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


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Goals for today:

build basic structure of site—enter recent work—update to tolerable level

Email Heather

Decide on entry point for “forces of nature” show

Add donation items—come up with more donation services.

Do you need something to distinguish the main page form the sub pages? Like maybe the sub pages could have a different fill for the panels?—you kinda know where to look on the page for navigation things.—it’s so clean you cant really get lost. Still… For aesthetics?
Flat bottom
At some point you have to say—it’s as good as I can do. It’s good enough. And move on.

The blue is your flair—

Note in archive that there are no links back to this site—perhaps open in a new window/tab
Ran on two ways of responding to energy decline and climate change:

More generally, the two responses to weakness and failure are the surfaces of two deep assumptions about the meaning of life. One of them says, we are here to satisfy our desires and live in perfect bliss, and anything that interferes with that is wrong, and can and must be eliminated. The other says, we are here to learn, to adapt, to get along with other beings, and anything that causes pain is guiding us on that path, and we should pay attention to it.

You can see these two philosophies in the two responses to energy decline and climate change. One says, we'll just come up with a fix that will allow us to continue economic "growth" and late-20th-century industrial affluence forever. The other says, energy decline and climate change are forcing us to live in balance with the rest of the world. Even if there is some easy escape from these crises, they are guiding us to make changes that are good for us to make anyway.

So obviously I didn’t make it.
One: no money.

Two: I knew if I quit working on the thread project for too long I might not go back to it.
Anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to, riding out the winter in California: redesigning the project’s goals and website. Staying up till sunrise then sleeping till mid afternoon.
I’ve been looking at your blog… in moderation. It makes me feel a little sad actually. But don’t get me wrong, I love it.
So I guess this is to say that I’d like to see you again someday, wherever. And to let you know I’m not flaky, just impecunious.

Burning equipment in giant burn pits in the desert and you want to sell me greed as not such a bad thing.

Competing moustaches with original audio

Iraq for sale documentary ends with an, “I love my country.”
Go out and identify targets. Video people going to work at a refinery. Figure out where executives live and record their homes. Post the locations online. I think people would be into that. Even if half of it was made up. It’s about the pleasure of the thought.
Now that we know the bike is a viable (and much more pleasant) way to travel longer distances (albeit slowly).—in “then why bike?”
The project would end up ultimately being about free speech—not your subject. Plus you’ll probably get bumped off.
Fake project sponsors with adverts you made. Energy companies. Sponsored by SMUD.

Borrow audio from original adverts.

Chevron- human energy—identify audio- -- borrow logo/font,

Never admit they’re not actually your sponsors.

Sponsors are the big companies whose executives you’re identifying the homes of.

Those standing in the way of the dismantling of civilization—defending the ?current system?

Picard says new technologies are great. Says (basically) that renouncing cars would be as crazy stupid as going back to cave days. Says to buy new technology and that new technology will lead to the improvement of life here on earth. Wants to set a good example for the people of earth—“if they made it around the planet with no energy, maybe I can go with a little less.
Maybe you should slowly introduce bottlenecks and weak points. Pipelines and such—supply lines, depth underground. Etc. that wouldn’t necessarily give the project away so quickly. Just slip in a photo of a security fence once in a while for the short term.
I mean if it’s necessary you can always say you’re doing it in the name of safety—identifying weak points as a public service.
If some of us want out of this nightmare we should be able to take steps toward what we think will be a better more humane world. Those that wish to keep the nightmare (and if you think it’s not a nightmare google [name of Picard’s disease charity]) going are going to have to get out of the way.
Burning piles of machinery in the Iraqi desert

BBC—greed not so bad?

Kicked out from under a freeway overpass in the name of safety and fences.
Favorite Oxymorons:

Sustainable development- in reference to building new things

You design the far-away project (target) and I’ll carry it out remotely. After a feasibility study. The piece is half yours.
You tube UAV kill-vids for “forces of nature”

Titled “force of nature”

I just thought physics and things exploding.

First some '"good news"; given that our world economy is built on consuming land, resources, water and air, a recession helps the Earth.

Woolworth's workers on their final day (Image: PA)

Workers losing their jobs do not see the recession as a good thing

We fly less; we drive less; we burn less oil and gas and dig up fewer mountains to provide iron ore, bauxite or copper.

Look back at post-war graphs and you'll find the most reliable way to cut carbon emissions is an economic depression.
For years, environmentalists have preached on the evils of rampant consumerism; now we have got the opposite (I don’t think an economic slowdown qualifies as ‘the opposite’ or rampant consumerism), are they smiling?
Barely, and not just because they risk offending former Woolworths or Nissan workers.
The recession has also revealed the shallowness of that philosophy. If being pro-environment means simply being anti-economy, that means unemployment, social unrest and six billion people in serious trouble.

