"The Skerry" by Knut Hamsun

my translation of "Skærgaardsø" from Det Vilde Kor, 1904

The boat drifts now
towards a skerry,
an isle in the sea
its shores luxuriant.
Flowers grow there
never before seen,
they stand like strangers
and watch my landing.

My heart is more and more
like a mythic garden
with flowers like these
on the island.
They talk with one another
and whisper strangely,
like children meeting
with laughter and curtsies.

Perhaps I was here
at the dawn of time
as a white Spiraea
waiting to be found.
That fragrance I know
from long ago,
I tremble amidst
my memory of it.

I close my eyes,
the recollection passes
my head falls
towards my shoulder.
The night is thickening
over the island,
the sea is thundering —
Nirvana's thunder.


"My Grave" by Knut Hamsun

my translation of "Gravsted" from Det Vilde Kor, 1904

No, dear God, do not let me be deceased
under blankets and sheets
and at my bedside all that crying.
Let me be struck down one day unexpected
and fall in the forest someplace neglected,
where no one can find me will I lay dying.

As a son of the forest who knows it well,
it will not deny my humble request to dwell
at long last upon some mossy mound.
There will I give back to all its animals thus,
my great corpse without speeches or fuss,
and by the crows, the rats and flies so found.

Yes, I will host a grand meal when I am deceased
for those beaks and claws and teeth a feast,
for one and all a generous serving.
And from above a squirrel will look on askance
watching with eyes alert from his branch,
almost human eyes, so unnerving.

An ample portion for each to feed,
enough to satisfy an army in need
and at the table they pick me apart.
An eagle to strip my bones bare,
staying until no more is there,
and then with talons drawn in depart.

And into late evening and all night long
the glorious sounds of a corpse in song
as lovely as when bells are rung.
Then in tribute to me a final word,
from the owl herself it is heard,
hooted as a simple oath is sung.

When the little left of me the earth receives
and at dawn is hidden under a grave of leaves,
the end of this joyous night will be near.
My friends! I have fed you all! Goodbye!
— But all these leaves about me, why?
It must be the wind that swept them here.



It is old, the blood. To translate these words of Norwegian Bokmål into English is a sort of memory. My lineage is Swedish, not Norwegian, but its all the same. These are shared words of Northern Men, Norsemen. I am a Norseman, or I should be. Because I am a Norseman only in instinct. That I long for herring or the sardines of King Oscar, or that I fish on the frozen lakes; that the cold is indifferent to me-- I cannot ignore it. 

These globalists and their cabal have drawn me into their economies around the world. I have traveled widely, it seems at their behest, to unwittingly spread their gospel. I have been a willing lieutenant in their command. I speak French and Spanish now, I speak a bit of Hungarian and Bulgarian. I know global finance. I understand the in-s and out-s of their project, and how I can benefit from it economically. 

But its all bollocks. 

I am at peace when fishing on a frozen lake. My blood needs only this. It is all my blood ever needed. My grandfather Nils tried to return the family to that place, to a lake in central Wisconsin, a lake his own father Hans, a Swede by birth, had chosen and fished upon and intended to make his final home. 

My grandfather came there after years and years in American cities, from New York to San Francisco, to at last show his sons that this was where they should settle. But it didn't work out. I know his plans. I have my grandfather's books. I have his writing. I spoke often with my grandfather when I came up to WI for the winter fishing. I know what he hoped for.

The land cannot be owned, finally. A man will die and his land will be translated into the new generations. The sons of my grandfather, of course, did not see it as he did. My father, the best of them, has preserved what he could preserve. But land cannot live in preservation. Land can only live outside what the humans would foist upon it. For it is not life otherwise. 

So I translate Hamsun. 

I remember. 

It is a long memory. Swen in Hulu, yes, a man of my lineage from the 17th century, identified by my grandfather Nils. 

I don't know what else there is. I must return to what is oldest. The global agenda is wrong. It doesn't fit with my blood. Do not turn the world a tawny shade of brown and atheist. Do not turn the world into a mediocre class of english speaking wage slaves. Do not let the last languages, the last pagans of the North, disappear.


"In One Hundred Years Everything Is Forgotten" by Knut Hamsun

my translation of "Om Hundrede Aar Er Alting Glemt" from Det Vilde Kor, 1904

Tonight I'm drifting, brooding and conflicted,
I feel like a capsized boat,
and for all I moan about and all I suffer
I see no resolution.
    But why should I be so deeply troubled?    
    In one hundred years everything is forgotten.

Yes, I prance about and sing songs
and live my life like a beautiful novel.
I eat at God's side like a full-grown troll
and drink like the devil himself.
    But why should I continue on with this buffoonery?
    In one hundred years everything is forgotten.

