“Every high civilization decays by forgetting obvious things.” -G.K. Chesterton
Though the present moment may not represent it - we have known how ‘to human’ in the past. We have evidence of the tribes of North America captured in sepia and by flash powder. We have the edifices, relics, statues, and sutras from bygone ages that are profoundly illuminating upon the human condition. These speak to the methods of training necessary to become fully human. For we do not become fully human by happenstance alone. We are born dormant - and we continue this way from cradle to grave without specific work on harmonisation. The ancient paths to full humanity find no match within modern science for the transmutation and development of the human consciousness.
So here we are the age of disinformation and misinformation A complexity of silicon and palladium, materially. Emotionally and spiritually We are stuck in the Pleistocene.
[and that might be derogatory to the Neanderthals and other early hominids, who likely had rich ceremonies and highly detailed practices and bodies of lore].
We do not produce fully adult human beings in civilisation as a rule. At best we tap into a very fine bandwidth of the total developmental potentiality. A number of modern pioneers have pointed this out in different ways: Rolf, Kingsley, Gurdjieff … To call what we do a ‘parliament of children’ is, once again, derogatory - this time to the spark of aliveness found still in children of this civilization; despite our best efforts to beat, yell, scream and educate it out of them as soon as possible. Which is usually largely successful by somewhere mid-primary school.
This essay is not so much a declarative, definite set of ‘solutions’ to these issues. By necessity; we all must find and continually rediscover our own personal solutions. It is necessary to have some basic understanding of some of the wider parameters to know where to apply one's effort. To approach this we must focus on our own individualised effort. As Jung put it: ‘The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases.’
The Spell of Progress
Looking at what a society values tells you something crucial about how it, consciously or otherwise, programs and conditions its members. What denotes an acceptable profession. What people subliminally strive for [often at detriment to their health and relationships]. And what the corralling of time of adults and children looks like. Time is value.
On a societal level it will determine what behaviours are rewarded and which are punished. Who gets the ‘more equal’ share of social privileges and prestige. How laws apply [or don’t] to crimes committed. It sets the perimeter of acceptable methods for social change, too. Nothing outside of this subliminal cultural value structure will be entertained - even if a great many people will suffer as a direct consequence.
It sets the limits of ‘normal’ - and there are usually severe penalties for deviation and for pointing out that the emperor is [indeed] naked. Those more willing to play by these rules [or at least break them in socially acceptable ways] will rise to the top.
On a personal level; what one values directs the tributaries of the current of one's life force. It determines the time and energy we sink into things. It determines the types of activities we devote to our lives too. And as many are waking up to - as if from some strange nightmare - the fact is that most people did not pick their own value systems. Nor their careers and professions. Nor their hobbies, many of their interests, or political ideologies. They had them thrust into their minds by parents, religious and cultural authorities. And deeper even than this - by the subliminal (false) value structures inherent within civilisations themselves.
That these value structures are false is shown by the fact that they never lead to higher order transmutations of the human being or the formation of living cultures. The goal of these subterranean active structures is counter to what is good for the individual and is accomplished by the subjugation and mutation of the psyche, the body [and its resources] and the world towards its own ends. There is little mystery why mental and emotional pathologies of modernity continue to rise in spite [and because] of our technological sophistication increasing.
“Yes, that is because people believe in progress and culture,” said G. “There is no progress whatever. Everything is just the same as it was thousands, and tens of thousands years ago. The outward form changes. The essence does not change. Man remains just the same. 'Civilized' and 'cultured' people live with exactly the same interests as the most ignorant savages. But all these fine words about 'progress' and 'civilization' are merely words.” - G.I.Gurdjieff
What we are effectively talking about here are the under-religions of that society; ‘governing myths’ or stories. For all intents and purposes it functions much the same way as a religion does in plain sight, just that it is deeply subliminal and veiled from sight. It is a set of game rules. What can be done and what cannot be done. Perhaps more importantly: it also tells the story of where we are coming from and where we are going. The primary under-religion of our current society is the ‘civil religion of progress’. (*)
That is the unshakeable conviction that our culture is on its way onwards and upwards. Sure, there might be economic setbacks here and there. Or other ‘small bumps’ along the road, like wars [...] But by and large we are moving towards a future that is better, brighter and shinier than the one we knew yesterday. The story goes something like this: we used to live in squalor and barbarism. Lives were brutish and short. Savagery ruled. After much struggle and hardship we have finally arrived at a superior cultural point heralded and progressed by taming and conquering nature. We crafted tools and language and writing and art and philosophy. We are stronger, smarter and happier than all who came before us along the great chain of evolution. And where are we going? We are destined to become the chosen people of the stars; to domed cities on the moon, to or a matrix-style metaverse. There is only one true direction though [in spite of the options]: onwards and upwards. To suggest that there are limits to this expansion, or that it is unwise to expand for other reasons [or that no true progress has occurred; in fact the regression of humanity has occurred] amounts to a form of blasphemy.
