Thursday, July 31, 2003

Hakim Bey re: Safety

If there's one thing I hate, it's the word "safety". We live in a civilization of safety, in which we are eventually cocooned from all danger, that is to say, from all experience. What we are left with is a vegetable plugged into a computer, who never leaves the room, like a hideous vision of a William Gibson novel. We would be well advised to rediscover risk.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Voluntary Simplicity
by Richard Gregg (1936)

Voluntary Simplicity of living has been advocated and practised by the founders of most of the great religions -- Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tse, Moses and Mohammed -- also by many saints and wise men such as St. Francis, John Woolman, the Hindu rishis, the Hebrew prophets, the Moslem sufis; by many artists and scientists; and by such great modern leaders as Lenin and Gandhi. It has been followed also by members of military armies and monastic orders -- organizations which have had great and prolonged influence on the world.

To those who say that machinery and the apparatus of living are merely instruments and devices which are without moral nature in themselves, but which can be used for either good or evil, I would point out that we are all influenced by the tools and means which we use. Again and again in the lives of individuals and of nations we see that when certain means are used vigorously, thoroughly and for a long time, those means assume the character and influence of an end in themselves. We become obsessed by our tools. "The strong quantitative elements in science, machinery and money, and in their products, tend to make the thinking and life of those who use them mechanistic and divided." The relationships which science, machinery and money create give us more energy outwardly but they live upon and take away from us our inner energy.

We think that our machinery and technology will save us time and give us more leisure, but really they make life more crowded and hurried. When I install in my house a telephone, I think it will save me all the time and energy of going to market every day, and much going about for making petty inquiries and minor errands to those with whom I have dealings. True, I do use it for those purposes but I also immediately expand the circle of my frequent contacts, and that anticipated leisure time rapidly is filled by telephone calls to me or with engagements I make by the use of it. "The motor car has the same effect upon our domestic life. We are all covering much bigger territory than formerly, but the expected access of leisure is conspicuous by its absence." Indeed, where the motor cars are very numerous, you can now, at many times during the day, walk faster than you can go in a taxi or bus.

"The mechanized countries are not the countries noted for their leisure." Any traveller to the Orient can testify that the tempo of life there is far more leisurely than it is in the industrialized West. To a lesser degree, the place to find relative leisure in the United States is not in the highly mechanized cities, but in the country...

Those who think that complexities of transportation, communication and finance have relieved the world from underfeeding and famine are mistaken. Probably their error comes from the fact that they belong to the comfortable and well-to-do groups among the powerful of the world. They have not understood, if indeed they have read, the statistics and reports of social and relief workers in regard to the extent of undernourishment in their own populations and in the rest of the world...

No -- the way to master the increasing complexity of life is not through more complexity. The way is to turn inward to that which unifies all -- not the intellect but the spirit, and then to devise and put into operation new forms and modes of economic and social life that will truly and vigorously express that spirit. As an aid to that and as a corrective to our feverish over-mechanization, simplicity is not outmoded but greatly needed.

If I have much real and personal property and am interested in it, my time is very largely occupied in looking after it. I will not have much time for simple neighbourliness. A selfish and aggressive neighbour may infringe on my boundaries so as to use some of my land next to his own. He would not have been so likely to do that if I had previously been truly friendly with him, had shared some of my garden produce with him and his family, and had been kind to his children. So my failure to do the things which would have created good feeling and a sense of human unity in him has resulted in trouble between us. The lack of simplicity in my own life has engrossed too much of my time and energy and has been an effective cause in creating disunity. Moreover, if, as some people believe, we are at the beginning of a period of economic decline, it may well be that great simplicity of living is the main condition upon which the learned professions which require leisure will be permitted to exist. If so, the previous voluntary adoption of greater simplicity by the learned professions would count for their security and make the transition easier for them. Something of that is recognized in the age-old Hindu society in which the Brahmans -- the teachers, physicians, priests and other learned professions -- are morally bound to and predominantly actually do maintain lives of extreme simplicity as an essential element in their professional code, to which great respect is accorded.

For those who believe in non-violence, simplicity is essential. Many possessions involve violence in the form of police protection and law suits. The concentration of much property in one person's possessions creates resentment and envy or a sense of inferiority among others who do not have it. Such feelings, after they have accumulated long enough, become the motives which some day find release in acts of mob violence. Hence, the possession of much property becomes inconsistent with principles of non-violence. Simplicity helps to prevent violence. Again, the non-violent person may some day become a conscientious objector and subject to punishment by governments - possibly jail sentence. If he has habitually practised simplicity he will not have so much to lose that it would weaken his stand nor will he be too fearful of jail life. Also, unless he has habitually practised simple living there will be in the minds of others a slight doubt as to the completeness of his sincerity and unselfishness. That doubt will hamper the persuasiveness of his gentle resistance and voluntary suffering when the time comes for non-violent resistance.

The greatest gulf in society is between the rich and the poor. The practice of simplicity by the well-to-do helps to bridge this gulf and may be therefore an expression of love. The rich young man was advised by Jesus to sell all his goods and give to the poor and thus simplify his life, in order to perfect his religious life. No doubt such an act would have resulted in more than simplification of the young man's life, but that would have been one of the results.

