Wednesday, May 04, 2016

The Dawn of the Cthulhucene: A Retrospective

"This year’s Earth Day in Ashland, Oregon, where I live, featured an interfaith service at the local Unitarian church, and I wasn’t too surprised to get a call inviting me to be one of the presenters.”

That was the opening sentence of the first post ever to appear on The Archdruid Report, Real Druids, which went up ten years ago this Friday. When I typed those words, I had no clear idea of what I was going to do with the blog I’d just started. The end of the publishing industry I wrote for in those days was just then waking up to the marketing potential of author blogs; I was also in the third year of my unpaid day job as head of the Ancient Order of Druids in America (AODA), a small and old-fashioned Druid order distinctly out of step with the pop-culture Neopaganism of the time, and hoped to use a blog to bring the order to the attention of anyone out there who might be interested in something so unfashionable.

So I sat down at the computer, logged into my Blogger account, clicked on the button marked new post, and stared blankly at it for a while before I started to type. That, as they say, is how it all began.

In terms of the perspectives with which this blog deals—the grand sweep of human history, and the much vaster sweep of geological and evolutionary deep time—ten years is less than an eyeblink. In terms of a single human life, though, it’s a considerable span. Over that period I’ve moved from Ashland to Cumberland, Maryland, the red-brick mill town in the north central Appalachians where I now live. My writing career has burgeoned since then, too, helped along considerably by the two novels and nine nonfiction books that started out as sequences of blog posts.

My other career, the unpaid one mentioned above, also went through plenty of changes—if any of my readers ever have the opportunity to become the presiding officer of a nearly defunct Druid order and help it get back on its feet, I certainly recommend the experience! Still, twelve years in the hot seat was enough, and at the winter solstice just past I stepped down as Grand Archdruid of AODA with a sigh of relief, and handed the management of the order over to my successor Gordon Cooper.

There have been plenty of other changes over the last ten years, of course, and quite a few of them also affected The Archdruid Report. One that had a particularly significant impact was the rise, fall, and resurgence of the peak oil scene. Most of a decade before that first post, a handful of people—most of them petroleum geologists and the like—noticed that oil was being pumped much more quickly than new oilfields were being discovered. Now of course this turn of events had been predicted in quite a bit of detail well before then; back in the 1970s, in particular, when the phrase “limits to growth” hadn’t yet become taboo in polite company, plenty of people noticed that trying to extract an infinite supply of oil from a finite planet was guaranteed to end badly. 

That awareness didn’t survive the coming of the Reagan counterrevolution. More precisely, it survived only on the far fringes of the collective conversation of our time, where the few of us who refused to drink Ronnie’s koolaid spent most of two decades trying to figure out how to live in a civilization that, for all intents and purposes, seemed to have succumbed to a collective death wish. Still, our time in exile didn’t last forever.  It was 1998, as I recall, when I found the original Running On Empty email list—one of the first online meeting places for people concerned about peak oil—and I stayed with the movement thereafter as it slowly grew, and the rising tide of data made the case for imminent peak oil harder and harder to dismiss out of hand. 

Two books published in the early 2000s—Richard Heinberg’s The Party’s Over and James Howard Kunstler’s The Long Emergency—helped launch the peak oil movement into public awareness. Not incidentally, those were also the books that convinced me that it might just be possible to talk frankly about the predicament of industrial society: not just peak oil, but the broader collision between the economic ideology of limitless growth and the hard realities of a fragile planet. The Archdruid Report came out of that recognition, though I thought at first that its audience would be limited to the Druid community; I figured that people who had embraced Druid nature spirituality might be more open to the kind of intellectual heresy I had in mind. The blog turned out to have a much broader audience than that, but it took me quite a while to realize that, and longer still to recognize its implications.

Meanwhile the peak oil movement hit its own peak between 2008 and 2010, and began skidding down the far side of its own Hubbert curve. That’s standard for movements for social change, though it was probably worsened by the premature triumphalism that convinced many peakniks that once they’d proved their case, governments had to do something about the impending crisis, and that also led some large peak oil organizations to spend money they didn’t have trying to run with the big dogs. At this point, as the fracking bubble falters and the economy misbehaves in ways that conventional economic theory can’t account for but peak oil theory can, the bottom has likely been reached, and a much shorter period of exile is duly ending.  Talk about peak oil in the media and the political sphere is picking up again, and will accelerate as the consequences of another decade of malign neglect bear down with increasing force on the industrial world.

One of the things I find most interesting about this trajectory is that it didn’t impact The Archdruid Report in the way I would have expected. During the years when the peak oil movement was all over large portions of the internet, my monthly page views and other site stats remained fairly modest. It wasn’t until 2010, when the peak oil scene was beginning to falter, that my stats started to climb steadily; my first breakout all-over-the-internet post came in 2011, and thereafter readership has remained high, wobbling up and down around an average of a quarter million page views a month. All ten of my top ten posts, in terms of total unique page views, appeared between 2011 and this year. On the off chance my readers are interested, here they are:

4. How Not to Play the Game, June 29, 2011
5. An Elegy for the Age of Space, August 24, 2011
6. The Next Ten Billion Years, September 4, 2013
7. Into an Unknown Country, January 2, 2013
9. The Recovery of the Human, February 1, 2012

(I discovered in the process of making this list, by the way, that the Blogger gizmo for tracking all time top posts doesn’t actually do what it’s supposed to do. Like so much of the internet, it provides the illusion of exact data but not the reality, and I had to go back over the raw numbers to get an accurate list. My readers may draw their own conclusions about the future of a society that increasingly relies on internet-filtered information as a source of guidance.)

None of these posts are only about peak oil, or even about peak energy.  You’ll find references to the hard physical and geological limits of the energy resources available to our species in most of them, to be sure, and quite a few detailed discussions of those limits and their implications among the other 489 posts that have appeared here in the last decade. That said, those limits aren’t quite central to this blog’s project. They derive, like the other common themes here, from something else.

The philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer noted that his treatise The World as Will and Representation, massive though it is, was simply the working out of a single idea in all its ramifications. The same is true of this blog, though I’m an essayist and novelist rather than an analytical philosopher, and thus my pursuit of the idea I’m trying to pin down has been somewhat more discursive and rambling than his. (I make no apologies for that fact; I write the way I like to write, for those who like to read it.) Not all ideas can be summed up in a few words or a snappy slogan.  In particular, the more thoroughly an idea challenges our basic preconceptions about the nature of things, and the more stark the gap between its implications and those of the conventional wisdom, the more thoroughly and patiently it must be explored if it’s going to be understood at all.

Even so, there are times when an unexpected turn of phrase can be used, if not to sum up a challenging idea, at least to point in its direction forcefully enough to break through some of the barriers to understanding. Thanks to one of my readers—tip of the archdruidical hat to Mgalimba—I encountered such a turn of phrase last week. That came via a 2014 talk by cutting-edge thinker Donna Haraway, in which she challenged a currently popular label for the geological period we’re entering, the Anthropocene, and proposed her own coinage: the Cthulhucene.

She had specific reasons for the proposal, and I’d encourage my readers to see what she had to say about those, but I have somewhat different reasons for adopting the term. H.P. Lovecraft, who invented the squid-faced, dragon-winged, monster-clawed devil-god Cthulhu for one of his best stories, used that being and the other tentacled horrors of his imaginary pantheon to represent a concept as alien to the conventional thought of industrial society as the Great Old Ones themselves. The term Lovecraft used for that concept was “indifferentism”—the recognition that the universe is utterly indifferent to human beings, not sympathetic, not hostile, not anything, and that it’s really rather silly of us, all things considered, to expect it to conform to our wishes, expectations, or sense of entitlement.

Does this seem embarrassingly obvious? The irony, and it’s a rich one, is that most people nowadays who insist that the universe is indifferent to humanity turn around and make claims about the future that presuppose exactly the opposite. I’ve long since lost track of the number of committed atheists I’ve met, for example, who readily agreed that the universe is indifferent to our desires, but then insisted there has to be some other energy resource out there at least as cheap, concentrated, and abundant as the ones we’re currently using up. That claim only makes sense if you assume that the supplies of matter and energy in the cosmos have somehow been arranged for our benefit; otherwise, no, there doesn’t have to be any other resource out there. We could simply use up what we’ve got, and then have to get by without concentrated energy sources for the rest of the time our species happens to exist.

That’s far from the only example of stealth anthropocentrism I’ve encountered in the same context. I’ve also long since lost track of the number of committed atheists who reject the idea of a caring cosmos out of hand, but then go on to claim that technological progress of the kind we’ve made is irreversible. That claim only makes sense if you assume that history is somehow arranged for our benefit, so that we don’t have to worry about sliding back down the long slope we climbed so laboriously over the last five centuries or so.  If history is indifferent to our preferences, by contrast, the way down is just as easy as the way up, and decline and fall waits for us as it did for all those dead civilizations in the past.

Then there’s the most embarrassing claim of all, the devout insistence that humanity’s destiny lies out there in space. “Destiny” is a theological concept, and it’s frankly risible to find it being tossed around so freely by people who insist they’ve rejected theology, but let’s go a step further here. If the universe is in fact indifferent to our wishes and desires, the mere fact that a certain number of people have gotten worked up over science-fiction visions of zooming off toward the stars does not oblige the universe to make space travel a viable option for our species. There are in fact very good reasons to think that it’s not a viable option, but you won’t get many people to admit that these days. We (or, rather, some of us) dream of going to the stars, therefore it must be possible for us to go to the stars—and before you claim that human beings can achieve anything they can imagine, dear reader, I encourage you to read up on the long history of attempts to build a working perpetual motion machine.

I’ve picked on atheists in these three examples, and to some extent that’s unfair. It’s true that most of the really flagrant examples of stealth anthropocentrism I’ve encountered over the last ten years came from people who made quite a point of their atheism, but of course there’s no shortage of overt toxic anthropocentrism over on the religious side of things—I’m thinking here of those Christian fundamentalists who claim that Christ is coming soon and therefore it doesn’t matter how savagely we lay waste a world they themselves claim that God made and called good. I’ve met atheists, to be fair, who recognize that their belief in the absence of purpose in the cosmos implies that no providence will protect us from the consequences of our own stupidity. I’ve also met religious people who recognize that the universe defined by their beliefs is theocentric, not anthropocentric, and that human beings might therefore want to cultivate the virtue of humility and attend to the purposes that God or the gods might have in mind, rather than assuming in blithe arrogance that whatever humanity thinks it wants, it ought to get.

The dawn of the Cthulhucene represents the arrival of a geological period in which those latter ways of understanding the world will be impossible to ignore any longer. We are beginning to learn no matter how hard we scrunch our eyes shut and plug our ears and shout “La, la, la, I can’t hear you” to the rest of the universe, the universe is not going to give us what we want just because we want it:  that the resources we waste so cluelessly will not be replaced for our benefit, and we will have to face every one of the consequences of the damage we do to the planetary biosphere that keeps us alive. In place of the megalomaniacal fantasy of Man the Conqueror of Nature, striding boldly from star to star in search of new worlds to plunder, we are beginning to see a vast and alien shape rising before us out of the mists of the future, a shape we might as well call Cthulhu: winged, scaled, tentacled, clawed, like a summary of life on earth, regarding us with utterly indifferent eyes.

In those eyes, we balding social primates are of no more importance in the great scheme of things than the trilobites or the dinosaurs, or for that matter the countless species—intelligent or otherwise—that will come into being long after the last human being has gone to join the trilobites and dinosaurs in Earth’s library of fossil beds.  The sooner we grasp that, the easier it will be for us to drop the misguided anthropocentric delusions that blind us to our situation, wake up to the mess we’ve made of things, and get to work trying to save as many of the best achievements of the last three hundred years or so before the long night of the deindustrial dark ages closes in around us.

Given that the universe is simply not interested in pandering to the fantasies of omnipotence currently fashionable among influential members of our species—given that no special providence is going to rescue us from the consequences of our assorted stupidities, no resource fairy is going to give us a shiny new energy source to make up for the resources we now squander so recklessly, and the laws of nature are already sending the results of our frankly brainless maltreatment of the biosphere back in our faces with an utter lack of concern for our feelings and interests—how should we then live? That’s the theme that I’ve been trying to explore, in one way or another, since this blog got under way. It’s a vast theme, and one that I haven’t even begun to exhaust yet. I have no idea if I’m still going to be blogging here ten years from now, but if not, it won’t be due to lack of things to talk about.

One more thing deserves to be said here, though. All along the journey that brought me from that first tentative post to this week’s retrospective, one of the things that’s made the way easier and a good deal more enjoyable has been the enthusiasm, understanding, and critical insight that’s been shown by so many of my readers. Time after time, faced with the choice of backing away from a controversial subject or plunging ahead, I’ve taken the plunge, and discovered that my readers were more than ready to jump with me. Time after time, too, when I’ve offered a rough sketch of some part of the landscape I’m trying to explore, my readers have asked questions and posed challenges that helped me immeasurably in clarifying my thinking and discarding approximations that didn’t work. As this blog begins its eleventh year, I’d like to thank everyone who’s made a comment here—and also everyone who’s made a donation to the tip jar and thus helped me afford the hours each week that go into these blog posts. My gratitude goes with each of you; I hope you’ve found the journey so far as rewarding as I have.


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Marcu said...

​​Dear Mr. Greer,

I wanted to congratulate you on the 10th anniversary of this blog. As a reader once commented: "I barely find enough time to read all of your output, I wonder how you manage to find the time to write it." I wanted to take a moment to reflect and to tell you about the influence your writing has had on my life.

I have made my way through both of the worldviews so often discussed on this blog. In my teenage years I was certain about Humanity's destiny among the stars. I was enthralled by Ray Kurzweil's book, The Age of Spiritual Machines. I was convinced that by now I would have been part machine and on my way to be uploaded on to a computer to live my life in eternal bliss.

In my early twenties I flipped over to the apocalypse narrative and lived in perpetual anxiety that "TEOTWAWKI" (The end of the world as we know it) would come any day and tip the world into chaos. During this period I spent all my free time reading doomer blogs and "prepping".

At some point during this time I came across a book by Jacob Lund Fisker called Early Retirement Extreme. This book is what economist Tyler Cowen calls a “quake book.” It completely changed how I lived my life and how I saw the world. I started reading Jacob's blog and one day he wrote a post about The ecotechnic future and early retirement extreme. This is how I first stumbled across the Archdruid Report.

Down the rabbit hole I went.

I consider your writings on this blog the second quake book of my life. Through your writings I have changed the way I view the world. And as you have said I have also changed how I live my life.

I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you. Seeing the ebb and flow of the world's events though the lens of history has given me a sense of calm that I did not have before. Living with L.E.S.S. has put into action a conviction that I have long held, deep down. I have started trying to document this process on my blog. In the hopes of fostering community I have started a Green Wizard's group here in Australia, which has been more successful than I expected and demonstrates the reach of your writings.

Please use some of the beer that has been brewed for the 4 horsemen to toast yourself on this success.

As always, I look forward to this week's Archdruid report.


Damaris Zehner said...

"How should we then live" -- yes, that's it exactly, the question that I've asked all my life. This blog has clarified some of the reasons for my lifelong longing for something other --not necessarily something better, just more in balance and humble, less detached and liable to hubris. I look forward every week to new posts. Thank you for all the work you've put into this.

pygmycory said...

Congratulations on reaching 10 years!

Pinku-Sensei said...

A belated Happy May Day and congratulations on your decade of blogging here! I've found the same thing when I go through my most read entries every year; the default top ten and its page counts do not match the results of going through the raw data. One year I had two different top posts.

"Then there’s the most embarrassing claim of all, the devout insistence that humanity’s destiny lies out there in space."

Some of your readers might find it ironic that you posted this today, Star Wars Day, which is as much dedicated to the idea of a future (actually a past, but never mind that) in space, no matter how fantastic. However, I've found an appreciation of irony is necessary to get through life. Besides, there are things that Star Wars can teach us, even if they belong on your other blog.

"[W]e balding social primates are of no more importance in the great scheme of things than the trilobites or the dinosaurs, or for that matter the countless species—intelligent or otherwise—that will come into being long after the last human being has gone to join the trilobites and dinosaurs in Earth’s library of fossil beds."

That's almost exactly the example I use to drive home to my students the logical result of accepting an ecosystem-centered environmental viewpoint looks like. We are not going to save the planet. If we're lucky and careful, the planet might save us--for a while. Having started my scientific career as a paleontologist, I can come to no other intellectually honest conclusion.

"Given that the universe is simply not interested in pandering to the fantasies of omnipotence currently fashionable among influential members of our should we then live?"

So you've discovered that your blog is a discursive meditation on philosophy in an age of limits. I like that. May you continue your exploration of that theme for at least another decade!

Joel Caris said...

Congratulations on ten years, JMG. Unlike usual, I'll keep this short. I don't know exactly how much you've changed my thinking and my life over these past years, but I know it's been quite a bit. And it's been for the good. Thank you so much for everything, and for helping me to live better in the world. I don't know that there can be any higher testament to all your work than the fact that you, by all stated accounts, have changed the lives and behaviors of so many people in ways that have helped our planet and all the life on it.

So again, thank you and congratulations. I definitely hope for another ten years!

Doctor Westchester said...


Congratulations on the ten year anniversary of ADR. I found your blog in late 2008 or early 2009. It has been a beacon of sanity in what sometimes seems an insane world.

In honor of the creature that the title of this post refers to and for those of us who stoop to using Facebook, but are tired funny cat pictures, I offer something a bit more tentacled -

latheChuck said...

Speaking of the tip jar, I have made it a practice for some years now to tip a $1 per week. That may be too much for those of you well along in your collapse, but for the rest: I suggest it. Compared to the other ways we invest a dollar, it's a bargain. No mere words of praise could express my appreciation as sincerely.

Cathy McGuire said...

Amazing... where DID the time go?? ;-) Congratulations and many, many thanks for your thoughtful and insightful posts. So few writers want to take the time and energy to look at the larger perspective. Love the Cthulhucene, and I can see why you do. :-) Your comments about the indifferent universe remind me of the change we have to go through at mid-life, when we finally realize that whole "death" thing is a thing... we don't get to negotiate. And the question comes up, "How, then, should we live?" A difficult and essential challenge - sad that so few take it, preferring to "sleep" until they are gone. Thank you for posing the question in various forms and gathering the wonderful commenters who have discussed the question. And thanks, also, for reviving my writing - I'd dropped fiction after having no luck publishing, until your contests sparked my imagination! I wish us all at least another 10 good years of questioning and debating.

P.S. - Who're you calling "balding"?? "Receding", yes... pretty much everything is receding (including mind) except my hips. LOL!

Karl K said...

Congratulations on the past decade. I have always enjoyed your writing and am delighted to purchase your books. Best wishes, Karl

DaShui said...


Even Before Lovecraft, Crane discovered the Cthulhucene

A Man Said to the Universe

A man said to the universe:
“Sir, I exist!”
“However,” replied the universe,
“The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation.”

whomever said...

And a congratulations to you, for tackling reality. Seriously, I have historically rolled my eyes at the Neo-Pagan community, but you have made me realize that I should realize that there are diamonds in the rough there.

Meanwhile, reality keeps intruding. The middle east keeps collapsing; I haven't seen this published much in the US, but there are riots among guest workers in Saudi Arabia:

Degringolade said...

Man: You made me spew wine all ove the place when I checked for your new post.


That says it all.

Thank you so much.

Bruno B. L. said...

JMG, I'd like to tell you about my journey to your blog.
It was in 2012. I'm Brazilian, but at the time I was living in California, studying in Berkeley. It was a summer program, the kind of thing I did abroad, from my 18th year of life to my 26th. I was 26, so it was going to be the last one. I was taking, amongst other things, a class in Energy and Environment. I had a paper to do about - you guessed it - peak energy. I googled a few things, and eventually your blog showed up. I don't remember exactly which article drew my attention first, but it had to do with nuclear energy. As I found your thoughts extremely interesting, I spent a whole night of mid-July reading your entire blog. When I went to sleep, it was one or two hours before sunrise. I've been a regular reader ever since - never missed a single post, although I do not comment very often.
Now, as for changes the knowledge acquired through your writings made me do, well, there were some. A particularly small one, which somehow I find important, was that I no longer find cars - motorized vehicles - interesting anymore. They were a passion for me since my childhood - I learned how to read through car magazines - but no more. It was as if a spell has been dispelled. Another change is how I regard nowadays the sheer amount of energy, resources and waste my chosen profession, medicine, is responsible for using and generating. I regard as one of my main objectives on this life finding a way to make anesthesia - my area of practice - sustainable in a deindustrial world.
That was all I had to say, I guess. Thanks for reading. Keep up the good work!

Graeme Bushell said...

Sir and Druid,

I'm sure I echo the sentiments of many here when I say that your blog is keenly anticipated each week, and possibly THE most rewarding corner of the internet. Certainly the most consistently so.

Congratulations on a prolific and much appreciated ten years. You have genuinely changed my perspective - that's some powerful magic you're wielding there!

In answer to your query last week as to whether I would be crunching the numbers on global poverty ranking, I suspected you would ask that, and yes, I will be. I'm developing some ideas on what to do, but life being what it is I'm unable to offer any kind of delivery date on that. I'll no doubt write it up as a blog post when I'm done.

Thanks again for your your insights and delightful prose.


JimK said...

Here is a nice conversation in which Richard Jones brings up the Christian Neo-Platonist root of physics... and other facets of the religion of modern atheism.

Eric Backos said...

Dear Mr. Greer
On behalf of the members of Green Wizards’ Benevolent and Protective Association, Tower Number 440, and Ruinmen’s Guild, Local 440, may I congratulate you on your remarkable success in publishing The Archdruid Report for an entire decade. We also desire to extend to you and yours the very best of good wishes for the future.
Eric R. Backos

Ray Wharton said...

As you have explored this theme, this thought, over the last ten years, what has been the most profound change in your thinking?

Maybe this is a product of my youth, or maybe it is something of disposition, and maybe it is a general trait, but I find that the more I explore a thought, the more surprisingly it transforms.

Eric Backos said...

Dear Mr. Greer
On behalf of the members of Green Wizards’ Benevolent and Protective Association, Tower Number 440, and Ruinmen’s Guild, Local 440, may I congratulate you on your remarkable success in publishing The Archdruid Report for an entire decade. We also desire to extend to you and yours the very best of good wishes for the future.
Eric R. Backos

Rosalie O'Leary said...

I have enjoyed reading your posts since 2008. Thank you

Blogger profile said...

The thing the no one understands or wants to face up to is the fact that every person is born a useless waste of skin and this universe is a training ground to become not a useless waste of skin. My wild guess as to the number of people on Earth on the way to becoming not a useless waste of skin at any given moment is about eight. When we look at this universe we see that the pockets of creatures who have the capability to become not a useless waste of skin are few and far between and there will never be any communication between them. Our consciousness is not a product of natural selection it is a property of the universe, just as gravity is a property of mass, grow a big enough brain and it will be conscious.

talus wood said...

Thank you John, it's been i think 8 years of reading you, back when i saw your comments on the oil drum and figured you were worth looking into. As we head further from the known shores of the past into this raw exciting and sometimes dismal future, i'm glad to be forewarned and hope to pass this knowledge on.