By [dis]virtue of the scientific and industrial revolutions bringing not only increased technological capacity, but more importantly by raising mechanical technology to the level of a world-philosophy [religion]; we are witnessing a virulent increase in mechanical technologies. Planned obsolescence,terraforming Mars with nuclear weapons, uploading our brains to ‘neuroheaven’ in ‘the cloud’. We have not the life of leisure promised from the 50s robot-o-romanced version of Pleasantville. As all these labour-saving devices and machines have not reduced the number of humans engaged in the perennial drudgery of work and hollow careerism. Nor have we found ways to engage the populace at large in meaningful human labour [which is actually something we crave].
Many of the attempts at more ecologically sound interactions with the planet fail because they themselves are technological solutions to a problem caused in large part by the zealous use of technical technologies within the auspices of an under-religion that deifies such. It is a ‘false Reformation’.
The unholy wedding of philosophy of technology with the false value structure of perpetual progress has had a particular dissonant effect on our skin, flesh, and bone. The human body follows the beat of a much more ancient drum and it is warped when it is forced to play the discordant rhythms of modernity.
‘[...]but I wish to point out that nuclear holocaust is really a scientific vision of utopia, in which the world is finally expunged of the messy, organic, and unpredictable by being wiped out - “purified.” Suicide, whether on the political, environmental, or personal level, is the ultimate (and most effective) solution to the problem of otherness, a “problem” that should never have become one in the first place. The terror over creepy-crawlies is merely and icon. It is isomorphic to the anxiety over the body, and finally attains a visible, historical dimension in the yearning for Vernichtung (extermination), Gleichschaltung (leveling, homogenization), to use the terminology of National Socialism. We shall not merely “solve” the problem of intermediate substances, body fluids, and ambiguous animals, in this view; we shall solve it all, destroy any vestiage of wild, disorganized other entirely, so that self now reigns supreme in a pure, dead, and totally predictable world. This, I believe, is the real meaning of our disturbed relationship with organic life at this time, and it shows where the sources of fragmentation are finally taking us. Hatred and destruction of life is the inevitable outcome’ -Morris Berman - Coming to Our Senses
Biohacking, ‘quantified health’ and all the rest of its mental onanism spawned ilk, are attempts to impose technology into areas where they - frankly - have no business going. The belief that everything can be reduced to numbers and quantifiable bits of data is insane. The neuroprayer of a perfect scientific Utopia is just around the corner. All that is messy and organic neatly clinicalised. And should you still have problems with that pesky mind and want some sanity? Well: there’s an app for that!
Life is messy. Life pulsates and oozes. It follows Order - but doesn’t go according to plan.
At present we have the worst of both worlds. It is only the entrancing, enthralling and addictive aspects of technology alongside the cultural brainwashing around ‘perpetual progress’ of the Technosphere that prevents us from taking our eyes off the thousands of screens that surround us - both figuratively and literally. Rarely do we see the state of humanity sober.
We are quite literally ‘amusing ourselves to death’ - but how much ‘Netflix and chill’ can a person take before their spiritual immune system kicks in and they begin questioning their quickly burning life and how they were told to live it [?]
‘The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” - Thoreau
The namesake of this article is the reverse timeline principle. A principle that points to a return. To a divergent timeline. A crossroads [or series of crossroads] in which [collectively] we took the wrong turn. The path we chose turned out to be one of false promises and rapidly eroding ground. And so the thought experiment or ‘gedanken’ around this principle is to play with the idea that this thing we call ‘progress’ is anything but. That actual progress is to be found by looking back, rather than ploughing forward at all costs - deeper into the quagmire.
