A Camera Is A Tool For Seeing Without A Camera

The post title is a quote attributed to probably the most notable photographer during the Great Depression.  Her name was Dorthea Lange.  Whether Dorthea herself uttered that wisdom has yet to be proven but I can attest that after 30 years of snapping photos [mostly nature, weather and music performances] that this quote has lived up to its claim.  I spent quite a good deal of time behind a camera — until I saw something happening to the landscape of this country that made me put it down in exchange for a pen.  My photos weren’t loud enough for what I needed to say.
Migrant Mother’ – Dorthea Lange, 1936
‘Migrant Mother’ was Lange’s most famous image — an iconic photo in American history. Lange was concluding a month’s trip photographing migratory farm labor around the state of California for what was then the Resettlement Administration.  There are no known restrictions on the use of Lange’s “Migrant Mother” series of images. A rights statement from the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information with the black-and-white negatives is available online to this day.  
According to Wiki: The Resettlement Administration (RA) was a New Deal U.S. federal agency that, between April 1935 and December 1936, relocated struggling urban and rural families to communities planned by the federal government.  The organization had four divisions: Rural Rehabilitation, Rural Resettlement, Land Utilization, and Suburban Resettlement.
The goal of moving 650,000 people from 100,000,000 acres of agriculturally exhausted, worn-out land was unpopular among the majority in Congress. This goal threatened to deprive influential farm owners of their tenant workforce. The RA was thus left with enough resources to relocate only a few thousand people from 9,000,000 acres and build several greenbelt cities, which planners admired as models for a cooperative future that never arrived.
…a cooperative future that never arrived.
Seems the one that was admired then is coming up on its own as a matter of necessity. Economic hardship, which on the surface does not appear to be anywhere near as bad as Dorthea’s photo suggests — but then, the government isn’t going to hire a photographer to go out and take those photos.  Now that press is owned by ‘influential owners’ who would be ‘deprived’ of their advertising dollars. They don’t want us to see those images but we see them without cameras.  In our neighborhoods, cities and streets.  Same as war images that are no longer shown or are photoshopped into so much propaganda, or the mainstream ‘wag the dog’ embedded reporting.  
Media has changed since 1936 and has had some glorious moments of integrity.  The time of courageous reporting from Edward R. Murrow is past and we have revisited (and somehow stooped lower) than McCarthyism.  There are few dissenting voices of reason on the idiot box.  That is something else that is coming up on its own as a matter of necessity — with internet freedoms — how long that will last is a matter of opinion and speculation.  Eventually, all opinion and speculation will mean nothing without electricity.  
Something that hasn’t changed since 1936 — agriculturally exhausted, worn-out land.  Now we have a population that has more than tripled because of cheap oil.  Add global warming to the mix, failing infrastructure and resource depletion and we’re staring down the barrel of an even larger humanitarian crisis in the United States. And what is popular with Congress?  Monsanto. 
The best thing for it IS a cooperative future.  Permaculture heals the land and so does community working together.  That cooperative future is arriving whether the government points a camera at it or not.
No electricity isn’t so scary for some photographers . . . natural light is best anyway.
Moonrise , Hernandez , NM – 1941 / Ansel Adams

Greece Is The Word

The following lengthy quote is from a learned Greek scholar:

