Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sandy Hook, Mass Shootings, and Societal Insanity

I don't really have much to say about the horrific massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary or the recent plague of mass shootings – I just don't. Actions like these are horrible and really are beyond words, but it seems everyone has something to say and some sort of quick fix.

Everyone in our American society is asking “how could this happen?” and they all have their answers and solutions. Well, I don't have a quick fix and I am certainly not gullible enough to place the blame on any one thing. If you ask me the problem is our society and our society, like any society, is complex.

I don't think the problem is guns and I don't think the solution is to ban them – I just don't. Banning all firearms or placing tighter controls on them might stop mass shootings, but in my opinion, you are nuts if you think it will stop mass killings, which is the real problem here. We need to ask what drives individuals to violently lash out against seemingly random individuals?

One might say they are nuts or mentally ill, but what causes that? In my opinion it is our society and its underlying idealogical driving force of strict materialistic efficiency. It is also my opinion that these individuals target random people because they all, and we all, represent and support the organism of our society which is destroying individuals everywhere, ripping their humanity from them, and raping the environment. They are attacking the only physical part of the very thing which is already attacking them every day.

Don't get me wrong. I am not saying “we” are the problem, I am saying “it” is the problem – the idea, the invisible organism, the hidden idealogical driving force behind “progress”, and our perspective on what “progress” is. “We” allow “it”, and I would venture to argue that we don't even allow “it” any longer, but are driven by, create by, and created for “it”. And when “it” let's some of “us” down, some individuals either can't cope or they react violently because they lack the very human tool of interdependency which grants them self-respect, integrity, appreciation for all life, and hope, unlike the system of dependency which our society has created and nearly forced all of us into.

I think the problem is our society, in fact, my belief in that is so strong that I prefer to say that I know the problem is our society (and I would venture to say that most are at least suspicious of that fact), and its strict materialistic efficiency is just one of the main roots holding the entire tree in the very bloody ground upon which it stands. Just how to get enough people to see that is the largest problem on my mind...

It is very difficult to love and respect a system that you depend on which does not even recognize your value as any more than a number or statistic – period. Given that very human fact, is it any wonder we have the violence and problems we do within our society? How can you be expected to act human and have emotions and care for others within society if society, of which we are all a part, does not treat you as a human being with emotions and care for what you think and feel? Simply having some “shrink” to talk too and some pills to take is not enough! Actions speak louder than words – we must SHOW we give a damn, and a society based on dependency is, in my opinion, incapable of such.

Now, so far as guns are concerned, this may not sound very “hippie-ish” of me or meet your ideas of “progress”, but I am not against them, which is by the way, very individualist of me (only individuals can have interdependence). It is true that guns are tools designed to kill, but it is not true that all killing is wrong. As the Hidden Song on the Tool album Undertow says, “life feeds on life.” - you must kill to live; therefore, tools designed to do that job quickly, painlessly, and efficiently (particularly with a spiritual approach to efficiency which likely includes care for pain) are not necessarily wicked tools. Personally, if a lion decided to have me for dinner I fear the pain of how it is going to do it more than the idea of being dinner itself.

And the necessity of killing for food is not the only reason tools designed for such purposes should be around – self defense is another very valid reason. The world is dangerous and not simply because of humans! Its a jungle out there and we all know this, unless we are living in la-la land.
Even if you live your life as a strict pacificist and live on nuts and berries you must still destroy what might have been in order to preserve your own life. The only difference when it comes to life under such circumstances is much like the definition of a fetus versus a living human – it is mere semantics. Should your teeth be plucked out and your hands be cut off because they are designed to acquire and consume organic material? Of course not! In other words, we all agree that it is necessary for life to feed on life, but we disagree on what the definition of life (or various levels of life) is, often merely because it makes us “feel” better about ourselves.