Hinduism and Buddhism have also emphasized the value of simplicity. The anonymous author of The Practice of Christianity believes that tenderheartedness -- gentle kindness -- is the supreme virtue and the essence of Jesus' teachings. Tenderheartedness, together with great intelligence and strength of character, has in the cases of such leaders as Buddha, Jesus, St. Francis, George Fox, John Woolman and Gandhi, resulted in simplicity. Tender-heartedness seems to have been one of the elements which compelled those men to recognize human unity and to live in accordance with it and to share their property and lives with those who had need. Thus simplicity is perhaps a part of utter gentleness, and may be essential to those who would really practice religion.

The greatest characters, those who have influenced the largest numbers of people for the longest time have been people with extremely few possessions. The reason for this is something that we usually fail to realize, namely that the essence of personality does not lie in its isolated individuality, its separateness from other people, its uniqueness, but in its basis of relationships with other personalities. It is a capacity for friendship, for fellowship, for intercourse, for entering imaginatively into the lives of others. At its height it is a capacity for and exercise of love. Friendship and love do not require ownership of property for either their ordinary or their finest expression. Creativeness does not depend on possession. Intangible relationships are more important to the individual and to society than property is. It is true that a certain kind of pleasure and satisfaction come for acquiring mastery over material things, but that sort of power and that sort of satisfaction are not so secure, so permanent, so deep, so characteristic of mental and moral maturity as are some others. The most permanent, most secure and most satisfying sort of possession of things other than the materials needed for bodily life, lies not in physical control and power of exclusion but in intellectual, emotional and spiritual understanding and appreciation. This is especially clear in regard to beauty...

If a person lives among great possessions, they constitute an environment which influences him. His sensitiveness to certain important human relations is apt to become clogged and dulled, his imagination in regard to the subtle but important elements of personal relationship or in regard to lives in circumstances less fortunate than his own is apt to become less active and less keen. This is not always the result, but the exception is rare. When enlarged to inter-group relationships this tends to create social misunderstandings and friction.

The most beautiful and restful room I ever entered was in a Japanese country inn, without any furniture or pictures or applied ornaments. Its beauty lay in its wonderful proportions and the soft colours of unpainted wood beams,paper walls and straw matting. There can be beauty in complexity but complexity is not the essence of beauty. Harmony of line, proportion and colour are much more important. In a sense, simplicity is an important element in all great art, for it means the removal of all details that are irrelevant to a given purpose. It is one of the arts within the great art of life. And perhaps the mind can be guided best if its activities are always kept organically related to the most important purposes in life.

"If simplicity of living is a valid principle there is one important precaution and condition of its application." I can explain it best by something which Mahatma Gandhi said to me. We were talking about simple living and I said that it was easy for me to give up most things but that I had a greedy mind and wanted to keep my many books. He said, "Then don't give them up. As long as you derive inner help and comfort from anything, you should keep it. If you were to give it up in a mood of self-sacrifice or out of a stern sense of duty, you would continue to want it back, and that unsatisfied want would make trouble for you. Only give up a thing when you want some other condition so much that the thing no longer has any attraction for you, or when it seems to interfere with that which is more greatly desired." It is interesting to note that this advice agrees with modern Western psychology of wishes and suppressed desires. This also substantiates what we said near the beginning of our discussion, ... the application of the principle of simplicity is for each person or each family to work out sincerely for themselves."...

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Old Men
by Skald

Old men next to me, stinking of old money... bitching about weeds and the sun.... obsessed with stocks and dividends.

Pathetic creatures sucking on cigars. 60+ years old but no wisdom- no compassion -no enthusiasm for life.

Used up husks... all trace of authenticity squashed. These are my anti-heroes, what I never want to become: the walking dead.


Then there's Rambling Ron. Here's how he describes himself: "I am a vigorous retiree, and have been touring around the world since I retired twelve years ago. I am well past my "Best By" date but I enjoy excellent health, have never been seriously ill in my life and stay fit and active by keeping continuously "on the go" to see new places and experience new pleasures."

What a wonderful contrast to the old men I observed in Gainesville. Ron is a true hobopoet. Here's how he describes his lifestyle: "The best plan is to have no plan at all....then I am never behind schedule. I live on my US and Canadian social security pensions, plus some modest savings- but I am able to travel world-wide by spending much of my time in low-cost places such as India, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. When I am in places where hotels are more expensive, I travel and live in an RV (North America, Australia and N.Z.) or on a canal boat."

Looking at Ron's picture you can sense his enthusiasm for life.

Ron, and folks such as Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Picasso, Timothy Leary, Anais Nin, Paul Bragg,etc. prove that we can grow wiser, freer, more creative, more radical, more adventurous, and more compassionate as we age.

We can reject the American model of growing old-- of spiritual death. We do not have to become fearful, bitter, petty fools.

We can age as hobopoets.

Saturday, July 26, 2003

Overnight Parking While Car/Van Living (Re-posted from 5/03)
by Skald

A stealth car and a good parking space are the essential ingredients to pleasant car living.

