reading
On a recent overnight flight between Los Angeles and Aukland, I beat back boredom by watching an in-flight Australian reality T.V. show on, of all things, the subject of happiness. The show took a group of eight chronically unhappy middle-class people from Sydney (seriously!) and put them together with a team of “happiness therapists”. At the beginning of the program, they took a psychological test in which each of them rated well below the national average “happiness score” for the typical Australian.
Then the team of therapists went to work, and at the end of the program these folks were tested again. All of them tested happier. What I thought was most interesting (from a primitivist perspective) were the interventions used. Continue reading
For most of us, this cliche rings true. And in my experience, the exceptions tend to prove the rule. A tiny minority seem to get joy and fulfillment from their jobs, but such folks usually have jobs where most, if not all of society’s “dirty work” is left to others. Like the primitivist writer Bob Black, I tend to define work as “forced labor”, so that makes perfect sense — after all, it’s the labor we don’t want to do ourselves that we’re tempted to force on others. Continue reading
I sure hope that’s true. Especially the “fire making up for going bald” part.
Anyway, as I mentioned in a previous post, I once participated in a year-long primitive skills immersion in the Northwoods of Wisconsin with some mighty-fine folks. However, when we went into the forest to make camp, we kinda over-did the building of our first hearth.
Well, this week the words just aren’t coming to me, so instead of trying to fake it I’ll leave folks with a few of my favorite words from one of my favorite poets: Mary Oliver. This poem of hers continues with the theme I started exploring last week, a theme that I think is fundamental to any understanding of primitivism, or just life, for that matter. That life (and death) are not to be denied, but instead loved. Please sit with this poem for awhile. Let it sink in deep, if you will. Listen to the words of our brother, the Fox.
In an earlier post I wrote: “Life being good is maybe one of those deep dark profound and scary secrets that virtually nobody in America really believes anymore…”.
Now I’m sure some readers ran right over that without hardly a second look, but others might have stopped and thought: Really? What is this guy talking about? How can it be “scary” for life to be good? What is so “deep and dark” about that?
Well, think about it. Continue reading
But wait, isn’t modern eye-care one of those wonderful inventions that demonstrate why modern civilization is so much better than being a poor caveman? How many times have I heard: “You say you’re a primitivist, but you wear glasses! If you had to live in the stone age you’d be blind!”
Well, maybe there’s more to the story than that. Continue reading
Once upon a time, in the Tanana river valley, it was a good month for mosquitoes. They were thick, and in the dark parts of the forest (especially near standing water) they would collect along the way as I walked. If I stopped they would swarm in clouds like bees defending a hive, but instead, they were buzzing for my blood.
I had been walking for hours in 80 degree heat, using a modern version of an old Eskimo strategy for dealing with mosquitoes. Continue reading
It’s a little late in the year for this post, but I’m afraid I wasn’t writing yet when the sap started to flow in the birches. So I’m about to take you back in time. It’s easy to do, after all, since time, like words, exist in our imagination.
So imagine a grove of calm white birch trees: bright, open, and inviting. A friend of mine who grew up in East Germany during the cold war once told me that, in the Russian fairy tales she heard as a child, birch groves were always good and full of magic. Continue reading
“Gratitude is the best attitude.” ~Author Unknown
A few years ago, I visited North America’s largest lake while attending the Lake Superior Traditional Ways Gathering on the Bad-River Indian Reservation. Walking along the shore, I picked up a small smooth stone and put it in my pocket.
That stone has been with me ever since. It is my number one survival tool — the most important tool I carry. Even more important to me than the pocketknife that usually sits next to it. Continue reading
“Primitive” is an Adjective. The dictionary wraps these words around it: First (see PRIME) 1, Existing in the beginning or the earliest times or ages; ancient; original. 2. Characteristic or imitative of of the earliest ages, uncivilized. 3. Not derivative; primary; basic. 4. Of, or having to do with a culture with a relatively low level of technology. 5. Primordial, fundamental.
“Practical” is also an Adjective. The dictionary defines it as: 1. Of, exhibited in, or obtained through practice or action. 2. Usable, workable; useful and sensible. 3. Concerned with the application of knowledge to useful ends, rather than with theory, speculation, etc. 4. Given to, or experienced from, actual practice. 5. Of, concerned with, or dealing realistically and sensibly with everyday activities. 6. Matter-of-fact.
That bias is: “Life is good.”
I know, I know, I read that on a baseball cap the other day…stereotypical pop-culture b.s.. How simplistic. How unimaginative. How dull. And I’ll respond with: “Yeah, that’s true.” It is simplistic and dull, for sure. But trust me, the baseball cap isn’t where I got the idea. And, as Daniel Quinn once said: “The real secrets in life are the ones you can publish on billboards and they still remain secret.” Continue reading
This moment, right now, is the most valuable thing we have. And I realize that spending time on the internet is maybe not the best use of something so precious.
With that in mind, I plan on writing in a way that (hopefully) will communicate something right from the start, and then build from there. Continue reading