Wednesday, March 08, 2017

How Should We Then Live?

The philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer, which we’ve been discussing for several weeks now, isn’t usually approached from the angle by which I’ve been approaching it—that is, as a way to talk about the gap between what we think we know about the world and what we actually know about it. The aspect of his work that usually gets all the publicity is the ethical dimension.

That’s understandable but it’s also unfortunate, because the ethical dimension of Schopenhauer’s philosophy is far and away the weakest part of it. It’s not going too far to say that once he started talking about ethics, Schopenhauer slipped on a banana peel dropped in his path by his own presuppositions, and fell flat on his nose. The banana peel in question is all the more embarrassing in that he spent much of the first half of The World as Will and Representation showing that you can’t make a certain kind of statement without spouting nonsense, and then turned around and based much of the second half on exactly that kind of statement.

Let’s review the basic elements of Schopenhauer’s thinking. First, the only things we can experience are our own representations. There’s probably a real world out there—certainly that hypothesis explains the consistency of our representations with one another, and with those reported by (representations of) other people, with less handwaving than any other theory—but all the data we get from the world out there amounts to a thin trickle of sensory data, which we then assemble into representations of things using a set of prefab templates provided partly by our species’ evolutionary history and partly by habits we picked up in early childhood. How much those representations have to do with what’s actually out there is a really good question that’s probably insoluble in principle.

Second, if we pay attention to our experience, we encounter one thing that isn’t a representation—the will. You don’t experience the will, you encounter its effects, but everything you experience is given its framing and context by the will. Is it “your” will?  The thing you call “yourself” is a representation like any other; explore it using any of at least three toolkits—sustained introspection, logical analysis, and scientific experimentation—and you’ll find that what’s underneath the representation of a single self that chooses and wills is a bundle of blind forces, divergent and usually poorly coordinated, that get in each other’s way, interfere with each other’s actions, and produce the jumbled and self-defeating mess that by and large passes for ordinary human behavior.

Third, the point just made is difficult for us to accept because our culture prefers to think of the universe as consisting of mind and matter—more precisely, active, superior, personal mind and passive, inferior, impersonal matter. Schopenhauer pokes at both of these concepts and finds them wanting. What we call mind, from his perspective, is simply one of the more complex and less robust grades of will—it’s what happens when the will gets sufficiently tangled and bashed about that it picks up the habit of representing a world to itself, so that it can use that as a map to avoid the more obvious sources of pain. Matter is a phantom—an arbitrarily defined “stuff” we use to pretend that our representations really do exist out there in reality.

Fourth, since the only things we encounter when we examine the world are representations, on the one hand, and will in its various modes on the other, we really don’t have any justification for claiming that anything else actually exists. Maybe there are all kinds of other things out there in the cosmos, but if all we actually encounter are will and representations, and a description of the cosmos as representation and will makes sense of everything we meet with in the course of life, why pile up unnecessary hypotheses just because our cultural habits of thought beg for them?

Thus the world Schopenhauer presents to us is the world we encounter—provided that we do in fact pay attention to what we encounter, rather than insisting that our representations are realities and our culturally engrained habits of thought are more real than the things they’re supposed to explain. The difficulty, of course, is that imagining a universe of mind and matter allows us to pretend that our representations are objective realities and that thoughts about things are more real than the things themselves—and both of these dodges are essential to the claim, hammered into the cultural bedrock of contemporary industrial society, that we and we alone know the pure unvarnished truth about things.

From Schopenhauer’s perspective, that’s exactly what none of us can know. We can at best figure out that when this representation appears, that representation will usually follow, and work out formal models—we call these scientific theories—that allow us to predict, more or less, the sequence of representations that appear in certain contexts. We can’t even do that much reliably when things get complex enough; at that point we have to ditch the formal models and just go with narrative patterns, the way I’ve tried to do in discussing the ways that civilizations decline and fall.

Notice that this implies that the more general a statement is, the further removed it is from that thin trickle of sensory data on which the whole world of representations is based, and the more strictly subjective it is. That means, in turn, that any value judgment applied to existence as a whole must be utterly subjective, an expression of the point of view of the person making that judgment, rather than any kind of objective statement about existence itself.

There’s the banana peel on which Schopenhauer slipped, because having set up the vision of existence I’ve just described, he turned around and insisted that existence is objectively awful and the only valid response to it for anyone, anywhere, is to learn to nullify the will to live and, in due time, cease to be.

Is that one possible subjective response to the world in which we find ourselves? Of course, and some people seem to find it satisfying. Mind you, the number of them that actually go out of their way to cease existing is rather noticeably smaller than the number who find such notions pleasing in the abstract. Schopenhauer himself is a helpful example. Having insisted in print that all pleasure is simply a prelude to misery and an ascetic lifestyle ending in extinction is the only meaningful way to live, he proceeded to live to a ripe old age, indulging his taste for fine dining, music, theater, and the more than occasional harlot. I’m not sure how you’d translate “do what I say, not what I do” into classical Greek, but it would have made an appropriate epigraph for The World as Will and Representation.

Now of course a failure to walk one’s talk is far from rare among intellectuals, especially those of ascetic leanings, and the contrast between Schopenhauer’s ideals and his actions doesn’t disprove the value of the more strictly epistemological part of his work. It does, however, point up an obvious contradiction in his thinking. Accept the basic assumptions of his philosophy, after all, and it follows that the value judgments we apply to the representations we encounter are just as much a product of our own minds as the representations themselves; they’re not objective qualities of the things we judge, even though we’re used to treating them that way.

We treat them that way, in turn, because for the last two millennia or so it’s been standard for prophetic religious traditions to treat them that way. By “prophetic religious traditions” I mean those that were founded by individual persons—Gautama the Buddha, Jesus of Nazareth, Muhammad, and so on—or were reshaped in the image of such faiths, the way Judaism was reshaped in the image of the Zoroastrian religion after the Babylonian captivity. (As Raphael Patai pointed out in quite some detail a while back in his book The Hebrew Goddess, Judaism wasn’t monotheistic until the Jews picked up that habit from their Zoroastrian Persian liberators; quite a few other traits of post-Exilic Judaism, such as extensive dietary taboos, also have straightforward Zoroastrian origins.)

A range of contrasts separate the prophetic religions from the older polytheist folk religions that they supplanted over most of the world, but one of the crucial points of difference is in value judgments concerning human behavior—or, as we tend to call them these days, moral judgments. The gods and goddesses of folk religions are by and large no more moral, or interested in morality, than the forces of nature they command and represent; some expect human beings to maintain certain specific customs—Zeus, for example, was held by the ancient Greeks to punish those who violated traditional rules of hospitality—but that was about it. The deities central to most prophetic religions, by contrast, are all about moral judgment.

The scale of the shift can be measured easily enough from the words “morals” and “ethics” themselves. It’s become popular of late to try to make each of these mean something different, but the only actual difference between them is that “morals” comes from Latin and “ethics” comes from Greek. Back in classical times, though, they had a shared meaning that isn’t the one given to them today. The Latin word moralia derives from mores, the Greek word ethike derives from ethoi, and mores and ethoi both mean “customs” or “habits,” without the language of judgment associated with the modern words.

To grasp something of the difference, it’s enough to pick up a copy of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, by common consent the most important work of what we’d now call moral philosophy that came out of the ancient world. It’s not ethics or morals in any modern sense of the word; it’s a manual on how to achieve personal greatness, and it manages to discuss most of the territory now covered by ethics without ever stooping to the kind of moral denunciation that pervades ethical thought in our time.

Exactly why religion and morality got so thoroughly conflated in the prophetic religions is an interesting historical question, and one that deserves more space than a fraction of one blog post can provide. The point I want to address here is the very difficult fit between the sharp limits on human knowledge and the sweeping presuppositions of moral knowledge that modern societies have inherited from the age of prophetic religions. If we don’t actually know anything but our representations, and can draw only tentative conclusions from them, do we really know enough to make sweeping generalizations about good and evil?

The prophetic religions themselves actually have a workable response to that challenge. Most of them freely admit that human beings don’t have the capacity to judge rightly between good and evil without help, and go on to argue that this is why everyone needs to follow the rules set down in scripture as interpreted by the religious specialists of their creed. Grant the claim that their scriptures were actually handed down from a superhumanly wise source, and it logically follows that obeying the moral rules included in the scriptures is a reasonable action. It’s the basic claim, of course, that’s generally the sticking point; since every prophetic religion has roughly the same evidence backing its claim to divine inspiration as every other, and their scriptures all contradict one another over important moral issues, it’s not exactly easy to draw straightforward conclusions from them.

Their predicament is a good deal less complex, though, than that of people who’ve abandoned the prophetic religions of their immediate ancestors and still want to make sweeping pronouncements about moral goodness and evil. It’s here that the sly, wry, edgy voice of Friedrich Nietzsche becomes an unavoidable presence, because the heart of his philosophy was an exploration of what morality means once a society can no longer believe that its tribal taboos were handed down intact, and will be enforced via thunderbolt or eternal damnation, by the creator of the universe.

Nietzsche’s philosophical writings are easy to misunderstand, and he very likely meant that to be the case. Where Schopenhauer proceeded step by step through a single idea in all its ramifications, showing that the insight at the core of his vision makes sense of the entire world of our experience, Nietzsche wrote in brief essays and aphorisms, detached from one another, dancing from theme to theme. He was less interested in convincing people than in making them think; each of the short passages that makes up his major philosophical works is meant to be read, pondered, and digested on its own. All in all, his books make excellent bathroom reading—and I suspect that Nietzsche himself would have been amused by that approach to his writings..

The gravitational center around which Nietzsche’s various thought experiments orbited, though, was a challenge to the conventional habits of moral discourse in his time and ours. For those who believe in a single, omniscient divine lawgiver, it makes perfect sense to talk about morals in the way that most people in his time and ours do in fact talk about them—that is to say, as though there’s some set of moral rules that are clearly set out and incontrovertibly correct, and the task of the moral philosopher is to badger and bully his readers into doing what they know they ought to do anyway.

From any other perspective, on the other hand, that approach to talking about morals is frankly bizarre. It’s not just that every set of moral rules that claims to have been handed down by the creator of the universe contradicts every other such set, though of course this is true. It’s that every such set of rules has proven unsatisfactory when applied to human beings. The vast amount of unnecessary misery that’s resulted from historical Christianity’s stark terror of human sexuality is a case in point, though it’s far from the only example, and far from the worst.

Yet, of course, most of us do talk about moral judgments as though we know what we’re talking about, and that’s where Nietszche comes in. Here’s his inimitable voice, from the preface to Beyond Good and Evil, launching a discussion of the point at issue:

“Supposing truth to be a woman—what? Is the suspicion not well founded that all philosophers, when they have been dogmatists, have had little understanding of women? That the gruesome earnestness, the clumsy importunity with which they have hitherto been in the habit of approaching truth have been inept and improper means for winning a wench? Certainly she has not let herself be won—and today every kind of dogmatism stands sad and discouraged.”

Nietzsche elsewhere characterized moral philosophy as the use of bad logic to prop up inherited prejudices. The gibe’s a good one, and generally far more accurate than not, but again it’s easy to misunderstand. Nietzsche was not saying that morality is a waste of time and we all ought to run out and do whatever happens to come into our heads, from whatever source. He was saying that we don’t yet know the first thing about morality, because we’ve allowed bad logic and inherited prejudices to get in the way of asking the necessary questions—because we haven’t realized that we don’t yet have any clear idea of how to live.

To a very great extent, if I may insert a personal reflection here, this realization has been at the heart of this blog’s project since its beginning. The peak oil crisis that called The Archdruid Report into being came about because human beings have as yet no clear idea how to get along with the biosphere that supports all our lives; the broader theme that became the core of my essays here over the years, the decline and fall of industrial civilization, shows with painful clarity that human beings have as yet no clear idea how to deal with the normal and healthy cycles of historical change; the impending fall of the United States’ global empire demonstrates the same point on a more immediate and, to my American readers, more personal scale. Chase down any of the varied ramblings this blog has engaged in over the years, and you’ll find that most if not all of them have the same recognition at their heart: we don’t yet know how to live, and maybe we should get to work figuring that out.

I’d like to wind up this week’s post with three announcements. First of all, I’m delighted to report that the latest issue of the deindustrial-SF quarterly Into the Ruins is now available. Those of you who’ve read previous issues know that you’re in for a treat; those who haven’t—well, what are you waiting for? Those of my readers who bought a year’s subscription when Into the Ruins first launched last year should also keep in mind that it’s time to re-up, and help support one of the few venues for science fiction about the kind of futures we’re actually likely to get once the fantasy of perpetual progress drops out from under us and we have to start coping with the appalling mess that we’ve made of things.

Second, I’m equally delighted to announce that a book of mine that’s been out of print for some years is available again. The Academy of the Sword is the most elaborate manual of sword combat ever written; it was penned in the early seventeenth century by Gerard Thibault, one of the greatest European masters of the way of the sword, and published in 1630, and it bases its wickedly effective fencing techniques on Renaissance Pythagorean sacred geometry. I spent almost a decade translating it out of early modern French and finally got it into print in 2006, but the original publisher promptly sank under a flurry of problems that were partly financial and partly ethical. Now the publisher of my books Not the Future We Ordered and Twilight’s Last Gleaming has brought it back into print in an elegant new hardback edition. New editions of my first two published books, Paths of Wisdom and Circles of Power, are under preparation with the same publisher as I write this, so it’s shaping up to be a pleasant spring for me.

Finally, this will be the last post of The Archdruid Report for a while. I have a very full schedule in the weeks immediately ahead, and several significant changes afoot in my life, and won’t be able to keep up the weekly pace of blog posts while those are happening. I’m also busily sorting through alternative platforms for future blogging and social media—while I’m grateful to Blogger for providing a free platform for my blogging efforts over the past eleven years, each recent upgrade has made it more awkward to use, and it’s probably time to head elsewhere. When I resume blogging, it will thus likely be on a different platform, and quite possibly with a different name and theme. I’ll post something here and on the other blog once things get settled. In the meantime, have a great spring, and keep asking the hard questions even when the talking heads insist they have all the answers.


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Gee said...

Good Luck JMG!

I cannot thank you enough for all of your ramblings here. Quite frankly, I know of no other place on the internet or anywhere for that matter, that has brought such amazing clarity to such a wide range of topics, and tied them together week after week in such an interesting manner.

But beyond that, this is the one place that tends to come at all of these topics with something as close to pure objectivity as possible. Its' not easy being a realist in a world of optimists and simpletons that cling to infinite progress. I will continue to share your worldview with more of the good people I know in the hopes that we somehow get to a world where more of us are willing to think a bit every day about how we ever make peace with the world that we belong to.

It's disheartening to think we are moving in precisely the wrong direction, but perhaps this is the fate of the human existence. We are merely a speck in geologic time, we just think the world revolves around us. We will learn the hard way, but some of us will fight for some more sensible way of life while we are still on this planet.

Again, good luck with all the things you are about to do. It sounds challenging, but I suspect you are up to the task. Thanks again, Geoff

Troy Jones said...

Will miss the weekly ADR. Hope the significant changes in your life are good ones.

aNanyMouse said...

Gripping stuff as usual, JMG!
Seeing as you expect to be unable to post for some weeks, can you recommend any writings which might be at least somewhat representative of the sorts of ethical/ mores thinking which Nietzsche would view as in his ballpark? Would G.E. Moore (Wittgenstein's pal) be an example of such thinking?

Jill N said...

I hope I do find you again in your new shape. Find your blogs very interesting. Was a bit concerned about slipping forward on a banana skin though as I always thought you would naturally fall backwards. After serious thought however I realise it could go either way.
Found your comments on Christianity and sexuality thought provoking. We seem to forget that the real objective of sex is new life and this should not be considered unimportant. There is also the small matter of consent.
Enjoy your break.

zaphod42 said...


We could proceed with a discussion of reality vs. observation, based on 'congruence' as another means to dispel the solipsistic ethical tenants enunciated by Schopenhauer. Suffice it to say that you did a good job of such in your own right; I am well satisfied.

