Sunday, December 16, 2007

Wealth or Real Wealth

If you read this blog with any regularity, you've probably noticed that I've been referencing Gary Snyder a lot lately. This last year has felt like a watershed for me, and Snyder's writing has seemed to resonate with what's been going on in my own life. I've also been making a mindful effort to learn from what I've been reading and listening to, and that's led me to slow way down and invest substantial time in a small set of books and albums. Less is more, eh and as noted on Ku Yah!, choice isn't always a good thing. That was a long and roundabout introduction, but I've been reading Snyder fairly consistently since the spring, and I came across the following quote this morning and figured it was a good one to pass on. It's from an interview with him in New York in 1973, and it's hard not to think about what our world would look like now if more people had heard him speak back then.

"Everybody thought it was money that counted before. Now it turns out that the only real wealth is oil. That is real wealth. You can't burn money—I mean you can't get much heat out of it when you burn it. You can light a cigar with it, and that's about all. So oil is now the real wealth, fossil fuels. The actual 'real wealth' is knowing how to get a
long 'without.' Now which of these is the real wealth? 'Do more with less,' as the slogan goes. In other words, human mind-energy capacities, human intelligence capacities as against mechanical and fossil-fuel capacities. This is a marvelous time in which the nations of the world may get a new balance and perspective on themselves—if it doesn't degenerate into hysteria and short range crisis thinking. If we rush into a crisis mentality—totalitarian and draconian measures to keep the cars running, and the houses heated to seventy-two degrees, and the GNP continually growing—then we will rip off nature. We should try to allay anxiety and spread confidence in the natural beauty of the human mind and the natural dignity of life at is normal, natural, ancient, slower pace."

Today's music is "Be Good or Be Gone" by Fionn Regan.

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