Better to put an end to this struggle
by walking into the sea with my tormented soul.
There the world will find me one day
dead by bitter drowning.
    But why should I come to such a bad end?
    In one hundred years everything is forgotten.

Oh no, it's better to wander and to live
and write a book for every year to come
and to soar at last on the noblest of lines
and die as a master of the novel.
    Since there is only this, I lose all hope:
    In one hundred years everything is forgotten.

This poem set to music by the Norwegian band Lumsk


Working Class Alpha, Part I

Its damned hard generating alpha as a working man. Alpha, as an individual's return beyond the average or expected return, is how a fella evaluates where he is. As a futures trader back in the day I had a lot of alpha. I shit alpha for fun. For years I traded no more than a couple hours a day, netted a few grand, and pickled my liver and watched the Yankees. Its not like that anymore. This working life kick I'm on now is something else. 

They've made it damned hard for a working man to make any money. He's got no defense against the MBA cost cutters. The unions are broken or irrelevant. Foreign labor will work for less, accept very low standards of living, and the borders for cheap labor have been opened internationally. Labor is a cost input and the banks and holders of assets expect ever increasing returns. And it is labor that has born that sacrifice to make these returns possible. 

At Home Depot I discovered the only way to save any money was to sleep in your car. You could get a 24 hr gym membership for showers and exercise. To really earn as a minimum wage man you also needed overtime. Running two or more minimum wage jobs was hell (I watched a few guys dying from that along with their alimony payments) and getting from one job to the other reduced essential sleep time (and time for reading and writing). This led to my realization that the ideal minimum wage job would have the potential for overtime but more importantly would pay for room and board. 

It was then that I discovered cannery work in Alaska. A good 3 month salmon season meant 18 hour days without a day off. Alaska's overtime laws are not ideal compared to the Lower 48, but food (as bad as it is) and housing (also poor) are provided to cannery workers. 

Like all of today's minimum wage jobs, these cannery jobs were once lucrative and excellent. Only Alaskans did them. But private equity hit commercial fishing and its all changed. While still a good deal relative to Lower 48 minimum wage work, because food and housing is provided, no Alaskan will work for those wages. Alaska is expensive, and you can't survive the winter when work is limited to minimum wage pay during the short summer. So its only foreigners and Lower 48 rejects who do that work now. For me, it ended up being a good deal while I did it: working summers in Alaska and saving the money for living the rest of the year in Colombia. Throw in six months of unemployment payments from AK and it was an even sweeter arbitrage. 

But now I'm living full time in the Lower 48. Expenses are up, though at least Texas has no state tax. I realized here there was really only one other way to work and have my housing paid for: commercial trucking. 

But OTR truck driving has also gone to hell. The foreigners have been brought in and pay per mile has dropped, despite there being a driver shortage (what a great opportunity for the Teamsters or some union--incredible that drivers can't band together to improve their pay). But as with cannery work I was drawn to truck driving because housing is paid for: you sleep in your truck. 

ZIRP and NIRP (zero interest and negative interest rate central bank policies) have greatly increased the values of assets, especially housing. All this while wages for working men have been stagnant or dropped. A working man now has to sacrifice if he is to get ahead, and housing is that essential sacrifice. A fella interested in getting ahead cannot afford to pay rent. To generate alpha this critical expense on the liability side of the balance sheet must be reduced or eliminated. As working men make so little, alpha generation must come not from income, but from liability reduction. 

And other sacrifices must be made. Health insurance must be eliminated. Fortunately, Obamacare penalties are basically cheap put options for the opportunity to buy insurance if one becomes ill. If you're young and physically training these puts are dirt cheap and insurance is really irrelevant. Anyway, its likely if a younger healthy working man gets sick he's got a bitch of a sickness and probably on his way out, insurance or not.  

OTR truck driving offers the chance to drive up to 70 hours every 8 days, as per DOT regulations. Pay is by the mile and a beginning driver can start to calculate that he has a chance at some decent money. But then he discovers the regulations: no more than 11 hours of drive time daily; no more than 14 hours of drive and and on duty time daily; a mandatory 10 hour break off duty between driving periods; a mandatory 34 hour off duty period to reset his 8 day 70 hour clock; etc. etc. 

Then there are the restrictions of your company, such as an engine governor that stops you from driving faster than 60 mph despite Texas highway speeds of up to 80mph. They've outfitted the truck with all sorts of electronics that report on a driver and restrict him. Then the new driver discovers he's blowing drive time off his 14 hour clock while sitting through 3 hours live unloads of his trailer. 

He starts to think he's bitched. He's forced to drive 20 mph under the speed limit because of the company governor and that, he calculates, is costing him 200 miles a day in paid miles. He's stuck loading and unloading trailers with slow moving hourly and salaried workers who could care less about his DOT clock ticking down. He loses drive time there. He's dealing with Trans Flo and bill of lading paperwork, updating permit books, evaluating a truck and trailer mechanically for possible problems and potential DOT inspection fines, the scaling loads at CAT scales--all this unpaid and reducing his drive time and sleep time. 