Also, a fond "adios" from Texas, for the duration of your hiatus. Your profound wit and sagacity will be missed. I will be watching for news of impending resumption of Druidic wisdom. Enjoy your time off... take a step back and breathe.


Avery said...

JMG, what a surprise in that final paragraph! I think I’ve been following your blog every week since 2010, and it’s been quite a thrill ride. When I went back to grad school, your weekly posts became hot topics for me and my friends, argued over beer. But perhaps it is time for a new cycle and a new stage. As you recently noted, “collapse now and avoid the rush” is rapidly becoming an outdated slogan, as the rush has well and truly begun. Even if America’s dominant optimisms deny this in their rhetoric, most of the time they will have to affirm it in their own lives.

So, to this blog, which has weathered years of get-out-of-EROEI-cheap scams (remember biofuels?), blogosphere manias (remember near-term human extinction?), and constant denial of the problems we face, here’s to a job well done! You have ended it on possibly the most crucial note of them all: if all our intellectual and ethical scruples are only post-hoc rationalizations spun into existence by old religious imperatives, where do our behaviors really come from, and what should we really be searching for?

It was here in Japan that I first learned that there was once a word called “voluntarism” in English and that it was not only the property of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche but was a widely held philosophical position, even among our Puritan ancestors. Japanese academics, unlike English speakers, still use this word, so I can have some fun with them by describing how bewildered American intellectuals are by the reappearance of the will in the political sphere. Our idiocy, in forgetting about the power of the will, stretches back 100, perhaps 200 years, so that even the cleverest American intellectuals of 2016 had forgot what they had forgotten.

But in Japan, despite the general awareness of the will at a personal level, there is still the same difficulty in acknowledging it and coping with it intellectually that Nietzsche describes. As in every nation, nearly all of those Japanese who claim to have figured out life are rather demanding a different life from the one actually granted to us. Only the country’s greatest thinkers have attempted this most difficult of integrations. So, to readers out there who want to accomplish great things during this blog’s hiatus, I recommend you seek out those great integrative thinkers in your own native literatures, and try to read them. And JMG, have a good break, and thank you for many great years!

aNanyMouse said...

Also, how do compare Schopenhauer's dichotomy of will and representations, with Sartre's dichotomy of consciousness and phenomena?

Daniel Najib said...

First thought upon reading the title of your post: "Why, we should live according to nature", as the founder of Stoicism himself said. More seriously, this series of posts of yours has had me going and purchasing Schopenhauer's books to read in more detail. He certainly is an interesting figure.

I haven't read The Academy of the Sword, but I feel I must rectify this egregious error, especially since I practice Kunst des Fechtens!

Wishing you a great and happy spring and can't wait for the new blog!

In other news. Looks like I'll be going to your talk on March 25 in PA, I'm still looking to see if I can take time off school to go to the Morrígan retreat. Silly question... but do you sign books? I'd love to have you sign my copies of a few of your works.

Macando said...


Brilliant analysis, as usual. You will be missed!
I have been really watching for you post every week as
this is very close to my personal interests.

I was looking for the answer to:

until we stop mistaking the ego-image for the whole loose tangled mess of self, and let something else make its presence felt. As for what that something else might be—why, we’ll get to that in due time.

Guess it will be a while, so do you have any hints about reading about
that "presence" as you see it?

Thanks, enjoy your hiatus.


Doug said...

Thank you so much for all your efforts. I've loved reading you for years, and have shared deep and wide. You, Joel Salatin, and Michael Pollan helped me see the world's food and fuel systems in a way that demanded action. My family now lives in a small town, farms and gardens extensively, keep bees, fix old engines, and try to learn how to thrive in the world to be. I hope we find your new outlet soon, and larger audiences find solace in your guidance off the oil-saturated lifestyle.

Happy Spring to you too.

David, by the lake said...


Thank you, as well, for the insights and nudges (shoves) to look around myself and think about things in an entirely different light.

Armata said...

The shift in moral philosophy that appears with the rise of the prophetic religions is obviously related to the emergence of the religious sensibility that arose around 2500 years ago, as we had talked about earlier. One wonders how the emerging religious sensibility we had discussed in that same series of posts will affect the development of moral philosophy and philosophy in general. Hopefully by bringing some more sanity to the topic!

I will miss these weekly, thought-provoking blog posts and discussions. I wonder if you are planning to turn these posts and possibly others along the same lines into a book? I know you have used series of posts on this blog before as rough drafts for books in the past. We could really use a fresh new look at philosophy, including moral philosophy, that isn't simply a rehash of the same old arguments that we've all heard before.

Thank you for everything. I too hope the changes in your life are for the better and I wish you and Sara all the best.

Y. Ménard said...

Hello. I followed your chronics with interest since many years and particularly the present subject of philosophy, with Schopenhauer and Nietzsche.
About the question of how the Jews came to monotheism, I think it has a lot to do with the monotheistic revolution lead by the Pharao Akhenaton and his wife, the queen Nefertiti at about 1350 B.C. in Egypt.
Thank you for all,

Pantagruel7 said...

Yikes! I hope the hospitality gods are on your side. I was surprised to see you classing Buddhism as a revealed religion because I thought Guatama, or Shakyamuni, Siddhartha or whomever did not claim to be any god's mouthpiece. But no doubt you'll be telling my why I'm mistaken. My interest in Philip Mirowski (who is "from around here" had led me to George Nash who in turn has led me to Russell Kirk (who also "is from around here") who might even lead me to Burke! How is that for irony. Still, I'm looking forward to reading more Mirowski - eventually. So, until we meet again...

PV Learning Garden said...

Tell us how to get you back on line the quickest: if it's money, we'll send it; if it's luck, we'll wish it; if it's technology advice, I'm hoping others can offer it since I'm just a step away from a luddite. Hoping your personal and family health and wellness are trending better, although as we all get older that's not a given. We need you, JMG, now more than ever. Write again soon.

Patricia Mathews said...

Thanks for having had this blog for so long and for all you've said on it. May all go well in your personal life changes - and if blogger works like a malfunctioning shop vacuum (sux rox badly) do let us know what platform, except, dear gods and goddesses, NOT Faceb**k. Please.

Again, best wishes,


Mary said...

JMG, I will miss the weekly report, which I rely too heavily on to keep my sanity. Looking forward already to your return. This week's post left me laughing out loud.

Twilight said...

I have followed this thread with interest, but as usual with philosophical discussions I find I am struggling due to the weakness of words as tools to convey meaning. We make up these strings of syllables and assign them meanings that make sense to us, but if others don’t grasp their meaning in the same way they fail. I find I am not at all sure of the differences between mind, consciousness, soul and will. To me will seems more like a verb than a noun, more of an energy flow or force than an object, but I cannot turn that distinction into much of meaning here. I can look at synonyms for will, but that helps little. Note that I do not mean to imply you aren’t doing a good job, it just that words are such poor tools.

I confess that I cannot quite grasp a disembodied will – who’s will? It cannot be my mind’s will if the mind is a manifestation of will. Especially so if “my” is but a useful representation. The words end up chasing each other in circles until they collapse in a lump, and I begin to think about beer.

I believe that some core portion of what we are is immortal and exists outside of this plane or universe, but I’m much foggier on what that portion is let alone what to call it. Soul or perhaps Will could work fine I suppose. I’ll try to follow alone gamely and hope some comprehension comes through.

Please keep us informed of where and how you will be posting in the future - I'm sure you could use a bit to time to regroup, as I cannot imagine how you've kept up the pace for this long!

Tony said...

I, too, have made the transition away from Blogger to Wordpress. It's serving me well. Best of luck!

Bob Sonnenberg said...

Thank you.

Doctor Westchester said...


Whether the ADR continues in a new home, or you go on to do something else, thank you so much for the work that you have done. It has helped me so much in clarifying many murky issues that I have encountered in the last decade. I may not really know anything but my representations, but my models explaining them are much more satisfactory, if not anywhere as optimistic as when I believed in progress in my youth.

May you have as much good luck as is possible in whatever path you are taking.

Best regards,

John B

joe finn said...

Sorry to see The Archdruid disappear for a while, but look forward to its re-manifestation in different form. A metaphor here about life itself? For my last comment on this intricate thread of thought spun since the blog began, let me quote a man who shared some of Schopenhauer's ideas but took them in an opposite direction, and was thereby empowered to lead an exemplary life.

"The volition which is given in our will-to-live reaches beyond our knowledge of the world. What is decisive for our life-view is not our knowledge of the world but the certainty of the volition which is given in our will-to-live. The eternal spirit meets us in nature as mysterious creative power. In our will-to-live we experience it within us as volition which is both world- and life-affirming. ...The simple world- and life-affirmation which is within me just because I am will-to-live has, therefore, no need to enter into controversy with itself, if my will-to-live learns to think and yet does not understand the meaning of the world. In spite of the negative results of knowledge, I have to hold fast to world- and life-affirmation and deepen it. My life carries its own meaning in itself. This meaning lies in my living out the highest idea which shows itself in my will-to-live, the idea of reverence for life." Albert Schweitzer, "Philosophy of Civilization"

S Folley said...

Many, many thanks for sharing your insight these past years. The clarity and light you've shone on the world has been a tremendous benefit to me and, no doubt many others. I'll take the opportunity of this break to dive into more of your books!
Best wishes for you and yours going forward. Please count on my continued support.

Unknown said...

Come back VERY soon. Thursdays simply can't be the same without you. And echoing Troy above, I sit hoping the changes are positive, or at the very worst neutral(just like your Druidic alignment!).

Matthias Gralle said...

And the party is over just when I finished catching up on the last eleven years! My best wishes, and I do hope the changes are good ones.

Farewell comment: I am reading Le Guin's Lavínia, a wonderful retelling of Latium 1200 years before Virgil, and it passes a lot of the ideas I have seen exposed here.

S0phia Inkpen said...

Good luck with the changes in your life. I will miss reading you every week.

latheChuck said...

Last week, I resolved to give up reading the ADR comments for the duration of our Christian season of Lent (Ash Wednesday through Easter), both for the exercise of will and sacrifice that this would entail, and to see what would open into my life if I closed this off. I hereby make one exception, to say "Good luck, John, and keep in touch when you get the chance." It's been wonderful riding along with you.

You (any of you!) can usually find me on 3820 kHz, at 1930 Eastern time, on the Wednesday which follows the third Monday of each month. Lower Sideband, of course.

hapibeli said...

Thank you John! We will miss your weekly essays, but look forward to whatever you do in the future. Good fortune with the coming Spring!

Matt said...

I'm loving this sequence of posts. Thank you. :-)

Recently I've been working (slowly) through Thomas Campbell's My Big TOE. Next is Rita Carter's Consciousness. Your recent work meshes well with all this and is definitely expanding the thing that I call my mind. Thank you again.

Tom Roderick said...

The end of an era? I hope you will rise from the ashes, greater than before. I now regret never commenting sooner. Your blog helped me weather four years of unemployment, and helped strip away a lot of the assumptions and habits of thought I never realised I took for granted.

The question of how to live is what I've kept coming back to. I always wished for a little of the courage to pursue my desires so many people seem to have an overdose of. It seems there are such a diversity of wrong answers, and so few right ones. I don't envy others their self-inflicted hells of oversaturation, but I've lived my own of deprivation. Now I hope for the strength to live a life worth cherishing.

Thank you for all the help you've given me over the years, and I wish you all the best in the trials that come.

LifeSMyth said...

Wow! Thank you JMG. I wasn't quite expecting this sudden end. I had hoped you were going to lead us farther down this path. But I must say that I could reread these last posts about Schopenhauer over once a week for a while (along with the comments) and get much more mileage out of them. And of course I can search out his original writings and other commentary on him.

Thanks again for the wonderful journey you have taken me on. It's been 6 or more years for me since I discovered you. I don't even remember how any more. Best to you I n your next adventures.

siliconguy said...

Speaking of representations of the real world not quite matching reality; see the below.

Candace said...

I am trying to not be downcast, it is very selfish of me. I hope that you and Sara are well and will enjoy the time you have away and great success on your new endeavors!

I too want to thank you for starting this blog and providing a place for people to discuss difficult ideas. I have so looked forward to reading your post each week and the lively comments ��

I look forward to your new books and new forum.


Howard Skillington said...

I have come to regard you as a benevolent mentor, John.

My sadness over this culmination of your seemingly inexhaustible generosity on this forum soon led me to remember the archived entries of the first several years of your report, before I happened to discover it. Now I shall have time to take in your project from its beginnings.

I suspect that by the time I reach familiar material I will discover that my perspective has changed enough to reward rereading all of it.

Thank you, and best wishes to you and Sara.

Island Poet said...

I also, am exceedingly grateful for your relentless rationality and good humor in helping us muddle our way through the oftentimes paradoxical work of living a good life in the mid-late stages of demise of our civilization. Thank you and may the blessings of whatever gods you pray to be unguent upon your soul.

Before you go though, do you have any advice for me regarding Spengler's Decline of the West? I ordered the volumes through interlibrary loan and have just managed to get through the 40 page introduction in time to send it back to the musty shelf it came from. Perhaps it's the translation, but it feels like having my head stuck in a barrel of wet oatmeal... and yet, I have gotten a few genuinely huge ideas out of it already. Notably: the cyclical nature of the history of cultures, the impossibility of REALLY understanding a culture other than one's own and the apparent inevitability of cultures that develop 'civilization' to proceed through an increasingly materialistic imperialism, quickly followed by decline and ultimately demise. So tell me, please, is there more there? Enough to make it worth slogging through the writing? (as an aside, are you following the fairly recent findings confirming their own stories, that the Australian Aboriginal people have resided, essentially in their pre-contact locations, without migrations or even much mixing with related, nearby groups, for upwards of 50,000 years? Their culture never developed agriculture as we define it, though, of course they DID 'manage' the landscape through fire and doubtlessly other, lesser known methods. It's an interesting anomaly in the culture-civilization-replacement theme) Best wishes, and thanks for the fine writing!

patriciaormsby said...

I'll miss you while you are away working things out! (I started to wonder if you'd hit an analog of what I call "a rat's nest" in my translation work, making it take much more than the normal time chasing down details, often in vain. I encounter more and more of those as companies get more and more pinched in their bid to stay seated in the musical chairs game underway.)

I echo Troy Jones' hopes that the significant changes are good ones.

For everyone in the Kanto area, I'll keep posting details on the Kanto Green Wizards over on the Green Wizards blog, and also hope to interact with frequent commenters there.

Bob said...

JMG - My issue with ethics is that it cannot be really be codified because it's so situation dependent; it's fluid like our representations and when you subject "ethical laws" to philosophical scrutiny you end up with scenarios about murdering Hitler to save tens of millions.

Which brings me to something my Zen teacher once said "there's no such thing as a Zen assassin". Personally, I think he's right. When one really sees how improbable this whole situation of "life, the universe, and everything" is, I feel like a new state of mind sets in. It's an appreciation for the present and a feeling of letting the quiet will run free. More often than not, it's towards the "light" (peace, compassion, altruism)

That being said, compassion is both a sword that gives life and a sword that takes life.

Sorry to see you go from this domain. Catch you on the flip side.

- Bob Heyn

PRiZM said...

This serious of posts has been difficult for me to digest, and now you'll be taking off! Such is life, always changing! I've been glad to always have this weekly blog to return to in order to help ground me. All the while, especially in recent years I've known the possibility of not having this blig and thoughts to return to would one day happen. I have a feeling I'm not alone in these sorts of feelings. Many will wonder what will they turn to to help keep them grounded in their feelings of floundering in this changing world, or just in making the changes needed in their life. You've left us many seeds. May each of us pursue them.

While I know this is not goodbye, it is a new beginning. Thanks for everything JMG, and please, if you are in need of help with your life changes, don't be afraid to ask us. I'm sure there are many who will find a way to assist one such as yourself.

Mark said...

Thanks for everything JMG. You have been such an important guide for me these last several years. You will be missed. And very best of luck in your coming transition.

sandy said...

Hi John Michael. Thank you for an interesting Journey. I will see you on the other side. Best wishes.