So where should you park at night? My first instinct was that a remote and/or concealed area would be best. During the Nissan Sentra experiment, I started by parking in an abandoned lot- concealed by trees. This worked for a few days and then the police found me. The Athens police have always been quite nice.... it was very obvious that I was living in my car (this was in my "pre-stealth" days) but they didnt hassle me. They did tell me that I couldnt park on the lot. I was brash and asked where I could park without them bothering me. They suggested any public parking space in the downtown area... especially if it didnt have a meter. I thanked them and found just such an area-- only 100 feet from the lot I had been in.

The best parking spaces are, in fact, in populated areas... where your car will be one of many. Ideally, this should be in a multi-use area... a place with several different types of establishments. For example, my favorite area (where I have NEVER been bothered) is near a nightclub, an apartment building, a convention center, and office buildings. As a result, cars come and go at all hours. I could conceivably be at any one of these places, so no one pays attention.

Other multi-use areas might include: a 24 hour grocery, apartments, a 24-hour gym, a motel, a late night restaurant, a bar, etc...
But these aren't always easy to find,... especially in the suburbs.

In the burbs, I usually park in large apartment complexes. I choose a spot that is caddy-corner to busy entrances or balconies. I arrive and leave at off-peak times. Also, I rotate between 5-6 complexes... going to a different one each night. I did this for the last year in Georgia and have never been discovered. Busy motels, truck stops, state parks, campgrounds, and the like are decent for one-night, occaisonal stops... but not great for extended periods of time.

Of course, the ideal place is the driveway of a sympathetic friend. I had this option last summer and it was perfect.

A note about very bad places to park (other than empty lots): 1. Never park near a police station, as they are very observant of their immediate surroundings. 2. Never park in housing developments or upscale apartment buildings... again, these people tend to be paranoid and hyper-vigilant. 3. Never park where there are alot of children (in a school zone or daycare area, for example), as you may be mistaken for a stalker. 4. Don't park near banks or other high security areas, as again, these people are hyper-paranoid. 5. In general, don't tell friends or others about the locations you park in.

The Importance of Stealth When Car Living:

Average suburbanites (and the police who serve them) are a pretty nervous and fearful bunch. They are easily scared by anything which is strange or different. Car/Van living certainly falls into this category-- be it voluntary or involuntary. Therefore, it is very important to create a "stealth" vehicle for car living.

The first step in this process is to choose a model that does not stand out. I love VW vans as much as anyone... but to a cop they scream "hippy" (and therefore, harassment). I chose a Toyota Van for my most recent hobovehicle (dubbed "The Mystery Machine"), but even it is a little too uncommon. I recommend a "soccer-Mom" mini-van, a plain work van, or any run of the mill sedan or compact. You should remove all bumper stickers and other distinguishing marks. You want it to be as non-descript as possible.

Once you have a vehicle, pull out all rear seats.... this will create your living space. You can modify, insulate, and decorate this area as you wish. Some folks create elaborate and luxurious spaces, filled with: bunk beds, stoves, tables, appliances, lamps, coolers, cabinets, shelves, tapestries, and other decorations. Other folks are minimalists, content with a cot and a few plastic storage containers. I do highly suggest an elevated bed at the very least... as the floor of a car is quite hot in summer and quite cold in winter. A cot, or custom made bed, will do the trick and will make your nights MUCH more comfortable. Otherwise, do as you like, as this area will be completely hidden from view. [One important note- be sure to store illegal or suspicious items in opaque containers... in case the police take a peek inside. This includes drugs, drug paraphenalia, "subversive" books, weapons, etc...].

The next step is to block out all rear windows with dark black tinting (or use black spraypaint on the insides of the windows). You can seal some insulation board to the windows after tinting them... to block out all remaining light and to prevent drafts and heat transfer. If you choose to tint the front windows as well, be sure to investigate the laws in your state. Several states have strict regulations about the degree of tinting that can be used on front driver & front passenger side windows. Remember, the idea is to avoid attention... not draw police to you.

The last stealth step is to create a partition to hide the rear area from the driving area. I use a shower curtain rod that runs just behind the front seats. I hang a dark blue sheet from it (doubled) and can slide it open or closed quite easily. At night when I sleep, I slide the curtain closed. From outside, especially when its dark, you can't tell there's a curtain... it just looks like the rear area is in shadow.

In summer, I'll usually put a sunshade on the front windshield, to provide an extra bit of concealment.

With these modifications, I can park in populated areas and no one suspects that I'm living in the van. In this sense, the suburban lack of imagination works to your advantage. It would never occur to most people that someone would choose to live in their car,.. therefore, with a bit of modification, its quite easy to blend in....( even with a quasi-hippy van like mine).

Thursday, July 24, 2003

East Meets West
by Skald

Bangkok is home to a trashy and chaotic "backpackers ghetto"... a place where on-the-cheap Westerners mix with tourist-trade Thais. Many people denigrate this area--- they say it's not the "real" Thailand.

But it's as real as any other place... certainly as real as "Buford Highway" in nearby Atlanta.... or "Little Mexico" here in hicksville. These inter-culture zones are dynamic places.... places where strict rules break down-- where newcomers leave behind the expectations of home..... where locals abandon local expectations. In the backpackers ghetto, Thais wear blue jeans and Americans wear local peasant clothes. Thai cuisine is served with french fries.

