Last night I hung out online with the Doomstead Diner for a chat at the Collapse Cafe. We talked about the state of the UK, what Jeremy Corbyn means for politics here, and a few other things too. If I'm looking a bit ruffled it's because I spent all day making cider on a farm and had just got in from the stormy weather outside.
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Who remembers this? This is the image they used to display on TV when there were no programmes to broadcast, and there was usually some accompanying muzak (or a high-pitched beep if it was late at night).
Personally I always thought the dwarf clown was a bit creepy. The girl too. And she is clearly playing noughts and crosses by herself as the clown has no arms to speak of. I wonder what she grew up to be.
Read more here.
Thursday, September 17, 2015
I was having a cup of tea with a friend in his polytunnel the other day and he was telling me about how hard it was to live a simple life minding his own business. He's about ten years younger than me, is married and has a kid on the way, and they live on a three acre plot of land which they bought with their own money and manage using permaculture. They work every day of the week, have practically no money and their ecological footprint is probably so small it might even not register, and yet they are suffering from endless harassment to get them evicted and complaints from nearby wealthy residents who feel that people shouldn't be allowed to live as they please. My friend had a simple explanation for all this, he said that as a nation and a culture, we are basically nasty and intolerant.
This got me thinking. Britain, after all, was the first industrialised nation. We had the enclosures acts from the 17th century onwards which kicked people off the land and turned it over to the pseudo industrial practice of sheep farming (the rearing of 'woolly maggots' as George Monbiot describes them). Wealth has been concentrated at the top for so long and the society has been stratified by class that imagining normal people living and working in the countryside is practically impossible for most.
Our culture is a dominator one. Due to a geological accident regarding coal, combined with a military nature and a lust for foreign goods, we ended up being the world's largest empire. When colonisers arrived in Australia and encountered Aboriginal people, instead of making friends with them they buried their children up to their necks in the sand and played a game where you had to kick off their heads with a single powerful kick. In India we caused mass famines and when people complained we machine-gunned them down. We did the same in plenty of other countries too. We divided up vast expanses of Africa, Asia and the Middle East and drew lines on maps which caused huge upheavals and sectarian violence. Nelson razed Copenhagen with naval bombardment, just for fun, and we devised the world's first concentration camps during the Boer War, and enthusiastically firebombed cities during the Second World War. And then, even when we stopped being an empire, we spawned Margaret Thatcher whose enthusiasm for the ideas of neoliberalism was enthusiastically passed onto Ronald Reagan and forced upon the world.
People don't like to talk about any of these aspects of Britishness. They prefer to talk about the engineering marvels we brought to India and how we taught the world to speak English. We brought football, cricket and tennis to the natives, and helped them become civilised. They might concede that there was the odd 'dark chapter' but that overall the empire building was all good and proper.
I was in London a couple of weeks ago and took the opportunity to visit the City (i.e. the financial district) to do a bit of background research for my online book Seat of Mars. Leaving Liverpool Street station one passes by a bronze statue of some refugee children. I looked at the inscription and it was a dedication to the selfless efforts of local people who took in 10,000 Jewish children from Germany prior to the Second World War. Valiant stuff, but this is the statue that many of the 35,000 City workers walk past every morning as they head for their high rises to unleash further financial mayhem on the world. How many millions of people has the City of London killed in the last few decades? It's a valid question, but don't hold your breath for an answer. Yet these City workers, for the most part, see themselves as good people. They run marathons to raise funds for cancer research, they donate money on Children in Need night, and they buy kittens for their kids. I have some friends who are City bankers and they are not evil people (though we don't have much to talk about these days). Hell, I was once almost a banker myself, luckily fluffing my interview at Citi.
So maybe it's just the system that is evil.
But then I see evil everywhere. I see the attack dogs set onto Jeremy Corby for daring to suggest scrapping nuclear weapons. I see evil in the pages of the Daily Mail and the Telegraph as they attempt to character assassinate anyone who wants to stop global warming, or as they incite violence against refugees. I see evil in the countryside where farmers and rich people collude to kill the wildlife in the most painful and inhumane ways possible. Fracking is evil. Bombing by drones is evil. Hosting arms fairs is evil.