My point is that tools designed for taking life are not necessarily evil in themselves, it is how they are used and what ideology is driving the individual who uses it. Most “progressives” (I use that term in quotes because I consider myself a classic liberal who sees nothing “progressive” about our society whatsoever) have no problem with a peace officer carrying a firearm, but they suddenly have a problem when it is an ordinary citizen. Why is that? Where is the interdependency when only the authoritarians are permitted to efficiently and effectively do what we are all entitled (and often required) by nature to do in the first place?

I'm not trying to defend the Second Amendment here or Article 1 Section 21 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, but rather I am trying to make my point. That point is that it is the body, mind, and spirit of the people using tools, not the tools themselves which are the problem. Blaming the tools is a far too simple and potentially hazardous answer. We are far too willing to give up our rights or even give an inch on them, when our inquiry and understanding of both the problem and the accused right should be examined inside out and upside down if any of our “societal rights” mean anything to us in the first place. Such an inquiry and understanding always begins with a full understanding of life, necessity, society, and a thorough analysis of what “progress” truly is.

I am confident that if people look deeper than the wound (the object) and the causation (the action) they will find both the underlying human condition (the adjective) and the causal force (the noun) which is all predicated on various epistemological assumptions (the philosophical ideology), which is ultimately founded upon metaphysical ideologies (dualism, physicalism, idealism or panpsychism), which is finally founded upon metaphysical assumptions (physicalism versus some sort of theism), which all works its way on down into society, its individual members and its ultimate underlying ideological drive.

In my opinion society has gone mad because it makes insane assumptions which it has twisted around in such a manner as to make the other equally valid assumption (by logic) sound somehow less likely and self-evident. Humanity needs deity (no matter what it believes deity to be) because humanity needs something which transcends it and its condition, and it needs this flowing through every level of its society, lest human greed and selfishness (individual or collective) become humanity's purpose. If you honestly believe nothing transcends your physical make-up and condition (regardless of what some claim) what do you rationally have to turn to as your guiding light besides YOU?

An interdependent society provides what is needed because it makes its deity among many lesser deities “Love” - something which cannot be perceived directly but only inferred (thus it transcends). Of course, then there are metaphysical assumptions concerning the definition of “love”, but then again, that assumes that the only valid criteria of truth is visual, auditory, or “scientifically” observable (as the criteria of materialistic science currently stands) and not the criterion of “feeling”.

As a panpsychist I must say that God is not dead, we only kill God/dess when we kill without necessity, for that is the only true death – to die without being the reason for the continuation of life.

For that matter, a last philosophical note... What of entropy and the expansion of life despite its need to feed on life?

Peace. Alraune

Monday, December 17, 2012

How Do We Win Our Country, Civilization, Society, and Lives?

I can't tell you how to win any of these, but I can tell you it is up to no individual man or woman, but up to each of us to do our own thing after understanding the problem fully.

First off, you must ask yourself a very simple question: “What are we trying to do with this grand experiment called civilization and society?” Are we succeeding? If not, what is wrong? What are the fundamentals of a civilization, society, and culture? What is “progress” and does it emit “regress” under all circumstances; is there never a point which is too far or wrong? Who gives me my ideas on these matters, and do I truly agree or have I never really thought about them independently? What are my feelings about independence and individuality (to the core and at all levels) and where do I ultimately stand? Do I think too shallow and only attack areas and points or am I truly going to the root of the problem? Am I thinking these things or am I using someone else's ideas, words, or thoughts in such a way that I have not actually felt I thought for myself?

I cannot answer your questions, but I can answer my own and tell you what I think and what I intend to do. I intend to pulverize the jerks that have enslaved us by first learning about, understanding, and hearing the people (the ones who truly wish freedom), then formulating an intellectual argument in “common” lay terms (through my gifts and also studying of various things which includes philosophy), and spreading it far and wide. I intend to be no leader, but only a messenger of an idea, which cannot be killed. I am not sure exactly how I intend to do this, but I do know I shall do it in a method not yet used (nonviolent, as always), so that there is no current method against it and it therefore has the maximum impact.