Oh god, social unrest! How terrible! This makes me want to stop going to BBC for news. Six billion people are already in trouble because the life support systems of the planet they live on are in serious danger of failing. Former Nissan workers will have to find something to do other than build cars. You can’t change anything from within the system. The system will not be reformed. It includes no mechanisms for reprogramming. It must be taken offline and replaced. Sure, this will be chaotic but we have no other choice. A global recession will be good at exposing the weaknesses, vulnerabilities and inflexibilities of the current global economic system. Anything that slows the destruction of the living planet is a good thing. It’s ridiculous to value the jobs of some Australian miners over entire ecosystems and species. The only place this makes sense is from within the current system where profits and economic growth rule. It’s over—the planet has announced its mandate. I’m sorry miners are loosing their jobs but I’m infinitely more happy that the destruction they do to the landscape will (at least temporarily) be curtailed.

You need to stick to what you’re actually interested in—imagining a future characterized by contraction, the decline of industrial civilization. Does it have to be relevant in terms of life changing to your audience: maybe not. You’re projecting yourself this far into the future and you like what it looks like there (for many reasons) so your going to identify glimpses of that world in the current ones. Little pieces—their light shining through cracks in the concrete. For example you don’t really mind a mega project such as a giant container shipping port because how fucking amazing is it going to be when that place is a big pile of rust? What will it be used for? Who will live there? Will it have spiritual significance? It’s like reverse cultural anthropology. It’s an exercise in imagination and balancing one’s imagination with select pieces of “now”.

Can greed be harnessed to support our world, not destroy it?


New, more efficient technology does not lead to a net reduction in the use of resources. The opposite is true. Resource (energy) savings are sucked up in the production and distribution of the new technology as it is made available (and desirable—advertising) to an ever-widening circle of people (china).

We squandered a trillion barrels of earth’s most perfect energy source—used it to wield the power of gods. Mostly to build cities and blow each other up.

Someone once asked me what we should have done with it. Left it where it was.

Levy Images:
The Earthen Levee as Civilization’s Margin
These two images were taken within minutes of each other on opposite sides of Lovdal Levee. The trapezoidal wall of earth and stone was built to protect Sacramento and other California Central Valley communities from the floodwaters of a periodically swollen Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. On this bright January morning I had pedaled east from Davis and traversed the Yolo Bypass floodplain by way of a 3.2 mile long elevated highway viaduct known as the Yolo Causeway. This time of year (after a good storm) the bypass can be completely full of water, but California was in the middle of a very dry month. I arrived at the Levee in time to witness two very different scenes; specific enough in their implied significance to trigger a moment of clarity.

On the city side was a yellow truck rumbling down the bike path. It had been outfitted with an array of storage tanks, hoses, and nozzles: transforming an ordinary vehicle into a mobile herbicide delivery system. A figure, dressed head to tow in a chemical protection suit, stood on the truck’s modified tailgate directing an unbroken stream of aquamarine tinted liquid onto the “weeds” at the path’s edge. I tried not to breath as the noxious cloud of herbicide mist and diesel exhaust floated past.

The floodplain side is paid far less attention. It’s been designated a “wildlife management area” which really means that (because it’s occasionally underwater) it has little use to humans. But the trees and other plant life, as well as the birds and small mammals that make this area their home, aren’t no much managed as left to their own devices. It seems to be this unsupervised quality of life beyond the levee that attracted the dozen or so human occupants of a small tent village established at the base of the earthen wall.
Mining such an obvious dichotomy for meaning, I began to equate everything on the city side of the levy with industrial civilization. The herbicide truck was the perfect symbol of civilized human’s compulsion to contain and control wild nature; the epitome of the doctrine: what refuses to conform to civilization’s rigid lines must be exterminated or displaced. Here, safe on the inside, I felt the insulation and separateness that keeps us cut off from the rest of the living planet. I felt the fear of the unknown; of what cannot be “managed.”

A levy, in and of itself, is a structure designed to control the flooding that is natural to any river delta. It makes the unpredictable predictable (at least until it fails). In our model it represents civilization’s margin. It is the castle wall: tasked with keeping the messy unpredictable world where it belongs. It is just outside this engineered security that our tent dwellers have chosen to reside. They live without many of the comforts and conveniences most of us are accustom to, but pay no rent, no mortgage, no property taxes, and no utility bills. They come and go as they please with no one looking over their shoulder. They tread lightly on the land and enjoy an amazing view of the wetlands. They got to choose exactly how far from their tenting neighbors was comfortable, working such details out amongst themselves.

