Ignite, Ignite.

Tuesday 16 March 2010 She sat in the bathroom with the door open. He was a room away. "Come here," she called. And again. And slowly, again. "Come here." The wall hangings dared not interrupt. The floors of hard oak allowed the memories of home to hide inside them, a rare nod to a needed emotional silence. She sent her voice into the hallway, into the only illuminated corridor in the old house at dusk, to tiptoe to the next room and tap her friend on his broken shoulders.

Letter to the Future. IV - The Sort We Are to Be

8 March 2010 The Sort We Are to Be Let you not be silent if ever you come across someone who wants to know what kind of men or women you are to be. Do not answer, my loves, with an occupational title or a tax bracket destination. Indeed you will have a great many options for how you spend your days. The world at large will encourage you this way and that and tempt you with all sorts of incentives. Riches will seem

Letter to the Future. II - Personhood.

18 February 2010 Personhood. Weeks ago the United States' most revered court acknowledged corporations as people, specfically approving their ability to contribute unlimited quantities of money to the campaign efforts of politicians. A question is posed to us with this declaration. It is not the first time the question's arisen, and far from the last I'm afraid. The question goes back at least as far as post-Civil War America, the end of the 19th Century. Our 14th Amendment granted certain rights to African Americans, among which the right to own property was included. But in the decades bookending the turn of the century, court cases concerning the individual's right to own property were not dominated by newly freed slaves but corporations cashing in on their status of person. I'm sure with hardly a minute of research an earler exampe would jump out. Nonetheless, the question I reference sounds to me something like this: are we the only species to extend our notion of ourselves to a synthetic construct devoid, nevermind underserving, of life? What do we declare of our personhood when we turn to the corporations at our flanks - those entities inundating us with proposal, bargain, and personal compromise - and declare their existence equal to our own in the way of rights and the privelage of enriching pursuits? If I might be so bold, it should shame us to pain to realize we defend the playgrounds of capitalism and the corporate cohorts that gather there with more zeal than we reserve for the children of slave wage workers in Hong Kong, than for the faces of brothels inescapable, than for the lungs beneath Appalachia's blue collars. I wonder what definition of personhood exists for you to grasp in the future you inhabit. I implore you, Future, find the history of personhood and the media through which it still travels to you in pure forms. How easily will we allow the exalted title of "person" to be passed to inanimacy? Remember your poetry and your history, your math and your exploration, your pondering over the stars and the taste of a lover's kiss and then decide if you will dismiss it all, negate its vital role in the decision, the germination of personhood. And if your soul rebels, if your essence rises up and demands you defend the divinity of personhood, then reject the thievery of it by precepts of profit and edicts of perpetual inequity; require standards of life that allow life as opposed to survival; refuse to do anything but fix your gaze intently on the treasure immutably interred in the humans amongst you; reach out from your material casing, the barriers of stuff which threaten each human with life incommunicado; revive the rumble of revolution that brings cities into their streets and reminds them that behind the walls, the glass, the insulation, the silence that cacophonous markets orchestrate there are people very much worth our time, our attention and our reverence; find a vision of personhood for yourselves, Future, that includes all that humanity can offer in all her varied lands and languages. Lift that above the markets and steel and currency, proudly rejecting those conjured entities of enterprise as imposters and unworthy of the title, the veneration, the opportunity of person. Erik in the past

