February 25, 2013
Hi everyone, or at least J. Stanton, who I hope reads this. I just read The Gnoll Credo, after buying it many months ago and kindof forgetting about it. Very brief data and background here: I'm 29, male, married with two kids. I was fat several years ago, but lost weight at 22. 5-6 years ago discovered Crossfit online, Paleo dieting, etc. Have stayed "in shape" very easily for the past 7 years, trying many different ways of eating, exercising, etc. Nowdays I'm to the point where I don't obsess about food, don't feel I diet, exercise very little, etc. I have seen (through the internet, mostly) many people finding out about all of this, going "Paleo" and changing their lifestyle, etc. etc. Anyways, this post (unlike many here) is not to discuss nutrition. I only say this because to me, The Gnoll Credo or most nutritional knowledge I have found on this site (HUGE props for each and every article) is not going to change my life radically as I already lost the weight many years ago. I still appreciate the writings and find them pretty awesome. J. Stanton is a cool guy. I just saw him on video for a couple of minutes too: cool haircut!
But I want to write for other reasons. What bothers me is the entire lifestyle, and I feel the book touches on that as well. Slaves to our own lifestyles, Aidan and Grycka discuss at one point. Sure, people may discover "Paleo" and eat meat and get in shape. But who actually managed to change their entire lifestyle? That is what I have been thinking for several years now, and as embarrassing as it sounds, it has been stressing me to no end in recent years.
Lets face it, people may go "Paleo", but still buy all their meat in the market, still work an office job in artificial lightning, in front of a PC all day, using their car, never hunting anything, never getting dirty, living inside concrete walls.... Who actually enjoys life with the freedom Grycka had? With packmates, instead of today's individualism? Free from (most of) today's "nerga"?
I have been wanting to do this for what seems like ages. In fact, a few years ago (2009) I decided on a whim that what seemed the most similar (at least back then) to something I would be content with, was "intentional communities" of some sort, and I went and visited one in Europe (none in my country). I know.. it's not like the gnolls live, but hey, at least they live in "pack" right, working together, producing food (meat, hopefully! although many are vegetarians... which sucks) together, trying to live with just the basic things, etc. I felt, back then, that these communities were a nice middle ground between today's civilization and a wild tribe... sort of taking the best of both worlds? Not sure that is even possible, but the idea seemed MUCH better than today's "normal" way of life.
Anyways, back on topic. Today's lifestyle in most cities around the world.... how can we escape? Our kids are born and they grow up watching this horrible lifestyle, probably to follow the same path themselves, becoming slaves to money like the rest. (Oh how I envy Grycka in that sense... no money to worry about!). Everything seems so far from what seems to be coded in our DNA, right? I mean, yeah, you can eat meat and think you're paleo, but lets get real... what about living in a pack? People in residential buildings many times don't even know their neighbor who lives 10 feet above. What about the nerga? Most "paleo" people still own and buy a bunch of junk. In reality, regardless of "going paleo" (which usually means just the nutritional part), we still live very much like everyone else, the only difference is Paleo folks may be in better physical shape, but that's about it. Aidan O'Rourke could have just started eating Paleo and be just like most people we find here on the internet, while still living his old life, even if he never met Grycka.
I'm not sure where I'm going with this, and english is my second language, so please bare with me, I guess I had a lot to say and it's coming out a little strange.
What would one do, if one wishes to regain that freedom? To be free, like the Gnolls. It is a little hard to say "ok, I will find a native tribe and go live the rest of my life with them", which I actually contemplated as a solution a few years back. (my wife still laughs at that one). So what else is there? How do we manage to live with very basic things, doing the things we were supossed to be doing and finding fun? (certainly not videogames or the like). Just how? I sometimes have thoughts of groups of people gathering and trying to do something like this... nothing too "crazy" of course, in order not to scare potential members of the "pack". I am not suggesting going back to living with no electricity, for example. But somehow manage to escape from the slavery a little bit. As I said earlier, kindof get the best of both worlds, using today's knowledge and technology but to our benefit, to actually allow us to live like Grycka.... only with less risk of dying and access to laptops, for example. :) (Trying to make a point). Just because we eat meat and hike mountains and go outdoors on the weekends, does not mean we are living like the song in our blood is telling us to live, not if you still have to work crappy jobs for the nest few decades, only to feel "alive" whenever you have saved enough money to go practise your hobbies.