I guess the biggest advantage I have in my intentions is that even I do not know what I will do next, and I cannot therefore be predicted by the machine, but I can probably predict I will use the machine's NECESSARY weaknesses against it so that it has the most difficulty adapting and suppressing what we ALL truly want – individual liberty.

I may one day ask for your help, but I will not ask now, as I am not ready. I may one day die or be killed, but then all you need do is be yourself and continue in the work for individual liberty. I believe in the human spirit!

All you need know is the following:

  1. Be yourself (break free and find out if you are really you or the product of something else)
  2. Know yourself (are you a product of culture and tradition or really free and independent?)
  3. Know what you want (do you love society/civilization/culture or not?)
  4. Know your environment (all parts of it, especially locally, humans and human minds included)
  5. Know your society (how does it work and what are its foundational pillars, etc.?)
  6. Know how to survive (can you live independent of society and in a natural state?)
  7. Know your logic (what drives the minds of culture/society/civilization? What is in their minds?)
  8. Know what is right and what is wrong (find a solid ground you can stand on and live by)
  9. Know your direction (what is your plan? What makes you happy?)

From there you should develop the rest. I believe in the human spirit, so I really do not think much more need be said, other than, you need not agree with everyone on every point, only the ROOT – the rest will sort itself out from there.

What do you believe of the human spirit now and after you have learned all you need too?

I am not out of this hideous matrix yet, this I will freely admit, but in the meantime I would recommend those who wish to escape should most definitely commit to reading Jacques Ellul's 450 page book, The Technological Society, for it is a very very good start. You will not need all I think you should know, but you will gain quite a bit of the knowledge I think you seek from it, and also from Will Durant's The Story of Civilization, particularly all that can be inferred from volume 1.

It will all depend on your “base” as to how you take these texts, but they are, in my opinion, good starts all around, which is why I must emphatically state that we need not all agree on all things, just the root.

Begin educating yourself and asking the important questions like “What are we trying to do?” and the rest will follow. Freedom is merely a state of mind – you are literally the manager of your own future.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Am I an Anarcho-primitivist?

I believe in freedom through simplicity, by utlizing the resources which are available to us for free and which are meant to be free, by drive and determination for self-sufficiency, and by living in harmony with oneself, one's surroundings, and one's neighbors.

In a search for my true socio-political philosophy I have tried to identify with many positions and labels. I know it is somewhat useless and I don't like being labeled, let alone labeling myself, but I guess what I am trying to do is to find an idea which closely resembles the undefined and undeveloped idea I have inside of me so that I can take that idea and compare it to my own. I am not doing this because I am incapable of original thought but for three reasons: there is nothing new under the sun; there are and have been lots of people with lots of ideas and at least one of them is bound to be very similar to my own; and it is simpler to build a logical and coherent personal philosophy if you are kept honest by testing the ideas of others against the ideas of yourself. In this search I have found that at this moment in my life I most likely identify with what is known as Anarcho-primitivism.

Wikipedia defines Anarcho-primitivism as an anarchist critique of the origins and progress of civilization, and advocation for a return to non-civilized ways of life through deindustrialisation, abolition of the divisions of labor or specialization, and the abandonment of large-scale organizational technologies. In short, anarcho-primitivism seeks to eradicate all forms of domination and advocates a return to the simplest form of human society and its relationship to the environment. Anarcho-primitivists believe that civilized society, particularly technological society, is destroying both the environment and humanity.

Now, before I discovered this philosophy I found that I could most closely identify with libertarianism, however, I never could quite buy into unbridled capitalism even though I view socialism as much worse. Libertarianism has its roots in anarchism, so libertrianism to anarcho-primitivism is no large jump, but it is libertarianism's embrace of the underlying structure of what is “the system” which causes me to differ sharply from its basic tenets. Basically, my problem with libertarianism is the same problem I have with socialism and most all economic or political philosophies – they are based on the same underlying structure, which is “the system”. I just never understood how any of us can expect for “this” thing we live in to get any better if we keep on using the same old formula and only change the manner in which we apply its main components.