Of course, if you say these things to people they will call you a traitor and a 'Brit hater'. They will point out that it's not their fault, all those wars of conquest, and that they have no need to feel guilty - even though our way of life is funded by one-sided trade deals, easy access to energy and a ponzi system of finance that allows us to continue to rack up astronomical levels of debt and consume huge bites of the world's resource pie. I'm not a Brit-hater - there are far too many positive aspects of life in these isles - but that doesn't mean I have to be an apologist for the less-than-wholesome aspects.
Perhaps my friend had a point.
Or perhaps not. Perhaps it is a case that those in the top positions are psychopaths, willing to do anything and everything to consolidate their power and enslave the masses using mind control techniques. I know plenty of people who are not evil. As a matter of fact, I don't think I know anyone who is evil. Most people, it seems to me, are good at heart. They want to help. They want to love one another. They want to stop the destruction of the world. These are the people it is best to hang around with - they're better for for soul and your sanity.
So why do we collectively put up with all this evilness? Is it because badness has a natural advantage over goodness? Do evil plans always work out in the 'real' world and good ones are just 'idealistic dreaming'? Does the devil have all the best tunes?
I have a theory. Could it be that it is because Britain is an island that was once fabled for its gold and tin mines? That it has been invaded again and again since the end of the last ice age, and that the settler populations always selected for the most war-like? For me, you could forgive the Anglo Saxons and the Romans, but it was the Normans that did it. With their Scandinavian blood, their aristocratic French ways and their lust for conquering - the country changed dramatically after 1066. One of the first things they did was catalogue all the people, land and assets in the Domesday Book. Invasion, murder and cataloguing - the start of the dominator culture. It's been almost 1,000 years and still the top landowners in this country can trace their lineages back to the Normans. Or maybe there is some kind of supernatural explanation ...
So, no, I don't think we are evil. Just some of us. The ones with the power. And the ability to project that power has been multiplied a thousand-fold since we discovered that you could burn coal and use it to power engines. So will we see a future where access to limited high-concentration energy also leads to a corresponding drop in the ability of bad men (yes, it's mostly men) to do bad things? One can only hope so.
Who knows, maybe in 500 years time it will be possible to live on a small piece of land and raise a family without having the collective wrath of a millennium of dominator culture threatening to fall down and crush you just for wanting not to be a part of that system.
Thursday, September 10, 2015
|Refugees walking northwards towards Sweden along a motorway in Denmark|
For the last few days hundreds of Syrian refugees have been trudging northwards up Danish motorways trying to get to Sweden. Right now, in Europe, if you’re a refugee you want to be in either Germany or Sweden as these are the two countries that have the most lenient asylum policies. Basically put, they won’t write a number on your arm, stick you in a detention camp or clobber you with nightsticks.
Judging by images on the news it’s a surreal sight. Denmark is a land of orderly neatness and happy conformity where the ugly reality of the ‘outside world’ is kept at bay. This is no place for unsightly groups of refugees. Long term readers of 22 Billion Energy Slaves will remember that I used to live in Denmark where I worked as a journalist, and moved to the UK two and a half years ago. Before that I lived in Spain, and before Spain I lived in Denmark again. As an EU passport holder I can flit from country to country and call myself an ‘expat’, and nobody calls me an immigrant or a refugee or an alien. It’s my privilege – I’m one of the lucky ones.
But the refugees don’t have any such luck. They drew the short straw of being born in the wold's most unstable region, and now they want to get out of it, even if it means crossing the sea in a leaky dinghy and risking their lives. Most of them don't actually want to be in Denmark. If a bridge could be built that passed right over the country you can bet that it would be filled with Syrians trudging from Germany to Sweden. Basically, they are unwelcome in Denmark. Fetegan Altorek, a 26 year-old Syrian yesterday remarked “It’s obvious to see they [the Danes] don’t like us. They spit on us and fight us.”