Its crass and gaudy, but there's no denying the energy of this place.... a place that's not quite Thailand... not quite America. There are negative effects to be sure: the sex trade and hordes of obnoxious drunks. But there is also an explosion of creativity, a breakdown of conditioning, an expansion of identity, a renaissance of self-experimentation,... and a dramatic cross-fertilization of cultures. Bangkok is squalid, breeding, sweating, grotesque, and beautiful. So is life. So too Buford Highway.... which is a hodge-podge collection of Asian supermarkets, Korean restaurants, Mexican grocers, flea markets, and Vietnamese take-out: messy, gaudy, chaotic, organic, dynamic, alive. The world village in a microcosm.

Some bemoan these places. Purist tourists bitch about the loss of "unspoiled" places. True-blue Americans rail against the immigrant invasion. I walk these places and dance with glee.

They give me hope.... that the world village isn't the bland corporate gruel served up by McUSA. Nor is it a series of rigid customs that enslave or confine. Rather, it can be a wonderful masala-- a spicy mix of identities and languages-- a "congress of weird religions"-- a clash of styles-- a dance of opposites.

Give me spice. Give me dirt. Give me chaos, movement, sweat and heat..... give me organic life. Fuck the suburbs. Give me Bangkok.
Hobopoets Migrate East
by Skald

In September, three hobopoets (Todd, Kristin, and I) will migrate to SE Asia.... to join Matt Salleh. We'll have the beginnings of a new tribe: Hobopoets East!

SE Asia is an ideal location for Hobopoet living. It's extremely cheap to live there. The climate is tropical.... chock full of gorgeous beaches, beautiful islands, and lush rain forests. Its home to a thriving Buddhist tradition. Living in Bangkok is far cheaper than living in the USA. And frankly, its alot more interesting.

Making a living is easy too. There is a high demand for native English speakers. Most schools want teachers to have a Bachelors degree... but its possible to get by without one. Plus, fake degrees can be bought on and around Khao San Road. From what I've read... these will work just fine for securing a job in many schools.

Hobopoets East will be following in the footsteps of many revered ancestors. Eastward migration is a noble tradition of Western pilgrims, dharma bums, and writers: Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Joseph Conrad, Somerset Maughm, William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Mark Twain, John Lennon, Timothy Leary, etc.....

If you get the urge for spice and adventure, come join us! We'll always have a space for a fellow Hobopoet!
Dating and Van Living
by Skald

I recently got an email from a hobopoet who is contemplating van living. He expressed concern that such a change would make him undatable... and cited similiar concerns that I had expressed in a post.

Well, I don't want to scare anyone off. Truth is, I did think I had become undatable. I went over a year without a single date. I felt undesirable. I assumed that women would look down on me for what I was doing.

This was a self-fulfilling prophecy and nothing more. As I have become comfortable and proud of my lifestyle, my dating life has improved. I'm now dating someone. More to the point, I was recently told by a girl that many women in town were interested in me-- but were confused because I acted so aloof around them. In retrospect, I realize I never approached girls, or even flirted, because I dreaded the question, "where do you live".

All those problems were in my head. Contrary to my expectations, I have found that many girls are fascinated by my choice and are very curious. Of course the typical 9to 5 types may be appalled,... but there are many intelligent and creative folks who understand and admire the hobopoet philosophy.

The only reason I write this is to encourage folks who are considering a hobopoet life. Car living will not condemn you to celibacy if thats not what you want! Once you become confident about your choice it will no longer be a problem. Good luck!

Sunday, July 20, 2003

Tongs & Secret Societies
by Hakim Bey

A Tong can perhaps be defined as a mutual benefit society for people with a common interest which is illegal or dangerously marginal--hence, the necessary secrecy. Many Chinese Tongs revolved around smuggling & tax-evasion, or clandestine self-control of certain trades (in opposition to State control), or insurrectionary political or religious aims (overthrow of the Manchus for example-- several tongs collaborated with the Anarchists in the 1911 Revolution).

A common purpose of the tongs was to collect & invest membership dues & initiation fees in insurance funds for the indigent, unemployed, widows & orphans of deceased members, funeral expenses, etc. In an era like ours when the poor are caught between the cancer of the Insurance Industry & the fast-evaporating welfare & public health services, this purpose of the Secret Society might well regain its appeal. (Masonic lodges were organized on this basis, as were the early & illegal trade unions & ``chivalric orders'' for laborers & artisans.) Another universal purpose for such societies was of course conviviality, especially banqueting-- but even this apparently innocuous pastime can acquire insurrectionary implications. In the various French revolutions, for example, dining clubs frequently took on the role of radical organizations when all other forms of public meeting were banned.

The intensely hierarchical structure of the traditional tong would obviously not work, although some of the forms could be saved & used in the same way titles & honors are used in our ``free religions''. Non-hierarchic organization appeals to us, but so too does ritual, incense, the delightful bombast of occult orders--``Tong Aesthetics'' you might call it. Among other things, the Tong should be a work of art.

The strict traditional rule of secrecy also needs modification. Nowadays anything which evades the idiot gaze of publicity is already virtually secret. Most modern people seem unable to believe in the reality of something they never see on television --therefore to escape being televised is already to be quasi-invisible.