But if you sit a man in a truck, with hours and hours to think as he drives across the country on the highways, he will think up ways around the DOT clock, ways around the company truck's restrictions ... (Part II to come)


"Fever Poem" by Knut Hamsun

my translation of "Feberdigte" from Det Vilde Kor, 1904

I find myself rushing,
to the crossroads of everything I am led,
of her, of earth and God.
To herself she opened the door,
A farewell then said, –
she was gone, nothing more.

Now autumn comes over the Lord's land,
days sunless, oppressive, black,
Life gives and takes back,
everything comes to naught in the chorus of the damned.
    But man lives so long.

Now gathered at the house and in the barn heaped
The grasses and grains are cut, the harvest resumed,
The leaves fall, everything is consumed,
by death's roar overwhelmed in defeat.
    But man lives so long.

May God punish you, Alvilde,
my passion you snuffed out,
your word you took back,
and so cruelly led me about.
Once more the road for me is long,
without sun and without song.
May God punish you, Alvilde.

May God uplift you, Alvilde,
Giving thanks for our time.
You called me your boy,
so many names you made mine.
Your hand and mouth you offered me,
for a moment you and I would together be.
May God uplift you, Alvilde.

Listen here, what is this silent dread
now slipping into my senses unsaid,
that through the whites of my eyes does sneer,
that leaves my mouth pale and contorted in this way?
At the wellspring of fate, is that where I drunkenly lay?
O God, inside me such a world of madness and fear.

For some time I sit and don't know what to say:
The grain is cut and the leaves fall, but why is it thus?
Why does the life of summer disintegrate into dust?
Why does grass grow if it is only to decay?
I go on thinking in this way.

Grain exists so that man's hunger is allayed
and grass turns green so that it may wither to hay.
And the leaves of the grove from the hot sun provide shade.
But why should I scatter seeds of joy, I say,
If in the end I am only to pass away?

I cried out and demanded of the foaming sea;
to the forests and mountains and rushes near,
to the stones and storms and vast heavens I made my plea,
and to anything able to hear:
Why was I born into this life here?

But the heavens and storms and stones said nothing to me.

Alvilde, I remember that last night,
    You shouted: Kneel!
    I drank from your shoe
    Everyone laughed, even you.
I did it just for the pleasure you would feel.

Alvilde, then you held out a flower.
    But I continued out.
    The look you gave me
    stung pleasantly.
I went homeward in the darkness, stumbling about.

Now the autumnal wind is howling
    like a rain soaked hound against my windows,
a chill trickles through my veins
    colder than the wind outside blows.
There is released within me
    the stench of a poisonous flower in bloom,
and the odor moves like a breath
    lingering on in my nostrils.
It sprouts from the garden of hatred.

It is boiling, it is boiling. I try
    in vain to fall asleep,
I hear the flag line's neverending
    banging against the pole,
the creaking of doors, a sneaking about
    on tiptoe, there are footsteps in the hall,
my heart suddenly pounds
    like the baying a of hell hound.
It is boiling, boiling, boiling.

Alvilde, get my cloak and my cap with the feather on top,
I have decided to go out on a ride.
Hold the stirrups steady, slave, while I climb atop
and then run on foot at my side.

I go to seek out and examine these winds so strong
that blow over the mountains wide,
it is me on horseback, it is me galloping along
and you running like a dog at my side.

Hey now, keep the pace, I tell you I am in a rush,
Riding on a tour of my kingdom this day.
Then you collapse, Alvilde, so I bind you tightly thus --
Dear God, the girl will die if I ride on in this way.

It is boiling, it is boiling, this weather and wind.
Then a knocking I hear, but from where?
Come in!
But outside the door no one is there.

I see the first day of creation,
the smoking newborn world,
I myself am alive.
Appearing at the Earth's outermost limit,
and from the clouds looking down over all that was created,
an expressionless face . . . . .
I ask when in my life did I lay in darkness?
Onward, my blood horse, I ride as on an anvil,
I am made of red bricks, red as blood,
I have eaten the yellow lining of my hat.
Say, isn't that a knocking at the door?

That fog I see, is it the land of the dead?
There is a lifeless sea out there
and in the middle of the sea an island born blind:
it is the land of the dead.
I come, I spread out my arms
and sink with you evermore .  .  .  .  .

So many days have now gone by, and the days they quickly pass.
    My soul is cold and tough and remade
    with the spring the autumn gale did fade.
I no longer complain, to everything I nod silently and smile to the last.

Why should sorrow be allowed to rumble down the hills like boulders,
    stopping a wayfaring soul from moving on?
    With this defiant heel I stomp upon
that sorrow I have no place for on my good, old shoulders.