Paulo said...

And thank you for your efforts, your careful and respectful writing style, manners, and a willingness to respond to each responder's comments. I think you should feel a real sense of satisfaction about what you have achieved with your writing. Well done!!

W. B. Jorgenson said...


Thank you for these posts the last ten years. I'm a newcomer to this little community, but I like what I see. I enjoy reading this blog, and although I disagree with some of it, there has never been anything that failed to make me think.

However, here comes a complaint: I'm a little disappointed that the Heresy of Technological Choice did not make the list of top ten posts. Personally, I found it resonated very much with my experiences, especially the "you can't go back" aspect. When I tried to get rid of my Facebook account, my friends lost it: "How we going to plan and keep in touch with you?!" I got it back and started using it again because the effort to do without is not worth the personal costs of irritation from people just yet.

The irony is I had a cellphone. Now that I'm planning to get rid of my cellphone, same thing. I wonder if they realize how strange it is to feel the need to have multiple ways to get in touch with people. Personally, I'd like to keep my methods of communication to one source: having more things to check is a pain I'd rather do without.

Likewise, I don't want air conditioning. I'd rather hot humid air than stale, synthetic, reprocessed air. Nor a microwave: food cooked with a stove or oven tastes far better to me, so it is worth the time.

To the extent this comes up, I'm regarded as eccentric, a harmless eccentric most of the time, but sometimes interesting responses come up. I've been accused of judging people because I personally don't like my phone. Apparently people think I'm judging their phone use because I don't like it. I'm also surprised with all the people who bring up worst case scenarios and then claim "That's why you need a phone!" My personal favorite, was "What if you're mugged and lose your wallet and bus pass?"

However, the most irritating thing is that even when other people make comments like "Well there goes any way to contact you," (someone who has my facebook, email, and lives a few minutes from me), and I then point this out, I'm the crazy emotional angry person. I'm beginning to think it may be more work to figure out how to deal with people's reactions to my heresy than to adjust to not having a phone again.

Sorry for the rant, but I figure it will go over much better here than most other places.

GawainGregor said...

Many thanks JMG for the focus you bring to the array of challenges swirling around our heads just now. Also for the valuable sources you often cite. Your writing has helped provide some space for calm action in lieu of panic. Please keep up the good work.


John the Peregrine said...


Congratulations on maintaining this project for 10 years. That must have involved a lot of grueling work and delayed gratification along the way. Did you ever have moments of doubt or discouragement? Speaking as a chronic procrastinator, I often start up a project, fired up about the possibilities, only to realize the amount of work I'll have to do to make any progress, and then I abandon it, until the next project attracts my attention, and the cycle repeats itself. How have you managed to remain so focused on your work for so many years?

Yupped said...

Thanks JMG, it's been a wonderful experience reading your blog these last 6 or so years: you have helped me to consider my own privileged life more clearly, inspired me to start the process of changing it and encouraged me along the way. Your Retrotopia series even painted a destination for me that I would be very happy to reach, even though I know it won't happen in my lifetime. Well, maybe a small portion of my own back yards will get there with me, with a couple of friends, some chickens and some home brew. Coincidentally, my wife gave me a couple of John Seymour's books in the same week that I first discovered your blog. It's almost as if the Universe was giving me a nudge. Just kidding.

fwiw Collapse Now and Avoid The Rush was my favorite post. And Wealth of Nature is my favorite of your books, although Star's Reach is a close second. And, also fwiw, yours is one of only 2 blogs that I continue to read, from the probably dozens that I browsed through regularly in the 2000s. It turns out that one of things that I much have LESS time for now is the Internet.

Thanks for everything, and let us all hope that you are here to write the next retrospective in 2026. Unless the Donald snags you for the VP slot.

Jeff BKLYN said...

What a strange long trip it's been. I started reading 'Life after the oil crash' in '03 and it's been downhill ever since... Pun intended. Prior to 2008 I used to think energy is the name of the game, you can take energy and make money, you can't take money and make energy. These days, that's lost it's relevance to me. Now all I see is darkness and the hard edge we've created but there in lies the rub, man as creator. Is another future possible? I want to think so and it's why I come here week after week. Your ideas are grand and much needed even if in the day to day I often think 'there must be some kinda way out of here, said the joker to the thief.' So it goes... Thanks for the 10 years!

fudoshindotcom said...

You've pointed out a phenomenon I encounter everywhere, namely the frankly ridiculous belief that evolution somehow came to a screeching halt with modern Man. How a reasonable, intelligent person could convince themselves of this fallacy or blind themselves to the glaringly obvious fact that it did not is beyond me. When pointing this out in conversation one common response is a frozen, glassy-eyed stare as if they'd received a bell-ringing physical blow. It's entertaining to watch the wheels turn as they grapple with an undeniable truth they are absolutely unwilling to accept.

Along the same lines. I watched an interview with Ted Turner in which he discusses his notion that we will face a dark future in 30-40 years if we don't reduce population. He goes on to say, " The rest of us will be cannibals living amidst the rubble." Interesting that he believes himself to be one of the survivors still alive in another four decades given that he's north of seventy now. Apparently money can buy immortality. Who knew?

steve pearson said...

JMG, Thank you so much for these 10 years, the blog and the books.Thanks to the rest of you as well. Y'all have given me a feeling of home and community. There had been times that I wondered if I was the only person who viewed the world and our species this way and it has been heartening to realize that I'm not.
I guess I have been following the blog for the entire 10 years.JMG, did Adam's Journey (I think I have the name right) come before you started the blog or after?
Thanks again.

FLwolverine said...

Congratulations on your ten years of blogging and on the success you are finding with your writing. I for one keep reading because of your rational, hard-headed view of the universe. Thank you.

I'm very interested in what you have to say about how to live in this world. It's hard work to keep the blinders off and to keep reality in focus, but what's next? (That's sort of rhetorical - I know you have provided suggestions, such as Collapse Now........)

Quietfox said...

As a species, we are so fracked. You have been doing your utmost in attempting to educate people as to the reality, not the illusion, of our increasingly dire predicament. Yet, we continue along the same path, one without happy unicorns and chocolate egg laying bunnies.

Please continue your efforts, although I may have quibbles about some of the minor details of what you present, the premise of your writings are entirely sound in my opinion.

Not certain my previous comment will make it, can't get the technology to do things the way I would want. Clearly 30 plus years playing/working with computers must mean I am not capable. Bye the bye, your views on the future of the internet are bang on.


Darren Urquhart said...

I've been wondering for a year or more if the Archdruid Report is itself a magical exercise - that is, an activity to cause a change in consciousness in accordance with will. From your description above maybe it was more accidental than that. But the experience of reading our essays for 5 or 6 years has certainly initiated a change in consciousness for me.

I have to admit I declined to click on links to the "Archdruid Report" for a couple of years just on account of the name. Druids? No thanks.

The first time I climbed down of my high horse and actually read an essay I was hooked. Every Thursday (Australian time) I navigate to your site and start hitting refresh on the browser until the new post appears.

Thanks JMG for the time and effort. If you have been engaging in magic, it certainly worked on me.

Peter VE said...

I look out on the rear of Charles Dexter Ward's mansion from my front windows. The veil between us and the Others seems especially thin to me, after we cast the ashes of a dear friend upon the deep this past weekend, and his widow spoke of casting away the pain he suffered in his final days. His suffering was a (I hate to use it but..) perfect demonstration of the Cthulecene regard the Universe has for our concerns.

Unknown said...

JMG Tomxyza here wanting to honor your effort and praise your willingness to keep going. Having been a reader for more than half you blogging time I want to say how much I have enjoyed the mind candy. You have truly challenged me to think more and better. To look inward with more clarity and asses my decisions in new and better ways. I am truly enjoying the adventure. Thank you!!

casamurphy said...

Through the distance of the internet all these years you have been a valuable friend and I thank you. You are greatly appreciated and I hope blogging continues to provide you some joy in life.

Clay Dennis said...

JMG, I am glad you mentioned the tip jar, somehow as a long time reader of your blog I never noticed it. I have done my best to support your work by purchasing nearly all of your books over the years but I guess my mind has been trained to ignore the left side of a blog page due to advertising overload. I will certainly contribute when I get the chance. Your blog is one that I save as a special treat each week. I l ride the light rail from my trackside condo in the suburbs to my one-man metal shop near the docks in Portland each day. Halfway through the journey the train passes through a long tunnel under Portland's west hills which blocks all cell phone and data reception for 10 minutes. Before entering the tunnel I load up something to read on my phone that is long enough to last the duration of my lost connection to the outside world.On Wednesday evening, or Thursday morning I read your blog which I have saved up to read like a kid on Christmas. My understanding of the world that is unfolding before us has been greatly assisted by your insight.

beetleswamp said...

Thanks for waking me out of my mid-collapse crisis. Bullets, beans, and band-aids only get you so far, and I'm grateful for your efforts in pointing out more rewarding pursuits.

M said...

Congratulations on ten years of weekly writing, John Michael Greer. You are not only a polymath and an entirely enjoyable read, you are a stalwart of the highest order. I am glad to be on this journey with you and everyone else here, not only for the insights that allowed the scales to fall from my eyes like so many walls of ice sheering off a doomed glacier, so that I might see things less warped by the magnetic distortions of western culture and industrial civilization. I've found here confirmation and support for my own thoughts and ideas as well. Perhaps just as important, I visit each week for some bit of solace, and a respite from dealing with the many still stumbling and mumbling around blindly as the world we know continues its long descent.

Grebulocities said...

Your heresy is deeply appreciated. Every Wednesday evening, I'm eagerly refreshing the page waiting to receive my weekly dose of sanity. I think most of your commentariat is the same way.

The discussion of peak oil reminds me of a question I have for you and everybody else: what would happen if the EROEI of available fuels fell to something like 3-6? It seems to me that there is a very large amount of petroleum (loosely defined to include tar sands) and coal available for those sorts of returns. If industrial society can be made to work at those sorts of EROEI values, the damage we're doing may just be beginning and Hubbert's curve may have a very long tail. That sort of EROEI is possible from renewables as well even in a whole-system sense - they can't compete with is high EROEI fossil fuels, but tar sands may be another matter.

Obviously one consequence of that would be that our energy extraction infrastructure would have to take in 1/6 to 1/3 of all the energy we use, far more than it does today. Energy prices would be high (and fluctuating wildly) relative to economic output, which would provide major headwinds. But how does that cause industrial society to fall apart, rather than just growing an enormously bloated energy sector and keep chugging along at a roughly steady state? Are there any sources that give some constraints for how low EROEI can go, and what happens when it goes too low?

I'm trying to get some idea of how long scarcity industrialism might last and how much marginal fossil fuel we might blow through. I don't know of any good reason that scarcity industrialism can't just keep clunking along at a long-term growth rate of something like 0, not growing as it did during the golden age of the mid-20th century but not collapsing either, until it's so utterly devastated the planet that it can no longer support itself at all, which might take on the order of 100-500 years.

Compound F said...

I've been reading for years, but seldom comment. Your contributions have tended to outstrip mine, so "shaddup and listen!" I've been thinking. You've done an amazing job of laying a groove for an lp my mind wanted to hear. It's like telling Knopfler and Emmylou that they know something about music:

Mark Roe said...

Thanks Mr Greer. I may have missed your first ever post but since stumbling on the 3rd or 4th one I have read every post since with great enthusiasm. I have also read many of your books and started regularly reading the Well of Galabes about a year ago.Your blog has helped me maintain sanity while allowing me to keep my eyes open to what is going on. It has been a source of inspiration for how to raise my children and how to communicate with them and with friends about our current shared predicament. I appreciate the steady, dedicated work that you put in and I am most encouraged by the weekly dialogue. I think I was deeply affected by TV images connected to the state of the planet from about 1970, when I was four or five, and my reading of the Limits to Growth in about 1980 confirmed what I felt was going on. For all that time it's been pretty hard living with an understanding that industrial life is usustainable, especially as serious questioning of 'progress' leads to being labelled as a hippy nutter.

foodnstuff said...

And I'd like to thank you John, for the time you've taken to write this blog. I haven't been reading since the first day, but for a considerable part since then, as far as I can remember. Thanks for all the "light bulb" moments that entered this aging brain and its attempt to fathom human behaviour. In all that time (I think), this is my first comment, but I do enjoy reading the others.

avalterra said...

I'm first, I'm first (little dance). JMG - I think it was last week someone posted a request that you write about the biggest thing you've changed your mind on, or biggest thing you realized you'd gotten wrong. I want to second that. I think it would be interesting to see where even the Arch-druid can mis-step.

Also - damn you may be right about Trump. I still hold that Hilary beats him in the end but I am definitely having my doubts!


Clay Dennis said...


I had an experiance over the weekend that relates more to the last couple of your posts than this one. I was attending a 2nd wedding of one of my highschool friends that was held at a posh central oregon resort nesteled against the still snow capped cascades. As I looked around at the guests ,I realized something I had taken for granted before your last two posts. It was a gathering of almost exclusivly salary class white folk. Your comment about how precarious and clueless this group was at this point in history struck me. No mention of politics, or economics or the forces bearing down on us was uttered. If you didn't know better it could have still been 1979. The surroundings mirrored the brittleness of the crowd. Built in the early 1970's this mountain golf resort is a sort of Marthas Vineyard of the Portland Monied class. A giant 300 acre meadow is surrounded by shake clad wooden vacation homes that are hidden in the trees ( by building code). It appears to be a pristine wilderness but that hides a secret. This area is often ravaged by forest fires, and only the most aggressive intervention by tax funded fire crews has kept this enclave of the rich from being burned to a cristp. With climate change on the prowl and declining state a federal fire fighting budgets it is only a matter of time before this gated hideout of the salary class is burnt to the ground just like the class itself.

gwizard43 said...

JMG, the first ADR post I read was that posted Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - Merlin's Time. Already an advocate for appropriate tech, it was love at first read! I've commented rarely, but read every single post since then, and gone back to read prior posts. I've picked up and read every peak oil book you've written, and a fair smattering of your other books as well (latest effort is to begin a serious study of the occult material you've written and post over at Galabes). My own retrospective over that time leads me to acknowledge that the concepts you've explicated, the insights you've shared and the grand sweeps of history to which you've exposed us, your readership, have taken deep root in my life and in my outlook on the world, which influences my decisions regarding that question: how should we then live - what in fact are appropriate responses to the set of conditions the like of which confront us?

I've found answers here, in the pages of this blog, that have offered me not just the comradely solace and comfort that come from knowing I'm not alone in wrestling with this existential dilemma, but also and above all a set of practical ways to move forward.

As such, I cannot adequately express the level of appreciation I feel for having discovered this blog, and your other work. You've enriched my life, and those of many friends I've turned on to the blog, some of whom are now also avid readers. So I'll take this opportunity to say, simply: thank you.

And for my part, I hope you're still posting this blog ten years out!

Steve Morgan said...

"I hope you’ve found the journey so far as rewarding as I have."

Unquestionably affirmative. The tools, concepts, writers, and resources you've introduced to me over the years have been inspiring and eye-opening. Oh, and I've gotten a couple great books to read as well!

"Given that the universe is simply not interested in pandering to the fantasies of omnipotence currently fashionable among influential members of our species... how should we then live?"

This is exactly why I am happy to follow when you go out on a limb. You always end up showing a new perspective centered around the same theme: given what we can know about our world and our place in it, what does a life well-lived look like? It's refreshing to read such reflections when so much around us is focused on separating us from our money, our experiences, and our responsibilities.

I raise a glass to you. Congratulations on an impressive decade, and may your next ten years be as fruitful and rewarding to you and your readers.

PukeSkywalker said...

"stealth anthropocentrism"

Wow, I was doing that and didn't realize it. Peak Oil is definitely about to make a comeback. Thanks for all of your hard work.

James M. Jensen II said...

This seems appropriate:

Or perhaps this is more to your taste:

Either way: Happy tin anniversary!

I'm curious about something, though: does indifferentism go all the way up and down? Is Reality just as indifferent to the desires of the gods as to the desires of mortal humans? I know the answer will depend on the tradition, but I'm curious as to your take on it.

Martin McDuffy said...

You've lasted this long because you haven't made overly outrageous claims or tried to sell us gold and freeze dried peaches. Wit, curiosity, and a knack for sharing bits of history that have otherwise grown dusty and forgotten have made your weekly writings a pleasure to read.

Thank you for them all. Oh, and I like the Well of Galabes too!

MayHawk said...


Congratulations on your 10 years of the Archdruid Report. I want to thank you from my heart for all the insights and clarity you have brought to my thinking and feeling.

Though we (humanity) will never meet a real "Spock" out among the stars still I will wish to you "Live Long and Prosper!"

Sincerely my fondest Regards


RPC said...

In celebration of ten years of reading these blog posts, I submit my favorite John Michael Greer quote: "Real community means that, like it or not, you have to get along with the jerk next door." Here's to many more years!

Chris Balow said...


I'm happy that you took the time for a retrospective--it's prompted me to reflect upon the time I've spent reading your weekly posts. As such, I'd like to take a moment to thank you.

It's fair to say that I've always felt a little "lost" in this world. The feeling might be likened to that of an alien who, while ignorant of his origins, is still fundamentally aware of the stark difference between his own constitution and that of the world that adopted him. That feeling has led me, my whole life, to search, and search, and search.

I was searching, I think, for somebody who could explain this world--this strange, confusing world--to me. All my life, the messages I'd received from my culture felt hopelessly inaccurate, as though there existed some massive conspiracy designed to convince me of the same lies that everyone around me seemed to believe.

And while this searching brought me to many different voices, and to appreciate many different perspectives, none of them seemed to stick with me for too long. For one reason or another, the "alternative" voices I encountered inevitably showed glaring weaknesses. Though they'd all offered valuable contributions to my own understanding, they all seemed to be just pieces to the puzzle.

But you're different; you really are. You brought the picture into focus.

I hope you see it as no small compliment that--from somebody who has spent the last 15-some years in an obsessive pursuit of a cogent summary of what is going on in this world and why--I see you as being in a class of your own. Your writing is a guiding light. And, though I know it is my own responsibility to decide what place I am to take in this world, your writing has defined the landscape in an indispensable way. You are truly a person who has lifted himself out of the muck of cultural conditioning and ascended to a height at which the true landscape becomes visible, and have graciously reported the lay of the land back to the rest of us. For that heroic feat, I thank you.

Dunedruid said...

Dear JMG

My gratitude goes to you...
I have been reading your posts since 2008 and it helped me clear and organize my thoughts quite a bit.
I have never commented on anything on the internet ever and I am making this one exception for you just to be able to say thank you!
I have been avoiding the rush by going back to my former means of income being a musician instead of keeping my job as a servant of the education industry, which means doing with considerably LESS :-)
I raise a garden bed and volunteer at a Permaculture and experience that as being as rewarding as being able to read your blog and some of your books that I ordered via one of the local bookshops.
From the dunes of the Netherlands I sincerely hope you will still be writing about all possible topics relevant to the predicament of our time ten years from now...
I will be 56 by then if the cosmos allows me....hehe...
If I am not reading your blog by then it probably won't be because I lost interest.

Please keep it up, High regards,

Mister Roboto said...

The attitude that you describe in liberal-identified atheists has a lot to do with why I have mostly given up on trying to make common political cause with them, and I'm sure the same is true of many other regular readers of your blog.

With regards to your now-viral post about Donald Trump, I came across this article by famous Internet pollster Nate Silver supposedly debunking the idea of Donald Trump's working-class support. I was just wondering if you had anything to say about it? My own fuzzy-minded feeling about it is that we're know entering into a socio-political era in which polls are less reliable than they once were (but of course you're going to have a difficult time convincing a pollster of that).

Also, I live in a very working-class neighborhood in a major Midwestern city, and the descriptions I've read of Trump rallies really do make it sound as though conservative-minded working-class people tend to be heavily represented in them.

However, I think this fairly lengthy transcript of an interview with a well-educated social-scientist does a pretty good job of giving a fuller picture of the sort of people who support Donald Trump and why.

jessi thompson said...

Thank you for yet another eloquent and clear observation of humans and our current predicament.

I think all of humanity could use a dose of humility. We are no more important than the ants we squash in the grand scheme of things, and we have become blinded by our own success in controlling our carefully manufactured pseudo environments. Does a hurricane care where your house is? We are blinded by an illusion of control.

I do like the idea of sifting through the last 300 years to find things that are salvageable. I also like the idea of exploring how to live. In my case, how do I extract myself as much as I can from a suicidal system, while still living in its midst? I like Noam Chomsky's line, "You can't be neutral on a moving train," I feel myself stuck on this train and I know I can't stop it. I want to minimize the damage I cause but I can't get off it. The darkest part of me simply wants to watch it reach its bitter end so that I will know that it's over and never coming back. Industrial civilization relentlessly destroys the wild lands that I have always loved. I watch so much pointless destruction to create a way of life that's inherently miserable and starved of connection. I see the damage I cause as a civilized human being and have no idea how to stop causing damage, let alone how to turn the tide and start making things really, genuinely better.

Thank you for all your wisdom, I look forward to each new post.

jessi thompson said...

Whoops! Correction "You can't be neutral on a moving train" was Howard Zinn. Sorry :)

Joe McInerney said...

Thank you JMG. Your writing is a weekly treasure.

onething said...

As to the use of violets, the very best way is to be working upon making a walking trail up to the little mountain top on one's land and during this work wanting to make the trail area nice and so cleaning up piles of dead branches thus necessitating having a bonfire with one's neighbors to which everyone brings food, one of them being a dish of deviled eggs with a purple violet placed upon the fluffy yellow of each half egg - but as to the idea in this post that we live in an indifferent universe, oh dear! shall I then stop praying to it?

It is a cause of some cognitive dissonance to me that I disagree with you quite a bit on nearly all important topics (more than you know) while at the same time agreeing with so much of what you say and it seems to me that you actually agree with me (more than you realize) because, well, sometimes it doesn't quite make sense to hold certain ideas in one (single) head that don't actually align, but at any rate, despite that I do not think we live in an indifferent universe, in no way does that negate the several of your paragraphs in which you explain that people err to think that the universe ought to comply with childish expectations.

No, not a tame lion at all.

Ondra said...

Dear John Michael,

ten years of writing with such a regularity is an achievement in itself, you have my big respect.

I came across this blog in 2010, because it was then translated by some enthusiasts to Czech language. The first post I've read was "The Twilight of Machine" - and the idea that humans could have advantage over machines was fascinating.

Since then I have read most of your older writing (especially on this blog), and probably all subsequent posts. But what is more important to me is that from that point on I always measured my life options by the perspective of approaching limits. We inherited small house in the village with my wife, so we moved there and reconstructed it, because it was way to stay clear of debt, and also to learn some hand skills and gardening.

I also found my qualification in social sciences as something, which will be increasingly useless in the world of shrinking economy, so I decided to study something else (it is still for free in Czech republic, thanks God). I was again inspired by this blog, and began the course in mechanical engineering with focus on railway vehicles, as these can probably survive the decline of industrial society for a little bit longer than sociologists or marketing specialists...