Perhaps they had not seen the adverts put out by the Danish government in recent weeks telling them they they were not welcome in the World's Happiest Nation (TM).
|Travellers at the airport receive a different welcome|
But not all Danes are like that, of course, and some have been stopping to offer lifts to the bridge that separates Denmark from Sweden. However, this is regarded as ‘people-smuggling’ and carries the risk of a three-year prison sentence. Some do it anyway, reminding their forgetful compatriots that Danish citizens once helped Jews flee to Sweden during the Second World War. “At the time we were occupied by the Nazis, but this time we voted them into power,” quipped someone on social media, referring to the current government and the resurgence of the far-left nationalists the Danish People’s Party.
Apart from the lure of not being incarcerated or deported, why do so many Syrians want to get to Sweden? To live in peace and join family already there, they say. I had a chance to see some of them doing just that when I went on a walk to a Swedish forest last year. I wrote about it in my book The Path to Odin’s Lake, in a chapter I called The Far Flung People. This is an excerpt, in which I had just emerged from the forest into a small rural town in a bucolic setting, and had found a hotel in which to get some breakfast:
The girl on duty, presiding over an empty breakfast buffet, was accommodating if a little frosty, although in all probability I did look as if I had been dragged through a hedge backwards. Which was half true. I poured myself a coffee and sipped the sweet black liquid, savouring its restorative effect as I gazed out of a window at the empty streets. By the time I had finished my second refill and also eaten a Danish pastry (also called Vienna bread in Sweden) people in the outside world had begun to wake up and give some life to the town.
But something was odd. One might have expected the people walking the streets in a tiny town in rural Sweden to be, well, Swedish. But almost everyone I saw looked to be from the Middle East. Women wearing headscarves pushed prams, men sat on walls idly fingering worry beads and olive-skinned teenage girls giggled and chatted into their mobile phones. Among them was the occasional obviously Swedish person – an old silver-haired woman here, a blonde boy on a moped there – but the majority were clearly from somewhere else. They were all smart-casual dressed, as if they’d just stepped out of an H&M store. “What’s going on?”, I asked the girl behind the breakfast bar who, in other circumstances, could have been a catwalk model and perhaps was. “Are these people refugees?”
“Yes,” she replied sparsely. “There is a centre here.”
I asked where they had come from. “Mostly Syria, from the war”, she explained. “Some from Somalia.” I thought back to the man I had seen earlier at the lake, about how his eyes had been so wasted. I didn’t think Somalis liked to drink.
“There is nothing for them to do here”, said the girl. “They are not allowed to work, so they just hang around. Some have bad habits.”
I wondered if this was causing problems. Sweden, famously, is the most accommodating country in the world when it comes to taking in refugees. Its liberal policies dating back to the 1960s have been the envy of progressives the world over, and many of the Swedes I had met over the years were justifiably proud of them. But decisions about refugees were made in faraway Stockholm, and such an influx of people from a different country, with a different religion and culture, was bound to cause tension, I thought. The girl seemed to read my mind.
“Some people say there are too many for our town – we are only 800 people but we now have to support 400 refugees.”
“Is this a problem?” I asked.
But the girl just shrugged. “No problem, really”, she said. I tried to ask her more questions but she became tight-lipped, indicating that the matter was closed, so instead I asked her how much it cost to stay the night in the hotel.
Röstånga in the afternoon wasn’t much different from Röstånga in the morning. The lumber trucks still rolled southwards on the Riksväg 13, the occasional moped or Volvo stopped at the petrol station and the streets were still scattered with bored-looking refugees. They milled around listlessly in small groups; a bunch of pram-pushing women here, a row of men sitting on a wall there. Their presence in this rural Swedish hamlet was incongruous and they seemed like actors in a movie who had turned up on the wrong set. It was as if they were waiting for something to happen, a bus to arrive, or a concert to start.
