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.

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