Crusoe Lonesome Lake

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I read Leland Stowe's work in the 60's http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1656210.Crusoe_of_Lonesome_Lake

I see a show on tv called "Mountain Men" that seems to be Crusoe redux.

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douglaslee
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

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The mountain man narrator has an English accent that allows him to read bullshit and no one thinks twice. Americans assign a degree of authority to an English accent.

In the first show he said "Bears run towards gunfire now that they're a protected species knowing they won't get shot but might get hunting scavenge".

How did the bears get briefed that they were now protected?

Was it the two bears studied that were fellating each other? Obviously an evolutionary curve is involved here.

He also said of the plane in Alaska, "Even a little frost will weigh his plane down". No, weight is not the issue, aerodynamics is.

One other thing, they show two guys building a tree stand by hauling the split log planks up by hand. Why not use a longer rope and a branch as a pulley for leverage? I dunno, I'm just not one for roughing it when unneccessary, physics always applies.

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douglaslee
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote douglaslee:

I read Leland Stowe's work in the 60's http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1656210.Crusoe_of_Lonesome_Lake

I see a show on tv called "Mountain Men" that seems to be Crusoe redux.

I read that back in the sixties myself. It's one of the deeper inspirations behind my own efforts to learn and eventually teach wilderness survival skills, and my interest in a form of psychology and a practice that's come out of that, now called ecopsychology (Google it if it sounds interesting, otherwise do the google earth version of exploring nature with your computer, or watch The Mountain Men for entertainment)

This true story brings out the conundrum we civilized moderns face between our notion of independence and individuality while being supported by our social system that provides so much we take for granted. Tea Party anti government libertarians who've never actually tried to survive on their own often forget these crucial features of their existence.

The Mountain Men... Didn't know about it 'till you brought it up. Apparently there's now a sudden surge of interest in this wilderness-oriented topic with the recent success of DeCaprio's Revenant.

Watching a movie or a television show about wilderness living is like taking a google earth tour of the wilds. According to the United Nations, 54 percent of the world's population lives in urban areas now, expected to increase to 66 percent by 2050.

I don't know precisely how that breaks down per nation, but the statistics on this World Bank chart offers a few clues. Picking out a few key industrialized nations indicates to me that the population of industrialized nations tends to concentrate in urban areas. Here are a few:

United States: 81%

United Kingdom 82%

Sweden 85%

Venezuela 89%

Australia 89%

France 79%

Germany 75%

Some people call these highly urbanized societies "developed" nations. Some of those who use that categorization, also think of "developed" as the ideal we humans are progressing towards, and that we of these developed nations are now in the position of "helping" the "developing" or sometimes called "underdeveloped" nations to become like us.

But here's where we might begin to employ our capacities for skepticism about our capacity to deceive ourselves with our language. The question I raise is about the essential sustainability of cities themselves.

Cities and civilization are correlates. From the above statistics, its clear that more and more humans are born, raised and die in cities, and the notion of sustainability never even comes up in more and more members of our species' lifetimes. But now, with issues coming to our attention, like the impending impacts of climate change on our increasingly urban ways of living around the globe, the de-speciation and monoculturization of vast ecologies of the planet that's leading to a Sixth Mass Extinction, all of which can be directly related to our species' need to bring resources from somewhere else to maintain life within these cities, the specter of unsustainability raises its head.

A key feature in nearly all past societal collapse that Joseph Tainter explored in his study of collapsing civilizations (The Collapse of Complex Societies) is something we might call unsustainability practices. Urbanization and its correlate complexity problem solving practices have been a common a path among past societies that leads away from a sustainable practice. A sustainable practice would be a long term practice that includes an understanding and a correlated respect for the natural world that creates and sustains the biosphere we also tend to take for granted. A biosphere that we need to maintain the possibility of drawing a breath moment after moment until the day we stop breathing. Meanwhile, humans become myopically focused on immediate problems that tend to complexify geometrically as their unsustainable practices become ever more institutionally complex, and thereby follow a human-centric set of strategies that inevitably lead to their society's collapse.

This is the opposite of that Crusoe of Lonesome Lake's intentional experience. Do we need to be that extreme to get back in touch with our biosphere? I don't know. But reading it raises some questions about what we are actually doing.

In other words, the path we call progress, with an implied positive spin, and a self congratulatory slap on the back, may well be a path to eventual unsustainability, and to collapse of our current increasingly urbanized, deeply anti-nature way of life.

Here's an essay excerpted from Tainter's follow up book to the above Collapse study (Getting Down to Earth: Practical Applications Of Ecological Economics (International Society for Ecological Economics):

COMPLEXITY, PROBLEM SOLVING, AND SUSTAINABLE SOCIETIES

Quote Joseph Tainter:

In this era of global environmental change we face what may be humanity's greatest crisis. The cluster of transformations labeled global change dwarfs all previous experiences in its speed. in the geographical scale of its consequences, and in the numbers of people who will be affected (Norgaard 1994). Yet many times past human populations faced extraordinary challenges, and the difference between their problems and ours is only one of degree. One might expect that in a rational, problem-solving society, we would eagerly seek to understand historical experiences. In actuality, our approaches to education and our impatience for innovation have made us averse to historical knowledge (Tainter 1995a). In ignorance, policy makers tend to look for the causes of events only in the recent past (Watt 1992). As a result, while we have a greater opportunity than the people of any previous era to understand the long-term reasons for our problems, that opportunity is largely ignored. Not only do we not know where we are in history, most of our citizens and policy makers are not aware that we ought to.

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.ren
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Apr. 1, 2010 6:50 am

I just want to add three little paragraphs from Tainter's above referenced essay, doug. The last, in particular, may directly relate to your Crusoe in the wilderness theme and its "redux" version, The Mountain Men. We generally use the term redux to refer to a return of sorts. Thus, the second paragraph below may explain why we get these recurring veins of interest in these individualist in the wilderness stories:

Quote Joseph Tainter:

The graph in Figure 4.1 is based on these arguments. As a society increases in complexity, it expands investment in such things as resource production, information processing, administration, and defense. The benefit/cost curve for these expenditures may at first increase favorably, as the most simple, general, and inexpensive solutions are adopted (a phase not shown on this chart). Yet as a society encounters new stresses, and inexpensive solutions no longer suffice, its evolution proceeds in a more costly direction. Ultimately a growing society reaches a point where continued investment in complexity yields higher returns, but at a declining marginal rate. At a point such as B1, C1 on this chart a society has entered the phase where it starts to become vulnerable to collapse. [2]

(Graph in figure 4.1)

Two things make a society liable to collapse at this point. First new emergencies impinge on a people who are investing in a strategy that yields less and less marginal return. As such a society becomes economically weakened it has fewer reserves with which to counter major adversities. A crisis that the society might have survived in its earlier days now becomes insurmountable.

Second, diminishing returns make complexity less attractive and breed disaffection. As taxes and other costs rise and there are fewer benefits at the local level, more and more people are attracted by the idea of being independent. The society "decomposes" as people pursue their immediate needs rather than the long-term goals of the leadership. [3]

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.ren
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Apr. 1, 2010 6:50 am

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