During half a lifetime of travelling the world I had noticed that in most countries people’s lives are played out in public places. From Madrid to Istanbul, Guatemala City to Mumbai, it is on the streets that social interaction takes place, news is passed on, gossip is blathered, deals are done and emotions are vented. Not so in Scandinavia. The streets here are infrastructure – cold boulevards for the conveyance of people and goods from A to B. Scandinavian life takes place in private behind closed doors, and perhaps that’s why these people seemed out of place.
Passing a few women on the pavement I tried to make eye contact with them. Most blocked me out but one made the briefest of contact before looking quickly away, as if embarrassed. Another group, this time teenage girls, gave me the same response. The groups were always segregated by sex. It was a curious thing, this business of casual greeting. During my perambulations around the forest, I had often come across other walkers. In Britain, nine times out of ten, walkers crossing paths in a forest would greet each other with a cheery ‘morning’ or ‘afternoon’. In Denmark, I had found the opposite to be true, but here in Sweden it was really a 50/50 situation. On the one hand you could take the initiative and boldly say ‘hi’ only to be met with that steely Scandinavian look of horror that a stranger is trying to make contact with you, but on the other hand there was an equal chance that the other party would take the initiative just when you had decided it wasn’t worth making yourself look a fool. After a few days of this I had learned to settle for some brief eye contact, a quick head-nod and a short ‘hi’ at the ready on my lips should they greet me. It was best to hedge one’s bets.
But with the refugees it was a different matter. There was a barrier there; something protective was in place. I was interested in speaking to a few of them, curious to find out their stories. But it seemed that the newcomers inhabited a different world to the Swedes – a kind of parallel universe separated by a vacuum across which communication was difficult. Eventually, after wandering around the village in circles, I decided I had better find out what time the bus would come the next morning to take me back to Lund.
At the bus stop two men were talking animatedly in Arabic. They looked to be in their mid-twenties, one heavily muscular and with a crew cut, the other thin and bearded. I guessed they were friends. As I stood there studying the timetable the muscular one asked me if I had a light. He stood there with an unlit cigarette hanging from his lips and mimed striking a flint lighter with his thumb and clasped hand. I rummaged in my bag and found one, proffering it to him. He took it and lit his cigarette and then that of his friend, handing it back to me between hands pressed together as if in prayer. I asked them where they were from. “Syria”, he said.
“What do you think of it here?”, I asked, meaning Sweden.
“Good life”, he replied, inhaling the smoke. “Good people.”
It was a stupid question. I asked him another stupid question. “Why are you here?” He immediately said something to his friend, who it was clear did not understand English, and they both laughed. “Assad”, he said. He thought for a moment and added “War bring us here. When Assad gone, I go back, rebuild my house”. He turned back to his friend and they continued with their fast-paced conversation and I, having noted the time of the buses, left them to it.
Granted, it wasn’t much of an insight, but the thing that struck me the most was how deeply separated the hosts were from their refugee guests. And with the refugees being unable to work or better themselves, isn’t there a risk of them going stir crazy? Scandinavians love to talk of ‘integration’, but that would seem to be quite a tall order when such a barrier exists. In any case, I suspected, integration really means ‘forget who you are, be like us’.
Yet at the moment, despite all the media hysteria, it is just a trickle of refugees arriving. It’s a given that there will be more. Currently, like everything these days, their appearance is highly politicised. You’re either for them or against them. Currently, if one is a right-wing ‘realist’ you will talk about building walls and fences and dropping more bombs on the countries they are fleeing. Bombing is always offered as a solution to violence. On the other hand, if you’re a compassionate liberal you talk about opening up the borders, giving them all somewhere to live and allowing them to invite the remainder of their families over too. I suspect that this second point of view will sadly have a limited shelf life as things progress further down the road and people begin to grasp the sheer scale of the problem.
And the rhetoric on both sides is rising, which is unfortunate if not entirely unpredictable. The unpalatable truth is that the Middle East and North Africa is becoming uninhabitable and not fit for human habitation. 100 years of oil exploitation, imperial plundering and ecological mismanagement has led us to here. In the case of Syria, as this article in The Ecologist points out, disastrous land management practices initiated in the 1960s turned most of the Syrian steppe into a dustbowl. Global weirding, in the form of droughts, followed by downpours and epic dust storms, destroyed much of the remaining topsoil. Millions of farmers and pastoralists were disenfranchised – ideal recruitment fodder for jihadist militias.