There is, however, one thing, which I still wasn't able to figure out - what will I do in the world after The Archdruid Report.


Toomas (Tom) Karmo said...

Coordinated Universal Time (= UTC = EST+5 = EDT+4): 20160505T034932Z

Dear JMG,

Congratulations on keeping your blog so relevant, so courteous, and so clear for a whole decade. I have not at all given up reading you, when I have given up in boredom with various other, admittedly worthy and virtuous, social commentators.

Please, in so far as it may lie within your power, consider ways of maintaining your stream of commentary over the coming decade, in the teeth of possible increasing challenges.

I believe (in part from one or two things you have said here) that you are making contingency plans to address possible future Internet failure.

I hope that you are also making contingency plans to address possible future USA government clampdowns on the current freedom of cyber expression.

I know that traditional ink-on-paper printing interests you.

But perhaps a backup low-tech server, located outside the immediate control of the USA, is a further possibility to be investigated? Less important than the full over-engineered panoply of Google's "blogger" software, which you are now using here (and which I am using in my own blogging, in our present shared situation of cyber-affluence), would be the capacity for some kind of rudimentary, scaled-back Internet outreach, as a fallback - say, by serving out no-graphics Web pages, coded not as but (in flat ASCII, without markup tags) as Many of us here, myself included, are in a position to give at least some technical advice and help, and many of us even to some extent have our own arrangements for not-completely-obvious servers, independent of the big corporations. Do please reach out to potential cyber assistants as necessary, by private e-mail or traditional telephone.

Ah, those dear, now half-forgotten 1980s... The US Robotics dialup 1200 baud modem, plugged into a Macintosh with 1 meg of RAM, two floppy drives, and no hard drive at all! The AOL subscription! The busy streams of flat ASCII, on topics of deep importance, not in Estonian or Latvian or Lithuanian but in the lingua franca which is English - "Well, here is what our guys are doing Friday in Tallinn (or Riga, or Vilnius)"; "Yes, info duly noted: we now eagerly await the response of Mock-bah..."

What you have been doing, and must continue to do as conditions become more difficult, is analogous not only to the Gorbachev-era cyber-activism which I have just recalled but is additionally analogous (if more distantly) to what the mediaeval monastic chroniclers did - Balthasar Russow, and earlier Henricus de Lettis, in my own family's part of the world; some kewl anglo-saxons in Old English, still earlier, in the kingdoms emerging from erstwhile Britannia; and so on.


Toomas (Tom) Karmo



member of Estonian diaspora,
in Richmond Hill, near Toronto in Canada

blogging Tuesday mornings at

John Michael Greer said...

As the comments are coming in at about three times the usual rate, I'm going to start off by thanking everyone who posted congratulations, say you're welcome and thank you to everyone who expressed thanks for this blog, and say thank you as well to everyone who wrote about how they found this blog and how it's changed their lives. Please consider yourself personally thanked -- all these are among the things that have made this blog so easy to keep writing.

Damaris, you're welcome and thank you. "How should we then live?" is the question that confronts any person who wakes up out of the trance of collective chatter; it's just a little more insistent a question these days.

Pinku-Sensei, the irony is duly noted. Do you happen to know if anyone's ever worked through the implications of the claim that Star Wars happened "a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away"? Did they, for example, use up the resources that made interstellar flight possible, and that's why we're sitting here on an isolated planet with no way off, ever? ;-)

Doctor W., thank you! I've been collecting Cthulhu mythos images off the web for a while now, as visual raw material for my Lovecraftian epic fantasy seriesThe Weird of Hali; that's a good one. May I respond by sharing another?

DaShui, and it was ancient in Crane's time; Hesiod was there in the 8th century BCE.

Whomever, I saw that. Watch that space carefully.

Graeme, I'll look forward to your post -- not least because it'll be good to have that information to hand.

JimK, I think you forgot to include the URL of the link!

Ray, I came to this project in my mid-forties, after decades of reading and brooding over exactly these points, so I have a hard time finding anywhere my thinking has changed dramatically over the course of writing this blog. My attempts to state the various aspects of this blog's theme have, I hope, become more nuanced and better argued, but I find nothing in the early years of the blog that I wouldn't affirm enthusiastically now. The one thing that's consistently surprised me has been the willingness of my readers to follow me way out there on one strange journey after another, and that's involved a series of recalibrations: will they put up with a discussion of magic? Really??? Okay, then how about the religion of progress?

Blogger, er, have you considered that maybe it's because your personal take on the purpose of the universe isn't shared by everyone?

WB Jorgenson, understood! My most popular posts aren't necessarily my favorite posts, either, and I thought The Heresy of Technological Choice was pretty good, too. Maybe it would be interesting to ask readers to nominate their favorite post of all time, and see how the list comes out. As for dealing with people who flip out over your unwillingness to kowtow to the latest technotrash, I wish I had a simple suggestion; "get yourself a new set of friends" only goes so far, of course.

Nancy Sutton said...

Wow... no comments. So.. thanks 'for all the fish' et al ;) So glad to hear I'm not the only one who prioritizes this verse "Not those who cry 'Lord, Lord, but those who do the will.... ", which very few seem to remember ;)... but it seems to be only me and thee ;)

Another one I always pass on is Acts, 4: 32, because the numbers make it easy to remember, and the early Christians sound like communists :)

Fellow travelers are few and far between, in my experience... glad you're there/here and writing and responding ;)

Wizard of Tas said...

Every time I hear the destiny in the stars meme, I do the maths. If we went from a shuttle that could hold ten people all the way to a space ship that could hold a million people, then:

Seven and a half billion minus a million equals seven and a half billion.

It simply wouldn't make a difference, and the rest of us would still be stuck here. That's our destiny.

John Michael Greer said...

John, two things make it easy for me to keep on writing on this subject. The first is all those years when nobody, but nobody, was willing to hear the words "limits to growth" at all; the mere fact that I can talk about these ideas, and get intelligent responses instead of smug and sneering dismissals, is a major incentive. The other? The training I've had in occultism. If you're going to be an operative mage, you have to learn the discipline to do the daily meditation, the daily ritual work, etc., etc., whether you happen to feel like it or not. Once you've learned how to do that, in turn, you can apply the same skill set to doing anything else.

Yupped, hah! Fortunately, as I've noted in a previous post, I don't have to worry about anything so dire as a phone call from The Donald asking me to stand next to him when he becomes The POTUS. Being an eccentric intellectual has its benefits...

Fudoshin, Turner's delusion seems to be astonishingly common among the privileged. In point of fact, of course, if the world actually were to plunge into some kind of cannibal frenzy, he and his rich friends would be on the grill well before things wound down, courtesy of their own hungry security guards. In the Cthulhucene, a sense of entitlement is the equivalent of a "KICK ME" sign taped to your behind!

Steve, you nearly have the name right. Adam's Story was my second essay into peak oil fiction on this blog; here it is --

Twilight in Learyville
Nanmin Voyages
Banners in the Wind
Tillicum River
Uncharted Waters

Darren, of course it is. It didn't really start out that way, but once it became clear that a significant number of people were willing to pay attention, I started using the blog very deliberately as an initiatory ceremony. That was never a secret; I even explained that in so many words in one post, so that anyone who was uncomfortable with it could go read about the Singularity or what have you instead. Compare the structure of the arguments on this blog to the structure of any of my books on ceremonial magic and you'll see how that's done: in both cases, I present a series of exercises and activities that allow people to initiate themselves into a different mode of being in the world, and let 'em pursue that path if they choose to do so. By and large, it seems to work!

Ray Wharton said...

Interesting, I have appreciated the freedom of thought on this blog, as by building themes and developing on ground work of a slowly growing conversation there have been group conversations on topics that would seem unspeakable based on the dominant narratives of the day. Like many commentators here I have been greatly affected by this project, and your work is a corner stone of my own narratives about the world. Being chatty type I have often tried to talk about the topics on this blog with others, and have been surprised how often people are open to the thoughts of limits on our cultures current projects. Much pretense about believing certain narratives is maintained in our culture, but if you heart to heart with someone, and are willing to share true feeling, one often finds that the beliefs are an act, or worn like a fashion. An unstable arrangement no doubt.

I think so many have lined up for this ride, wherever it may go, because of the bleak scarcity of other sensible and interesting narratives. There is a certain freedom, and very real joy to be found in a Universe that isn't felt to be prying on us with scrutiny. Though history does not have any requirement to follow our ideas; we do have the option of letting our ideas adapt to history as we find it. Truthfully, I think that human though and intentions are in amazing concordance with the world around us. Considering what an particular arrangement we are, that we can exist at all is quite nice. But that is because we have been shaped. Attempts to shape ourselves, when isolated from feed back, are crippling; with feedback (and a substantial tolerance for failure) they can be quite cool. Like water in a cup, it is a tight fit.

Thank you for posting this blog, and for your work of condensing the lessons of history topical to this project into a format that can be put to use.

Compound F said...

the religion of Progress is one of the most important themes on this blog. Since you are an evol/biol, at turns, perhaps you could address the idea of grades within clades, e.g., Gottlieb (as I recall) the idea that aside from the branch-like nature of evolution, there are distinct points of improvement. Do I believe it? Only to the point where it no longer works, I.e., your lesson on progress are consistent with the natural world.).

Raymond Duckling said...

Most dear Archdruid!

Congratulations this 10th aniversary of your project. You are a voice of sanity in a crazy, drooling world. Thank you very much!

And to answer Jorgenson's question, my personal favorite is 2014's Refusing the Call: A Tale Rewritten. I cried the first time I read it, and for some reason or another, I end up reading it again every year sometime around the Nones of May. Being more of a dwarvish temperament, rather than hobbittese, I find this a healthy remainder to avoid going digging into the mountains.

John Michael Greer said...

Peter, I'm sorry to hear about your friend. I envy you the view, though -- one of the books in my Lovecraftian epic fantasy series is going to be set in Providence, and for the moment I'm having to get by with photos in books and the occasional Google Street View for atmosphere.

Grebulocities, that's a question that's seen some discussion on the peak oil blogosphere. The general consensus so far seems to be that when you get below an EROEI of 10 to 12, you no longer have enough left over to maintain an industrial society. Remember that you don't just have to cover the costs of petroleum extraction -- you have to make all the things that use petroleum directly and indirectly, complete with all their dependencies and supply chains, and you also have to cover the rising costs imposed by climate change and other environmental blowback. I'll see if I can fit in an updated post on where we are in the trajectory toward the next dark age fairly soon, and cover this in more detail there.

Avalterra, as I noted in response to Ray above, the only place where I've really changed my mind on these subjects was in discovering just how far people are willing to follow me out into taboo territory. Now of course I've made my share of mistaken predictions, and 'fessed up to them, but those were mistakes of detail rather than reevaluations of basic principles. I did plenty of the latter over the course of my twenties and thirties, while I was groping my way toward the ideas that guide this blog, and at this point I'm pretty much satisfied that the ideas I'm using to understand the future actually do make sense.

Clay, excellent! I've sometimes thought that when CS Lewis wrote the climactic scene of That Hideous Strength, where the villains' dinner party dissolves into meaningless babble and madness, he was thinking about that kind of experience -- the moment when you realize that the distinguished, respected figures around you are actually clueless, isolated, and profoundly vulnerable to the things they can't see.

James, thank you! I admit that for a tin anniversary, the music that comes to mind is something a little more like this. ;-) With regard to your question, I tend to favor the traditional polytheist view that gods and goddesses are part of the cosmos, not superior to it, and it's as indifferent to them as it is to us, to pond scum, and to everything else. The Norse were famous for that conception -- Ragnarok waits for the gods, no matter what they do -- but the same recognition runs all through the old polytheist faiths, along with the related recognition that terms like "omnipotence," "omniscience," et al. are what Whitehead called metaphysical flattery rather than meaningful labels that can be applied to any being whatsoever without generating nonsense. Even Great Cthulhu must sleep in R'lyeh until the stars are right!

Martin, true, though I'm grateful when my readers buy my books. :-)

Chris, I know the feeling. I had the same experience of finding something that made sense of the world when I first read William Catton's Overshoot, and again with several other works, notably Oswald Spengler's The Decline of the West. I'm glad I could pay it forward!

Mister Roboto said...

I just wanted to add that I'm actually glad that I went through my neoprimitivist phase from about mid-2006 to mid-2008, as embarrassing as it is to look back on now, because that's how I originally came across TADR!

Robert Douglas Castle said...

I discovered The Archdruid Report maybe 2-1/2 years ago. At first, I found it to be quite weird, but after reading a few posts I became hooked. Since then, I have gone back and read each post from the beginning, an exercise that was time-consuming but not the least bit tedious, and in fact very informative.

When I first started reading, I had already come to the conclusion that we were all royally screwed and that hard times were ahead because of our utter dependance on fossil fuels and the fact that they would not last forever, or likely even for the next few decades. In the past 2 years I've given some thought to what it is that attracts me so much to this blog and I've isolated 3 main points.

First are the many implications of our predicament. I haven't read your entire paper on catalytic collapse but believe I've gotten the basics from reading your posts. Your general outline of future history seems very well reasoned and a useful guide for determining the future course of society. Of course, individual unpredictable events will have their own special effects, but that can't be helped or planned for. The overall course of resource wars followed by a salvage economy followed eventually by a dark age seems to be very likely. You have apparently been putting a lot of thought into these matters for a long time and have incorporated knowledge from a wide variety of subjects into your analysis. This has given me many new insights into our predicament that would have taken me a long time to work out myself, if I was ever able to do so.

Second, and more importantly, is your emphasis on what to do about it all. So many blogs simply deplore the foolishness of our actions, wringing their hands in remorse without offering any useful courses of action. Other blogs offer some salvation in the form of alternative energy or fusion or something else that a bit of research will show are insufficient to the task of continuing our hi-tech society. Your posts have helped me decide how to spend the rest of my life as I approach retirement. I now plan to get heavily into organic gardening and adopt a low-tech lifestyle as much as possible. Your posts have introduced me to books like "Farmers of 40 Centuries", technology like fireless cookers, and many other ideas that will prove very useful in the coming years.

Third, and most invaluable of all, is how you have made me aware of my own faults and unproductive modes of thinking. A recent post that illustrates this is "Donald Trump and the Politics of Resentment". The division of society into investment, salary, wage, and welfare classes was one I had never considered and found very instructive. Even more useful, although it made me uncomfortable, was the realization that I have been guilty of talking about wage class people in the dismissive, insulting terms you described. This is all the more shameful to me because I spent the first half of my career in the wage class and know from personal experience that the great majority of them are good people trying to survive and prosper in an uncertain world. Time and again you have forced me to reevaluate my own opinions and habits of thought and this is what I most appreciate about your essays. I believe I am becoming a better person because of it.

I apologize for the length of this comment - most will find it tl;dr. But on the occasion of your 10th anniversary I wanted to let you know how much your work has meant to me. And I've never been good about expressing my opinions in 140 characters.

R. D. Castle

John Michael Greer said...

Mister R., as an expert poller, Silver's also an expert at spinning data. Of course GOP voters generally have a higher median income than Dem voters; the Dems draw very heavily from the welfare class, whose members on average make less than the wage class. What Silver is doing here is the standard Dem dodge of pretending that society is divided into "the poor" (defined implicitly as the welfare class), "the middle classes," and "the rich" -- and that the GOP is the party of the rich. (The only time the existence of the wage class gets a mention at all is when somebody wants to sneer at poor white people as racists, etc., ad nauseam.) A median-income figure is a good way to manage this kind of spin; if you don't know the shape of the curve, all kinds of anomalies can be tucked out of sight that way.

Jessi, if you're on a moving train, and you know it's headed toward a collision with a brick wall, you can get up and start walking toward the back of the train, away from the first class section, which is going to be hit first and hardest. That is, collapse now and avoid the rush!

Onething, understood. You can get to the same place by believing that the universe (or its creator) is, as you say, not a tame Lion at all, and that human interests and values are of very little relevance in the face of a divine reality. As to whether you should pray, good heavens -- did you think that the point of prayer was to have an effect on the being to which you're praying? I always figured that the point of it was the effect it had on the one who's doing the praying -- and a very positive effect that is.

Nancy, nah, it just takes a while for updates with comments to propagate through the ever so slightly fraying fabric of the internet. As for Acts 4:32, I had to go look that one up, and it would indeed cause a good many rock-ribbed American Christians to lose it right there in public!

Wizard, nicely put, and of course dead on target as well.

Ray, exactly. Exactly! Since the universe is under no obligation to do what we think, there's rather a strong case to be made that we should adjust the way we think to adapt to what the universe actually does.

Compound F., a lot depends on what you mean by that word "improvement." Evolution doesn't improve, it just adapts. As I understand it, clades branch out into different grades over the course of evolutionary time, as different populations within a clade adapt to different conditions; eventually the divergence reaches a point where, at a single point in time, the different populations are biologically distinct, thus belong to different grades. In some cases you can find a specific branching point in time at which a population began to diverge from other populations within the clade, and started developing into a distinct grade. In other cases you can't -- and there's also the awkward habit that trees in particular have of hybridizing across grade lines, so that (for example) red oak and white oak are ideal types, and most of the oaks you actually find growing in the woods occupy the notional space between those types.

It's risky, though appealing, to apply the same logic to what we can metaphorically call sociocultural evolution; in that case, might this blog function for some as a branching point, sending people from the clade of "people in the industrial world" into the nascent grade of "scruffy lookin' Green Wizard"? Maybe so.

(Readers who have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about might find this link helpful.)

Juhana said...

Thank you for great work you have done with your essays. First essay I ever read here was "Elegy for space age", and I recall strong impact it had on me. It left me mesmerized for a some time. Before reading it, I had this uncomfortable feeling that everything is not okay anymore in the world around me. I knew, just knew, that Depression that had hit society around me after your country's subprime crisis (ah, the blessings of globalism) was not just "temporary setback" but something much sinister. Structural crisis. I started to dig Internet for knowledge and understanding, and found your blog. Have never looked back since.

That you have readers as alien for your daily surroundings as me and couple of my friends (more occasionally, Trump essay was a minor hit around here) just proves that you touch some very cosmic choirs in your essays. Been born into Scandinavian society, into blue-collar family living about thirty kilometers away from border zone with Soviet Union, my life has not shared many characteristic with your American one. After Soviet Union collapsed and border opened, I have met Russians and other ex-citizens of CCCP practically daily in my old home town, but I have only rarely met Americans. We are both children of high-tech industrial country, but similarities stop there. Still your essays are understandable here, at least for some of us.

Instead of writing for your fellow Druids only, you have gathered quite a disperse crowd of listeners here in the void of Internet. There must be many like me, feeling vaguely that we are heading into hard times, but not having ability to pin the feeling down, who get comfort and new ideas for actual arrangements of their lives from this blog. That's quite an achievement, you know.

One request. I have just bought your book "Atlantis". Is it possible you write more about this cycle of civilizations, their natural life circle, here also? There is some neolithic rock art near my usual forest trail, where I usually go hiking. I often stop in that place, and it is quite humbling to understand that people had something to say at this very same place long, long, long time ago. Now they are gone, and when looking from historical perspective, soon we shall be gone.

Morgenfrue said...

I too am grateful for all your writings, and for all the excellent comments. I read every week, though I don't comment very often. Sometimes it feels like all the collapsing going on around here is only in my head, what with being swamped with work and the many demands of small children. Nevertheless your influence is evident, as I am now on my third year of gardening, and I have moved from ICU nursing to district nursing. Now we are gearing up to moving out of the city, and the years I have been reading are a foundation under the considerations thus involved (although we are in low-lying N Europe, so some translation of concepts is involved - at the moment we are looking at a renovated house from 1825 on a quarter of an acre in a little hamlet outside a provincial "city" of 40.000 souls, 25 min on a bicycle to the train station, although you could walk to the medieval town center in a little under an hour if necessary, elevation about 45 m, which counts as high ground around here).
Not least, I have your writings in mind with regards to the next generation here, which sees (and occasionally participates in) the gardening, cooking, sewing, knitting, mending, and so forth. Many thanks!

John Michael Greer said...

Raymond, thank you. That one's also very close to my heart.

Mister R., were you by any chance one of the readers I got by way of Jason Godesky's "Archdruid Watch"? A number of neoprimitivists came here by that route.

Robert, glad to hear it. This blog is a natural habitat for teal deer -- certainly I get crabby comments from time to time expressing that point of view!

Morgenfrue, also glad to hear it -- 45 meters should be enough to keep you safe for the next few decades, at least.

Phil said...

Hello Archdruid,

I've been a reader (and very sparse poster) for about a year and half, regularly (almost religiously!), and I wish to say thank you and congratulations for the many fine hours of reading and provoked thoughts. As I write this, Fort McMurray (of the tar sands fame) in my home province here, has completely evacuated of all citizens due to a raging wildfire that sprang into voracious motion in the matter of an afternoon. The local fire chief used language that described it as some kind of creature, a "dirty nasty fire with no forgiveness... hunting for houses that it hasn't burned." I would like to add this creature to the many faces of the Cthulhucene as it slouches towards decline. Roughly 100,000 people were evacuated overnight with no injuries or death, and as of yet, no missing individuals - a remarkable feat.

I have recently been wading into the murky waters of the alt-right (with very strong mental galoshes), and the Cthulucene description resembles a concept held by many NRx-ers, or neoreactionaries. They posit a kind of God-beast called Gnon - "Nature's God," a kind of crab-like deification of Darwin's evolution that brooks no pity for anyone who stepping out of line with reality. I have a feeling that our good druid is aware of this concept - many NRx folks read Julius Evola, and Rene Guenon with admixtures of Nietzche thrown in.

What is surprising about the alt-right crowd is that they are very right-wing, but not very conservative at all. Instead they sling the epithet of cuckservative to most republicans, libertarians and constitutionalist types. They are also young, smart, tech-savvy, ironic, and darkly hilarious, and not very nice. They are what happens to (mostly white male) millenials with too much time (not enough employment), and a penchant for baiting smug liberals and their favorite target, the SJW. Time magazine featured a piece on Richard Spencer, Milo Yiannopoulus has a good breakdown on Breitbart (if you can stomach the ads):

I have a feeling that with Trump shifting the Overton Window several hard tugs to the right, these folks have climbed in and the conversation is beginning to take a very Weimarian tone, very quickly.

Compound F said...

truth be told, I never liked Gottlieb's grade/clade distinction. It always struck me as a way to include "progress" into the debate, that needed no such thing. Consider my previous comment a "ping" between subs, and I think we're on the same page.

ed boyle said...

I was reading about the annual ice melt and economic doom before I stumbled across the Peak Oil scene, essentially an end of civilization doomsayer order encompassing both economic and environmental aspects by getting at the root cause, human need for fuel. It has been observed since the lull in PO interest that perhaps climate change will come on faster than CO2 output through fossil fuel exhaustion comes about. Both follow an up-down cycle with peaks and troughs. High oil prices due to shortages brings on desperate tech to dreg extreme liquids from mother sponge gaia resulting in low prices, shortages. Economic crisis goes up with energy prices causing demand break. Repeat cycle. Meanwhile CO2 output should go up and down with these cycles but like inflation measures, people switch to lower cost products like coal, brown coal from anthracite, petroleum oruse natgas or LNG. So CO2 kept rising while the PO/economic yoyo ride kept moving. Asian growth juggernaut depended on this alt energy. Peak energy has perhaps been reached. Chinese are aging. Heat is killing southeast, southern asia and middle east already this year. So maybe megadeath will solve industrial growth demand by famine ahead of time, allowing coal, gas, oil to remain in ground.