Letter to the Future. I - Either side of a Turning Point

24 January 2009 Either side of a Turning Point. Wasted the widsom and insights of capable humans too often become. With a desire to embark on epic projects of the betterment of oneself or the world at large, I like others often allow my motivations to dwindle down from their familiar, emotional peak achieved after reading or witnessing something profound, to that equally familiar place of stagnation where instead of real initiatives I settle for funeralistic statements of memorial, like, "wouldn't the world be better if..." Having just put down "The Future of Life," and having had this project in mind for awhile now, I have to admit that I don't know how to imagine you - the future of our species. Essentially, these will be letters to the yet unarrived, a handful of notes waiting for the days you begin to value the many infinite experiences that came before you in the anticipation of ones to come. But what form or name you the Future will take - nephew, niece, son, daughter, grandson, granddaughter - I can't predict. Similarly unpredictable is the world you will enter. And so, in my mind, I'm writing you from the far side of one of life's many turning points, from that place distant to you rising and falling across the fulcrums of time. What excites me, and as you'll learn, concerns me, is the nature of those fulcrums. Tragedy, catastrophe, triumph and innovation have changed our course and they all will visit us again for further reorienting. As I write, the state of life on our Earth reflects the self-image of its most prolific large animal. Humanity has exalted itself on altars of consumption, constructed at an ever-increasing rate within the temples of self. Topping malaria or AIDS or even the lightning swift (and currently celebrity) H1N1, is the entitlement epidemic, a scourge to rule and govern all scourges. With it my maiden America has purchased herself enemies of the most virulent class, those who not only harbor no fear of death but welcome the riches waiting there atop thrones reserved for martyrs. Greed begets greed and it is that character - not the material medium in which a certain culture chooses to exercise it - that should seize our attention and raise our consciousness. It is my hope to wander with you through the time between you and I, until Future arrives in whatever form gets here first - be you a young man to add to the small majority in our little Peterson clan, or a young lady to further embolden the mighty minority which - if acknowledged honestly - hold's power anyway. In order to best understand what will undoubtedly become incoherent rants at times, I implore you to listen. Not to me necessarily, or any person for that matter; but grant your ear to Earth and the endless worlds next to which, in which, and around which ours orbits. From your attention, shed the edifices that absorb so much of our precious time and search out those life forms that nature has brought through the calamity, change, and rebirths which punctuate all the strata of life. Rediscover and balance yourself amidst that world for it is from them we came and in our wisest moments to thence we return. So listen. And I will try likewise, and perhaps relay a little of what I hear. And I assure you, I anticipate your reporting as well. Erik in the past.

Happiness Only Real

Monday 21 September 2009 One of many memorable nights in the Pub - with Jolene and Colin and Chanti, usually - our wonderings took us to the topic of Christopher McCandless. Was what he did insane? We didn't think so. But whether it was overtly selfish was another question. By no means did we find an answer; that wasn't the point at all. A few brews took our questions further toward the "Alexander Supertramps" of our time, and undoubtedly toward the ones within ourselves. We confronted the young man in tears. We were his parents and begged to understand why his adventure so included our insult. When did we become the monarchy deserving of uprising? We were his sister, loving him and missing him and resenting him and wanting an older brother. We were the media and we were the public, "knowing" that what he did was simply young idiocy or worse, the foisting of wisdom by a weidler of of folly. We were the ones he met along his path to Alaska, the ones with smiles which treasured his words, the ones that saw him briefly decorate their horizon, the ones that scampered their fingers to the fragile edge of his letters, the ones that loved and envied but lacked and so longed for his courage. And then we were ourselves, upright and skeptical in front of this wanderer, and then were were him, knowing simultaneously the desires that called us to the countryside and the elements of society we couldn't stand to be near any longer. None of us, I don't think, was so far from an Alaskan adventure of our own. All of us understood what it was to sense misbelonging, to sense that at some point you left or were taken from the environment you were meant for, that suddenly your quiet corner of the world was screaming with distraction and clutter and was now entirely uninhabitable, a paradigm that excluded you altogether. And all of us had felt the power of the push, were sometimes pretty sure that the only reservations we harbored toward abandoning settled life were the conversations we sought in that settled life - that the four of us were in college, a place set apart for "learning and experience". We chased sunsets atop steeds we didn't pay for; we decried the stoicism of the settled masses in a Pub paid for by the predictability, consistency, and dependability of settled lives. We knew it wasn't as easy as burning your pocket cash, as good as that might feel. Our tiny community of mutual understanding made survival possible without pilgrimage to the Yukon. Our community defeated the efforts of inanimate ubiquity to divide us; in our circle in the balcony of a small college bar, we found something akin to whatever McCandless felt, starving in his bus, the day he jotted, "HAPPINESS ONLY REAL WHEN SHARED." It wasn't enough, though, of course. We'd gather, toting the week's baggage, trying to completely leave behind the class we'd just finished, buy our beers and wait eagerly for the others. Our shared experience of "the outside" bound us up together, we'd looked at the world from afar - by ourselves - enough that when we descrbibed it aloud to one another our descriptions sounded familiar, and piecewise we built a common image of our combined realities, one not perfectly shared by any means, but one with reference points, an understanding we built where we could remember, together, something that only happened to one of us, a strange empathy that told us "despite all the evidence to the contrary, you're not alone, and more importantly, you do not have to depend on solitude to find meaning, depth, happiness."