Pearce M. Schaudies.
Minister of Future

Geoff said...

The Archdruid Report has been a weekly landmark in my life for many years now. Thank you for putting the time and effort into it over that period. Best of luck with your new endeavours!

karlos said...

JMG, you have been a touchstone thru my "golden years" and I have appreciated the "brain workout" over the years. Even though I seldom comment, I love your books and weekly blog, I will be looking forward to the new blog. Best of luck.


Stephen W said...

The paragraph beginning "To a very great extent, if I may insert a personal reflection here" is so poignant and touching. It's probably no accident that I graduated from devouring Nietzsche books in my youth to now tuning into the Archdruid Report weekly and stocking my small bookshelf with JMG books. No two authors have been as thought-provoking for me as FWN and JMG. I don't usually comment here, but this post brings everything full circle for me, and is like an intersection of two brilliant lights.

Thank you John Michael Greer. I'm excited to see what new forms this blog might take.

jbucks said...

Dear JMG, thank you very much for this series of posts, which I followed with great interest, and more generally for running this blog! I'll echo what others have said with the hope that everything will go well with the significant changes you are making. All the best, and thanks again!

Kevin said...

I'll certainly miss your blog posts, and will look forward to your new forum at such time as it appears. I hope you enjoy a pleasant and productive hiatus in the meanwhile.

The ADR is the first blog - or material of any kind, for that matter - that awoke me to the true historical situation of industrial civilization in general, and that of the United States as the currently collapsing global empire in particular. I've seldom missed an installment since I started reading it in 2008. Until then I was a firm believer in a Star Trek future in all its metastatic and imaginary inevitability. I don't know when, if ever, I would have noticed what has actually been going on otherwise.

A big factor in the blog's persuasiveness, to me at any rate, is your patient way of explaining things, and your insistence on maintaining civil discourse. You're the only blogger I know of who in the thick of discussion *never* sinks to name-calling, no matter how annoying or clueless your interlocutor. I consider this important.

How indeed should we live? I myself have hardly the foggiest of notions, even as applies just to myself. ''Tis indeed a gnarly question, full of knots and burls.

Maxine Rogers said...

Dear John Michael,
I have read with delight every one of your Archdruid Reports and own a small library of your books. When I was very ill, you were the only author I wanted to read. I love the clarity and fairness of your mind and have benefitted from your constant friendship and teaching.

What a shock to have hit peak Archdruid and have been steeply in decline all unknowingly! I look forward to reading your work again soon.

Yours under the red cedars,
Max Rogers

LunarApprentice said...

Hello JMG,
I discovered TheADR from a link off the late, lamented EnergyBulletin. IIRC, I first read your 3rd installment, in May or June, 2006, and I've been hooked every Wed. night since.

Of course everything must end. But I hope your muse hasn't fallen silent, and that the circumstances of your life will soon allow you resume a successor blog on a different platform.

How can we know when/where you start your new blog? Will you keep up the Well of Galabes?

Your blogs have benefitted me hugely. During the last 11 years, I have turned aside from rational materialism, acquired a perspective that allows me more equanimity (a real need for me), and my first big lesson I kept from your blog is "Many stories bring life, with no stories you can manage, one story brings death". I am cultivating a non-dogmatic spiritual life. I discovered Implicit Learning by way of your recommendation of Polanyi's "The Tacit Dimension", which in turn led me to discover a vast well of toxic sludge from my deep past that has taken me 4 years to even begin to figure out how to grapple with... I have discovered that classic (and some not-so-classic) literature is a resource I can use to help myself in a way that I never could previously. I made it a point to study some systems theory and put that under my hat. I could go on...

BTW, I just noticed that your archives only go back to Oct 2006, they used to go back to May, 2006. What's with that? Will the ADR be permanently archived? Where?

Please keep writing; there are not too many lights out there.

Thank you.

llmaiwi said...

Thanks for the work you've done here. I'm sure many of us have found it helpful to go back to an older post here from time to time. Do you know if you plan to leave this blog on blogger for the foreseeable future?

greg simay said...


Thanks for all your superb essays.

If I remember correctly, Russell compared the structure of reality to musical notes on a page, as contrasted with the actual sounds they represent. Or should I say sensations? For me, one of the mysteries of existence is why this representation than that representation? What accounts for the greenness of green? Why couldn't a wavelength of 5500 angstroms produce the experience of a different color on the spectrum, or a color we haven't even imagined yet, or a new sensation that represents the world as usefully as sight, but in a completely different way? Along with the categories of will and representation, I'd add imagination too.

Synthase said...

Thanks for the efforts, JMG and good luck!

sunseekernv said...

JMG - congratulations on your successes.

Very clear writing in this essay.

I do have a quibble about Judaism becoming monotheistic _after_ the Babylonian captivity.
King Hezekiah was born around 741 BCE, and when he became king (at 25), he
"tore down the bamot ("high places", i.e. local alters) and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the asherim (wooden poles or live trees sacred to goddess worshippers)".
2 Kings 18:4
Besides ending worship of the Assyrian imposed gods (he started as a vassal) and local gods and goddesses, he also centralized worship (of Yahweh only!) at the re-opened/re-consecrated temple in Jerusalem.

The Babylonian captivity is dated from 597 BCE (1st deportation) to 539 BCE (Cyrus the Great's conquest of Babylon).
A bit later than the monotheist Hezekiah, who died in 687 BCE.

I don't have a copy of Patai's book, but google books preview just mentions Zoroaster as a prelude to discussing a goddess (Aredvi Sura Anahita) who gets her own hymn in the Avesta.
But Patai's book does sound interesting, thanks for mentioning it.

Genevieve Hawkins said...

Best with all! My question about subjectivity has always been the same: I have never personally been to Paris. How do I know Paris exists? I have friends that have been there, and one that lives there.

Stuart Jeffery said...

Hi JMG, thank you for the many years of ADR, your posts have always been edgy and thought provoking.

I'm glad that you ended on "we don’t yet know how to live, and maybe we should get to work figuring that out"; it seems the most fitting of statements and clearly the summation of the many years of much of your writing. Perhaps one day we will figure it out...

Good luck with wherever your writing takes you next and I hope that I can find your next blogging platform.

MXJ said...

Dear JMG
How can I ever thank you for what your writing has meant to me over the past decade? I won't deny it, my reaction to your last paragraph is dismay to the point of ask how should we live our lives, I just ask how do I live without my weekly dose of sanity here in your blog. Please accept heartfelt thanks and the very best of wishes to you and yours in what comes. Much, much love to you.

William Hays said...

John, take care, and we all look forward to your thoughts on whatever future platform emerges. Thank you for many excellent and thoughtful essays.

Rob Rhodes said...

Farewell, we will miss you. And thank you.

Like Island Poet I have been working through Spengler. Thank you for your introduction to him, it was like having read the answers in the back of the book before I started! Still, I keep a stack of reference books beside my reading chair and sometimes I read pages or paragraphs multiple times before it comes into focus.

I am particularly struck by his observation that our culture has studied history like no other (even if we have thought it all leads to us) and the opportunity and "task" that sets us. Perhaps our culture can still become the one that sparks an awareness in cultures of being another life form of the living earth so that they/we can learn to live and die more gracefully.

Cheers, Rob

Brigyn said...

Dear Archdruid,
Looks like I will be reading from the archives each thursday, at least until your new blog comes up. Thank you for all the time you invested in writing the Archdruid Report for all these years.

I'm glad we'll speak again when I take up the Dolmen Arch for my second degree. Best of luck with all your endavours!

Scotlyn said...

Many blessings upon all your goings and doings.

Thank you.

Shf said...

Thanking you. Long time reader here, from emerald isle! May the road rise to you!
Return again I hope..

Elbows Tucked said...

Good will and good fortune for all your endeavors. I will miss your weekly column.

Bruno Bolzon said...

JMG, I wish you the best, and I really hope you come back soon. I will miss reading your weekly articles.

Robert Honeybourne said...

Thanks for the Archdruid Report. Good luck in your endeavours

Interesting to end on Shopenhauer. He told of a simple life and lived in comfort off an inheritance. He was a 'Buddhist' in language without the spiritual aspect or the practical one either! He inspired Freud to develop the subconscious (the will of which he spoke). He inspired Nietzsche to take a complete opposite view to become the power not repress it. He inspired Wagner to express the power
... all together an inspiring chap... though it took a long time for him to be recognised

Best wishes, Robert

Phil Harris said...

I echo all the comments I read so far. I enjoyed very much the clear air of your post this morning. I have been aware something was changing and your notice at the end was not unexpected. As someone above has already said, if you think 'owt could help make the difference, just let us know. Good go with you on your busy schedule in the next while. Thoughts will go with you.

best to you and all

Phil H

Shane W said...

So, JMG, you may not want to answer this, but, are you moving again? If you up and leave the country, I'll take it as a warning sign, and leave myself in short order. I trust your judgement on these issues more than any.
Is this the last of the philosophy posts? Or will we pick back up where we left off when you return?
Best of luck to you and Sara. Hope you have everything you need...

Alan B said...

Fascinating discussion as always. Just wanted to thank you again for sharing your thoughts with us via this blog, and wish you and your wife well on your upcoming changes and challenges.

Bob Wise said...

I'll miss the Archdruid Report; I think I've been reading it almost as long as you've been writing it. If you start a new blog, as you describe, please let us all know.

Lizzy said...

Dear Mr Archdruid, thank you very much for your thoughtful writing over the years. I hope your break goes very well, and that you will indeed come back to us. My Thursdays will be empty, now. Je vous attends.

Best wishes,

curtis lang said...

Enjoying the Schopenhauer stuff. You might enjoy a book by one of my teachers, Dr. Thomas McEvilley, called The Shape of Ancient Thought. It explores the history of Mesopotamian, Vedantic, Buddhist, and pre-Socratic Greek philosophy, exposing the parallels and differences in thought, without trying to prove diffusion or Jungian theories. Anyway, these are Schopenhauer's antecedents, as well as the streams of thought and mysticism that conjoined to produce the Neoplatonists, and most of the rest of the Western Mystery School traditions leading up through Theosophy and the rest to the present day.

Patricia Mathews said...

Island Poet - Spengler's first volume is basically Art & Art History. Once I understood that, it was no problem.

Stefania Buonocore said...

Thank you so much for this blog, JMG. It has come to mean a lot to me over the years, and has led to some big changes in my life. A little story about how I found my way to your blog - around ten years ago I had just returned from a trip to West Africa studying drumming, wasn't really thinking very much at all of global affairs, sitting in front of the computer one day when the words 'peak oil' appeared in my mind. As far as I remember, this was the first I'd heard of it (of course there are other possible explanations for how this occurred!). A quick visit to google led me to Matt Savinar and Life After the Oil Crash, and eventually to your blog. Since then, I moved with my family from the west coast of British Columbia to a small farming community in Ontario near the St. Lawrence river (not far from the Lakeland Republic), gave up my day job to pursue homesteading and the home economy, took up organic gardening, food preserving and raising poultry, and joined the local church community (perhaps the hardest change for me!). This just barely scratches the surface of what needs to be done, of course, and the question of 'how then, should we live?' is only beginning to be explored. Although I am rather selfishly hoping your return to the blogosphere is sooner rather than later, I also know you have given us so much over this past decade that I could start working on. Anyhow, I just wanted you to know that you have had a big impact on this particular reader.

All the best with your life changes!

Marvin Mots said...

Thank you John.

Avery... if you are in Western Japan please visit me in Seto Naikai. we seem to have philosophy minded people in the country here and are building a small community..... Most

thriftwizard said...

Well... wishing you too a Spring full of new life, new promise, new pastures! And very much hoping to catch up with you again, wherever online you choose to hang the Archdruidical hat, before too long. Many, many thanks for all the insights, pointers and prompts you have given us all over the last however-many years.

Merle Langlois said...

JMG I love you. Unlike some posters here, I'm not of the opinion that you're gonna permanently disappear (seems they didn't really read what you said thoroughly enough). I'll be glad when you're back though, in whatever format you find comfortable. It seems from the outside perspective like things really started to get out of hand for you when you began writing about contemporary politics, as that's when the comments started to reliably get over 200 per week. I remember back in the good old days when you'd get sixty four comments and back arguments would be slapped down before fifty. It's kind of astonishing in retrospect that a blog this idiosyncratic has taken off to such stratospheric heights. I have noticed as well that nowadays you seem to be selling a bit more books than back in 2008, although I'm not aware of the underlying economic meaning of that considering how many people use Amazon.

These philosophical posts have been a breath of fresh air after all the political posts. I remember back in the day I thought there might be a meaningful political response to the Long Descent, and I'd always be shaking in my chair thinking, "but when is he gonna post about something that will actually accomplish something, i.e., politics!" Now that I see what the attempted pseudo solution is going to be in the political realm I think I'd better duck and cover. I used to think it was sad that most generic people weren't into politics, now that politics is fashionable I think it was better off left to the policy wonks and real geeks. I ordered the first volume of Schopenhauer and I can see that it is a magnificent tome, probably will bore me to tears, and I'm the kind of guy who will slog through almost anything. The worldview that he espouses epistemologically is so simple and so elegant and so vital that I couldn't resist giving him a try.

I hope things are going well in your personal life, I've always kept in mind that you're a human being, not just a brain in a jar that spits out essays, and it would be sad to me to see you take any kind of hit after all you've provided for us.

When you come back, I'll be there, and I hope you elaborate more on this series of posts because I feel you've just scratched the surface.

Gee said...

Me again,

Seeing as there won't be any new posts for an indeterminate period of time, I thought to go back to the beginning and see what I missed before I first stumbled on to this site. And so here is but one of many brilliant bits, that I quote here as an important flashback regarding our boom bust leave em in the dust upward climb to nowhere :

Oct 5, 2006 courtesy of the illustrious JMG :

"Plausible as these claims are, I suspect they’re missing the core of the situation, as well as the lessons taught by twenty years of violent economic gyrations. It’s a mistake to expect hallucinations to obey the laws of gravity. It’s doubly a mistake when the institutions charged with keeping them in midair – the Federal Reserve Board in the US and its equivalents elsewhere – have proven tolerably adept at manipulating markets, flooding the economy with cheap credit (that is, more IOUs) to minimize the effects of a crash, and inflating some other sector of the economy to take up the slack of a deflating bubble. It’s triply a mistake when the American middle class and, to a lesser extent, its equivalents in other industrial countries display a faith in speculation so invulnerable to mere reality that their response to a crash in one market is invariably to go looking for a new speculative bubble somewhere else.

To say that the economic empire of hallucinated wealth will continue to exist, though, does not imply that it will continue to produce the goods and services and provide the jobs that people need. Arguably, it doesn’t do that very well now. The “jobless recovery” of recent years saw most economic statistics rise well into positive territory, while most people saw their expenses rise and their income shrink when their jobs didn’t simply fold out from under them. Things could go much further in the same direction. It requires no particular suspension of disbelief to imagine a situation where the stock market hits new heights daily and other measures of economic activity remain in positive territory, while most of the population is starving in the streets."

It's 2017 and many of us have still not recovered from the last bust as we hurtle toward the next. While my 1%er type acquaintances revel in their new and even bigger piles of illusory wealth, they continue to fail to see that this boom bust upward redistribution of assets cannot go on as an infinitely repeated loop before their aren't enough left of the little people left that will stand to be bled without some sort of retribution.

You can look back at the early posts on peak oil, renewables, and transitional economics that points to the same boom bust phenomenon, with bits of technological progress thrown in along the way to temporarily make the worries go away. But these "fixes" such as hydraulic fracking may briefly correct prices lower, they only further reduce the understanding that a non-infinite source is being depleted, and we aren't far enough along realizing the true cost of replacing this source. And I wonder who that costs falls on? Oh, you can assure yourself at first it wont be the top of the food chain. But keep this fiction going long enough, and see how it turns out. The tough thing for me to grasp is that I probably won't live long enough to see the outcomes that we have baked into the cake. Maybe it is better that way.

Good luck to us all. WASS.