So a proxy war between Russia and the USA over control of the remaining energy resources was all that was needed to tip Syria into total chaos. The population is caught between their own crazy dictator dropping barrel bombs on them, and the murderous thugs of ISIS cutting and raping their way across what’s left of their country. Is it any wonder they want to get to Sweden?
The wider picture is no less unappealing. The age of oil that allowed for the greening of the desert is drawing to a close. Nitrogen fertiliser was first synthesised using fossil fuels after the last world war, meaning that vast swathes of desert could now be irrigated and used for growing crops. At the same time, selling their oil wealth has permitted countries such as Saudi Arabia to import massive amounts of food from the more fertile areas of the world, and to create a generous social security system for its people. Predictably, in light of this, the birth rate shot up, meaning there are now an order of magnitude more people living in these fragile desert regions than the ecology can support. As the oil crutch is kicked out we’ll find out the hard way that you can’t bargain with nature. So it goes.
And so pretty soon we can expect hundreds of thousands more from Syria. Turkey currently puts up two million of them, but as other nations prevaricate and squabble, its patience is wearing thin. There are said to be twelve million Syrians displaced. And after Syria we have Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Iraq and a few other places that we have meddled with. That’s not a political statement, it’s a simple fact. Where else will they go other than the smallish, wealthy and fertile western Eurasian appendage knows as Europe? There are 381 million people living in the arid regions fringing Europe, and it has the fastest-growing population of any of the planet’s major regions.
Last year I had a conversation with an historian who knows a thing or two about mass migrations. “It starts off as a trickle,” he said “but then, as things collapse, all of a sudden it turns into a flood. When you have entire nations full of people suddenly deciding to get up and leave, there is literally nothing anyone can do about it.”
“What about Europe?” I asked.
“Italy, Spain, Greece, France, a few other places … toast,” was his reply.
That’s the predicament we’re in. It won’t be pretty and our only guidance is compassion, not fear. The great change is already upon us.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
As a youngster I was a member of the Boy Scout movement and the motto that was drilled into us was “Always be prepared.” Prepared for what? Prepared for whatever life throws at you, was the answer I got. It seemed a pretty reasonable idea to my eight-year-old brain. By training us young boys (and girls, if you were a Brownie) we could learn to pre-empt danger by thinking about the given risks of any situation and either prepare accordingly or choose to avoid the situation entirely.
So how has it happened that we have ended up with a society whose motto seems to be “Never be prepared”?
Watching the wild gyrations of the major stock markets of the last few days I noticed a couple of things. When things looked like they were going to get bad, the TV and internet pundits generally said: “There’s nothing to worry about, this situation can’t possibly happen.” And then when things actually did get bad they tended to say “Oh, well we knew there was always a risk of this happening and it’s time we faced up to the fact that what we feared most but had left unsaid has come to pass.” And then, when the dead cat bounce took the markets higher again the pundits trotted out and said: “Everything is fixed! We told you there was nothing to worry about!”
The average small investor (if there is such a thing anymore, outside of China) must be squirming on his couch clutching his head as spasms of cognitive dissonance rack his body. “But they said it couldn’t happen!”
Yet one person who couldn’t ever be confused with a TV finance pundit this week was Labour MP Damian McBride, who advised his Twitter followers to stock up on canned food and water, withdraw their cash and agree a rallying point with friends in family in case of communications breakdown and civil disorder.
He wasn’t mincing his words.
And McBride isn’t just some lowly backbencher either – he was Gordon Brown’s adviser when he was prime minister, as well as being a senior civil servant at the Treasury. As such he must know more than most people how fragile the global financial system is.
Predictably enough, he was roundly mocked by the press for being alarmist. Twitterers everywhere joined in with the two-minutes’ hate. In a world where sentiment is more important than reality such boat-rocking cannot not be allowed to pass.
