I know the subject of this chap proved a little divisive back on the old forum, but I do find him interesting, even if he does have more questions than answers - but maybe that's the point. Not everyone can live like he does, but then we can't carry on the cycle of wanton consumerist destruction either.
I love the simple, complex life. While it is not a realistic solution for the mass of people now, unless we curb our addictions to more stuff, more growth, more dehumanising, distracting technologies – and more of the same – it may well be a solution for those who live through whatever comes next.
I was taken by this somewhat fatalistic, sombre comment following the article...
Technology, the methods that humans have that non-human species do not, is like our immune system. On a scale of normal evolutionary time, it develops rapidly-evolved solutions to specific challenges. We cannot live without it, but its very potency constitutes a hazard, to our species (and all species). It's potency is a little like the high risk of an auto-immune disease. However, like our immune system, there is no going backwards, no doing without it, except in the dreams of romantic wealthy people, like this author. These stories always originate in the wealthiest places in the world. There are 100,000 lowland gorillas living today and 7.6 billion people, if one wants to romantically think about doing without technology, then first decide which 100,000 post-human organisms will survive. As for this author's notion of "re-wilding" I ask would that be like back 10,000 years, when the Clovis people killed off all the large mammals of North America with their spear technology, or 50,000 years ago when the first humans of Australia killed off all the large mammals there, with their fire technology? When, exactly, were we wild in a good way? All evidence suggests humans were never a benign species, and that our technology is hazardously interwoven, for all time, with the fabric of our humanity. If we go to a future of 100,000 non-technological humans they will not be humans. This, to me, is a hint at the complexity of the problem we face. There is only forward, maybe more thoughtfully now. That thought is all the romance I can muster.
I was following that series on the guardian, but somehow missed the final one.
the problem I have with mark boyle is that he comes across as a bit of a twat.
I agree with the basic principals. use less, buy less, live simply etc.
I've enjoyed some of his books in the past.
back when he was running food kitchen from waste food in Bristol or whatever it was, that's a good thing.
but god he's annoying!
in that 'ditching complex tech' series, the comments below the line were by far the most interesting thing.
he never fully defined, 'complex tech', never responded to the questions about the apparently hypocrisy.
ok, fine if he's just a guy choosing that life and picking and choosing what works for him that's ok, but as someone earning a few quid from writing in an international online newspaper (for that's what it was) then it was most annoying to the reader (moi).
he was writing his features by hand with pencil and paper and posting them to the guardian to be transcribed, because computers or wordprocessers or even typewriters are complex tech to be shunned as symptons of a consumerist socirty hell bent on destroying the planet.
but a pencil and paper is ok? did he make his own paper and charcoal? I doubt it, but then ok, why should he. but why is email bad but a complex indrustrial system like the post office ok?
and the features were slightly misleading. first you got the impression he was basically on his own in a shack in the woods, chopping wood, catching fish etc. but then it turns out he had a girlfriend with him. then it appears its more of a shared smallholding.
that makes a difference, because without fail, every month on a new piece, people would comment 'what if you got ill, you'd want the nhs wouldn't you, eh eh'? 'what would you do if you broke your leg and couldn't chop wood, eh eh?' and so on.
it wasn't his chosen life that I (and apparently many others) have a problems with, in fact -total envy tbh- it was the way he presented it and himself.