A Hunter Learns to Scavenge

Dutch Harbor, AK

49. In the world of surplus the hunt is rendered unnecessary. That first connection to the earth and its animals, the sky and the gods, is lost.

53. Man's surpluses have their effect throughout the food chain. His surpluses allow the other animals to share in his domestication: to forgo the hunt, to begin the forgetting of that which joined them to the earth. The animals become joined to surplus man.

55. At Dutch Harbor, AK groups of bald eagles pushed the lids off trash dumpsters to get at the refuse inside. In the mornings you came upon them, their heads popping up above the lip of the dumpsters to watch you.

56. The noble hunter becomes a scavenger. The quality of his meat deteriorates as the bird of prey becomes the consumer of human waste. The great eagle becomes less than carrion.

57. At first men thought it wondrous the great eagle had come down from his soaring hunt to be near them. They posed for pictures near the eagle. They marveled at the thick feathers that covered his legs, the yellow feet and his great hooked talons. The eagle's strength was something to behold this close. The eagle was a symbol of so much, particularly for the American.

58. But man would soon think it unbecoming of the eagle to sift through his trash, to use his sharp beak to pick at the wrappers of his Hot Pockets, and to forgo the hunt along the slopes of the mountain. As the eagle becomes more comfortable he will approach ever nearer to man, and perhaps one day eat he will eat from his hand. After man's awe has worn off it will begin to bother him that the eagle waits for him and to be fed. Then will commence his disgust with the eagle. All that he admired in the eagle, its distant soaring power, will have been destroyed.

63. To men of surplus the animals are little more than lesser evolved humans, a distant reminder of man's past and testament to how great he has become. At most the animals are a subject of study in the universities, an academic or hobbyist's interest.

72. Man resents the scavenger of his waste because it takes freely without regard for the principle of labor: that all things made by surplus man, even his refuse, must be paid for in currency or toil. He has contempt for all that live off his efforts, even that which he sends to the landfills.

88. Domestication: a destruction of the spirit, a deterioration of the meat.

103. To have a connection with an animal is to be its killer. The hunter's intimacy with the natural world and its animals is unknown to the city dweller. Though he has never hunted, the city dweller condemns the hunt as cruel all while his excesses of consumption damage the animals in a more profound, yet hidden, way.



[from Slime Line: Adventures In Fish Processing]

His name was Duane but he insisted we call him "Boots." He had an unusual habit of speaking of himself in the third person plural: "Boots are tired today," he would say. "Boots are going to the store to get some chewing tobacco." He sometimes also referred to things as "boots." I was once cooking pasta and he said, "Look at those boots cooking. Those boots smell good. I got to eat some boots."

Boots was from the far Southeast of Ohio in the foothills of the Appalachians at the border with West Virginia. He had been a machinist for twenty years and had never seen a paycheck of more than $300. He had a thick beard and black eyes and tobacco-darkened teeth.

Boots worked down in the ship holds pitching fish into buckets. He regularly asked for different sized buckets to be sent down and then refused them and sent them back up. Then he would ask for them again. None of the crane operators wanted to work with him. Boots was thin and nervous and when agitated he tensed himself and walked quickly in circles.

In the break room Boots spoke regularly of two topics: guns and fly fishing. He said he had twenty thousand dollars of flies he had tied that he stored in his room. He went fly fishing every day after work. He had with him hundreds of pictures of fish he had caught over the years.

It agitated Boots greatly that the government had taken away his guns. Because of a felony weapons conviction he was barred from owning them. A felon needed to keep his record clean for ten years to again purchase guns legally. Ten years was too long, Boots argued. There was certain to be some sort of criminal conviction. A DUI and assault charge had each caused his ten year waiting period to reset. "How are Boots going to defend himself when shit falls apart," he wondered. It was a gross injustice.

On this day Boots was telling me about taking HGH. His boss at the machine shop didn't know if he liked Boots on HGH or off it. He did a lot of work very quickly, but also liked to pick up heavy things and throw them around. Because he was always picking things up the HGH had made him very big. I doubted it until he showed me a picture of himself in a tank top, his arms swollen and tattoo covered. Boots then started to talk about guns and I looked for a way to change the subject.

Just then Big Head Corey walked by us.

"Boots, take a look at how big that guy's head is."

Big Head Corey stood at the vending machine gazing into it. Then he slowly lowered his head so that it rested on his left shoulder.

"The head is so large he rests it on his shoulder. The neck can't support it."

Boots stared at him. "That's the largest head Boots have ever seen."

"His mother stocks those vending machines. They say Corey is the product of incest."