Not back to the future, but forward to the past.
It is time to put aside debates and blame, as much as we can. Time to try a more organically fruitful approach. Time to ask what can be done about it all. The time for endless theorum has passed. Time is nigh for practicum. How do we regain what has been lost: the practical and bodily skills; development of character and perception; the ethos of self-reliance. [?] That, by necessity, begins as a personal question and an individual answer. As mentioned in the beginning of this essay: the challenge is that we must rise in the ways that our respective circumstances and innate inclinations dictate. What I will suggest within these pages is that there is a pattern and principle that can be utilised to these ends: The Reverse Timeline principle.
Human skills is a very broad study; so we cannot hope to do more within the first part of this essay series than point to a few examples and identify some of the principles at work within them. I would suggest that it is useful that this tour de force is one in which we each figure out how we can apply this principle as best fits our lives and intentions. To this end we ask ourselves what are human skills - and which ones are the most essential for me and those closest to me[?]
The work is one of applying the principles to oneself initially, thus the skills we will focus on here centre around the things that we have the greatest amount of control over. They are also areas where the reverse timeline principles can be applied simply and readily.
The skills that we acquire and utilise can broadly be put into one of two categories: general and specific skills.
General skills are skills that everyone uses. Most people learn to tie shoelaces[a general skill], whereas much fewer learn how to make a pair of shoes [a specific skill]. General skills are skills that almost everyone should have some exposure to and some sort of instruction in. A lot of them do well with continued frequent honing and practice.
General skills include: Personal medicine and basic hygiene [how to look after your own health - very basic knowledge of diseases, their treatment and prevention via simple and cost-effective means]. A higher [and largely absent] form of hygiene is memetic hygiene: how to avail the value and validity of information, more on that point later on. Another basic skill set in how to grow, hunt, gather, store and prepare food [as it applies to your geography].
Ability to make and repair your shelter would also be a contender for this brief list. The skill at training your physical body to develop and increase strength, flexibility, dexterity and endurance are essential. As are relaxation and restoration skill sets gained via breath practice and tension modulation exercises. The skill of physical training is paramount: including basic self-defence and situational awareness. Ironically, basic technological tech skills are required for this age: use of computers, phones and the Internet [when combined with memetic hygiene] to locate information; ability to operate vehicles; skills in the appropriate technology of chosen specific skills.
These skills taken together represent the skills of keeping yourself fed, healthy, strong and safe in uncertain times. They are a foundation stone for versatility and purposeful action.
The specific skills follow the whim of personal inclinations, aptitude and circumstances. One cannot acquire more than a few specific skills in a lifetime, if they are to be pursued with an eye towards the mastery befitting them. Almost all humans should have training in at least one specific skill. Any kind of skilled trade would fit into this category. Likewise music, poetry, healing, dance and acting have their place in this category. The instruction of harmonious human development is a specific skill, too. These are not ‘careers’, which is a corruption of the idea of a specific skill. These are crafts.
[*] General Skills
The growing and preparation of food is perhaps the quintessential general skillset. How do these apply to the reverse timeline? Much has been said about ancestral and paleo diets from a health perspective in recent years. Naysayers and yeasayers at best agreeing to disagree. Yet whatever you decide to eat; knowing how to source foodstuffs that fit into your diet if you encounter sudden disruption to food supply chains is essential.
Besides; there is no single ancestral or paleo diet to begin with - diversity of bioregions that humans inhabit being what they were. Kinship with the land one inhabits is a natural and necessary [and lost in many places] skill. That suggests that local, possibly native species should dominate the food choices seen from this vantage point [not fruits grown in another hemisphere; frozen and shipped halfway across the globe] with some leeway with respect to genomic ancestry of the person if they live far from where their ancestors arose.
Getting familiar with food means taking steps to not just cultivate just the plants and animals but to improve the soil itself. For it is a poor civilization who feeds itself by continuously destroying the richness and abundance of its soils. Principles of permaculture, organic gardening (all food growing pre 1915 was by definition organic) and sustainable hunting practices all have vital practical application.