The news message right now, as I type these words, is that markets have recovered from their panic attacks (even though this is patently untrue). China has calmed the waters by lowering its interest rates (what they still have interest rates above zero?) and there is soothing talk of more stimulus measures. The long-feared rate hike in the US is also being talked down. Nothing to see here, move along.
If current newspaper editorials and TV finance channels could be stuffed together into a cultural blender and reformed into the medium of music they would emerge as some kind of gently soothing mood music – the kind they play in dentists’ waiting rooms in the hope that it’ll drown out the noise of the drill and cries of pain coming from the next room.
If current newspaper editorials and TV finance channels could be stuffed together into a cultural blender and reformed into the medium of music they would emerge as some kind of gently soothing mood music – the kind they play in dentists’ waiting rooms in the hope that it’ll drown out the noise of the drill and cries of pain coming from the next room.
Of course, none of this matters at this point because what this week’s market carnage has shown is that central banks are not omnipotent and they may even be running out of pumping power for all the epic mega-bubbles that have been created in recent years. Even those who haven’t been paying attention must now surely be able to see that unleashing quantitative easing (i.e. printing money) is simply an exercise in transferring the private risk/debt of the rich into public hands. You can unleash the monetary floodgates all you like and watch as all that liquidity flows into the feeding troughs of the world’s financial centres leaving the real – productive – sectors of the economy high and dry while wrecking many of the aspects of modern life that allow us to consider our societies as civilised.
This is certain to have real consequences in the real world as levels of debt continue to skyrocket, and the ability of the real economy as a whole to repay that debt diminish by the week. You can extend your credit limit to the Moon and back, but if your income is falling and you keep piling on the debt then you must know that some day there will come a knock at the door. So should individuals prepare for the ensuing calamity that this moment of reckoning will bring into being? Or should we just sit there on our hands humming Everything is Awesome and hoping that the moment will never come?
*I just checked the Cub Scout’s website and – sure enough – their motto is still “Be prepared” – even if it now has far fewer members than it did in the 1970s and is embroiled in a sexual politics wrangle.
Sunday, August 23, 2015
|Seek and ye shall find|
It was almost exactly a year ago when I set off on a journey in Scandinavia that led to the creation of my book The Path to Odin’s Lake. A year’s not much time and I’m surprised that I managed to get it written and published in that timeframe. I decided to go down the route of self-publishing for a number of reasons. First and foremost was because the book itself didn’t particularly lend itself to any genre. When people ask me what kind of book it is I jokingly tell them it’s a “peak oil spiritual travelogue”.
So you see what I mean …
I have had some limited experience with publishing in the past, and once worked as a freelance book editor, so I know the mountain writers have to climb just in order to get noticed. But the business model is changing fast and for good reason.
Not only do many publishers and lit agents mess you around and have increasingly difficult stipulations, authors complain that the burden of promoting their labour of love rests squarely on their own shoulders. Isn’t that supposed to be the job of the publisher (remind me again why they take a hefty fee)? I’ve been down this road before with a previous book I wrote. The publisher requested so many changes to the manuscript that I spent almost a year re-writing it - three times. And then, when it was done, they simply dropped it, saying that their catalogue was full up and the person who commissioned it had left the company. All that work for nothing!
Furthermore, somewhere, in the loft, I’ve got around 300 printed rejection letters from agents and publishers for various weird tales and book projects I’ve written over the last fifteen years. There was, I estimated, an approximately zero percent chance of finding a publisher for The Path to Odin's Lake, so I decided to save myself some time and effort.
I'm not complaining but perhaps you can see why having weighed up the options I decided to take advantage of the new possibilities opened up by self-publishing. Not only do you get complete control over your own book but, due to print-on-demand, you literally press a button and it’s published. Bingo!
Of course, there are downsides. It’s 100% down to you to promote your book, and you find yourself somewhat at the mercy of Amazon, who will change the retail price to a penny if you aren’t careful. Production costs are paid for by the author, and many self-published books run the risk of disappearing into the ether without selling a single copy.
