Saturday, August 04, 2007


Wooden Mates Will Never Make it to the New World

...for the same reason that Columbus would never make it to the New World: his boat would sink from cracking and swelling of the wood... for the same reason that the Norse and the Chinese, and the Polynesians, and the Egyptians, and the Aleuts in Kayaks all never made it to the "New" World thousands of years before mighty Columbus the haughty and confused. Of course they all DID make it here... because wood and water DO mix--it's just that you have to keep it at a relatively stable humidity content (like as in totally submerged.)

You may be understanding by now that I am leading you on another adventure. We are not getting to India any day now. In fact the real reason wooden mates may not make it to the New World in any great quantity is that these "New Worlders" in general don't seem capable of coping with a little "abnormality" these days... such as a small crack in their mate cup. It is not supposed to happen to a "new" thing: the getting of a little crack in it. This is the thinking of a plastic mind [that's right I said "plastic mind" when I was really wanting you to think "spastic mind", but understanding that "plastic" refers to the fact that everyone has become accustomed to plastic's ability to perform the function of holding water so cheaply and UNIFORMLY. We have become UNIFORM these days, in large part, because of our ability to experience it through plastic. In the days of yore, when a gourd or a leather flask were the height of style in drinking vessels, we knew to ignore a few small.. cracks. Now it is as if the Nina is sinking and all of the future of "civilization" is going down with it!]

Yes, I put "civilization" in quotes, because I have great misgivings about what people mean when they say that. It just may be that dolphins and their ilk have the highest level of civilization on this planet. While touring through the oceans in great (getting lesser and lesser) pods chasing giant (becoming miniscule) schools of fish their lack of need and desire for material things is a great advantage. They may play with a boat occasionally... but then it's back to gnashing anchovies.

Grabbing a piece of bamboo from the forest floor and using it for a drinking vessel is inspired and useful. It is what our ancestors did. Inventing fire was useful. Sitting around with friends drinking yerba mate tea leaves out of a simple bamboo, wood, or gourd cup is both inspiring and useful (albeit a bit more deeply diving into artifice than simply snacking on live anchovies).

Put a price tag on it though and suddenly the natives are restlessly irritated and windging about the seep of tea coming out of their piece of carved wood. It happens. You have traded a few scheckels for a bit of history and found it wanting. If you bought a cruise on the Nina I am certain you would be complaining as well [the durned thing wasn't more than 40 feet long if I remember correctly!]

My advice is to have a seat on board and enjoy the ride; if you keep your top up you'll get there in one piece. Just remember: if Christopho Colombo made it so can you.

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