Everything Vs. Rewilding!

I got into a fight with a friend who plays music. He thought I had judged him as a musician, thinking that I would eventually “put music under the long list of ‘everything vs. rewilding.'” In a sense, I could see how he (and others) think that by putting something up against rewilding, I mean that rewilding does not include it. I see how people could easily make the assumption that I think everything but rewilding, sucks. By now you too, might have had the thought, “this ‘vs.’ shit has really started to bug me.” Let me explain…

I chose the “Such-and-Such Vs. Rewilding” platform for this book simply because it sounds cool to me. On some level it doesn’t even really mean what I want to say. Yet, I like the feel of it. I thought about having “Such-and-Such or Rewilding” but it just doesn’t have the same bite. I also thought of changing some of them to say “Such-and-Such in Rewilding” because the vs. sounds more like a contrast than a layering.

When I juxtapose something next to rewilding it doesn’t mean that thing necessarily opposes rewilding (except of course domestication, agriculture, hierarchy and civilization). I mean to point out looking at the subject through the lens of rewilding. Rewilding doesn’t refer to a way of dressing or a cool new diet or a a sustainable product you can use to fuel your car, or voting with dollars or any of that. It refers to a new way of living that requires an entirely new way of looking at the world. Before you can physically rewild, you need to see the world through the eyes of the wild, which means seeing it in contrast to that which domesticates; civilization. When most people don’t even notice their own domestication, have never juxtaposed their life to a wild one, they will not understand rewilding and will simply replicate civilization with more primitive tools than we use today.

Once we understand the fundamental picture of civilization, we can hold up rewilding next to anything and “see the civilization” in it. Once we see the civilization in something, we can rewild it. Civilization does not have a monopoly on music, art, language, violence, irony, etc. We can use those tools too through the lens of rewilding. My friend Chris thought of a good metaphor for it;

There’s a Huge Pink Elephant in the room that no one seems to talk about, and its (what’s the quote from Princess Mononoke?) a Big Huge Slimy Life-Sucking Monster of Death called Civilization. I love permaculture and regenerative design, and those are the folks I’ll talk to when I want to figure out how to garden my yard, or how to inhabit my land with my community more sustainably. But what about that little problem of civilization? 75 species a day–gone. 90,000 acres of forest a day–gone. 13.5 million tons of CO2 a day into the atmosphere–fuck! That’s civilization. What I hear Scout saying is simply “but let’s talk about that too!” And specifically–in what ways does not directly addressing that elephant’s presence influence us when we get into our permaculture design, or regenerative design, or ecovillage planning, or re-souling work, or whatever? For me, it’s pretty significant to look around and think “We really can’t do this good stuff for real with all this here. With all of US here. Only a small amount of what’s here now can be here and have this work.” I would rather NOT notice that, and feel good about buying my heritage seeds and my commerically-produced organic compost. But the more I take an interest in the long view–”how is this really going to play out and work out?” the more I see that elephant sitting there, shitting on everything (no offense to elephants), and there’s just not enough room. I like the ‘vs.’ to the extent that it gets us to look up from what we’re doing (regardless of how friendly that activity might be to rewilding) and ask “yeah, and how exactly are we addressing the elephant as we do this?”

Rewilding means un-doing domestication. We need to see how civilization domesticates us in order to rewild. We need to see the elephant so that we can make sure to kill it. Sorry Dumbo. The Art of Rewilding begins with “seeing” the civilization in everything that we do, so that we can uncivilize it together. I hope this book can give you those tools.

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15 Comments on “Everything Vs. Rewilding!”

  1. I call it plumbing the depths of Story, using the master’s tools to disassemble the master’s house. With the White Lady at my side, true.

  2. How about Terraforming vs. Rewilding? The paradox could be spotted in that battle.

  3. Great post, Scout. And….

    “…Once we understand the fundamental picture of civilization, we can hold up rewilding next to anything and “see the civilization” in it. Once we see the civilization in something, we can rewild it. Civilization does not have a monopoly on music, art, language, violence, irony, etc. We can use those tools too through the lens of rewilding. My friend Chris thought of a good metaphor for it;…”

    …This and the Chris quote are so well said!!!

  4. Well now that you’ve done the “everything” chapter, guess that includes medicine vs rewilding. And I wanted to be like an unpaid consultant on that one!

    Civilization makes everyone sick. Modern medicine is harmful to your health. Rewild. The end.


  5. Haha, shusli. Works for me. 🙂

    Jana and I were having an e-mail discussion about this very topic (everything vs rewilding). What do you reject of your heretofore civilized life, and what of it do you keep, as you rewild?

