The thread increasingly surrounded by darkness Riding out the winter (decline) of industrial civilization


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Films to see:

Skinektody, NY


City of Cranes

Saltan Sea Documentary—plagues and pleasures on the salton sea

Black Rain—filmed at Fontana site

Crash—film on street traffic

Forgotten Places: Urban Exploration, Industrial Archeology and the Aesthetics of Decay.


The Limits To Growth

Conversations on the edge of Apocalypse

Experimental Geography—Trevor Paglen N8217.G437 T46

Industrial Ruins: Space, Aesthetics and Materiality-- T37 .E33 2005

Access All Areas: A User’s Guide to the Art of Urban Exploration

Corporate Wasteland: The Landscape and Memory of Deindustrialization HD5708.55.U6 H54 2007

Beyond the Ruins: The Meanings of Deindustrialization HD5708.55.U6 B49 2003
The Illuminated Thread project’s aesthetic trio:

Web, images (video and still), writing

To go with money quote:

Econometrics as the basis of our value system in this country. Things assigned value based on how much money they make, people assigned value based on how efficient a worker they are. The thread’s value must be judged using another value system, it can’t be judged based on how much money is involved, on its production scale (i.e.—people involved, cameras, support, etc.)—but what is this, what is the replacement system when money is downplayed or removed?
Monuments of the industrial age as reminders of the cyclical nature of civilizations
I like that (and am only just realizing now) that the setting for Katie’s first profession of love for me was high up on a rusty abandoned railroad bridge. Perfect.

Related: A New York Times article on economic contraction in the Sunbelt. I’m sill looking for unique sites in Phoenix but beginning to think I might just document empty retail spaces and abandoned subdivisions. I love how the owner of the soon to be failed home-furnishings business uses the chirping crickets cliché to convey how quiet it is in his parking lot. His comment of course connotes gloominess: an empty lot means no customers. But I think it lovely that the sound of a living creature has replaced the drone of automobile engines. Also, (and I’m at risk of sounding callous here) Mr. Preciado will be given the opportunity to occupy himself with something a bit more meaningful than hocking window coverings.

Binaural microphone—
Trevor Paglen, a visual artist with interests that overlap my own. According to his bio: Trevor Paglen is an artist, writer, and experimental geographer whose work deliberately blurs lines between social science, contemporary art, journalism, and other disciplines to construct unfamiliar, yet meticulously researched ways to see and interpret the world around us.

“Information activism” buzzword

Shot in between the hangars

Picturing the fields as white sand instead of brown dirt preparing for the desert leg

Triangle formation- carrying something of value with two at the lead for guidance and protection—you as the cargy guy. Carrying something of enough importance that it risks getting stolen—something small and light—journey is routine—or at least the route is.
The first scene is that snowfall in the desert image

150 years later, or the date

The first scene is the trio whizzing along through the night—locator blinkers on—in formation—cruising really well—just zipping along then some huge object is hit and it’s a catastrophic moment for a bit. The bikes and their cargo go everywhere. Then one stands up, brushes of the dirt, glances over at the bike and cargo then shrugs and starts picking things up.—cut to scenes of the period—people working in the fields, scrapped together structures
Then there’s the windy scene high up on the broken wind turbine.
Elements of a new animism—imagining that the owl has screeched, wishing you a safe ride

Announcement of new Bp oil find with a tint of desperation-- post

What scenario would have to be unfolding for you to steal a plane?

A city blowing up?

A really toxic spill?
Send me the pretty pictures folder
Meeting with Edith:

Is there too much content? Is it overwhelming?

I think it might be for the new reader—the one who tunes in the middle—but if you’ve been paying attention all along, the pace at which things are added shouldn’t be too much to take in.

What do you want your audience to take away—how would you like it to affect them?

Do you expect them to be captivated?

Orlov is popular because he provides a vision of the future—he’s an entertainer in this regard—people like imagining the world he describes—something about it appeals to them. What is appealing about your vision—is this the role you want in sharing your vision? Do you have any expectations regarding how people should react?
The magic is in the meditative component—the stillness, the quiet, which fits in nicely in terms of what you see people yearning for—this moment of stillness (like the woman with the dogs)that (especially those living in places with poor prospects for the future) is assumed will come after some kind of catastrophic event when really the volume, the activity level, the frenzy will gradually be turned down (or will follow each in a series of less catastrophic events: like descending stairs)
Post on LA fire—sitting in traffic watching a towering inferno burn up the hillsides around you. What anxiety this must produce, what desire for the nightmare to come to an end.

Let it go.