On Pornography

In envy I look at the freedom and controversial release that causes the Primavera’s characters to rebel. I stand under the Sistine ceiling, recognizing that had I lived earlier I could have surrounded myself with these same figures in their original nude – and I smile. I walk through the Century Project’s 100 portraits of the female nude – young girls to old women. The history that accompanies their words accompanying their bodies astounds me, and the way they have found shape by the guiding hands of biology humbles our greatest architects. I look at a world of men and women, their emotions and bodies juxtaposed in an industry of fantasy we’ve come to call pornography, never claiming that I haven’t used it or walked away and returned to it, and I grimace.I am not blind to the prude air of foisted sophistication that accompanies those who condemn the world of erotica. I understand how individuals who long to free themselves from the confinements of a society monitored and scrutinized by big brother institutions seemingly cannot reject some of those institutions’ standards and cling still to others. It seems that the soul needs to recklessly abandon those things unconducive of life and profundity without exception or hostage. Sexual freedom and sexual autonomy is pivotal in this way. For centuries the grips of social norm and the glare and gaze of a Church which forges that social norm has ostracized the very spirit that gives our race a future – the spirit of sexuality. For as long as there has been a standard of decency there has been a list of those things acceptable and unacceptable which all decent people must follow. To this list has rarely been added those things which make the Sistine ceiling marvelous in content and legend, which make skinny dipping and sleeping naked beautiful and worthy of anticipation, which grant to every body – no matter its shape or presentation – the awe it deserves. The harnesses of a misguided morality have pinned down our wings and confined us to an existence of quiet missionary positions, of which we never speak and over which we never giggle.To this end sexual pioneers deserve commendation. Without a doubt they have worked to free a part of us as humans that yearns to roam untethered as deeply as that which wants for art and drastic escape and the seductions of music in all forms. But I have to ask, who are those pioneers? Who and what teaches us what sex can be and what sex has been and what sex might become? For the sake of the rebellion which leads us away from the fear and timidity of fundamentalism, we likewise cannot afford to lose sight of what we treasure as intimacy; we cannot move our eyes away from that place in front of us which holds out truth and real knowledge. I fear that we’re no better off accepting the standards of porn as we are accepting the criteria of ensnaring religiosity. The argument comes to ‘preference’ too often. For one, this should not be an argument but a discussion. It should be a conversation in which ideas about men and women, and men and men, and women and women coming together can prosper and be admired. There is a danger, I think, in assuming that the use of pornos can be reduced to personal preference which holds neutral value. Of course it has nothing to do with a condemning Trinity sitting at a judge’s bench somewhere beyond the cosmos, and socially defined sexual deviance is as oxymoronic as venial sin. It isn’t about achieving a grade. The rebellion against mediocre existence never is. It’s going about life in such a way that we prod those things that can stir our most inner convictions. When you choose to run an empty beach and throw yourself at the waves isn’t it right that the water’s kiss against your naked body will singe the memory deeper than if you’d allowed your clothes to interfere? Life insists that rolling down the windows and letting in Night as you drive through her reflects a sort of existence that harbors epiphany and awe. To see the world when you’re in it – its people, its trees, its sky, its sounds and aromas – is to want life whether it seems to want you or not. To push sex away as a threat and imposter upon your purity cheapens our human condition. And to post sex on a billboard and a magazine and a computer is to take what few have fought so hard to liberate from visionless hands and place it in the palms of a different tyrant – one of blind profit and motives irreconcilable to the objectives of a soul’s rebellion.Pornography is not art. Let us not fool ourselves into thinking that two strangers humping each other like hormone-engorged ducks, at the direction of their neighbor with a camcorder, need be considered art. To be fashionably accepting of all interpretations of art is certainly a trend, and not necessarily a bad one, just obnoxious.. If we can look at something and deduce that it was put together by some sort of cognitive plan and conclude that it is thus “art”, we’ve arrived a very sad place indeed. A place, in fact, where we might as well either abandon the word “thing” or the word “art” because redundancy can be flagrantly unbecoming. Let those artists capable of presenting the human nude in controversy or grace or violence or depression or ecstasy while evoking thought in their on-lookers, let them retain the title of ‘artist’. When porn becomes art we’ve sold out to the manipulators of our most primitive response – see it, have sex with it. Let’s be clear, it is not thought that porn provokes, and we only act like veteran consumers when we humor porn all the way into a classification such as “creative”.