Thanks again JMG!

Eric S. said...

I'm going to miss the report, and I hope all is well. While I wait, I’ll do my best to catch up, reflect, and get ready for the next round of lessons wherever they may lead.

As for this week's discussion: I spent this week finally working through A Guide For the Perplexed. I had naively expected it to be a fast afternoon read and instead found myself constantly having to read in spurts with ample time for digesting and reflecting. Even when I agreed I was spurred to deep thought on the themes, and when I disagreed (especially in those places where my disagreement was accompanied by strong emotional reactions), I found that I had to do a lot of hard introspection and examination of my own presuppositions to find out why I felt the way I did. It's been a long time since I have encountered a challenging landmark read like that.

I found it interesting, re-reading your discussion of Schopenhauer (who I’ll tackle soon enough I’m sure), how much of a balance he was for some of Schumacher’s weaker points. And reading your analysis of Schopenhauer’s shortcomings I am seeing that the same functions very well in reverse as well. The two very much counterbalance each other. One of my biggest struggles with Schumacher were some of his false binaries and unexamined assumptions rooted in his own Christianity. For instance, in his cosmogony (which to my complete and utter delight was drawn pretty much verbatim from the Western Mystery Tradition), he makes the assumption that, due to their apparent behavior, stones exist purely as inanimate matter with no “inner life” of their own. The only alternative he leaves to this hierarchy that makes Man the crown of creation is a materialist disenchantment of the world (not leaving much discussion open for approaches such as, say, traditional animism, in which stones exist on all five levels of being just like people and our inability to slow down to their level to talk to them is our failure rather than theirs). He also draws a false binary between classical monotheism and secular materialism (which he then lumps in with religious pluralism in his claim that devotional piety towards many gods is the same thing as consumerist idolatry), when he says that "when there are many gods [...] and no supreme god, good, or value in terms of which everything else needs to justify itself, society cannot but drift into chaos."

Much of his philosophy on this level falls apart from not only under the scrutiny you place in it through study of philosophers like Schopenhauer, but under his own idea of the four levels of knowledge in which the broad ontological assumptions he makes about God and his necessary place in any humane order are assumptions made on the fourth tier of knowledge and are therefore derivative, rather than foundational (which means that someone can go through that same progression from self knowledge through social knowledge, through the establishment of a working representation of the outer world and come to quite different conclusions about the nature of things without lacking in adequacy towards them).

However, his concept of the four levels of knowledge provide a perfect path out of the nihilism of Schopenhauer and Nietzche, suggesting that while a completely true representation of the “thing in itself” may be impossible to achieve, a functional knowedge of the world we inhabit can be arrived at through a path that leads from self-knowledge to social knowledge and ultimately to knowledge of “higher things.” With a recognition that all things other than that initial Will (which would be Tier 1 on his progression of knowledge), are divergent. I’m not sure if you’re going to be finishing this philosophy series or not, but a synthesis of those two ideas: Schopenhauer as a check to some of Schumacher’s Christian presuppositions, and Schumacher as a path away from Schopenhauer’s nihilism (which is a result of losing oneself in Field 1 and not being able to make it from there to Field 3 of knowledge) seems like a natural eventual progression of this discussion.

Natureorder said...

John Michael and Sara, I wish you both the very best in forming your new life. Have been a long time reader and anticipate your blog as sense in an overwhelmingly nutty world. Will go over your past posts carefully. If ever you need a place to stay, email me at this address or on this blog. Ummm, sorry for this next bit....I live in the Pacific NW and am too old to move now.

Stu from New Jersey said...

I echo all the good wishes already in the comment board, and also send congratulations on the new publications.
This latest series has pushed me to borrow materials from the library on both Schopenhauer and Jung, so I'll have something to keep me busy. I'll then re-read the last 6 or 7 posts.

Karim said...

Dear JMG

I wish you well in your future endeavours...

Hopefully we shall have the privilege of reading your clear and thoughtful writings sometime this year somewhere on the internet.

One small comment: On how should we then live? Well, let us never forget the golden rule: do not do to others what you don't want others do to you.
That should be a good start, necessary but not sufficient I guess!

Morgenfrue said...

Best wishes for successful life changes and blog portage.

avalterra said...

Ahhhh!!!! Dying... cough... gak... must have Arch-druid fix... hack... wheeze...

On a more personal note I am beginning a job search. My current position ends September 2018 but these days getting an early start is never a bad idea. If anyone hears of a position that a person with a background in business, grant management, community colleges and federal programs might qualify for shoot me an e-mail avalterra (at) I would prefer the Pacific Northwest or near St. Louis but for the right position I can be open minded.


Helix said...

JMG, Thanks for yet another thoughtful and thought-provoking post. I'll miss your posts here but hope to find you back again in the not-too-distant future.

One statement did give me pause: "[B]ut all the data we get from the world out there amounts to a thin trickle of sensory data, which we then assemble into representations of things using a set of prefab templates provided partly by our species’ evolutionary history and partly by habits we picked up in early childhood. How much those representations have to do with what’s actually out there is a really good question that’s probably insoluble in principle."

Perhaps insoluble in principle, but nevertheless must be dealt with in practice. I'm quite certain that there's a pretty decent correspondence between our representations of the "outside" world and our representations of it. Otherwise... evolution, you know. Without at least a working correspondence, we wouldn't be here. And, yes, I know that even the concept of evolution is a bit filmy, but it's a concept that seems to work well in practice.

As you say, "Notice that this implies that the more general a statement is, the further removed it is from that thin trickle of sensory data on which the whole world of representations is based, and the more strictly subjective it is." This being the case, the ancient meanings of the words "morality" and "ethics" (akin to the modern word "customs") are probably more appropriate than the modern meanings. But ethics/morality (in the sense of "customs") are still important. Humans are a social species, and societies are also subject to evolutionary pressures. Successful societies are those that have developed customs that have proven effective: they have enabled the members of the society to survive, thrive, and reproduce.

Which is all well and good until cultures clash. The U.S. is a prime example of what happens. During good times, cultural diversity is fine: everyone's partying! When times get tough and people have to pull together to forge ahead, though, different cultural norms make it difficult to agree on a direction, and then things start to get ugly. People forget (or never realized) that their different social mores are really just a collection of strategies that enabled their particular social group to compete successfully, and begin to cast these differences in moralistic (in the modern sense) terms. And so it begins... It would take a pretty sick person to call the result "living the good life".

Thanks for all you good efforts here JMG. I look forward to your return at some future date.

Glenn Murray said...

Words fail, so I'll just say thank you.
(and my daughter is learning to weave)

Tim said...


Reading your posts here on The Archdruid Report changed my life for the better, in almost every way possible. It dispelled my belief in the religion of Progress, and that led me to actively choose a form of spirituality for myself, and all of that together has led me to change the way I live my life as a whole. "Less Energy, Stuff and Stimulation" is my guiding mantra, and it's a lot of fun!

I've been an avid reader of your blogs and books for the past seven years because you make sense of the craziness that's happening in our world. It's like a breath of fresh air.

So, thank you for all that you do and I wish you all the best as Alban Eiler approaches. I look forward to when you begin your new project!

All the best,

JC said...

Doesn't this physiological view of Schopenhauer fit in the normal rise and decline of civilizations and cultures?

First was the animism view, that natural phenomena were all divine. Things happened and it was the will of the gods. Humans have barely influence on events. After the Roman empire collapsed, and the nature gods were killed, people switched to monotheism. No

It was time to control nature, mind over matter, Holy Spirit over Weak Flesh. Things didn't just happen. An action always had an opposite and equal reaction, it was just finding the action and reaction to control what happened. Using more energy and resources, we can overcome nature completely.

We're now at the end of that era. Limits are encountered. Energy is limited. Resources are limited. Disrupt natural balances too much and ecosystems you depend on can suddenly collapse. An action causes a whole web of reactions, all influencing each other.

People like Schopenhauer are the people laying the groundwork for a new way of thinking. There is no mind over matter. Everything is connected and must be balanced out if you want nature, humans and civilization to thrive. Something will grow into a new religion and civilization, after the fall of the American empire causes our descendants to kill the current gods. Perhaps Druidism has a bright future.

I hope I didn't miss the mark too much.

Donald Hargraves said...

I was thinking it was coming time for you to take a blogging break, would appear this is much more than just a break (given what you've said).

Things have been a bit different over here as well with me – between the injunction to "Watch, just Watch," certain changes forced upon me and changes I'm doing on my end (housecleaning and fasting come to mind) I can see myself becoming quite a different person from what I was even a year ago. Whether it's enough to make the coming greater changes around me tolerable is the big question, but I can say I've gained a perspective I hadn't had before.

As for your break, I hope to see you when your time comes to return.

C.M. Mayo said...

Your Archdruid Report has been a great gift and I thank you. I look forward to reading more of your works and your new blog.

I will also be interested to see what you decide about a platform. As a long-time blogger on myself I too have found the platform increasingly problematic. My impression, from what colleagues have told me over the years, is that WordPress is best. It's been on my to do list for an age to follow up on that myself. In case it might be of interest to you, Jane Friedman has some useful information about that on her website.

As for social media, I sincerely hope you will not turn to Facebook, a platform that, with all its wiles, aims to hook visitors into a ludic loop. I deactivated my FB account back in 2015, a blessed day it was, and nothing short of a gun to my head would get me to sign on there again.

PS I am intrigued to learn about your new translation of the sword book.

With warmest good wishes to you.

Dennis Mitchell said...

Each upgrade in life seems to make it harder. Maybe I'm getting old and grumpy. I hope this blog change works for you. I will miss this weekly glimpse of sanity. The world is so full of noise it hurts. Picture Monty Pythons "My Brain Hurts!" Hurry back now.

thecrowandsheep said...

"... turned around and insisted that existence is objectively awful and the only valid response to it for anyone, anywhere, is to learn to nullify the will to live and, in due time, cease to be."

I am probably mistaken as it has been a while since I have read the Grumpy Old Man, but I don't think that is what he insisted. I think he thought that direct encounters of the Will were abhorrent (assuming these aren't in fact Representations) and one should do their best to limit these and, as some sort of salvation(?), instead absorb oneself in Representations.

I can't find the quote, but he gives the example of to observe a tree in all its beauty is something wonderful but 'to be' the tree is something ghastly...

Anyway, how about some Hegel Bashing for old time's sake:

“May Hegel's philosophy of absolute nonsense - three-fourths cash and one-fourth crazy fancies - continue to pass for unfathomable wisdom without anyone suggesting as an appropriate motto for his writings Shakespeare's words: "Such stuff as madmen tongue and brain not,"

(thanks for your hard work ;-)

LL Pete said...

JMG, looking back a couple of weeks maybe you were a bit hard on belligerent “scientific materialists” like Neil deGrasse Tyson for their adherence to “scientific materialism”. Rather than assuming their truculence derives from ignorance about philosophy you could have just as fairly assumed they are well educated and informed and simply have historically justifiable confidence in science — as in fact Schopenhauer himself did:

“Philosophy…is a science and as such has no articles of faith; accordingly, in it nothing can be assumed as existing except what is either positively given empirically, or demonstrated through indubitable conclusions.” Parerga & Paralipomena, vol. I, p. 106., trans. E.F.J. Payne. (Arthur Schopenhauer Wikipedia page)
“This actual world of what is knowable, in which we are and which is in us, remains both the material and the limit of our consideration.” World as Will and Representation, vol. I, p. 273, trans. E.F.J. Payne. (Arthur Schopenhauer Wikipedia page)

Assuming Tyson,, are even aware of Schopenhauer’s writings it is more than likely they just don’t find Schopenhauer’s concept of “will” useful or even intellectually interesting. When trying to make sense of the universe it is not philosophy but empirical, analytical science that provides the best tools for describing and understanding this actual world in which we live.

Like innumerable other once fashionable ideas Schopenhauer’s will had it’s day on the stage but quickly faded as serious thinkers examined it closely and found there was little there, there.

But what little there is there appears to be more than enough for some to belligerently claim that Schopenhauer’s Will is the gateway to the power of a universe beyond rational understanding. You cannot see it, touch it, measure it, or in any rational way understand or describe it, but with the right combination of spells or rituals and of course, will, you too can become a superhero.

aNanyMouse said...

I was remiss in not echoing the mucho thanx, and best wishes, expressed by other posters here. I've been particularly helped by your prognosis of a future featuring "Spengleresque" catabolic collapse, instead of me being torn by the standard dichotomy of BAU vs. Mad Max.

Cathy McGuire said...

Thank you, JMG, for all these years of wonderful posts! Even though we have been discussing change for a decade here, it's still hard when it arrives. Good luck with your search for a better platform and I'll be interested to see what the new incarnation is. I hope that Shaun has sent you an advanced copy of my novel Lifeline, which is due out this month from Founders House Publishing - it was your anthology contests that got me started on deindustrial scifi and this novel, and I appreciate that!

For the rest of the group, remember that you can keep discussing all this over at the Green Wizards site:
I certainly hope to see you over there - I will also miss all these wonderful comments that enliven the week.

Raymond Duckling said...

Oh, the synchronicity!!!

First, ClubOrlov goes behind a paywall this Tuesday. And now the Archdruid Report goes into radio silence for the foreseeable future. I cannot tell to what degree this is part of the larger "Collapse Faster and Get Ahead of the Rush" theme, or it is somewhat driven by more focal changes (such as technology platform issues). Either way, this is as good a goal post as we may get for the end of the Raise-Awareness-Era. Players are now on the move.

I will miss TADR dearly, both the weekly posts and the resulting discussions. I consider each of the regulars a personal friend (even if we sometimes have strong disagreements) and wish you well. Be wise, live well, and hopefully I'll see you around at the other, related sites.

Birdie said...

A heartfelt Thankyou JMG for many years of thought provoking reading each Wednesday. I began rereading the archived posts recently and sincerely hope you are able to transport them to your new site. It will require some time to reread them all.
I echo Patricia Ormsby's sentiments and hope your transitions are good ones.

Mister Roboto said...

While I realize you are giving up weekly blogging, I hope you will make sure to provide us with your insights on whatever new platform you establish yourself when some major development goes down. (And my gut tells me these will soon start presenting themselves in a fast and furious manner!)

Kelvin said...

I have yet to read The World as Will and Representation but I have read a few of the essays included in Schopenhauer's collection Parerga and Paralipomena, "Aphorisms on the Wisdom of Life," in particular, the epigraph to which is by Chamfort,"Happiness is no easy matter; it is very difficult to find it in ourselves and impossible to find it elsewhere." (Nietschze himself was fond of the 17th century French sages such as La Rochefoucauld who brought the aphoristic style to a pinnacle).

It's interesting that Schopenhauer considers his essay a contribution to eudemonology, or "the art getting through life as pleasantly and successfully as possible" (not the study of good demons (ha!). What he says after this is an apology for his writing such an essay in the first place because it does not gibe with his chief work (WWR):

"Now whether human life does or ever can correspond to the conception of such an existence [i.e. in accordance with eudemonology, also the focus of Aristotle's ethics], is a question that, as we know, is answered in the negative by my philosophy...Now this is based on the inborn error which is censured by me in the forty-ninth chapter of the second volume of my chief work. However, to be able to work out such an answer, I have therefor had to abandon entirely the higher metaphysical ethical standpoint to which my real philosophy leads. Consequently, the whole discussion here to be given rests to a certain extent on a compromise, in so far as it remains at the ordinary empirical standpoint and firmly maintains the error thereof [313, P&P, vol.I, trans. E. F. J. Payne, OUP, 1974]"

What elegant maneuvering!

William McGillis said...

Thanks much to JMG--brilliant,rock star thinker!

I encourage all who are able and inclined to add a bit to the tip jar and/or purchase one or more of JMG's many books.


J Gav said...

JMG - Concluding with Nietzsche before a pre-spring break is a fine move in my view. He made his attempt to prepare a Great Transformation, a Transvaluation of all values. And it was valiant - and of course largely misunderstood. He might have underestimated the difficulty in changing the course of a Container-Ship, metaphorically, but he did indicate a direction or two. Blowing existing frameworks of thought, pre-suppositions and predominant expectations sky high was his thing and I remain grateful to him for that in these times when a new turning point seems much closer than most would like to countenance.