If a Tong is organized around a special interest (especially an illegal or risky or marginal interest) it certainly has the right to compose itself according to the ``affinity group'' principle. Secrecy means (a) avoiding publicity & (b) vetting possible members.

In building a Tong, style may not be "everything", but it certainly cannot be considered merely secondary or inessential. The Tong must be "a work of art" in itself. Therefore the myth of a legend for our Tong is no petty business. It concerns the surface but is far from being "superficial". Taste here assumes a "life-or-death" seriousness, as when one speaks of the "style" of a martial artist.

In the old days secret societies would appear in times & spaces forbidden by the State, i.e. where & when people are kept apart by law. In our times people are usually not kept apart by law but by mediation(Media) & alienation. Secrecy therefore becomes an avoidance of media, while conviviality changes from a secondary to a primary purpose of the ``secret society.'' Simply to meet together face-to-face is already an action against the forces which oppress us by isolation, by loneliness, by the trance of media.

In a society which enforces a schizoid split between Work & Leisure, we have all experienced the trivialization of our ``free time,'' time which is organized neither as work nor as leisure. (``Vacation '' once meant ``empty'' time--now it signifies time which is organized & filled by the industry of leisure.) Most parties are devoted only to loud music & too much booze, not because we enjoy them but because the Empire of WORK has imbued us with the feeling that empty time is wasted time. The idea of throwing a party to, say, make a quilt or sing madrigals together, seems hopelessly outdated. But the modern Tong will find it both necessary & enjoyable to seize back free time from the commodity world & devote it to shared creation, to play.

I know of several societies organized along these lines already, but I'm certainly not going to blow their secrecy by discussing them in print. There are some people who do not need fifteen seconds on the Evening News to validate their existence.

Neo Tongs do not concern themselves with power-relations;-- they desires neither to be ruled nor to rule.

If a Tong begins with groups of friends trying not just to overcome isolation but also to enhance each other's lives, soon it will want to take a more complex shape:-- a nuclei of mutually-self-chosen allies, working (playing) to occupy more & more time & space outside all media structure & control & WORK.

Part Time Hobopoets
pirated and adapted from Hakim Bey

I would guess that the old life way of part-time Hobopoets always proved both enjoyable and practical, at least in small scale economies. Twice a year you get up and move, travel, change your life and even your diet -- a taste of nomadic freedom. But always the same two places. One place is typically more heimlich than the other -- the village, the hearth; while the other place is typically wilder than the first, and this one might be called the place of Desire, of Summer. In the tales of Finn Mac Cumal and his Fenian band we nearly always meet them at this wilder end of the spectrum, the greenwood, the landscape of the hunt which reaches "back" in time to a more golden pre-agricultural age, and also "aslant" in time -- to Tir nan Og, the Land of Summer, realm of the Tuatha de Danaan, who are both the Dead and the Fairies.

We forget that the Fenians spent only half the year free in the forests. They were like part-time Hobopoets -- they owed the other half of the year to work (military service) for the King. In this respect they resembled the Irish peasants, who until recently practiced pastoral transhumancy. Traces may survive even now. Irish folklore certainly preserves the image of this Summertime freedom; "Nature" always seems somehow interlaced and even confused with "Culture" in Irish tradition (as in the zoomorphic capitals of the Book of Kells), in ways which have often impressed the foreign observer as uniquely Irish. Elizabethan colonists compared native Irish with native American Indians: -- both were perceived as "wild" -- and both received the same treatment from the English.

Part-time Hobopoetry gives a people the chance to remain in touch with Nature in its "merrie" aspect (as Morton of Merrymount would have phrased it), even if that people's economic life is virtually defined by agriculture, peonage, and drudgery. This explains the "radical" aspect of poaching, from Robin Hood to the Black Laws, and also the universal human romanticization of hunting. This romanticism begins already even in hunter/gatherer societies, where the prestige (and fun) of the hunt provides far less food for the tribe than the (comparative) drudgery of gathering -- and the romanticism continues to this day. I think of my two late uncles, who cultivated the country romance of the hunt like characters out of Turgeniev's Sketchbook. I find it impossible to despise this romanticism, which appears to me so clearly as the last remnant of Paleolithic freedom in a world given over to the gridwork of the plow -- and the highway.

In effect Romanticism itself can be said to revolve (if not resolve) around this tension in the Nature/Culture spectrum. The part-time Hobopoet must be a sort of practical romantic, an "ambulatory schizophrenic" who functions as a personality, "split" between the magnetic poles, and ambulating back and forth according to the weather.

Winter / Summer
village / mountain or forest
work / play

agriculture / festival
narrative the year/ adventure
reverie / desire

The psychic space of part-time Hobopoetry cannot be easily disappeared. No sooner does it vanish from the map but it re-appears in Romanticism -- in the new-found appreciation for landscape and even wilderness, in "Nature worship" and Naturphilosophie, in tours of the Alps, in the Parks movement, in picnics, in nudist camps, in the Summer cottage, even in the Summer vacation. Nowadays "reformers' want children to attend school year round, and they criticize the summer vacation of two or three months as an inefficient remnant of an agricultural economy. But from the (romantic) viewpoint of children, summer is sacred to freedom -- a temporary (but periodic) autonomous zone. Children are diehard PT Hobopoets.