Bachmann & Horner - Friday 10 April 2009

Hello all. Briefly, M. Bachmann brought Attorny Chris Horner to SCSU to "arm the people of Minnesota" against cap and trade policy, an ongoing campaign to debunk climate change. This is a response I wrote for "Liberal in the Land of Conservative", a blog that keeps tabs on some political happenings here in the most conservative district in MN. “We don’t need to put wind turbines on people’s huts, we need to get people out of the huts” was Chris Horner’s mistaken response to our insistence that dirty fuels will harm first and most lethally the poorest of the world’s peoples. The congregation of Congressional District 6 constituents at Saint Cloud State University bore witness to a great spectacle Thursday afternoon. District representative Michelle Bachmann brought Attorney Chris Horner back to MN for either (we’re still debating what the objective was) a tutorial on non-sequitor rhetoric or a chance to claim that Bachmann had finally faced the younger populations of Saint Cloud, Waite Park, Saint Joseph and Collegeville. While Bachmann’s hesitance to appear before the populations that so emphatically voted (and lobbied, and canvassed, and organized) against her in November is understandable, she more than made up for her lack of gall by parading Mr. Horner into SCSU’s ballroom as a veteran Global Warming-debunker. Something like 500 students, middle-classers, retirees and a smattering of reporters gathered at the foot of Horner’s stage. They tried to keep up as he sprinted through slides containing “factual” persuasions intended to dismantle theories of climate change and cap-and-trade systems. But little nuggets like his mumbling about huts and wind turbines mentioned above seemed to stick out more than any expertise on climate change and C&T. He grinned and sneered and sang and danced and duly impressed the gathering, jockeying them about at his wish, affirming their intuition that the young’ns who came to dissent had simply not lived enough to glean an appropriate level of cynicism.A brilliant rhetor, no doubt, Horner’s litigation…er…I’m sure I meant presentation…swept the crowd off its feet with jive and jeer against names like Al Gore and Leo DeCaprio and anyone else who might be foolish enough to momentarily use their fame for good. So what information did Horner so flagrantly manipulate that students – as WCCO, MPR, and the Strib report – decided to enter into exchanges with him from the audience, requesting that he stop dancing with questions long enough to answer a couple? Horner touched on multiple studies of European countries which have implemented emission-trading strategies or large-scale alternative energy programs. Essentially, his claim was that the attempts did not reduce emissions and that the outsourcing of jobs was as real for them as it is inevitable for the U.S. if we adopt C&T. I hope another of my web-wide reporting colleagues can rightly take him to task on this, for again his inaccuracy here was gross and most in the audience were none the wiser. What I’d like to focus on – for the off chance that someone from Stearn’s county or its neighbors to the east is reading – are three fundamental pieces of the climate debate which, if understood correctly, afford us no time to hold parties in college ballrooms at which lawyers use stories of alleged European failure to further entrench and encourage our xenophobia.First – and its sad we have to begin here – is the virtually uncontroversial fact that CO2 both acts as a greenhouse gas and exists as a trace element in our atmosphere. Only by internalizing these two facts can we get any purchase on humans’ involvement in the global problem. Two nineteenth century scientists, Joseph Fourier and John Tyndall, respectively observed and described the mechanism by which heat from the sun does not bounce off of earth as it would be expected to, but is held close to it like a thin but effective blanket. Further, Tyndall’s study showed that its not obvious gases like nitrogen or oxygen that hold onto the heat, but water vapor and trace elements like carbon dioxide and methane. This brings me to important concept #2. Horner liked to rant about how CO2 is this inconsequential element in an atmospheric ocean of gases – how could it matter? After all, the water vapor up there is way better at trapping heat anyway. The best way I’ve heard this described is by Sir David King, the former chief science adviser to the United Kingdom and now professor of chemistry at Cambridge University. Imagine an ocean into which all of human kind is pouring buckets; the ocean is water vapor and so is the substance in our buckets – we have no effect. Now imagine the same buckets being poured into a bathtub, but the bathtub is full of carbon dioxide as are our buckets. In terms of how freak’n big the atmosphere is, yes, our contribution of carbon dioxide is quite small; but in terms of how we can effect the composition of the atmosphere, our nominal contribution becomes a huge proportional contribution. Individuals with agendas as shadowy as Mr. Chris’ seem to enjoy speaking to crowds who are plenty intelligent, but lack sufficient time to research these issues on their own. He paints himself the hero – with help from our clingy representative – to people who have no practical purpose for knowing why the emission of one gas is negligible and the emission of others will eventually change the topographical character of our planet, and drown the most coastal populations of earth.That’s the element I want to leave you with. What Horner did Thursday does not represent a republican agenda nor a conservative one. His agenda is one of perpetual skepticism and nay-saying, sure, but worse, its pathogenic and infectious. The woman next to me at Horner’s event was whispering one-line vocalizations of support as Horner went through his slides about Europe’s failure and his argument possessed her. After the presentation she told me that she was not worried because “Jesus will save us.” Frankly, I think she could be right. But amidst discussions – and violent rejections – of possible solutions for our climate crisis a parable echoes to me. A parable about the man on the hill who – anticipating God’s salvation – rejects the canoe, the motorboat, and the helicopter as the floodwaters rise, lap at his feet, drown him, and land him at the pearly gates only to be chastised by St. Peter for rejecting God’s extended hand. Unfortunately, and with more than a bit of irony, the ultra-right-winger Bachmann hired Horner to come to district 6 Thursday, to help slap the Almighty’s Helping Hand away from her constituents (the youngest of whom still await their chance to talk with her).

