Watch out for that swinging pendulum!

A lot of friends have been noting the old pendulum metaphor lately, and it does feel like something’s up, a new energy, a re-energized boldness, a growing confidence that we can move things in a different direction… of course it’s also true that most of what we can think of doing isn’t particularly dangerous to daily life’s maintenance. But maybe that’s part of what we need to think freshly about, in terms of political engagement. Threatening daily life’s rhythms can easily backfire, given the deep desire for security and comfort. Perhaps the most interesting challenge these days is to pose a radical alternative that is subversive to the way things are precisely by presenting an obviously BETTER set of options. An energetic weekend like this one can make me feel a lot more engaged, but also can leave me weary with the sheer repetitiveness of marginal political expression… I guess I’m doomed to always harbor both responses, no matter what happens…

I should say that I’m still cruising on birthday fumes, and they smell great! Between the great party and all the walks, dinners, drinks, and hugs I’ve been getting, well, let’s just say that life is very very good… This past Thursday I got to indulge my sports fan side and joined my pal Q to drive up to Sacramento to first round NCAA games… they weren’t the best games, but it was a very fun experience, especially standing in the lobby cheering Duke’s loss with several dozen others… But the reason this anecdote fits into today’s theme is that on our way into the Arco Arena in Sacto a guy handed us a flyer. We didn’t think much about it, it said something like “test your NCAA trivia knowledge” so I shoved it in my pocket. But amazingly, a little while later I happened to look at the other side of it and it was a whole attack on Coca-Cola as NCAA sponsor. It was being distributed by the Student/Labor Coalition for Corporate Responsibility, and it made Q and I very happy to have been fooled by it… (the flyer spoke about Coke devastating communities in India with toxic sludge, paying huge fines in the U.S. for racial discrimination, etc.)… mighty strange to be far in the ‘burbs and get flyered in such a subtle way…

Saturday was the 12th annual Anarchist Bookfair, and as usual I was there with some pals, holding down a table for Shaping San Francisco, (the memory of) Processed World, and CounterPULSE… and has become almost customary every other year, I was a speaker again. Here’s a link to my talk, which was based on my forthcoming book “Nowtopia.” I always have fun at the bookfair, regardless of the strange truth that there are some dozen or two folks there who kind of hold me in contempt for reasons that I couldn’t explain, except that they’ve never spoken with me and are sure that I’m some kind of authoritarian ogre, or hopeless pro-capitalist sell-out… funny how sectarian every scene is… anarchists are far from an exception, especially a whole cohort of young ‘know-it-all’s’…

(by the way I was also recently interviewed by James Hughes on his Radio4All slot called Changesurfer, link here.)

Sunday was the usual big anti-war march, but we had a smashing time drumming… it was a warm sunny day and there were at least 5 or more drumming groups amidst the 15,000-20,000 protesters… the dionysiun spirit was really contagious and incredibly fun to be at the center of, as a drummer… (I’m really very amateur, but can fake it well in demos!)…

Yesterday the area was full of various ‘direct actions’ and I joined with some folks called BADASS (Bay Area Direct Action Secret Society) to do a solemn-ish portrayal of the torture victims, while all around us people were doing a big Die-in on Market Street. We went first to stand in front Bechtel, one of the biggest beneficiaries of this fucked-up military machine… (I’ve been deeply angry and ashamed about the torture all along… going back to Pinochet and the Argentinean dirty war, Jacobo Timmerman, et al, all the way to the present, driven and trained by CIA and our taxes…)

Later we stood at Montgomery east of the Die-In… I grabbed some photos, and this one shows the scene with a funny sign behind it…

So maybe things are tipping in a better direction than a worse one, finally… still much to do to alter the frame of reference, to start the conversations we really need to have, but there’s no doubt that spring weather and people in the streets have been very heartening.

More interesting events ahead: I’m doing one of my occasional bicycling history tours on Ecological History, this coming Saturday, March 24, 12 noon at CounterPULSE. In April our Talks will resume on April 11 and 25, we’re staging our next “Slow Food Feast of Fools and Friends” on April 22 (it’s going to be awesome!) and you should get tickets soon before it sells out. I’ll be doing a Transit History tour on Sun. April 15, speaking at a Geographers’ Conference on Revanchist San Francisco on April 19 around 3:30, and speaking again at the California Studies Association Conference on the Crisis of the California Commons on April 29 at 9 a.m.! That same night, April 29, a Sunday, will be the 3rd annual anniversary party/show at CounterPULSE and I just heard that we’re going to have quite a stellar line-up for that too… so make your plans!

2 comments to Watch out for that swinging pendulum!

  • eff-town

    this is pretty nerdy but i feel its my responsibility:

    “most of what we can think of doing isn’t particularly dangerous to daily life’s maintenance. But maybe that’s part of what we need to think freshly about, in terms of political engagement. Threatening daily life’s rhythms can easily backfire, given the deep desire for security and comfort.”

    that IS spinoza. he was very much against violent and uprooting kinds of revolution (and has been hotly criticized for it), because those things are always bad for and contrary to human desire.

    not that spinoza has convinced me to be an anti-militant in any sense, just an interesting coincidence of thought.

  • we are in our 4th day
    of drumming
    for peace

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