Up to Speed

I know I blindsided some people with the whole oil situation, so I thought it might be fair to share this, which is a good overview of the fundamentals. Just ignore the subtitles.  I’ll have the next thing before too long.

Tell me I’m wrong…

I keep wanting to say something about ‘current events’, or perhaps to be more clear, the ever accelerating deterioration of current events. But it’s a very difficult subject for me now.

But in practical fact, it may simply be too late to change anyone’s mind about anything, and even if they do, it may be too late for them to understand what needs to be done. And even if they do, if may be too late to actually do any of it. And even if it isn’t, what little can be done, may not matter much.

One of the hard truths of being a healer, no matter what kind of a healer you happen to be, is that you don’t fix problems without the cooperation of the involved party. It just doesn’t happen, and trying only drains and damages you, emotionally, spiritually and physically.

Too much of the world is simply not involved in fixing what is going on. They have opted out of that possibility and like I say, it may be too late for some people to opt back in. So trying to fix something beyond what little sphere of consent you happen to operate in, is probably a tragic mistake.

This is not fatalism, or pessimism or cynicism. It simply is what it is. There will be more than enough exceptions to prove the rule. Unless something dramatically changes the established pattern of human behavior in extremely short order, much of the world is simply going to die.

How much of our existing food supply is inextricably tied to our fossil energy outputs? Let’s be charitable and say 70%. It’s probably closer to 80 or 90 actually, at this point, but let’s just err on the side of optimism.

The most absolutely conservative estimates in terms of decline in oil fields that have passed peak say a 3% loss of output, year on year is what we can expect. We already have examples of super giant fields that are closer to 5-10% a year. But again, let’s just say 3%. And we’ll just forget about demand increase altogether, which would probably yield a year on year net-shortfall of more like 6%.

Again, the most wildly optimistic estimates have it that if we had a working alternative liquid fuel source today, and we committed to retrofitting our infrastructure completely to this new source, it would take about 20 years to ramp up to anything like today’s production levels.

And finally, let’s be really optimistic and say that we haven’t actually hit the back of the oil production curve yet, and we still have a couple years before we go over the decline cliff. This would be ignoring basically all the evidence since 2005 that indicates we have already peaked, but I’ll be generous.

So starting in a couple years time, we would have our 3% energy shortfall, and let us again say that optimistically, this shortfall is allocated evenly across all regions and all sectors of use. There’s not the slightest fucking chance of that, my friends, but let’s all try and sleep tonight, what do you say?

So that’s a 3% loss of energy inputs to all food production and distribution, everywhere, in the first year. And let’s pretend that this will be a totally linear impact and that supply chains will not simply collapse, that farmers will not simply go bankrupt and abandon their plots, that economic instability will not close borders, or any number of things. I think we’ve already seen how in a hyper connected global system that you cannot contain chaos, and indeed, it infects everything around it at the speed of light.

The relation of energy inputs to caloric production is a bit nebulous, but again, I think I’m being quite optimistic here: let’s just imagine in a perfect world that everyone simply reduces their net caloric intake by 3%. I know for myself, that I’ve probably done that in the last year already, just in terms of certain foods that are getting beyond the price range I’m comfortable with. It’s a trivial, and probably healthy, loss, which I could replace, if I felt like spending the extra money, but the bottom line is, I need to spend more ‘energy’ to stay in the same place. And if this effect is steady and cumulative, sooner or later I couldn’t. Imagine what those people rioting over tortillas or soybeans are thinking. same line, different points.

I’ll be fine. You’ll be fine. For awhile. But how many people in the world are living on the edge of starvation already? How many people die when you slice their caloric intake by just 3% ( and let’s just remember that it’s probably more like 6%, if you spread it evenly, and upwards of 20% if we admit that it will be concentrated in certain areas, at least at first ) ? We’ve got around 40 000 starvation deaths per day already.

Now let’s compound it. Because every year if we’re lucky, for the next ten-twenty years at least, those energy inputs will continue to fall. After ten years, you and everyone else has had your caloric intake reduced by upwards of 30%, and after 20 years, 60%. The average westerner/european can still live on this but much of the rest of the world is simply gone.

The world average caloric intake is currently about 2700 calories per day. 1500 is pushing it and 1200 is in starvation mode. This is not complex math. the best case is that hundreds of millions of marginally-fed people are wiped out, year on year, for about 15-20 years. the worst case is the population gets cut by about half in 6-7 years, and we bottom out some where around pre-green revolution levels.

