Texas Stops Cities and Towns From Banning Fracking

Major spoiler warning for the movie There Will Be Blood

Texas Stops Cities and Towns From Banning Fracking

When I think of Corporate Conservatism I often think of the last scene of the movie There Will Be Blood.  In the scene an oil baron, played by Daniel Day Lewis, beats a preacher to death after he no longer has need of him.  Money will use anything it can to get power.  Once it has what it needs it will consume and destroy what no longer serves its purpose.

It should come as no surprise that those that for long have called for less government, for state’s rights, are now actually overturning local governmental decisions.  In a sense they are enforcing environmental regulations, but against the environment.  Years of conservative philosophy are being pissed on to serve the energy industry.  This is fun stuff, as conservative philosophy was already extremely in debt to the energy industry.  Now all guise of sanity is thrown out the window.  But this is their truest intentions laid bare.  Although this behavior by Texas is stupid, arrogant, and morally reprehensible, I think this is misstep by those that seek to destroy the environment over greed.  They can’t claim that these actions serve any principles other than the enrichment of a corrupt few.

The Silence and the Violence of Rain

Unsaid

The surprise thunderstorm draped
our town in linen. Even the mansard roofs
softened, and the businessmen
on the Square stopped to spy
blouses of rain
fall off the old opera house.
But mostly—
the miracle of lightning
quieted us.
That split second of light and heat
leaving the scent of old newspapers and salt.

By Dave Malone

It’s an absolute downpour in Austin right now.  Hence the poem about rain.

The Silence and the Violence of Rain

The Future Will Laugh At Us

Watching a nature show about Ireland.  There is a section about bats on it.  The show is talking about how good bats are not only for the ecosystem, but also how much they help people because of all of the pests they eat.  The show also talked about how people have this fear of bats from all the years they have been associated with vampires and other horror stories dating back a longtime.

Because humans didn’t have a true understanding of nature for so long, until science started explaining things, all of these superstitious stories were allowed to infiltrate our cultures.  Some of these superstitions, or fallacies about the natural world, still persist.  We often look upon human behavior in the past with a kind of comic detachment.  Monty Python and the Holy Grail made great fun of the condemning of witches.  What exists today that people in the future will laugh at in disbelief?

The Texas Hill Country

Going camping in the Texas hill country tonight, so this is probably me signing off for the day.   The Texas hill country is stunningly beautiful and looks nothing like what myself, and many who have visited, imagined when we think of Texas.  Tuscany in Italy is the closest landscape I can think of.  It is usually a deep green full of medium sized trees and rolling hills.  I have been all over the world and live oak trees are aome of the most beautiful I can think of.  They look like they were created with children playing in mind.  There is something warm and comforting in the hill country’s beauty.   Many beautiful places in nature overwhelm you with their scope.  They can leave you feeling small and lonesome even as you stare in wonder.  Meanwhile the hill country is inviting and fills you with a sense of safety, even if it is sometimes probably misplaced.  If you are a traveler, and haven’t yet been to central Texas, Google the Texas hill country.  I think you will be surprised by what you see. 

The Gods Must Be Crazy

Tomorrow morning I am getting a skin test.  I suffer from allergies that are beyond what most people associate with the term.  I took a skin test before and was allergic to every airborne allergen except for dog.  I haven’t been able to take antihistamines in the last week.  Posting has been a bit slow as I get closer and closer to outer space.  I almost find it to be comedy, as spending time outside is one of my favorite things to do.  Meanwhile nature, sometimes, hates my shit!  I often think of the title of the 1980 comedy The Gods Must Be Crazy!

I genuinely care about people, but I am an introvert who feels worn down and runs out of patience if I don’t get enough alone time.  I feel that there is a mysterious spiritual side to life, but when I am in church I never feel further away from it.  I could make many statements like these.  Maybe it isn’t the gods that are crazy, but me!  Who knows such things…

Under Different Deities

Heading back to Austin from a brief tour of Louisiana.   I will catch up on posting when I am home.  I did see a sign in a gas station today that said:  “Jefferson Davis Law – No Alcohol Sold Between 2 and 6am.”  So that happened.  I am glad that the ghosts of the Confederacy are attempting to keep me sober in the wee hours of the morning.  

