The new trailer for Star Wars VII came out just yesterday and it’s racked up more than 30 million views already. Not bad eh?

Here it is for good measure.

I used to really, really love Star Wars. It was about the same time I really, really loved Harry Potter and Pokemon, give or take a few years. Today, as a more or less adult man, in the same way I will still enjoy but find it difficult to really get into Harry Potter and Pokemon for prolonged periods of time—even for nostalgia’s sake—,  I cannot really get Star Wars the same way I used to anymore. It feels comfortable, it feels familiar and easy, but comfortable and familiar is not necessarily what I need or want. Of course I’ll enjoy the movies anytime (I had a blast re-watching A New Hope on VHS a couple of months back—seriously, give let’s VHS a chance— and listening to Verily, A New Hope immediately thereafter) and I’m sure that the SW fan lying dormant somewhere inside of me just waiting to be Awakened will duly do so two months from now, hand-in-hand with the rest of geekkind and the very Force itself, apparently. That much is a given.

But sometimes I do wonder what the world would look like without Star Wars. There, I said it.

Jodorowsky’s Dune. Here’s a link to the full movie. I can’t recommend it enough. Watched it on the train from Belgrade to Thessaloniki. The thumbnail with ole Alejandro sticking his tongue out doesn’t do it justice—or maybe it does. Depends on you.

Imagine a world where there was no Star Wars yet, no original sci-fi blockbuster. Imagine a world where Moebius, Pink Floyd, H.R. Geiger, Salvador Dalí, Mick Jagger, Orson Welles and others  had all been gathered together by pioneering film-maker Alejandro Jodorowsky with the ambition to create a film that would change the world. A film to “simulate an LSD trip” and change young minds, redefine what was  possible for cinema at large visually and thematically. A movie that would play the same technical and cultural role Star Wars played for us, just taking us down a completely different road. A more spiritual and artistic road if you will.

Even though it  got as close to production as a film can possibly get without actually making it to the other side, Jodorowsky’s Dune indeed was never shot because of financing troubles: basically nobody in Hollywood possessed balls big enough and the right shade of gold to support the astronomical $15 million budget and all the associated risk. I don’t blame them really.

View over Arrakeen
View over Arrakeen

Think about it though. Star Wars is great, of course, we all love it, but it’s true that as a film it doesn’t exactly have any kind of message, it’s just a superbly made fairy tale with a generic fairy tale good vs evil plot. In fact it has grown into a marketing and merchandising monstrosity, especially in the last five years or so where you can’t throw a rock without having the rock come complete inside a Darth Vader helmet or better yet have it transform inside your hand into an overpriced Lego brick.

What if our Star Wars had been Dune? The documentary above draws all the parallels, ultimately how this spectre of a movie influenced Star Wars itself as well as other significant films in ways we’d never suspect—another reason I would encourage you to watch it. But get this: the universe where Jodorowsky’s Dune was made is the universe where not only Star Wars would have been completely different, if it had been made at all, but also one where we’d never have seen Alien or Blade Runner.

Would you rather stay in our universe with Star Wars, Blade Runner and Alien, or move to one where Jodorowsky’s Dune had been as successful as Star Wars in ours and had spawned all kinds of stories and ever genres we had never thought possible? If you believe that life imitates art, it would definitely be an interesting universe to experience in a broader sense. Would Muslims be seen under a different light? Would psychedelics or ecology play a more important role in pop culture or even make people vaguely more environmentally-conscious? Will we ever be able to traverse parallel universes and find out for ourselves?

If you enjoyed going down this mental path, I would recommend reading Replay, the book that inspired Groundhog Day, but basically spanning the 26 years between 1963 and 1989 instead of just 24 hours. There is a film in it too that gets big instead of Star Wars and changes the world.


Article by Margaret Atwood.

When I read things like this, I tend to regress to my “what’s the point?” mode. But then I realise there’s still so much road to pave for the possibility of a prospect of a better future for those who make it, those who weather the crumble. The article mentions this and focuses on the importance of positive narratives. There’s little we can do to reverse the situation now, so shouting at the top of your lungs “we’re screwed!” won’t help, and anyway, people at large who have elected to ignore reality thus far will go all the way before they reality grabs them by the face and locks stares with them forever. So a positive message, ideas for transition,  building suitable, sustainable communities for preserving the good parts of what we have created seems to me like the only viable, or at the very least productive, idea we can start working on right now.