“So revolutions broke out in city after city, and in places where the revolutions occurred late the knowledge of what had happened previously in other places caused still new extravagances of revolutionary zeal, expressed by an elaboration in the methods of seizing power and by unheard-of atrocities in revenge.  To fit in with the change of events, words, too, had to change their meanings. What used to be described as a thoughtless act of aggression was now regarded as the courage one might expect to find in a party member; to think of the future and wait was merely another way of saying one was a coward; any idea of moderation was just an attempt to disguise one’s unmanly character; ability to understand a question from all sides meant that one was totally unfitted for action. Fanatical enthusiasm was the mark of a real man, and to plot against an enemy behind his back was perfectly legitimate self-defense.  Anyone who held violent opinions could always be trusted and anyone who objected to them became suspect.  To plot successfully was a sign intelligence, but it was still cleverer to see that a plot was hatching.  If one attempted to provide against having to do either, one was disrupting the unity of the party and acting out of fear of the opposition.  In short, it was equally praiseworthy to get one’s blow in first against someone who was going to do wrong, and to denounce someone who had no intention of doing any wrong at all.  Family relations were a weaker tie than party membership, since party members were more ready to go to any extreme for any reason whatever. These parties were not formed to enjoy the benefits of established laws, but to acquire power by overthrowing the existing regime; and the members of these parties felt confidence in each other not because of any fellowship in a religious communion, but because they were partners in crime.  If an opponent made a reasonable speech, the party in power, so far from giving it a generous reception, took every precaution to see that it had no practical effect.
Revenge was more important than self-preservation, And if pacts of mutual security were made, they were entered into by the two parties only in order to meet some temporary difficulty, and remained in force only so long as there was no other weapon available.  When the chance came, the one who seized it boldly, catching the enemy off his guard, enjoyed a revenge that was all the sweeter from having taken, not openly, but because of a breach of faith.  It was safer that way, it was considered, and at the same time a victory won by treachery gave one a title for superior intelligence.  And indeed most people are more ready to call villainy cleverness than simple-mindedness honesty.  They are proud of the first quality and ashamed of the second.
Love of power, operating through greed and through personal ambition, was the cause of all these evils.  To this must be added violent fanaticism which came into play once the struggle had broken out. Leaders of parties in the cities had programmes which appeared admirable – on one side political equality for the masses, on the other the safe and sound government of the aristocracy – but in professing to serve the public interest they were seeking to win the prizes for themselves.  In their struggle for ascendancy nothing was barred; terrible indeed were the actions to which they committed themselves, and in taking revenge they went farther still.  Here they were deterred neither by claims of justice nor by the interests of the state; their one standard was the pleasure of their own party at that particular moment, and so, either by means of condemning their enemies on an illegal vote or by violently usurping power over them, they were always ready to satisfy the hatreds of the hour.  Thus neither side had any use for conscientious motives; more interest was shown in those who could produce attractive arguments to justify some disgraceful action.  As for the citizens who held moderate views, they were destroyed by both extreme parties, either for not taking part in the struggle or in envy at the possibility that they might survive.
As the result of these revolutions, there was a general deterioration of character throughout the Greek world.  The simple way of looking at things, which is so much the mark of a noble nature, was regarded as a ridiculous quality and soon ceased to exist.  Society had become divided into two ideologically hostile camps, and each side viewed the other with suspicion.  As for ending this state of affairs, no guarantee could be given that would be trusted, no oath sworn that people would fear to break; everyone had come to the conclusion that it was hopeless to expect a permanent settlement and so, instead of being able to feel confident in others, they devoted their energies to providing against being injured themselves.  As a rule those who were the least remarkable for intelligence showed the greater powers of survival.  Such people recognized their own deficiencies and the superior intelligence of their opponents; fearing that they might lose a debate or find themselves out-maneuvered in intrigue by their quick-witted enemies, they boldly launched straight into action; while their opponents, overconfident in the belief that they would see what was happening in advance, and not thinking it necessary to seize by force what they could secure by policy, were the more easily destroyed because they were off guard.
Certainly it was in Corcyra that there occurred the first examples of the breakdown of law and order.  There was the revenge taken in their hour of triumph by those who had in the past been arrogantly oppressed instead of wisely governed; there were the wicked resolutions taken by those who, particularly under the pressure of misfortune, wished to escape from their usual poverty and coveted the property of their neighbors; there were the savage and pitiless actions into which men were carried not so much for the sake of gain as because they were swept away into internecine struggle by their ungovernable passions.  Then, with the ordinary conventions of civilized life thrown into confusion, human nature, always ready to offend even where laws exist, showed itself proudly in its true colors, as something incapable of controlling passion, insubordinate to the idea of justice, the enemy to anything superior to itself; for, if it had not been for the pernicious powers of envy, men would not so have exalted vengeance above innocence and profit above justice.  Indeed, it is true that in these acts of revenge on others men take it upon themselves to begin the process of repealing those general laws of humanity which are there to give a hope of salvation to all who are in distress, instead of leaving those laws in existence, remembering that there may be a time when they, too, will be in danger and will need their protection.”

Although the passage is descriptive of contemporary events in Greece, it was written by Thucydides about 2,500 years ago.  Actually, it could apply throughout history.  How soon until it arrives on our civilized shores?


Keiser Report / Episode 278 Holographic Economy

submitted by Gabrielle Price

In this episode, Max Keiser and co-host, Stacy Herbert discuss Dr Bernanke’s hologram and his real tsunami of money. In the second half of the show Max talks to Alec Empire of Atari Teenage Riot about copyright, Anonymous and free speech and the armed government goons sent to shakedown grannies.

Who Am I To Farm? Excerpt from The Permaculture Handbook

“The emergence of garden farms is at hand. Under the pressure of necessity as unemployment rippled through the economy, millions of North Americans turned to gardening or expanded their gardens in 2009 as evidenced by a 40% increase in vegetable seed sales.  Urban homesteading is spawning its own literature as energy descent forces more and more households to adapt in place.  With income constrained and energy and materials shortages looming, the only resources capable of filling the gap in livelihood are imagination, information, and knowledge, in particular a deeper understanding of the material cycles and energy flows of nature.  For that understanding, we look to permaculture, a language derived from the patterns of the world around us.”

Read more about Peter’s new book just uploaded at Permaculture Activist. 


Who Am I to Farm?
by Peter Bane
from issue #82, GROWING STAPLE CROPS • NOVEMBER 2011, excerpted from Peter’s new book: The Permaculture Handbook: Garden Farming for Town and Country.