To the Editor - Copenhagen Must Count

It’s not often that our scientists predict for us a future of indebtedness. Our accountants, our economists, our politicians – for better or worse – often take stabs at foreseeing the future condition of our national and individual checkbooks. As of late, a voice well-rehearsed in fear has beckoned the masses to stare in horror at the empty pouch suspended from our purse strings. Someone’s left a message on our billfold’s shriveled shell, a single graffitied lyric that has America singing “recession” again and again, even in her sleep. The unemployment rate seems to out climb any competing figure, though the populations of tent cities and the number of uninsured American children give it a run for its money. And so millions rightly meet their days hands clenched around their last greenbacks, the swinging shadow of their lynched money-purse reminding them of a need for frivolity. And so when the climate scientist stands to describe a future in which financial debt will mean very little for our kids, a future in which the resources we now hoard with the best of our conservative faculties will stop their slow dribble from the spicket of milk and honey, we meet his call for action with doubt, rejection, and resentment. Even with all things considered, it’s a peculiar response, in my mind, because in the act of writing this piece I’ve entrusted scientists with everything from the alarm that woke me up, the microwave that heated my meal, the car that brought me to work and the streetlights I drove through, the computer I used to type, the glasses that let me see it all, and the electronic forum I speak in. But see, those are all things that comfort me, that serve me and affirm my importance. We like science that makes us comfortable and we seem to consider science that discomforts us as debatably not science at all. Yet climate scientists hail from the same educational edifice that produces the astrophysicists designing our CD-ROMs, the biochemists desperately attempting to pump out H1N1 vaccines as quickly as we pump them into ourselves, the hydrologists shepherding water supplies which dictate the functionality of our society, and the bariatric specialists who try as best they can to mitigate our addiction to inactivity and food. I don’t want it to be as simple as entitlement, as self-centrism, as the ludicrous idea that anything Americans are doing at any given time is exactly what Americans should be defending at any given time, but it seems that’s the reason holding its hand highest, wiggling for me to see it. The same community of thinkers that so often upgrade our ability to lounge more intensely, the collective mind that we’ve dubbed the champion of discovery in our society, is now telling us in unprecedented orchestration that the future they see approaching is one in which the luxuries we currently enjoy may become laughable pipedreams of a utopia-passed. The black void of a bank account which American’s have come to loathe will pass as petty concern the day it feels like we’re at war with our weather systems. To choose a path similar in attitude and action to the one we tread now – that is, the one that makes climate science a matter of belief or political allegiance – is to fly from the barn roof of your childhood because you believe in the strength of your papier-mâché wings and the weakness of gravity itself. Wind farms and solar panels, electric cars and cars powered by hydrogen, a sprint toward emission reduction, a prioritization of grid efficiency, waste and water rations and recycling, forestry regulation, demographic cognizance, the end of coal and the beginning of the end of fossil fuel: these constitute a piece of a world in which humans can safely extract, capture, and use energy, and a world in which the resource rich do not keep the wealthy in their pocket or the poor underfoot. But this, too, is a future that costs money. More rightly described, it’s a future where we finally max out the credit we’ve been leaning on since our industrialization and our debts are called in. So, if we choose, we make our payments in innovation and adaptation, in progress that takes us out of and away from a society whose pulse reflects the price of gas. Yet, here’s where this discussion puzzles me most. Specifically on the topics of debt and cost am I left behind. I am twenty-two. When 2050 arrives, a year marked by a growing collection of grim asterisks in the climate change forecast, my generation will long have shouldered whatever debts our parents and grandparents gleaned for us. Those are the debts bleeding from the woodwork now: the yet undefined scars of a mortgage crisis, an Iran with one hardline hand enriching uranium and the other groping in the vats of moderation, the living legend of two if not three (Brazil) emerging economic world powers, the result of two American wars, and the health of a global ecosystem stressed to its breaking point by one very powerful, very naïve species. Where few things are certain, one action remains a necessity and its result a definitive improvement for the world. The United States of America finds in its hands an excess of ability, a shred of political will, and a crisis as its motivational pill to liberate itself from its energy dependence. Because our power is no longer harvested abroad our national security no longer has to counter the force of an American-bankrolled terror network; our poor no longer need to receive petroleum gifts from the likes of Chavez*; our diplomats no longer have to hold their tongues in front of oil lords when questions concerning genocide are pressing. But the arresting cry that sounds from within our own country, the conviction that restrains us from the rubicon of that future, is one that declares this moment too expensive to truly engage. Investing in such a future will pass disproportionate debt unto our children, it says, and so we should drill more. Or become better friends with people who already drill more. Or take it from them. The reality of our situation might simply prescribe a future without satisfactory options; our decades of irresponsibility, and the continued flagrance of our consumption, may have simply condemned part of our desired lifestyle to (at least) temporary death. To the parents now shouldering today’s burdens, there likely isn’t a scenario which protects your children from the debts of American culture. But what cannot happen is the continued imagining of a future made sufficiently debt free because of the oil we drill now and the climate change soon to be proven myth. This future cannot be realized and will shackle the leaders of 2050 to a burden – financial, social, and global in nature – whose magnitude humanity, for the first time, may not endure.Two hours ago I sat down to type. Per the estimates of Conservation International – the environmental organization used for consulting by the likes of Starbucks Coffee, McDonald’s, Nike and others – six species have gone extinct since I commenced my key-punching, a rate one thousand times that estimated to be a natural rate of extinction for Earth, a rate only matched by the five other eras of profound extinction in Earth’s history, a rate not seen since the last of those five, 65 million years ago. The world of plants and animals, often brushed to the side to keep tree huggers and the ranks of PITA distracted, is slipping through our hands. This is the moneyless debt scientists are attempting to calculate, the liability which accumulates outside the saving graces of any market structure and promises to strand us without the organisms that provide us such indispensables as medicine and food. We must not betray ourselves with cheap anecdotes forged in fealty to political alignments; we can choose to believe in our politicians and our gods and ourselves, but our subjugation to the vagaries of our climate, like our unwilling concession to the pull of our planet’s gravity, will be forced on us whether or not we welcome it with votes or titles like “belief”. Copenhagen Must Count. * CITGO Stops US Oil Gifts in Sign Chavez Feels Pain http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123120371249755835.html

