This post serves to let you all know that I haven’t actually lost it.
I decided I was going to start sleeping outside. Now, on the face of it, there seem to be several things wrong with this decision. One: People have always slept under some kind of shelter if they needed to, and I already have that exact thing – a house. Thus, I’m not really gaining a new primitive skill. I’m just, you know, sleeping outside. Two: It’s kind of weird for the neighbors, maybe. Three: Sleeping outside isn’t really a difficult skill to learn. In fact, sleeping as a rule is pretty easy to do.
Sleeping outside was more of a symbolic decision, arrived at on the spur of the moment in a slight heat of idealism when I was writing in my journal. “Bring on the primitive living skill books,” were the words I wrote; “starting tomorrow I sleep outside.” Later, I realized that that decision was more a symbolic change than anything. As such, if it’s raining, I’ll sleep inside. I might start sleeping inside again after a while, but for now, I do like it. It’s nice, if for nothing else then because I get some fresh air, and it’s also usually cooler outside than inside at night.
There are some credulous primitivists out there. I found a forum where they hang out, www.rewild.info/conversations . Several of them there have used homœopathic remedies, and one has mentioned that they have a homœopathic doctor. They talk about rewilding language. Now, all languages can express a copula (something is something else – we use “is” for it, though other languages just put the two things next to each other, like in Russian “Это дверь” – “That [is] a door”), and all languages have pronouns like you, me, and him. But after Jason Godesky posted about “E-Primitive”, the supposed primitive way of writing in English, a lot of them jumped on the bandwagon. E-Primitive is actually based off of E-Prime, which is English with no forms of “to be”, and was conceived by some physicists who fancied themselves philosophers, if I recall correctly. The argument is that only those who feel that they’re masters of the world can declare that one thing is equal to another. Or, perhaps, that one thing is never “equal” to another, because everything in the universe is in a state of flux. The rationales are pretty abstracted. But it has an interesting ring to it – rewilding the English language! Becoming undomesticated even down to your thought patterns! And expressing thoughts with minimal use of “to be” does give a measure of improvement. Professor Savarese advises that you cut down on “to be” as much as you can while writing something, because it makes thoughts longer and less direct. Nevertheless, he used it plenty in his book. The trick is not to use it too much, and when you can, to keep concise by ditching it. See, I used it in that sentence just back there. So, many of them have decided to get rid of the copula in all instances. Others have taken the idea of E-Primitive even farther and started raising the idea of eliminating pronouns – I have no idea what the reasoning is behind that. It sounds good, because it’s a new idea, and sounds kind of deep. Eliminate pronouns, and call all things by their real names. Pronouns are a convenience, though: they shorten sentences by giving you a way around saying the same noun every time you mention it. I get the feeling on that board sometimes that, when Jason Godesky writes something, a lot of them don’t even bother thinking about whether he might be right; they just accept that he is. Of course, there are some others, I’m sure, who aren’t like that. I’d have to say I belong to that camp. I’m not about to start using homœopathic remedies (Head-On! Apply directly to the forehead! – The reason they’re still allowed to sell that stuff is that they never say what it’s supposed to do, and so the FDA can’t say it doesn’t really do it). I’ll continue using “to be”, and Chuck will most certainly always refer to Chuck with a pronoun. I’m going to learn primitive skills, but I’m not going to devote my life to that and no other pursuits. I’m going to look at stuff I read critically, even if it does come from a primitivist source like Jason. Basically, I’m going to learn primitive skills because I think it’ll be both fun and useful – perhaps extremely useful indeed.
P.S.! I made a new snapping video. A friend at Grinnell introduced me to the band that made the song.