Ok, I feel I wrote too much, so with this parragraph I conclude. I don't know what to expect, perhaps just words I can relate to, but nothing more. I feel seriously "out of place" in my current lifestyle, which ironically would be pleasant for many... I have a good job (family owned company), steady income, and economic future seems very secure. Yet, it is not what I want. I wanted to raise my kids in a totally different environment, where I too would be doing totally different things, interesting things like building things (tools, weapons, cabins, whatever), hunting things (for food), and playing whenever possible ("all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"; we play too little nowdays, at least adults). I am educated but feel so useless really, as I know nothing about that. The worst part is not wanting to share this so much, as I'd be called immature, childlish, idealistic and the like. Some would tell me this way of thinking will eventually wear off... but after years of thinking this way, I want to make a change now more than ever. I will never be happy with this lifestyle and can't imagine myself settling for this. There has to be another way.
Enough for now, I am definitely insane in the eyes of anyone who read this. Hope you enjoyed. :)
February 22, 2010
You're not insane. You're starting to understand the path I'm laying out, because you've been on it for some time yourself.
I, too, wanted desperately to be part of some sort of community, and I've both researched and visited intentional communities. Like you, I realized that there was something important missing from them -- but I didn't know what it was until after I had written The Gnoll Credo.
And I have come to believe that the reason intentional communities don't have broad appeal is because, at the core, they're an agrarian construct ("back to the land"). Agriculture is drudgery. ("Worst circus ever," as Gryka said.) It's not what people are for, and it's not what people want. Existing intentional communities are generally powered by a sense of guilt at the unsustainability of modern life.
Which is absolutely true -- modern "civilization" is based on unsustainable exploitation of people and the Earth -- but we can't go "back to the land", or back to anything at all. We have to go forward...
...and that's what I'm laying out, in the Epilogue. A path via which those of us who understand can move forward. A path towards a future that acknowledges and celebrates our origins and our nature, while indulging our insatiable curiosity and desire for progress, and accepting our responsibility as both residents and caretakers of the Earth.
It's a long path, and I barely know where to start...but the first step is to understand where we are, how we got here, where we're going if we don't make changes (extinction) -- and, finally, where we need to go.
Not everyone will understand, and not all seven billion people could make the transition even if they did.
There is much more to say, but this is all I have for now.
February 25, 2013
Thanks for the reply Mr. Stanton, was beggining to feel a bit sad that noone replied. I understand what you say about communities. I thought that perhaps, as crazy as it sounds, a certain group of people could try and form one, where the basic thing that unites them is NOT agriculture, but to try and live in this "other" way. I wonder if it's possible. I know it would be almost impossible to replicate living like Grycka, but I don't think it's absolutely necessary... we can do our best and just take some bits of pieces, but still do things like use toilet paper, electricity, and perhaps even raise some aminals, as it seems tough to have wild game for everyone everywhere. I'm just thinking out loud here, of course.
If the first step is understanding, as you say: what is the second step? I hope you can answer whenever you find the time.
September 20, 2012
Thanks for the reply Mr. Stanton, was beggining to feel a bit sad that noone replied.
My need for in-person community is relatively low, so I had nothing helpful to add.
For what its worth, if you'd sat down at a real campfire we were all at my husband and I would have smiled and nodded welcome to you. =)
February 25, 2013
In my case, I have noticed that I seem to have been born to be in "community". My wife remembers when we were at the university, before we started going out, she remembers in every class I'd always be making jokes and talking to people. I make new friends very quickly. I love making jokes and making people laugh. And I wasn't exactly the popular or handsome guy (remember, I was fat! haha). But it's just my nature. I feel this way of living where people go to work and then go home and watch TV for the remainder of the day...... well, you can guess how I feel about it.