To a certain extent -- and from a certain point of view -- we now inhabit a "post-industrial" world; and it has been noted that precisely to the extent that this is so, "nomadism" has reappeared. This has its good aspects (as in Deluze and Guattari) and its bad aspects -- as for instance in tourism. But what has become of PT Hobopoetry in this new context? What situations might we elucidate by seeking out its traces?

A very clear trace or remnant of psychic part-time Hobopoets expressed itself in the 1920's - 1950's in America as the summer camp movement. A great many of these camps were inspired by various progressive and radical tendencies -- naturism, communism and anarchism, Reicheanism and other psychological schools, oriental mysticism, spiritualism -- a plethora of "marginal" forces. The utopian rural commune like Brook Farm was diluted into a low-cost summer vacation for cranks. During the same period countless thousands of "vacation communities" were created, with cabins only a bit less primitive than those of the camps. My family owns one in a decaying lakeside resort-town in Upstate New York, where all the streets are named after Indians, forests, wild animals.

These humble communities represent the "individualist" or entrepreneurial version of the summer camp's communalism; but even now some vestiges of seasonal communitarian spirit survive in them. As for the camps, eventually the majority began to cater to children, those natural citizens of summer. As the price of sheer hedonistic idleness went up and up, soon only the children of the well-to-do could afford camp -- and then not even them. One by one the camps began to close, a slow decline over the 70's, 80's, and 90's. Desperate measures are still attempted ("Marxist Computer Slim-down Camp"; neo-pagan gatherings and holistic seminars, etc.) -- but by now the Summer Camp almost seems like an anachronism.

Now the Summer Camp may be an extremely watered-down version of the utopia of transhumancy -- much less the utopia of utopia! -- but I would argue that it is worth defending, or rather, worth re-organizing. If the old economics failed to support it, perhaps a new economics can be envisioned and realized. In fact such a tendency has already appeared. As old Summer Camps go bankrupt and come on the market, a few are acquired by groups who try to preserve them as camps (with perhaps some year-round residents), either as private or semi-private summer "communes". Some of these neo-camps will simply serve as vacation retreats for the groups who acquire them; but others will need extra funding, and will thus be drawn into experiments in subsistence gardening, craft work, conference-organizing, cultural events, or some other semi-public function. In this latter case we can speak of a neo-PT Hobopoetry, since the camp will serve not simply as a space of "leisure" but also as a space of "work" for the primary participants.

Summer "work" appears to the PT Hobopoet as a kind of "play" by comparison with village labor. Pastoralism leaves time for some arcadian pleasures unknown to full-time agriculture or industry; and the hunt is pure sport. (Play is the point of the hunt; "game" is a bonus.) In somewhat the same way the neo-summer camp will have to "work" to get by, but its labor will be "self-managed" and "self-owned" to a greater extent than Winter's wages, and it will be work of a "festal" nature -- "recreation", hopefully in the original sense of the word -- or even "creation". (Artists and craftsfolk make good citizens of Summer.)

If the economy determined the downfall of the old summer camp movement, the state played a role as well: -- regulations, restrictions, precautions, insurance requirements, codes, etc., helped raise the real cost of running a camp above the level of feasibility. One might almost begin to suspect that "the State" somehow felt the camp movement as some vague sort of threat. For one thing, camps escape the daily gaze of control, and are removed from the flow of commodities and information. Then too, camps are suspiciously communal, focuses of possible resistance to the alienation and atomization of consumerism and "modern democracy." Camps have an erotic subversiveness to them, as every ex-Summer-camper will testify, a wildness and laxness of super-ego, an air of Misrule, of Midsummer Night's dreams, skinny-dipping, the crush, the languor of July. The camp cannot be reconciled to the ideal of the industrial production of leisure ("holiday package") and the reproduction and simulation of summer as a theme park, the vacation process, the systematic "emptying-out" of all difference, all authentic desire.

Inasmuch as the State distrusts the camp, the neo-camp will (to that extent) need to cultivate certain forms of invisibility or social camouflage. One possible disguise for the neo-camp however would be to assume the precise guise of an old-fashioned half-bankrupt summer camp. After all, the Summer camp is not illegal, and if your group can meet the insurance requirements, why not fit yourselves into an already-existing archetype? Provided you're not running a kids' camp, or an openly-proclaimed Anarcho-Nudist retreat, you might be able to pass yourselves off as just another bunch of harmless make-believe Indians with a month's vacation to waste.

My defense of the summer (neo-)camp is based on two simple premises: -- one, a month or two of relative freedom is better than absolutely none; two, it's affordable. I'm assuming that your group is not made up of "nomads" or full-time freedom fighters, but of people who need to work for a living or are stuck in a city or 'burb most of the year -- potential part-time Hobopoets. You want something more than a summer vacation - you want a summer community. Splashing in a humble Adirondack lake is more pleasureable to you than Disney World -- provided you can do it with the people you like. Sharing the costs makes it possible, but also makes it an adventure in communicativeness and mutual enhancement. Making the place pay for itself or even turn a little off-the-books profit would transform your group into true neo-PT Hobopoets, with two economic focuses in your lives. Even if you seek legal status (as a tax-exempt educational center religious retreat, or Summer camp) your proprietorship affords you a certain degree of privacy which -- if used discreetly -- can exceed all legal bounds in terms of sex, nudity, drugs, or pagan excess. As long as you don't frighten the horses or challenge local interests, you're simply another bunch of "Summer people", and as such expected to be a bit weird.

