Friday, September 26, 2008


The language of depression invites a process which turns inward, to internal movements, those supposed inner mechanics of mind and body. As if the person, and the feelings he or she experiences, is somehow separate from an outside world of people, things and nature. Apparently, in the worlds created through a language of depression, there is something deep inside, and that something deep within is broken, malfunctioning.

Yet, while this deep, dark, interior world, closed in by body and psyche, is the reality which is repetitively presented to us, the solutions we create do not come from such a place. And they cannot come from such a place, I argue, for such an interiorized place does not exist.

These days the dominant method for helping people deal with this thing called depression is a carefully created mix of chemicals. While we may be led to believe that these chemicals are synthetic, created by pharmaceutical companies far removed from nature, they can only be created by that which the earth is able to produce. They are, even though the legalities of property ownership might suggest otherwise, gifts of the earth. The only way we as human beings can create anything is with that which the earth and life are able to supply. So that which we call “treatment” for depression is through connections created with a world which is not interior to mind and psyche, but outside of us, outside of our bodies, through connections with life and planet. And, while these connections might be bureaucratised, placed within cumbersome institutions -- medical systems, research systems, capitalistic production systems -- it is still impossible to remove the necessity and reality of connection with nature, as well as with human hands and faces.

This is not a world of interiority, this is a world where the body and mind open up to an outside and connect with humanity and nature. Yet the language of depression is still a language of deep and troubled interiority.

I am tired of the word depression! I don’t want to be depressed anymore.

Why can’t I be sad, instead?

Sadness seems such a neglected and repeatedly diminished concept, as if the idea of sadness was somehow cheap and shallow, not fitting for a professionalized world. Sadness also might not seem to fit well with the industries associated with depression, for it is a language which tends to escape both the necessity of, and the practicality of, easy solutions. Sadness might not even invite a solution at all. For sadness does not have to be treated. The language of sadness does not imply that it is something which must be removed from our lives.

And, sadness is inescapably connected to relations with an exterior world. The language of sadness usually suggests that we are sad “because” of something. Sadness connects us outside of the mind and body, and usually connects us to relationships which we see as significant. Relationships shift, change, rupture; and in response we may feel sad.

Sadness is not just fit for human beings, for even a cat can seem sad, a dog, a horse, a cow. We have even seen plants which look sad.

While sadness is not always an experience which we must escape, there are things which we can do to move away from sadness, if we choose to. We can engage with other people, we can play and sing and dance, we can read a book, watch a movie. We can even imbibe in chemicals – including the ones the doctor provides. There are endless possible ways for distancing ourselves from sadness if that is what we feel we need to do. But all of these ways necessitate an opening up to worlds which are exterior to our own bodies and minds.

I have felt the rupture of relationships. So have you. We all know this sensation, or conglomeration of sensations, which we call sadness. I, for one, prefer to be sad, not depressed!

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Return

It's autumn again along the coast of British Columbia. The salmon are beginning to migrate up the rivers to the locations of their own birth. Every year I am reminded of that impossible to distinguish line between life and death. The salmon return to their birthing waters, they spawn, and they die. Their remains bring forth a multitude - seagulls, ravens, eagles, crows, trout, bear, crayfish, innumerable insects, crustaceans and other life forms -- all dining on nutrients provided by the salmon's decaying bodies. This spectacle of the alive awakens human bodies, our own senses, it moves in conjunction with our own livings and dyings. As if an ecstasy and a sorrow, a feasting and a horror, together come begging for return.

The following video was made from images and audio I obtained from one particular location where the sallmon have returned to spawn. A loud abundance moved around me -- you will hear thousands of gulls, the splashing of salmon, the occassional call of an eagle. However, most obviously, you will hear the ravens who took particular interest in me; watching me from a high perch, repeatedly flying over, croaking loudly, checking out my every activity.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Gregory Bateson

(1904 - 1980)
And the Territories of the Alive

Picture from Wikipedia

The following video is a slideshow with audio which I made last year. It was inspired through my readings of Gregory Bateson. Probably more than any other writer Bateson has influenced my thinking on the idea of the Territories of the Alive.