About Fabric

Has the reader noticed that among cloth generally, there are many different fabrics? Each has a unique feel to it. For example, one can clearly tell the difference between silk and denim, or suede and wool, or nylon and hemp. What if, in fact, all cloth felt the same? Would that not really matter? Cloth is cloth and it’s the fashion that is important; it’s usability for whatever; it’s the style that counts; it’s what is popular that matters more.

In virtually every fiction book and film where mariner has observed ‘the future of mankind’, the plot is about humans becoming nondescript, that is, the fabric of life changes. It happens in a piecemeal way. Consider what effect the internal combustion engine had on daily society: Towns no longer had to be only twenty miles apart because that was the limit of a day’s horse ride; agriculture shifted from local market to national market; shared resources among large, stationary families shifted to independent career income no longer bound to the home town or the family.

Even the fabric of riverside cities changed from river shipping to rail, leaving dozens of river towns with dwindling resources. Today local business, the enjoyment of life, the vitality of society is a pale remembrance. Perhaps it could be said these towns lost their fabric.

Readers will quickly challenge loss of fabric versus endless increases in the economy, freedom of new life opportunities, better health services, etc. After all, it’s not about fabric, it’s usability, fashion and style that counts.

Several months ago he read a book, ‘The Way Home – tales from a life without technology’ by Mark Boyle. It is an accounting of Boyle, an economist, who deliberately spent three years without money – zero dollars. The only economy he had was what he could muster with his own hands. What gave him the idea to retreat from industrial society was that he was aware of what it took to pump a glass of water from the ground; it required steel, copper, plastic, dams and endless pipelines including what to do with wastewater. It wasn’t about Mark Boyle being thirsty nor was it about any other individual being thirsty. Individuals were nothing more than a device used to discharge water from a very large, self-important industry.

His key discovery was that the farther away a human is from his core, natural environment, the more damage is done to that environment. His second discovery was that the few families that were close enough to his cabin to interact, were genuinely friendly and willing to help Boyle survive in his stark environment. He and his few neighbors came first instead of last. They had human fabric.

For more philosophical insight into the idea that humans are at the center of life, not abusive corporate trashing of the biosphere, read Gandhi.

Ancient Mariner


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