One could also do much worse than - as was done throughout history and prehistory - combine this with a study of basic herbology for culinary and medicinal virtues, alike. The adventurous could venture beyond herbal teas into the likes of tincture, salves and spagyric elixirs [if so inclined]. [...]
Food preparation itself uses technology that is ancient: plates, cups, forks, knives, pots of various types are all anywhere from hundreds to thousands of years old - and as such are unlikely to go out of fashion anytime soon. Air Fryers, specific food implements and other modern cooking paraphernalia fads come and go. By and large these ‘advances’ amount to little more than distractions and clever marketing ploys. The simple act of learning and honing the time-tested skills of cookery remains [timeless]. A kitchen without a sharp knife is a writer with no pen, nor parchment.
An extension of this are the many modern franken food inventions: smoothies with various exotic combinations, ‘paleo’ cake or fudge, get vaunted as healthy and better than much maligned traditional foods such as sourdough bread or plain (full fat) yoghurt.
It is known that average life expectancy has increased greatly in the last 200 years. What is less often appreciated is what has driven these increases. A common [but inaccurate] belief is that this is solely due to modern medicine. In fact the biomedical remedies that have given the largest increases in longevity are comparatively simple and associated with very modest costs. Reduced childhood mortality, public sanitation measures, hygiene particularly in health care, improved diets particularly for the working classes, antibiotics and later a decline in smoking is where the largest improvements in life expectancy comes from. All are relatively low tech/low cost.
Our individual health and well being is in our own hands more often than not even currently. This could shift to near-totally in certain future timelines. Chronic degenerative diseases are called ‘diseases of affluence’ [though they afflict the poor, too] and are often explained as the result of an evolutionary mismatch [read: life lived in non accordance with reverse timeline principles]. Conversely, many of the practices and skills produce profound positive changes despite being low tech and positively ancient: relaxation and breath practices, stretching and bodywork, an active sex life and long walks at a leisurely pace in a natural wooded environment will do more for our health than most of the things that gets doled out in the doctors office. And were likely as practised and encouraged by the ancients in many areas of the globe.
One of the greatest failures of our evidence-based medicine is there is no serious inquiry into the efficacy of things like the joke ‘Wardman’s prescription’: a joint, calf massage and a blowjob [or cunnilingus] [a universal panacea!]. ‘Laughter is the best medicine’ is today a throw-away term. In a hyper-neurotic age full body laughter, true expression of sadness and other embodiments of authentic human expression are not studied or permitted as a serious healing option. These things are also threats to the established order. Think about how someone's full laughter or crying makes people feel, and the subsequent reaction in any modern establishment or social setting. Take a moment to ponder what this means.
This is not to deny the utility of modern medicine. Particularly in traumatic circumstances it is of extreme utility. Nonetheless, hospitals are dangerous places to be; and as such are best avoided unless it is absolutely necessary to go there. Hospital acquired infections are commonplace and often notoriously difficult to treat. It is not a one way street either - by relying on older methods of health promotion as a primary (not taking antibiotics for every minor infection or sore throat for example) we can lessen the likelihood of antibiotic resistant strains developing as a side effect of overuse of technological medicine.
The pursuit of physical excellence is as old as history itself. Warriors testing their strength against one other at camp. Hunters practising the skills involved in the hunt. It is not hard to see how physical training spontaneously came into being. Many cultures have left behind intricate systems of physical and martial training. We do them a grave disservice by viewing them only from a modern scientific reductionist lens.
By assuming that everything can be understood from our vantage point, the potential for losing the essence of these traditions is great. Analyse it, ‘know it’ [kill it] and stick it in a box -is the motto of our culture and its ‘understanding’. We have lost track of different ways of developing the body. The ancients had bodies that were highly developed, but in ways that do not fit well with modern bodybuilding or even fitness aesthetics.
The reality is rather simple: many older physical systems produce incredibly impressive results. The goals and the context were [however] different. For instance, pointing out that modern weightlifting records are higher than early 1900s is hardly a fair comparison when weightlifting at that time was something that was done in addition to often also being wrestlers, strongmen and the like. And in general being much less specialised.
