A Belated Conclusion to the Tour

Been home over a week now, and fully immersed in projects that had built up in my absence (two book design jobs, two periodicals), and haven’t had much time to come up for air… But the Nowtopia tour ended in Victoria, a town that didn’t really thrill me. I’d heard a lot about it in terms of its quaintness, its “Britishness”, etc., but overall it was just a small town in Northwestern N. America, big yards, quiet streets, typical modern shopping district to attract tourism, etc. We had a great host in Peter and his family, and he was also our host for the reading at Camas Infoshop, a recently opened anarchist-inspired bookshop on Quadra Street.

We tooled around town a bit too, and came upon this elderly woman’s front yard. She was smiling to us from her window as we photographed her signage. The first one is in regard to the Winter Olympics coming in 2010 and some recent regulatory changes, the second is self-evident I hope!

Thanks to a good article written in the local Monday Magazine, we had a decent audience of about 20+ folks. The conversation after the readings turned to our recurrent theme in the northwest: End of Civilization, armed self-defense, that sort of thing… another old draft dodger refugee, now in his 60s (I was told he was an old Trot), argued that it “wasn’t time yet” to pick up weapons, vs. a young punk queer anarchist covered in tattoos who urgently insisted that we had to prepare immediately. He also was a fan of Derek Jensen’s End Game, which he assured me is much more sophisticated than the Original Sin orientation of John Zerzan… he also insisted that Jensen is not misanthropic and that he is very enthused about First Nations peoples… just not too fond of anyone who is a product of our current world!… hmmm…

Prior to the big Critical Mass in Vancouver, Russell and I had been cruising around town, hunting for our respective interests, Nowtopian initiatives and stencil art. We came upon this charming community garden called “Means of Production”:

This was on St. Catharine’s and 6th, and just a short half block away another beautiful garden appeared:

On our tour before Critical Mass we followed our local bike boulevard again, and I shot a few pics of it. It’s called Mosaic and you can see that they’ve decorated the traffic calming circles appropriately:

We made our way towards Stanley Park for a ride around the perimeter. Vancouver has implemented some bike improvements, like most places we visited. Here’s a bike box in the heart of downtown:

And here’s a view of riding along the Stanley Park perimeter, a world-class bicycling experience:

I met Amy’s father Tom who was a member of the braintrust of the Work Less Party, and we saw posters all over town for a big party they were having the day after we left. Sadly, I never got to have further discussions with them, though I imagine we’d find a lot in common. But do check out their website, which starts right off with some entertaining music and a good video… an interesting approach to a website too, to go immediately to a pointed video without expecting the user to figure it out themselves…

Anyway, our last stop in Victoria was a good ending. After our readings we went in search of food and drink and eventually came upon a very lively samba crew playing in the middle of town:

The iconic building of Victoria is the provincial legislature:

We took the ferry away the next day, crossing back to the U.S. to Port Angeles on the Olympic peninsula. It was a pretty sunset ride, but we were torn apart by the sanctimonious border police, whose dog decided our car smelled of marijuana… we had nothing of course, and had to sit for an hour while they went painstakingly through all our luggage and the car itself. What an absurdity! At every stop on both sides of the border, nearly everyone we met was smoking and sharing pot, but in this odd little border crossing the officers were obsessed in carrying our their petty drug war… sigh. Anyway, I took a few final photos on the boat trip:

and now I’m home… at last!

2 comments to A Belated Conclusion to the Tour

  • cc

    Hi Stephen,
    I appreciate your thoughtful inquiry. I don’t think I can do it justice in a further response here, partly because the comments seem like a bad place to write a long essay, and also because I haven’t been able to get down and read Jensen carefully. I saw him speak a couple of years ago at a Green Festival here in SF and he was really unimpressive, invoking his hypothetical or real AK-47 and sounding like a maniacal survivalist. Then I just glanced over the last 40 pages of his new comic book about how capitalists are controlled by an alien machine culture and then an insurrection of “wild animals” kills all the aliens and starts earth back on the path towards health (I guess!)… it was pretty awful, too.

    My quick take is that these guys probably have perfectly good criticisms of modern life but have no idea of how we might make a life worth living. If the only way out is the destruction of civilization then we might as well drop the H-Bombs and get it over with. I think there’s a profound mistrust of human freedom, perhaps a deep misanthropy, running beneath this anti-civilization rhetoric. I think we CAN remake life, that our skills and talents are amenable to a reconfiguration of life on non-economic bases, with a profound commitment to biological sanity and a healthy diverse planet, culturally and ecologically. That said, I want to live in a complex urban society, not a rustic, rural one. Besides, the depopulation required to make that a possibility implies a huge die-off, not something I think is worth propounding as a political program, to say the least!

    Like I said, this response is not adequate, but I at least wanted to give you a quick-ish answer. I will most likely come back to this in more depth over time, perhaps as an analysis of the flipside of commodity fetishism which I think this negation of human freedom and subjective possibilities is an example of…

  • Stephen

    So what is relationship to, position on, theorization of (etc.) primitivism (Zerzan, et al) and — differently — the thoughts and writings of Derrick Jensen? I personally believe that Jensen is one of the most articulate green anarchist philosophers who presents a deep, nuanced critique of many of the systems of domination and oppression that our current order consists of. You sounded skeptical in this post, so I’m curious. I’m new to your perspective (caught part of an interesting interview on KUOW yesterday that had my full attention, I mean you don’t often hear people reference autonomists on NPR).

    Where do you situate yourself theoretically, and what are your thoughts and feelings on Derrick Jensen?

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