I wander into the woods, a ruler without lands or people,
    an elevated spirit, a bent man,
    a fallen foot, a clenched hand,
and with my sword salute myself as my conqueror's equal.

But late at night I sit and hear the scythes being honed
    and footsteps upon the earth are near.
    In the faraway clouds a face does appear.
From the wasteland an organ thunders and a last, long mass is intoned.



Honor. Personal honor, is essential. It is why the best men act in the best ways. Honor between men allows the world to operate more smoothly. When another man comes to me, even a stranger, and with urgence explains how I have been in error, I am likely to believe him, to accept that I have been at fault. 

Today I was wrong to believe what another man claimed to have seen me do. My acceptance of a personal failure based upon another man's word was in error. 

After one year of driving I was obliged to be sent out for a road test with a burly toothless man named Mark with an official title of OSR. As it goes with acronyms, they once stood for something but are now simply letters. This OSR was to test my driving ability. They are also safety professionals who interview and evaluate drivers after accidents. 

This OSR Mark gave me a challenging test of buttonhook turn after buttonhook turn around Love Field in Dallas. I knew company policy was for double-clutch shifting, so I tried to do some of that to start but soon stopped as I realized Mark, the OSR, was an alright guy, a driver of many miles and years. He said nothing about my floating gears. He was a driver after all and we both knew company policy on double clutching and being out on the road were quite different things. Everybody who fucking knows floats, I thought to myself. Let this motherfucker fail me for floating without a single goddamn grind then. I knew he was honest enough not to and he didn't say anything. I had shown a few double clutches to start and now the floating was understood.

We came back to the syrup plant after the test and met a long line of trucks waiting to enter. I put my flashers on and we waited on the roadway and me the OSR and talked. The security guard came out from the plant and said it was shit show in the yard, which was already very tight for parking but was now nearly impassable with trucks and trailers. 

After nearly an hour on the road waiting we finally were able to enter the plant and a tight turn against a backed up truck was the start of it. Sure enough, it was goddamn shit show in there. I weasled in between some other trucks and there were a couple spots to park my trailer but near impossible blindside backs would be required. I continued on. No doubt the drivers ahead of us had passed those up too. 

There was a spot then along the fence but I would need to turn the truck around to not go blindside into it. It was going to be very tight to turn between the rows of trailers but it was possible. I told the OSR that was our spot and started the turn, lining up the trailer as close to the parked trailers on the far side and then slowly bringing the cab around, watching the cab ferrings as they came closer, closer, closer, now nearly against my trailer. Now my cab was going to clip the trailers parked on the other side of the yard. It was damned tight. I stopped to back it up a little.

"You're gonna hit the wings." said the OSR.

"Its alright," I said. I back it up a bit. I'm watching the ferring, which he was calling "wings" which I had not heard before. I didn't need this genius to tell me what to worry about. I backed it up just to give room for the trailer at my bumper and pressed the ferring even closer to my trailer.

"The wings," he said.

This OSR was a worrier. 

"The ferrings are fine," I said. "There's room." I pulled slowly forward with just centimeters of clearance on my bumper on the trailer in front, my eye on the ferrings of the cab on the passenger side--still undamaged--but right damned now flush with my trailer, and I pulled the trailer as tight as a motherfucker between those two rows of trailers and free to go back and properly park that trailer in the spot behind us. It would not be a blindside back into that spot now. All those other drivers had passed up that spot because they couldn't spin a trailer around between the rows. It was my spot now. Fuckem.

Then I see this negro company driver gesturing at me. He was behind me as I was turning and now in front as I came back towards my spot. I rolled down the window on the OSR's side.

"What the hell you think he wants?" I said.

The negro rolls down his window. "You hit that truck," he says. 

"What truck?"

"Your trailer hit that truck back there," he says. 

I stop, throw on the air brakes and rush out.

Behind us there's a white day cab, company truck, nobody in it, parked nose in along the wall. I know with my tandems all the way forward I have a lot of tail swing and tail swing I can't see on the driver side on a tight right turn. I knew I would be near to that day cab on the turn but didn't even consider that I could touch it. 

I inspect the day cab. There's a big dent in the side of it. 

The negro driver is driving off up the ramp. I wave him down. Did I dent the side of the cab, I ask him. No, he says. He says I clipped his mudflap. I go take a look at the mudflap. It looks a little bent, perhaps like something has clipped it. But the bracket is undamaged. Also the distance between the mudflap and rear tandem tire is only a few inches and the tire is untouched. If I had gotten the back edge of my trailer in there on the turn it was only by the slightest of margins. Still, this fella said he had seen it. I went back to the cab.

"He says I hit him," I said to the OSR. "I guess I got to report it." I couldn't believe it.

"Yes," says the OSR. 