The Ancient Greek pentathlon is interesting, too. It consisted of sprinting, standing long jump with dumbbells, javelin, discus and wrestling. This shows how they perceived throwing to be an essential human physical skill. Such a combination of diverse skills scarcely find a match in modern physical culture. Modern athletics and physical training alike have deemphasized throwing. Javelin does not pay well. Sports such as baseball do, but sadly are lacking in wrestling inclusiveness.
Understanding Indian physical culture from a western standpoint only does a disservice to a system that has an internal logic of its own. One that is connected with the vast and rich medical system of Ayurveda and includes rhythmic meditative aspects missing in modern training. It is true that many people get flexible from modern (westernised) asana practice (**), but that this is what people have made of the yoga sutra of Patanjali and the significance and sequence of the 8 limbs of yoga is a stunning descent [a perfect example of ‘progress’ being the exact opposite].
The Wrestlers of Northern India and the Zurkhaneh of Iran both epitomise styles of physical development that manage to transcend known categories. Bringing martial, physical and spiritual dimensions together harmoniously.
Whether the work takes place it be a muddy pit, or an octagon of auspicious carpets - or in your garage; the point is to infuse the work with principles of humility, respect and dedication to serving others with the qualities gained. For almost everyone what matters is not access to an over-priced gym but a willingness to make whatever you have access to work. Ask yourself could you train everywhere? If not, there is work to do. There is much [still] to learn from ancient physical systems. Making the most of simple tools and trying circumstances. That is what almost all ancient physical systems came out of and why they have much to teach us for the future also.
The Martial Arts
The martial arts have long had a strong affinity with physical development. The above mentioned Greek, Persian and Indian wrestlers, were all physical culturalists and athletes in conjunction with their martial skill development. Being strong without being useful is a sin -a sign of vanity. Being strong and using it to help and defend yourself and others is a useful skill in any era. Much of these training methods arose from a need to keep warriors in battle-ready shape outside of warring periods.
Some ancient martial arts have survived down to this day either largely unadulterated, while others have been called back from the dead. Greek Pankration is an example of the latter. Work to maintain or revive a martial tradition is an act of cultural first aid.
Martial Arts obviously has to do with learning about how to deal with violence, but it would be remiss to suggest that this is the only thing it can be a vessel for. The most obvious examples are the Eastern martial arts where there is a long standing tradition of integration between martial skill and the development of other physical skills as well as development in a broader sense. The same was true for other martial arts, but was forgotten along the way under the banner of modernity, sports and popularisation.
The ardent student of any martial art will do well to study specifically the history, origin and development of his art. Much has been lost that we would do well to revive. This goes equally if we are talking about traditional Irish martial arts (***), Okinawan Karate or Muay Thai/Muay Boran.
One thing is changing our alignment to be more in accordance with a human centric skill set - to reclaim a token amount of independence and to gain some positive experiences in doing something that you have not done before. Those are essential first steps. Nonetheless, the reality of the situation is such that society as it stands puts blocks in place that actively prevents this process from unfolding. This largely has to do with usurping time and energy from the individual.
This means that some effort should be shunted towards specifically learning to control and direct one's willpower. At the end of the day the only thing we really have control over is how to turn our attention to work towards auspicious ends. This can be accomplished by implementing fasting from activities that are consuming too much time-energy and not compelling us in a useful direction.
After a certain point we will need to sacrifice some things - be it physical objects or activities. After all, we only have so much time, energy and personal resources at our disposal. We only have so much life. Making do with less is a powerful lesson in autonomy. Once you wean yourself off something you previously took for granted and thought that I-could-not-possibly-life-without there is a huge influx of resources. These habituations are mechanically bound life-force. By exercising willpower, reducing certain possessions and fasting the muscles of personal responsibility and mercurial action are strengthened.
This is not a stance against having, owning or acquiring material possessions. Or for that matter suggesting that one should do away with things altogether. There is often a mechanical recoil from people when you suggest a small act of cultural defiance. Such temper tantrums are commonplace [watch and you will see this type of explosive reactionary response in many key areas of debate]. In actual fact, we need a return to a sacred materialism - caring deeply for and appreciating what we have. For having a thousand shoddily made plastic items is no match for a few well crafted items. By happenstance this also represents an attitude of increased responsibility towards one's environment as such artefacts tend to last longer and have a smaller footprint. Besides having a more benevolent effect on the end user, they also benefit the craftsperson responsible for the forging of the high grade item.