Due to el nino the heating cycle of Global Warming is hidden in ocean depths for many years at a time allowing same media skeptics who currently dismiss PO to dismiss GW. 2016 could be for record book similar to the 147 USD WTI oil price in summer of 2008. It will cool again by 2017 or 2018 but remain, like that long time 100 dollar oil price, way above what we had before, ratcheting up to the next crisis level.

The whole process would be very interesting to observe under laboratory conditions but under the circumstances it reminds me of the Edgar Allen Poe story, Maelstrom, where the doomed man, fascinated with the phenomenon, forgot his own danger, observed that round objects ent dow sllower and was able to save himself by strapping himself to a barrel. Where is your barrel?

My kids are prototypical atheist technoenthusiasts. I posted a link at Orlov's blog abut 12 russian commandments. The man said in gulags, optimists die first, pessimists survive. Pessimists being realists of course and incapable of disappointment. Here is the great Russian advantage. American, even Western optimism, is inbuilt into our humanist philosophy. The dark winters and deep vast loneliness of the taiga, similar to Alaska, where I grew up, with its temperature and night and day extremes forms the soul. Expectations are bleak. Western European climate is a comparative paradise of mildness, with people, culture, rules, civilty. This is like the holocene, a goldilocks scenario, where nobody is hungry, a light jacket always is enough, and politeness to all is normal. The Cthulcene is a -50 winter and +50 in sommer with no guarantees of politeness or rules or even cultural norms. Passing marauders isis style. Expectations come from experience. German discipline combined with Russian cynicism and American can do might save an individual who can find his proverbial barrel. Flexibility is the key.

Rita Narayanan said...

my regards & thanks to JMG/friends for providing a person like me an avenue for my thoughts.......strangely Modern India is not the old India whose identity, myth & sense of self was inextricably linked to nature.

the veneer of culture hides a multitude of illusions.

Grebulocities said...

I'd seen the claim that an EROEI of roughly 10 was needed to sustain industrial society on some peak oil sites as well, but it's not clear to me where that came from. I suppose the main argument would be that the additional costs that low EROEIs impose on everyone within the system cause it to start performing poorly - probably most importantly, that may be where the system can no longer expand. In other words, it's a limit to growth. Then the long slow decline involving ever lower EROEIs is just the scarcity industrialism phase of the Long Descent/Emergency/etc.

I would still wonder what happens if renewables do end up topping out around EROEI = 5 or so, on a whole-system basis. From that point, the EROEI is stable, not contracting. Climate change and other environmental damage will be ongoing and imposing costs, of course, but it seems likely that some industry will still be maintained in favorable areas, although the "happy days" of the second half of the 20th century will obviously never happen again. But as I'm writing this I realized that's just the ecotechnic future - a society that manages to live off diffuse, low-EROEI energy flows, retaining whatever from the industrial era that still makes sense under those circumstances and happens to be remembered through the dark age, while discarding and/or forgetting anything that doesn't.

I still would like to see references to the EROEI ~ 10 claim, if anyone on this site happens to know of any. Once my last final is over on Friday I may dig through the abandoned ruin of The Oil Drum and see if I can unearth any artifacts.

Ursachi Alexandru said...

Congratulations for your blog's 10th anniversary!

The internet, with its many flaws, has nonetheless brought you a global audience. For the 3 years I've been lurking around here, it's been an insightful look into your country's complex history, society and culture, and how it relates with and still influences much of the world. A finite world where no one can escape the laws of nature and history.


O. Hinds said...

Well, this seems a good post for my first comment on the blog. Don't know if you'll reply to this or if I'll see a reply you do make (the comments do come rather thick and fast), but I thought I ought to show my... appreciation, I suppose does fit. Really focusing on it now, it's hard to tell exactly how I feel about the Archdruid Report. It certainly is interesting, oh yes, but it's also had a tremendously powerful and not always _pleasant_ effect. I've been reading bits and pieces for a while now, but the very first post I was linked to (from the comments on a work of My Little Pony fanfiction), the one that introduced me to the blog, was as I recall on the origins of the American Dream. Well, no hard shock for me there; by the time I read that, I was already disillusioned with the American Dream (if I'd ever believed in it, which, given my somewhat unusual upbringing, I suspect I did very little if at all), so it was merely a fascinating exploration of exactly where the idea came from. Ah... but _then_ I found the posts about the civil religion of Progress. Before reading them, I do not believe the merest notion of such a thing had ever occurred to me. Why, Progress was just the way of the world! Only, those posts were so convincing and opened my eyes to so many things I would have thought would have been obvious that I very quickly came to the hard realization that, no, no it wasn't. Then on to resource depletion. Now, that I recall being somewhat familiar with; I credit myself, at least, and hope I'm not misremembering, with understanding the ludicrousness of infinite resources from a finite planet. That didn't matter, though; they'd think of something! Except, wait, oops, that's Progress talking, isn't it? And while that by itself didn't mean they wouldn't think of something _anyway_, you mustered quite the convincing argument against it.

So... Yeah. I'm still not finished coming to terms with it myself, really, and a part of me would probably prefer to have kept the comforting illusions right up until they were impossible. There's another very small part still saying "But... it can't really be _real_, right? This is just another apocalypse story, even if it's more drawn out and detailed. They have to think of _something_!"

There's also been the social effect. If I find someone I need or want to be on good terms with talking about the glorious monotonically improving future, what do I do? Do I, if I can, say nothing? Do I try to play along as best I can for fear that the relationship will sour? Do I try to talk less hopefully with them about it, risking that they'll get upset with me and shut me out? Even if I trust that that is not a concern, do I want to inform the happy pilgrim of the sad death of their deity? Would I, in fact, were it brought up, find mutual relief in the realization that we were both turning the very same questions over in our minds? Not the most comfortable position.

Still... whatever the details of my somewhat complicated soup of emotions regarding your blog, they seem to balance out, somehow, on the positive side. I suspect it has much to do with the good done in my life by you being indeed good done by you while the harm is merely from things you've pointed out. The collapse of industrial civilization, after all, would be going on even if you'd never written a single post. The fall of the American empire, which I benefit significantly from by virtue of my birth in it however I might have grown to feel about it, is not some conspiracy of druids (or communist alien lizard jews disguised as druids, or whatever). So, thank you, John Michael Greer. You have pointed out some hard things and done your best to help your readers understand and cope with them. At the very least, you've been (and I hope will continue to be) entertaining even in the discussion of the fall of our civilization.

Mikep said...

Hallo JMG, in a number of your posts you have mentioned the idea of "Destiny among the stars" as a defining concept in modern society. I have never met anyone who thought along these lines and I wonder how widespread the idea is. I have always considered "Space Travel" to be simply a Literary device no different from many others, the Harry Potter universe or Philip Pullman's Dark Materials universe for example. Another literary device which is often linked to space travel is the idea of the robot, a machine shaped like a person. the original idea of the robot is as I understand it that if you construct a machine in the shape of a human, that will impart certain human like qualities to the machine which are presumably inherent in the human form. Both these ideas have been so widely parodied that it's hard to believe that anybody takes them seriously.
I would be interested to read your ideas on people shaped machines and the magical thinking that underlies them.
On the subject of the Anthropocene it might be better to talk about the "Anthropic Event" rather than the Anthropocene as this would better put it perspective on a Geological timescale. If in ten million years time or so an intelligent species has evolved from long tailed mouse opossums or weasels (my money is on weasels as they're already starting to take a keen interest in High Energy Physics) they may well be able to infer the existence of some kind of event from the disappearance of many types of animal and plants from the fossil record at the same moment even if there is by that time no direct evidence of exactly what it was that killed them off.

frozenthunderbolt said...

Thank-you for continuing to take the time to write for us JMG.
I came to you by way of the Oil Drum in my late teenage years with my mind in a sate of Stygian despair and anxiety about the future.
You writing and further readings tempered my melancholy, and drew me into increasingly productive, introspective and discriminating thought patterns.
While I rarely comment, I eagerly await your next discursive thinking stimulus each Thursday (New Zealand time).
My partner of 9 years and I are 'collapsing now to avoid the rush' having just purchased a farmlet on which to collapse and provide for whom, with what we may - it will be good to have something to apply the C.C. principles outlined in your green wizardry series to.

Karim said...

Greetings all!

Dear JMG,

All I can say is "Congratulations to you!"

It is an amazing effort few could have carried out the way you have done it.

Over the years this report has become my weekly drug, a shot every Thursday morning now supplemented with a monthly shot of the Well of galabes.

My only regret is that given the distance between the US and Mauritius, I may never have the pleasure of meeting you in person and listen to your lectures live!

Well, you can't have everything in life.

Kevin Price said...

After quietly reading and never commenting for the last six years I feel I should say now that this blog, as well as the Well of Galabes, has had a more profound and beneficial influence on my life than anything else that I've read. Your writing slowly coaxed me away from a firmly materialist and dogmatic leftist worldview, guided me back into spiritual practice, and has helped me learn how to actually think. I am so grateful for your work!

thecrowandsheep said...

JMG, I would be delighted if you were to consider our story for your latest space bats challenge: Trevor

We are fortunate that Infinity and Beyond + 1 magazine has decided to publish our story as they usually only accept submissions that has humanity playing snooker with the stars. Although dismayed at Josepth E. Quantummy's burgeoning religiosity, I&B+1 mag were impressed with his straight thinking in a world of ignorance and superstition.

Infinity & Beyond + 1 magazine, where mere Infinity is a risible constraint on the limitless potentialities of human development.

tim palmer said...

Congratulations on a decade of inspiring writing. I can directly attribute your "Collapse now and avoid the rush" writing, inspiring me and my family upping our lives and moving from the UK to France to a parcel of land. Along with permaculture, I think you have both guided me into viewing my 15-acres with reverence, consideration and awe. I have gone from being a thinker to a doer, having-a-go at projects that for the first 35-years of my life would never have been attempted.

I haven't always agreed with you, but I welcome your challenge and I welcome the thought processes that go into digesting your output.

I do what I do for my 2 little girls... foot soldiers (horrible phrase)for a hugely uncertain and unstable future, but witnesses to what I have termed the Great Equalisation of the 21st Century - it will affect us all no matter what our beliefs, economic power, or geographic location. Your writing has helped me to help them and for that alone I cannot express my gratitude in words.

With fondest gratitude


Nestorian said...


I remember those words from 10 years ago distinctly, as I have been a follower of your blog from the beginning. I got my referral to your blog from Leanan over at the old Oil Drum website.


John D. Wheeler said...

I would like to express my appreciation not only for your writing this blog but your inspiration for me to start my own blog, with the impetus of your first "space bats" contest. While I have never actually entered any of those contests, having never produced a story of requisite length, I have found having a blog tremendously satisfying, personally, even if 90% of my "readership" are bots.

I do disagree with your projection of the future of the peak oil meme. Even when it becomes painfully obvious that oil production is declining and will never rise to its former heights, I think the idea of a peak oil supply will have been supplanted by another concept: peak debt. If only more people would borrow more money, they will say, oil production would rise. They will ignore the fact that it is the geology that makes the oil unaffordable.

And, please note, while peak debt is mathematically certain at some point in the future, it may already be in the past: Note how the decline in total world debt corresponds to the steep decline in oil prices.

Alex Blaidd said...

I find it interesting for myself as someone who only two years ago was aspiring towards a vision of the future that by summed by up the term 'eco-modernism' to think back to what I used to think and believe. I can't now wholly recollect what it was like to think like that without considerable effort, and even then it's difficult. The whole structure of my intellect has been re-arranged over the last 18 months, and the intellectual architect who has had the biggest influence has indeed been yourself. I can see many parts of myself in what Marcu and Chris Balow above have said. I have been through a few different paradigms to get to this point - though in reality they were each sub-paradigms of the religion of Progress. At times they may have taken on different flavours but the end destination were remarkably similar whether dressed in the ornate decoration and fashion of 'aspirationism' or of the purple shaded new age belief in the coming shift of consciousness towards a higher plane etc. etc.

This blog, when I first stumbled across it via a link for a podcast interview you did on some very obscure part of the internet (I can't remember the name of the podcast now as it wasn't one I particularly followed - it's amazing how something so small can have such a significant impact on one's life) helped me see my own lack of commitment to any one of the different philosophies of which I have tried to practice, and made instant sense. Since then I have felt like my thoughts are my own. If anything that has made my thoughts even more alien to those around me! I now no longer speak the language of progress, and thus I might as well speak another language! Like Clay says above, it's now a surreal experience to find myself back in those same social situations with the same faces and find them to be so clueless and as you say vulnerable.

So for that and so much more I thank you dearly. And none of that is to say anything of the growing impact Druidism is having on my life, which you also introduced me to.

I was surprised to find that I hadn't quite read all of your top ten most-read posts, and having just read How Not To Play The Game, this sentence resonates strongly with me today, "Those who turn their backs on the things being fought over, and distance themselves from the battlefields, have a very good chance of staying clear of the resulting difficulties." combined with your comment above about moving towards the back of the train. The polar opposite to what our culture preaches us to do.

And finally, like Grebulocities above, I would appreciate a post on what level of EROEI is needed to sustain industrial civilisation, for the reason that many of my friends and peers believe that solar/wind is going to simply replace oil/coal. understanding this further would help me put another nail into that coffin.

donalfagan said...

I wonder if the increase in TADR readership corresponded with the decline of The Oil Drum. TOD was great until it wasn't.

With regard to Mister Roboto's FiveThirtyEight link, and JMG's response, my first take on Silver's assertion was that it jibed with my observations of relatively well-to-do relatives and in-laws that support Trump. Trump is leveraging the people who are accustomed to a certain level of success and prosperity, but see it getting harder for them and almost impossible for their kids.

My second take was that Trump supporters, being older than Sanders supporters, should be expected to farther along in their earning path.

Just Because said...

Congratulations on the 10 year mark. Not many blogs make it that long. Not many blogs reach the audience you have achieved.

"If history is indifferent to our preferences, by contrast, the way down is just as easy as the way up, and decline and fall waits for us as it did for all those dead civilizations in the past."

I'm reminded by this passage of my learning of the concept of "regression to the mean", which made me realize I often predict things in the opposite direction of what I should. Some trends are just noise and it is best to guess things will move toward what is typical. So, I would say for humans the way down is actually EASIER than the way up. The last few hundred years have been very atypical of human history. Statistically speaking, the likelihood of continuing to have the stars align for a resource-intensive society is not a 50/50 proposition just based on chance, even ignoring all the other objective reasons this is unlikely.

Robin Datta said...

One reason why the universe is indifferent to us:
A Fligth through the Uriverse, by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey

Alexander Leong said...

Dear JMG,

I discovered your blog around March of 2014. 22, a year away from graduating college, practically about to fall out of my shorts wondering about the rapidly deteriorating set of conditions I observed all around me in America and in my native land of Malaysia. The cognitive dissonance between what society told me and what I could personally observe made me what one might call an angry young man. Then I stumbled upon this blog and others like it. Much like our species has irresponsibly burned through half a billion years of fossil sunlight in the last couple of centuries, I (somewhat) irresponsibly burned through almost a decade of your blog posts in a month or so. Your insights, along with those of everyone who's commented on this site, have helped me gain a clearer understanding of the geological, social and political forces that currently converge on the present moment. Words alone cannot express how thankful I am for that.

After I graduated I returned to Malaysia, where I've since taken up a post as a high school geography teacher. This past term I have been teaching my students about environmental conservation - and found some time to have a serious classroom discussion about the ramifications of peak oil. Perhaps it is because most people in Southeast Asia have never been accustomed to the level of material comfort Americans take for granted, but these children responded quite readily to the notion that a) infinite growth simply isn't possible on a finite planet and b) we may very well be heading into a deindustrial future. So hope for the future persists, such as it is.

I now consider it one of my main duties as an educator to equip my young charges with a better understanding of the conditions they have been born into, and the murky uncertain waters they will someday find themselves in. Once again thanks for the blog, and I hope TADR will be around for at least another decade.

Don Stewart said...

Congratulations on 10 years.

Can you elaborate a little on:
'the economy misbehaves in ways that conventional economic theory can’t account for but peak oil theory can'

What, specifically, are you thinking about in terms of 'misbehaving'?

Thanks...Don Stewart

trippticket said...

Our predicament struck me like a ton of bricks on January 21,2009, while listening to an interview with David Holmgren on YouTube. It was the closest thing to a "salvation experience" I've ever had. I turned to a Bah Habah, Maine-based futurist friend of my grandmother's for advice and was sent to James Howard Kunstler and Richard Heinberg, but unfortunately not to you. So I spent the next few years jawing with the doomers in the comments section at CFN, representing a rather more hopeful, though likely more naive, permacultural perspective of the future closing in around us. Really I was a religious zealot in empirical clothing. Fitting probably for one raised in the Southern Baptist Church. Old habits die hard.

Slowly, tentatively, I started clicking on the occasional ADR links dropped in Kunstler's comments section, and after a few read-throughs, I made the switch wholesale, and never went back to JHK. I don't remember the title of my first ADR post, but aside from a couple periods without internet access, I've never missed your weekly. I force myself to wait until Thursday morning, when I wake up ahead of the rest of the family, to read and occasionally comment. Early on I probably commented more than you and some of your readers cared for! Now, it's more likely that I will reread your post to my wife over coffee, and restrict my discussion to the confines of our little house.

Which is a bit bigger and more comfortable than the "house" I lived in when I started reading the ADR! I may be one of the few here who has actually come AWAY from more extreme radical austerity as a result of your influence, hopefully demonstrating your skills as an "optimizer" rather than maximizer, or in this case maybe minimizer. As an ecologist your arguments about operating within a sere appropriate to the period stuck in my craw, and we drew back from the radical descent in which we were fully engaged. We had gotten down the mountain too far, into very lonely territory, and are now having a picnic on a sunny flat spot waiting for the rest of our company to arrive.

So I've been reading your blog for about four years now, and my favorite post is "Life Preservers for Mermaids". That one really broke the spell of religious zealotry in both first and secondhand forms for me. And for that I can't thank you enough. I have purchased and read about ten of your books and ask for more every Winter Solstice, and will undoubtedly follow you into print media after this internet medium disappears. You have changed me profoundly. So has your very sharp collection of commenters from around the wereold.

Thank you so very much for your time, sir.

Lawfish1964 said...

Your writings have had a powerful influence on my life. Around four years ago, I read the Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. That opened my eyes to the state of our food system and spurred me to plant a garden in place of my bed of azaleas in my back yard. From there, I made the rounds of all sorts of books and websites on the subjects of peak oil and our unsustainable way of living (Kunstler's Long Emergency, Charles Hugh Smith's Why Things are Falling Apart and What We Can Do About It, etc.), ultimately leading to your blog (and two of your books). I was hooked from the first read and eagerly anticipate reading your latest entry first thing every Thursday morning. Since then, my wife and I have begun collapsing to avoid the rush. We've added two chicken coops (made by hand) with 11 chickens, a second garden, numerous container gardens and three fruit trees. I got a pressure canner and learned how to can fish and meat and routinely can my surplus tomatoes from the garden each year. I make all my own beer, cider and hooch in my basement and no longer purchase feedlot beef. I barter fish for venison and recently got paid for some legal services in the form of four fat rabbits and a rack of wild boar ribs.

Most of my friends think I've got a screw loose, but I could never go back to living the way I used to. Thanks in large measure to you, Mr. Archdruid!

fudoshindotcom said...


Exactly! But, what is the root of that delusion? The source of the "Currently Privileged" influence is money, something they must be aware of. Once fiat currency is removed from the equation their influence evaporates. What do they think will insulate them from the realities of a post-industrial society, One they are less equipped to deal with than their "Servants"?

BTW Hearty congratulations on ten years of the Archdruid Report! You've certainly succeeded in inspiring a great deal of "out-of-the-box" thinking.

RPC said...

I think one of the most valuable things to me about this blog is the quality of convergence. On the face of it, one would not expect a whole lot of common ground between e.g. yourself, Nestorian, Toomas, Juhana, and Bill Pulliam. But when it comes to action, "collapse now and avoid the rush" looks an awful lot like "sell all your possessions, give to the poor, and come follow Me."

Don Plummer said...

I need to read Lovecraft, don't I? He's not on my immediate list of things to read, though. Actually, right now I'm re-reading Star's Reach and enjoying it even more than the first time around. And I've got my copy of The Fires of Shalsha on my list to read next.

Congratulations on ten years and on reaching such a wide audience during that time. Important stuff, this. Very important.

Breanna said...

I have been reading every post since 2008, though I comment rarely. I don't remember how I found your blog, but it helped me immeasurably with reorienting my life after my own personal collapse. Fortunately, that occurred right after college, so I have been able to shape the bulk of my adult life according to paradigms which have at least a bit more in common with reality. I've managed to persuade a good handful of my family and friends of at least parts of it too, so I hope you are encouraged to know that your ideas' influence extends beyond your actual blog readership.

All of which is to say, thank you.

James Hick said...

I started reading this blog in 2012 after getting through The Long Descent in a weekend. Before picking it up I was a standard "angry" atheist whose concerns for the future were that automation and artificial intelligence would at some point in the near future make humanity redundant. Suffice it to say my thinking is along somewhat different lines now. :)

Many thanks for all the work you've put into this blog and your books JMG - here's to another ten years and more.

C.L. Kelley said...

Mr. Greer,

Firstly, thank you. For everything.

I would like to join those who are sharing personal narratives of the ways their lives have been impacted by this blog. I was raised with a keen awareness of environmental limits, social issues, peak oil, etc by remnant hippies on a sailboat, who gradually sold out and bought into the general consensus over the course of my childhood and teenage years - by the time I left for college they were living in the suburbs, yachting on the weekends, replacing cars semi-annually, etc...
In college (where I was blessedly smart enough to take what little college savings my parents had for me and invest it in an actual education from a community college, thus escaping debt-free,) I gravitated naturally towards the leftist activist/hippie scene, and being on Capitol Hill in Seattle, I got front-row seats to the implosion and circular firing squads that followed in the years after the WTO protests in 1999. Deeply disillusioned, I checked out of politics and noodled aimlessly around the art, gardening, and software scenes in the area for a few years, waiting for the world to end, until my brand-new partner (now husband) and I ended up in rural Guerrero state, Mexico, taking over a small surfer's hostel.
Shortly after we arrived there and took over, I stumbled across your blog via some of Sharon Astyk's writing, and proceeded to spend the next several weeks catching up on the last five years of your writings (and some 90% of the collected comments!), discussing and digesting them all. It was something of a shattering experience for both myself and my husband, though his upbringing and practice as a Zen Buddhist gave him more resilience in this area than I had (which is another MAJOR way your writings have impacted me - from Angry Atheist (tm) to tentatively practicing nature spirituality.) Your writing on the fate of perceived members of the elite living on the geographic fringes during the fall of empire, so clearly illustrated by the hijinks of the local narco gangs towards some of our more affluent gringo neighbors in the area, were instrumental in not only our decision to leave Mexico, but where & what we did when we returned to the US.