So begins the company process of accident reporting. I call a number, give my driver number, the number of the other truck, and explain the accident. Of course, I didn't see it. Some guy I don't even know his name or truck number saw it. I take a picture of the creased mudflap and send it in to the investigatory unit. 

I go back to meet the OSR and sign paperwork for my one year driving test. He has to fail me on account of the accident.  

But it was a fluke, he says. He doesn't believe the accident even happened. I said I didn't either. How could that guy have seen it from his tractor? he says. How could he have seen what was for him the blind side corner of a trailer on the tightest of turns clipping a mudflap from 100 meters away? 

"He didn't believe I could twist the trailer around to take that open spot in the yard," I said. "And you didn't believe it either," I said to the OSR. "You thought I was going to fuck up the ferrings."

"I thought so," he admitted. 

"You didn't say nothing about that other parked truck," I said. 

"I don't think it happened," he says. He puts out his pen and and keys on the table in the positions of where we were, the day cab and the other driver. The way our trailer twisted it would be impossible to see any clipping of the mudflap by the other driver. 

"He didn't think I could twist it around for the spot," I said. "That's all. He didn't want to believe that I could do it." 

The OSR then had me take an accident and re-training course on a computer. I had to put on headphones and watch an animated man in khaki pants and a blue shirt explain safe driving techniques. While I was taking the course the OSR interrupted me and said he was going to make a phone call and that I shouldn't listen or be disturbed by him talking beside me during the accident course. He asked me for my accident claim number. He asked for the company accident report number and made a call. I listened to him explain to the person on the other end that he was an OSR and was in the cab with me and that he believed there had been no accident. He wanted his testimony put down as evidence for the accident investigators. He tapped me on the shoulder when the call was finished. He knew I had been listening. 

He was 19 years in the company and a long time OTR driver. He had seen immediately what kind of driver I was. He knew of the injustices. But I knew that he had to protect himself. He had to make me report on myself for an accident he doubted had occurred. Now, perhaps, his conscience as an OTR driver and not as an OSR company man had been activated. Still, I had reported myself and he was fully protected. 

Later that night I realized it was now necessary to un-report this accident. I had been in error to accept the anonymous negro's report. The negro, I realized, had seen nothing. Nobody in the investigatory unit even knew his name or truck number. I had reported upon myself out of some errant sense of honor, an honor I assumed other men had of themselves. I realized it may very well have been something else: a man watching another driver execute the tightest of whip around turns between rows of trailers for a spot numerous other drivers had passed up in frustration and not believed was possible. The next day I would have to call my dispatcher and demand that I be un-reported for the accident. It would be the only honorable thing to do.


In the City, Again (miscellaneous remarks)

Adventuring off into the world to write about things. Writing about things never before made legible. Such projects implicitly bring along the legible world, a world of fiat and governance, both state and corporate. Legibility is the bedrock of that form of life. Through legibility the state and corporation expand. Any man that writes has not yet departed from the form of life rooted in legibility. It is a disguised departure at best. Most likely he will return to the legible world to publish his discoveries.

After all the travel I live again in the city. Like all the others, I have taken on commitments and obligations. I look for work. I have done this before. I am again no different than any other city man. Our concerns are the same. Any interest in other forms of life is now a hobby, something to be done while not in the pursuit of fiat. Am I defeated? Perhaps. Will I try again for something outside this form of life? Perhaps. Perhaps I will fade away. Fill an apartment with new things and use alcohol to console my spirit.

Woe to him who would get a peek outside his form of life, and then to return.

Why should ruins not be allowed to disappear without any trace? Why should the dead be disturbed, dug up and sent to museums for infinite preservation? Why do men stricken with legibility fear the prospect of extinction? Being completely forgotten?

Is the destruction of Palmyra by ISIS any different than what the government archaeologists did with the Anasazi artifacts at Range Creek? Is it any different to destroy something with dynamite than to dig it up, tag it, put it in a plastic bag, and send it far away to a museum to be stored in a drawer? Range Creek is perhaps now more empty of ancient forms of life than Palmyra.

His understanding of the ruin is his understanding of himself. It cannot be anything else. The ruin of long ago men and their form of life is a dirt covered mirror.

The inability of archaeologists and their sciences to account for the meaning of prior forms of life and their divinities will be no different than when the men of new gods uncover the books of the scientists. The godless men of legibility and their libraries of books will be as incomprehensible as the cave drawings, as the Chaco Meridian, et al.

Things slow down. A man ages. His youth — suddenly, one day — is gone. He knows it is gone before the others do. Youth has discarded him. The world looks at him differently. He can no longer be regarded as youthful, given a benefit of the doubt for youthful errors. Indeed, it is expected of him that he be like everyone else; that he be a modest success, a contributing member of a fiat based, consumption focused society. Only because of his youth was he able to live in contrast to that society, for it was his youth that charmed other men (not all of them) into giving him a free pass, a gentle, knowing smile, and sometimes their assistance. But once youth is gone the man who lives contrary to a fiat society becomes pathetic, and he is regarded as such.