I’m quite proud of my book but it took some considerable up-front payments to birth it. I spent about three months writing and re-writing it and I got an artist friend in Spain to design the cover. A professional copy editor needed paying, and then you have to pay Amazon for author copies. I sent around 20 review copies to people, bloggers and organisations around the world (some of whom asked for them and some who didn’t – all of which seem to have disappeared into a black hole without so much as an acknowledgement). All in all I sunk about £1,000 into the project, plus about 300 hours of writing work and another hundred or so running the social media gauntlet in an attempt to promote it.
Once the book was ‘out there’ a strange thing began to happen. For a start - it being something of a radical truth book dealing with peak energy, civilizational collapse and the journey of the soul – I wasn’t entirely sure what family and friends would think of it. To be honest, I was quite worried – if they didn’t already think I was loopy they certainly would now. And with good reason, it turns out. Some people rushed out to buy it, then sent me pictures of it having turned up in the mail … and then never spoke to me again. A couple of people 'unfriended' me on social media, and one person told me that I might be better off ‘not thinking so much’. I can just imagine the conversations they may have had with their partners: “You remember that bloke Jason – you know, the editor who quit his job and moved to Cornwall? Well, he’s gone completely bonkers. He ran off into a forest in Sweden and ate a load of magic mushrooms, was last seen talking to caterpillars and birds and swimming naked around a lake ranting about Norse gods.”
My old newspaper, The Copenhagen Post (much diminished) duly obliged with the meme: I took magic mushrooms, confesses former Copenhagen Posteditor. (Note – not so much of a confession as an overt promotion).
A few other local newspapers begrudgingly agreed to mention the book too, including Denmark and Sweden’s The Local, which would only promote it on the condition that I give career advice to its readers (me??? !!!) - and only succeeded in bringing out the haters.
Anyway, once I was over this hump of negativity then another thing started to happen. I began to get messages. These were from people who had read my unusual peak oil spiritual travelogue. Usually they had just turned the last page and felt compelled to contact me. These are a few of the messages I received (with names removed to keep them private):
Jason - I sat and read your book for 5 hours!!! I just couldn't put it down. I want to get one copy sign by you if possible, to give it to a scientist friend of ours … You are costing us a fortune , my husband's bought two of the books you've mentioned in your book!!! By the way, he also read your book and loved it!!! I have nearly finished and I have enjoyed it very much. We want to get some more and give it as Christmas presents.
Voicemail: “Hi Jason, I just finished reading your book and I had to call you. I just wanted to say it was absolutely amazing … seriously the best book I’ve read all year and I’m not just saying that. I honestly couldn’t put it down … was reading it all night. I’m going to make XXX read it too. I just wanted to tell you that. Well done you.”
Just finished your book - really enjoyed it. I liked the style and pace of it, and wholeheartedly agree with the conclusions you come to in the end.. Esp liked the short passage on trees. I write a little my self so I get that it's a shit load of work too, so big respect - it must be a real pleasure to see it in print. Hopefully you'll get some good reviews.
I finished your new book about a week ago and just wanted to write to you to thank you for writing it and making it available. I have been following your blog for a few years now and as blog's go I feel I know you much better than you would obviously know a complete stranger off the internet … Wishing you all the best from a chilly Australia.
Hi Jason … finished reading your book last night … really enjoyed it … excellent read. I think it’s a really amazing achievement and I’m a bit in awe! xx
Obviously, it’s very gratifying and hugely satisfying to get such nice messages from readers. And it’s also quite heart-warming to see that it has several five star reviews on Amazon. Still, it’s an uphill struggle to get the message out about it and as it stands I’m going to be seriously out of pocket unless it is more widely read. So that’s why I’m asking you to buy a copy, if you haven’t already done so, or if you have, consider buying one for a friend whom you think might like it. It’s available as both a paperback and an ebook. Once I have recouped the costs of writing the book I will shut up about it and focus on my next one.
I’m sure you will enjoy at least parts of The Path to Odin’s Lake - either that or you will hate me and never want to speak to me again. But at the very least you’ll get to find out who the Caterpillar of Destiny is.