C.L. Kelley said...

Returning to Seattle was jarring to say the least, given the dual culture shocks of two years in a truly impoverished area of the globe, living on a par with the locals (our combined monthly income was less than $300 the entire time we lived in Mexico) and the new perspective we had gained from your writing. So we left. We decided to be near family, for the support of extended social networks, away from very large population centers but also not completely isolated from towns/small cities.
We ended up in a small town in rural Maine, a longish drive but a very short sail (very steep coastline just here, with the town at the top of the hill and no projected hazards to navigation as the water rises) from large markets in Portland and points south. Shorter drive and downright easy-peasy sail to visit the in-laws just a bit down the coast. We've gone into business for ourselves, as debt-free as possible, and are continually increasing the resilience of our operation, a small bakery/cafe. I've been elected to the town government, and am actively building a network of like-minded young folks in the area - my position in the downtown cafe gives me a pretty good way to connect people who need connecting, while not leaving me much time to be personally involved, but there are now projects to replace downtown shade trees with fruit- and nut-bearing trees for public harvesting, to replace the bloated school with a one-room schoolhouse in the 18th-century model, to construct a sail freight pier on the deepwater harbor, and to make an outdoor, nature-oriented forest school for young children. Three years ago, when we bought our bakery, everyone I spoke to told me that ours was a "tough town" and "drying up, dying" after the mill closures and death of the shipbuilding industry.
Today, we have nearly a dozen new businesses, at least that many new farms in the organic/sustainable model (several running on horse traction!), a handful of new community organizations based on DOING, not meeting, an increasing population of young families, a new sail freight project, a boatbuilding school for high school students that don't wish to attend college, and many other new things in the works that will contribute to riding the decline a little (maybe a LOT) less uncomfortably than we otherwise would.
None of this would be happening without your clean cuts through the cobwebs of conventional consensus.
Thank you, sincerely. My life would be unrecognizable, and I daresay a lot more unhappy, had I never found your writing.

C. L. Kelley

hapibeli said...

"My gratitude goes with each of you; I hope you’ve found the journey so far as rewarding as I have."

Oh yes! I have no problem acknowledging your contribution to my education on all of the concepts you have put forth JMG. You have made what was a fog of unknowns, into a well of clear understandings. I knew that we were of less importance than I was taught, but you've clarified the vision.
Thanks John

Thomas Mazanec said...

Happy anniversary, John.

Peter VE said...

JMG, I've been reading you for about 5 years now, and each Wednesday evening I keep refreshing until the new post appears. I would be honored to help you with any information on Lovecraft's Providence from my meager store of knowledge. There are others with far more knowledge than I, especially Donovan Loucks at the H.P Lovecraft Archive.

Meanwhile, although my house is about 160 feet above MSL, much of the infrastructure is down lower, and once the waters come, the house will be left to its own devices. Every year I tighten it up a little more.

Jenny Fuqua said...

Congratulations on a decade! I'm a new reader, having discovered The Archdruid Report only a few months ago, and I eagerly anticipate new posts every week. In fact, I don't even read blogs, except this one. ;) Your writing provides insight and serves as sort of a road map for how to live in the times that await us. I'm glad I'm interested in this now, while my children are still little. Maybe I can raise them to be well prepared for their dismal future and maybe they can still eek out a happy and fulfilled existence.

I just scored a copy of your book, The Wealth of Nature. I'm looking forward to learning what I can from it.

I can't wait to get back into Retropia. Cheers!

margfh said...

I think I found your blog seven or eight years ago but can't remember how I stumbled onto it. As others have said I have found your writings to very influential. Your blog is one of the few I read regularly anymore and it's been here that I've found some of the others. Thank you!!

Eric S. said...

Hmm… I’d been working through my thoughts on the state of society and the future going back to high school, but an understanding really took hold in college, where the de-industrial future, ecological collapse, peak oil, and other topics became daily conversations and reflections (Jared Diamond’s collapse was even one of the textbooks for a human ecology class I took). Around that time, I also encountered Daniel Quinn, who I found unsatisfying because he addressed problems without offering any solutions (especially frustrating because he kept wording it in terms of “saving the world.” I did, though, enjoy the parts of My Ishmael and Beyond Civilization, where he actually discusses building resilient communities in place built on interdependence and reciprocity while still living in the societies around us, which could offer modes of living that could spread and create pockets of resilience within an otherwise broken society. Then I found the Ecotechnic Future. Once I discovered your writings, I found an antidote to the fast crash apocalyptic mindset I’d built around my ideas of the future and some of the fantasies of living in some sort of idealized vision of a purer, simpler world in my lifetime, as well as helping me see civilization as a valid mode of human society that can be lived in and used for constructive purposes. Most importantly, though it gave me a set of clear steps and goals that I could begin working towards, and this blog and the ideas inside have shaped every major decision I’ve made in the last 5 years in some way. (meanwhile, your other blog and your occult literature have reshaped my ideas of what occult training looks like and really hammered home the importance of discipline and regularity in a way no other teachers I'd had ever did which has reshaped what my spiritual life has looked like).

I started reading weekly with Clarke’s Fallacy, when it first came out in 2011 and started reading 2 or 3 essays a week from the beginning, working my way through to the front in order to catch up. I first started reading your books with the Druidry Handbook back in 2008, and broke into the topics of this blog when I read The Ecotechnic Future in 2010. And I also got to see you speak at a UU church in Maryland, and at the OBOD East Coast Gathering in PA. I’ve now, for the last year, begun discussing your essays weekly over the phone with my mother, and they’ve begun to seep into the way we’ve begun planning the long term future of our family, we’ve started working through the Master Conserver and Green Wizardry handbooks with my grandmother’s house in Memphis, which unless something particularly cataclysmic happens in that neighborhood is probably where I’ll be settling after she dies, and we’ve been preparing the soil, getting a self-sustaining garden going, and doing the home repairs necessary to make it a place I could live in a world of limits. So definitely thank you for everything you’ve done and written, I’ve still got a long way to go, but I’ve come farther than I ever could alone, and my life is actually starting to look outwardly like a life that reflects my inward values, which is something I’d sometimes never thought could happen.

My one question: over the last ten years you’ve been writing on this topic and running this blog, what are your thoughts in the trajectory the world has taken? Have things been moving slower, faster, or about on point with your expectations? I think the biggest surprise to me has been that the environmental aspects of catabolic collapse have unfolded much more slowly, much less linearly, and less overtly than I’d expected them to, while the social aspects have moved much faster, which means that major societal crises are hitting fast and hard, drawing huge amounts of attention and energy while the underlying environmental roots remain hidden within externalities, invisible, unspoken and not responded to.

hhawhee said...

Regarding stealth anthropocentrism (thanks for the concept!): I believe one of the things that allows non-believers to justify the teleological assumption behind the idea of "progress" or "surely there is something else that will save us" would be the (not always unspoken) premise of the ability of human reason, rightly applied, to encompass (and therefore master) anything. So, even if there is no god or other external force that takes us into account in the ordering of the cosmos, our brains will get us out of any fix and in fact will guarantee unending progress. In other words, we can be our own deus ex machina.

Sadly, our intellects are the product of contingent selective forces operating in specific environments and so there is no guarantee that they are up to the task of understanding the entire universe or of getting us out of pickles that don't correspond very well to the environments in which our brains evolved.

onething said...

" I have met Russians and other ex-citizens of CCCP"

I feel the need to explain that Juhana indulged in the Cyrillic alphabet here, which has some letters in common with English, some that are utterly different, and some that look the same but have different sounds. CCCP is SSSR, which stands for Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

dltrammel said...

Congratulations on ten years.

A short article about the wave of bankruptcies in the oil and gas sector, foretold here

"U.S. oil industry bankruptcy wave nears size of telecom bust"

Ceworthe said...

A belated Happy Beltane/Walpurgisnacht/May Day to you as I type on this Cinco De Mayo. Thank you for your ten years of blogging. I am very happy to have found your words whether electronic or in old-fashioned books, and I appreciate your mind expanding deep analyses of the human condition and world we find ourselves in. Breaking the binary only thinking in particular had been most valuable!

Aubrey Romero said...

JMG,I am deeply grateful for your continued efforts. The archdruid report tugs at my mind and Galabes tugs at my heart. My entire adult life, not long, I'm only 35, I have been working so very hard to chisel myself out of the large block of familial and societal expectations. They never felt right. I have learned so many things over the years, but your writing has helped bring clarity to my work, helping me to become more thorough in my thought processes. It is a long slog, made easier by knowing I'm not the only one making my way down the mountain.

Lucretia Heart said...

JMG-- I began reading your blog in late 2008 (and caught up on all you'd written before then) and was soon a devoted student. Every week I have looked forward to what you'd be offering, because it was so astonishingly refreshing to have have ideas to consider presented clearly, broadly, and deeply. I've come away, week after week, with new ideas burbling away in my mind, from both you and your commenters. This form of learning has become addictive, I'll confess, and so I wish you well for purely selfish motivations: many more posts to come!

Unknown said...

Thank you for this sanctuary and congratulations on ten years from Ashland Oregon.

Rain Waters

El Gaucho said...

JMG - My deepest congratulations on your 10 year anniversary with this blog. I know how difficult it is to maintain even the simplest of blogs (pictures of my dogs?). I can only imagine the time and effort required to bring readers a blog with the depth, thought, and consistent quality of The Archdruid Report. My immense respect for all that you've done over the years and my deepest appreciation for your courage to broach difficult topics. I look forward to future blog posts.

Matt and Jess said...

Hi JMG -- ten years! I think I started with you back in 07 or 08, after reading one of your books, which I happened to spot on the shelf at my library. Reading The Long Descent was one of those weird moments where you just know you're looking at the truth laid out before you and that you're going to be profoundly changed in the future. Since that moment, I like to think that we've made some positive changes, within our extremely limited means. We left the desert west and are now in Wisconsin--lots of water and organic farming, but we're not totally settled and see ourselves as at least moving in the right direction. My husband used his GI Bill to get an education in remodeling, building and woodworking, which is useful in all sorts of ways, not least of which is improving efficiency of homes, which I expect is going to be much more popular in the future. I learned the useful skill of bookkeeping, even though I haven't gotten anyone to hire me yet, still working on that. I've learned how terrible my critical thinking skills are and how to improve them, such as trying to look at things beyond my immediate emotional reaction (and avoiding binary thinking). I've always appreciated being given a little (or huge!) mental push. So yay for ten years! And thank you!!!

Atilio Baroni Filho said...

Hello JMG!

I'd like to thank you heartily for being one of the most influential writers/thinkers in my life, not because I agree and follow your every word, but because it makes me stop and (re)think my own life constantly. The value in this is hard to express! I'll continue to support your writing whenever it's within my means, as I've done through your books over the years, and hope it's another drop that, in the end, counts.

Keep up the good work! :)


Emmanuel Goldstein said...

Good job JMG! You have done well with writing and podcast interviews. I'd like to suggest you try the movies. You could do a sequel to "Forrest Gump" where you are sitting at a bus stop Bench in Cumberland, telling the contents of this blog post to a stranger with video clips interspersed. At the end, a horse-drawn hay wagon pulls up and you climb aboard, off to implement Green Wizardry in the community of the Future. You could call it "Hubbard Hump...."
Seriously, this blog and the comments of the readers are a high point in my week and a great help in keeping the swirling craziness in perspective. Best wishes to you and your wife, and keep up the good work!

Mister Roboto said...

JMG: Actually, it was Jason Godesky's neoprimitivist rendition of your "Christmas 2050" story-idea that brought me here. What really put me off neoprimitivism was not Jason himself at all, but rather those self-styled "pure primitivist" critics of his that I saw on his old website. These puristic types had such utterly, astonishingly ugly and hateful attitudes that they reminded me of problematic "politically correct" college-campus radicals whom I once made the mistake of trying to imitate. When the bloom fell of the college-radical rose for me, I promised myself that I would run away from anything that reminded me of that attitude I should have known was toxic when I was nineteen years old!

temporaryreality said...

Off topic question for JMG, (eventually)…

Possibly like Mister Roboto, I arrived via Jason Godesky's site back in… something like late 2006 or early 2007 (first comments were under the handle "neighbor"). Peak-ness made sense but I needed (and still appreciate) the solid grounding of your thought on the practical ways to ride these turbulent times. I went back, while you were on hiatus this spring, and re-read from the beginning of the blog. It's still a good read (though I've only made it through 2009).

As my family (like so many others who've gone before, are in the process and will follow shortly after) slides a rocky slope downward, I had some sleepless nights in which I also read the comments from those early posts. Nice to see some of the "old timers" whose thoughts I've appreciated so much over the years.

I'd like to ask about one early commentator who doesn't appear of late and who, it seemed, you know/knew in real life. Is Danby still around? I just wanted to note his absence and mention that I appreciated his consistently reasonable and informed comments. (The same could be said of so many others here: Bill Pulliam, patriciaormsby, Deborah Bender, Violet Cabra, Ray Wharton, buddhabythelake (David) and on and on…).

Anyway, I struggle to garden, am the steadfast LESS representative in the family, tinker, DIY whenever possible, try to look for the 3rd path out of the binary, and use all my skills to make my family more resilient and cushion our descent. That we're on a descent is something that at least my youngest child understands - so perhaps there lies my true success.

For readers who are interested in some of the many ways its possible to 'collapse now' there is a work-in-progress (and lacking in some departments) list of community generated ideas available on the Green Wizards site. A "Collapse Now" Checklist Come, join in and add your expertise!

Bobo the Dorkboy said...

I would also like to add my thanks, but for something a tad different. I quote you ALL the time while trying to convince co-workers in conversation about this, that, or the other think. I've found they're more likely to "listen" (or listen at all) if I use what I learn from you to cause me to go off and search for other, more (to them) "reputable" sources. It annoys me in the short term, but in the longer term thanks to you I've learned about Toynbee, Spengler, and more other stuff than my increasingly geriatric brain can recall.

It's sad, and I admit it also _really_ pisses me off, but if I had a nickel for every time they responded with, "Oh, is this that 'Archdruid' feller again?", followed by a snort and their attention rapidly going elsewhere, well, I'd have me a whole lotta nickels...

Again, a very heartfelt thank you.


Steve in Colorado said...

@ Mr Roboto-

I would add to our host's comments, that while Silver's numbers may well be correct (I have no reason to doubt them), having more then the median income does not not necessarily relate in any way with the feeling of having been slighted or cheated by events. I have met quite a few "well off" working people who still have strong feelings that the "system" was/is screwing them.

The flaw in the article is the implied use of income level as a measure of alienation (with a negative relation). There is a lot more dissatisfaction with the system out there than those in power are willing to see, and this article is just one more attempt to hide and obfuscate what is going on from those who should be seeing it.

nrgmiserncaz said...

I would be remiss if I didn't offer my congratulations on ten years. My path to your blog came through a similar path to the one that started your writing - peak oil blogs, etc. I consider your blog and absolute must read EVERY week. Your writing has allowed me have a paradigm shift in the way I view the world. Many thanks and keep up the good work!

redoak said...

Your blog is my favorite place on the web. Deep thanks for writing these posts and moderating such an excellent discussion.

SLClaire said...

Even though I have learned almost as much from the comments and felt collegial ties to many of you who comment more or less regularly, the demands of life have cut into the time I had for reading and writing comments. So to other readers, thank you for everything you've written and will write; I'll read them as I can.

And to you, JMG, thank you for everything you've written about on this blog (and the Well as well). I found you through a not-overly-favorable review of your book The Long Descent which appeared in Permaculture Activist magazine, as it was then called, in late 2008 or early 2009. Maybe it's another illustration of being fortunate in your enemies - not that the reviewer was exactly your enemy, but he did think that you ought to drop your fixation with 1970s style appropriate technology and get with all the cool new stuff the permaculturists had come up with. All I can say is, I'm still reading you and you make more sense than ever, while I've just dropped my subscription to that other magazine. I may end up saying more about that sometime on my own blog.

The question of what I should do with my life turned out to have a spiritual dimension I had no clue about before encountering you. Thank you very much for being willing to write about your theme in its magical and spiritual dimensions as well as its material dimension. As much as the material dimension matters - you've inspired me to take living with LESS farther than I had and to start a blog to talk about some of what I've learned - the magical and spiritual dimensions matter more to me. Because of what I've learned, I won't waste the remainder of my life.

Adrian Ayres Fisher said...

So, JMG, last week I congratulated you and mentioned how much influence your writing has had on my life, thought and writing since sometime in 2007. I just reread the 2011 post you referenced, "The Peak Oil Initiation"—very interesting in light of what I’ve learned since, especially from reading your other blog.

Regarding the indifferent universe and learning to adapt ourselves to it: In the taxonomy of prayer, it seems an immature form of prayer is to use it as a method of bargaining with god(s), or to think of god(s) as some sort of ATM machine--prayer in, prosperity out. More spiritually and psychologically mature seems (to me at least) the prayer that indicates acceptance and concurrent understanding of one’s own humility, the prayer that seeks strength and helps one understand our place and the direction in which we should go. It is a form of post-initiation theurgy, I suppose.

Quakers have a phrase: "as way opens.” To "proceed as way opens" means that actions are taken meditatively, attentively, as appropriate, as a way forward is seen, as conditions warrant, rather than trying to force a path or indulge in wishful thinking. And there is the discipline of ascertaining how the way is opening and considering consequences and/or ramifications. There might be some expectation that correct action might be "shown" to one, but it might not be as planned or expected. More theurgy, I suppose.

For me this kind of attitude, discipline and resultant practice that leads to changes in one’s way of life is conducive to, even completely mingled, with earth-centric ethics and behavior—the way humus not only structures, but actually is soil. To paraphrase that old speech, ask not what the land can do for us, but what we can do for the land. :)

Bruce Turton said...

Thank you for your voice and your focus. You have helped so much in my finding just a little of my own!
As to the universe not giving a damn, I am reminded of part of a verse in Matthew 5: "...for he makes the sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unjust."
As for the quote from Acts 4:32, it would seem to be a repeat of Acts 2:42. Have used these and other snippets on those who claim that the "truth" is obvious in the Bible. Cannot get away from devilish mischief!!
Came across this comment by Aldo Leopold: "One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. An ecologist must either harden his/her shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his/her business, or s/he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise."
This evokes my own consternation about openning up any conversation about the probabilities for the future of my kids and their kids.
Thank you again for your voice and its consequences.

Adrian Ayres Fisher said...

Regarding space travel, one can only agree about the dismal prospects of humans journeying to the stars in person. However, it is gratifying that some of our technology and intellect has been used to understand more about the indifferent universe in which we reside. For those readers who, like me, may know a little about things like plants and ecosystem functions, among other subjects, but not much about the solar system, I highly recommend Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs. Haven’t finished it yet, but It is very readable and after a tour of our vast yet tiny space neighborhood it comes back down to earth to discuss life (and death) here as influenced by cosmic objects and events.

On a practical note: we just finished insulating our old, drafty, not so big house. What a difference! So far we’ve been content with our long-ago decision to adapt in place.

Kim Arntsen said...

I've been a regular reader for a few years now without commenting, but I'll speak up this time and say congratulations and thank you for your tireless work, both the blog and your books. Like many of the other commentators here have said, your writings have been a significant influence on my life as well over the last few years.

As a life-long atheist, it was a bit of a shock to discover that I actually had a lingering childhood religion after all, as a moderate member of the Religion of Progress. Along with other developments in my life, this blog helped me put that notion to rest once and for all, and helped me come to terms with the most likely bleak prospects for our current industrial civilization.

I'd also like to thank you for putting in the work to make this one of the absolute best comment pages on the entire Internet. I know that doesn't happen without quite a bit of effort, but the level of discussion here really throws into stark relief just how bad it is almost everywhere else.

And since we're talking about favorite posts, my nomination has to be An Elegy for the Age of Space. Beautifully written, poignant and a great summary of our predicament.

Tidlösa said...

The post on the death of the Internet is one of my favorites, and certainly one that deserves wider promotion. The post on Trump was also good - it made me take the guy seriously, so I don´t have to be embarrased now, when he is the presumptive nominee!

Otherwise, I liked a posting (or was it a series?) about the Industrial Revolution, or rather the idea that there were several different Industrial Revolutions, only one of which was based on oil. Meaning that we don´t have to "go back to the Stone Age" just because cheap oil runs out. I´m something of a pessimist as a person, but since the idea of a Cthulhucene is too pessimistic even for me, I tend to like your more, shall we say, upbeat postings. ;-)

I discovered the peak oil scene circa 2010-2012, so it was interesting to note that it was during its "peak" and decline. But then, I´ve always been a contrarian, so there´s a certain logic in this too.

You came to my attention, interestingly enough, during a discussion about UFOs! But that, as they say, is an entirely different story...

Tidlösa said...

Another poster said: "You've lasted this long because you haven't made overly outrageous claims or tried to sell us gold and freeze dried peaches." Exactly. For a peaknik Archdruid who believes in mermaids, you are pretty moderate - I read a lot of crazy stuff for its sheer entertainment value, and I think your levelheaded approach made me take you more seriously! Same with "the other blog". Is this a tactic? Or is it just you? ;-)

baba t said...

Though I only started reading this blog a paltry 3 months ago, it has, I would say, revolutionized my perspective of the world and also been a gateway drug in a manner of speaking to other sources of information about climate change, anthropology, evolution, philosophy just to name a few. It has given me a new way to understand Lovecraft and music like Western classical of Chopin and Dvorak, as also Death and black metal. I have become a voracious reader of non fiction writing and current events and made me look inward. For this I would like to thank you. I must confess that rather than believing that we will go through a long descent, I fall in Guy McPherson's camp, not because I wish for it but rather because the data and extrapolation of the data seems to point towards near term Extinction.

Jason Heppenstall said...

Dear JMG. Congratulations on reaching your 10 year point. I've been with you for about half of that journey and your writings have greatly influenced the way I live my life. Here's to the next 10 years. Jason

Pantagruel7 said...

Congrats on your 10th anniversary. Are you better off or worse off now than when Reagan took office? You've led me to some fine "outside reading," including the one I'm working on now, "Hot Earth Dreams" by Frank Landis. Finally, thank you for using "affect" instead of "impact" (when you do) and for avoiding the Orwellian neologism, "impactful" altogether.

lorganiste said...

Thank you for all your work. I have learned so much from you and from many of the commenters. I hope you are still blogging 10 years from now.

Jon from Virginia said...

When I worked for a national chain that was slowly going insane (the chain store, not me), I gave myself an inoculum of sanity by rolling up one random ADR essay every day before going to work. Two essays kept coming up-

Economics: The Sound of Aunt Edna’s Knitting, and
Peak Oil Advice from German Poets.

After leaving there, two more kept coming up-
Looking for Roong Thisdara, and
Strange Bright Banners

and the dice kept finding these six, though not as often-
The Tarpaper Shack Principle
The Care and Feeding of Time Machines
Solving Fermi's Paradox
Solvitur Ambulando
A Failure of Mimesis
Hagbard's Law

I reread them this morning after extracting this from my history file. Perhaps I should take up divination.

stevenstrange said...