Thanks for the welcome, I smile back at ya. :)
September 24, 2012
I'm also not one for going to work and than just sitting on your ass after you come home because work burnt you out. I'd rather actually have a "life" outside of work even if I'm not completely happy at work. Sitting on my ass afterwards is not "life" to me.
February 22, 2010
The problem with forming a traditional "intentional community" is that the entire model of individual property ownership is fundamentally agrarian. Unless your name is Bill Gates or Warren Buffett, you probably don't have the money to provide enough land to support a hunting-based society...and you couldn't afford the property taxes if you did.
That being said, there are transitional possibilities that involve locating next to large tracts of public land. I think this makes the most sense...we don't need to build anything, we just want to hunt there :)
Another approach is treating "civilization" as the new savanna. Actual hunting and gathering is difficult (though it doesn't have to be time-consuming)...it's why we have big brains in the first place! And none of us learned to hunt or gather as we grew up: we were trained to do algebra and read French and other skills that aren't useful on the African savanna, but can be useful in "civilization". Meanwhile, tying yourself to a mortgage (literally: mort gage, "death pledge"), and being stuck either with one employer or a succession of soul-destroying commutes, is becoming harder and harder to swing to one's financial advantage, let alone one's health and sanity. Instead, think of yourself as a forager, using your personal and career skills to "forage" for money and survival needs...and instead of trying to create a stable "home" (which will be contingent anyway), embrace the transitory nature of modern life and live lightly so that you're mobile enough to take advantage of opportunities wherever you find them. Your tribe, your pack, becomes more of a virtual fission-fusion thing at this point, as the logistics of moving around a big group are extremely complicated.
I admit, however, that if I could afford (or otherwise engineer) a way to live closer to the ground, in community with others who shared this knowledge and whose dream wasn't fundamentally agrarian, I would love to be part of it, because I (like you) have always felt that need for community. Probably I need to think outside the USA-shaped box.
Of course, if you read TGC carefully, you would realize that all this eventually comes to a dead-end without a re-engineering of what it means to be physically human. But we must start somewhere.
March 7, 2013
i've joined this forum purely to answer this thread, although i've been reading articles for a while now.
my wife and i had a long talk about this thread last night the same day that i read it and it depressed me. i've been feeling the same way for some time now, a feeling of "there's got to be more to it than this" and not in a suicidal/depressed/not happy with my career kind of way either.
just thought i'd jump in and say we understand and feel this way too.
if we or you work out a solution lets make sure we share!!
June 5, 2011
There is no going back ... look at former Soviet Union nations who were left quite literally with nothing; no infrastructure, no government, no law ... they sorted themselves out as nations really quite quickly and then moved on to become what they are today. Sadly, they simply became western.
I think the key is to become a satisficer.
We spend our lives chasing more and more. We get jobs that require us to spend more on nice suits, good shirts, watches, have the right cars and so on ... and then we find that our hourly rate has dropped significantly when we find ourself in a hotel room on our own the other side of the country and really just wonder if the pay rise was worth all that.
If we can dip just under that bar and get to do some truly useful work in simple appropriate clothes without a posh watch and in a twenty five year old car that you truly love driving, that would be about right. Yeah, I've got this game sussed :)
Thereafter, drop hours, move off into something you truly love doing and make that your thing ... make that your thing and teach it, motivate others, guide others ... that's my next step.
The first is nerga, and ditching everything that is not genuinely useful. Push out everything that binds you to something pointless. Drop everything except that which is not used regularly, if not daily, that truly improves your life.
Individuals can do this. Communities which might spring out of like-minded people are so few and far between that I fancy they're quite literally pipe dreams at present.
But, the human frame is born to do that ... to dream ... to chase the fantastic and make it happen.
February 22, 2010
I think the "second step" is increasing our independence, financial and otherwise. (Paul's post about "satisficing", above, is aimed at that goal.)
