Carolyn Baker Reviews “The Final Empire” Part 2 By William Kotke

Dandelion Salad

by Carolyn Baker
Speaking Truth to Power
Thursday, 07 February 2008

As part of my commitment to holding the tension of current reality alongside my vision, I will continue to spotlight those who are in Kotke’s words “gathering seeds of Natural cultures and the truly beneficial things created by civilization” and carrying them through the apocalypse.

We are proposing to create no less than a completely new human culture that relates to the earth in a completely different way….those who choose to respond in a positive way need gather the seeds of Natural cultures and the truly beneficial things created by civilization and carry them through the apocalypse.

~William Kotke~

Tending The Vision

In Part One of this review, I focused on the author’s stunning explanation of collapse as a kind of time bomb imbedded in civilization. What I failed to mention is that Kotke wrote this book in 1993 which makes its contents all the more momentous. Likewise, his vision of alternative communities based on the principles of natural culture was ahead of its time in terms of defining how humans need to live in relationship with the more-than-human world.

At this point, I’d like to share how The Final Empire and the timing of its appearance in my life, in synchronicity with other concepts and events, informed my vision of possibilities.

On a chilly morning in Boulder, Colorado I sat in a circle with about 34 other individuals as we concluded a weekend of deep talking, deep listening, and deep feeling regarding the topic of collapse and the end of the world as we have known it. People began to cry and allow words and sounds of grief to pour forth, and not only grief, but fear and rage. My body softened, and tears flowed. Piles of used Kleenex accumulated under my chair, and I felt the deepest connection I had ever experienced with a group of human beings in my life, many of whom had been total strangers only 48 hours before. For several moments I knew as clearly as I knew that I was sitting in a chair in a room in Boulder that these fellow humans were my unequivocal allies and that in a world of famine or thirst, I would never allow them to perish, nor would they allow me to perish.

But not only did I feel a warm, intimate connection with the other individuals in the room, but in the pit of my stomach I experienced a sensation of being profoundly and palpably connected with the earth. For a moment I flashed on an experience I had over a decade ago in Yosemite National Park when a friend and I spent a morning in silence in a secluded meadow. We wandered about, sometimes in close proximity, but most of the time hundreds of feet apart, feeling ourselves joined to the grass, the trees, the birds, a quietly bubbling stream, the sky. While those hours yielded the most intimate connection I had ever experienced with the earth until that time, I felt something far more momentous occurring in my body while sitting in the circle. For the first time in my life I experienced the earth as my family-its other-than-human members as my siblings, parents, and children. Savoring viscerally my relatedness to my family, the awareness that my family is dying because members of my species are killing it, surged through my cells and opened a floodgate of yet more grief.

But grief was not the endpoint-not the final destination of this unprecedented experience. In fact, what I noticed is that my tears had literally cleansed the doors of perception so that I began to notice and nurture a vision of the kind of world humans are capable of creating before, during, and after the collapse of civilization. It did not come from my head or intellectualizing about what would be politically or environmentally correct. It was unequivocally natural, pristine, innocent, and real.

…continued

see

Carolyn Baker Reviews “The Final Empire” By William Kotke

The Plan By William Kotke (Survival; resources)

THE HERO’S JOURNEY By William Kotke

Carolyn Baker Reviews “The Final Empire” Part 1 By William Kotke

Dandelion Salad

by Carolyn Baker
Speaking Truth to Power
Friday, 01 February 2008

My intention in reviewing this stunning book is to share how it has illumined my understanding that collapse and vision are not separate, but that in fact, they travel together and need each other. That is to say that collapse makes vision possible, and vision makes collapse the most desirable option of all as we confront the earth community’s current dilemma.

Disaster is not approaching,
It has arrived.
It is happening now.
Blessings and Grace are not approaching
They have arrived.
They are here now
I say I believe in Grace
But I think, feel and move as though
Only Damnation is real.
Or if Grace does exist,
It is for someone else.

I close my heart to pain
But it doesn’t help,
I cannot circumvent disaster.
But in closing my heart to disaster
perhaps I can circumvent Grace.

Can I bear the burden
Of knowing disaster and Grace,
Each in its own awful fullness?

James Hillman says our problem
Comes down to a failure of imagination.
I need an image, a picture…
Who would I be
If I were willing to risk believing
That Grace is real?

~By Paul Tierney~

It has repeatedly been my experience that when a book is supposed to enter my life, it does. Often it falls off the shelf into my lap, and at other times a friend suggests it, or the author him/herself sends me a copy for review. William Kotke has written articles for this website, and his Final Empire has been reviewed elsewhere, most notably by Dan Armstrong. However, the timing of my requesting a review copy of the book from him could not have been more momentous. As a result, I am not only reviewing the book, but using the review as an opportunity for sharing a recent shift in my perspective that may make this the most important article I’ve ever written in my life. It is written in two parts: The first contains Kotke’s extraordinary analysis of why civilization is collapsing and must collapse, and the second offers his vision of what is possible when empire has been eliminated.

My intention in reviewing this stunning book is to share how it has illumined my understanding that collapse and vision are not separate, but that in fact, they travel together and need each other. That is to say that collapse makes vision possible, and vision makes collapse the most desirable option of all as we confront the earth community’s current dilemma.

For at least the past two years I have been writing and speaking about the collapse of empire/ civilization, along with a chorus of other voices such as Matt Savinar, Mike Ruppert, Dmitry Orlov, Catherine Austin Fitts, Richard Heinberg, James Howard Kunstler, and Tim Bennett and Sally Erickson. I name only a few of us, mindful that ours are not the only voices speaking from the depths of exhaustive research and personal experience. And now in the first month of 2008, the world is beginning to witness a dramatic unraveling of civilization. The spectacle has begun with the convergence of what I have been naming for years as the “Terminal Triangle”: Peak Oil, climate change, and global economic meltdown. A number of related issues such as population overshoot, species extinction, and global pandemics, abide in the mix, but the “Big Three” are now juxtaposed in what appears to be the beginning of the end of life as we have known it on planet earth.

William Kotke has brilliantly articulated what I would not only describe as an “encyclopedia of collapse” but has skillfully depicted a vision of possibility imbedded within the core of apocalypse. The introduction and first chapter of this masterpiece can be read online, but they do not include what I believe are the book’s fundamental underpinnings consisting of Chapter 9, “The Cultural Dynamics Of Empire” and Chapter 10, “The Psychology Of Empire”, nor do they contain Kotke’s elaboration of the exquisite vision he holds for the earth community.

…continued

see

The Plan By William Kotke (Survival; resources)

THE HERO’S JOURNEY By William Kotke