The price to live here on the fringe is knowing your place is not permanent. It requires a certain flexibility and mobility; a willingness to let the weather decide when it’s time to move on; to give up control to something larger than oneself. The tent community will have to relocate their homes when the water rises again but the process can’t be worse than getting an eviction notice from the bank that owns your toothpick and vinyl track house.
I’m not trying to glorify or romanticize homelessness. I’m sure that, given the option, they’d trade for a suburban home and a Ford Explorer in a heartbeat. I’d like to think that fact doesn’t diminish the potency of the model they provide. As this country finds itself increasingly impoverished, greater numbers of its citizens will gather at society’s edges, eager to escape the chaos and turmoil of its core. As Dmitry Orlov points out in his recent book Reinventing Collapse, “these margins may turn out to be some of the best places to live.”
About me:
So the café where I’m working is almost full. There are no seats in the laptop section besides the one opposite me at my table and the one across form my female neighbor. Dude comes to sit with the woman and asks if he can put has bag on the chair—as he’s setting it down. I say nothing because he’s off to pick up his drink. When he returns I say I’d prefer if his bag stays off the chair because I’d rather not look like I’m occupying an entire table in case someone wants to share. He’s surprised by this request and says no one is going to sit there but removes his bag anyway. I say someone might because it’s the last chair in the café (and it shouldn’t be reserved for a backpack). He mutters something.
No one sits at my table.
About me’ section Ideas:
Perceived personal weaknesses/limitations:

Introverted ?(have difficulty starting conversations with strangers)?

Judgmental tendencies

Slow reader

Oversensitive—especially to criticism

Get comfortable easily

Periodic lack of motivation (related to previous)

Slivers of hypocrisy?



Comfortable being alone

Ability to shift scale and see the larger picture.
Current reading:

Sculpting in Time by A. Tarkovsky

“And what are moments of illumination if not momentarily felt truth?”

BA, University of California at Davis

MFA, University of Chicago
Things I want to do before I die: (too romantic for the site)
Take a refinery offline

Run a café

Ride my bike around the world

Fall in love again

Artistic interests:

Contraction of the hydrocarbon economy

Post collapse aesthetics

The Critique of Civilization
Personal website:
Chevron human energy music: symbiotic by paul leonard morgan
Donation Services:
Send you something by mail—something acquired along the way?
Slow Mail:

I’ll deliver, by bicycle, a piece of correspondence intended for someone along the proposed route. You can either email your letter and I’ll print it and put it in an envelope or I can pick up your already sealed envelope if you’re on the route or not too far away.
Remote Open Collaboration: ROC

You design a site-specific (how specific is up to you) piece and I’ll execute it.

(after a feasibility study)—actually this is kinda like what you’ve done for Alex.

Image to Portable Device

Every day at exactly the same specified time i’ll snap a picture of whatever’s directly in front of me with my phone and send it to your mobile or PDA.
Recite Tarkovsky speech in a town square or an equivalent outdoor public space. I’ll record it and send you a copy on DVD.
Dumpster diving advert
Never admit that the ride and the larger project are the “art.” The larger project is simply a context and a vehicle for producing work.
Great assignment for a class on land use: give the student coordinates they must type into google earth then make them write about and attempt to identify what they’re looking at
In ‘about me’—artists: (center for land use interpretation)
Figure out ‘open in new window’
Disneyland Megaresort Parking Garage

Mickey & Friends Parking Structure- largest in North America?
In 2006, Los Angeles County provided 53.22% of California's total oil refinery capacity and 6.02% of that for the entire nation.

[This is appropriate considering they’re driving most of the cars.]
email ran and CLUI when project outline reaches completion
art related links:

Center for land use interpretation
CLUI might have some ideas for funding or want to be involved somehow

They have an exhibition space in LA

What links all these potential sites? What do they have in common?

Many of them are environmental disasters, many will be viewed as mistakes, they’re of enormous scale. They’re scale and the materials they’re built with will insure their survival well into the future making them potential sites of significance in a post collapse world. Will they be pilgrimage sites? Will they have religious/spiritual significance? The collapsing economy is a good thing for the preservation of such unique places as the cost of demolition and cleanup becomes unaffordable and of low priority.