SLClaire said...

I too wish you and Sara all the best as you work through your various projects and make whatever changes need to be made.

You may be pleased to know that I too am working through Spengler's Decline of the West, which I would never have heard of had I not found my way to the ADR in 2009. Thank you for everything you've done in ADR and the Well; it has had a profound positive effect on me. See you when you return!

chrisroy said...

Well, let me just chime in with the above and thank you, Mr Greer, for the objective wisdom you have been this decade...know that I have been changed for the better (IMNotsoHO) because you were here; and your influence will be carried forward and passed on...

Franz Feldkirch said...

Its for the first time I write since I have found this marvel of a blog about one year ago, if I remember it correctly.

I'll put it all to archive, you have published so many good references and logical deductions, interesting pieces of history and more! Many people thank you! Including me of course.

It was really hilarious when you replied in the commments recently to someone that readers of the archdruid report wont form a social club, since we all are eccentrics in one way or another! I think so. Funny enough, I even know someone who met you in person, from the druidic faith, which I'm not involved in.

Thank you for all your great essays here and for your dedication in giving so many answers in the comments, I wish you and your wife all the best!

Kevin Price said...

Wow, you're certainly leaving us with a lot to think about. This series has been one of my favorites. I picked up a copy of "The World as Will and Representation." That will keep me plenty busy until you return. I'm very grateful for your work and look forward to reading it wherever it's published.

George R Fehling said...

Best of luck, JMG, as we await your return. Fortunately, I have several of your books to re-read during the hiatus!

Bruce Turton said...

I can at best echo what so many others have expressed as to you and Sara's future. Do take care.
As for what we are to do, I can only remind myself of what is said of the Buddha: "If you meet him on the street, kill him". That may be apocryphal, but nonetheless true. We are the ones to go on with living the useful/good life, onto our grandchildren and their trials and tribulations that we have bequeathed them.
This past session through philosophy has led me to other sages, most notably a Canadian poet - Leonard Cohen - who posited one line in particular (about Jesus) that has now become a recurring mantra of sorts: "He sank beneath your wisdom like a stone". The 'wisdom' of this world cannot fathom reality, and still wishes to bequeath to all and sundry that which can no longer sustain us or our progeny.
Shall miss your voice. Thank you.

Terry Dyke said...

On the terms "ethics" and "morality": I find it a useful distinction to think of ethics as the internalized standards for good and right treatment of others, taken as a basic element of philosophy, while morality has an older and wider scope that includes ethical standards plus mores -- habits, customs and expectations that are externally or socially reinforced.

As a bonus, "morality" would rightly include "morale," which is hardly ever on the moral/ethical radar screen, but is nevertheless important both to individuals and to social groups of all kinds.

Armata said...

@ Island Poet:

Oswald Spengler's Decline of the West (both volumes) can be found at in PDF form here.

Spengler can be difficult to read, especially the first time through, but the Decline of the West is one amazing and underrated work of not just historical analysis but philosophy as well. I am currently reading Arnold Toynbee's A Study of History. Right now, I am about a third of the way through Volume VII. Toynbee is every bit as amazing as Spengler. I am fortunate enough to live in a smaller city in the Pacific Northwest that still has a first-rate local library and has many of the great classics including works by Spengler and Toynbee, a good and great fortune that sadly many do not have these days.

weedananda said...

As virtually every previous commenter has expressed, I am deeply and profoundly grateful for everything you have so generously shared through The Archdruid Report. Thank goodness for the archives for the duration of your hiatus! All the best in your new ventures. I look forward to your reemergence here when you are good and ready.

jeffinwa said...

Dear John Michael,
"Happy trails to you, until we meet again".
Know your writings have touched many of us and illuminated some of the dark corners of our representations.
Wishing you and Sara all the best.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Dear JMG - All good things must come to an end. I've learned so much here, both about the world around me, and myself. There were great book recommendations to follow up on, both from you, and from your commenters. I've made friends.

So. How to maintain an even keel in an era of decline without the weekly dose of sanity and encouragement. I've decided to begin at the beginning of The Well of Galabes, and read straight through. Get more involved with the Green Wizard site. Become more involved with Into The Ruins. And, there's always the garden.

You will be missed. Lew

Varun Bhaskar said...


I've been keeping up with this particular series with great interest, but haven't posted much due to lack of internet connection. I'll have to re-read the series during your absence. Good luck with the changes in your life sir, hope to see you back at it sooner rather than later!



wylde otse said...

Thank you!

Kevin Anderson K9IUA said...

I hope your changes are not being brought on by negative health or necessary financial changes for you and your wife, but are instead a move forward into a new line of research and expressing yourself.

I will miss the weekly Thursday morning blog post with their sane, respected views and ideas, which I've enjoyed since I believe 2008. But I also look forward to your reinvention with curiosity as to what it is.

May fair winds and seas move to your advantage.


Vicky K said...

I hope that when the dust settles you will give us the particulars of your own decision making process for the radical changes ahead. I kind of get the reasons for a change in platform for your blog. I even can guess that there might be a monthly subscription for posters but not lurkers.

Given that you must have spent a great deal of effort in the decision to move to Maryland vis a vis affordability, transportation, garden space and urban amenities, it would be interesting to know how or what failed to meet your needs. I remember many weeks when the blog was all about suitability of certain types of places to thrive and what to avoid. Aging has certainly moderated my ideals of self-sufficiency.

I am looking forward to the next incarnation of JMG. Is The Well going to remain as-is for the foreseeable future?

May you succeed in all forthcoming endeavors. According to will and fate in the optimal proportions.

NomadsSoul said...


Thank you for the last eleven years.

I look forward to your return and new efforts.

All the best.

onething said...

Because many religions have a tangle of various rules does not mean that there can be no basis for ethics. Nor is it necessary if one believes in a divine unity to think that the divine being has supplied some people somewhere with a linguistically expressed set of rules that they otherwise would not know, nor that such rules are in any way arbitrary.
Rather, the basic ethic flows naturally from the state of existence itself, and that ethic is most simply defined as the golden rule. So far as I know, most all religions and probably (but I'm not sure) most pagan systems understand it, although it appears Islam may lack it.

Ozark Chinquapin said...

I am also grateful for all you have put out here on this forum for years, I hope the changes you mention are for the best and will be checking periodically here to catch any announcements of your return on another platform.

PatOrmsby said...

@Marvin Mots
I had no idea there was a group like yours out in western Japan! I was trying to encourage a friend to start up a "Green Wizards Kansai" group for people out your way, but knowing about your island to visit would be valuable. Thank you for posting about it.

I visited your website, but cannot leave a comment there because I am not on Facebook. Is there any other way yu can be reached? I will be going out your way in May and would really love to see what you are doing. My husband and I are nowhere near as resilient as you (he's not completely on board yet). In May I will be alone, or maybe with one or two ladies from our Kanto group.

patriciaormsby said...

Off-topic, but people are starting to catch on. This is from CNBC

People in Silicon Valley are complacent about the march toward global expansion, he said.

"There's a technological determinism story you can tell where this is the future and China will eventually buckle under and cave and eventually adopt all of these things," he said. "But then you might wonder, maybe this doesn't happen at all, and maybe it's possible for the internet to actually fragment and not to have this historical necessity to it."

No one in their right mind would start an organization with the word "global" in its title today, he said. "That's so 2005, it feels so dated," he said. To illustrate the point, Thiel took aim at the annual Davos World Economic Forum.

"A decade ago, this was a group of people who were running the world," he said. "And now, it's just a group of people who messed up the world."

Cathy McGuire said...

I just came across an interesting quote from Dostoyevsky, from Notes from Underground: "Men love abstract reasoning and neat systemization so much that they think nothing of distorting the truth, closing their eyes and ears to contrary evidence to preserve their logical constructions... What is it in us that is mellowed by civilization? All it does, I'd say, is to develop in man a capacity to feel a greater variety of sensations. And nothing, absolutely nothing else. And through this development, man will yet learn how to enjoy bloodshed."
I haven't read the book yet - this quote came from another good Hollis book: Tracking the Gods It seems to speak to the idea of the ego trying to take credit for the unconscious urges.

John Roth said...

Thank you!

I've enjoyed the ADR for the last few years - while I may not agree with you on some things, you're one of the few people that can kick some of the rust out of my grey matter.

Good luck on whatever it is that's cooking, and I hope to see a new and improved ADR (or whatever it will be called) a few months down the road.

drhooves said...

Like focusing a microscope in high school biology, this week's post brought the philosophy essays into a clear picture. I'm not surprised that the influence of Western religions has been negative in some aspects, and that yes, as a society, we still have to learn how to live. It'll be difficult to influence the masses to take a more productive path as we encounter the challenges ahead, but providing an alternative to the classic philosophic and moral views of established Western religions will be essential.

JMG, I've always considered your weekly blog posts a great "bonus", considering all the other projects you have on your plate. Thanks for all your work, and good luck in the next iteration of your blogging.

mgalimba said...

Good luck, JMG, thanks for your writing and for building this unique community of (comment) writers.
Let's all show the LOVE up there at the DONATE button!!

Somewhatstunned said...

Hmmm. I think we might be going for a record here with loads of people who seem to be first (and last) time posters.

I'm probably flattering myself here, but I wonder if I might be partly responsible for your final burst of epistemological fireworks. A couple of months ago, apropos of one of your remarks, I asked if you'd describe your views as 'panpsychism' and you replied 'yes as a first approximation - but actually more Schopenhauer-ian'. Well now I've got a proper extended answer!

I consider the blog form to be awkward and unsatisfactory for various reasons, but by actively deciding to stop you have removed one source of that unsatisfyingness. It now feels like a completed 'thing' - and I feel that in following it, and being influenced by it, TAR has also become a 'completed thing' in my life - like having just finished reading a substantial book.

You've certainly made the blog form work to a surprising degree by allowing it to become a sort of seminar room - the comments are worth the price of admission alone.

So I'll add my voice to the growing pile of "thankyous".

Crow Hill said...

JMG: A great many thanks for the Archdruid Report and the online community that developed around it.
In these last philosophical posts there are many phrases to meditate upon such as “all the data we get from the world out there amounts to a thin trickle of sensory data, which we then assemble into representations of things using a set of prefab templates provided partly by our species’ evolutionary history and partly by habits we picked up in early childhood. How much those representations have to do with what’s actually out there is a really good question that’s probably insoluble in principle...
", nicely complemented by Helix: “Perhaps insoluble in principle, but nevertheless must be dealt with in practice. I'm quite certain that there's a pretty decent correspondence between our representations of the "outside" world and our representations of it…Without at least a working correspondence, we wouldn't be here.”
Best wishes to you and Sara for your life transition and looking forward to finding you on your next blog.

Shane W said...

Well, I guess this break will be a good time to get to all those readings that I need to get to from this list, starting w/Spengler, part II. To practice discursive meditation to improve my concentration and focus. And to work on my magical practice so that I can stay sane in these insane times. Limits to Growth says that what comes after hitting the limits cannot be predicted, so, like others, I'm thinking that we may have reached the end of the prediction of this line of thinking. Remember JMG's New Year's prediction: "expect discontinuities" I refuse to not be excited and eager about the opportunities the future may bring!

Cyclone said...

Dear JMG, here in northern West Virginia, we just had our warmest February on record. Then in early March, temperatures fell into the upper teens. The last few days have been back into the low 70s, and now it appears we will be getting a nor'easter early next week, with the risk of significant snow, but surely more severe cold.

It has been a project of mine to reforest a 40 acre patch of land with tired soils. The trees that I have planted and tended these last 20 years -- they are dazed and confused. Some will not survive this craziness. It is very sobering. It is not like we didn't know this was coming. For me, it really hammers home your final comment this week: "we don't yet know how to live."

That really is the issue, isn't it? And that comment works on all scales: we don't know how to live individually, or on the scale of communities, or on the scale of countries, nor on the scale of all of humanity. I feel I need to think about this long and hard. Perhaps re-read many of your writings.

I will add my voice to the chorus thanking you for your efforts. As I watch almost everything around me fly apart with increasing force, I would be in a panic, except I remind myself that I knew this was coming. Thanks to you.

On a personal note, I happen to be pretty good at dealing with these tools we call "computers". An odd term, "computer", when you think back to its origins, LOL! As with any tool, they have their uses. But when I see people using them as hammers, when they need a screwdriver instead -- I cringe. Back in another life, my boss used to introduce me to visitors: "Meet our resident Luddite. Oh, and he also runs our supercomputer center." Well, to get to the point, I am physically close to Cumberland, and there is a small possibility that I may be able to help you to some extent with your attempt to make the best use of these tools for your purposes. I have no way to know if my talents would mesh with your needs, however. If you want to pursue that possibility, you would need to let me know somehow.

I wish you all the best for however things work out for you! I selfishly hope that you return to writing your columns sooner rather than later. But in Academia there is a long standing tradition called the"sabbatical". There must be a reason for it...

blue sun said...

This is one of the rare occasions I would disagree with something you say. In this case, when you state, "...every set of moral rules that claims to have been handed down by the creator of the universe contradicts every other such set..."

Perhaps you are not claiming that such a set of rules does not exist, but I got that impression. I would disagree that one doesn't exist. I think C.S. Lewis does a great job of elucidating this idea when he talks about the universal "natural law" (i.e. moral law). I won't try to match his eloquence on the subject, except to say that he makes a strong case that such a set of moral rules does objectively exist. I am persuaded by his argument.

I grant that there are contradictions around the edges of these (claimed) sets of rules, both between religions and even within the religions themselves, but I would argue that there is a core that is essentially the same. I also grant that the only way we can know about a set of moral rules is through representations, but that does not rule out the existence of one, and I am persuaded by Lewis's argument that such a set objectively exists.

His argument also explains the reasons why, as you say, "every such set of rules has proven unsatisfactory when applied to human beings." (Which, by the way, is very nearly the crux of his point made in Mere Christianity, because (hint) it has more to do with the human beings than with the rules.) I confess I would love to witness a discussion between you and C. S. Lewis on this topic, if such an occasion were possible!

On another note, thanks for raising all these important topics over the years. Good luck with the upcoming life changes, and I think I speak for all your readers when I say we look forward to seeing you again on a new platform!! Meanwhile, we will miss your thoughts each week!

Phil Knight said...

I for one am looking forward to JMG posting selfies on Instagram.

Peter S. said...

For those of you having problems getting into reading Spengler, I'd recommend checking out the philosopher John David Ebert on YouTube.

He has a recording of a short lecture series (in rather poor quality) on Spengler, starting with

But the real meat is a series going through both volumes of Decline of the West chapter by chapter. The first part is at and for a good while the rest was available only in audio form for purchase on Google Play, but it seems it's back up now. Despite the video feed of Ebert talking it's really an audio-only affair, so perfect for listening while doing work that allows for it, etc.

For what it's worth, the first time I tried reading Spengler, I stumbled with a translation of the abridged edition. It felt disjointed and rambling and I never got very far. Later on, having listened through all of Ebert's series, I shelled out a fair bit of cash for the two-volume edition, and made my way through it fairly slowly but without too much effort and enjoying it immensely.

I've not read it in English translation, mind, but I imagine the it's pretty good.

Nestorian said...

"...and both of these dodges are essential to the claim, hammered into the cultural bedrock of contemporary industrial society, that we and we alone know the pure unvarnished truth about things."

But, JMG, with all due respect, is it not the case that you yourself are advancing precisely the same sort of claim? After all, using the epistemology of Schopenhauer as your base mental model, you are claiming in these essays to offer your readers the pure unvarnished truth about the real nature and ontological status of every one of their moment-to-moment perceptions.

Moreover, insofar as your account of these things is comparatively rarely held, and very distant indeed from the pre-philosophical beliefs about these things of the overwhelming majority, you come pretty close to holding that it is you alone who is the repository of this pure unvarnished truth.

william fairchild said...