What’s appropriate to reveal for the infinity piece?—I think in the writing, almost everything. Audio source, intent, collage, cutting room floor—in using these clips that didn’t fit anywhere else you kinda close the leg, put it to rest—archive it—cap it off.
For audio—include moments before and after where its just the audio so that the listener can really get into that space—can think about just the sound without having to be considering the visual material.—more meditation

But how much? One cycle, one note?

To Ran: I’m stealing your ideas, adding a few of my own, and taking it on the road. Thought you’d like to know.

You said a while back that you hoped this would occur.

Structure the project and the site exactly the way you want before making any provisions, compromises and changes based on the advice of others.
Damn-it with the logging and the PRISONS and the fucking medical industry. Assholes.
Why are prisons privatized—why isn’t someone looking into that one? Lawyers? Where you @ yo?
What does that say when someone can profit form someone else being locked up?
BP in 'giant' new oil discovery. Every time an announcement like this is made, euphoria descends upon Wall Street and the suits roll around on the ground in fits of ecstatic rapture (BP stock up 4.3%). Hey guys, is it cool if we just leave that primeval atmospheric pollutant (safely sequestered) right where it is?
The standard poodle is the quintessential suburban animal requiring expensive haircuts, suffering from bouts of depression, and
Fixing a date using the position of the sun relative to an industrial relic—like we know it’s the first day of summer when the sun can be seen through a particular hole in a water tower
Lauren—way to plant the seed. Nicely done
Drive around Dearborn, learn about Islam
Call up your local bank, request a tour (winter advisory: take off your ski mask before entering the bank)
The Muslims were like: “pretty good job Jesus but we’re gunna hold out”

It’s a really long shirt: makes perfect sense.

From Adbusters #83


I found a pretty good article that actually applies well to both our artistic practices. I wanted to share the section on street art with you. Apparently you’re part of “the first real defining aesthetic of a new age.” You should consider responding to this type of thing in your artist’s statement. At the end when he says: “The artists may not be able to articulate it,” I wonder if they should and kinda hope they do.

From an article by Sarah Nardi, Adbusters #83
Mark Schiller, curator of the New York-based Wooster Collective—a website that chronicles street art around the world—is more optimistic. According to Schiller, we already have evidence of a burgeoning movement, the first real defining aesthetic of a new age. He sees street art growing out of a resistance to the proliferation of mass media advertising worldwide and emerging as a counterblow to the capitalist obsession with private property and development.

So is it a cohesive, insurrectionary aesthetic movement?

“Not every act of street art is necessarily one of protest,” explains Schiller. “But every act carries with it the risk of arrest and no one will take that risk without some sense of purpose and deeper motivation.”

“The artists may not be able to articulate it,” he continues, “but there is a common theme and it’s absolutely socialist in nature.”
The article goes on to say that artists working within the same aesthetic movement commonly share a “broader philosophy” or a “loosely unifying worldview.” Do you feel like the philosophy behind the street art movement is clearly enough defined and if not you should get on that.
Good artists will make love among the ruins…Good art will always take us by surprise.

--Dave Hickey
Steve Smith: Age of dissent

After the crash, there will be fewer resources, fewer products, less advertising… and fewer designers. There will be no more sumptuous coffee table annuals, no more mass-mailings on creamy paper inviting members to attend gala events in distant cities. Phone messages will be left unanswered, email unreturned, websites unsurfed. There will be less paper and more trees, fewer cars and more walking, less airtime and more air. People will feel less assaulted by images and products and more attentive to the spaces between them. And they will begin to call these undersigned spaces ‘nature.’

--Barry M. Katz, “Endbegin,” Metropolis
Our lives are now mediated through the aesthetics of consumerism, through images so commanding that we imitate their inanimacy and deadness

--Daniel Harris

Archdruid: on a healthy ambivalence—

Kingsnorth rejects all this. He insists that collapse can't be prevented, and in any case should be allowed to happen, because industrial civilization is a "planetary weapon of mass destruction" and letting it collapse is less destructive than allowing it to continue. He cites my concept of the Long Descent to argue that the end of industrial civilization could be a lot less traumatic than Monbiot thinks it must be, insists that ecocide is inherent in our present society rather than in humanity as a whole, and suggests that whatever replaces our society is bound to be less dreadful than what we have now.
We are not going to have a future better than the present: not in our lifetimes, and not in those of our grandchildren's grandchildren. We collectively closed the door on that possibility decades ago, and none of the rapidly narrowing range of choices still open to us now offers any way of changing that.