Congratulations on the first 10 years of your blog. It is one of only two go to blogs for me. I tried to remember when I started reading, but checking the old posts was no help because I had gone back and read many of them.

"I write the way I like to write, for those who like to read it." -JMG

I'm definitely one who likes to read it. Your novels and many of your non-fiction books are in my library. The Long Descent is one I go back to again and again.

If I've ever read anything more consistently thought provoking than your work I can't remember it. Your point last week that puts me in the global 1% was a well needed whack to my head.

W. B. Jorgenson said...


I have to say "find new friends" may not be a possible or ideal solution: aside from this my friends are good people, and since I prefer to walk as much as possible, the people I associate with are somewhat limited to walking distance, especially since as much as possible I prefer human interaction over electronic. And yes, I realize the irony of posting this on a blog.

I also have a request: would you mind writing a post on what implications the fact humans evolved has? I'm curious what you think it means for our thinking, our sense of self and reality, other intelligences on Earth, etc. If possible, this would be great, I find myself trying to figure this out myself, and I would love to see another view on it, given how most people who say they believe in evolution seem not to have thought through the implications, or in some cases, actively resist doing so.

I realize you write what you want, and I would not have it differently, but 'tis worth asking, no?

Ezra Buonopane said...

The point about how the universe is not necessarily arranged for our benefit reminded me of this radiolab episode:

It's about the possibility that the existence of complex life on this planet is utterly dependent on a single, stunningly improbable event that occurred once about 2 billion years ago and no evidence currently suggests that it ever happened again. My first thought after listening to it was "maybe complex life is a lot less common in the universe than we originally thought". It's disappointing, and I really, really hope it isn't true. I, as is the case with a great many people, a have a lot mentally staked on the universe being full of complex, sentient life, but this may be yet another example of the aforementioned point.

Of course, we still certainly aren't the only planet anywhere with complex life and tool-using animals, the universe is just too big for that. But the next inhabited planet may be very, very far away.

Thank you for all the great writing on this blog. I only came across it in mid 2015; the first post I read was "The Suicide of the American Left". I had long been puzzled as to how the vast majority of recent attempts to achieve meaningful social change have failed, yet the people making the attempts didn't even think to examine their methods to see what they might have been doing wrong but instead thought that they could succeed just by trying the same things more and louder.

Macando said...

Thanks, JMG. We got your back. I saw a facebook post by George Takei that showed a depiction of Cthulu and said, "Why vote for the LESSER evil." Becoming more and more appropriate, as events unfold.

Thanks for all the good prose,


W. B. Jorgenson said...


I very much recommend you suggest to people not that "we probably won't go to the stars", or "We won't live to see humanity go to the stars", but "humanity will never go to the stars", as that last one rather reliably triggers very good reactions to prove how embedded it is in our culture's thoughts.

I've always been a contrarian, and I enjoy provoking people, but that got more angry reactions than anything I've ever tried to argue. Despite (or perhaps) because what I argued was in fact sound and the people I debated with could not refute any of it, everyone walked away with the impression I was incapable of clear thought and my reasoning was horribly flawed.

Finally, the other thing I noticed there: people were surprised I could hold a view in which "there is not meaning for life" and yet still be happy and reasonably well adjusted. I still can't quite ignore that last part, because it scares me a little that to many people, the meaning of life is to reach the stars someday. 42 makes a much better meaning than that. :P

Hubertus Hauger said...

This post gives me a lot to think about. More even then mostly already.

For instance I was reflecting, that I sometimes mention, being a catholic. Sort of slightly stating what I believe in.

Actually, my faith assists me in this insecure times. From what I religio-historically know I do recognize, that the bible, building one strong foundation of the faith, is spanning over 1.000 years and does encompass a broad variety of experience by many generations of people. In addition it originates in times frequently been determined of aeons for its poverty, misery and hardship. This reflecting through the books of the bible reassures me in my own troubles and gives me real hope for a future, which feels for me as if it may become similar of how the past was been already.

So I want to reflect in this post more from different angles, from where the rich religious ancestry and heritage is giving me insight into us sliding down from the heights.

Vicky K said...

Many years ago (2008?) I found your jewel of a blog. The Oil Drum and other doomer sites was my introduction to peak oil as a focus. I however had been interested in limits to growth even prior to the publication of the seminal LTG. Somewhat ironically, I was introduced to Peak Oil as a search term by the woman that purchased my doomstead/farmette. I have already been there done that with the back to the land/ self-sufficiency route.

One thing that struck me about this week's essay was the claim of an indifferent universe. I do agree that a special case for homo or other self-conscious species as favored or having a role in the development of the universe is unwarranted. However there seem to be experiences of seeing and feeling the world as sacred or holy in some manner. Or feeling that the universe is somehow benevolent, yet not partisan. Rather than indifferent, which implies a bit of uncaring, benevolence implies a specialized kind of caring.

My solution to this possible paradox is that evolution of living creatures (including the simplest ones) requires that life is perceived as worthwhile enough to continue living. Essentially, survivor's have access to rewards for following their instincts. A depressed or unhappy creature is less likely to survive and reproduce. Evolution will favor the sufficiently happy (and well nourished) with good feelings such as bliss or peace of mind and heart. So it may be possible to say that the Universe as a whole is entirely indifferent, but that Nature as a living component is biased to happiness in order for continuation of the evolution of living creatures.

Steve D said...

I don't comment often, but I read your blog regularly and I would hate to miss this opportunity to congratulate you and more importantly thank you for the virtual mountains of food for thought you have provided me over the past few years, not to mention the excellent suggestions on how to cope with our current decline and more than a few laughs along the way as well.
It's hard to pick a single favorite post, but I think it was probably your series on the rise & fall of the American Empire back in 2012 that served as my "Wow, this guy really gets it!" moment and I've been gleefully hooked ever since.
I no longer drink, but I'll raise a glass of virtual stout to you - Here's to as many more years of The Archdruid Report as the Internet can provide. Many thanks & all the best!

sara drew said...

Dear Archdruid
Congratulations on your ten years. I found your blog last September and it has had a major effect. I have learned a great deal - and have been moved to laughter and tears - I'm thinking of your post on Atlantis and the next ten million years - and feel an affinity with many other posters. What value my comments? But that's not the point really. I have let go of attachment to doom scenarios as well as singularity/ rapture - in fact I have been welcoming all the fresh Spring green leaves on their fourth return since the supposed 2012 apocalypse!

It is fascinating to see your broader analysis and gain more insight into the cyclical nature of the historical process. Your post about the quest not taken mentioned above I found deeply moving, I have loved Tolkein all my life and believe the part of Devon I live in is the Bree land; in fact our local town of Honiton is affectionately known as Hobbiton.
Here's to the next ten years!

Carolyn said...

"...get to work trying to save as many of the best achievements of the last three hundred years or so before the long night of the deindustrial dark ages closes in around us."

The achievement of industrial civilization I'd most like to save is safe, effective, reliable, and widely-available birth control. I think that's been a tremendous boon to our species--humans have been trying to control their fertility for as long as there have been humans, and we just recently got good at it. But I wonder if it isn't too dependent on industrial infrastructure to survive into the coming dark age.

If we can't save that, then I vote for the game Dungeons and Dragons. All you need for that are the rule books, pencils, paper, and dice, and it can entertain a small group of people for a great many hours. I think there are worse choices for things we could carry with us into the dark.

Bike Club Vest Prez said...

Congratulations on 10 years. I was first exposed to peak oil during a college internship with Unocal in 1988. It was a lunchtime presentation by someone from Lawrence Livermore Nat. Labs. I promptly forgot about it until Jay Hanson started his Energy Resources list. The ER list prompted me to shift into public power, so I am very happy about that. It's a very secure job. But the technical discussions were never very satisfying. I am very impressed with how you look to history to analyze the social implications. You do it better than anyone else I have found. Thanks for your insight. It has been very helpful to me.

Jeff Gill said...

JMG, I've been with you for nine of the last ten years. You have been a huge influence on me during a period in which my thinking about life, the universe and everything has changed. Your essays and stories have helped me become a better, more awake, more joyfully serious and seriously joyful human being. That's not tenth anniversary hyperbole. Thank you.

willow said...

Congratulations JMG!!

Greetings everyone,

The Cthulhucene….. I love it!

I am a long-time lurker (reader) of both your blogs JMG, and this is my first time commenting (for reasons which have nothing to do with my desire to comment). I also purchase/own as many of your books as I can afford. I have truly become such a JMG fan-gal that I have taken to the habit of asking every bookstore I wander into to please consider carrying your full selection of books (if they do not already do so). It’s very fun for me to plant JMG seeds in my travels, and don’t worry, I do so with respect and grace. At least, I hope so! ;)

I was trying to remember my first encounter with your blog. It was in the peak oil community sometime around 2007. I remember feeling so joyous and relieved. I felt like I had finally found my community in your words. I have felt the same ever since, and have become even more deeply grateful to you, and the community here, as time has passed. For me you are like an oasis in the desert. I cannot put into words how deeply appreciative I am of all your efforts JMG. Thank you for sharing yourself and your writing, and for creating a space which for me feels so respectful, deeply connected, accessible, and inspiring. I look forward to reading everything you write. Congratulations on ten years! I hope for many more to come.

BTW, I really enjoyed hearing how this blog began for you. It’s interesting to hear your personal story. Some favorite posts for me are: Atlantis Won’t Sink, Experts Agree, The Next Ten Billion Years, and The Heresy of Technological Choice.

Toasting you with my teacup… Cheers from California!


Justin said...

Congratulations! What a ride it has been - lets hope for another 10 years even if that might not be realistic. The most important thing your blog has provided is a beacon of sanity in a world that is obsessed in equal measures with Mad Max and Star Trek. I've been reading regularly for three years or so, but have gone through the entire back catalog - my favorites are the Alex's story series, the ones about an alternative future where oil was never discovered and coal was well on its way down its own peak and the one about the windjammers - those are probably too far in the future for me to hope to ever crew one, but if I'm lucky I might get to see them in the harbor as an old man.

One prediction that you made years ago, that the alt-right right is starting to prove is that there have been permanent changes in society with respect to gender roles, racism and tolerance of homosexuality - of course there is a natalist, anti-gay, white-supremacist faction of the alt-right, but they're just a faction. I would enjoy reading your thoughts on the phenomenon.

I've noticed the way you've been ahead of quite a few trends lately too in your discussions about culture and economics in the West. Hypothetically, if a 'respectable institution' offered to interview you, would you go for it?

Yellow Submarine said...

Speaking of the Cthulhucene, have you heard of of the karmic blowback, er, catastrophic wildfires, in Canada's main center of tar sands production? The last few years, there have also been huge wildfires in Russia and the Greenland Ice Sheet is melting at an accelerated rate.

Oh, and a large part of Florida is expected to be underwater within a matter of decades and much of what's left will be uninhabitable salt marshes and desert. Soon, there will be lots of other submerged cities joining R'lyeh at the bottom of the sea.

But hey, global warming and climate change are a myth, right? At least that's what all those pseudoconservative politicians, corporate shills and bought-and-paid-for think tanks keep telling us...

Katelan said...

Dear JMG - I've been reading this blog since the very early days, but have almost never commented. It's a regular part of my Thursday routine to check your latest words of sanity (the recent hiatus was painful). Beyond your always thought-provoking comments, as a writer I love your dry, delightful turns of phrase. I used a quote from a Well of Galabes post as an epigraph for a recently e-published thriller, as I realised - after writing it! - your words illuminated a major theme.

It's one of the more common modern forms of doublethink ... to allow that of course the universe we experience is a mental construct rather than an objective reality, and then to turn right around and insist that some currently popular features of that mental construct - the deadness, mindlessness, and meaninglessness of the cosmos, for example - are objectively real truths, while features of mental constructs that our culture doesn't encourage - the presence of life, mind, and meaning in the nonhuman cosmos, for instance - are just plain wrong.

(If anyone's interested see Atomic Sea, and as a tiny gesture of appreciation for your ten years of fascinating writing, Archdruid readers can download it free for a month with coupon code MW37D from Smashwords.)

So thank you again for ten years of imagination and wit and hard work.

Patricia Mathews said...

Re: web page hits. I'm sure every time I checked your site to see what new comments there were & to read them counts as a new hit! Yes;not accurate.

Unknown said...

atheists I’ve met, for example, who readily agreed that the universe is indifferent to our desires, but then insisted there has to be some other energy resource

The psychological term for this sort of thinking is "ego defense". It's usually an adaptive trait that allows people to concentrate on living the finite lives they have without being preoccupied with their own mortality.

Naturally, a previously adaptive trait may become maladaptive if circumstances change. Witness my own body's tendency to store food in preparation for dire Scandinavian winters (I live in Florida).

Mister Roboto said...

Here's something you'll probably appreciate: The one time I took the most serious issue with something you said, you turned out to be right. You may perhaps remember how much I and maybe other Wisconsin-based readers of yours got caught up in the political controversy that consumed my home-state when Governor Scott Walker abolished collective bargaining for state-worker unions. I recall you said that unions in this country have become just as corrupt as the corporations. That made me pretty freaking livid. Seriously, I stopped reading your blog for about a month. But after Scott Walker won the recall election, guess what I found out?

During the primary for who would be the Democratic contender in the recall election, the unions threw four million dollars at an incompetent political hack from Madison who was very unlikely to win, simply because this hack promised the unions the Sun, the Moon, and the stars. And the hack would have been as bad in a liberal-Democratic way as Scott Walker was in his conservative-Republican way. But Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett succeeded in winning this primary because Democratic voters in this state knew the hack certainly wouldn't win. Tom Barrett probably could have used at least some of that wad of union money. (Though how much he would have been allowed to use would have been limited by the constraints placed by Wisconsin state law on recall-election challengers.)

Also, last year, Milwaukee County bus-drivers, who are the best paid bus-drivers in the entire state, orchestrated a three-day work stoppage because they wanted this, that, and the other thing that the county government simply couldn't afford to give them. And the bus-driver union had this obvious "cat that swallowed the canary" attitude about what they were doing while so very many poor people who had it a lot worse than they did got badly screwed over. I wouldn't be surprised if that silly union fails to realize to this very day how badly their little stunt blew up in their faces!

Geoff said...

Congratulations on 10 years. Your writings have helped shape our approach to the future, and I don't think there can be any higher praise than that.

Justin said...

So, I went back through your top 10 posts that you linked, and of course, An Elegy for the Age of Space came up.

I remember reading about how the most intellectually fertile period of Greek civilization was marked by relatively austere living conditions, not because life was so tough, but because they simply had better things to do than to ornament their houses and feast on delicacies - and they weren't busy in the fields either, they had slaves for that. It seems to me like there's a parallel there between the golden age of Ancient Greece and the USA/USSR in the 60's and 70's. As someone who barely experienced the 90's, I can only look back at an imagined version of those 20 years, but I do wish I could have experienced them.

I'm of course complicit in this, but it is quite a shame how we lost trust in our collective ability to do amazing things and bought into a model of individualistic consumerism that in the end, accomplished nothing but producing suburbia and its trappings. We could have done so much cool stuff. I can't find it, but I remember seeing a supposedly historically accurate 'aerial photograph' of Paris during Notre Dames' construction, and I was struck by the size of the cathedral relative to the city and the humbleness of most of the buildings. It is humiliating to think that building Notre Dame must have been much more expensive than the Apollo Program in relative terms, and yet they did it.

Kevin Patrick Beckett said...

Congratulations on hitting the 10 year mark - has it really been that long!

This post, excellent as always, brings to mind a segment from David Brin's novel Earth.

The novel deals with a number of subjects related to the near-term depletion of Earth's biosphere, the climate change and other "doomer" issues - the author even admits that his vision in the novel is an optimistic one - and not likely to be the favorable outcome as noted in the book.

At the end of the novel, due to "Checkov's rifle issues" the planet comes alive and broadcasts that to the universe at large.

"It gets cold between the stars. Most of space is desert, dry and empty.
But there are, here and there, beads that glitter close to steady, gentle suns. And though these beads are born in fire and swim awash in death, they also shimmer with hope, with life.
Every now and the, as if such slender miracles weren't enough, one of the little spinning globes even awakens.
"I am......" it declares, singing into the darkness. "I am, I am, I am!"
To which the darkness has an answer, befitting any upstart.
"So what? Big Deal, Big Deal...... So What?"

You continue to be an inspiration - and I hope that you will continue to scatter your wisdom for another decade or more (even if we move back to a paper based model)

Yellow Submarine said...

Probably my favorite post was "The Blood of the Earth, or Pulp Nonfiction ", in part because I have long been a huge fan of authors like Robert E Howard, HP Lovecraft, Michael Moorcock and JRR Tolkien.

Can't believe its already been ten years. I was an early adopter back in 2007, although I didn't begin commenting on this site until much later. I stumbled onto this blog via Jim Kunstler's site, because one of the commenters was recommending it and since I was reading everything I could about Peak Oil at the time, I decided to come check it out.

I also remember the Jason Godesky days and his weekly rants about the Archdruid Report. I still remember that discussion thread where Godesky proved the reality of Godwin's Law and got 86'ed. Godesky's website remained up for years after he and his fellow neo-primitivist bloggers decided to call it quits, but it seems to have vanished into cyberspace.

Thanks for everything and the best of luck in your future endeavors.

@ Onething: Most if not all Americans (and I am certain most if not all Europeans as well) who grew up during the Cold War knew exactly what CCCP meant, even if many of the young 'uns these days don't.

EntropicDoom said...

Thank you for ten years of guidance and an outpouring of critical thought. The ADR Blog is a treasure each Wednesday.

The Washington State Democratic caucuses for Legislative Districts were weeks ago and the Bernie supporters were the majority, but the Clintonites were much more entrenched and had throughly infiltrated the party operations. The outcome was a source of frustration and a sense of loss. However, for me the bright spot was asking people, do you read the Archdruid Report?

For those that recognized my inquiry, a light went on. Other bloggers such as Orlov and Kunstler were mentioned by many. But the outcome was many people are reading ADR. Your books were the next thing we discussed.

Reading ADR means developing an awareness. Spread the word and tell others. I post select essays on the kitchen bulletin board. Start discussions on ADR. This could be a dinner table discussion or waiting in line somewhere. I did a lot of that at the recent Demo-lition convention where we had to wait up to two hours to sign in.

Each week, even if I don't write a comment, I write out notes. Writing can clear up my thoughts. Rarely do I send in comments. If a comment mentions another item on the web I look it up and watch it or read it. If there is time I read all the comments and references to past ADR posts. Readers can also find JMG on YouTube giving interviews and talks. Look them up and listen to them for more JMG appreciation and inspiration.

The chain of involvement is Read ADR, Read JMG Books, Start Discussions, Watch JMG Videos, Document Personal Views and lastly, but important: 'seeing.'

Seeing means looking at the world around us differently. When I painted watercolors I saw the world in washes after an afternoon of painting. Following ADR means seeing the current world around us in its eventual de-industrial outcome. The scenes in daily life now have expiration dates or lifespans. The practices and the devices in everyday life become temporary aspects of an outlandish time.

It is like in The Matrix; seeing things as there really are. What will replace the wasteful in a few years? How will this be done in a future with less gas, I ask myself? I would have to walk there or not go, without a car. How will these items be made and transported without fuel? Can those be made anymore or imported without fuel or energy? Cars are no longer desirable and stylish to my eyes, but users of a limited fuel supply and only as able as their current supply of gas will last.

Looking at the world and seeing it with ADR glasses means seeing the “before” scene for our changing age and marveling at the waste and the assumption it is all permanent. It is already changing and getting back to the original way things were done with less energy. Collapse is a returning to reality, not a retardation from our path to the stars.

The current fires in Alberta give us a vision of the next step we will all share. The everyday life we lead will become very different, very quickly, without the massive amounts of fuel and energy to move us further down the finite road of over consumption. All along Highway 63 leading south out of Fort McMurray, Alberta, are hundreds of abandoned vehicles that ran out of gas. The station pumps are dry and ironically this area is a leading producer of crude oil. A remote part of our behemoth civilization has collapsed in flames. Abandoned all along the highway are the 'dynamic' vehicles; now powerless and toasted wrecks, without the diminishing supply of gas to power them.

Lastly I think we should all practice baby steps such as less heating and having lower temperatures in the house. Less driving and more walking. Cancel TV watching. Helping others in the neighborhood. Plant a garden and grow some of your own food. Be conservative in the old fashioned way. This is the end result of following ADR, becoming more aware and finally beginning to practice a collapsed life style well before it is trendy and necessary.

Ron M said...

Hearty congratulations on completing 10 years blogging on ADR! I started reading your blog when you just started your Green Wizard posts, which gave wings and focus to my budding green wizardry skills. Since then much of my free time has been devoted to furthering such skills and knowledge. Such a joy!

I have not missed an ADR post since I “discovered” it six years ago. The breadth of topics you cover and the depth of your analysis are truly breathtaking. In terms of the loftiness of your vision and practical nature of your solutions I can only compare you to one of my favourite authors, E.F. Schumacher. This, plus your superb writing style and the high calibre of commentators you have attracted, makes ADR is the only blog I care to read (other than Well of Galabes). Your books, too, are rare gems.

I cannot thank you enough for the sanctuary of sanity you have created in a world gone mad. May you continue to be blessed and inspired to use the gifts that you have cultivated and share so generously with your readership.

John Roth said...

Congratulations on reaching ten years. I got to here from the Question Everything blog; I have no memory of how I got there, but I dropped it fairly quickly.

John Michael Greer said...

Once again, as comments are coming in quite a bit faster than usual, I'd like to start with a collective thank you to everyone who commented to congratulate The Archdruid Report for its tenth anniversary and/or to recount how they found this blog and how it's influenced them. It's a little humbling to find out how many people have taken this blog as a source of guidance in their lives! Still, that was the point of the exercise, and I'm delighted that my reflections have been helpful to so many people. Please consider yourself individually thanked; if there were fewer of you, I'd spend the next couple of hours trying to come up with an adequate range of variations on "Thank you very much."

Now, on to some specific responses...

Juhana, thank you! I know the American experience right now is way off on one end of things; ours is really rather an oddball culture, all things considered, and it's been warped into some truly bizarre shapes by a century of imperial adventurism and its consequences. That's one of the reasons why I don't try to tell people elsewhere what they ought to do; conditions are just too different.

Phil, I probably need to follow the Alt-Right scene more closely than I have done to date. I chuckled over your description of them as "Right but not conservative" -- that sort of political non-Euclideanism is a good sign that the basic political alignments of a society are shifting rapidly.

Compound F, duly pinged!

Grebulocities, I'd be interested in seeing further information on the "EROEI <10 = no industrial society" discussion if you can find it. Intuitively, it makes a great deal of sense to me -- the energy cost of the infrastructure you need to put energy to useful economic work tends to get left out of a vast number of discussions of this kind.