In my mind, the organism is the problem, not some part of it or fungal growth on it, so how is a different form of economics going to help any? How is privatizing schooling or leaving it public going to change the problem that is schooling, not in schooling? How is the privatizing of prisons or leaving them public going to promote individual liberty? How is a smaller or larger governing authority going to abolition despotism? How is the ownership of any property either by private individuals or by the public through the apparatus of government going to promote freedom of movement and one's natural right to the use of natural resources, not for economic gain or power, but for day-to-day survival? How can anyone expect to have individual liberty when they are forced to be part of an organism which can and will punish them for not only refusing to be part of it, but also for not being part of it in a manner consistent with what that organism deems fit to the purposes of its own survival?

I agree with anarcho-primitivism's critique of "the system". I have been questioning "What is this for? What are we trying to do with this grand experiment we call civilization? Is it delivering, has it ever delivered, and do I believe it can ever deliver whatever it is we, the people, think it did, does, or could accomplish? Who's idea was this, where did it start, and who started it? Did people opt in or were they forced in? Can people opt out or are they forced to participate through coercion? Was it all started by we, the people, or did it all begin with authoritarians, and if the latter, how can we, the people, ever expect an authoritarian system to deliver us from itself?" With these questions I am constantly critiquing modern society, its origins, purpose, and progress.

In the aspect of critique I most certainly agree with anarcho-primitivism, its value, and its necessity to the welfare of us all – without question. In the aspect of "rewilding" I am not so certain I agree with some of the more extreme elements who wish to eventually abolish written language, the division of time (think: clocks and calendars), and similar fundamental building blocks required for mere reason, not just civilization. To put it plainly, I don't think anarcho-primitivism can justifiably or even rationally conclude what it does if it attacks the very foundations of the reason it used to arrive at its conclusions. That does not mean it cannot disagree with civilization itself, for there is a difference between the system which allowed for advanced reason to develop and the fundamental priniciples of reason, but it does mean language, division, and similar basic elements of coherent thought and transmission of thought are off-limits. Taking the most extreme position, as some anarcho-primitivists do is, in my mind, always a dumb idea – extreme anything is hardly balanced and harmonious and often also irrational.

I see nothing wrong with oral language and I don't necessarily think written language is detrimental to the environment and humanity although I do agree printed or mechanically produced language (be it oral or written) has allowed for and always will allow for a loss of humanity, individuality, and is the root of many problems, particularly media exploitation – in the end I do not think all of the pros of printed or mechanically produced language justify all of the cons. I also see nothing wrong with counting, basic mathematic operations, calendars, and the measurement of cycles via the division of time. Unlike government institutions, impersonal monetary units, institutional schooling, and organized religions, I do not think the tools of language, division of time, and math are inherently only useful as mechanisms of control and domination.

So far, concerning what I know about anarcho-primitivism and my personal position on things, I applaud anarcho-primitivism's critique and I share in its critique. However, concerning its advocation of a return to non-civilized ways, I personally advocate a return to simplicity although I am not quite certain as to how far back humanity should go or how simple I believe things should be – I only know that "this" is not working. I cannot say I disagree with anarcho-primitivism's approach or some of its conclusions concerning "rewilding", but on the other hand, I cannot say at this time whether or not I agree with it enough to consider its principles desirable, necessary, or feasible.

Now, concerning environmentalism... I am not an extemist, nor do I absolutely believe in man-made climate change. Do I believe it could be a problem? Yes! Do I believe it is a problem? I'm not convinced it is currently a major catasrophe as some would have us believe. Do I believe pollution is a problem? Yes! Do I believe technology and civilization aid in pollution and are a major cause of it? Yes! Do I think humanity has a responsibility to its environment? Yes! Do I think we should be good stewards of the earth? Yes! Do I think humanity should try to have a sustainable relationship with nature and live in harmony with it? Yes! Do I think humanity should exclude itself and all of its natural drives, as part of nature, from the equation? No! Do I think "carbon taxes" and similar ideas are good and are an answer? You're out of your mind! I agree with many thngs, but I do have my limits, although I remain open-minded, but some things simply take more to convince me than others.