It's nonsense to claim, as some inevitably do, that this realization makes taking action pointless. Our efforts, given hard work, wisdom, and a substantial dollop of luck, may well succeed in making the future less difficult than it will otherwise be. It may be possible for us to save a few things worth saving that would otherwise be lost, to stem some little of what will be an immense tide of human suffering, to do what we can to help stabilize a damaged biosphere so Nature doesn't have to rebuild it entirely from scratch. All of these things are profoundly worth doing. None of them will change the fact that the future ahead of us will be a profoundly difficult time in which many of the things that are most meaningful to each of us will inevitably be lost.

During the age that is coming to an end, the billion or so of us who have lived in the industrial world have enjoyed comforts and opportunities that our species had never known before and almost certainly will never know again. Those could never have been anything but temporary, they were distributed no more fairly than anything else passed around by human hands, and a wiser species would likely have had more common sense than to launch itself on the trajectory we followed, but it's as distorting to dismiss the extraordinary achievements of our age as it would be to ignore the terrible cost for those achievements that will be paid by us and our descendants.
So many of us want things all one way or the other, all good or all evil, without the terrible ambivalence that pulses through all things human as inescapably as blood. So many of us want to see today's civilization as humanity's only hope or as ecocide incarnate, and long for a future that will be either the apotheosis or the final refutation of the present. It's far less popular, and arguably far more difficult, to embrace that ambivalence and accept both the wonder and the immense tragedy of our time. Still, it seems to me that if we are to face up to the challenges of the future that's bearing down on us, that difficult realization is an essential starting point.
Your project insists that decline/contraction/collapse/deindustrialization is inevitable—I take the ambivalent viewpoint of the scientific observer. To accept, and view with curiosity, “both the wonder and immense tragedy of our time.”

Small is Beautiful:

Schumacher’s holy trinity:

Health, Beauty, Permanence
For support section:
The project is ‘uneconomic’ in that it contributes nothing to the growth of goods and services.
Attempting to remain uncommodified:

Nothing with a price is sacred, and since a sacred spirituality is one thing the project hopes to uncover, it’s advantageous to keep money as far out as possible.

This could be the hook at the end: help keep this project free and void of advertising, uncommodified so that it may honestly be said to represent the sacred. The model by which I’ve chosen to fund the project is a model we might take forward with us into the age of contraction—it forgoes growth and expansion, adopting ideals of permanence, long-term viability, human-scale, etc.
A more human-scale, spiritually satisfying future.
On why the bike:

A crank is a small, safe, cheap, comprehensible, nonviolent, and efficient, a perfect tool of intermediate technology. And he would add, very good for starting revolutions.
It’s also something I can maintain and power myself—supporting autonomy. I can look at every part and understand its function—it is within my complexity range. Also, the speed at which it moves is human scaled—slow enough to take in the details of the landscape being passed through yet fast enough to cover significant distances. Being a relatively old technology—improved in only minor ways over the decades, it’s still the most efficient way to move a single human over smooth terrain.
P4—“small is free, efficient, creative, enjoyable, enduring”—for such is the anarchist faith.
P5—we find so many desperate and often resourceful efforts among young dropouts to make do in simple, free, and self-respecting ways amid the criminal waste and managerial congestion.

Postindustrial society—has left behind its lethal obsession with megasystems of production and distribution.

P31—the conditions of unbalance may then no longer apply to specific points but have become generalized.
P34—there can be “growth” towards a limited objective, but there cannot be unlimited, generalized growth.

The cultivation and expansion of needs is the antithesis of wisdom. It is also the antithesis of wisdom and peace. Every increase of needs tends to increase one’s dependence on outside forces over which one cannot have control, and therefore increases existential fear. Only by a reduction of needs can one promote a genuine reduction in those tensions which are the ultimate causes of strife and war.

P36—Huxley: …and a blessed freedom form the silly or pernicious adult education provided by the mass producers of consumer goods through the medium of advertisements.
P40—resisting the temptation of letting our luxuries become needs; and perhaps by even scrutinizing our needs to see if they cannot be simplified and reduced.
P44—Anything that is found to be an impediment to economic growth is a shameful thing, and if people cling to it, they are thought of as either saboteurs or fools.
P45—the judgment of economics, in other words, is an extremely fragmentary judgment; out of the larger number of aspects which in real life have to be seen and judged together before a decision can be taken, economics supplies only one—whether a thing yields a money profit to those who undertake it or not.
P47—As far as the religion of economics is concerned, the consumer is extra-territorial.

P62—As physical resources are everywhere limited, people satisfying their needs by means of a modest use of resources are obviously less likely to be at each other’s throats than people depending upon a high rate of use. (Too poor to be in anyone’s way)


P108—Among material resources, the greatest, unquestionably, is the land. Study how a society uses its land and you can come to pretty reliable conclusions as to what its future will be.