MikeP, some people are beginning to grasp that space travel is simply a literary device, no more to be taken seriously than (say) the assorted miracles that land the Pevensie children in Narnia. There's a fascinating website -- well, fascinating to those of us who grew up reading science fiction -- exploring the Old Solar System, the far more colorful solar system in which we thought we might be living before space probes banished Barsoom and Amtor to the realm of might-have-beens. Still, I've encountered a very, very large number of people for whom space travel still fulfills a religious need, and who lose it completely if you point out that no, we're not going to the stars, and here are the reasons why.

With regard to the Anthropic Event, exactly. We don't refer to the first epoch of the Cenozoic as the Cometocene, after all. Down the road a bit I plan on doing some posts more or less riffing off "The Next Ten Billion Years," in which I'll offer a proposed geological name for what we're facing: the Cenozoic/Neozoic Transition, C/N Transition for short.

Thecrowandsheep, got it, and you're in the contest. Did you send me your email address, by the way?

John, there I disagree. Debt is simply one facet of the game of tokens we use to distribute real, nonfinancial goods and services, and to my mind, its rise and fall is an effect of changes in the production and distribution of real wealth, not a driving factor in its own right. More on this in an upcoming post!

Just Because, hmm! I like the idea of applying regression to the mean to history -- potentially very useful. I'll want to brood over that for a while.

onething said...

Says JMG -- "Onething, understood. You can get to the same place by believing that the universe (or its creator) is, as you say, not a tame Lion at all, and that human interests and values are of very little relevance in the face of a divine reality. As to whether you should pray, good heavens -- did you think that the point of prayer was to have an effect on the being to which you're praying? I always figured that the point of it was the effect it had on the one who's doing the praying -- and a very positive effect that is."

Ah, but human beings are at least middling in caliber, quite impressive sometimes, and not only that but probably something like a fractal upon the larger and more consequential forces of being; I doubt they disparage us so completely! if only because we have potential to overcome our stupidity and indeed I think we have some sort of spiritual illness causing us to waste our undeveloped greatness for a time.

Perhaps it is a necessary lesson to counter the hubris and immaturity of people's outlook, but it always struck me wrong when I would read the ancient spiritual literature such as the Desert Fathers and they would refer to the things of this world as being like filthy rags compared to their visions of the spiritual world. Well, I was given such a glimpse one time; I was granted to see a soul, and it was the lowest quality soul at that, and then I understood why those saints wrote the way they did but it is damaging to get people to disparage the beauty of this world by such comparisons. It is even unseemly and borderline blasphemous to say such things of the creation of the Christian God. Rather we go from beauty to greater beauty of a new and different quality.

Of course you would do no such thing and perhaps I ought to erase the above, but it has bothered my mind for years, so I'll just leave it stand.

As to prayer, what I meant was, if the universe is indifferent to us, why speak to it?

Dennis D said...

I think that there is some confusion over what constitutes a fast collapse, vs a stair step down. For some people a fast collapse is when they have no power to recharge their cell phone, and even if they did, there would be no service. To me that is a stair step down, and a fast collapse would probably require a major nuclear war over much of the world. On another point, I am an electrician with lots of years in the solar field, and I see many people make the point that solar electricity will become useless due to battery failure. The solar panels are extremely robust, still able to make (reduced) power even when shot with a rifle. I have some that were made in the early 70's, and they are still putting out power (somewhat reduced, but still useful). The common refrain that lack of batteries will turn them into paperweights is false, it will merely reduce the options available. If you have a battery that will even barely function your options are even greater. An example is to run a freezer when the sun shines, then use that ice to keep perishables cool (and yes, I see 40 year old freezers regularly,they are such a simple technology and there are so many that finding a working one in a power down situation will not be the biggest challenge). Pumping water uphill is another good storage solution, even if it is only a 45 gallon barrel that lets you wash dishes easily, or other hygienic purposes, such as a shower at the end of the day.

Yellow Submarine said...

Video of the big Donald Trump rally earlier today in West Virginia, courtesy of one of the commenters over at SNAFU. Check out the introductory speaker, a charismatic African-American, who speaks from 4:27 to 16:40. This guy was really fired up and so was the crowd. I think Trump is going to get a lot more minority votes then most people think.

Can anyone honestly imagine Hillary Clinton inspiring the kind of enthusiasm we can see in this video or at Bernie Sanders' rallies?

At the Democratic caucuses in the town where I live, the local Democratic activists were overwhelmingly in favor of Sanders and there was a huge turnout and enthusiastic turnout of younger voters in favor of Bernie. But guess who got most of the delegates from the state where I live when all was said and done? It's one of the more grotesque ironies of our time that the Democratic Party is considerably less democratic than the Republican Party.

As was pointed out in the discussion thread for last weeks post, Hillary has had to resort to hiring paid trolls to counter the thousands of enthusiastic Trump and Bernie supporters on the Web. There are an awful lot of people in America, from many different races and backgrounds, who are sick and tired of being screwed over by a senile elite exemplified by Hillary.

I have been reading Toynbee and re-reading Spengler lately. I don't think we are far along enough in the cycle for full-blown Caesarism, but I think there is a good chance we are looking at the American equivalent of Marius when I watch that video...

PS - Speaking of Hillary, there are reports there may be an indictment coming soon over the email server scandal and allegations she mishandled top secret information. Even if she manages to avoid being indicted, there are likely to be more embarrassing revelations coming out and there are rumors that Republican operatives have thick files full of Clinton scandals they won't release until she gets the nomination.

Ray Wharton said...

The importance of any composite being is limited to the stages it plays on. All those stages being equally finite they are equally related to the infinite. I suppose we may be of great importance to the infinite, in precisely the same way that the decomposition of a comforter leaf is, or the trajectory of a neutrino.

But ignoring the complete distance of the infinite, we still might take interest in what magnitudes of finite stages we occupy. To the scale around ants my work in the garden is like a passing demon. One moment like any other turns, with the swing to a shovel, into a slaughter, an end of all projects and goals that the morning brought. All for no reason, and my sympathy, on those day's I have any, does not recover the hundreds of bodies cast into the cart, and taken... away.

Similarly the joyous union of oxygen and carbon in enthropically preferable conditions in the Canadian woods is to we humans a disaster. The stages are diverse in kind as scale beyond any accounting, and vastly less diverse, yet still diverse beyond accounting, are the stages of the human drama.

Let me put forth the grandest scale I can imagine the human attempt as constituting in the evolutionary history of the Earth. There once was a small animal, it likely lived in a burrow, but we cannot be sure. It had four legs though, a spine, and strangely two kinds of teeth. But what was the really strange thing is that it produced a secretion which its offspring could use as sustenance. There were lots of relatives to this animal which followed the typical route of animal evolution. Thousands to millions of years of wild experimentation followed by extinction. But this little creature, had more children that Abraham! That power to give milk, carried through several species for many millions of years. With out foreknowledge of what was to come far later it could be dismissed as a quirk, a strange feature of an exotic group of animals. But, eventually that power would be tested and found useful enough to be carried into niches of vast difference in form. Though the mammals will go extinct eventually, they were very influential, and defined a tact to the way countless stages would be acted for a very long time. A question, between humans as a typical species and humans as between a God and a Animal. Is anything that we do, anything special to us, that could be as useful, net beneficial, or adaptable, as the power to give milk?

Ahavah said...

Looking back, I don't think that I was reading your blog in its first year or most of the second. I am pretty sure I came by way of Life After The Oil Crash or possibly the Oil Drum. It appears that was sometime late in 2007. I am sure of that because I am 100% positive that you introduced me to Oswald Spengler. I read the abridged translation of Decline of the West over the winter and afterward between working on a series of blog posts that I had hoped to flesh out into a Master's Thesis. The first of these is dated in July of 2008. However, I could not afford to go to grad school and the posts have languished on the side bar of my now neglected blog on economic issues in my community ever since. But I believe I have read nearly every post you wrote since I first found you, though commenting on them comes in fits and starts.

I must say that you helped me be less freaked out in some ways about the whole peak oil issue, but ironically more concerned about the broader economic issues that led me to be interested in peak oil in the first place. It was your idea to try and save some useful old fashioned pre computer era homemaking and small business skills - nobody else gave saving important bits of knowledge and culture any serious thought back then, that I recall. (They still don't, actually.) The prepper scene never appealed to me. You gave me a middle option between being a crazy hoarder of freeze dried fake food and a just as crazy despair induced dissipated hedonism. IIRC, no one else was offering a better way, and I thank you.

It has been extremely difficult to learn to discard black vs white dualiastic thinking, but I have been trying to learn your lessons. And like some others here I grew up with a deep love of star wars, star trek, Battlestar Galactica, lost in space, and other similar shows and movies - and never questioned the myth of progress. Lazarus Long and Podkayne of Mars seemed perfectly doable. Now I realize I should see those stories in a different light, as social and political commentary and not predictions of life in the stars. It was hard letting go.

Hard, too, being completely unable to get my friends, family, and community to take the long descent/emergency seriously. I know now how the prophets felt. It is hard to see the future coming towards you like a freight train when you can't get off the tracks. Meanwhile, the others on the track aren't even trying to get off and can't understand why they should. You can see, hear, and feel the rumblings but they think the light is a good sign.

Lately I have discovered the Well of Galabes, too. It is also full of wisdom and insight. And I also have several of your books...

You have made a real difference in the world, and I hope you keep doing so for as long as you can. There is precious little out there so well written, intelligent, high-level and relevant as your blog and the comments here, and all of us would be worse off without you, wherever we are in the journey back to sanity. Thank you again for all your hard work.

aiastelamonides said...


Congrats, etc!

A certain kind of person likes to say that Christianity is based on the "just world fallacy," that is, they believe in good things only because they have unconsciously taken "the universe is fundamentally good to humans" as an unshakable axiom. Christian belief does sometimes have this element, though more often in my experience it does not, at least not in an outwardly noticeable way. But this Cthulhu business suggests a religion based on the JWF in a very different way, one that gives it a place analogous to that of the fleshy desires in Christianity. It would be seen as humanity's besetting flaw, the ruin of naive ethical codes, disruptor of judgments, painful to resist but so very sweetly liberating to overcome. It would also be the sin to succeed Greek hubris and Christian pride as the queen of blasphemies. There is certainly a family resemblance.... I don't know if this sort of thing could catch on, though I personally find it more terrible and beautiful than anything in Christianity. Then again, I'm an atheist with little intuitive understanding of faith, so my ideas on that topic are likely to be way off base. Thoughts?

Ray Wharton said...

@Emmanuel Goldstein

Always thought Forest Gump could use a follow up. The son has the same name as is reported to be clever. In Forrest's generation will all his disabulity he could accomplish anything. With Forrest Jr. a clever man... who I think would be in his late 20's now, can't catch a break, and his well intended father cannot understand what his son is doing wrong.

John Michael Greer said...

Robin, exactly. If the universe as a whole is conscious, which I consider entirely possible, its consciousness of the myriads of galaxies that it contains will likely be about on a level with our consciousness of individual cells in our bodies; its consciousness of stars will be something like our consciousness of individual atoms in our bodies; and its consciousness of the life forms inhabiting a single electron orbiting one atom in one of the cells in its spleen -- well, the math's pretty intuitive at that point.

Don, according to conventional economic theory, the vast torrents of money dumped into the global economy by way of quantitative easing schemes and zero interest rates on credit should have sparked an inflationary boom. Nothing of the sort happened. Why? Because the soaring whole-system costs of energy extraction from resources with lower and lower net energy acts as a tax on all economic activity -- and that's a concept for which there is no room in conventional economics at all. That's the most important example just at the moment.

Fudoshin, granted. I see the delusion of the omnipotence of money as one aspect of a broader issue, which is the flight into abstraction I've discussed in any number of previous posts. Money is an abstract representation of access to real wealth, and it has doubtless never occurred to Turner that that's all it is. When all his money fails to keep him off the barbecue grill, or for that matter the lamppost, the last thought in his mind is likely to be logically equivalent to the famous saying: "I can't be overdrawn, I still have checks left!"

Peter, thank you! I've been reading Lovecraft's less known stories on Mr. Loucks' site for the last couple of years, and he's getting an acknowledgment in the afterword to my Lovecraftian epic fantasy, along with Boyd Pearson, whose Clark Ashton Smith website "The Eldritch Dark" has been just as essential. As I get closer to The Weird of Hali: Providence, I'll certainly be in touch.

Eric, I originally thought the economic crisis would hit harder sooner -- I hadn't yet absorbed just how much resilience is built into the global economy, though I learned a great deal from the 2008-2009 market crash and adjusted my expectations appropriately. I also thought that the impacts of anthropogenic climate change would take longer to arrive -- I figured they'd hit sooner than the official reports claimed, but the rapidity of the Greenland ice sheet meltdown took me by surprise. I was impressed by how short-lived the wave of peak oil denial generated by the fracking bubble turned out to be. The social transformations, though, were about in line with my expectations. All in all, we're pretty much on track.

Hhawhee, well put. Faith in the omnipotence of human reason is the besetting sin of ages of reason, and that's why ages of reason inevitably end with the humiliating failure of human reason to live up to the inflated expectations loaded on it.

Dltrammel, yes, I saw that! The fracking bust is shaping up to be a whopper. I hope that all my readers who got told "Peak oil's a myth, fracking will save us" will take the time to remind the person who said that of the conversation, once the sheer magnitude of the fracking boondoggle becomes impossible to evade.

Mister R., yes, I used to get neoprimitivist true believers here now and again, and you're not the only one who noticed the similarity to the worst sort of campus radical. Congrats on your escape! ;-)

Phil said...

My good Archdruid (ret.),

A few links for later perusal: Clarkhat, formerly of a non-partisan/libertarian law blog, has a intro to neoreaction on his new website: . He does not quite go as much into what neoreaction IS, so much as what is against. Most NRx-ers would point to (link tags not working) as a good starting point, it has helpful links to its history, and philosophical roots (lots of Carlyle). Most of this comes through Mencius Moldbug, the pen name of one Curtis Yarvin.

Yarvin mapped the salary class and wage class to symbolic brahmin and vaisya castes among other things that seem to reflect the tone of the latest few posts.

Trenchantly, Clarkhat, himself an traditional Catholic anarcho-capitalist, has been calling for Civil War 2.0 for about half a year now, mostly because of a mixture of center-periphery issues with Washington DC elites becoming completely separated from the rest of the country, in particular the rust belt, the south, and the midwest.

When I hear ancaps, alt-rights, and my favorite archdruid all say similar things, my hackles are raising. Interesting times indeed!

LewisLucanBooks said...

What they said! :-). Salutations and congratulations on ten years! I can't remember when I started reading the ADR or, where I stumbled across it. I think my awakening came when I lived in S. California, for a short time. And, was caught up in the oil crisis of 1973. The things I saw ... I knew I wanted to get out of there, before things got REALLY bad. So I was open to the message of ADR, when I found it.

I'm not an intellectual, or, a deep thinker. Sometimes, I have to re-read some of the posts. Some of the commenters are beyond my small intellectual gifts. But, the ADR has changed the way I think about things and view things. And, has sometimes made me deeply ashamed of myself. The occasional good dose of shame can lead to profound change. And, has.

I've made good friends, on here. Chris, Cathy McGuire, Tripp. My life is so much richer, knowing these people. The books and podcasts the commenters have lead me to, have value, beyond price.

My life has certainly changed. Through circumstances, it looks like I'm winding up my four years of living in the country, in a rental. Not entirely by my choosing. But it was not time wasted. It was an apprenticeship in collapsing early and avoiding the rush. In comfort, if not style. I may be trembling on the edge of buying my own semi-rural place. Where I can really pull out all the stops and dive deeper into Green Wizardry. We'll see. What happens, happens.

No need to respond to my post. The dam has burst, and we don't want "our" Arch Druid (ret.) to go under. Lew

James M. Jensen II said...


Your reply to Robin raises an interesting question: if the universe as a whole is conscious, what would it be conscious of?

John Michael Greer said...

Temporaryreality, I don't know what happened to Danby, and that troubles me. We met in high school, and were intermittently in contact thereafter. He posted here fairly regularly for a while, and then -- silence. I hope he's okay.

Adrian, certainly that analysis fits my experience. Dunno why it is that Quakers and Druids keep on talking about the same things in the same way, but there it is...;-)

Tidlösa, that'd be The Four Industrial Revolutions from April of 2014, one of the core posts in a still incomplete sequence on retro technology as the basis for a near-term ecotechnic society. I need to put those posts together and start filling in the blanks. As for the level-headedness, that's just me -- more precisely, it's what resulted from the somewhat odd combination of decades of training as an operative mage and an equally long interest in philosophy and the sciences. If the scientific community wasn't so completely fixated in its inherited jihad against magic, the fusion of the methods of the sciences with the disciplined subjectivity and reflective awareness found in the best occult schools could give rise to impressively powerful systems of mind- and personality-training.

Pantagruel7, I don't object to "impactful" for its Orwellian qualities as much as for its sheer unadulterated ugliness. The English language has so many clearer and more attractive ways to say the same thing!

Jon, how were you using the dice to get those? Aspiring internet diviners want to know.

WB Jorgensen, oh, I know. That's why I noted the limits to that advice. As for your request, I've already written a few things about the impact that evolution has had on our minds -- here's one example -- but there's much more to be said about the implications that unfold from accepting the idea that we have evolved from other organisms and share so much of what makes us ourselves with those other organisms. So I'll definitely consider it.

Ezra, possibly so, but I'm thinking here of that recent researcher -- I've misplaced his name -- who took the Prigogine equations that show that energy flow through an open system increases the complexity of that system, and showed that this means that life has a very high probability of emerging naturally whenever you have a chemically complex environment with energy flowing through it, such as the surface of a planet with some kind of liquid on it. One way or another, I actually hope we never find out; there's a value to having some questions left permanently unanswered as an invitation to wonder.

John Michael Greer said...

Vicky, interesting. If I understand you correctly, you're suggesting that evolution would tend to produce the assumption of a benevolent cosmos whether or not the cosmos displays any actual benevolence or not. For what it's worth, Lovecraft would have agreed with that -- he liked to suggest that if humanity was capable of perceiving the truth about the universe, we'd all go gaga and kill ourselves. For my part, though, I don't find benevolence a necessary part of the sacred -- when Rudolf Otto described the sacred as mysterium tremendum et fascinans, "the terrifying and fascinating mystery," he gave me a definition that I've always found pretty much sufficient.

Carolyn, let me turn that back around at you. Can you think of a way in which you, personally, can help preserve safe and effective birth control as an option for the deindustrial future? If not -- and I'd encourage you to consider doing some research on that -- then you might see what you can do about establishing a D&D archive or the like. (Maybe it's just me, but I always liked the original, non-Advanced D&D, in the staplebound booklets. Those would be small enough to engrave on bronze tablets or something.) ;-)

Justin, if a respectable institution wanted to interview me, I'd be perfectly willing -- I see no reason to be prejudiced against mere respectability! ;-) As for the changes in the Alt-Right, could you point me to some sources? As I noted above, I haven't kept up with that movement to the extent I probably should have.

Yellow Submarine, why, yes -- I talked at some length about the latter two in this post among others. We may be a lot closer than most people realize to major coastal flooding of the kind that causes cities to be abandoned. And of course, if you'd like to talk of cities being abandoned, yes, Fort McMurray is a good poster child. I really should do a post on the nature of ecological blowback soon.

Katelan, delighted to hear it, and thank you! I'll check it out.

Mister R., yes, I remember that. The thing is, I'm in favor of unions, and of any form of voluntary organization that allows people to defend their own interests against the powerful. The trouble with American unions isn't that they exist, it's that they've been allowed to become corrupt vassals of the political establishment, and a significant number of them are too busy profiteering to do the job they were originally created to do.

Justin, grand projects are a very common phenomenon of a certain stage in the lifespan of every society. Then that phase passes, and so do the conditions that allow grand projects to be done. One of the reasons I find history comforting is that it reminds us that things like this are nobody's fault, any more than it's anyone's fault when hair turns gray.

Kevin, interesting. I haven't read that Brin book yet -- I find a lot of his more recent stuff very preachy -- but I'll consider it.

EntropicDoom, if my blog just convinces a certain number of people to get rid of their televisions, it will have done immense good. I really do think that the habit of staring at little colored pictures on glass screens, instead of having a life, has a massive role in making our problems more intractable than they would otherwise be.

John Michael Greer said...

Onething, I'm not suggesting that the greatest of powers disparage us; I'm suggesting that they don't notice us, any more than we notice dust mites on our skin. Nor am I saying that the world is filthy rags, or any such silliness -- I find that sort of cant just as inappropriate as you do. My take is simply that the universe as a whole, and "the highest circle of spiralling powers" that governs it, are concerned with things on their own scale -- the destiny of galaxy clusters, or whatever vast beings look like galaxy clusters to our very limited perception. There are other powers, much closer to our place in the cosmos, that we can relate to -- those are the gods and goddesses that people encounter in states of religious experience, and interact in other ways at other times. Some of them, to judge by the experiences of their worshippers, are benevolent; others aren't -- there are powers of wrath and stern justice, for example.

And the world, far from being "filthy rags," is stunningly beautiful. It's not particularly merciful or caring -- a planet on which every single living thing survives by eating the corpses of other living things is not going to be one big warm bundle of benevolence -- but beautiful, yes.

But that's my religion; your mileage may vary.

Dennis, good. This is what I was talking about when I spoke of the transition to a salvage economy. You can't support an industrial society on salvaged solar panels, but you can provide important economic and practical benefits to deindustrial communities with them, and that's worth pursuing on its own account.

Yellow Submarine, if the Dems nominate Clinton, it's entirely possible that the Democratic Party will go the way of the Whigs over the following decade or so -- so many people who normally vote Democrat are sick of business as usual, and of course that's all Clinton has to offer. I'm still hoping that Sanders can force a brokered convention, and the fact (and I think this is a fact) that he can beat Trump, and she can't, convinces enough delegates to swing his way to give him the nomination. A Sanders vs. Trump race, with the self-proclaimed elite left on the sidelines, would be choice! But I don't expect that; I expect Clinton to get the nomination by whatever combination of hooks and crooks are required, and then to go down to a historic defeat in the general election.

Ray, I like it! To my mind, this is exactly the sort of perspective that's demanded by the Cthulhucene -- an awareness of humanity as one species among many, alive at one not particularly important moment of the Earth's long history, dependent on the biosphere and thus with every possible incentive to keep it alive and healthy.

Aias, good. To my mind, the lesson of the Cthulhucene is precisely that it requires the recognition that the universe is in fact just -- that is, that it measures everything according to its proper importance, and doesn't assign one particular species of social primates on one little dust-mote of a world circling a nondescript sun toward one side of an undistinguished galaxy a fantastically inflated and thus wildly unjust and unfair importance! The idea that an overdeveloped sense of entitlement might come to be recognized as humanity's core failing, to be overcome through spiritual discipline, makes a great deal of intuitive sense to me -- but I'll have to brood over the concept for a while.

Phil, thanks for the links! I'll follow those up.

James, the universe would be conscious of itself, of course, rather the way you are in a state of meditation.

Mikep said...