I recently acquired a book by one of anarcho-primitivism's main proponents, John Zerzan, entitled, Running on Emptiness: The Pathology of Civilization, and there are several other texts which I intend to read in order to get a better hold on my position, including: Against Civilization: Readings nad Reflections, also by John Zerzan, The Kingdom of Heaven is Within You by Leo Tolstoy, The Techonlogical Society and Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes both by Jacques Elul, The Gutenberg Galaxy by Marshall McLuhen, Men Against the State: The Expositors of Individualist Anarchism 1827-1908 by James J. Martin, Technological Slavery: The Collected Writings of Theodore J. Kaczynski, a.k.a. "The Unabomber" by Theodore John Kaczynski, and The One Man Revolution in America by Ammon Hennacy. I look forward to reading these texts and seeing where they lead me.

Now, as for where I currently stand... I believe in strongly critiquing civilization and I advocate minimalism and the simplifying of one's life as a means to both acquire individual liberty and to protest the inadequacies, wrong-doings, and falsehoods of "the system". I believe that the closer humanity can get to a harmonious connection with the whole of nature the closer humanity will get to a connection with its own nature and purpose. I believe that in order to reach this point one must not be "anti" anything, but rather must advocate a position based on something more concrete than merely being against something, such as technology or civilization. Basically, using the mindset of "simplified living" one should eliminate what is deemed unnecessary and do what is necessary to live in harmony with the whole of naturewhich includes humanity and its natureand seek to revere and sustain that relationship.

I believe this simplification and critique can be obtained by eliminating the purchasing of products which are both unnecessary and manufactured using specialization and division of labor, purchasing and using only secondhand or "used" products when necessary and possible, the studying of wilderness skills, learning plant identification, studying botanical medicine using local plants, learning to forage, acquiring gardening and farming skills, learning to fish, hunt, and trap, shopping at local farm markets, minimizing one's possessions, and otherwise trying to do as many things as possible which minimize one's dependence on "the system" while promoting all-around harmony – this is where I currently stand.

I would probably not be considered an anarcho-primitivist by most anarcho-primitivists at this time, although they might agree I have some leanings. In fact, at this time I would probably consider myself an environmentally conscious individualist anarchist who is also a minimalist and neopagan. However, if you are interested in anarcho-primitivism you may find the following links useful:

For further information..."web search" is your friend.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Freedom: The Hunger Games and the Future

I had been dead set against watching The Hunger Games, as I wondered what the infatuation was with watching children kill one another, but my knowledge of the film's metaphorical meaning intrigued me anyway and so, with much reservation, I rented the film to see what the fuss was about.

For starters, as I had assumed before watching the film, Hollywood, in this day and age, could not resist the chance to show a murdered child dying on screen, and indeed, the viewer will watch at least one child die a very intimate death. However, after having seen the film I do not believe it would have been as effective in its presentation had the scene aforementioned not been included – it is pivotal to one's full emotional understanding of the allegory the movie presents concerning the direction of future society. In other words, I do not believe Hollywood simply included the scene for its “sales” or “shock” value!

The Hunger Games is an allegory concerning the current direction our society, and indeed the direction all of global society, is headed in. Its ending expresses clearly that if one understands the “art of man-herding”, as expressed in Plato's Republic and Statesman, and how society is controlled, then one (through the awakening of many who do likewise and act independently) can alter the course of the game.

You see, all society's are controlled from the top down through manipulation of the mob, or masses, by the “philosopher-kings” who are otherwise known as billionaires and wealthy anthropologists. They control the “play” and each of our “lines” by manipulating the action of the mob (causing us to concede to peer-pressure) and through the direct technical manipulation of both the environment and the regulations involved in “the game” of society. As soon as one is aware of this fact then, if they are intelligent and resourceful enough, they are fully capable of changing their “lines” or otherwise altering the scene and therefore the outcome of the “play”. Should many uprise and do likewise “the game” is then over and we are truly free and no longer controlled.