    I’m going to go ahead and copy and paste an excerpt:

    >>I’ve been thinking about how I can help
    build up a culture from what I know I *don’t* want to reject, and I have
    found that there are indeed lots of things within our civilized lives
    that can be taken with us throughout the journey of rewilding. The
    “tribal self” (to quote an ecopsychologist in an article I read) doesn’t
    really die, it is merely suppressed in many people most of the time.
    Some people have more opportunity/wherewithal/drive to express it. We
    should listen to those people. 🙂

    >>Who can we look to, and where can we look, for inspirational ideas that
    come from a tribal self? I’m going to admit that I see it most often in
    artists and musicians. (That’s a shocker!) And I would boldly claim
    that I think my hunch is not just me projecting the identity of “artist”
    onto the world–that it has some validity outside of my own perspective.
    😉 The “starving artist” myth doesn’t come from nowhere, after all!
    There are so many who do it for the love of what they do alone. I can’t
    identify any attitude that encompasses the rewilding spirit better than
    that one.

    >>When you do it just for the love of it, you are elevated to new heights
    of independence, and your civilized (false) self allows your true
    self–your tribal self–to shine through. I think you can fairly
    predictably recognize something that can carry into rewilding culture
    when you look at the life passions of individuals, no matter what form
    they come in. Whether it’s gardening or fixing up motorcycles or
    playing the synthesizer in a new wave goth band… there is something
    belonging to a very deep part of human nature that motivates that
    activity done merely for the love of it. Willem’s definition of
    rewilding is “following your heart”… I’m pretty sure this is part of
    the thinking behind that definition. I should ask him about that.

  6. Does aquaculture fit in with your concept of rewilding.It’s the practice of growing fish in a tank or pond and using the water to pump up to a hydroponic system with vegetables growing in it to feed the plants with the fish fertilizer water while also continuously cleaning that water up as it recirculates to the fish pond over and over again .with something like a solar panel powered pump for recirculating the water you could theoretically have edible fish and vegetable crops which mostly take care of each other even after the collapse of civilization.it would require collecting rainwater to drink and to top off the aquaponics system and preferably a greenhouse to extend the growing season and staying in one place but it would provide a large portion of the food you would need to get by.the trick would be to get everyone on board with the idea Before the collapse of civilization because after that point there will just be a lot of hungry people running around that don’t have any plans for how to do anything except steal other peoples food that do have things figured out.of course I think that permaculture would certainly be needed to aid in rebuilding ecosystems that we have ruined already and to provide food for people also. while we have civilization we should use algae farms to make fuel since it sequesters carbon out of the air and feeds on it to grow faster and can even be directly connected to coal burning facilities smoke stacks and feed on that thus slowing down the warming process that will inevitably change ecosystems to a point that rewilding isn’t possible because plants and animals and insects can’t always survive extremes in climate change and when they all die we all die.I know this isn’t hunting and gathering and maybe that’s not what you mean when you say rewilding I don’t know it’s a new concept for me maybe you could elaborate or point me to some of your already stated ideas that maybe I missed these are just A FEW IDEAS that I think will help our current situation that we are in .I think your on the right track from what I’ve heard trying to get people to realize to what extent civilization has systematically rearranged each and every one of our lives as Jello Biafra would say to the point that we are all literally wiping our asses with our own future.sorry for clogging up space in your blog if this isn’t what you wanted to talk about I have a feeling it is though.Anyway hang in there scouts surely we will find our way.

  7. Hi, Good to find this dialog. Artists vs. Rewilding. How about that topic? Rebecca’s above post touches on this. to some extent we can look towards artists musicians etc to help us get in touch with an indigenous way of being… But also, how many of them continue with addictions, etc, that sustain the mindset of the greater civilization?
    Especially artists who use symbology from Native American or other indigenous traditions in their artwork, for example… Signifying a return to something outside civilization, but actually sustaining dysfunctional or disconnected ways of being the whole time? Iguess everyone has to find their own way.

  8. Uh…well, I read Rebecca’s post more closely (I was pretty excited to just find this site and throw my voice into the discussion!)…I think that what I am really wondering about is “what constitutes rewilding, and what constitutes carrying on destructive ‘civilized’ ways…”, and I like the conclusion of her post, the restatement of Willem’s definition that rewilding is “following your heart.” I guess the other area that my post drifts towards is a “dogma of rewilding”. i for one hate dogma, but I have sometimes found that my mind wants to have a dogmatic definition of what rewilding is.