Richmond Shipyards

The most productive ship building center anywhere durring WWII. What are all those idential white vehicles?
San Francisco Naval ShipyardAs in most industrial zones of the era, Hunter's Point has had a succession of coal and oil fired power generation facilities, and these have left a legacy of pollution, both from smokestack effluvients and leftover byproducts that were dumped in the vicinity. The base was entirely closed in 1994, although it continues to receive attention due to the large amounts of toxic waste remaining to be cleaned up.
Lompoc Diatomaceous Earth MineBasically chalk.
Betteravia, CA: Abandoned Sugar Plant and Company Town.Plant closed since 1993.
Santa Susana Field LaboratoryText
Port of Los AngelesText
Los Angeles County Oil RefineriesTen total.
Disneyland Megaresort Parking GarageAlso known as the Mickey & Friends Parking Structure, this __ acre block of concrete is rumored to be North America's largest garage.
San Onofre Nuclear Generating StationAfectionately nicknamed the Dolly Partons becouce of the nippled domes of the cotainment buildings, the station was, "built to withstand a 7.0 magnitude earthquake directly under the plant."
Hearst Castle?

Vandenburg AFB—Abandoned spaceport

Space Launch complex 10—arrange in advance

Rich peoples garbage-- landfill


Hidden hills gated town—withiest in country

Ventura oil field—tapped out?

Seal beach warship ammunition storage site
news report on cars waiting at the seaport to be moved because the dealerships aren’t selling anything—Long Beach Port
EIA website:

Notice to Readers:
The Energy Market Maps, Energy Infrastructure Maps, and Renewable Energy Maps were removed from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) web site on June 21, 2002, for national security reasons. We apologize for any inconvenience.
Dos Cuadras Offshore Oil Field—Santa Barbara
Be sure to mention what an oil/energy rich region your going through—see Santa Barbara County map.
Ads for some of the locations.—the spaceport with ICBM footage?
Closest thing to an abandoned spaceport in the US—maybe Russia
Nuclear plants because of the way their built—to withstand earthquakes—will be around for a really really long time.
Your site descriptions should say why the site is important for this project—what aspect of this place are you most concerned with/interested in?
Diablo Canyon Tours:


Call one week before—renew request for grounds tour—said he’d call up and see if anyone can take a few minutes to give a tour of the grounds.

(Mr. Miller)

there is a commonality among many of your sites: they are difficult to get close to.

Launch Complex Access:

The Vandenberg AFB public tour program recently resumed after it was suspended two years ago due to heightened security levels at this active base. Tours are available the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month, security and mission permitting. Tours depart from the visitor's center parking lot at 10:00am, take visitor by bus through the base and include a tour of the Heritage Museum, which provides mock-ups of missile silos, an old missile control station and decommissioned rocket engines. Tour duration is two hours, and participants are encouraged to arrive 30 minutes prior to departure time. Reservations are required at least two weeks in advance and visitors need two forms of photo identification. No walk-ons are permitted. For reservations and more information call the 30th Space Wing Public Affairs office at 805-606-3595.

805 606 2076

Maybe you should talk with that guy—he’s been to at least three of your sites.
The ‘inspirational documentary series’—about folks living their dreams.
Theabald—professor of ASPO committee teaching at UCD
Two students in a communication class—professor had to sneak in peak oil

Dear Mr. President, you are presiding over an epochal contraction, not a pause in the growth epic. Your assignment is to manage that contraction in a way that does not lead to world war, civil disorder or both. Among other things, contraction means that all the activities of everyday life need to be downscaled including standards of living, ranges of commerce, and levels of governance. "Consumerism" is dead. Revolving credit is dead -- at least at the scale that became normal the last thirty years. The wealth of several future generations has already been spent and there is no equity left there to re-finance.

living locally, working hard at things that matter, and preserving civilized culture.
What does the age of contraction look like—what kind of trends are it characterized by? Things leaving the money economy—the decay of industrial infrastructure—an improvement in the environment (quote from reinventing collapse, cleaner air—then address job loss and mass unemployment.
Sunset on the golden age of consumption advert.

Reverse sunrise—“welcome to the winter of industrial civilization”

Welcome to the end of the grown paradigm.

Welcome to the end of consumerism

All the front doors of places you lived in college—photo project as donation gift
Freeway overpass video and audio layering/buildup as advert
Photograph every item advert—(right before departure)
Sound of the ocean with slow pan out on plant image advert
Links to everything you craigslist? NO

Upper middleclass series

—with family home tour (show previews)

Using end civ for advertising purposes-??
Use middle class dreams for advert.
Brett Prom series as donation gift.
Desert storm cards as donation gift?
Maybe at some level the species realizes it has doomed itself by making the planet uninhabitable. Could this be behind the strange compulsion to turn ourselves into computers?—this is so Ran.
Essay on Idleness:

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