Life, which very much includes the “art of man-herding”, is a lot like a chess game wherein a “master” attempts to cause the various players to move in accordance with their will in order to achieve the desired outcome of victory. Like chess, the only way to alter the course of “the game” of life is to think outside of the box, refuse to follow the mob, and to create one's own rules by choosing options other than the obvious ones laid out by the opposition.

In other words, what The Hunger Games is trying to say is that if you want to be free (e.g. “live”), then you have to write your own lines and make your own rules – you must act and not react!

I believe each and every one of us on this planet wish to be free. I believe that even those who wish to control us want to be free, but their own fears drive them to control the rest of us as a means to that end. I believe “We, The People, are capable of being free and that we can and will figure all of this out, individually – I believe. We do not have to follow any one philosophy or anyone's idea – we only need to follow our own belief in our principles.

We must stop voting party lines – they are controlled! Most of us are moderate and we do not want either the extreme right nor the extreme left, but we want something in the middle. Still, we need to understand that the controllers want something in the middle as well (Hegelian Dialectic) and it is that which they are directing us towards, so we must ask: “what are MY principles, and what are those things which have been placed into my head? What do I want? What do I believe in? What do THEY want, and why do THEY want it?

If you agree with anyone 100% you need to ask yourself where you went wrong! On the other hand you must compromise to get along, but you need to ask yourself: “am I compromising because I think it is the most workable solution for all, or am I compromising because others told me that is the case? Is it what I think, or is it what I have been told to think? Am I truly compromising, am I capable of such, and if so, is it really my own feeling? Where do I stand and what am I willing to give in order to get; furthermore, am I really compromising or am I too in-love with my own idea of what should be to see the points presented by others? Is that stupid redneck or dirty hippy really all that dumb? What is this valuable human being trying to say, why are they trying to say it, and where can I reach a compromise with them? Do I really understand my neighbor and their point of view? Do I think I need to understand my neighbor's point of view in order to reach a reasonable compromise? Must it be my way or the highway, and if so, do I really think that or am I being convinced by someone other than myself that it must be that way? Do I really believe in freedom and the rights of the individual to rule their own life or do I want to control or force others in some way? Where do I really stand?

If you are incapable of foreseeing a compromise then you have failed yourself in that you are incapable of envisioning a realistic solution, since nature is full of compromise whether you believe it was designed that way or merely an accident – it is the way of nature. How can you hope to succeed against nature and how can you call your ideology “true” if it goes against the only thing we all know to be true in the here and now – nature?

Just remember that compromise is not necessarily agreement, but it may just be the closest you can peacefully come to what YOU think is correct, and after all, isn't peace what we all seek?

Deny what I say – I do not care, but I highly recommend you watch The Hunger Games, if you have not, and see how it speaks to you.



Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Book Review for Vanabode®: Travel and Live Forever on $20 a Day by Jason Odom

I give Jason Odom's book Vanabode®: Travel and Live Forever on $20 a Day, 2nd edition (Charleston, SC: 2011) a sorely disappointing 3 stars.

A few weeks ago I was browsing around Amazon for valuable information on the things which interest me, such as living free, vagabonding, minimalism, philosophy, and the entire range of topics I enjoy. During my browsing experience Amazon's “Other Customers Who View Buy” box showed me an image of the book Vanabode®: Travel and Live Forever on $20 a Day by Jason Odom (ISBN 978-1466423084), so with such a great title I naturally and eagerly clicked away to have a look at it. The reviews seemed good, the book sounded like it had the sort of information I was looking for, and the price (at the time) seemed reasonable, so I clicked the purchase button and left the rest to the United States Postal Service.