P130—if energy fails, everything fails.
P135 Industrialization was spread right across the world, carried forward mainly by the power of oil. When the supply of oil wanes that power will subside and industrialization will begin its long retreat.
P146—The most massive wastes are, of course, the nuclear reactors themselves after they have become unserviceable.
Disused nuclear power stations will stand as unsightly monuments to unquiet man’s assumptions that nothing but tranquility, from now on, stretches before him, or else—that the future counts as nothing compared with the slightest economic gain now.
Leaving radioactive waste for future generations to contend with is a rotten thing to do.
P163—The technology of the production by the masses, making use of the best of modern knowledge and experience, is conducive to decentralization, compatible with the laws of ecology, gentile in its use of scarce resources, and designed to serve the human person instead of making him the servant of machines.
Intermediate technology, ground-up technology, bottom up technology: it takes a certain flair of real insight to make things simple again.
“a breakthrough a day keeps the crisis away at bay.”

Ran on writing a successful blog:

Nobody has ever asked me for advice on how to write a successful blog, but I want to give it anyway. First, some general advice for writers: 1) Fewer words. 2) Practice empathy with your audience. Another way to say this is, you can only be a good singer by listening to the voice coming out of your mouth, not to the voice in your head. 3) From comedian Bill Hicks: Be yourself, because nobody else can be you, so you have supply and demand covered. 4) From songwriter Warren Zevon, and this doesn't apply to blog posts, but it totally applies to songs, essays, and books: The title is the little miracle -- everything else is just a job.

There is a special rule for blogs or anything else where you're trying to hold an audience over time: it's like feeding a fire. The fire is the attention of your readers, and your writing is the wood. Of course you need clean dry wood and not soggy dirty wood. But also, if you go too long without throwing wood on, or if you throw too much wood on at once, the fire will go out. I don't look at Sharon Astyk's blog because on some days she writes more words than I read. But if you sometimes go three weeks between posts, then anything new you post, you should not expect it to be noticed for three weeks, if at all. If you're going to post infrequently, do it on a strict schedule, like the Archdruid or Postsecret.
The Long Decline:

“It’s not going too far, I think, to call belief in progress the established religion of the modern industrial world. In the same way that Christians have traditionally looked to heaven and Buddhists to nirvana, most people nowadays look to progress for their salvation and their explanation for why the world is the way it is.”
1979—peak of global per capita energy use—the apex of civilization. You were born the first year into the decline—the other side of the bell shaped curve.

White’s Law: a widely accepted rule in human ecology that takes energy use per capita as the primary measure of economic development.

All time peak 1979 after which two centuries of explosive progress began to unravel.
The industrial age is a pulse waveform, a single bell shaped non-repeating curve centered on 1979.
More project assumptions:

Rejects the myth of progress and places are position squarely on the downward slope—preventing the industrial age form ending is an impossibility.

On placing yourself in the future:

the resulting paradox being a source of creativity and insight. P62
Documenting the ruins left behind by the retreat of industrial civilization
On Becoming less prosthetic—(“the less prosthetic will inherit the earth.”) meeting one’s needs with less, the art of going without. P89
Introduce your vision of spirituality and explore it and it’s teachings in the context of the deindustrial age.
The bicycle as an efficient way of converting human muscle power into mechanical energy—a technology that should be preserved and perpetuated into the deindustrial age. P158
P170-171 Meeting all the needs of a technology appropriate to the deindustrial age. Durable, independent, replicable, transparent (understand how it works by looking at it.
Post prosthetic society:

Focusing on human potential may be a better option.

In the process of creating a prosthetic society over the last three hundred years, we have vastly expanded our technological capacities at the cost of systematically neglecting the potentials within our own bodies and minds.
Specialized functions once performed by computers and complex machines returning to specialized humans—fascinating character list. The villager in charge of history—remember events, passing them on. The one good as calculating math in their head.
P204-205 good advertising quote regarding magic
You’re looking for the emergence of a post-industrial spirituality.

An attempt to (in addition to your vision) introduce on a mythic level, an emotionally powerful and symbolically meaningful narrative.

A new vision of destiny

The reason visions are hard to come by is because the progress myth has dominated the scene for so long and is wearing thin now.

Those who attempt to imagine the next economy, the next society, or even the next energy system might be well advised to take at least a passing glance in the direction of the next spirituality as well.

To outgrow the habit of mind that subordinates human values to the needs of technology


Those who accept the reality of decline and get by on less energy, fewer resources, and less technology than their competitors will win out.

After a prosthetic society

On the Gazprom post: a good example of Greer’s catabolic collapse theory, a civilization eating itself by increasing capital costs (building elaborate palaces for the ruling class).

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