Cli-fi though… Apart from clitorises, it reminds me of JMG and preparing for the Long Descent, which will have its ups, down, needs, challenges and inevitably present new opportunities. The world will be much more unpredictable, ugly and much easier to get you caught up in misery, but people will still be (mortal) people, such as they always were. Music shall still be played—a mix of AI-produced synths and traditional ethnic music? Dinners will still be cooked—vegetarian meals based on new recipes that take into account the limited variety and availability of ingredients? Laughs will be enjoyed over new jokes or memes—much needed black humour at the sorry state of humankind that couldn’t resist taking its own daydream for the truth?

Life will move forward into the unknown. But this unknown is being shaped right now by the collective force of our species. Each one of us is steering this force as much as a spec of sand can choose, or not choose, to take part in a destructive sandstorm. But a spec of dust in the right place can allow vapour to condense around it and become a drop of rain.

Sandstorms, wind, rain… like different moves in a poi dancer’s repertoire.

I should read more of Atwood’s writings.


The Ages Of Gaia: A Biography Of Our Living EarthThe Ages Of Gaia: A Biography Of Our Living Earth by James E. Lovelock

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It took me many months to finally finish The Ages of Gaia. I suppose it’s because a lot of it was dry in the way scientific writing is dry to people who are not scientists but wish they could understand what scientists say. Daisyworld, for example, is an interesting supposition and thought experiment on how planetary phenomena influence and are influenced by life on a smaller scale — an idea that today seems typically banal but was novel at the time it was brought forward. I understand it intuitively, but the relevant science flew over my head, along with a great part of what else made this book important, I’m sure.

Where Lovelock’s writing was more approachable, I found it profound and enjoyable to read. I particularly enjoy how some of it could easily be divisive among ecologists and could be used to spark discussion, for instance his careful (and in my humble opinion, very balanced) examination of nuclear power, or the suggestion that anything alive is by definition a polluter to its environment, helping some species thrive and others wither away in a delicate eternal dance (or war, if you prefer that analogy). The chapter “The Contemporary Environment” is a must-read for anyone who’s interested in big-picture ecology and where it fits today… or where it used to fit 20 years ago and more. Even his early approach to geoengineering, long before it was an unwelcome reality, is enlightening to read: “So that’s what the scientists were thinking before the big shots took control of global climatic planning.”

Generally speaking, Mr. Lovelock displays great wisdom on a number of different subjects, the discussion of which is seldom characterised by either lucidity or farsightedness (widesightedness?). However, looking at his views today, which show that in his very old age he’s somewhere between trying to be pragmatic and being resigned, they are even more difficult to digest. Has he gone off his rocker, is he paid or is he just that big of a visionary? Google him and you’ll see why I’m asking these questions in particular.

To end with his hypothesis: will Gaia “do” anything (to the limit of her proactiveness) to preserve life on her surface, much in the same way our body would react to anything which could harm the microscopic (our cells and tissues) as well as the macroscopic life — us? Are we really a terminal threat to life on Earth, or could it be that:

“Looked at from the time scale of our own brief lives, environmental change must seem haphazard, even malign. From the long Gaian view, the evolution of the environment is characterized by periods of stasis punctuated by abrupt and sudden change. The environment has never been so uncomfortable as to threaten the extinction of life on Earth, but during those abrupt changes the resident species suffered catastrophe whose scale was such as to make a total nuclear war seem, by comparison, as trivial as is a summer breeze to a hurricane. We are ourselves a product of one such catastrophe, the extinction of many species 65 million years ago. Could it be that we are unwittingly precipitating another punctuation that will alter our environment to suit our successors?”

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The Long Descent: A User's Guide to the End of the Industrial AgeThe Long Descent: A User’s Guide to the End of the Industrial Age by John Michael Greer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I recently read two of Mr. Greer’s books,
The Long Descent
and The Ecotechnic Future: Envisioning a Post-Peak World. This review is for both of them, as they made me feel and think more or less the same things. For your information, both share the same ideological and theoretical ideas, but they were different in some aspects: The Long Descent’s explanation of what the myth of progress is and how and why it came about I enjoyed more, while it was the practical information, tips, guidelines, the rough sketches of the direction humanity should/will be taking in the next few decades or centuries and the different aspects and challenges of life in the future that I thought were exceptionally valuable in The Ecotechnic Future.

Some have expressed the problems of The Long Descent as in this review, especially related to the more practical aspects of recycling old technology. If you disregard these problems, or are willing to accept them for what they are or look into them for alternatives, these are tremendous books that serve as manuals on theoretical, philosophical and practical levels on how to perceive what’s imperceptible for most people in the present, prepare for the future and predict what it might look like and understand history in a different way which would raise plenty of eyebrows.

