Friday, November 26, 2010

No-Mod Manifesto

As we trudge on through the beginning of the 21st century, the side effects of our technologic addiction are near impossible to deny. The detrimental environmental impact and the psycho-spiritual tole are increasingly obvious. Humanities faith in technology as miracle cure all is dwindling. Yet we continue to uphold futurist ideology which wills us to deny the truth and continue business as usual.(1)
A growing number of enlightened youth today are confronted with the consequences imposed upon them by the decisions of recent older generations . They can no longer deny the truth. It is obvious we must reject the culture of the past and begin a new sustainable culture. Yet how can we reject the culture of our upbringing, to reject our own cultural identity? How can we form a new cultural identity when we barely had one to begin with? What do we base our new identity on?

Faced with such difficult questions, I came to a few conclusions.
1. We have much to learn from tribal cultures that have lived in harmony with the earth for thousands of years. Tribal culture is disappearing quickly and we must work to preserve their ancient wisdom.
2. We cannot deny our cultural upbringing and must accept and embrace both the dark and light sides of our modern heritage. Includeing waste, pollution, and mental illness.
3. Art is where culture begins and it is through art that we must begin to assess our current cultural identity and explore possibilities of where to go from here.

With these conclusions in mind I have come to recognize the nomad as being in the most stable and convenient position of this modern age. Nomads still exist today along side technologically advanced civilizations because they choose to live in baren environments considered by most to be intolerable. Nomads are not dependent upon sedentary, modernized people. Yet they do not exist in complete isolation from their sedentary neighbors. There is frequent interaction and exchange between the two. Thus, nomads have the advantage of access to the benefits of modern civilization, without the guilt of contributing to it, and capability of existing without it. Adopting nomadic culture would be a strategic maneuver for those enlightened youth of todays generation.

Nomadic people have a cultural history of over 9,000 years dating before the rise of neolithic farming. It would be both disrespectful and inane for modernized peoples to fully adopt traditional nomadic custom as replacement. The nomad must be a template from which to construct a new post-modern cultural identity. This new identity shall be referred to as nomod (from modern or modish nomad).

The nomod will employ natural forces. The nomod will adress his current urban environment, utilizing sustainable and abondent recourses. The nomod will not contribute to the popular culture of consumption and destruction unnecessarily. Yet the nomod will not renounce his privileged position of easy access to a boundless knowledge, quick communication, global transportation, and access to abundant waste. The nomod will take full advantage of his privilege while it is still available. This includes reclaiming, and repurposing both post-consumer food waste and material waste. The nomod shall devote his time to the study and preservation of traditional nomadic wisdom, including craft, medicine, art, spirit, and culture.

Shelter, one of the most fundamental and utilitarian arts employed by man. It fulfills our most basic need. It is the symbolic center of family life and cultural identity. It is a visual reflection of our modes of life. Let us briefly critique modern industrial shelter. The modern architect attempts to defy nature. Unsustainable recourses are readily imported from around the world, while local resources are not even considered. Climate control eliminates attention to local climate. Structures drawn up by distant and detached architects, are standardized for budget efficiency, denying the psycho-spiritual needs of the future inhabitants. In comparison, the assumed simple structural designs of nomads are in fact a “complex calculus...evolved to meet a range of geographic conditions, climate variations and inherited traditions.” Nomadic architecture has achieved an equilibrium between “physical and cultural needs”. (2) “Though often slight, their virtue is intimately related to the environment and to the heart-life of the people.” Frank Loyd Wright on nomadic structures.

(1)These are my own opinions and a brief summary of primitivist thinking, for more information see: “The Ascent of Humanity” by Charles Eisenstien, the full text is available for free at and “Future Primitive” by Johns Zerzan.

(2)Szabo, Albert, and Thomas J. Barfield. Afghanistan: an Atlas of Indigenous Domestic Architecture. Austin: University of Texas, 1991. Print.

History and Geography of the Yurt

What better nomadic shelter to first examine than the complex and ingenious yurt. Our friends from Woodland Yurts sums up the history and evolution of the yurt quite nicely.
Nomadic peoples leave few written or archaeological records of their passing. So early evidence of the history of the yurt is hard to find. Bronze age rock etchings from Siberia appear to show yurts in use. Descriptions from ancient travellers and some frozen remains offer hints, but no absolute proof of yurt use. Herodotus (c480-c425 BC) described ger-carts and felt tents being used by the Scythian people. A cart found in a 2500 year old Pazaryck grave in Southern Siberia demonstrate all of the technologies needed to build a yurt were available at that time. But firm evidence from before the time of Ghengis Khan is hard to find.

The evolution of the modern ger almost certainly began in prehistoric times with the urts or buheg; a tipi like structure, still used by the reindeer breeders of Northern Mongolia and Siberia .

