Sunday, September 21, 2008

cabin in the woods

A co-worker and I had a conversation about the Unabomber this week spurred by, of all things, the global financial crisis. I asked him, given the current status of the American Dream, was he ready to move his new Japanese spouse into a very tiny house. Bigger than those hotel coal bins the Japanese sometimes sleep in, but small by muscular weight-lifting-dude, of which he is one, standards. Not yet, he said, but he also said something that surprised me given his largely conservation bent.

Perhaps, given the events of this week, Ted was prescient my colleague suggested. Kazynsyki, he informed me, only targeted folks who he (Theodore) felt "were bent on destroying our society. And look where they've taken us."

Granted, I said, there's a lot to be dismayed about, but typically it's not in society's best interest for free speech to extend to the point of deciding who should, and who should not live. Especially if the major beef seems to be the your manuscript wasn't accepted by the journal.

Later, looking at photos of Ted Kazynsyki's cabin stuffed inside a warehouse and hearing that our government plans to buy $700 million dollars of toxic loans (who said pollution doesn't pay?) I began to wonder about the former Berkeley mathematician. Hmmm, if you allow yourself to forget, just for a minute, about the mail bombs, then perhaps there was more to Kacyzinki than your average homeless terrorist with a working knowledge of theoretical physics.

First. He had a home. Albeit it was a very tiny cabin in the wilderness on land he didn't own. Then there was the degree to which he took his hatred. A lot of us get dismayed about what folks are doing to the earth, but how many of us are willing to live in a tree for 2 years so they won't cut it down to build another sports stadium. Not many, especially since one you do leave, the chainsaws appear within 15 minutes. How about completely dedicating yourself to writing your life's work even if it does turn into a manifesto against all of society. All this while subsisting completely off the fat of the land with occasional restaurant dumpster supplements.

Living entirely on principle demands a certain amount of focus and if singular enough in purpose, the myopia becomes its own form of insanity. And Ted was at this long before The Focus Driven Life hit the bookshelves. If we all had such focus, there'd be even more problems, but it's not as though under the status quo we're lacking any evidence of problems.

video

Maybe there is something we can learn from the man-who-shuns-society-and-lives-deep-in-the-woods. And that is, we can probably learn to live with less. A lot less.

Will we green America or just green-wash the picket fences that line Main Street? There's a small but growing movement at this time, small enough to make the increase in bicycle commuters look like a tsunami by comparison, of people moving to small houses. Really small houses - 100 sq. ft. and smaller. Talk about reducing your carbon footprint, how about that of your home. The home entertainment center doesn't exactly fit into this lifestyle. Stockpiling can goods for the coming Armageddon, is even more impractical than before and without the stockpiles, there can be no weapons race.

Insanity isn't a line in the sand; it's a shifting dune. Only when the dunes encroach on the sawgrass of civilization do we recognize the fragility of the desert landscape and how intertwined both landscapes have become.

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