Nevertheless, Greer’s argument is incredibly solid. He presents the myth/religion of progress, the inevitability and unavoidable reality of the long peak-oik collapse and the fact that any suggested workaround that comes from the same “myth of progress” mental space as void of meaning and practicality, so convincingly, so eloquently, so overwhelmingly… I have few words left to express without exaggeration my level of admiration and approval I can show to this man.

He may be a druid (just adding it here because for some people it’s a minus, for me it’s a plus), he may have chosen to live without a cell phone or never tried playing video games, he may be “anti-science” or “anti-progress” (silly words coming from people who don’t but superficially grasp the meaning of these concepts), but few times have a I read the work of a man more in line with what I understand the true scientific spirit to be and only rarely do I come across the writings of a person who’s done his or her homework so deeply on what he or she’s purportedly against.

I’m serious. This is a challenge for you, if you’re up to it: persuade me that the points raised by these books and Greer’s work are moot. I can tell you from now that if you try you won’t be able to and will most likely resort to some variation of the typical “it will sort itself out/they will figure something out” or “it’s the next generation’s problem”, that are the popular ways of handling the prospect of the decline of industrial civilization today.

Mr. Greer’s work is not for everyone, but in my view it should be: almost every person living today, especially if their age marks them as young, would benefit from experiencing looking at industrial society and civilization through the prism future generations, who will live by scavenging iron off skyscrapers, to give one particularly memorable prediction off these books, will judge us by. It’s quite a revealing, shocking but also strangely rewarding experience.

The matters laid out by The Ecotechnic Future and The Long Descent form a significant part of what has been bothering me lately and will most likely influence my future decisions. For that I’m grateful. Not happy, at least not yet, how can one be happy when he or she has realised the profundity of his or her own uselessness, but grateful nevertheless.

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Not the Future We Ordered: Peak Oil, Psychology, and the Myth of Eternal ProgressNot the Future We Ordered: Peak Oil, Psychology, and the Myth of Eternal Progress by John Michael Greer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Quick read, rich in information, read on Kindle. John Michael Greer is my recent obsession I discovered through Ran Prieur and the links he posts on his blog.

Having been a regular reader of JMG’s blog The Archdruid Report for a few months now, the content and topic of Not the Future We Ordered didn’t come as a surprise. In short, it’s about how progress is our contemporary “civic religion” and myth; what the psychological impact of living through peak oil and its aftermath will look like in the wider population (surprising and fascinating to read) and what people should be doing to build some foundation for the future and for young people to improve their chances of survival in the future, the current situation being what it is. Made my current desire to go find some land somewhere, cultivate it and develop my hardly existent practical skills even stronger.

Overall, if the topic interests you–it absolutely should–but you’re kind of put off by the fact that JMG is, well, an archdruid, take my advice and allow yourself to be surprised by how eloquent, backed up, bulletproof and to the point his argumentation is. I’m giving this book just three stars out of five because a lot of the information I felt I had already come across in the blog (albeit in the book it was more structured) and because it was short! What can I say? I love me some JMG.

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The Future of Seeds and Agriculture

I had the chance to hear Dr. Vandana Shiva and other speakers today at an event about biodiversity which was organised as part of the international fortnight dedicated to seed freedom, conceived also by Vandana Shiva.


Things are looking serious. Apparently the EU is preparing legislation that will prohibit “plant propagating material” (what a sterilised, robotic way to name seeds) being exchanged, sold or distributed, unless it’s in the official lists of permitted genetic material for cultivation. Who’s going to have the privilege of featuring on those lists? Who else but our old friend Monsanto, who will finally turn their notorious GMO seeds into a monopoly. And it’s not as if more people will be fed or that food’s going to be cheaper: imagine having to pay for every (sterile) seed which will sprout a plant that is tailored to need Monsanto fertilizer and pesticide to thrive (that’s extra expenses) and, in the end, produces shit, poisoned food. That’s apparently the standard we should be aiming for as a society.

The EU is claiming that his measure will help ensure this quality through homogeneity – something like having your vegetables made by IKEA. It doesn’t take a genius however to figure out what all this will do to babies such as these:

Oragnic tomatoes in France. Some of the best I've ever eaten. Not good enough for the benevolent EU legislators, apparently.
Oragnic tomatoes in France. Some of the best I’ve ever eaten. Not good enough for the benevolent EU legislators, apparently.
French apple varieties
French apple varieties

In what way could the above benefit the civil society in any way, any way at all?