W B Jorgenson, thanks for the advice re space travel but as I said I don't find that people round 'yer'bouts get exercised by space, maybe I just move in the wrong circles. However,if you are of a contrarian mindset you can have great fun debunking the good old "Nuclear Fusion Illusion". JMG has mentioned this more than once on this blog and it is thanks to him that I first got to understand the nature of the illusion. It goes like this, the fusion advocate points to the sun and says something along the lines of; Hot ain't it! If we could just capture a tiny little bit of that highly energetic process down here on Earth then all our energy problems would be good and solved for all time! After a small fusion reactor close by is equal to a large fusion reactor a long way off. The key to understanding that this is in fact an illusion is to get your head around the importance of the changing ratio of the surface area to the volume of a sphere as its scale increases. You can easily google the numbers that demonstrate that the nuclear processes taking place in the heart of the sun are anything but highly energetic. Of course at this point the fusion advocate will come back with something like, "What about the hydrogen bomb?" "That's fusion and pretty bloody energetic too!" At this point you will have to wing it a bit with something along the lines of.."Fusion you say?" "I had always understood that the fusion of deuterium and tritium was largely to generate an additional neutron flux which accelerates the fission of the bomb's plutonium jacket, which generates further fusion and more neutrons, more fission and so on, thus neatly getting around the self limiting nature imposed by the critical mass of plutonium or uranium in a purely fission bomb." However, if you know different, I'd love to see your numbers as I'm much too scared to google such a highly classified topic. Good luck and have fun.

patriciaormsby said...

JMG, I am really glad to have links to your some most popular essays here, many of which I missed before started following your blog. It was Rice Farmer who first brought you to my attention. The only reason I didn't stick around at that time was I thought the topic that day was a one-off thing, and then you'd go back to Druidism, and I was just too busy. Quin Arbeitman, who has joined me in the annual Shinto training course, informed me that you were still really doing a lot with collapse preparedness. After that I haven't strayed. BTW, congratulations!!! You amaze me.

@ W.B. Jorgenson: I always attack 'em right back, and the Bioninitiative report is just one of a multitude of sources to keep you supplied with ammo-blammo. But I went through the initial stages of withdrawal from the techno-nightmare nearly two decades ago, and tend to forget what it was like to cross yet another good old friend off the list. I still field snide remarks from relatives, who are stuck with me and vice versa. I just brush it off. Other than that, my friends are people who accept me the way I am, and switch the blasted phone off, or at least keep it at a fair distance or in "airplane mode." The Arch Druid Report is a nice community full of people who sympathize with your point of view. Finding friends in your area is also important, but this bog is a big help in the meantime.

Just keep in mind that this is the fate of people who have stepped away from the milling crowd and faced new realities ahead of their time. Be brave! I'm cheering for you.

Cherokee Organics said...


Congratulations and you have achieved a truly remarkable body of work. Respect.

I'm not afraid of hard work. It is the work that I haven't done, that actually needs doing, that I fear. ;-)! And wow, do we need to roll our sleeves up and get into it as a society, or what? But of course, such sentiments are unfashionable and I'm truly grateful that you take the time to talk about them.

Hey, I burned much midnight oil over the past few nights re-wiring the battery room so as to be able to install a few more solar photo voltaic panels over the next few weeks. Unfortunately, entropy reduces the panels output as the years progress, and so a person needs far more generating potential than they ever require so as to account for this. I posed a thoughtful question to the recent Green Wizards meet up group which was: How comfortable would people here be if the government commenced constructing a new brown coal (which is the worst of the worst) generator plant? It was a thought provoking question because I know too well that even those monsters can only operate for so long and many have gone on well beyond their original life spans with no sign of replacements.

That is interesting to hear how your blog posts create themselves via the medium of yourself. Interesting, and perhaps also speculation for your other blog. In case you are interested I tend to tell a story and then wrap the weekly activities around that story. Where those stories originate, I can guess, but mostly they pop into my head at unlikely moments. Stories tend to need to be told. And you are most certainly telling a massive and complex story - which unfolds as it should. It is a pleasure to be a part of that and also to feed into the story (if at all possible).

Your occasional mention of Ashland led me to look into the culture there a bit deeper in the past and it reminded me of the horrid experiences (yes, that is twice which is too much for one lifetime) I incurred at the town of Nimbin down here which is not dissimilar culturally. I unfortunately could peer through the facade and it annoyed me no end and no locals seemed to be able to see just how sad the local hippy museum was... Grump, grump, grump! Hehe!

It is interesting that you wrote about the Hubbert Curve and the Peak Oil scene and social movements. Since I became aware of the inverted bell shaped curve, I've often noted how it maps many a social trajectory beautifully. In fact the term: Jumping the shark which I relayed to you its origins with the TV show Happy Days is very apt. The funny thing is that I don't believe that it has to be the case, and I did applaud your decision to step down as the head of the AODA. That was a rare thing to do, and not many people are capable of that recognition. Don't get a big head or anything, but I salute you!


Cherokee Organics said...

Hey, I don't know whether it is me or you, but I am glad that the death of the internet essay made it into the top 10! Hehe! Did I just mention again that the Internet one day may have to pay for itself? No way! Heresy!!! By the way, we've passed Peak Apple and I noticed the other day that YouTube which is owned by Google now has more advertisements and some of the footage has to be paid for before playing... The worm has turned!!!! Hehe!

Yes, well guidance is sometimes to be mediated, is it not?

What this rambling business? Now that you mention it, apart from the titles there does seem to be a lack of snappy sound bites in your writing. Hehe! I'd be very disturbed to read snappy sound bites in your writing. I'd actually believe that someone had hacked your blogger account (you can take backups by the way).

Unfortunately, your mention of the Cthulucene has left me with a mental image of the descendants of rats talking amongst themselves in the far distant future: "Yes, back in the Cthulucene, our descendants appeared to be small furry creatures that survived the planet wide species die off by sheer cunning. Pass me the cheese, will you". Sorry, I digress.

For what it is worth, space seems like a rather uninviting place for a human. Just sayin...

Oh, that reminds me, a couple of Mormons were lurking around the area today, and unfortunately, I was way too busy and had to make a trip down to the tip shop instead. I love the tip shop - it is awesome. And unfortunately I missed their visit, otherwise I would have enjoyed my conversation with them about how they reconciled themselves to their ostentatious display of wealth and Jesus's teachings. They were driving a very expensive vehicle which seems very weird, given what they were trying to achieve. Maybe the underlying message was, join us and you can have access to this expensive vehicle and also the funky same, same suits. What's with those suits anyway? It was really hot here today, but of course they may not have noticed that global warming seems to be accelerating. Am I going into some sort of demonic pit for saying that above stuff? ;-)!

It's been a fun ride, that's for sure! As they say down here: Keep up the good work, mate!



shrama said...

Dear JMG,

My heartiest congratulations to you on completing 10 years of superlative writing. Although I can't say that I have read all of your blog entries I have read most of them starting from the very beginning.

I came to your blog via the oil drum and remember vividly the day I clicked on a link from a post by Leanan (bless her) to your blog post on Fermi's paradox. That was the very first time I read this blog and it came as a breath of fresh air. After that over the years you have both challenged and affirmed so many of my beliefs that I have come to see you a veritable guru – a guru on the other side of the planet whom I have never met and probably will never meet.

In my youth I did hold the covert belief that the universe owes me something. The hard knocks of life knocked those silly ideas from me. In India, for complex reasons having to do with our colonial past, misinterpreting every bit of Indian philosophy to insist that somehow we Indians are the darlings of the universe seems to be the raging fashion these days. Its end will probably be a lot worse than the end of America's delusions.

It was around the time that I was coming around to the idea of an indifferent universe that I discovered your blog and immediately saw in you a kindred spirit and for which I can only express immense gratitude to the gods that caused our paths to cross in the otherwise nothingness of cyberspace.

Once again my best wishes to you and may you continue blogging till the last day of the internet.

Sherril Bowman said...

Your response to Justin..."One of the reasons I find history comforting is that it reminds us that things like this are nobody's fault, any more than it's anyone's fault when hair turns gray. "
This is (after much angst) how i finally made peace with what's going on and i don't know if i would have gotten there without your writings. So i add my deep thanks to all the others.

Daniel Najib said...

Happy anniversary, Mr. Greer! I didn't stumble across your blog until 2012. Then, I was still an atheist just getting out of the 'doom and gloom' phase of belief that society would inexorably collapse overnight someday soon. A friend pointed me towards your blog and the post series on "How it can happen". Sad to say, I had no idea what a druid was, let alone an archdruid (embarrassingly, I never bothered to Google it) until I started reading your other blog and decided to get into ritual magic and polytheism (late 2014-15). It's been quite a ride these past few years and I eagerly look forward every Wednesday evening now to your next post, so I just want to say, thank you for everything you've written.

Twilight said...

It has indeed been an interesting journey, although I was not there for the very beginning of the ADR. I discovered peak oil in 2005 with TOD, which was a rediscovery of the limits to growth I studied in 1981. After a few years as the span of time and scope of impacts became more clear, I found ADR and helpful concepts like the distinction between problems to be solved and predicaments to be dealt with.

From there began an ongoing adventure of learning, and many great changes for me (in accordance with will) in terms of how I perceive the nature of ourselves and our universe. The extremely well presented ideas of the Archdruid have been a wonderful help along the way – thank you!

These days I don’t get too worked up about Peak oil. It’s just an obvious reality – one impact among the interconnected many that the masses go out of their way not to understand, such as the burning of Fort McMurray.

Nestorian said...

The following comment is in the first instance directed to Aiestalamondes, but also to other commenters on this blog in general, including our host:

Christianity properly understood regards death as an intrinsic evil, and as an unnatural intrusion upon the primordial creation.

Analogously, one may extend that principle to any form of earthly suffering or deprivation short of death. All of it represents an unnatural intrusion upon creation, from the Judeo-Christian standpoint.

The theological and metaphysical function of Christ's death on the cross is that of gaining a decisive victory over death, understood in the sense sketched above.

What makes the view that tends to prevail among the commenters on this blog decisively different is that there is an acceptance of suffering, decay, and death as part of the natural order of things. This implies the view that suffering, decay, and death are as intrinsically good as the cosmos of which they seem to be a seamlessly integrated component.

It is precisely that premise - i.e., that decay, suffering, and death are as intrinsically good as the cosmos itself of which they are a part - that the Christian sensibility decisively rejects.

For me, writing as a traditional Christian of the specifically Nestorian variety, this crucial point of difference raises interesting questions in the psychology of religious belief. (Note here that I agree with our host in considering atheism to be a particular form of religious belief, as it is not scientifically demonstrable; as such, the origin of a belief in atheism is as amenable to being explicable in psychological terms as is the belief in Traditional Christianity.)

Specifically, I myself, as a Christian, cannot conceive how the conviction that suffering, decay, and death can possibly constitute the basis for anything other than ultimate despair.

But I have had to learn from this blog that it is at least psychologically possible for persons who accept suffering, decay, and death as part of the natural order of things - and thus intrinsically good - at one and the same time to maintain a posture of ultimate hope in the face of this conviction.

blue sun said...

Congratulations JMG! We should all admire your discipline in not only releasing an essay every week, and of always unique and high quality at that, but also in responding individually to so many readers' comments! Admirable!

I remember how I first came to your blog through a review of The Long Descent on Energy Bulletin. I think it was the summer of 2008. It's been a great ride. Here's to another ten years!

David said...


I'm a bit late to the party this week, but I'd like to add my thanks to those of the other readers. You have been instrumental in the development of my understanding of this world, its dynamics, and my role therein. I stumbled across TADR with the first installment of "How It Could Happen," which had been reposted on, and I've been hooked ever since. Among other things, you have helped me progress through the stages of understanding/grief with respect to our present situation -- that the system cannot be saved, nor should it necessarily, and that our present role is one of preservation for the coming winter so that our (far) descendants will be able to have something of our better accomplishments when spring does come again.

Totally OT, but I had a crazy thought this morning at breakfast which seems less and less crazy the more I consider it. The chatter re Trump is now all about his running mate selection and how he isn't going to find anyone who will help him in any way. What if he had a young, smart, striking, successful businesswoman on the ticket? One word -- Ivanka. It's just the sort of thing he would do. And it brings to mind the (continued) transition from democratic to dynastic rule (Meriga, for example). Out there, I know, but somehow it seems plausible...

Thank you again for your wisdom and your insights. Please keep writing.

Steve Welsh said...

Oh wow JMG! That is one of your best posts ever. You know, when I first discovered your blog, quite by chance whilst doing a random search for "It's the end of the world as we know it" which led me to the concept of Peak oil and to your Archdruid Report I went back and read right through your archives - every word (at the expense of my erstwhile employers in higher education).

I have what I like to think of as my three wise men that are "Must Read" every week - Kunstler, Orlov and yourself. All good, but I hold you in esteem head and shoulders above the other two.

In the meantime, life here in Hungary continues its leisurely course and I must go and feed my pigeons and check on my goats :)

Myriad said...

Allow me to add my appreciation and congratulations to our Archdruid Emeritus, John Michael Greer.

I don't think I've ever told the story of how I found this blog, five years ago. A new member came to the skeptics' form I was (and still am) active on in late 2011, talking about Peak Oil and the questionable future of the Internet. For some reason, Peak Oil had never been much in discussion there, in contrast to 9/11 Truth that had had so much discussion that a separate sub forum was created just for that topic. (I later speculated why, in this post, which I present partly as a confession of sorts, but please keep in mind that my then assessment of both scenes is now four years out of date, though I can see in it some of my present feelings and attitudes beginning to take shape there.)

In the course of the discussion, the new arrival described many of the Archrduid's ideas. Unfortunately, that individual also mixed in a hefty dose of his or her own ideas regarding the need to dispose of the "useless and burdensome" members of society (like my intellectually disabled twin brother, perhaps?) and the need for racial purity. The poster didn't directly attribute those concepts to Mr. Greer (I read back and re-checked later), but wasn't so careful about clearly distinguishing them either. As a result, I'm afraid that during the discussion, I made my own share of snarky dismissive comments, not about Mr. Greer personally whom I didn't know, but about things like "crazy Archdruids" in general.

But by the end of that discussion a few days later, I had read a few dozen ADR posts and their comment threads, and had begun to defend JMG and the qualities and value of this blog in the skeptical community, something I've continued to do.

The fundamental difficulty getting JMG's ideas accepted among secular skeptics appears to stem from the differences between perception and logical reasoning as mechanisms of cognition. Perception is more computationally powerful (the reason it's much easer to program a computer to play chess than to recognize the chess board in an image of a room) but less reliable (according to skeptics, at least). I find ongoing and impending slow collapse impossible to prove beyond reasonable doubt by a logical process, for similar reasons that it's difficult to prove beyond reasonable doubt that a tree in a photograph is really a tree, rather than some other upright elongated brownish object surrounded by a large number of small green objects. The perception-based arguments, such as historical analogues, abstract models, and current trends, don't carry as much weight among that community. I've had to address the problem from the roots, so to speak, by trying to promote a deeper understanding of narrative, myth, and the actual practices and purposes of religion instead of the red herring of "belief" that skeptics including myself (I still practice that discipline) are pre-disposed to want to focus on. Signs of success in that effort have been subtle but, I think, promising.

Spanning two worlds does stretch one out, in both uncomfortable and rewarding ways.

Mister Roboto said...

No need to reply to this if this comment section is getting too cumbersome. I just thought I would remark on what brought me to the realizations that propelled me towards such socially heretical notions as neoprimitivism and, eventually, this blog. What did it for me was the invasion of Iraq in 2003. By the standards with which I had always measured what was politically acceptable and expected and what was not, the invasion of Iraq felt like the dumbest freaking thing we could do short of launching our ICBMs at Russia or China! So being the inquisitive big android I am, of course I turned to the Internet for answers about what might be going on to make so many of my fellow citizens willing to go along with such utter madness.

Eric S. said...

“If the Dems nominate Clinton, it's entirely possible that the Democratic Party will go the way of the Whigs over the following decade or so, so many people who normally vote Democrat are sick of business as usual, and of course that's all Clinton has to offer. I'm still hoping that Sanders can force a brokered convention, and the fact (and I think this is a fact) that he can beat Trump, and she can't, convinces enough delegates to swing his way to give him the nomination. A Sanders vs. Trump race, with the self-proclaimed elite left on the sidelines, would be choice! But I don't expect that; I expect Clinton to get the nomination by whatever combination of hooks and crooks are required, and then to go down to a historic defeat in the general election."

There seem to be shifts on all sides of the aisle, I know true blue progressive democrat friends who are seriously considering Trump, old fashioned Republican friends who are seriously considering Clinton but fighting to get Bernie through because they find him preferable. And I’ve seen more people rushing towards the third parties than I’ve ever seen. So there are lines being redrawn all over the place. I see the Republican party at this particular time as being a lot more vulnerable, though, just because of the fact that Bernie’s quite willing to step in line behind Clinton, and the “vote blue no matter who” movement is attempting to bully people into voting Clinton as part of a consolidated bipartisan seems to be going fairly strong, forming a bipartisan anti-Trump movement. I think the democratic party may be heading towards this sort of schism soon if things continue along their present path, but right now it seems to be at least pretending to hold together. Meanwhile, there’s a huge faction of Republican leaders who are absolutely refusing to support Trump even though he’s now the nominee. We may wind up with something very similar to the election of 1912. In the long run, if anything like the Republic as it stands prevails, we might wind up going through a few decades with multiple major political parties who actually hold congressional seats and are taken seriously. Ultimately, though, it’s looking like we may be Spain in the early 1930s... where a series of messy elections and riots pushed the country into a decade of civil war pitting anarchists, socialists, nationalists, and republicans against each other followed by 35 years of the Falange.

Hubertus Hauger said...

While I am a baptised Christian, I had my most important revelation with my Old Testament biblical scholar. I entered the theological studies, with having a leftward thinking. He made me see, that a very relevant element of the ancient Hebrews was, coming together and consciously grouping in solidarity. So solidarity was one important move for them. When these early pastorals, nomads and whatever tribesmen were roaming around, they experienced deep worries and emergency’s situations and got dragged out of it. Less due to their own effort, but rather something one could not get hold of. Resurrection by a shapeless force.
Both ideas struck me. By realizing, that I shared experiences with forefathers from ancient times, I recognize, how connected I was and that my doubtful contemporary form of faith was the connection-point I better remain with, than leave it behind. I feel that relationship with everyone and everything.
Even, as one of the narrative if the bible, very much at the beginning shows Abel and Cain, where a tight connection is easily cracked. In this contradiction between connection and separation life is stretched. As Religion gives that contradiction a framework, in order for us humans, to cope with. So we may be afraid, but future can come!

Clay Dennis said...


An event, unfolding right now,that might make one question the idea that the cosmos is totaly indifferent to humans is the massive fires now engulfing Fort Mcmurry in Canada. I don't want to make light of the human tradgedy or damage to the forests and native lands but it does seem like it is more than coincidence that a fire of biblical proportions is wiping out a small city whose sole purpose was to ravage the land and forests of northern canada to produce sticky black goo in hopes of keeping industrial civilization going a few more years. Among the other wounds to the earth, the tar sands are probably the most concentrated and significant in such a short time. I myself am more partial to mother nature or Gaia, and this looks to me like she is pissed. Then again, perhaps this is not the handiwork of a malevolent god, but just the banquet of consequences we have brought upon ourselves.

Ben Johnson said...

Congrats on the 10 years! I've been reading regularly since about 2010, right around the time the regular peak oil blogoscene started to come apart.
Speaking of the universe not caring about the fate of humanity; I do find it a little ironic that Fort McMurray, which makes it's living pushing the climate out of normal by strip mining tar sands, is right now burning to the ground because they had a very warm, dry winter on the Canadian plains this year...
I'm not anthropomorphizing the climate, and I'm not taking joy in the suffering of others. Its just darkly amusing when the broken clock gets the time right.

Jon from Virginia said...

You ask, "Jon, how were you using the dice to get those? Aspiring internet diviners want to know." The Archdruid Report as divination? Ok, with my current job winding down, today, should I concentrate more on my next job or my next business?
We look on the right side and see that complete years date from 2006 to 2015, so we roll the dice.

6, so 2011-2015 ,using the normal D&D d6 as coin flip convention, odds vs evens, with odds being first half.
4, so 2014, click on triangle by 2014 to bring the months up, and roll
6, so 2nd half of year
5, so 5 + 6 gives November
5, roll again, 4, gives
Dark Age America: The End of the Market Economy
since we're doing divination instead of seeking sanity,
I asked a question first
1 or 2 seek answers in links or comments, 3-6 in text
5, so seek answer in text

This is the one that features Higg son of Snell and an introduction to how feudalism actually works, I so interpret the answer as "wrong question"-but what do you expect when you ask a binary question to the Archdruids tool? Unless it says I should try for the most useless possible intermediary position, or give an oath to my Better and seek oaths from my Inferiors.

So I washed the dishes upstairs and the clothes downstairs to give my subconscious time to come up with a better question. What it came up with is, "What intermediaries are useful or necessary where and when I am?"

4 is even, gives us 2011 to 2015 again
1 gives us 2011
3 is odd so first half of year
4 gives us April
5 is roll again
3 gives us "Alternatives to Nihilism, Part One: A Dog Named Boo"
5 says seek answers in the text. (1 or 2 would mean links or comments)

Mmmmmm. I could use some help interpreting this one

What I expected, if I expected any response at all, was someone to ask how I knew what articles came up the most.

That one I can answer. The browser history is just a text file, so I made a copy and built a pipe that
First, extracted text with the string "archdruid" in it
then sorted the strings, and
then use the dup tool, ie, turn bill, bill, bill into 3, bill
and then sort by number
and used my eyeball to look for odd things, ie, the Hillary post would have six weeks of checking for comments, so I discarded that.

There should be simpler modern tools, but being an eldergeek I go with what I know.

Still need some help on that last divination, though. I think this one requires a whole nap for my subconscious to answer.

Martin B said...

Congratulations on ten years of thoughtful commentary on this crazy world. I found you via The Oil Drum in 2008, although it was years before I first made a comment.

As someone who read and was influenced by The Limits to Growth and Small is Beautiful, I find your viewpoint confirmatory rather than revelatory. But I appreciate the depth of scholarship and clear thought you bring to a subject I believed in but never paid close attention to.

It's also inspired me to take action in a small way. Yesterday I made three jars of sauerkraut, this morning I hand-washed and line-dried my laundry, this afternoon I baked sourdough bread and checked my tomato and spinach plants. I now realize that being self-sufficient in food is a pipe-dream. Things only grow when they want to, and they grow so damned slowly.

I have dropped a little something in the tip jar for your anniversary. Don't get excited -- it will clear my conscience about using the product of your labor without paying, but hardly boost your finances.

Regarding the Cthulhucene: Hmf! Every day is bacteria day, and has been for four billion years since they arrived on a wandering comet. They rule the earth, including those funny two-legged latecomers who have given them rides to visit their cousins on Mars and wave to their buddies on Pluto on their way to the Oort cloud.

But meditating on Cthulhu brought a chilling thought: something as remorseless and indifferent as Cthulhu is debt. It never rests, it never sleeps, it doesn't care if you can pay or not, it must have its due or squeeze you even harder.

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