When the book arrived it looked clean, made well, printed on decent paper, and such, but once I opened it and flipped through the pages my suspicions immediately began to grow that I had wasted my hard earned cash. First, I realized that the layout was absolutely horrible. What made me think that, you ask? The Table of Contents was a sloppy run-together mess that looked like it was lifted straight off a web page, and on the next page (pg 3) I could already see two web addresses thrown into the text (they are everywhere)! Indeed, it seemed quite clear that very little effort had gone into formatting this text for the printed edition and that the author had written the original text with an electronic edition in mind. I began to feel that this book was definitely not worth the nearly twenty-five dollars I paid for it (I paid $23.08 plus $1.38 sales tax).

Now, I can relate to some of the philosophical statements the author Jason Odom makes, particularly his beliefs concerning the total cost of ownership and the “duped customer”, so I have to simply and honestly state that I, personally, do not believe his book is worth the 3 hours and 17 minutes an individual making the federal minimum wage of $7.25 would have to work to pay for his book; that is, at least the printed version which I purchased from My personal measuring rod for the value of a thing is how long one would have to work at federal minimum wage in the most crappy job I can possibly think of in order to acquire that thing. My apologies to the author, but I was personally disappointed in the bang I got for the buck. Have you ever spent 3 hours wiping crap off the bathroom stall walls at your local Walmart? Neither have I, but you can bet somebody has, and if they would have purchased this text I can be reasonably certain (having known people who did such for a living) that they would not have found the information in this book worth more than 1 hour (if that) of their personal retail purgatory. Harsh, you say? Maybe.

The entire text is one hundred eleven pages in length with short chapters ranging from the Vanabode® philosophy, through living essentials, to inventory, and even spirituality. The copy I received (ISBN 978-1466423084) was printed in the USA in Charleston, South Carolina, which to me is a huge plus! I just wish the layout would have been done more professionally.

The author, Jason Odom, has real potential. Had he put just a little more work into the text I would have given it 5 stars, but it is lacking critical NEED TO KNOW information such as auto repair and maintenance, solid information on the legal ramifications of gun ownership and possession in vehicles (the author says he carries his firearm with him, loaded, but neglects to mention how he does this legally or even if it is legal in the states and federally owned areas he visits – I happen to know a little about gun rights and firearm ownership so I find his chapter on Safety, Weapons, and Security extremely lacking and potentially misleading), and other fine or critical points.

How on earth could anyone expect to be prepared for van dwelling if they are lacking critical NEED TO KNOW information on basic auto repair and maintenance or at least a few good pointers and where to go and what to do for the rest? The book doesn't even mention saving for such things! He could have at least had one chapter on routine auto maintenance and recommended potential vanaboders purchase a Hanes or Chilton auto manual along with the inclusion of some basic tools in his inventory section. The lack of such material really makes me question the knowledge of the author. I know the idea is to keep it simple, but if you are depending on the vehicle as your home shouldn't basic auto repair and routine auto maintenance at least be mentioned somewhere?

Otherwise, what the book does have to offer is worth paying for (just not $25) and some of the author's thoughts and advice are most certainly food-for-thought. I especially appreciated his reasoning on “why” van dwelling is superior to other alternatives and even stationary housing, and I found some of the information he shared on actually living the Vanabode® life truly useful. His chapter on, and seeming obsession with Sex was a little creepy, but hey, I'm a guy, so I get it – we all want to know we can still “get some” if we choose the Vanabode® life.

I also think the author, Jason Odom, could have included a bibliography, references (especially for his financial advice), or at least a list of suggested publications for the potential vanaboder to read. As someone who is interested in the nomadic life, van dwelling, and vagabonding, I know that good lists of authors and individuals who provide information on this sort of material are really hard to come by. It would have been nice if the book would have left the reader with some “leads” for more information (one of the measurements of a good book, I say). On the positive side, the author did mention two figures everyone interested in vagabonding or simple living should familiarize themselves with: Ed Buryn and Suelo.