If we ask cui bono, the anwer to this, to all this, should be depressingly clear. Is this the future we want? A techno-nightmare in which people have to fight for everything they thought that being born in the 20th century had gifted them with, including a decent job and a society that respects inidividual rights?

The only solution I can think of, since most city dwellers wouldn’t be remotely interested in protecting their health, much less their country’s and our only home’s biodiversity, from these monstrous corporations, will be to actively protect the seeds planting them in one’s (urban) garden and eco-communities, at the same time forming protection networks. Peliti (for Greeks) and this campaign for seed sovereignty for a start and some ideas.

More alternatives? A concept I’d heard about and which was talked about today but I regrettably haven’t delved into is Masanobu Fukuoka’s Natural Gardening. This is the main idea: the farmer/cultivator puts lots of different kinds of seeds in little balls of dirt and sows them. The right kinds of seeds only sprout at their own ideal locations, resulting in a balanced garden or farm which has a little bit of everything. This might come to a surprise to many monoculture enthusiasts but this variety actually strengthens the balance of the plant ecology -in the same way a multicultural society creates superior dynamics to a clean one- and yields more food. The cultivator never intervenes in any way, shape or form: no chemicals, no pesticides, nothing. Not even organic means. Really: it’s the agriculture of doing nothing. Sustainability, permaculture, balance. No wonder a Japanese came up with such a practice.

Review: The Rebel Sell: Why the Culture Can’t Be Jammed

The Rebel Sell: Why the Culture Can't Be JammedThe Rebel Sell: Why the Culture Can’t Be Jammed by Joseph Heath

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This one is a toughy. Few other times have I been this undecided on a book before reviewing it.

While reading The Rebel Sell, I was nodding in agreement with many of the arguments Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter posed, such as the proposition that mass consumerism is unavoidable because it is recognition, distinction and status that people find when they consume, and while on the whole if theoretically no-one bought anything all would be well and good, everyone has to keep consuming just because everyone else keeps doing so. It is an instance of the prisoner’s dilemma, a central part of their point, used many times in the book and presented convincingly. It’s an interesting concept applicable to politics, sociology and other topics.

Furthermore, their analysis of taste in art and culture and how it is another form of projecting one’s own social class was also profound, as well as their take on what it means to be cool and how, in their view, that is the very thing that drives consumerism: someone has to be the Joneses, after all, and it is the cool people who become the Joneses, whether they realise/like it or not. There are many other such bits and pieces I found agreeable and fun to read, such as the distinction between dissent and deviance, something with which I can completely relate. If you wouldn’t like a society in which everyone acts a certain way and not just you, it’s probably deviance and not dissent, like the stupid graffiti tags, not paying taxes or avoiding standing in queue. It’s a healthy observation.

But. As convincing as I found the points above, as well as many others which did, at times, make the book a bit chaotic in its argumentation, I couldn’t help but feel the smugness of Mr. Heath and Mr. Potter seep through the pages. They ridicule the counterculture, often repeating themselves and failing to spot the benefits society has gained from it in the 50 years since it first emerged, at least in the form they describe. They cannot find any merit in any kind of fringe social movement. It’s like they’re trying to “get over” their own countercultural past by dissecting it, as if they’re trying to prove how wrong and misled their own mocking peers had been -as my friend who lent me the book accurately commented. It’s like they’re saying “look how grown up and rational we are now! Just try and grow up like we did, you pathetic self-important tree huggers/hipsters/anarchists/punks/Naomi Klein.”

Nevertheless, I realise that the implications of what is presented within the book are vast and indeed might be playing an important political role in the fragmentation of the left and its members trying to “out-radicalise” oneanother. The sad result is that it is a weaker force which is left to oppose the all-consuming capitalist market. When all has to do with individuality and how different everyone can and should be in order to “stick it to The Man”, there can of course be very little emphasis on how people can cooperate and find the similarities and common goals between them. The problem is that the same market which the writers are defending -at least in principle- and its state today, 10 years after the writing of the book, has only made itself horrifyingly stronger against legislative and institutional reform. The writers greatly underestimate the current relationship between corporations and governments and how difficult it is to change from within. The world is practically ruled by corporations and to question that rivals the counterculture in its supposed naiveté.

Comfortably, the above declaration would be enough for the writers to smirk at me and include me in the already-accounted-for group of wannabe radical counterculturals who can’t face reality. The whole point of the book is putting cases such as me, if just a hint less self-conscious, in their rightful place; just another individualistic rebel who lazily rejects all small reforms in favour of a total paradigm shift which will most probably never come, at least not in the form anybody expects. Maybe I am such a naive, sentimental being as to fall right into this argumentative trap, but I feel, like so many others ridiculed in the book, that there just is something wrong at a much deeper level with the world than what can be merely altered through laws and regulations.

