Venus harnessed to the Moon

After the sun went down, Venus, harnessed to the crescent moon like a surfer to his parabolic kite, led my way west out of the darkling woods back to the looming house.  I like to go out skiing every afternoon I can, but the economic woes stretched my office hours today, and I got out late.

It’s stupid skiing that I do, heading into the trackless woods, especially with the crusty snow we have now, where I am too heavy to stay on top, and the serrated edges of ice tear at my boots and skis.  If I put on snowshoes, I could traverse any of these routes I create in half the time, and with half the sweat.  Of course, sweating is part of the point.

And I like the way the skis make my ‘feet’ long, extending their awareness fore and aft, and the muscle actions they require of me.  My Front and Back lines’ fasciae stretching and muscles gulping as I leap out and push forward on the flats. Skiing downhill, I fix those lines in a slightly flexed, cursorial position, and let the inner and outer (Deep Front and Lateral) lines go into dynamic balance to keep me upright.

Going uphill on this crust is especially challenging – going up straight is great exercise for my triceps as my Deep Back Arm line propels me forward – or keeps me from sliding back, or doesn’t, when it’s too steep.  Herringbone doesn’t work well in the crust; you don’t get a grip with your edge.

Nope, the only way is to stand sideways to the hill and go up inch by inch, letting the Front and Back lines stabilize and feeling the interplay between the active Lateral and Deep Front lines, lifting, setting the uphill edge into the crust, hauling the lower ski up – what should have taken a couple of minutes takes ten, even with the help of the trees on the hill, where I can pull myself up a foot or two, or use the trunk to change my orientation 180 degrees.

Only when I reach the snowy dirt road, crust broken up to snow gravel by trucks, can I let go and carve turns as I swish downhill from one side to the other, occasionally going up on the banks, but using my Spiral line to control to rotation and make the lean that determines the edge that makes the long ‘toes’ and ‘heels’ change direction.

Along the bright clacking pond and the close hush of the woods, I alternate between ambient sound and the reassuring nasal elitism of NPR.  I have been forced to learn more about the economy than I wished to need to know.  Not alone, I am finding out just how quickly the house of cards called prosperity and the collective (and apparently delusional) agreement about the value of money can come crashing down around our heads.  My business especially – depending on the disposable income of therapists and trainers, themselves depending on the disposable income of the middle class – is taking a dive.

My daughter has recently demonstrated an unexpected flair for studying economics – she certainly got those genes from neither her mother nor myself.  Neuro-economics, the ebbs and flows of currency, the approximate differential equations of the dismal science, the politics of the developing world’s flexing muscle and the trembling of our out-of-shape industry – I admire her for taking it on, but from the outside, the dissociation between economy and ecology is a decided and dispositive flaw in the Ben-Gay being prescribed for our aches and pains.

I am in favor of waking from this delusion – the whole economic boom from the early 90’s on (or pick your date – it really started with Thatcher and Reagan) was so at odds with the ecological imperative that it needed to come undone, so I will take my lumps without much complaining, in order to readjust.

But still many economists are talking about what will get the consumer spending again.  The very reliance on a consumption economy is so unsustainable, so counter-ecological, that I am afraid if this kind of thinking maintains its sway, we are in for a long and sustained depression.

The eco- in both words comes from the Greek oikos, or ‘household’, and any housewife can tell you that the model we have been using for prosperity had to have an end – its teleology was built into its premise.

So what will we replace it with?  Kennedy gave us the War on Poverty (which went against Jesus’s ‘the poor you will always have with you’, but was moderately, under Johnson’s jawbone, successful in its time) and the moon shot, which was a magnificent effort at lifting humans toward the angelic – nearly literally.  Even though that thrust has petered out for the moment, and seems irrelevant, I am sure it will be back.

But if another flight of superhuman fancy into space seems beside the point for these times, how much more irrelevant was Bush’s exhortation after 9/11 to ‘go out shopping’, as if consumer spending were anti-terroristic.  If retail therapy is the only way our household works, then we will all end up on the junk heap for sure, and quickly.  A real ‘household’ would be composting its garbage, taking care of its own, being efficient in its energy consumption, putting up food for the winter, and not throwing the trash into the yard.  In other words, ‘conservative’.  Obama’s ‘betrayal’ of the left bothers me not at all – we could use a real conservative, and none have been on view since Goldwater.

I hope Obama – or someone who follows him, for this is a long-term job – can redefine the economy in terms of a larger purpose than consumption (a tubercular term if ever there was one).  We need a new sustainable model that accounts for the environment, for income energy (wind, solar, tides) rather than capital resources (oil, gas, nuclear), for insuring our children’s children’s education and security.

We are that rich, that we could do such a thing, and our richness is not measured in the billions which just inflated into trillions, or our gold reserves, but really from our time, energy, and ingenuity – and this we have aplenty if we but harness it.  I’m no Democrat, but Obama seems to have done more in this direction in 8 days than Bush did in 8 years.

Huge readjustments involving real pain to real people will be required to adjust from the current model to a sound one that counts in pollution and social costs.  The political will for change that nominated McCain on one side and Obama on the other have not yet reached the level of imposing a carbon tax or (I am sad to say) reforming health care.  Depending on how bad it gets, we may have to wait for the next wave to get these things done, but make no mistake: the old order, absolutely unsustainable, is on its way out, and the new order, in which ecology and economy will be blended into one household, is struggling to be born.

One Response to “Venus harnessed to the Moon”

  1. Michelle Bellerose Says:

    Goodmorning Tom,

    Check out the work of specialist historian NIALL FERGUSON, (THE ASCENT OF MONEY, THE CASH NEXUS… he also penned all those books on “empire” both British and pseudo-American)…

    But a comment I wanna make…

    I think the current crisis is an opportune segue into the paradigm shift we’ve all been printing t-shirts for. The consumption model, as you point out, _is_ totally unsustainable and in fact an embarrassment in Pauline population control.

    You can understand why kids, who are discouraged from following their passions or cultivating their uniqueness at the hands of indoctrination-style schooling and their drone parents, end up buying into the notion that binge drinking weekends, impersonal sex and shopping at the mall are pursuits that make life worth living.

    Recalling that the roots of the educational system lie in penal necessities, we raise kids to serve the interests of so-called security and order rather than spiritual authenticity and cultural growth, which in turn produces a work force that by and large does jobs they hate and get no sukha out of. Just as the denatured food supply produces chronic acidosis in the population, which in turn creates a susceptibility in the biochemical mind to materialist dogma and stunted spiritual progress, when people are working at jobs they hate, that’s bound to create turmoil in the unconscious behemoth we call the economy… an economy that while still composed of dollars and cents is also yet driven by another dominant… the evolving human intercourse with our own hiding, transcendent nature.

    In the wake of all this uncertainty I think its more important than ever for people to really inventory their life purpose, and once known and identified, to courageously and actively follow their bliss. Economies thrive on diversity of markets and the muscularity of its emerging specialities. People working on their passions have better businesses. They also have easier recourse to faith in process when outside circumstances get tough.

    I remember that the Czech Havel wrote in prison that the point of hope isn’t the notion that everything will work out well, but rather that, no matter how things work out, it will somehow all make sense.

    Thanks for posting Tom.

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