I may be overestimating this, but I’m not completely wrong. Like I say, I’ve fudged all these numbers wildly in the positive direction. If I am just missing something, I’d sure like to hear how and why. please, be my guest…

The gnostic space opera rides again…

I’m noticing a resurgence of interest these days in the whole counter-initiatory, gnostic paranoia, school of analysis out on the internets these days, and I suppose that’s natural when all the bleakest wet dreams of malthusians, libertarian psychotics and primitivists all appear to unfolding on schedule.

I can’t really point the finger, because I arguably played a major role in taking this stuff to another level. At least among left wing occultists, and spiritually minded social liberals. Let’s just call it the Jeff Wells school.

To me it’s just a bit of fun. Adds some color to the otherwise gut-wrenching parade of daily tragedies and cycling through the dukkha nanas of insight practice, so let us dance around a bit.

It’s important to remember that the core feature of gnosticism, at least the branch that concerns us here, is the predominance of dualistic themes of ignorance, and knowledge, evil and good, light and darkness, etc. The more modern re constructionist tendencies in the gnostic community tend more towards something that resembles mahayanna buddhism for Christians, only without the clear practice instructions, but that’s neither here nor there.

Historically gnosticism is absolutely and unequivocally an offshoot of the hellenistic philosophies. All you have to do is look at their terminology. “demiurgos” is straight out of platonism, for example. Their cosmology is likewise straight up neo-platonism, like most early Christianity. Modern scholarship leads us to believe that jesus himself was a hellenistic philosopher, not a judaic rabbi, or an independent flowering of some kind, so there’s no reason to think gnosticism is anything but another side branch of greek thought.

Where these derivations stray is that platonism doesn’t invest in dualism, which is basically a recipe for ideological trench warfare that goes nowhere. There is only the One, also known as the Good, and anything else is only absence of the good, or of oneness. There is no opposing force. Full stop.

So really the gnostic paranoid notion of evil, or the neo-traditionalist pattern of degeneration is only a perceptual phenomenon, not an actuality. Which is a safer and saner way of dealing with this stuff: as a perceptual filter, not an ontological reality.

To me, whether or not the most wildly depraved thing in the universe actually happens or not, is an open question. What isn’t open is whether or not people think that they happen, which in and of itself opens up some rather disturbing and interesting areas of inquiry. For instance: whether or not aliens actually exist, you have a profound number of people who really do think that aliens exist and interact with them, physically. That’s not a curiosity, it’s a psychic epidemic.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I thought I’d spend a little time on a more top-down view of this then you usually get, and march it down through a few layers until we get to the ground level.

So we start with the one, also known as the good.  What makes things one unto themselves, and thus provides for their existence. What provides for existence is the highest good and hence the two terms are considered the same. And because it is “The One”, not “A One”, when you talk about it in this way, there is no other, and hence the one encompasses everything. Hence, everything is good. Period. It is the principle of absolute unity and non-duality.

Now, here’s where we get into gnostic territory: at some point the One decides to make something. Because it is the only thing that exists, and because it is good, it can only make something good, and can only use itself as a model for that making. It thus generates a copy of itself that will be the ‘idea in the mind of god’ that will serve as the model for creation itself, also known as the Logos, or the Word. In every case  of a rational principle at work there must be intent, which requires a model for actions, or the ideal goal, thus the model must precede the copy, which in this case means the One must precede the logos, and the logos must precede the creation of the material universe.

But a funny thing happens when the one does this: because it possesses the quality known as Ousia, it is fully transparent to itself, it can turn on itself and know itself in all ways ( this is the analogous principle to mindfulness in humans) and thus can lend all of it’s features to the model, with a major and profound exception: Because as soon as there are two things, the creator and the creation, there is no longer “The One”, but rather two things that are “ones-unto-themselves”, so to that extent, neither one of them is any longer the perfect one, or likewise, the perfect good, at least when regarded in this way.

From the first perspective, nothing has actually changed, and “The One” is still the same, and indeed, the one lacks any qualities that would allow it to change in any way, as any change can only deviate from perfection. Complex eh?

So from our second perspective, there are now two things: the transcendant maker, also known as the demiurge, and the first creation, also known as the logos. Both are subordinate to the one, and can thus both be regarded as creations of the one.

So even here, at this early stage, there is no dualism, but a trinity. The One, the demiurge, and the logos. And every further step from the perfect one, no matter how perfect of a copy it is, can only be less and less a perfect good, because each new thing only introduces new division and new disunity. Just as when the one tries to reproduce itself and loses the quality of perfect oneness, because every copy can theoretically reproduce everything except that which makes a thing what is it is unto itself, every copy is slightly distorted from its model. Thus, the farther you go down this chain of perception, the less good there is.

This is where we get the illusion of evil.

to be continued…