Enough. I could go on. As someone whose rough ideology is directly challenged by the book, I feel I have to excuse myself and prove how “they don’t get it” in quite a thorough and wordy manner. I’m not sure I like this reacion of mine but I acknowledge it. Suffice it to say that this shows that the book is at least worth reading. For good or bad, it has intensified my great ideological confusion and has made me think and question myself – a favourite hobby of mine, that last part. I recognise its value and its propositions even if -I suppose I should say ‘thankfully’- at a sentimental level I just can’t agree. I suggest that you read it and see what impact it has on you too.

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Peak Oil solved, but climate will fry: BP report

Important article: after the World Bank and their study “Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must Be Avoided“, apparently even BP acknowledge that climate change is produced by human activity (what a tough one to solve) and that the situation looks grave indeed. So what should we do? Why BURN IT ALL OF COURSE!

This National Geographic special makes predictions on how the world would change for each additional degree of increase in global mean temperature. Watch it. If you dare.

Taste the Waste

Οι δημ(ι)οσιογράφοι έχουν απεργία και στην ΝΕΤ έπαιζε απόψε αυτό. Τα σχόλια σχετικά με το πότε είναι πιο χρήσιμη η τηλεόραση, όταν δουλεύει «κανονικά» ή όχι, δικά σας… Και… μου θυμίζει και κάτι άλλο… γραμμένο στα 19 μου… Δεν θέλω να ζω σε αυτόν τον παράλογο κόσμο!

Ένα ντοκιμαντέρ για την παγκόσμια καταστροφή των τροφίμων.Γιατί πετάμε τόσο πολύ; Πώς μπορούμε να σταματήσουμε αυτό το είδος των αποβλήτων;
Εκπληκτικό αλλά αληθινό: Στη διαδρομή από το αγρόκτημα στο τραπέζι , πάνω από τη μισή ποσότητα των τροφίμων καταλήγει στη χωματερή. Το μεγαλύτερο μέρος τους δηλαδή, προτού καν φθάσει στον καταναλωτή!

Ακούγεται άρρωστα παρανοϊκή μια τέτοια σπατάλη όταν ο πλανήτης έχει φτάσει τα 7 δισεκατομμύρια και μεγάλος μέρος του πληθυσμού υποφέρει από πείνα ή ασθένειες που σχετίζονται με τον υποσιτισμό. Όμως ο τομέας της παραγωγής και διάθεσης των τροφίμων μέσα από μεγάλες αλυσίδες σούπερ μάρκετ, ο οποίος έχει αναπτυχθεί σε παγκόσμιο επίπεδο, ενδέχεται να ζει σε άλλον πλανήτη από τον δικό μας.

Δύσκολα μπορεί να εξηγήσει κανείς το γιατί τα σούπερ μάρκετ αποσύρουν και καταστρέφουν ακόμη και τρόφιμα που δεν έχουν λήξει. Το γιατί οι ημερομηνίες λήξης που βάζουν οι εταιρείες γίνονται όλο και πιο σύντομες, κάνοντάς μας να πιστεύουμε ότι προσέχουμε την υγεία μας κάθε φορά που πετάμε ένα γιαούρτι που υποτίθεται ότι έληξε χτες. Είναι απλώς ένας τρόπος να ενθαρρύνουν την αγορά και όχι τη κατανάλωση της τροφής που αγοράζουμε. Μάρτυρας αυτής της παράλογης κατάστασης είναι οι κάδοι απορριμμάτων των μεγάλων σούπερ μάρκετ όπου τα μισά τρόφιμα είναι απολύτως κατάλληλα για να φαγωθούν.

Και όταν λέμε στα παιδιά μας να μην πετούν το φαγητό τους γιατί υπάρχουν άλλα παιδιά στον κόσμο που πεινάνε, έχουμε τελικά δίκιο. Σύμφωνα με το ντοκιμαντέρ, ακριβώς επειδή πλέον ολόκληρος ο πλανήτης αγοράζει την τροφή του από την ίδια, παγκόσμια αγορά, λιγότερη σπατάλη σημαίνει χαμηλότερες τιμές και άρα περισσότερη τροφή για όλους. Οι υπολογισμοί δείχνουν ότι η τροφή που πετιέται χωρίς να έχει χαλάσει, αρκεί για να θρέψει τους πεινασμένους του πλανήτη τρεις φορές.