Yesterday was my birthday. I spent it setting intentions at the Titan Missile Museum in Green Valley, Raytheon’s Tucson Offices, and Pima County Community College (the East Campus). The latter has been part of the National Laboratory for Education Transformation’s efforts to shift coming generations towards a just-in-time, on-demand, conditional, gig, telepresence workforce model grounded in the use of electronic transcripts and digital twins.
Today is my last day in Arizona. Shortly I’ll head up Mount Lemmon in the Santa Catalina Range to soak up the gifts that nature has to offer in those lofty heights above the Sonoran desert.
I got up this morning and laid out the gatherings I have left. Most were collected here, though some were gifted to me by fellow travelers from Pennsylvania, Washington State, Colorado, and Florida – shells, tobacco, clover, tissue paper hummingbirds, “Green Pill” socks, and pressed flowers from a “cheer-me-up” bouquet. When I was done sorting through the worn gift bag that I’d been carrying around, the counter held a sprig of tiny peppers from the Presidio fortification remnants; a rounded piece of driftwood worn smooth by the seasonal rains in a wash near a Hohokam settlement; feathers from a local park; white stones from Cochise Stronghold; Mesquite beans from the landscaping outside the Raytheon building; wrinkled date palms gathered along the sidewalk opposite Michael Crow’s office at Arizona State University. The campus had many offerings – papery bark, Nandina berries, even an olive!
Over a celebratory soup supper one of my host’s friends asked me what I do about all of this? What do I do? Well, I make hearts. Some make plans to try and protect their retirements from digital currency. Some scout possible bug-out locations. Some work on local politics. All of those are fine things to do. We all have our paths. I try not to judge, and I hope others will not judge my approach. From my research I know that this system of domination seeks to harness the power of love and faith and imagination. They are trying to get us to teach it to artificial intelligence. Based on recent developments, GPTChat, it seems many are all too happy to oblige in this misguided mentoring process. Me? I try to be a storyteller who holds open the door for an alternate future. I go places and I try to tell their stories. All places have their story.
This system, as John Trudell so eloquently teaches, wants us to forget who we are. We are shapes of the earth. Our bones, flesh, and blood are made up of the minerals, stones, and liquids of the earth. In Arizona you feel this viscerally. Rocks are everywhere in every size and there is an energetic communion with them. A magnificent dance is unfolding all around us, a symphony of life that machine consciousness envies. This soulless creature stares down at us from space, attempts to secure our souls within its socio-technical systems, but we are like water. We flow through the rapids and the calm pools towards the sea.
I’ll be writing more hard-hitting research on Tucson after I get home, but until them I want to leave you with some of the intentions that I have set along the way. Consider these offerings and reflect on how these storylines get woven into a master narrative of domination through mathematical “progress” and optimization. My new read aloud, “We” written in 1921 by Yevgeny Zamyatin provides appropriate context for the coming smart contract layer of imposed logic. The antidote, in my opinion, is authentic communion with clear-thinking human beings and with the rhythms of nature and the through lines that connect us to our ancestors and task us with being good relatives to those who come after.
I embark today with a lei around my neck gifted to me by a strong woman of Hawaiian descent. It was handmade by her from Ti leaves transformed through rhythmic twisting into a deep, glossy green cable. Bits of leaf tips peek out. I imagine these as a wink and a nod that not all will be contained within the ordering system. She told me that she’d grown the plant from which this gift was crafted as a cutting. It was taken from her childhood home and carried many memories, including those of a grandmother who wore ginger flowers in her hair. Its appearance is not unlike the cording from an academic ceremony or liturgical vestment. It is my honor to wear it today and to bring it with me up the mountain where I will say a prayer that despite our frailties and inadequacies, or perhaps because of them, we will be able to carry a shkitagen-held spark for natural life through the miasma of differential equations, handing it off as many times as needed until we come out the other side. We are the sons and daughters of life. We are in need of healing, and we are healers. We need to remember who we are.
Morris Udall Park, Tucson, Arizona
Mission San Xavier Del Bac, Tohono O’odham Nation
University of Arizona Consciousness Center, Tucson, Arizona
Rufus Von KleinSmid, Former University of Arizona President and Eugenicist, WWI Fountain Outside Old Main, Tucson, Arizona
Cochise Stronghold, Dragoon Mountains
Arizona State University, Sun Devils, Tempe, Arizona
Biosphere2, Oracle, Arizona
Titan II Missle Silo, Green Valley, Arizona
Raytheon Offices, Tucson, Arizona
Pima County Community College Eastern Campus, Tucson, Arizona