When I first started reading this series of posts, I was like "Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore." But you wrapped it up nicely. Indeed, "how are we to live?", is the question of the day.

I look forward to seeing your writings on the other side of the break. Best to you and yours.

On a personal note, in the sclerotic maelstrom we call the internet, I have found your blog to be an island of solace and sanity. You punctuated the discussion of our collective predicament with realism, reason, and a historical and spiritual perspective not found elsewhere, tempered with what I find to be genuine compassion, both for those here on this blue marble now, and those to come. I hope you continue in that vein, whatever the new theme of your next projects.

I do hope you continue to touch on these issues from time to time, as much of the discussion elsewhere is reliably either progressively fantastic or fatalistically apocalyptic.

Nevertheless, the very best of luck to you in the future!

As we used to say, se ya' on the flip side.

gcg said...

Thanks for the insights and analysis over the years. Good luck sorting out the new blog platform. Hope it won't be too long before we see you again.
Will carry on with my gardening in the meantime.
Enjoy the break,

Karl said...

You write: I’m not sure how you’d translate “do what I say, not what I do” into classical Greek.

Well, in Matthew 23:3, Jesus says:

All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.

Strictly speaking this isn't classical Greek, this is the common Greek of the first century. Plato or Aristotle would have been pithier. But using this, my Greek translation of “do what I say, not what I do”, for what it's worth, is as follows:

παντα οσα αν ειπω υμιν ποιειν ποιειτε, κατα δε τα εργα εμων μη ποιειτε

nati said...

You writte that acording to Schopenahuer's model, a value can not be objective, but i think it is not so, since we know the nature of will, as it longs for self preserve and existence, i find it obvious that values should serve this goals. Sorprisingly Schopenhauer says exactly the opposite. According to him, existence is pain, but i think maybe this is a cultural way of thinking. Indeed, old myths and religions praice life, existence, preservation and continuation (by the next generation). Also, in most human history, dead and extintion were part of everybody experince. Unlike us, ppl did not take life for granted, and probably felt allivieted and thankfull when they stayed alive while so many died around them (in hunting, war, desease, delincuents and pirates, evil masters and rulers, etc).
As for this blog, i never took it for granted, and every post of you was a delighted experience. I'll miss it very much but i am sure you'll come back, and in what ever format you choose, it will be excellent no less than this.
Best whishes to you!!

Laurent Le Guillou said...

Dear John,

I realized several years ago that I am reading the Archdruid report since the very beginning, probably since one of your very first posts on catabolic collapse. I did not remember how I discovered your writings, but I treasured that discovery and shared it with friends and colleagues.

Thanks a lot for sharing your thought and writing this marvellous blog for these eleven years. Reading your blog became for me a ritual every Wednesday evening, and I knew that each of your weekly post would provide food for thought and sometimes open new ways of seeing and understanding the world. From peak oil to the myths sustaining our civilisation, from geopolitics to magic, from science fiction to philosophy, you discussed and shed light on many subjects, each time revealing your profound understanding...

For all these years, your blog has been a place of sanity in a world full of confusion and chaos. Thanks a lot for what is probably the most interesting blog ever written in the internet age.

I wish you the best for you and Sara, and hope to read your writings in another corner of the web and your next books.

Laurent Le Guillou (Paris, France)

aNanyMouse said...

Where above I ask about G.E. Moore, I ought to have also asked about Hume, e.g. his famous quip "Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions". Am I wrong in regarding this as a precursor of Nietzsche?

aNanyMouse said...

How much diff is there between the Will and the Passions?

Tidlösa said...

Ouch! Does this mean that we´ll never get an answer to the question "How then shall we live"? Hate to read all of "Nichomachean Ethics" without a guide... ;-)

On a more serious note, will ADR stay on-line, so we can still link to our favorite old posts?

Jerome Purtzer said...

JMG-Great Post as Always! Thanks for everything you have written, blogged and said in interviews/podcasts. I don't know if you remember a movie with Dustin Hoffman called "Little Big Man" but towards the end at an advanced age he leaves his tent and goes up to spend the night on the Mountain to end his stay in this world. Each time he wakes up the next morning and exclaims "Damn, I'm still here" and walks back to his tent. On the other hand, in his tribe the elders had the task of showing the young women the ways of love, so being old had it's perks. Hope to see you around the blog sphere or perhaps, after the crash, wandering the rain forests in Washington State.

Toomas (Tom) Karmo said...

Coordinated Universal Time (= UTC = EST+5 = EDT+4): 20170310T204320Z

Dear JMG,

So many of us (including me) are sorry to see TADR discontinued. You have been a help to easily thousands of us.

Your work on Schopenhauer got me thinking about things. I was accordingly hoping firstly somehow to make some philosophical postings this spring at, and secondly to remark on those postings here at TADR. Now, however, while the first part of my plan continues to seem feasible, the second part seems to fall away.

With a view to the impending regrettable closure of TADR, I will today post three quick-and-sloppy philosophical fragments to TADR, as a sort of going-away present for you. The fragments are compressed formulations of my thoughts, composed in haste this winter for a professional philosopher a little to the south of me. (Whereas I am north of the current Canada-USA frontier, this professional lives to its south.)

In writing my thoughts up for more general public consumption, as opposed to my friend in professional philosophy south of the Niagara frontier checkpoints, I would have to expand them by a factor of perhaps four or five or so.

It would be best to read these fragments on their own, not trying to compare them with other writings. One in general discourages the question, "Is this fragment in agreement with, or in opposition to, Schopenhauer?"

I do, however, remark in a mildly cautionary spirit, without here making a concrete reference to Schopenhauer, that what dead Germans write does not always in all cases necessarily rise to the dignity of error. It is a bit like what some ancient Athenian said about Plato's Theory of Forms: it's not that it's true; it's not that it's false: it does not in fact succeed in having a meaning - being in this regard akin not to ordinary human marketplace discourse but, rather (this Athenian said), to the whistling noises made by birds. (So, I mean, when some dead German says "The Veldtsvelte is a Schauspiel of Vorschnizel" - I'm making this German up, as Charlie Chaplin does in "The Great Dictator" - the appropriate response is not to protest, indignantly, "It is FALSE that the Veldtsvelte is a Schauspiel of Vorschnizel," but to say, rather, "That particular professorial utterance was neither true nor false, as the sparrow's chirp is neither true nor false.")

When (two or three weeks from now?) I start my hoped-for springtime philosophical postings over at, I hope to signal the start of my series clearly - perhaps with a polite Open Letter to a nice dead mediaeval philosopher, or perhaps in some other equally clear way. What is posted at the blog so far (this week, a polite Open Letter to my presumed FSB or SVR case officer) is, alas, itself unconnected with philosophy.

Hastily, sadly,
about now to try posting my three quick-and-sloppy fragments to TADR
as a kind of going-away present for you,

Tom = Toomas Karmo (near Toronto)


Toomas (Tom) Karmo said...

Coordinated Universal Time (= UTC = EST+5 = EDT+4): 20170310T204617Z

Here is the first of my promised three fragments:

__suppose all who walk into the intersection of First Avenue
and A Street experience a throbbing pain,
and that all who walk into the intersection of First Avenue
and B Street epxerience steady nausea
__then it would be reasonable to reform ordinary English,
describing the urban geography as follows:
"There is a throbbing Pain at First and A,
and there is a steady Sick at First and B"
__it would be reasonable to ask also questions like the
"Is the throbbing Pain at First and A going to start
migrating up First Avenue, toward B Street?"
"If the throbbing Pain at First and A does migrate,
eventually hitting the steady Sick at B Street,
then will it pass right THROUGH the Sick, going up
even as far as C Street, or will it push the Sick along
with it as it heads C-ward?"
__it would be reasonable also to say, as in our present language,
"Standing at the intersection of First and A, I hurt"
__indeed it would be reasonable to say, using "in" in
very roughly the way we say "She signed the lease **IN**
moving her pen," "**IN** hurting right now, I am
perceiving that unpleasant public object which is the
Pain at First and A"
__something analogous happens all the time with human vision
(_but we need a neologistic verb, "I am greening"
on the model of "I am hurting":
"As I stand at the edge of the sunlit lawn, I perceive
that public object which is the green grass; I perceive
it IN greening, just as I perceive
the public First-Avenue Pain
IN hurting")
__one will have to do quite a bit of
writing regarding "IN"
__**IN** greening, I perceive more than one public object -
I perceive the grass (a public object studied by, e.g.,
botanists), and also I perceive a patch of green light
on my retina (a public object capable of being studied
by, e.g., an ophthalmologist equipped with
an opthalmoscope - admittedly, it would be helpful
to dilate the pupils of the Toomas Karmo patient,
with atropine or a similar pharmaceutical,
before embarking on the latter study);
indeed IN greening, I perceive the
public object which is a small patch of green light,
and IN perceiving that, I perceive the grass
__I say "quite a bit of writing"
because there is additionally a more subtle public object,
an electrical pattern P in my optic nerve,
such that IN perceiving P I perceive the
littler patch of green retina-projected light
__still further, there is a public object more deeply
buried in my cranium, an electrical pattern P' in my
visual cortex, such that it is IN perceiving P'
that I manage to perceive P
__it admittedly takes much skill and scientific knowledge
to figure out everything that I am perceiving
__that what I perceive includes grass would have
been obvious to a mere Sumerian
what I perceive includes a small patch
of green light on a retina,
behind the fluid "vitreous humour",
perhaps first became obvious to the Renaissance anatomists
__that what I perceive includes
events P, and still farther
inside the cranium P', did not become obvious until the 20th
__it was then that an understanding was of dendrons
and synapses was at last acquired


Toomas (Tom) Karmo said...

Coordinated Universal Time (= UTC = EST+5 = EDT+4): 20170310T204737Z

Here is the second of my three promised fragments:

__I discover, through a process of self-education
which began around the time of my emergence from my Mum's uterus,
and was complete by perhaps age 2 or 3 or so,
what are the boundaries of my agency
__I see a pinkish human arm, close up,
and I see green grass, behind the arm
__at some point since emerging from the uterus,
I have succeded in educating myself
to the point at which I understand that
+a____I do NOT
exercise agency over the grass
__although I might
fantasize to myself "I am waving the grass blades",
I in fact believe with great confidence
that this fantasy is NOT accurate
*b____I DO
exercise agency over the hand - when I say "I am
moving the hand", I speak truthfully
(_and indeed I also excercise agency over
certain muscles within the skin, as the Renaissance
anatomists were able to explain - and also over
some neuronal events, as the 20th-century physiologists
were at last able to explain
(_a neurosurgeon could correctly say to me,
"I want you now to raise your right hand",
OR "I want you now to contract such-and-such an effector
muscle", OR "I want you now to fire such-and-such
neurons in your motor cortex")
__nevertheless, just as the entire universe could have
sprung into being just 2 seconds ago, with all its
historical records etc intact, so also my beliefs - even
at their most simple, their mere Sumerian-thinker, level -
regarding the boundaries of my agency could be false
__I could, e.g., be deluded in thinking even that I
exercise agency over the Toomas Karmo hand
which I am currently seeing, gratifyingly big and prominent
__I **COULD** be in the unhappy position of the leaves
being blown about by the wind, in the Gedankenexperiment
of some Austrian philosopher or engineer or something,
active in 1920s-thru-1940s Oxford or Cambridge or something,
bearing some such name as "Finkelstein"
__in "Finkelstein's" little story, a dry autumn leaf which is
being blown about by gusts of wind says to itself,
"Now I think I will fly over to THIS corner
of the yard", and then "I think
I will next do something different, flying instead
to THAT corner of the yard"
__"Finkelstein's" leaf, although happy enough,
is bereft of the agency it
supposes itself to enjoy


Toomas (Tom) Karmo said...

Coordinated Universal Time (= UTC = EST+5 = EDT+4): 20170310T204852Z

Here is the third (the last) of my three promised fragments:

__it is a contingent matter which retinal light patches,
and which neuronal events P and P', etc, I see, and likewise
over which human hands, effector muscles, etc I have agency
__consider a garden in which seven people are sitting
on the lawn, in a circle
__call them Alfie, Betty, Charlie, Doris, Elmer, Florence,
and Grigori
__then it is possible, e.g., that I should migrate
around the circle, seeing first the grass right
in front of Alfie, and the little
patch of green light on Alfie's retina (etc),
and enjoying agency over Alfie's hand,
and Alfie's biceps (etc); and 60 seconds
later seeing the grass right in front of Betty
and the little patch of green light on Betty's retina (etc),
and enjoying
agency over Betty's hand and Betty's biceps (etc);
and 60 seconds
after that "migrating into" the human animal called Charlie;
and so on (after the end of the 7th minute seeing, and acting,
once again with the eye and hand of Alfie)
__we can see that this is possible because we can see
how to portray it in a science-fiction film
__such a migrating-around-the-circle would be portrayed
by having the crew shift the camera,
moving it around the circle in the lawn
__it will later have to be considered what relation
I (who, as a contingent and potentially mutable fact,
currently see those public objects which are
small patches of light
on the Toomas retina (etc) and currently enjoy agency
over a Toomas hand (etc) specifically
at 42 Gentry Crescent in Richmond Hill,
Ontario) have to that public object (specifically at 42 Gentry
Crescent) which is the Toomas animal
__perhaps the locution "I am Toomas" has to be replaced
with the more modest "Am Toomas",
with the first-person singular pronoun now expunged,
as a misleading English word?
(_cf the misleading "It"/"Es"/"il" in "It is raining/Es
regnet/Il pleut";
better is Estonian/Latin "Sajab/Pluit", where the verb has
no explicit subject)
(_in general, we must note how poorly fitted
are the natural languages, English among them,
for clear exposition
__our task is often to reform English - "momentum" now
sharply distinguished from "force",
"heat" now sharply distinguished from "temperature",
with "entropy" added as a neologism, etc etc
__as for mechanics and thermodynamics,
so too for philosophy-of-perception
and philosophy-of-agency)


Joel Caris said...

I'll add in on the chorus of thank yous, JMG. It's crazy to think of The Archdruid Report drawing to a close, considering how many years I've been reading it now. I remember reading it back in the summer of 2009 while living in an old Airstream trailer and farming, reading it as I jumped from farm to farm, and then as I started working for a nonprofit, then as I started Into the Ruins, thanks entirely to you. From being single to being engaged, living so many different places . . . It's really quite something to think of the changes I've gone through while taking in your thoughts, ideas, views of the world, teachings and wisdom. I can't even begin to say how much of an impact you've had on my life, more so than many people who are part of my life in the physical world.

Thank you for all that you've shared these past eleven years. I honestly believe you've done a tremendous amount of good in the world. I know you have in my life. And thank you for all your assistance with Into the Ruins. I love the project and the new opportunities it's opened up in my life, and it wouldn't exist without you.

I'm really looking forward to your next blogging chapter, wherever that may be and however it pans out. As others, I wish you and Sara the best, hope the life changes prove for the better, and wish you as much ease as possible in making them. I can understand how much of a time commitment a blog can take--and that's based on an experience not nearly as taxing as what you do here--and so I can certainly understand this decision.

And I should say, to everyone else who comments here and contributes to the conversation--thank you, as well! I'm consistently amazed by the discourse here, the depth of thought, the deep consideration, and the willingness to speak from all angles and tackle most any subject that's taboo in the dominant discourse of the day. This blog has been a bright, illuminating place; everyone who's contributed their words here have been a part of that.

Man, what a new world.

weedananda said...

I also wanted to specifically appreciate your closing admonition that we "keep asking the hard questions even when the talking heads insist they have all the answers." Every time I listen to the talking heads blathering away I instantly hear the "cha-ching!" of a cash drawer opening -- these flacks are paid rather handsomely. The unrelenting blatant mendacity, smug obfuscation and preening self importance are beyond odious. No wonder the general public is so stunningly clueless...this is all most people consume!

More than anyone else, I credit you with guiding and expanding my ability (now fierce determination) to think critically from a whole systems perspective and to question all forms of the prevailing conventional "wisdom". Many thanks.

Mean Mr Mustard said...