"Oh, incest," he spit tobacco into his cup. "We got incest in Ohio. We got a lot of it."

"But just look at how large that head is. Its all out of proportion to the body."

"It is a large head," said Boots. But Boots was no longer distracted. He talked to me about fly fishing until break ended.



I awoke to my roommate thrashing in his bed covers. He was moaning and mumbling something. His breathing was labored. He pushed the covers away and sat at the edge of the bed muttering. Then he staggered up, swaying, and nearly fell onto me. He was naked. His pudgy, hairy, tattooed body dimly visible in the darkness. He put his hand against the wall to steady himself and with his other directed a trickle of piss onto the floor between our beds.

"Fuck you doing Aaron?"

"Dirtymans," he says. "Its dirtymans."

"What the fuck is dirtymans? You're pissing on the floor."
"We're dirtymans, right?"

"You're pissing in our room, you idiot."

"I've got dirtymans."
"You're a fucking moron. The bathroom is two steps from the room."

"There's two other rooms."

"What's that mean?"
"We'll ask Jesse tomorrow."

"I'm Jesse, you fucking idiot."

"Then we'll ask Jesse tomorrow." He pushed out the last surges of urine onto the carpet.

"Fuck you and your dirtymans. You'll be cleaning the carpet tomorrow."

"Dirtymans! Yes. Dirtymans," he said and lay back in bed and pulled the covers over him. He sounded relieved that I had finally understood.


Dialogue on Wind

new essay on leggings8:11 PM
I will read it8:11 PM
I have written aphorisms to the gods8:11 PM
remember the famous essay on moraline free about the letter from the editor8:12 PM
Which one? There were 28:12 PM
Of chestnuts or iraqis8:12 PM
ah, yes, the gods, i glanced over it and realized i needed to sit down with it. it is on my to-do list tonight.8:12 PM
iraqis. You wrote that no one knows why a man writes what he writes8:13 PM
i had very clear thoughts atop my forklift but i lost them a little after I sat to write those aphorisms.8:13 PM
i too don't know why i had to write an essay on leggings. i was worried afterwards that people would think it is important to write about women's fashion, that i set the wrong example.8:13 PM
ah yes the mystery of why a man writes something. only an academically trained man would ask that why8:13 PM
i was perplexed by the leggings--or what was once called hooker pants.8:14 PM
so many beautiful women in hooker pants8:14 PM


Who Were The Gods?

At the university I sat in philosophy classes with Professor Dennis Schmidt. He told us about studying with Gadamer in the German countryside and how each morning he paddled a small canoe upriver for fresh milk. He told people at cocktail parties that he was a fireman, not a philosopher. We were that semester reading the Oedipean trilogy of Sophocles and Schmidt asked us: Who were the gods? It was a question for which Schmidt had no answer. 

8. Surplus drove the gods away. The God of agriculture is only a crude caricature of older, more elegant godsthe first gods, those who united earth and man and animals, that set the world in motion.

11. The gods are the motion of the world, its movement.

12. One must step into the river, as Heraclitus did, for all moves as a river. No man would deny the river's movement, but of the great mountain he will say it had been there always, unchanging.

13. But the mountain is the river's mirror. The river cuts and shapes it. The river deepens the gorge and makes the mountain rise ever taller. Because the movement of the mountain is grander, upon a larger scale, does not mean it moves slower or less than the river.

24. Modern men, the scientists and statists, arrest the world's movement with theory. Through naming and calculation they strip the world of its gods and its motion. With their laws both natural and social, they build stable dependable truths, tiny eternities, and wager their lives and systems upon them.

25. But the world moves in spite of them. Much of its motion is hidden, much made secret by man's ignorance. It sometimes expresses itself in great movements: the earthquakes that topple cities and the tsunamis that wash them away. It is a divine reminder, that at any moment man's truths can be turned to flotsam washed up on a distant shore.

29. Man vs. nature is often spoken. What is natural and wild is considered an adversary. The God of Genesis commanded men to go and domesticate the wild, to make of it into farms and herding grounds, to tame it: the wild was dark and foreboding, even evil, and men were conscripted by their God to subdue it.

38. In a world tamed and domesticated by men into farms and cities, the gods are displaced. With the heretic Martin Luther's rejection of the Doctrine of Transubstantiation even the Biblical God was sent away, the world taken from Him, the body of his son to no longer appear weekly in the sacramental bread and wine. (Luther's argument that only prayernot the physical church and community of believerswas necessary for a relationship with God provided the foundation for the solitary individual, trapped in subjectivity, egotism and selfishness: the "economic man".)

44. The Biblical God was a farmer's deity. But there is no deity present or permitted in the cities of men.
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