To the Editor - The Oregon 101

Dear Editor, Have you ever been to Oregon? Specifically I'm wondering about your experience with a quaint stretch of highway: the 101 that lines the Pacific coast in the great OR. It’s one of my favorite routes in the country; from Newport down to Yachats and on to Florence you’ll find miles of fine summer driving with the great blue lapping ragged cliffs beneath the spin of your wheels. Its one of a number of natural cathedrals our country offers us, yet another vein on the trails through America where we can roll our windows down and let the breeze whisper therapeutic nothings in our ears. And so I suppose it’s with that – and other natural American masterpieces – in mind that I write to you today. At times the 101 comes within a baseball’s toss of the Pacific, at some points even bridging an infolded bay or two. While the Pacific sits out there, protecting its blanket of diamonds in untouchable majesty, kindly posing for as many awed snapshots as we can manage, a select few of us humbly take its temperature and can surmise beyond a doubt that it, and the rest of our ancient planet, has a terrible fever. To be sure I do not mean only that it’s warmer than it should be, but that even something of its magnitude is succumbing to the nature-changing hand of one Homo sapiens. In its life time, that dominating ocean to America’s west has witnessed awesome fluctuations in the Earth’s temperature, bringing and shooing thousands of species to and from the North American continent, even glaciers whose timid exodus from the north stretched for Mason Dixon latitudes. Yet in all that, reaching almost 700,000 years into its youth, the Pacific has never known a planet colder than today by more than 6 degrees (C). From that humble spectrum, it has gleaned a wealth of wisdom; where a hypothetical “1” on that scale can summon glaciers from earth’s waters and lower her oceans, an unprecedented “7” or “8” can banish the memory of glaciers and invite the tides further inland than any species in this geological age has seen. We would be wise to try and accelerate our own accumulation of wisdom so it resembles that of the grey-bearded Pacific. While it is tragic that parts of the Oregon 101 will certainly be swallowed when sea levels rise, the realization that our affluence doesn’t buffer us or our coastal cities from the same rise will likely come with a human cost. So, your editorial highness, what are we waiting for? I don’t mean to be snide or mocking; I am honestly lacking a piece of the puzzle. In order for there to be political and social mobilization to match the scale of our problem we as a race need to experience a drastic maturation. So let’s get started. My concern, my fellow Americans, is that at the doorstep of this global event, the most innovative and politically liberated country in the world is sitting on its hands. Being twenty-two, I’ll mark the first tally in the column which chooses to invest profoundly now in a clean energy system and avoid my generation’s inheritance of an unfixable earth. I earnestly welcome, in fact beg, your responses.