Of all the versions of the Temporary Autonomous Zone imagined so far, this "periodic" or seasonal zone is most open to criticism as a social palliative or an "Anarchist Club Med.: It's saved from mere selfishness however by the necessary fact of its self-organization. Your group must create the zone -- you can't buy it pre-packaged from some tourist agency. The summer camp can't be the social "Revolution", true enough. I would prefer simply to point to the desperation felt by many for just a taste of autonomy, in the context of a valid romanticism of Nature. Not everyone can be a neo-nomad -- but why not at least a neo-PT Hobopoet? Are we never to regain the land of summer even for a month? Never vanish from the grid even for a moment? The summer camp is not the war, not even a strategy -- but it is a tactic. And unmediated pleasure, after all, is still its own excuse.
Pirated from The World Mind Society

We can all see the results of modern destructiveness, yet this simple knowledge is usually not enough to cause a person to fundamentally change. Could it be that we feel we can afford to ignore the condition of our lives, or even the decay of our own bodies and minds? This is no doubt at least partially true. But even more importantly it could be said that like electricity, we tend to take the path of least resistance. In the social context, taking the path of least resistance means two basic things. The first of these is that:

We stay within our threshold of comfort. The human being is already so stressed and overloaded by all the considerations of the modern world, that we feel we cannot take on even one more thing. Our own bodies and minds, let alone the state of the world, are secondary considerations when it comes to making money. This is a predictable reaction to artificiality and unwise social policy. In essence we lack the vital energy to act in ways which are radically different from the normal routine, because it drains us totally of every particle of positivity and vitality.

We feel an extraordinary sense of pressure from our peers to ìperformî according to expected standards. These standards are based upon what this materialistic life is supposed to be. We are told by the media and those in our immediate environment, that the most important thing in life is to ìfit inî and be a ìworthy member of society.î This of course implies competitiveness rather than cooperation, and bank accounts rather than being spiritually accountable.

We say on the one hand that a book cannot be judged by its color, and yet we judge others primarily by their appearance, as in, ìthe clothes make the manî, (or woman). When we ask others, ìWhat do you do?î, (meaning what form of employment do you have) the real question being asked is ìWhat is your social position and value in the eyes of society?î as a determination of how our opinion of them will be formed. Attitudes such as these stem from the belief that life and the meaning it holds, are hollow, that there is no lasting Truth nor real purpose for human existence, other than those defined by a suicidal society. We feel hollowness in our own lives, and the only thing that seems to counteract this depressing state of affairs, is to try to convince others that we are not hollow inside. By convincing them of our worth through a gaudy show of material possessions, we can supposedly boost our own flagging self image, even though we know the entire exercise in futility is a lie. This is the whole reasoning behind, ìkeeping up with the Jonesísî.

It is clear that in order to change effectively, (for it to become a daily reality) we need more than false images or simple knowledge. We need the willingness to suffer the sometimes uncomfortable state of transition from one mode of living to the next, so that a better way of life might be attained. But even more critical is the willingness to challenge the assumptions of society in full, and to care so much for the truth that peer pressure becomes a trivial thing. Inner strength is not defined by onesí ability to take orders without question, to make false appearances or to cater to public opinion. On the contrary, inner strength is best defined as the ability to follow through with onesí own best judgment and aspirations, even when there is not even a single other person who shares the same vision.

The innate capacity of the human is genius. Public action is therefore most restricted not by its ability, but by its willingness to act. It is easy to assume that we can afford the time to put off change for another day, even when convinced of its urgent necessity. In all honesty we no longer have the time as a species upon this living planet to be wasteful, artificial or careless. The products of carelessness and greed have finally caught up with us. For the individual person this is particularly so, because we must employ both intelligence and wisdom, in order to maintain a sane, worthwhile life in this insane age. Each individual must deal with the consequences of what may be called the ìworld karmaî or the ìmisdeeds of past generationsî by living well regardless of pollution, crime rates and corrupt governments. At the same time they must conduct their personal lives in such a way as to maintain good clarity of mind, progressiveness, positivity and naturalness. This is not a part-time task or a hobby to be toyed with. It is a necessary life focus that makes the most out of physical, mental and spiritual potentials, regardless of a society that cares little for its health, sanity or right action. To the truly natural and spiritual person it may be said that all praise is due. Maintaining a natural focus in life rather than a material one however, is the least we can do for ourselves and for this planet as a consequence.

Even if one were inclined to adopt the ideas contained here blindly and without question, they would be of little value. In order to take action with strength and wisdom we must see for ourselves, in our own fashion, the nature of the facts at hand. To live out the Truth is a matter of personal realization. It is necessary therefore, for the reader to see very clearly as a matter of personal experience, the validity of the facts and principles contained herein. This entails a process of checking and double-checking the seemingly preposterous conclusion that our entire civilization is built on the lies of money and social position, (îpowerî). It is necessary to come to grips with this conclusion and its implications, through an honest evaluation of worldly affairs. It is necessary to perceive with unwavering clarity that the things we are expected to strive for, represent a destructive value system that is devastating all life on this world, and us in the process. The reader is therefore strongly urged to question everything they encounter for its accuracy and true usefulness, including the ideas herein. The authors are absolutely convinced that those ideas are universal, and are fully capable of standing on their own by virtue of their consistent merit.