To one and all - lurkers and regulars -

Having recently finally got round to it myself, might I suggest this could be an opportune moment to make a donation, however modest, to the tip jar - in recognition of the past eleven years of hard graft by our host?

Thanks, JMG!



. said...

@blue sun

How do you deal with religions that don't claim that any set of moral rules has been handed down by any creator? Or that deny that morality has anything to do with the theosphere at all? In what sense is this 'universal law' universal if it's not in fact shared by all religions throughout space and time?

And just how sure are you that you understand the moral rules of every religion that has ever existed and that the contradictions between them are merely 'around the edges'? I've noticed that for some reason Christians in particular have a tendency to assume things about other religions based on what they know of Christianity.


. said...


Hes not saying that there is no basis for ethics. He's saying that it's a human creation and that basically that's ok. It doesn't actually mean that those moralities are arbitrary or that what they call the theosphere plays no role in their creation.

If what you call the basic ethic - the Golden Rule - flows from the nature of existence then shouldn't it be the case that every human society everywhere throughout history has viewed the Golden Rule as the basic ethic? Yet that's not in fact the case.

As you say yourself, there are issues with claiming that the Golden Rule either exists in Islam (when it comes to unbelievers) or is basic to it. That's a pretty major belief system to have missed out on what you're arguing to be the single most basic ethic. And that's not unique to Islam. The Golden Rule simply hasn't been and isn't treated as the core ethic by all humans. But that's ok. Humans don't need our ethical codes to be eternal and universal in order to live and order our societies by them.


Pam in Virginia said...

Mr. Greer:

I cannot tell you how much your blog has meant to me and what insights it has given me that I never dreamed of. I look forward to reading through your posts again and rereading the books of yours that I have. All the best of luck to you and Sara, and I will say a prayer for you both, if I may.

All my respect,


Dan Bashaw said...

What a long fine trip it’s been!

I should have realized as you led us up the narrow rocky path of philosophy in these last few essays that you might well be leaving us at the door into the mountain, to make our own ways, at least for a time...

Since the future is always uncertain, I’d like to thank both you and the thoughtful comment community that grew up around The Archdruid Report for the past 10 years full of insights and discussion. I’ll make the thanks tangible by buying and reading some of your books over the next few months.

Wishing you and all gathered here the best,

– Dan Bashaw (formerly 'guamanian' in the comment threads)

Kevin Warner said...

John, your weekly post is going to be sorely missed around here though there is a wealth of eleven years of your writings to dig over. Then again, as has been said, all good things must come to an end. Change is the only proven constant. I myself wish to thank you for all your hard work and thoughtful comment (in an internet full of more noise than signal) in providing a venue where people can actually get to talk about the big picture. I am sure that many of us will wait to see which direction your life is taking you and wish you the best in your ventures and will wait to see your new blog as it shakes down. Whatever it will be, it will not be uninteresting.

Off topic but important to mention I believe. The other night I read an article that stopped me in my tracks. It was a perfect demonstration of how what we consider normal in a civilised life is no such thing at all and points to how things will probably revert back to again as industrial civilisations peters out. If there is anybody else here that thinks that eight hours straight of sleep is normal, I invite you to read the article at to throw a wrench in that particular idea and it certainly explains a lot and no, I am not trying to start a discussion of sleep here. The article "Sleep We Have Lost: Pre-Industrial Slumber in the British Isles" is also worth chasing down for more info on this topic. How have we ever forgotten this stuff?

Shane W said...

OT--but here's an interview w/one of the leaders of "Yes, California" regarding secession. JMG has always posited that California will immediately descend into civil war post-secession/dissolution b/c of serious resource constraints coupled w/competing interests. It bodes well that "Yes, California" has already anticipated that by proposing a federal system of states composed of counties or groups of counties.

nuku said...

Thank you for your dedication, your humor, your sharp wit, your incisive analysis, and for bringing together an interesting community to discuss these topics.
As a long time student of philosophy, starting at UC Berkeley in the 60’s, I’ve very much appreciated your blog, which I’ve followed since 2009, as an island of sanity and old-fashioned good manners, in a sea of ugliness.
I sincerely hope that the changes in your personal life do not entail undue suffering for you and Sarah, and I hope to meet you again either on-line or in print.
Good luck,

James Joyce said...

This is my favorite website.
All people are seeking something of substance in life, and you speak of that substance. There are few movies I think of that can give me a more rapturous
spirit as when I've spent 15 minutes reading the profound sentiments of the Druid
Community. As a Christian, am I doing something wrong?
I need more conversation from rational people who have not been conquered by the world's system.

Caryn said...


I just want to add my voice to my compatriots here, in many many thanks.

Pinku-Sensei said...

"Judaism wasn’t monotheistic until the Jews picked up that habit from their Zoroastrian Persian liberators"

I'll let sunseekernv discuss the veracity of that. Instead, I'm reminded of the proverbial handwriting on the wall: "Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin," the warning to Belshazzar that the days of his kingdom have been numbered, that he has been judged and found wanting, and that his kingdom would be divided and given to the Persians and Medes, incidentally liberating the Jews in exile. A search of your blog shows that you've never used this phrase, but it is an appropriate warning for any civilization that has been judged and found wanting and whose days are numbered, including our own.

I also found it appropriate that you mentioned the above the same week as Purim, the Jewish festival about overcoming those among their Persian liberators who wished them ill. Synchronicity!

Finally, I'm looking forward to reading you at your new blogging home, wherever it may be (Wordpress, anyone?)

Sharon Vile said...

I don't know when I've enjoyed a philosophical discussion as much as this one, and I'd like to thank you too.

As to the "How, then, should we live?" question. In my view, moral prescriptions (and proscriptions) have a very simple basis that is easily understood. The basis of morals only appears self-contradictory and complex when it is overlaid with religion and the supernatural--when morals are presumed to have religious/supernatural origins.

I also tend to (maybe mistakenly) make a distinction between morals and ethics. I tend to think of morals as governing the personal life and ethics as governing the affairs of business and commerce.

Morals and ethics are based on pure self-interest:

1. Life is a reproductive cycle, in which individuals seek to maximumize personal survival and to maximize their reproductive success.

2. The best way to maximize your chances of survival and reproductive success (for humans) is by means of cooperative group affiliations: families, extended families, communities. The ideological foundation of these affiliations is morals.(We are not going to kill each other, steal from each other, or undermine each other through quarrelsome behavior or adultery.)

3. Human groups are in competition with other human groups for the resources needed for survival and successful reproduction. It is good to have strong defenses against competing groups of humans, since humans are hard-wired to be predators of their own species. Often the easiest way to obtain the resources your group needs (or desires) is to steal them from another human group. This can be accomplished by killing them--which is the customary approach if the desired resource is the land the occupy. If you just want some of their "stuff," killing them is a waste of your own valuable energy resources and thus stealth or limited violence will be the preferred approach. Thirdly, you may want to set up a system of continual exploitation by enslaving them. One way to do this is to kidnap them and enslave them through the direct application of violence, but the more modern method is to batten on the, as is/where is, with a State system. Moral law requires that you defend your group. Sometimes moral law requires that you seek to benefit your group through violent aggression against other groups. Both of these moral requirements may well involve personal sacrifice.

4. It is good to have cooperative and mutually beneficial relations with other communities (foreigners) for trade purposes and the exchange of ideas and technologies. The ideological foundation of this is ethics. (We treat non-threatening and potentially useful foreigners hospitably and do not attempt to rob them or cheat them in business relationships. Being particular about honesty and justice in these relations is often very beneficial to us, and to our group.) Ethical relationships with other groups are based entirely on perceived advantage for your own group. Where there is no perceived advantage, there will be no ethical relations.

Sharon Vile said...

Sexual morality is almost entirely related to designating economic responsibility for offspring. In traditional Christian sexual morality, the rule is that men aren't allowed to have sex without first agreeing to assume economic responsibility, and that women aren't allowed to have sex without first securing such an agreement from the man. The agreement to assume economic responsibility is known as "marriage." Hence the proscription of fornication. A woman who fails to secure such an agreement in advance of sexual activity shifts economic responsibility for offspring onto her parents and extended family, and often the whole community. She has been a party to the "baby daddy's" fraud against these others. In the case of adultery, the adulterer or adulteress is attempting to shift economic responsibility for offspring onto someone other than the offspring's parent. I.e., an adulterous woman's husband could find himself in the position of providing for someone elses kid. The adulterous woman has been a party to fraud against her husband. The adulterous man in both the above cases is a mere fraudster attempting to evade economic responsibility.

ben said...

Thanks mate

Cherokee Organics said...


Thanks for taking the time and effort to write as much as you have done here on this blog over the many long years. I wish both yourself and Sara all the very best in your future endeavours and struggles.

Can I also cheekily suggest that John-Michael has left the building? ;-)! Of course that also suggests that one part of blogging is that of the performer and it is worthwhile noting that some performers can change tack and produce even better work using everything they have learned from the past. Many examples pop into my mind. I would suggest to you to follow your heart in such matters as you are an outstanding writer and critique (and communicator) of ideas.

As a parting gift, I will tell you something I saw about you (it is rarely to peoples advantage, but you never know as you are stronger than most):

By avoiding walking the talk, "we display intolerance of indefinite things which overflow boundaries and plunge us into the confusing stream of direct experience. We tend to single out experiences which we can handle, with which we are comfortable, with which we can live. Other experiences go by the board, thrown back into a world we repudiate as Other and try to forget." I read those words the other day and thought of you, as you are one that is clearly comfortable with indefinite things that overflow boundaries. However, you are also clearly aware of the intellectuals dysfunction to "walk the talk" and given the nature of the topic which may well be your final blog essay here, I heard you stumble when you were called on that dysfunction. This creates internal tensions for you, but it needn't. If it means anything to you I felt that the call was arranged so as to score a cheap shot and for no other purpose (I realise Santa is not arriving anytime soon, but your interviewer still held onto the belief and was angry and upset). However, at the same time it was a fair call and is not a matter which can be easily ignored because you yourself have called others on that matter. You waded into a very complex matter.

As I noted, it is rarely to peoples advantage, but I took the gamble anyway hoping for the best.

I look forward to your future works.



Shane W said...

Oh, geez, I'm so slow, now I get it! JMG said that this whole blog is an explanation of one theme, and now he's giving it: how then, should we live? Geez...

Maria said...

JMG, I hope the life changes are welcome ones, and I wish you and Sara all the best as you navigate them. I look forward to seeing what ideas are being cooked up in that Archdruid mind of yours. In the meantime, I will be hanging out at the Well of Galabes and starting my first foray into organic gardening since I was a small child working with my grandfather on his little patch of earth. That ought to keep me out of mischief until you return. :)

FiftyNiner said...

I am lousy at predictions, but I can envision a not-to-distant future in which a huge printed volume of the ADR would serve as the definitive text of just how good the internet could have been-if only! Your achievement over these eleven years can hardly be over-stated. I discovered you by accident at a time of great stress in my life and the anticipation of your Wednesday posts provided more solace than you can know. You opened whole suites of rooms in my mind that had been closed for so long. Without your learned and thoughtful moderation of our current condition, I would be much more fearful of our near term future.
I have always marveled at the amount of work you do! How you were able to keep the ADR at such an absolute pinnacle of quality while maintaining your other work will always be something of a mystery to me. Perhaps there is 'magic' after all in being and Archdruid?;)
All the best to you and Sara as changes come to your lives. I know that the community you have created here sends their heartfelt thanks and best wishes for all your future endeavors.
Ronnie Jackson

Fred the First said...

May your time away from the blog in the next several weeks and months be everything you need and want it to be. All the hours each week writing your posts and responding to the flood of comments, helped many of us see many possible ways to live in our given circumstances in this point in history.

I found you from a comment made at a permaculture course 8 years ago "Have you read The Archdruid Report? That guy is really out there!" and I became hooked immediately. I agreed with many things you wrote, refused to agree with others, and over time realized that whether I agreed with you or not, your assessments were based in historical cycles, and I didn't have to agree for them to be occurring, most famously in the election of Trump.

Thank you for your tenacity, courage, love of learning, and humor through all the years of the ADR!

Best wishes and many blessings to you and your wife!!! Tonight I will toasting you both with some fine local brews.

MawKernewek said...

I wish to thank you for your writings over the years. I discovered your blog here in the summer of 2007. I was in the second year of what should have been a PhD in astronomy. I never actually finished that, after a couple of times out due to illness, I ended up losing momentum and coming out in the end with a MSc.
I have been re-reading some of your work recently, I ordered the books of "Decline and Fall", "After Progress", and "Dark Age America". Meanwhile the end of progress is becoming clearer to me than ever, as even technologies that are seen as emblems of progress seem to be plateauing and any improvenments are incremental, or even contentious in that they might be an example of Verschlimbessserung. For instance comparing the capabilities of my mobile phone which is 7 years old with a current one, and then compare one from 7 years prior to that to it, I think I can see which period of 7 years had more progress.

Matthias Gralle said...

Well, I don't know if JMG is still reading this, but other commenters may be interested to hear that his ideas seem to be acknowledged in Germany, too. In the extremely respectable weekly paper "Die Zeit", Bernd Stegemann defines populism as a fight against those so-called elites who demand actions in the name of universal morals when they personally don't have to pay for the consequences of these actions. He discusses particularly open borders. His recommendation is to discuss openly the systemic problems of modern capitalism and to change personal behaviour in order to reduce one's share of responsibility for those problems.

Crow Hill said...

Onething said :

“ ethic is most simply defined as the golden rule. So far as I know, most all religions and probably (but I'm not sure) most pagan systems understand it, although it appears Islam may lack it.”

“Islam may lack it”: I don’t know exactly what you mean by this, but having lived several decades in a majority Islamic country, I can only say people are just as decent, maybe more generous and in some aspects more caring than in other places. Charity is important in Islam. Of course there are bad people just like anywhere.

margfh said...

Dear JMG,

Thank you for your many years of blogging and all your books. I look at many things in a different light due to your writings. Best wishes to you and Sara during this time of change. Sometimes life causes us to step back and regroup. Hoping your absence will not be too long.


Edward Miessner said...


Formerly Ed-M here!

So many comments, 164 approved so far... and I'm sure others have said what I'm about to say. I remember you said you wanted to move away from the USA but at the same time you stated you'd rather be near a place where you can get access to decent health care. Don't know if you and Sara are managing to do both, but majorly good luck on that! (I'm Serious)

On the Golden Rule, I think Hillel said it best: "That which is hateful to you, do not do unto your neighbor."

Philosopher said...

Thank you very much for your blog and your books! Your ideas have influenced me profoundly.

Mike said...

Not specific to this post, but definitely related to the point(s) of this blog: an article titled The Secret History of Emotions
"In addition, the classical view of human nature, with its tale of ancient emotion circuits robed in rationality, depicts humankind as the pinnacle of evolution. Construction uncomfortably dislodges us from this honored position. Yes, we’re the only animal that can design nuclear reactors, but other creatures eat our lunch when it comes to other abilities, like remembering fine details (a strength of the chimpanzee brain) or even adapting to new situations (where bacteria reign supreme). Natural selection did not aim itself toward us — we’re just an interesting sort of animal with particular adaptations that helped us survive and reproduce. Construction teaches us that our brain is not more highly evolved, just differently evolved."

beneaththesurface said...

Your decision that this is the last Archdruid Report post for a while is sad for me because I'll miss it. I have read almost all of your weekly posts since late 2010, oftentimes reading most of the comments. It has become a weekly ritual for me, one that I look forward to. Your writing has altered my worldview and affected me in many ways, big and small, and inspired many pursuits in my life.

At the same time, I feel a sense of relief. Especially in the last six weeks or so, life has become overwhelming for me and I haven't been able to keep up with most of the posts and nor read any comments. I was contemplating making a decision to stop reading comments altogether from now on, just being aware the limits of time. This would be hard for me because if I had more time I'd want to read them! So your decision to take a break relieves that pressure, and gives me an excuse to use the time I would be spending reading the AR on other areas that have been beckoning me more: reading more physical books and less Internet reading, taking on more writing projects, and learning new skills (for one example, I am currently learning how to use a slide rule thanks to a gift from a fellow commenter here).

