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The Dogma of Permaculture and All Things Specific

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Like all movements in the realm of human affairs, permaculture is no different in terms of how many throw around the phrase with certainty and authority–and rigidity. I came across the term/movement by pure circumstance and admittedly it appealed to me because of the tenet of natural order vs. monoculture which is anything but adherent to the natural order. It seems logical that when you’re dealing with growing food, you also want to preserve the natural order in a large way because it is it and not YOU who is in control of your food supply. Thus veering too far from how things really work, as in big ag farming, will only yield unfavorable results as we have seen throughout the past fifty to one hundred some odd years and then-some.

When one approaches a concept as though it were a static and unchanging thing or in a way that suggests that it can be applied mechanistically and that, in order for it to “work” it must be strictly adhered to, it becomes as human in nature, as all the rest of the presumptuous human applications, essentially rendering it useless. Permaculture, in my opinion should be almost Tao like in nature and “application.” Science is great for fixing broken things and making things that would never fly fly or things that would never float float, but in terms of understanding the underlying framework of the natural world, it has, at very best, been not more than conjecture, and  trial and error. Often, we’ve read some really Smart guy’s book on what the soil “needs” and how best to tend to this or that, but what about reality?

If we need to mine minerals from somewhere else in order to make the soil “good” enough to use HERE, then either we need to rethink whether or not we want to use that soil or we need to think of ways that we can enrich the soil using what is within our reach. Likewise, if there is going to be a tractor that is needed in order to employ a particular permaculture practice, i my humble opinion, i would say: it’s not worth it!

So many people have criticized my methods of doing things, because they are archaic, unscientific or just “wrong” but they only make such accusations based on the assumptions that what is knowable “out there” i.e. in text or audio form, is better or more meaningful than using common sense and simplicity. It is not to say that there is no room for scientific fact when it comes to farming or other areas of life, it is merely to suggest that things are not as rigid and one way as those “out there” sources would like you to think. Being experimental is the underpinning of human development and it is the job of the permaculturist is to constantly redefine permaculture using his/her circumstances, ingenuity and the “facts” that they have learned from “out there.”

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2 Comments

  1. Nicely said. I’ve noticed how a lot of people bring old earth-rape notions with them to permaculture. Impatient to have things their way they get giant earth movers to force the land to their will. But even so it’s still a fine transition, a beginning for the internal change needed to live sustainably. I’ve heard that eventually a lot of people chill out on their permaculture projects and end up more like Masanobu Fukuoka. It’s strangely deep and complex to approach things so simply. It acknowledges that the deeper you go in understanding natural systems, the deeper it gets. Ken Wilber wrote about holons, the concept that everything is both a “part” of a greater “whole” and a “whole” comprised of many interconnected “parts”. The dance of connections is ever changing and flowing, but always in the sense that the bigger “wholes” INCLUDE the systems within. An unnatural hierarchy gets narrow at the top but a natural hierarchy gets ever wider. Perhaps at the deepest smallest levels there’s a switching point where the snake ears it’s tail and it all circles around but I don’t know, I live in the perceptual reality of a limited section of the electromagnetic spectrum.

    • Thanks! I think that realizing that it’s so complex and that we really have no way of knowing it all should, ideally, force us to just take a more backseat approach like our man Fukuoka. I love that you mentioned this guy’s idea of “holons.” I’m reading the holographic universe and it’s very much that idea….part and parcel…complexity at every level. And the author posits that you can tap into that at some level. I really feel very connected to the idea that it’s like a holographic film where all the info can be found on every breakdown of everything. But that might be a bit of fantastical thinking on my part.

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