Also, the author repeats the same thing which was previously stated in the book (almost verbatum) in several places, so much so that it is obvious and makes one think the author was being lazy and trying to “fill space” (something I know, as an author, that authors sometimes do, particularly when they are being lazy). It really is a shame because I really do think Jason Odom has the potential to be a decent author and his book has some real potential to be something much more than just a way for him to make a few extra bucks and spread a little information.

Finally, the premise that one can travel and live FOREVER (as the title of the book says) on $20 a day is a bit of a stretch. First, $20 a day is an awful lot of money - $7300 a year, or slightly more than half of a full-time minimum wage earner's gross annual salary (to put it in perspective). If that cost could be cut in half the premise of FOREVER would seem a little more realistic to the less fortunate, and if it could be reduced to $5 a day it would be a life I would think anyone could conceivably attain. That said, I would think such a cost reduction could be met, but not while doing as much traveling and recreational hobnobbing as the author suggests.

All in all I find the book Vanabode®: Travel and Live Forever on $20 a Day by Jason Odom to be a book useful in some respects and useless or incomplete in other respects. I give the book 3 stars and recommend it be purchased for one reason and one reason only – because there is simply a lack of information in book form which covers this topic, and this is one of the few books which attempts to do so. Hopefully Mr. Odom will do a much better job on an updated edition or with his next book. In the meantime I recommend purchasing the electronic edition so you get your money's worth for what you pay for.

Also consider simply doing some online research if van dwelling is your cup-of-tea. Yahoo! has an excellent group on van dwelling that may be of use.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

I Wanna Be Free!

I Wanna Be Free!
A Poem by Alraune

I'm sick of working myself to exhaustion for scraps
I'm sick of it having to be this way
This is not my game, this is someone else's game
I no longer want to play, I no longer will play

To hell with your games and your television and your phones
To hell with your gizmos and gadgets and your worthless devices
To hell with your running water and to hell with your civilization!

Take my “choices” and stick them where the Sun don't shine
Take all your rules and do the same
I have one rule, one law, which is love
Your world does not love, it is incapable of love
This world can't be fixed, it doesn't want to be “fixed”
I don't want to change your world – I'll change mine

Look at them, just look at the people
They are dying, they are dead – you've killed them
The cancers and poisons and stress
Your world did this to them all
Your world, the one you support
The world I am trying so desperately hard to not support

If this is progress I want out, I am out
I will walk away, I am walking away
We don't need to fight your fight and play your game
We can all walk away and watch it fall

That is why the world hates those who hate it...
If we all walked away it would die, and it knows it
We don't need it, all we need is love and what Great Spirit gave us freely
We don't need money and laws of exchange
And damn it! I will prove it.

REVOLUTION! I am on strike against the whole damned system
If it ain't free like me, then I don't want it
I don't give up, I quite the game I recognize is stacked against me
I rebuke the bondage, the slavery, the killing – I rebuke it all

REVOLUTION! I rebuke this gross sin against humanity and life
This civilization doesn't help people or the world – it destroys it
I will not fight it, I will merely walk away, and run if it chases me
Damn every one of you who loves it, you are a curse upon yourself

REVOLUTION! What comes around goes around
All things rise from the dust and it is to dust which all things return
I do not fear quiting the game – I fear a world without love
Damn those who love this world and so hate me, but know it not

Free. What is it to be free?
There is no free if money is required
There is no freedom if we play this game
If you want to be free you have to quit
You must despise this world – this civil-i-zation

It's an idea – just walk away
Ideas cannot be killed or imprisoned
Plan, prepare, learn, and walk away
None of us need it – all we need is love and Mother Nature
All we need is love

This world will try to hold you hostage through those you love
This world holds people hostage through those they love
Don't let it! Find out and help them find out
Let everyone find out on their own which they love more: freedom or the bondage of this world
Let everyone find out if they are really loved – do not fear what you may find
Does love require money? Is love truly free?

Freedom from within breeds freedom from without
I have seen the light! I see the way
You can't kill an idea
Freedom most certainly is free...