The oftentimes heralded ‘personal responsibility’ is not primarily about the dotted ‘i’s’ and crossed ‘t’s’ of well manicured paperwork; a well spread portfolio, high performing pension funds or prestigious professions. The first principle of self-reliance is personal responsibility for your programing and cultural conditioning. The joyless maturity and socially sanctioned ‘personal responsibility’ evading this first principle, raises the pretender to the throne. In doing so, deifying a mild case of sociopathy and domestication as true adulthood.
‘It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a sick society.’ - Jiddu Krishnamurti
Your ratings in Wordle, Sudoku or crosswords have no bearing on the intelligence and ability to engage in this process. This is a practical intelligence coupled with with wisdom of cultural unlearning - not limp trivia. It has no correlation with ‘mental’ ‘health’, nor ‘wellness’ The metrics we use for quantified health, lifestyle and stress studies, scores of educational programmes, etc., - are in fact a large part of the problem we face. Quantified everything is embodied nothing.
The ‘education’ we have been so taught to value is a liability. Our ‘happiness’ and lifestyle scores simply ‘HDs’ in obedience to culturally programmed normality. A ‘normal’ that is anything but natural. A smorgasbord of antidepressants. A comfortably numb hygge to the ills of the world and one's own soul.
Increased self-reliance and general upskilling is intimate with the gathering of personal resources. That is a necessary first step. This can be a highly enjoyable process, as it signifies a reclaiming of agency and a departure from collective learned helplessness. Even so, it would be amiss to suggest that the process that is involved with the reverse timeline is an additive process only. In fact addiction is false joy.
The civil religion of progress is metastatic. And while its cancerous properties certainly have physical correlarries (the environmental degradation that we are living through comes to mind) - it is actually a primarily memetic [and sub-memetic] disease entity. Progress and newness insert themselves into an increasing number of realms of human activity. These are viruses of the mind. The reverse timeline principle necessitates a ‘memetic oncology’.
What general and specific skills we have learned must be harmoniously hybridised within a well-defined context. Lest we end up with the predictable patterns of postmodern and metamodern corruption of living work.
Learning new skill sets of physical training and martial arts in a haphazard fashion becomes movement frankenfood. A slurry en vogue fragments taken from mismatched realms of inquiry that the organism has little familiarity with and cannot readily assimilate.
This process is a grand unlearning. Making the mind wild, and the body harmonious. It utilises fasting [the best medicine] in its dissolution of the cultural energy invested in the programming and processes that keep you tethered to a mechanical life.
Nearly 200 years ago Thoreau wrote the seminal essay entitled ‘Civil Disobedience’. Within its pages he outlined his ‘political philosophy’; and while the ins and outs of that philosophy is beyond the scope of this article, the form of resistance that he suggested was largely via negativa. Non-participation in the mechanical edifices of civilization as much as possible.
Fasting from civilization toxicity.
And this is one of the entry points to learning the memetic survival skills needed in the 21st century - to dehyptonise yourself from the collective enchantment of ‘progress’, career and technological saviourism. To rid yourself of both religious and scientific fantasies. An unlearning that is resisted both individually and collectively in a way that goes far deeper than mere ‘cognitive dissonance’
What is it that keeps us bound?
On a societal level - the bureaucracy, ‘big data’ and paperwork of ever increasing cultural entropy. The ‘banality of evil’...The promise of computers and digitalization was that it would remove paperwork. Instead it is now occupying an ever increasing amount of the workforce. Decision fatigue, ‘mediation’ and 15,000 emails fuelling burnout. ‘Another meeting that could have been an email’ jokes on the coffee cups, but it’s your life that’s burning up. If you knew the basic general skills of the reverse timeline your ability and confidence to just walk away would grow. You too could sit by the metaphorical ‘Walden pond’. Pen a manifesto that would reverberate throughout time and humanity. Or just spend some time reevaluating and reorienting your life towards the one you really want.
No one is going to help you leave this superstructure.