After a person endures the process of de-conditioning themselves of the absurd, urgently repeated suggestions of the media, they may then create a new, better life for themselves. The full potential of mental health may not be enjoyed until the disease of consumerism is cured. After having braved the discomfort of sweeping change, and daring to think for ourselves regardless of the neighbors, a higher stage of personal unfoldment occurs for the progressive person. This process is not for everyone even though everyone would benefit from it, simply because not everyone is willing to live the truth regardless of all else. Most people do not realize that they have been cheated of a full, satisfying life by not following the truth, until or near the time of their death. It is then that the material realm is failing them utterly, when possessions lose their luster and the body its coordination. At this point material things can no longer provide a shelter for further indulgence. It is then that people cry out to God or to cruel fate asking, ìWhy?î, ìWhy must life end this way, and why canít I continue to cling to all the ëthingsí I have known?î It is unfortunate that many people wait until they are nearly dead to take such questions seriously.
HPN Post
from Joe Reynolds

Not much will to get anything done lately. Just stewing in my own juices in this heat. Way too much time on my hands and having trouble finding good things to do and fill it with. Once more I find that I define a large part of the problem as I have no place to go. Let me phrase that better - no place to be, as in home. That part really gets to me. Lonely doesn't cover it by a long shot. Then again even alone just that time having my own room even without a kitchen was still so much better than this. Holidays are worse especially the ones where everything shuts down!. I mean after all what the hell is there to do other than sit in my van parked behind the mall in the alleyway?

Whoopie... real big whoopie

I have no real friends here at this time. those who were all moved away so I get to take me amd me to the movies, better than no movies but fact is I enjoy them so much more with company.

Put out the copies of STREET SHEET I got in the mail and they caused quite a stir. Idiot manager was appalled and also afte reading one said it is so much better to join the establishment but then again he is also such a gormless inverebrate sheep. (the wonders of bio-engineered life forms?) Also a laugh there as he is so far on the outside of local establishment that it isn't funny. Like the old story a rabbi told me about how evil doesn't need to chase people considering how busy humans are chasing after evil.

Gods my face itches from not having shaved the last two days.Must do that...
Next week van gets new brakes and hopefully warranty dispute will be cleared up or I can find someone to just crack the box and tell me what is wrong with the laptop. also a moillion and four things I need to do but really can't give a damn.
Otherwise life is beautiful...
Death and Rebirth
by Skald

"The process of throwing off the old role-- coming out in the new, is vitally important. The tradition in India, for instance, is of actually changing your whole way of dress, even changing your name, as you pass from one life stage to another. "

-- Joseph Campbell

I just came across this quote from Joseph Campbell and loved it. It certainly resonates. When I decided to make the change, for good, to a nomadic-poetic lifestyle- I felt an instinctual need to transform my whole life.... to throw off the old and come into the new. That is why I took the name Skald Hareksson as a writing name. I imagine its why Matt Salleh chose a different name for himself as well. There is symbolic power in this.

I chose to ritualize this process. On New Years day I climbed a mountian in remote Northern Japan in order to visit a shrine at its top. There was a violent snowstorm as I climbed... wind whipped in from the sea... and the snow was knee-to-thigh high. The entire mountain was desolate... I was completely alone when I reached the top. Once there I shed my boots and entered the shrine. I brought a piece of old clothing.... an old shirt that symbolized, to me, my old life. I knelt in front of the altar, rang the bell, and lit the candles-- then meditated for a short time. Next I spoke aloud to announce the death of the old persona. I gave a short eulogy then placed the shirt, and a poem, on the altar. My feet got cold.

I sat a while longer then blew out the candles.... and with them the old life died. I put on my boots and exited the shrine... standing atop the mountain looking out at the sea below... snow and wind in my face... a feeling of exhileration.

I shouted to the ocean and the sky to announce my new name and my new life. I shouted in all four directions.... at the top of my lungs.

And then I walked back down.

I suppose the romantic in me expected an instant transformation... but it has instead been subtle. And yet when I look at my life over the past year and a half Im astounded by the difference. I've been on a three month pilgrimage to Thailand, India, and Nepal.... Returned home, bought a van, modified it, and have lived in it ever since.... got rid of all possessions that could not fit in the vehicle-home.... survived with almost no money, living for a while on only coffee and scraps.... then established a very leisurely lifestyle working 19 hours a week... took a 10 day meditation course... wrote poetry... started this website.... ran.... walked.... did yoga.... made friends... daydreamed....took vision quests... had a near-death vision experience.... bonded with my dog... started a secret society.... read books.... relaxed....enjoyed life.

Bit by bit the old life and old persona truly died. Bit by bit Skald matured and grew. And now I stand on the threshold of another adventure.... soon to fly off to SE Asia to live, learn, and wander. The life I envisioned, on that mountaintop, finally taking hold.

The simple message is this: Never underestimate the subtle power of decisions, rituals, and transformation.