Mongolia is the great stronghold of the yurt, where the ger is still home to three-quarters of the population. To the south, the Inner Mongolia region of China is populated by ger-dwellers. To the north, the people of Tuva and the Buryat region of Siberia live in gers. In Eastern Siberia , the reindeer herding Koryak people live in yurt-like yarangas.
The southernmost range of the bentwood yurt, where it is still in common use by nomadic peoples, covers Iran , Iraq , Northern Afghanistan and Pakistan . To the west of Mongolia , in Kazakstan , Kyrgyzstan , Uzbekistan , Tajikistan and North-Eastern China, a region as a whole formerly known as Turkestan , the yurt is the traditional and still popular nomadic dwelling. The national flag of the newly independent Kyrgyzstan depicts a red yurt-crown at its centre.
During the middle-ages the Magyars of Hungary dwelt in yurts, where they are still in occasional use today. Bentwood yurts were used in Central and Eastern Turkey until the 1960s.

"The Ascent of Humanity" by Charles Eiesenstien

Lately I have really been jamming with the book "Ascent of Humanity" by Charles Eiesenstien.  You can read it for free online at, you can even listen to it for free on this website.  I encourage everyone to at least read the introduction.

At the same time I have been trying to follow current futurist thinking:
The systematic application of nanotechnology, self-reproducing micro-miniaturised robots armed with supercomputer processing power, and ultra-sophisticated genetic engineering, perhaps using retro-viral vectors, will cure the root of all evil in its naturalistic guise throughout the living world. And once the pain has gone, with the right genes and designer drugs there's no reason why life shouldn't just get better and better...." Pearce, David. The Hedonistic Imperative.

In the near future, a team of scientists will succeed in constructing the first nano-sized robot capable of self-replication. Within a few short years, and five billion trillion nano-robots later, virtually all present industrial processes will be obsolete as well as our contemporary concept of labor. Consumer goods will become plentiful, inexpensive, smart, and durable. Medicine will take a quantum leap forward. Space travel and colonization will become safe and affordable."  Mohawk, William. Nano-Economics.
Two opposite extremes of forward thinking, the "tribalists" and the "futurists" both agree that the ecology of the world is nearing a collapse.  It is their view of how humanity will cope.

Junk Culture

I have been enjoying this musician who was touring with Tobacco, check him out at:
I think the main reason I like this artist is his name, "Junk Culture."  God I wish I had thought of that!

Kazakh Yurt Interior

Having been home to the many tribes and cultures of central Asia for millennia a great deal of traditions, superstition, religious significance and custom has built up surrounding the yurt.
Spiritual significance
To the Mongolian people the ger is more than just a simple dwelling, in its construction the whole universe is represented: The roof represents the sky and the smoke hole the sun. The hearth contains the five basic earth elements of earth, wood, fire, metal, and water (metal in the grate and water in the kettle). For the Buryat Mongols the fire contains the house deity and is therefore sacred, offerings are thrown on every morning. No rubbish is burned on the fire and outsiders should not take a light from it. The two upright roof poles supporting the crown are of symbolic importance rather than a structural necessity.
The Mongolian people are predominantly Buddhist, and a shrine is set up opposite the door, people sleep with their heads towards this altar. In Muslim areas the people sleep in the opposite direction with their heads towards the south facing door, roughly the direction of Mecca.
Setting up home
The family yurt is usually obtained as a gift from the brides parents on a couples marriage. The frame should last a lifetime, but the felt covers need replacing every three to five years. The yurt is set up with the door facing south. When families camp together during the winter the group of yurts or aul are set in a circle with the opening to the south. The roof poles and crown are carried in through the door, it is considered bad luck to pass them over the wall.
The interior furnishings and seating arrangements are always the same. The altar is placed opposite the door at the back of the yurt. The hearth or stove is in the middle of the floor with firewood or other fuel in front and a low table behind. The western side is the domain of the men, male visitors and honoured guests sit this side, where saddles, tools and airag(fermented mares milk) are kept. The women and children use the eastern side, where rugs, bedding, food, cutlery, crockery and water are stored. Servants, poor visitors and any sick or very young animals that need nursing sit near the entrance.
Traditional furnishing and seating in the ger
Figure 12. Traditional furnishing and seating in the ger.
Traditionally, anyone stopping outside of a ger is invited in for a meal, a sheep is killed for the feast (more practical on the lonely steppes of Mongolia than in this overcrowded island). When entering the yurt it is considered impolite to step on the threshold or to hold onto the ropes. The traditional greeting offered by the visitor consists of four questions: are you well?, is your family well?, are your cattle/sheep fat?, is the grass good? the answer to each of these questions is yes, whatever the reality. After exchanging greetings the guest is offered tea, followed by airag and then yoghurt. Visitors to a Kalmuk yurt are offered arak, distilled spirit of airag, three glasses must be drunk in rapid succession. Following these formalities men exchange snuff and the party can become more relaxed. At the meal the guest carves and shares the meat.
There are a number of rules which guests should follow. All weapons should be left outside, do not step on the threshold, point your feet at or put rubbish on the fire. Do not sit with your back to the altar, whistle, write in red pen, step over older people or point a knife at anyone. One should take at least a little of any food or drink offered. When offered arak or vodka flick a small amount to the sky, the wind and the earth before drinking.