This is why there are billions of dollars invested in ‘return to work’ schemes but zero in ‘exiting the workforce and not returning’. You have to free yourself, you have to take the first step. One of the first principles of the Reverse Timeline is: first liberate yourself [via civilization detoxification [fasting] and skill acquisition.] Then and only then, potentially help others.
We have all seen the horrors of ‘intentional communities’. Most fail, and often because of a predictable set of circumstances: highly egoistic individuals coming together in a group with a false utopian agenda. ‘No money’ ‘share the wealth’ - but underneath there is often it is merely moving from a currency of currency to a ‘currency of cool’ or ‘currency of infatuation’. Limited practical skills. In fact these are not breakaways from the deeper, subliminal aspects of the toxicity of civilisation.
This is not to say that we should not question how we shelter from the weather or the living arrangements more broadly, or what constitutes a community for that matter. The way nomadic peoples are treated in most societies tells us quite strongly how unwelcome such other approaches to life are. Because their way of life is so strongly at odds with the established order - and as such represent a revolutionary potential- they are demonised and vilified. What’s more: being displaced and on the run from emergencies is dangerous even in ‘good times’- much more so during challenging periods. The adaptations that these peoples have had to make over the centuries can teach us much that is otherwise obscured. Being able to get by with far less stuff is a skill that is very much worth having [the need is actually so pressing it has bubbled up into mainstream as the ‘decluttering movement’ - but sadly people often replace their material clutter with a conceptual clutter of talking about decluttering!]. Quickly setting up shelter is a fine skill and further adds to this ‘neo-nomadism’. Very skillful means if one has to navigate fluidly wherever you end up.
When adequate procession has occurred one can easily engage in a cooperation, community and co-creation with other human beings. This is not a work on oneself for selfish ends. It feels wonderful to help other human beings [as we are at heart communal beings]. What isn’t mentioned in the brochures is that few who are born and raised in mechanical civilisation can do this without prior preparation [it is a dormant faculty]. The illusion of cooperation comes because the sticks and clubs these days are made of laws and money and mental manipulation and emotional ‘soft politics’. They operate in the bodies who are attempting to correct for these ills as much as they operate in the rest of civilisation [just at - again - a subliminal level]. And so we wash off blood with blood. And get the illusion of progress once again.
The point at hand is not that there was some specific point or place in the past that represents Utopia on earth. Perhaps it is merely to suggest that the idea or process of progress and technological expansion into every sphere of human life has had negative unintended consequences. It has not at all been the universally benevolent process it is made out to be. The negative consequences won't be abated or undone by the same tools and thinking that created them. Some of the skills that we stand to lose from the continuation of this process are essential human skill sets that we would do well to safeguard.
The reverse timeline is modular enough to fit with living in the heart of a metropolis; in suburbia; on the fringes of a great city and nature; in a smaller town or out in the deep woods.
It is a work that we can all partake in. It is a collective healing - a collective ‘drawing the poison out’.
Ancient civilisations, whatever their flaws, had [as much as we can make out giving the displacement in time from us] many features that could be benevolently retrofitted into our current systems. A small handful may have even been living non-mechanical civilisations for a period of their existence. But this time has long faded into the sands of Time. Again: what matters most is the real connection with other human beings, versatility and prioritising of human skills. One can be totally selfish and stuck in thought as a hermit. One can be at peace within a major city, interacting with thousands of other humans. The Reverse timeline principle is just what is suggested from its name: a radical and progressive departure from our collective orientation towards progress, accumulation and half-life ‘living’.
To search for the old is to understand the new
The old, the new
This is a matter of time
In all things we must have a clear mind
Who will pass it straight and well?
- Gichin Funakoshi
*) Civil Religion of Progress. Tip of the druid’s hat to John Michael Greer for this most useful concept. For a short essay on this topic see: https://www.resilience.org/stories/2013-04-10/the-religion-of-progress/
**) See for instance ‘Mark Singleton - Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice’ for a detailed discussion of how modern western yoga came to assume its present form.
***) For an example of someone doing this type of work with Traditional Irish Martial Arts, have a look at the work of Rambling Kern. (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIiLjYn9eI8Ix4MFM0wBOIw)