Legibility leads to silence, if it is properly understood and followed to its extreme. Rimbaud understood this before the age of 20. He lived out the implications of writing and Cartesianism while still in his teens, and saw it all for what it was: mierde. There was only travel then left to him. There was Java and Africa. He went looking for something. But there was only gunrunning and slave trading for fiat. He learned many languages. He amassed a small fortune. It was all for nothing, he said. All for nothing, this traveling all around. There was nothing to do with the fiat but worry about it. As the doctors amputated his leg in Marseille he was being praised in Paris as the greatest of poets. But the praise of the poetry he had written in youth meant nothing to him. He was dead a few months later age 37. The brilliant poetry was as irrelevant as the bank accounts, the explorations, all the learning. It all comes to nothing.

In the absence of the gods, the terminus of legibility is hopelessness.

Gods cannot exist for one man. Gods must exist for many. There can be no lone pioneer who discovers divinity. Rather, a community of men must together be visited by divinities and receive them.

It was my error to believe I could do it all on my own. It is perhaps a profoundly American error, modeled upon the mythic stories of the pioneers who made these United States. But the history of pioneering was never men alone, but men supported by other men through trade. Mountain men such as Jim Bridger would have died without their being accepted among the tribes. Today in the Alaskan wilderness, Heimo Korth and his wife live as much from the fiat earning from their winter trapping as from their hunting. As his native wife Edna says, No one from my people would live alone as Heimo does. You do not survive alone.


The Old Man 2

"Follow the trucks. Get over," said the old man. "Get in the truck lane."

I was driving a load of fine paving sand back north on the freeway through Portland. We had hit heavy traffic in the city center.

"Start moving over or they won't let you in," he said. "Nobody wants to be stuck behind a truck. Nobody let's you in unless they think you're going to run them over."

I was in the third lane of the four lane highway. The semis were moving slowly in the second lane. I put on my right blinker and looked in the mirror for an opportunity to get over.

Some guy in a pickup slowed to let me in. He flashed his lights. I started over, giving clearance for the trailing axle.

"Stay in this lane. The lane the trucks are in is always fastest," said the old man, "Always."

A white hatchback with blackened windows and big silver rims merged onto the freeway and then cut in front of me and I slammed on the brakes. Now the guy wanted to get over into the next lane.

"Motherfucker!" yelled the old man. "Where's that banana?"

I slowed to increase my following distance behind the white hatchback.

"Get back on him! Get on his bumper! Where's those banana peels?"

"I ate the banana," I said. I got back on his bumper.

"Whatd'ya do with the banana peels? Where are the banana peels?"

"In the garbage bag on the floor," I said. We had both had bananas for breakfast. The hatchback was trying to get over and nobody was letting him in.

"Look at this motherfucker." The old man had retrieved a banana peel from the garbage bag and rolled down the window.

"Motherfucker!" The old man was furious. The old man got up on the passenger seat and leaned half out the window with the banana peel in his hand. The old man hurled the banana peel at the white hatchback. The banana peel landed on the back bumper and stayed there.

"What the fuck, Ray!"

"Motherfucker!" yelled the old man. "Motherfucker!"

The hatchback swerved in front of a car in the third lane. Then he shot over into the fast lane. I saw him switch back into the third lane. He didn't use his turn signals.

The old man was digging in the garbage. Now he had the other banana peel.

"We're going to see him again. Look at these idiots switching lanes. They think they're getting ahead. Nobody knows the truck lane is fastest."

I didn't see the hatchback now. He had gotten far ahead.

"On Long Island one time I threw a banana peel on this zip's windshield. Zip stops right in the middle of the intersection just staring at me, stopping traffic. So I throw another banana peel on his windshield," the old man laughed. "Goddam zipperhead just stared at me until I yelled at him to get out of the way."

We continued slowly ahead in the lane of trucks. Then I saw the white hatchback in the fast lane. He wasn't moving. None of the cars were. The banana peel was still on his back bumper.

"There he is, that dope. You see, they think the truck lane is slowest but they're wrong."

The old man had the other banana peel in his hand. But it was impossible to throw the banana peel over the hood of the truck and two lanes of traffic. We moved on past.

"One time I was driving a walking floor full of garbage into Jersey and this guy cuts me off on the bridge so I hit him with a banana peel. This guy drives up beside me. I look down and he's got a pistol on the passenger seat, patting it with his hand. This guy follows me all the way to Trenton. I waited half the night at the garbage plant to make sure he wasn't outside. Scared the shit outta me. I was scared to drive home. Looked in my mirror all the way home."

