Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Archaic Revival

I borrowed the title for this post from one of Terence McKenna's books. I'm sure Terence wouldn't mind. He passed away a few years ago, but left a body of work and a number of deep, original ideas, to justify his time on this Earth, and that of several thousand of his contemporaries, left and right. Actually, just the other day I was looking for skeletons in closets, and a letter from him appeared. From the late 90's. Happy that his work was being published in South America.
Old Terence McKenna, on his soap box, a soap box of the intellect really, and of deep spirituality, railing against the sprawl, the materialism, the mega-malls, the turning of our backs to Nature.
This is where Nick Batts' farm, Inyoni Organics, appears in the narrative, because.... I mean just look at the pictures here. All this, with chicken manure, and soap water, and an old John Deere tractor and some very dedicated hands. Just look at the scene. Doesn't it awake something in you? Something long forgotten, something that you may never have experienced yourself but is in your jeans-genes? That's right. A patch of land, surrounded by forest on all sides. Human toil, sweat, the uncertainty of the floods and the locusts and all the biblical stuff. To eke, to coax something out of the Earth. The Archaic Revival.
Right off the bat, let me say that Mr Nick and his people deserve all the support we can give them, so if you happened upon this and you live in this part of the world, please show up every Saturday morning, from 9 to 1 (although I hope he runs out of stuff to sell before closing time), buy some of their produce, be their friend. Support them, like I said. Colonial and McGregor, the big park around the Alliance for the Arts, you can't miss it. So that's that.
It seems that all I say, and all I write about, is about how we've become so out of touch with the realities of the land, and of Nature, and how we need to start paying more attention to how our food is grown and what compromises we make regarding this, and all that. So I won't say anything about that now. Except that Inyoni Organics doesn't make any compromises at all, and I saw it myself, and it's not bullshit. A lot of people have PR departments working on making them look green and sustainable and whatever. Mr Nick & Co. are the real deal, period.
I will talk about how it feels to be driving on Immokalee Rd, and this happens every time I'm in that area, in fact I have a friend that lives near those parts too, who raises chickens and is the most knowledgeable guy about local insects and plants, but to be driving along that road, and one whole side has been colonized by aliens. I mean on one side of the road, East I guess, the sun was coming up that way, you have a reality one can make sense of: Florida pine forest, nurseries, farms, some scattered houses. Like I said, it makes sense. We can live with that. It's not an Eden. It's not the primeval forests that Terence spent half his life wandering into and about. It's a compromise. The US Mail gets there. You can mail-order seeds or shells for the shotgun or a subscription to Vanity Fair. You can have a kick-ass organic farm there, too. You can raise some chickens, like my friend B, and go to work elsewhere every morning if you need to. You can get cable TV, if you care for that.
But the other side of the road has been colonized, razed, it's become a caricature of paradise, a completely unsustainable distopia of golf course after golf course, all greedy and thirsty and hungry for pesticides and fertilizers and cheap illegal immigrant labor, for gas-guzzling leaf blowers and lawn mowers and all full of desperate signs, "NOW DOWN TO THE LOW 200's", etc, you get the picture. And next to the golf courses, McMansions. All built in haste to milk the bubble. All made of cheap vinyl and faux stuff and Chinese drywall, all built on a little plot carefully poisoned for generations before the foundation is laid (they do that, you know... it's not a figure of speech), all with generous foyers and family rooms and granite countertops and garages big enough for the Pathfinder and the Patriot with room to spare for the jet-ski and the ATV.
Good farmland razed for this. Native forest razed for this. Charming country lanes, old homesteads, bald eagle nests, citrus groves razed for this shit. It makes sense, if you can only measure life in cold hard dollars. If you measure life that way, you're a poor cretin. I don't want to meet you or talk to you or be your friend. Because, look at what you're doing. Just look for a second.
OK, what I'm trying to say here is that all that land would have been much better off had it been left to the care of the likes of Nick. Or Horace. Or Ken. Or any farmer with an old pickup truck, a shotgun on a rack and a confederate flag (and I hate those, the flags I mean, not the shotguns, they're OK in the hands of decent adults)
Will we see an Archaic Revival, with the whole fucking bubble deflating and losing steam? Will we see Suburbia reconverted to farming? Will our current Gulf Coast Town Center shopping extravaganza be the last one built, ever? Will we have to suffer yet more golf courses and McMansions for graying people who can't think of anything better to do than to hit a little white ball on a chemical lawn and then drive the Caddy to Carrabba's for early bird dinner?
Who knows, and the current administration doesn't have a clue. These guys, starting with the empty suit in chief (and I voted for him, so shut up), are creating Cash For Clunkers schemes with yet more hastily printed money, making all the right noises about "growth" and blowing the Goldman Sachs honchos every night, if you'll pardon my French. When they should be supporting small farmers and manufacturers, thinking hard about how to reconvert our society to something more sustainable that can survive the coming crises, thinking about how to grow our food close to home, invest in rail and bicycles and dense urbanization that doesn't require Mom putting 70 miles a day to drive to work and then drive Bratleigh around for ballet and Cici's pizza in the Suburban. In a word, I don't have a lot of hope anyone has a clue. Except for a few guys here and there. Like Nick, gentleman farmer, who I hope makes a killing at the Market and has a really good season.
Sorry for the rant, but I'm too tired to think straight. It's the best I could come up with, and apologies if any feathers were ruffled. It's all in good cheer.
Good night, and good luck.

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