Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Outlawing of Adventure

The Outlawing of Adventure

Outlaws have always been adventurers, but adventurers have not always
necessarily been outlaws. Until about the turn of the century, or even
later, it was easy for people to just take off with nothing more than what
they could carry on their backs. They could camp almost anywhere, bathe in
any river, streams or pond, and wander where they chose, without the fear
of being busted. In cities, they could play music, juggle, dance or
otherwise perform on the streets in exchange for food. They could choose
their own risks, decide for themselves what chances they would take...and
not be outlawed for it.

But now, real adventure is largely against the law. This is no
surprise. Industrial civilization is based on control, and control is
easiest in a mono-culture. Diversity tends to undermine order and, as much
as possible, is suppressed. So today, even on public lands, we are told
where to hike, wheere to camp, where to bathe, where to climb. We see signs
everywhere prohibiting us from taking risks, from going where we choose,
from living as we choose. We are ordered to get permits to go into the
wilderness, to let the government know what we are doing. In most cities, a
permit is required for street performance ( and, in many, it is outlawed),
which means getting approval from a government committee ( or, in Boston,
the police department). And if you wish to wander in foreign lands,
passports and visas are required. The government will tell us that this is
all for our own good, but in reality, it is an attempt to limit diversity,
the possibility of adventure and the extent to which people can experience
wildness and wonder. The authorities are trying to restrict wnadering to
its commodity form...the vacation. They want the wilderness to be a
spectacle to be observed but never participate in. They want the streets to
be places associated with work and pay...not with the amazement and wonder
that street performers often bring. They want music, dancing and playing to
be entertainment, and uninhibited street performance could go beyondthat
and become a festival of free play. Without the constraints of these
retrictive laws, too many people might get a taste of wild freedom and of
the marvelous, and might start rebelling against work-and-pay society. No
society can actually abolish adventure. At worst, society can outlaw
adventure, and I doubt that many people reading this are afraid to be
outlaws. As society strives to enforce conformity, we will face it with an
attitude of rebellious defiance, confronting it with our refusal to be less
than all we desire to be. Like all rebels, we have wild imaginations and
are quite capable of finding our way around the rules. No law is stronger
than its ability to be enforced. By keeping a low profile, we can camp
where we choose, wander where we long as the "Alternative
Living" articles in Live Wild Or Die have shown. In cities, if we want to
play , dance or sing in the streets, we can do so, stopping or claiming
we’re only doing it for our own pleasure if the police try to harass us. If
enough people gather to hear or join our fun, the cops may not be able to
get through. If the permits are photocopiable, it may become worthwhile to
get one, photocopy it and pass it along to anyone who might be interested,
underming the purpose of the permit. Where street performance is completely
ilegal...who’s to stop you from playing for your own pleasure in a park?
And if the festive spirit spreads, so much the better.

Some will ask..."but why not just stick to the wilderness in our adventure:
isn’t living wild what we’re interested in?" Cities are part of the reality
created by civilization. Millions of people live in cities and ignoring
them won’t make them go away. If a spirit of wonder and wild adventure is
impossible in cities, then the creation of a world free of domestication is
a pipedream. For what is going to tear down the cities, if not the wild
energy of rebellious city dwellers tired of the drab, homogenized, sterile
existence the city offers them, and inspired by s vision of how full and
passionate life could be? And would not wandering festivals of wonder and
rebellion, freely sharing music, dancing and play be a way of inspiring
such a vision? So, wild adventurers, let’s wander where we choose,
spreading wonder and rebellion in defiance of a society that strives to
outlaw adventure.

...A Nameless Gypsy Outlaw

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