"But banana peels aren't garbage," said the old man. "You got to drive with a banana peel next to you for when you need it."


Geronimo's Cadillac

The great Apache warrior as melon farmer

43. His unhappiness can be gauged by his longing to travel, to leave his home. The more traveled a man the less he is happy. Travel and a superficial understanding of local cultures western men have proclaimed a virtue, a bulletpoint for the curriculum vitae, when really travel is an indication of the globalization of unhappiness and homelessness. The entirety of the earth is no man's home.

45. His form of life is without any locality. His form of life can be sent anywhere. Without the local he is homeless: a planet populated with homeless men.

46. Local words and expressions are gradually stricken from his language. Local practices and variations in a form of life are lost to successive generations. Craftsmen are replaced with Walmarts selling cheap machine made products from the Orient. The world becomes a vast urban marketplace dominated by global corporations and the competition of economies of scale.

49. Previously the earth and the gods and animals of a particular place determined his form of life. He did not need or wish to go beyond his locale, where other men and animals and other gods had their dwelling. The first explorers were exiles and outcasts and fools, those who were sent away from a tribe and family for some unforgivable infraction. To be forced to rebuild a form of life from nothing in a foreign land, to discover new gods and where and how to hunt animals, or to die there, was the worst punishment imaginable. The men who traveled to the ends of the earth and began populations there were not noble explorers in the mold of Amundsen or Shackleton, but the degenerates and throwaways from longstanding and religious forms of life. It took countless generations of men in these new, uninhabited lands, to discover the hindering and helpful spirits, the rituals of the hunt, the migratory patterns of the animals, the edible plants, etc. It was an incredible multi-generational project that no sane and healthy man would willingly undertake.

50. The white explorers had it easier in that they brought a powerful form of life with them: agriculture and animal husbandry, as well as the ideas of slavery for the service of working the fields. Because their God was an agricultural god, He came along too. The white explorer did not thus begin from nothing. His was a form of life that could be transplanted wherever crops could grow.

55. The danger to hunting forms of life was always that the locality they lived in would be changed and their form of life made impossible. They were careful not to over hunt, to diminish the soil, to muddy the rivers and streams. They listened attentively to their gods. They resisted going beyond their lands.

59. Western man looks out upon the fenced in wild. From the safety of the steel observation deck the wild stimulates something deep within in him. Something he no longer understands touches his spirit. He says he feels refreshed by the wild. It is an antidote to the city. Now refreshed he can return to his office labors.

60. There is no reason to protect the wild, to save the earth, etc. It is not through any reason that the earth can be saved. Rather it is through reason that the earth is destroyed and men brought to their knees in unhappiness.

75. Philosophy, as a practice of extending legibility, making typographies of the world and cataloging it, is guided by the most hindering of hindering spirits.

77. Philosophical problems have no translation into the languages of other forms of life. The mind/body problem cannot be made a problem in Inupiat. The universality implicit in the arguments made by philosophers cannot be demonstrated anthropologically or ethnologically in every form of life. 

78. Now that the Inuit have an alphabet and their form of life is less reliant upon the hunt, are they now capable of understanding the mind/body problem? Are the Inuit now capable of being troubled by the separation of their minds from their bodies? Or are they still in need of further "progress"?

87. LW posited that philosophical problems were born of language going on holiday, being extended to where it cannot go, etc. But he should have specified that these problems were the result of a language befallen to legibility: Men speak and think legibly today. It is legibility which pushes language where it cannot go. It is the misapplication of an accountant's technology to man and his world.

88. It seems too simple a shorthand to argue that the discovery of agriculture and animal husbandry begat surpluses which begat legibility, then statism and the enslavement of men and animals, oligarchy, etc. Were there farming cultures that resisted legibility, or resisted its advance beyond an accounting technology? Perhaps it was the strength of their divinities that protected them? Is the link between agriculture and population growth really as Brody argues? There seems a decidedly western bias in both economics and anthropology that has obscured these questions, perhaps a result of attempting vast generalities (what the white eyes call Truth) instead of maintaining a local focus. And so few have gone to live for an extended period among the people they write about. Does the act of writing itself, that most dangerous of hindering spirits, make any understanding impossible from the start? It was Teddy Carpenter's realization that he was only assisting the hindering spirit of legibility in destroying the forms of life he admired that led him to quitting the anthropological project entirely. Must a western man stop writing and go silent to preserve the world?

93. Men cannot walk themselves back from their knowledge of certain technologies. The accountant's technology of making legible cannot be overcome or forgotten. There has appeared no divinity yet powerful enough to assist men in overcoming it. 