I had also been feeling that your Archdruid Report project has run the end of its course, and it's interesting that you had that sense too. After these 6-plus years I've read your writing, I think I've firmly grasped your core thesis which you expressed and explored in its many details, and now it seems a new baby must emerge from the womb of the Archdruid Report project. I too feel my interests are pushing in new directions. Over the last decade I've devoted much time to the study and contemplation of energy, peak oil, the limits to growth, etc. But other interests have captured my focus more in my current life: particularly children's literature, mythology and folklore, and storytelling arts. I do not at all wish to abandon my interests in the limits to growth and navigating the deindustrial future (as I know all my eclectic interests are interconnected), but I'm feeling the necessity in channeling these in new ways...

Isaac Vars said...

While the new blog has a different theme, I'm hoping that you continue this series of essay on philosophy and will. Perhaps getting more into the idea of will, what that means for us while we're alive, and your thoughts on what that means when we're not. :) May your break from blogging be productive and perhaps a even a little restful.

Daniel Cowan said...

To second the comments of everyone above, thanks very much for the years of posts, as well as the full-length books, honestly I think they've been the most important works in shaping my thinking over the past decade.

I think I found the ADR around 2006: at the time I was doing some searching for information on the art of memory (in order to be better prepared for giving presentations - I came to it through memory competion stuff, then to Frances Yates and the history and tradition behind it), on peak oil, and on the Western Mystery Tradition (a Buddhist teacher whose lectures I was attending suggested that we look into these teachings) - I saw the name John Michael Greer several times, I was quite surprised to find that the author behind these various writing was the same person!

This theme of first explorations into learning how to live: I had an inkling of this perspective a bit before coming to the blog, the idea that our modern materialist outlook and the religion of progress might be blocking a larger perspective, in Jason Lotterhand's The Thursday Night Tarot:

"The Greeks had a tremendous interest in the humanities and psychology, and in the
improvement and enhancement of life. Their major concern was in working out a
system of values applicable to life almost anywhere. We tend to think of the
ancients as being a bit on the primitive side, but this is not so They were just
as smart as we are but they were not interested in the same things."

To this day, I often still have a hard time grasping this idea, I'm hoping maybe going through Schopenhauer and Nietzsche might a helpful remedy.

All the best JMG!

Nancy Sutton said...

Bon voyage, John! And 'thanks for all the fish' : ) Wish I knew how long I had to wait for your return, but... 'I can be patient .... if I have to' ..paraphrasing Red Green : )

And as for 'how then shall we live', I'll contribute this...

.... and 'The Empire of Cotton' to make perfectly clear that 'capitalism' actually is 'slavery' flying under the flag of 'democracy / freedom'.

LunarApprentice said...

Note to all: You can archive your own copy of the entire ADR repository yourselves by exporting the web pages to pdf format on your computer, then saving to disk, flash drive or whatever. Multiple backups are recommended!!!! Your browser should have 'File', or equivalent, on the menu bar, under which there should be an export option that allows you save the web page as a pdf file. It should include the comments.

Earlier up this thread, I reported I could not find ADR archives prior to October 2006. In turns out that that was a User _IQ_Underflow on my part; they really are all there, at least as of today... Whew...

Again, my gratitude to JMG and the commenters here. This blog has been priceless. I have received the liberal education I never obtained in university, and now I have a self-study curriculum to work on... and of course prepare for the long slog of decline which is already apace...

Emmanuel Goldstein said...

‘How Should We Then Live?’ is ironically also the title of a book and film series from the 1970’s by Evangelical Christian author Francis Schaeffer. After a Christian’s tour through the decline and fall of western civilization, Schaeffer’s solution was to follow the understanding of Christian faith that had been filtered through the philosophies of the Enlightenment.
I like that you, JMG, have left it an open question! It is likely that our collective problem is larger than “How Should We Then Live?”; When civilizations collapse, there is a period of chaos where conventions, god(s), ideas and foundational assumptions are re-formed. For better or worse, what emerges from the chaos becomes a foundation or framework on which the next civilization is built.
As in “The Weird of Hali,” my sense is that we are approaching just such a fulcrum of history, so it is not just about “How should we then live” but also having concern for what we leave succeeding generations as a model for how to put things together in a way that’s appropriate for the coming millennia. I think this is what “Green Wizardry” is all about. So maybe your next blog could be named something like, “Green Wizardry Forum.”
Over-all, well done JMG! Have a great break from blogging, and we’ll hope to hear from you again soon, whether by electron, print, or in person.

PatriciaT said...

Just to add my voice to the chorus - thank you, good luck, good health. Hope you are able to get some rest & relaxation while you are away and that any & all changes will be smooth and blessed. Looking forward to your return. Any idea of when that will be?

Ozark Chinquapin said...

You aren't relocating to Toledo, are you?

beneaththesurface said...

While not directly related to the main piece of this post -- I thought I'd briefly share why my life has been overwhelming these past two months, because it ultimately relates to you and your work.

Our city's central public library where I work recently closed for renovation but staff continue to work there for a few more weeks, completing tasks before everything is moved into storage. I have been disillusioned by library trends for a long time, but in small ways have tried to subversively perform my job duties as much as I can. But this past week I've felt hopelessness about my efforts to work within the system -- seeing large quantities of books being discarded, the administration's lack of concern for maintaining a quality collection, and the utter waste involved in destroying a building, despite the supposed eco-friendly characteristics the new building will have.

On Thursday there seemed to be one thing after another that left me on the verge of tears at the end of my work shift. It began when I arrived and decided to check the large discard bins in the basement to see what books I'd find. I looked into one, and what should I see? The Long Descent, yes by you, John Michael Greer. The only copy that had been in our system (that I had requested to order several years ago). I stared at it for a moment. Seeing it lying there, I felt it was a symbol of something, awakening me to the urgency of embarking on a new direction of my life. I managed to fish it out without falling in. Not sure why it was discarded. It didn't look brand new; it showed signs of being read multiple times, but it was in fine enough condition, in my opinion. It was especially telling to find work with your name in our discard bin, because my story that was published in After Oil 2 edited by you was about libraries and mass book culling, and I know you have similar feelings about libraries, based on your "The Twilight of Meaning" blog post, your comments, Retrotopia narrative, and other writings.

Every few months for our library's website, I write a list of book recommendations with short reviews around a theme of my choice. I had listed The Long Descent on one I wrote last September: Now I'm thinking my next theme should be "Great Books No Longer Found in Our Library System." Though I doubt that would get approved for publication on our library website...

I could write many pages describing what I've experienced working at the library, especially during the past several weeks. I'll share a couple things:

-- My manager recently encouraged our department to "Weed like the wind" "Be ruthless -- if you are on the fence about discarding a book, don't give it thought -- just discard it." I kid you not! I've lost all faith in the library profession if thinking is discouraged.

--My manager has encouraged us to discard books that, basically, don't look brand new (yellowed pages, minor signs of wear, etc.): "When the new library reopens, there are going to be lots of new, shiny books. Patrons won't want to see old-looking books amidst the new-looking ones." Actually, I feel the opposite. When I walk in a library and all the books look new and shiny, I find it depressing, because I know I won't find the obscure out-of-print books I'd might like. When I walk in a library and I see some old-looking books, with reasonable signs of wear, I feel a sense of richness, that there's a good chance I'll come away having found some treasure. I'd much rather have access to a rarer book that's moderately worn than none at all!

beneaththesurface said...


I would like to spend less time on Internet reading (now easier with your blog taking a break!) and devote some of that time to writing projects. There are some essays on libraries I've been mulling over that I want to write and publish. You rewrote the Emperor's New Clothes tale to focus on the art world. I was thinking that someone (maybe me) could write a really provocative "The Emperor's New Libraries" tale. I would also like to work on post-petroleum children's fiction, as you encouraged me to do.

I'm also wondering, since I know you really care about libraries, do you have any intention in the coming years to start a library (or library movement) to counter the demise of libraries? I think there are droves of people -- both within and outside the library profession who would enthusiastically throw all the support they could to such a project.

Susan J said...

Best wishes to you John Michael Greer.

Thank you for the ongoing discussion of themes and ideas, I have benefited from them (if only to know that someone else is out there with ideas similar to mine, or at least compatible with mine). I never read Schopenhauer, but his name is familiar.

I will miss you, as I always turn to your blog posts, week after week.

Anthony DuClare said...

I was first "woken up" to the realities of human ecology and sustainability when my collegiate studies of Nietzsche lead me to the writings of Pentti Linkola and the now-defunct blog This was back in the late '00s, when the alt-right was starting to form in response to the financial crisis, and still had a small but vocal green wing. My first introduction to you, Mr. Greer, was a citation of TADR in one of James Howard Kunstler's books. I have been an avid reader and (very) occasional commenter since.

I now count "Star's Reach" and "Twilight's Last Gleaming" among my favorite works of fiction. "The Fires of Shalsha" was fun, too. TADR, and the non-fiction that it has spawned, have been irreplaceable in helping me explain and act upon the realities of sustainability in a coherent and productive way. My home is slowly but surely implementing the retrofit model, and the vegetable garden gets a little bigger every year.

Whatever new outlet you may choose for your copious wisdom, I will be there. Godspeed and good luck with the changes in your personal life, as well.

Clarence said...

@shane: here is where jmg lays out the direction of the blog.

"...; spirituality treats the fulfillment of human potential as an end in itself, the proper goal of human life."

how should we then live, indeed.


Devin Martin said...

Brother Greer,

I am humbled by your efforts, discipline, and time. Good tidings, good health and well wishes, for you and Sara and this year's garden, too.

111DFC said...

Very interesting serie of posts, this time around the "submerged continent" which is the freudian sub-conscious

Around the monotheism of the judaism, the jewish monotheism was well established before the exile in Mesopotamia, and some historians of religions (like E.O.James) think the judaism took his monotheism faith from the Amarnic Heresy (Tell el-Amarna), during the reing of Akhenaten. Some historians even think the expulsion of the jews from Egipt was the expusion of the renmants amarnic heretics

Shane W said...

Well, I guess JMG is ending this chapter, there's nothing more to be said, and all the time that was used reading posts and comments can go towards "How then, shall we live"... So much to do...

J. Gamer said...

All the best John Michael. I'll be waiting patiently (more or less) for your next incarnation.

Bryant said...

Thank you for your work, JMG. I've enjoyed it a great deal, and it has given me much to think about.

Gottfried Wilhelm Melvin Hicks-Leibniz said...


Enjoy your break!

In the meanwhile, a former high-finance heretic:

"Only lowering our living standards will achieve sustainable growth. That’s the message from Satyajit Das, a former financier who anticipated the GFC. Debt, energy consumption, housing affordability or superannuation – it’s all based on a financial system that’s in fact a completely fictional model. This model was always doomed to fail – eventually."

Even though the lecture runs for 53 minutes (audio only), it is worth sharing with family and friends.

He addresses EROEI, peak oil, and many of the other themes John's blog has pounded on over the years.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi JMG and everyone,

I wrote a blog entry about the demise of the ADR blog: A brief history of sleep.

Hope you all enjoy it!



Ray Wharton said...

This is a good point to leave The Arch Druid Report off at. Returning to the importance of the question at its heart. I am glad that more than a third of my reason for having the Internet might be relieved, and another part of life will simplify. But, I will be looking forward to the next incarnation of JMG's online writing as it become available.

The greatest fortune in my life has been in finding good teachers. Studying the Archdruid Report and commentary has been the best school I have encountered. If I can afford the paper I will put the whole thing, comments and all, in three ring binders.

Thanks for writing it.

Zach said...

Dear JMG,

It is a well-deserved break. Maybe I can catch up on some of the reading backlog inspired by your writing! :)

I am excited to see that your Thibault translation is back in print. That goes to the top of my sword-related purchase list for 2017.


Karim said...

Greetings all and with due respect,

@ onething and others, concerning Islam and the Golden Rule:


Many regards.

. said...

@Crow Hill, You're conflating Islam as a belief system with Muslims as people. Not at all the same thing. People seem to do that reflexively whenever anyone says something that could be viewed as negative about Islam. It's not rational.

And it's just a break folks! Not the decline and fall of JMG blogging.


Jason Heppenstall said...

Dear John - thank you for all your writing on this blog at such a consistently high level for so long. By my calculations you've put down around 2.5 million words on the Archdruid Report over the last 11 years, including your replies to comments. If it were a book it'd be about 8,000 pages thick — truly a wizardly tome!

I'll gladly admit that stumbling across your books and blog has been a very life-changing experience for me (for the better), and I know a lot of others feel the same way. Anyway, I look forward to seeing you re-emerge at some future point in time with a new blog. All the best to you and Sara.


p.s. For anyone wanting to keep a bit of JMGesque spirit going during the intermission I'm running a writing competition similar to the ones for the After Oil series. You can enter your post-industrial science fiction stories up until May 1st, and the 'winners' will be published in an anthology I am producing. For more details see my blog 22BillionEnergySlaves

Pantagruel7 said...

Intended as a response to "beneaththesurface" on the state of libraries: I heartily agree that this is a tragic failure. My own experience: back in the 1970s I became interested in, among others, two writers, James Branch Cabell, and Knut Hamsun. At our local city library, the capital of a mid-western state I found numerous novels by both these men. One, Jurgen, by James Branch Cabell, was published in the 1920s but the pages had never been cut past about page 20. I was, apparently, the first library patron to read it clear through in 50 years and yet the library had not discarded it! Of Hamsun, there were at least ten of his many novels there to be checked out. I think I read all of them. Alas, those days are gone. I doubt that that library has even one book by either author now. On the other hand, out of print books are easily and cheaply available for purchase on ebay & Amazon - at least for now - so I'm amassing a library of my own.

Robo said...

Thank you for all the years of thoughtful insight and attention. These gifts are now more valuable than ever.

MacA said...

... and so students, that brings us to the end of the theoretical part of the course. Those of you who haven't already started the practical work had better get on with it!

I have been reading this blog weekly almost since its inception and can honestly say that nothing else has come close to enlightening me so much and in so many ways. Well done JMG - a bright light in a darkening world!


siddrudge said...

John Michael,

I haven't posted in quite some time, but haven't missed a week of enjoying your posts through the years. I've even had the special honor of snagging a couple of "gold stars" from you in the past– which hold a special place on my virtual mantle.

But the specter of not having your wisdom, delivered fresh each week, along with the rich comments from this most singular and brilliant community which you have created, is, well, FRACKING depressing!

I once dubbed you our modern day "Pliny the Elder," but I think you have deservingly earned the mantle "mahatma" – or at the very least, a Bodhisattva.

But you are solidly a Druid, and it's quite ironic that I discovered you through modern technology – a fracking google search!!

So with respect to your musty earthy comfort zone, please imagine that I am whispering these words to you in a lovely, warm sunlit grove. And except my warm embrace as a gesture of gratitude for having a profound influence in my life.

And l hope you'll leave our lovely meeting in the grove, understanding the feelings I couldn't possibly articulate – the stuff that is often lost in the tangle of the intellectual discourse of this blog. That stuff, I think, is that you are LOVED and that you have made a profound difference in our lives.

So I extend to you and your community of brilliant commenters, a very teary-eyed thank you and farewell. It appears my stoicism has sprung a leak!

I'lll leave you with this excerpt of a letter regarding Pliny the Elder written by his nephew, Pliny the Younger to Tacitus. I think we can apply it to you JMG:

"For my part I deem those blessed to whom, by favour of the gods, it has been granted either to do what is worth writing of, or to write what is worth reading; above measure blessed those on whom both gifts have been conferred. . . "

Peace and blessings to you and all you hold dear,

-- Sidd

chela said...

Mr Greer
I stumbled upon your blog via some occult dabbling I was doing about 7 years ago. I started reading ADR out of curiosity and stayed because you blew my mind with your writing on all the things I'd felt since childhood but couldn't ever articulate. So much resonance.
I'm changed for having read the Archdruid Report and truly truly grateful for your wisdom and insight.
All the best to you!

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