Why farmpunk?

A farmpunk could be described as a neo-agrarian who approaches [agri]culture, community development and/or design with an anarchistic hacker ethos. "Cyber-agrarian" could supplant neo-agrarian, indicating a back-to-the-land perspective that stands apart from past movements because it is heavily informed by conceptual integration in a post-industrial information society (thus "forward to the land" perhaps?) The art and science of modern ecological design—and ultimately, adapting to post-collapse contexts—will be best achieved through the combined arts of cybermancy and geomancy; an embrace of myth and ritual as eco-technologies. In other words: the old ways of bushcraft and woodlore can be combined with modern technoscience (merely another form of lore) in open and decentralized ways that go beyond pure anarcho-primitivism. This blog is an example of just that. Throughout, natural ecologies must be seen as the original cybernetic systems.

**What we call for at the farmpunk headquarters**
°Freedom of information
°Ground-up action + top-down perspectives
°Local agricultural systems (adhering to permaculture/biodynamic principles) as the nuclei of economies
°Bioregional autonomy
°Computers are optional but can be used for good—see peer to peer tech, social media for direct popular management of natural or political disasters (e.g. Arab Spring), or the mission of the hacker collective Anonymous

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

blood magic

Medical studies have shown that men who periodically donate blood are at a lowered risk for heart disease. Males are at a higher risk altogether than women, for various reasons, but one is that they have an increased red blood cell count that is precipitated by their natural levels of testosterone. Higher red blood cell counts are correlated with higher risk of heart disease. This is interesting to me because lots of "pre-modern" cultures, historically and presently, practice bloodletting for medicinal reasons. Actually, bloodletting was the routine medical procedure of choice for two millenia prior to the 19th century. It is well-documented that bloodletting (in men) was seen in Hippocratic medicine as a purging process sharing isomorphic functions with menstruation in women. As cited on Wikipedia, Hippocrates maintained that one of the functions of menstruation was to "purge women of bad humors" (humors = essential biological substances, of which there were four in Greco-Roman medicine). So, testified by this renewing ecological function of the female mammal, blood-letting was appropriate for achieving similar things in non-female-bodied individuals. Wow, did I just feel a shred power given to the processes of the female body? That sure went away in the middle ages in Europe, when we suddenly developed a fear of female overflow. But of course, it was okay for Jesus to do it on the cross.

My mother grew up in a small mountain village in Greece in the wake of the Greek civil war (she was born in 1948). When I was in high school, my mom, with the help of my older brother, shot and edited a documentary on women healers in Greek pastoral culture. She was able to focus on several healers that had lived and worked in her home village, interviewing her siblings, cousins, and surviving elders who she knew as a young girl. A story of bloodletting was included in the film - and it featured a woman who for some reason could not menstruate. This woman would go to a local healer once a month, and have blood let out of her leg.

It isn't hard to see that this form of folk medicine was passed down, in the landlocked mountain villages of Greece, from ancient Greek and Mesopotamian culture, for whom bloodletting was as routine as gargling with salt water when you have a sore throat. Many historians point out, however, that bloodletting was definitely over-prescribed (by our standards, perhaps, which are much more ontologically informed about physiology and pathology - for better or for worse). Indeed, the exemplars of ancient medicine - like Hippocrates and Galen - performed bloodletting sparingly and with caution.

Addendum: It is worth noting that the state of the medical art declined in the middle ages, which is to say - it stopped progressing with the momentum it had in the ancient world. This was not in small part due to the politicizing of medicine by the Catholic Church, who decried any kind of "mutilation" of dead bodies (it might make it harder for their souls to escape?). This means, of course, no dissection. And, not surprisingly, disease pathology was theologized, too.

more on medieval medicine & the church


Anonymous said...

Better say nothing than nothing to the purpose. ........................................

Anonymous said...

Unable to give you a heart. so have a reply to push up your post. ........................................