Letter to the Future. III - Life Upon the Echelons

17 February 2010 Life Upon the Echelons One day, a day that will not certainly find you, a day that is not guaranteed, but one day nonetheless, you will get the notion that life has stratification, it is lived upon the echelons. Maybe around a fire, beside or holding a guitar, listening to a musician or reading an author, perhaps fathoming for a moment how much life is happening at all times around you in the setting of the natural world. Maybe none of those. I don't know how the day will find you and I don't want to - it is the precious secret of the future. But it will. And then you will know, you've lived into another echelon. You see, living is appreciated on many levels. Whatever gratitude a bacterium experiences is beyond my measuring. A rabbit appreciates the food it eats to the extent that its hunger pangs dissipate. A bug wanders toward the light, giving it some unconscious acknowledgment of importance. And then humans. Don't mistake human living as one tier amidst the strata; not even your own living happens on one plane. But instead we fall and we elevate. We ride on plumes of reverence and trip into wells of disregard. Seek out the full intimation of humaness; those tiers exist above the place you linger now and their admittance of a person cares nothing of wealth or status, only the vision of the soul, the flight and self-imposed ceiling of the spirit. An awareness of borrwoed clarity waits there, like a lucidity that makes a person mutually more in tune and further removed from existence. This point, above the others, should be wrestled with. There is not one reality; not one degree of consciousness. I do not eve know if there are finite consciousnesses, or for that matter why our very language suggests a singular consciousness, leaving no room for conscious plurality. But you'll know. Perhaps it is because most of our learning take place at a lower tier - I do not know - but one takes up a different vocabulary in these higher places. They leave behind their fascination for cheaper things, whose value can really only be weighed in that place. Don't be confused, and especially not frightened. Just know this. A realm of your existence, into which only certain pieces of yourself shall accompany the collective you, waits. It is a degree which will isolate you from some, and draw you closer still to others. It is an altitude which hardly allows you to make out the now-distant world from which you ascended, but risks to acquaint you with the vitality pulsing at such great heights. The physical world will not change, or has not for me; it is what we have. But here lies the glory, my loved ones. That world in the physical escorts and offers enticements always. Our ascent is a matter of choice, a matter of exposure. I won't tell you it is impossible with drugs, I will only insist that my journeys to these higher consciousnesses commenced at the urging of a claustrophobic mind. I was looking for space, uncharted and seldom visited. I was not fueled by consumption more than a glass of beer and the best of company. Somethings there will be understood, sure, but if you consider what we "understand" completely, those things are rarely so great. Instead, think toward the new heights of unknowing you will find there, a cohort of questions previously unasked, worthy of the asking, but till then clouded out from our wondering eyes. To be at such heights is not to impersonate genius but to behold a greater wonder. There are bluer skies than here, darker nights with stars of higher dimension, wider praires and more volatile rivers. Make no mistake, precious future, it would be unwise to assume the health of our physical world is unattached to these higher altitudes of consciousness. These are the places we come from, the heights we've managed to find over the ages. If we destroy those treasures and mysteries surrounding us physically, we risk a calamitous assault on life at all the levels of our being. Explore those heights, let them make you wiser and deeper-loving, defend them and cherish them, hold them with you and regard them as precious, life guiding, life giving. Erik in the past