Long before the Wright brothers many engineers and aeronautical aspirants were constructing and testing flying machines. Historians recognize the first legitimate flight attempts to have occurred in the late 1700′s. Some people were taken to the air and came back safely, and others were seriously injured. The Wright brothers (after several years of attempts) made their first successful powered & manned flight in 1903. Achieving flight was no easy task for mankind: countless attempts, failures and learned lessons had to be made before a working flight machine was built.
So what the hell does this have to do with Valhalla? If you’ve read Ishmael, you probably know where I’m going with this
In the book by Daniel Quinn, an enormous ape named Ishmael discusses with a young man how human civilization has erred. He talks about the cultures of the “Takers” and the “Leavers”. The Takers are those who have subscribed to the currently prevailing cultural paradigms of mankind’s dominance over nature and the need for incessant “progress”. The Leavers are the humans who have recognized their place in nature among the rest of the biological community and have made attempts to live harmoniously, and thereby sustainably, with this fact. Unfortunately, because of the Takers’ prominence as well as their imperialistic approach to spreading their culture and control there are hardly any Leavers left in the world, and those who are left have no power in the system the Takers have set up. Worse yet, this system is about to leave extinct the entire community of life on earth.
“When you want to fly, the laws governing flight become relevant… And when you’re on the brink of extinction and want to live for a while longer, the laws governing life might conceivably become relevant.”
– Ishmael, pages 100-101
The fact is that Taker culture is destroying the ecology of our home planet. We strip our land of resources faster than the rate at which they regenerate. We emit a disgusting amount of gaseous pollutants which harm the quality of our air and accelerate climate change. We destroy entire ecosystems to keep up the lifestyle we’ve developed; and then somehow equate the furthering of this culture of consumption and speed as progress! To top it all off, in addition to ensuring the extinction of life on earth, our current system makes most humans miserable. We choke the soul & spirit either through poverty or a rat race which brings no fulfillment. There are obviously “laws governing life” which the Takers fail to follow. Ishmael notes that the Takers have quite successfully used the scientific method to deduct the laws governing flight, as well as biology, chemistry, physics, engineering and a slew of other disciplines. But no one has ever bothered to try to figure out what laws a civilization should follow to flourish among the community of life on earth.
“The early aeronauts had to proceed by trial and error, because they didn’t know the laws of aerodynamics – didn’t even know there were laws… The people of your culture are in the same condition when it comes to learning how they ought to live. They have to proceed by trial and error, because they don’t know the relevant laws – and don’t even know that there are laws”
Ishmael, page 97
In the face of how poorly our current model of civilization works, and how much destruction it causes, it is only rational to recognize it as an “error” and begin another “trial”. Valhalla seems to be a trial worth taking. The level of awareness and consciousness which will be put into the community will certainly make it a model that brings an important amount of progress. Human civilization as it stands has made enough recognizable failures to make sure that there will be much to learn about these laws simply from Valhalla’s first few re-attempts.
“[The Leavers were] building and abandoning one civilizational contraption after another, trying to find one that would fly. Done this way, it’s slow work. Proceeding simply by trial and error, it might have taken them another ten thousand years – or another fifty thousand years. They apparently had the wisdom to know there was no hurry. They didn’t have to get into the air. It made no sense to them to commit themselves to one civiliazational craft that was clearly headed for disaster, the way the Takers have done.”
Ishmael, page 120
Valhalla, especially as it is first attempted, will not be the final utopian model of civilization. Valhalla will try methods of running itself which will fail, it will learn from these failures, try again, and probably fail again and have to try a few more times. But a community such as Valhalla will have the awareness and versatility to recognize and fix problems when they arise. This is opposed to how the current nations of the world function, which recognize problems only after they have been brewing for generations, and then take several more generations of bickering to even scratch the surface of the issue. Yes, there will be disagreements within Valhalla. Yes, there will be problems which will present formidable challenges. But these problems will turn into lessons instead of quarrels, growth instead of self-destruction. The goal seems to be for Valhalla to work out enough about the laws of civilization to set a solid template for the next like community. And then hopefully that community can start off with enough knowledge to improve the model even further! No matter what happens, one thing is certain: we need to start trying new methods of organizing how we live as a community. And if we don’t take the first step, who will?
3 thoughts on “Valhalla & The Law of Flight”
Ishmael seems to be a very interesting book. I agree completely without trial and error there will be no completion or harmony. We have destroyed our planet and unfortunately are too proud and ignorant to realize our faults. Denial will not work but changing our ways in communities such as Valhalla will! Keep up the good work (:
Thanks a ton Chloe! I’m not sure if we’ve destroyed our planet quite yet – but we’re way too close. We’ll all have to make some changes, inside and out of these communities, if we want humanity to survive this crisis.
I like this,
Building from the ground up in no real hurry, with a focus which is open to the idea of improvement through trial and error. I think there is a lot of importance in stressing the idea of being in no real hurry, if we are patient with ourselves and those closest to us it will actually quicken the process in a healthy way. I know im kind of contradicting myself, but the attitude in which you tackle a problem can have very different outcomes.
You’ve got my vote!