Financially, it's impossible to take any concrete steps when you're tied to a job and a commute and huge monthly payments…and while you don't need to have enough savings to quit and never work again, you need some sort of cushion (whether through a combination of savings, lack of expenses, or both) that lets you try out new life pathways that aren't guaranteed to produce a regular paycheck. If your constraints are "I must find another regular paycheck, as large or larger than my current paycheck, within commuting distance of the house I own", your life will be very, very limited. In contrast, whereas if your constraints are "I can do almost anything for nine months, after which I'll either have to go back to work or be generating some money…though less than half of what I would need with a mortgage and a leased SUV", you have many more potential choices. And if your constraints are "I can do absolutely nothing for five years if I want", your future might be so wide-open that it gives you option paralysis!
Actually, I think there are two steps immediately after "understanding the problem". One is becoming more independent, as above. The second is "make more gnolls". The more gnolls there are, the more resources with which we can make progress,
February 25, 2013
Hi eddie. I am glad my thread made you and your wife discuss things. I am certainly not looking to cause depression in anyone, not even me. Like (I think) I said above: I am quite a happy, funny person (or so I am told), but in the past two years I have been going very gray in my head hair, and balding more rapidly... and I'm 29, fit, eating clean since 22. I blame it on stress, and even my wife says so. She can see it in my eyes or facial expression sometimes. It is a pretty sad situation when one feels it's so tough to get "out" of this situation.
But sitting and writing about being sad wont help. So I too was looking for ideas, solutions. Hence why I brought up at least ONE idea, although mr. Stanton doesn't seem to like it very much. But in my view, some type of community is at least better than my current situation. And let me reiterate my current situation is not "bad" by modern standards.. I have almost finished paying our tiny little 90 square meter appartment (90% paid for, remember we're 29). I have two beautiful kids, work at a family company that is doing well financially... in other people's view I should be jumping and screaming in happyness. And I understand, it's a matter of perspective of course. Those in deep debt would give a limb to be in my position. Don't get me wrong, I'm not rich, but I'm doing decently in that regard. Yet I feel so "empty" when I look at the big picture.
Why do people discuss different technologies of TV screens? I was made fun of because I bought too simple a TV (because my previous one, which was one of the "old", big ones, got broken). People discuss their phones and the sh*t they do (mine is as simple as they get, no internet on it either, no messaging and it''s off 95% of the time). What is it with the car thing? Funny, as a younger man I was a car fanatic and even had some nice (300zx, Supra...). Now I see it as nerga. People walking in malls "shopping" in these huge stores, paying ridiculous prices for little pants and shirts and hats and purses... lol, are we really this stupid? 3 thousand bucks for a hat? Or a WATCH? The other day I was reading about a town in greece where people is supossedly quite healthy, long-living, and not very stressed, and one of the things they said (at least an old guy who was interviewed) was that they didn't care much about the time in there. LOL. Yet others pay thousands for a piece of metal in their wrist. Did Grycka wear a watch? Haha.
But this is life in the city, it seems. People's idea of fun is going indoors, malls and shopping centers. Even entertainment has to be PAID for, which is ridiculous.
I don't know why I feel this is an appropiate place to type this rants... sorry if I am bothering anyone. I just thought anyone who comes here would actually kindof understand. :)
Anyways (yes, to conclude on another note)... I do agree with J. Stanton, that living simpler is key to all of this. Whatever the solution is, what he suggested in his last reply here is great and I agree 100%. The more "independent" one is, the better chances of doing what you like (whatever that is). I guess I need to keep thinking.
February 22, 2010
It's not that I don't like the idea of intentional community...I dream of someday living in proximity to people who actually share my values.
However, I've seen, visited, and been involved with enough intentional communities that I know how difficult and time-consuming it is to create one, let alone have it survive its founding members...especially with a group of independent thinkers, such as gnolls. (It's much easier when everyone is a member of your cult!) And the legal system discourages such cooperation at every turn...mundane things like building codes and zoning mean that it's nearly impossible to live as we choose in anywhere that isn't the middle of nowhere.
