Hey Joe !
Just read your last instalment, "Escape from America". It was a strange feeling to watch your progress through all the discovery stages of eureka and rapture and fascination to the getting familiar stages of familiarity and solidarity to the final stage of resignation and quiet personal revolution. Strange in that I experienced many of the same reactions during my thirty plus years of itinerancy as an English teacher, sheepherder, boat nigger then captain, carpenter, and a few other things as I traced a crooked impulsive path around the Mediterranean, here and there in the States.
You're absolutely correct. The Empire, once, long ago, commonly known as the United States (" ... no entangling alliances ... " which I, in my childhood innocence actually believed) has become this ever more intrusive presence, this sinister foreboding of ever increasing quantities of noise and ignorance. Is there nowhere to go? I doubt it. It reminds me of the fatalism of the Morrocans who reacted to my tirades about things in general by counselling patience. That to enter into Evil's game is to be colonised by Evil. "Let the Evil run its course", they would say, "you know and we know that it can't last forever. We have been here for a long time and will be here when it has extinguished itself".
As an American trying to escape into something better, I had a feeling they were probably right, but it was still somehow difficult to rid myself of that “can do” kind of reaction when confronted with a problem. But as I thought about it, there came to mind a few examples like the Chinese one about the reed and the oak tree after a big storm which found the reed still firmly in place but the oak uprooted and dying; about the idea of choosing those things you can actually do something about rather than the ones you can't. Stuff like that.
I would love to come over and down there to see what you've got going, but, in a sense, I already know. If or when the day comes when email becomes a thing of the past and I'm still around, I know I'll always be able to put a letter in a bottle and, by the time it reaches your shores, it will be read by those who had known you and they will, no doubt, have an inkling and a good laugh.
We're preparing the boat for the long haul this year, and just may move aboard permanently. Who knows? I certainly don't, but try not to let it bother me. Too much.
Yes, it has been a rather long journey of discovery. Americans tend to think they can anticipate and control more than is truly possible. At first I was so anxious to live in Europe, having tasted it type of freedom for the first time, thanks to an invitation from my best friend, Ken Smith, to visit France (I'd been to Europe several times, but only as a tourist). But after a while reality set in and I realized that Europe, for all its social and human progress, is subject to the same global vicissitudes as America in the long run. Also, there was the matter of the fraudulent value of the dollar being exposed and the subsequent decline in its its value.
Like you, I have a hard time with the "Let evil run its course" school of thought. The American culture, unlke the ancient one of the Morrocans, sprang from the womb of The Enlightenment, which necessarily implies self-realization. Luckily, about halfway along in the search for a more meaningful existence than is possible in America today, spiritual and artistic aspects emerged which clarified matters quite a bit. They balanced the political anger and acted as a truer compass.
I do hope you and your lady can come to sail the coast of Belize and visit. The Caribbean is one hell of a varied place, from French Martinique (a tropical Provence, if you can imagine that) to Cuba and St. Kitts. Sure this is the Third World, but Belize's coast is more like some funky version of Gauguin with cheap appliances and a happy attitude. (The people in Gauguin's paintings are never smiling, are they?)
My cabana is about the equivalent of a good fishing shack in America, which is more than adequate as housing goes down here. Tonight I am cooking red beans stewed in pigs' tails (skinned, chopped in links and smoked in mango wood) and hudut, a Garifuna dish, with fresh caught snapper.
Wish you and you love could be at the table with all of us when the stars come out, the bitters are poured and the talk turns to the sea and life.
In art and labor,