In Denis Johnson’s book Tree of Smoke, his epic Vietnam novel, one of the characters come to the conclusion that different parts of the world are governed by different deities.  Each area operates under its own unique set of supernatural laws.  When one travels the United States, one can’t help but feel the same way.  Louisiana is not Texas is not Colorado is not wherever.  It isn’t just different cultures and economic forces shaping human behavior, but almost nature itself.  The haunted swamps of Louisiana create a different emotional context than the comforting greenery of the Texas hill country.   “God is alive and magic is afoot.”  The only question is what god and whose magic?  Anyone that claims to know is deluding themselves…

Werner Herzog and the Violence of Nature

My output has been a little slow the last two days due to a one two allergy punch of a high mold count and what is known in Texas as Cedar Fever.  I love nature, but sometimes she hates my shit!  I am a big supporter of protecting the environment.  I find the natural world fascinating, beautiful, and full of mystery, but I am under no illusions about the nature of nature.  Nature and evolution are a nonstop story of things killing other things.  Although I love to spend time in the outdoors I know that if I had to survive in the outdoors I would probably freeze, get dehydration, starve to death, drown, be eaten, or meet any other number of unfortunate ends.  When I went to snorkel at the great barrier reef last year they gave us a lecture before we left the boat about what could hurt you if you touched it.  The list was so long I just remember thinking, “well just don’t touch ANYTHING!”  The Australian beach and rainforest were also full of what not to do lists.  When I was at the beach on the edge of the rainforest there were all kinds of saltwater crocodile warnings.  Thinking about this tonight reminded me of Werner Herzog’s speech above.  This speech is from the documentary Burden of Dreams, which is about him making the movie Fitzcarraldo with Klaus Kinski.

The Texas Hill Country, Nature Photography, and Hillingdon Ranch

SD02_8423Thunderheads-copy

On my kitchen table sits the book Hillingdon Ranch: Four Seasons, Six Generations by David K. Langford & Lorie Woodward Cantu.  It’s a book featuring astounding photography that deals with one family’s ranch in the Texas Hill Country, but also with the larger themes of nature and conservation.  At some point I want to write a comprehensive piece on this book, but I’ve been slow to, as the visual arts, and photography especially, are not ones that I am as intellectually prepared to comment on.  Although I have some understanding of the machinations of film and television, with the other visual arts I often know what I like, but I don’t know as often how to describe it.  I am not as well versed in the technical language and the processes that go into painting or photography.

I do know that the photography in this book is absolutely stunning in the way that it hits you on an emotional level.  Langford has captured the Hill Country and the different seasons in all of their natural glory.  Anyone that has spent time in the Hill Country knows its allure.  There are many places in nature that are beautiful.  However, many places are filled with a lonesome kind of beauty, whereas the Texas Hill Country has a warm and friendly beauty to it.  There is something often comforting about it.  If you are interested in this region or photographs of Texas in particular, then I think this book is definitely one you should check out.

I think even if you are not familiar with the Texas Hill Country there are things that this book has to offer.  If you like nature photography in particular, there are many photos that look painterly in their composition.  The Hill Country has a wide ranging color palate from season to season.

I also think the book’s message of conservation and stewardship of the land are important ones to understand.  Not only is this aspect something that needs to be part of the larger environmental picture, but it is also a way to possibly reach people that might otherwise not be as inclined to act.

This book makes you see how nature is worth preserving, if for nothing else than the aesthetic beauty that would be hard to imagine living without.

Writing Exercises and Trees

fall-trees-1

Writing is a constant work in process.  Last night my girlfriend insisted that I try some writing exercises.  I don’t intend to share all or even most of them, but I wanted to share one, as I think doing exercises like this are helpful in pushing oneself to be a better writer, even if the actual thing you write is not that great.  The following was written stream of conscious.  That is kind of the point, to push the mind in different places and to write about things you normally might not write about.  The question for the writing exercise asked me to describe the trees of my childhood.  I’m not claiming that the following is anything to be proud of, but I hope that some of you that like to write, and the world needs good writers, will push yourself to try new ways to approach writing.

I used to climb trees on a regular basis.  I had a giant maple tree in my front yard.  I would swing from the branches like a monkey while my friends and I discussed the things that young boys discussed.  The tree was a friend and a place of comfort.  Sometimes I would go out to the tree alone and feel as if I was in the company of another.  

In the summer the trees leaves were a deep beautiful green. In the Fall they became almost psychedelic as they turned vibrant shades of red and orange.  In the winter the tree empty of foliage, but the it still looked alive, like a patient in an induced coma that was going to be woken up once their malady had been cured.  
Later on the tree actually did get a malady and had to have some of its branches reduced.  My family thought the tree might have to be completely cut down, but it was stronger than we knew.  It was great to see this friend overcome it’s hardship.  
It did lose the branch that allowed one to access the higher ones.  By this time I was no longer light enough for the branches to support my weight anyway.  Life changes all.  The tree and I were different, but we still had a secret code where I knew we understood each other.  In our struggles we had grown strong together.  I loved the tree with not just the innocent love of a child, but also with the cold hard respect of an adult.  
When people cut down old growth forests I wonder how they can do this.  They have no respect for nature.  They are cutting down something wiser and stronger than them.  They are proving themselves to be nothing but fools.  What they do not know is that sooner or later nature will cut them down, and seeds will sprout up in place of the old trees, long after civilization has been dusted off the planet.