94. I realized I could never be more than another Carpenter, Scott, or Brody: guiding the hindering spirit of legibility into some hidden, unspoiled and unwritten territory; showing the way to undiscovered transcripts, and if not writing them myself, showing the way to them for states and corporations and their missionaries. Even unwritten, the hindering spirit of legibility I brought with me, would proclaim another, dominant, hostile form of life: to explain, to argue, to define, to make equations, to break into the most essential and then to generalize, to assign ownership: to teach men to become individuals and to make them responsible, to teach them the earth and gods and animals were separate from them, and that they were even separate from their own bodies. 

99. It was not the military might of the Great Father in Washington that finally ended the Indian Wars of the late 19th century. It was the slaughter of more than 500 million animals to make way for the pioneers and their farmland. Without animals to hunt, the tribes faced starvation and were forced onto the reservations with the promise of food. The Indian warriors had routinely defeated the US military, despite it large numbers, but with the animals, specifically the plains buffalo, all but annihilated, their form of life, its gods and language and ritual, was vanquished. Even the great Apache warrior Geronimo surrendered his feathers for a white eyes' suit and was instructed in the farming of melons. In exchange for food, the tribes subjected themselves to legibility. There was only death or the white eye's form of life.

100. Population growth is essential to maintaining the constant increase of capital values. This in turn maintains the fractional reserve banking system assuring that credit extended to capitalists will be repayed along with interest. Growing populations also have the effect of making other forms of life impossible--particularly those that rely upon natural abundances--by killing off the animals and taking the lands upon which those forms of life are reliant. The forests can now be cut down and sold as valuable timber; oil pipelines that might have disturbed caribou migrations can now be constructed without the protest of environmentalists.

104. When a form of life is vanquished its gods go speechless, for man is the mouthpiece of divinity.

105. To make way for the western form of life the land animals had to die. They had to die to make way for the vast farming plots. The forests the animals lived in were necessarily cut down. The animals were slaughtered for interfering with the farmer's produce, for feeding upon his domesticated cattle. Even more importantly, the native men who lived off the land animals, who's form of life the land animals supported, had themselves to be domesticated and taught to live not from the hunting of a natural abundance, but rather by hard work in the service of other men for the currency of government sponsored fiat.

111. If you say that something I have written here is true, it is only because it has appealed to your bias. In the absence of divinity and ritual and the hunt, men are drawn together through Reason, argument and explanation. The whisper of divinity: that men of similar instincts will be comrades. 


From a Truck Stop

Ticonderoga, NY

4. Legibility takes an equational structure. As an accounting technology the debits must be equal to the credits. With the balance sheet the concept of BALANCE in life is originated. A life lived according to the golden mean is not simply the good life, but good accounting.

5. Legibility begins with naming and then is extended structurally in the form of equations and arguments. Philosophical disagreement has historically taken two forms: a disagreement over what has been made legible (the named), and/or a disagreement over the equational argument built upon what has been made legible. 

6. The project of what to name is determined by a man's objectives and biases. A man of fiat profit will name to increase his bank accounts and to justify the state's protection. Whereas the philosopher will name according to his biases, his instincts, perhaps some unknown power speaking through him.

38. The Unabomber's Manifesto is a beautiful work of mathematics, a work of philosophy made by a talented mathemetician. It is hard to disagree with its equational logic. But what has been named, and what has been left unnamed and unequated, is open to disagreement. An equation may itself be perfect, but a disagreement with how X, Y, and Z have been defined is always personal.

56. There are two movements in the scientific project of legibility: (1) finding the smallest, tiniest building block of the world and naming it; and (2) finding the most general, expansive argument/equation to make the world reasonable and completely understood. Both tendencies of legibility disregard the middle, the local, the small group, the family, the tribe, the understanding of men of a particular place and time. 

57. Man lives neither at the most essential nor the most general. He lives, even when blinded by the logic of the state and corporation, inseparable from a specific place and a time, from blood and its lineage. Legible language and  its argument draws man into inhospitable, inhuman places. The global competition of fiat; the competition of worldly fame and other competitions. The equational logic of legibility leads him to develop the world and himself into ugliness and unhappiness. 

60. Science performs best locally. Men and their forms of life function best locally. Yet strangely philosophers, statists, and scientists neglect the local, and are even contemptuous of it. The languages of specific and isolated forms of life are disregarded and soon destroyed. 

69. Philosophy's task (it it can have one) is to interrogate legibilities; to show how the project of making legible fails and its unintended consequences;  to question why a name has been given, to expose the objectives and biases behind the naming; the failure of the equations and arguments constructed upon the names. Philosophy's rightful task is with making the world less legible, protecting the local, protecting its silence. 

77. LW demonstrated this was possible for philosophy: he showed where legibility failed and could not go; his work was a defense of hidden transcripts; a rebuke to those global corporate and state powers that would make of man an economic individual, subject to a global accounting. 

81. As long as there are men, there will be hidden transcripts. 

85. The proper end of philosophy is not silence, but silent prayer.
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