Entry 4 – From BC to MI

On the essay denouncement

The author of one of the three recent denouncements of nihilism that I am at least partially culpable in lives in the city of Vancouver (or so they say in the essay). My presentation there was pregnant with the possibility of a public face-to-face with this critic. Sadly, though not surprisingly, they did not make themselves known to me and I had to make my remarks about the bad faithedness and religiousity of their essay in front of an audience that didn’t seem exactly dialed into the details.


Using an essay to work through issues, rather than meat space or a letter or even an email, is an interesting proposition to me. On the one hand I totally get it. Interpersonal shit can get gnarly quickly. Trying to engage with ideas without necessarily making them personal is hard and worthwhile work. And it’s a lot easier to work over the perception you have of other people’s perspective than their actual perspective. Bad things are bad after all, it’s all we know about them!

But it seems like a pretty rotten thing about the anarchist space to normalize this behavior.

Big travel

Vancouver was nice but I do stress a bit about leaving my bike, laden with bags, out in the public in big cities. In two short days I was able to hang out with an old friend, do a presentation, hang out with a new friend, and meet up for an interview. Finally I left V and headed back south to have someone look at my motorcycle who was smarter than me.

The next leg of my tour (after the social BC leg) was a solo leg. I first traveled to Yellowstone (originally I was going to Glacier AND Yellowstone) without realizing that at the end of April it was still fucking cold there. As in, snow line at about the level of altitude where I was camping cold and say what you will about riding but even I will not ride in the snow! This meant my two days of adventure in Yellowstone got cut short to one day before I bailed but here is what I saw in that brief time.

– A running battle between a bison and an RV
– about 30 feet of empty space between me and a pissed off bison after the RV got away
– Yellowstone annual staff act like they were about to have a kick-ass summer
– Cold canned food
– Mud pots
– Scary motorcycle parking

The next day I woke up and decided to hit the road. I’m thankful I did because otherwise I would have had to do a lot more miles in a single day than I would have liked (I’ve been trying to keep it to about six hours max) and I ended that day staring at this.


After a slow ride through SD I landed in Minneapolis and the kind of loving embrace of my people there. Then an excellent ride through the UP of MI and a short trip through my childhood.

Nostalgia is a hell of a drug

I’m at about the half way point of the trip from the perspective of miles. I’m about to enter Canada for the last time on this trip. I am struck by endings. Some, if not many, of the people I have visited are from my past. Our time together was when we were both looking towards a future. Today, as I sat with an old (20+ years) friend they said to me that I have not changed much in the past five years. I’m working on a project that excites me. I’m with the same people as I was five years ago. I’m fully adulting, even if that doesn’t look all that adult. I don’t dwell all that much on the past.

As I head into the next context I am reflecting on that. Is it possible to be fair to new people you meet, who enter your life, while also respecting the memory of the relationships that come before. Don’t most of us choose one or the other? When framed that way I’d like to think that I choose neither. That I don’t live in a headspace dominated by the past or the present but with a type of simulflow.

A few days ago I was sitting with someone and talking about a personality trait I have that involves unconscious cruelty. I emphasized how my meanness isn’t usually intentional and they emphasized how many people despise me for it. One of my lessons from this trip is that both ways I pay a price. When I am intentionally nice I feel a falseness and like the resultant isn’t true. When I am honest I feel unliked. It’s easy to be pat about either approach but the lesson is that neither satisfies. There isn’t a right way to do this and the fact that I don’t get to be friends with everyone shouldn’t bother me half as much as it does.

Next up: Ontario, New York, Boston

Entry 3 – British Columbia

I haven’t been away from my home keyboard setup for this long in a few years. The reason I know is because I haven’t read hundreds of @news comments. I have stopped caring about all of the updates of my “friends.” And I’m ambivalent about catching all of you up with my trip.

That’s not totally true of course. With my phone I have been updating snarky little bits about the daily life of my trip but that isn’t real. It’s just for a laugh. The real take away from this trip is a running series of thoughts about the people I’ve met, the incredible things I’ve seen, and how fast life goes when you’re actually living it. All that computer time, all those projects, as valuable, blah blah, just feels like something else. Something dumb.

British Columbia is lovely. It’s the place we’ll all run to when the world collapses. Denman Island both is and isn’t an idyllic environment to stage a revolution or to spin a nice interpretation of the bowl form. Not much else to say about there.


The ostensible reason I was on Vancouver Island was to go to a conference on Nihilism. Academic conferences are a trip. I guess I should try to go to them more often but they demonstrate so many strange things at the same time it’s hard to pin down just one to discuss. Here is a start. Thousands of dollars are spent to host an event that no more than 50 people passed through the entire weekend. It was mostly no more than half this number. It was mostly no more than a dozen who were not also presenters. Moreover the number of presentations that actually dealt with nihilist concepts, that attempted to tackle what it means to live without meaning (meta-narrative) or power were few. Like one hand few.

Doesn’t mean there weren’t quite a few interesting presentations. The most were the ones that conflated pessimism for nihilism (the few on David Foster Wallace were OK). The political presentations were mostly not good but there were some sparks. Maybe in five years these could be fanned into flames but the context is probably a wet blanket. It is probably not possible to suss out much in the way of detail about how to act in an age of political, social powerlessness. The professors hold the conversations hostage and the grad students do not dare offend them. The number of social actors was nearly zero. The conversations were only held between sessions and then mostly about popular theoreticians and brands.

It’s nice to be fed and given gas money but I hope for little but access to the next generation of para-academics at events like this. These are the people who I hope to collaborate with in the future.

The event at Camas that Sunday evening was of a different caliber. I’m not saying the difference was me but I could see at least three different levels of engagement in my presentation (at least two somewhat hostile) and there was at least some hope that I incensed a few people to further, future activity. That’s always the hope of course. Further engagement and interrogation along the lines of a fresh and painful view on the same old assumptions. I also appreciate the Camas model. They have figured out how to maintain a long term anarchist project and stayed humble in the face of it. It no longer looks like a subcultural anarchist project and I think that’s great.

Anyway I’m like 10 days past this on the trip so I’m going to post this and get started on entry 4 (From BC to MI).