Bill’s bones and other stories

Charles 2 Comments

You may have missed the comment below by Cynthia Beal on Bill Jordan’s piece about how he wants to be buried on the surface (when he dies) where he can be of most use. Read it here.

Cynthia is formidably bright and enterprising, not to mention generous and kind. She lives in Oregon. At a time when greener than green burialists over there are vying with each other in matters of purity of vision and impeccability of practice, Cynthia’s focus is sustainability and choice for all. She’s got a very exciting project under way at the moment, and I hope I’ll soon be able to tell you about it – or that Cynthia will tell us in her own words.

Here’s what Cynthia wrote:

Bill and I are going to have a go at seeing what we can come up with to accommodate his very natural wishes. We hope to cover all the bases and find some way to achieve his goals without creating any public health and safety issues in excess of those caused by conventional burials, nor caring over-much for what people think. Personally, I’ve got in mind an ornamental wrought-iron grill work to set on top of him as a sort of cage with some way to address the dirt-on-top legality. It would secure his body from large predators and let the insects he likes so well have full access. We’re going to arrange for him to have DNA tests on file in the county of his disposition, as I suggested that a drifting femur or metatarsul might give the local sheriff a headache. I’ll keep you posted!

Back to Bill, now. He wrote after his piece was published to express his appreciation of your comments. He added this:

I once wrote a piece for a now-defunct magazine called National Gardening about the compost heap in my back yard.  I likened it to an altar of energy on which the dead vegetation was piled, and the process of decomposition was pyre of renewed life.  I concluded that the process of life and death could not be separated, in contrast to the prevailing spiritualities of Western Civilization, which cling desperately to a separation of mind and body; and the attempt to propagate this belief revealed a deep, delusional denial.

But mind arose from stuff and stuff lived on in the eternal processes of life.  There was no such thing as birth I death, I concluded, only molecular assembly and disassembly, and so long at the earth lived, so live us all.  To which the editor, who was an old friend, replied in the author’s byline:  “William Jordan is a collection of molecules ordering cialis online safe currently living and writing in Culver City, California”  I never have been skewered before or since with such gleeful appreciation.

One thing I forgot to mention; I hope this is appropriate on another man’s blog–but could you mention that I am the author of the books, Divorce Among the Gulls and  A Cat Named Darwin?

I am currently working on what I hope will become the culmination of my life’s work–what the writer, Edward Abbey referred to as his Fat Masterpiece–a fat masterpiece with the working title of The Book of Jake.  It is built on the true story of a duck I rescued from what is known in LA as a “flood control channel”–flood control channels are almost invariably former streams, creaks and their tributaries which have been paved with concrete.  Their purpose is to lead away the lakes of water heavy rains leave behind, and they work with spectacular efficiency. They are also a sentence of death for the stream.  Or so it might seem.  The stream bed is now a street bed, a flat plane without any impediments to obstruct the flow of water.  When the weather is sunny, as it usually is in southern California, the flood control channels serve to lead the runnoff from yards and streets, with their toxic loads of pesticides, oils, heavy metals, and whatever else our civilization bleeds into water.  Yet it’s remarkable how life rises up in these polluted channels, with algae growing into great, streaming mats of life, which support midges and other aquatic insects, which support swallows and ducks and all sorts of migratory wading birds.

It was from this foul sump of life that I rescued Jake.  It turns out, however, that Jake is no mere duck.  He is the voice of nature–an oracle duck–and he allows me to say things about our species that could not be said without some sort of literary shape shifting.  This is crucially important, because I contend that in order to understand the ecological mess we humans have made of the world—to understand the human being in proper context with nature–any meaningful assessment must begin in misanthropy.  This is necessary to disable the innate species narcissism that wells up from the human genome, along with an obsessive-compulsive species allegiance.  If you cannot get beyond these traits, you can do little except praise and admire us and spin our transgressions as some form of good, usually with the help of God.

You can buy Divorce Among the Gulls here

You can buy A Cat Named Darwin here

Bill’s photos of flood control channels below












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