Meanwhile, living in community is a skill, and it requires a solid time commitment to learn and maintain. Hunter-gatherers spend an inordinate amount of time talking, talking, talking, in order to smooth out social friction. Just like none of us could survive if we were dropped in the Kalahari, because we didn't grow up learning the skills required to make weapons and hunt, none of us have the skills required to live together in community. As for myself, I've been living alone for so long that I'm not sure I'm capable of making the required sacrifices.
I'm not saying it's impossible. I'm saying it's very difficult -- and at least at first, we would spend much more time dealing with new problems than being in the community would solve.
But yes, increasing your independence is the first step. Without it, you have no decisions to make!
March 21, 2013
Just got the book in the mail. Can't wait to read!
February 22, 2010
Stop in and share your thoughts whenever you're ready...we'll be here.
I've also thought quite a bit about possible compromises and midpoints between full-on "intentional community" and the (broken) standard suburban/urban mode of isolated nuclear families. Have you looked into cohousing at all?
January 5, 2013
I agree with you about the agrarian model of the intentional community, JS. Worst circus ever.
It seems to me that one of the important aspects of living your life like a Gnoll is being mobile, not being tied down to one location.
I feel like I am working on this by stages in my life. Just sold off a huge house and rented a condo. The next time I want to sell off all my furniture and get a smaller furnished place. Next get my "worldly goods" down to what will fit in a camper and head out somewhere. When I'm done with North America, I could store the camper and get on a plane.
Everywhere I have gone in the world, I have been offered jobs teaching English (I used to be a professor before retiring). One of these days I might set off to "teach my way around the world", stopping however long I felt like staying in any one country.
February 22, 2010
"Teach your way around the world" sounds like a great plan...and if you lack personal attachments that would stop you from doing it, I recommend you do so!
January 5, 2013
I have very little in the way of any connections stopping me from heading out. No spouse or kids. Both parents have passed away. I'm financially independent. If I did take the teaching positions it wouldn't be for the money but rather top get a way to connect with communities as opposed to just being a tourist.
My only real connection that roots me to an address right now is my four footed pack mate, an elderly adorable feral mutt who adopted me on my travels in Mexico years ago. As long as the one who I affectionately refer to as my Wolf Cub is still with me, I will have a fixed address.
The Wolf Cub does travel well on road trips with me but I wouldn't want to put him through plane flights. We are planning a road trip from San Diego to Chicago via route 66 this fall. That should be fun.
February 25, 2013
I am a little surprised by the "hate" on the intentional communities. Calling it "worst circus ever" is probably a funny thing to those who have been living for decades in one. Lets ask ourselves for a second: what do THOSE living that lifestyle believe is the "worst circus ever"? That's right... the worst circus ever is probably the 40-60 hour jobs in offices only to go home and enjoy your latest tech devices. And it's hard to argue this is what MOST people are doing (not all, but MOST). So at the very least, these people are seeking a different lifestyle. Have they found the ultimate solution? No, we can all agree on that. But they had the b@lls to try and do something different, to actually try and not be part of the REAL "worst circus ever".
Also, if I had no kids, spouse or parents (all of which I DO have).... oh boy. Yeah, it's fun to think of what we would do, how we would all wander through the world working for food or accomodation or some little salary in a little country 99% of the world doesn't even know about. But this is not everyone's situation. However, those who are in that situation... I hope they take advantage of it and don't waste too much time planning. Life's short after all :D
February 22, 2010
I don't share the disdain for agrarian intentional communities. People are doing their best to take charge of their own food supply, based on the food they eat -- which, for most people, is grains -- and their (mistaken) perception about what is good for the earth -- which, for most people, is vegetarianism.
And the successful ones I know of tend to not be vegetarian, because pigs and chickens do a great job of converting waste into bacon and eggs. Family farms didn't have "compost piles"...they had hog pens and chicken coops.
Obviously a self-supporting Paleo intentional community would primarily involve raising animals, not growing grains! I don't know of any intentional communities based on a ranching or pastoral model...but with the increasing demand for grass-fed beef, it's an interesting possibility.
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