Freedom Digital Library




Civilization and Beyond

by J. Harmon Grahn

Civilization and Beyond has become a spontanious book-length examination of what human civilization is, is not, and what may evolve for human society in the wake of the collapse of civilization. As alarming as this eventuality may sound, the unfolding discussion is not "apocalyptic," in the usual sense of the term, or pessimistic – although it is urgent and immediate. There is not a single human resident of this planet whose life is not intimately touched by the matters under discussion here; and it is intended as a discussion, not a "pronouncement." Your participation in this discussion, dear Reader, is invited and encouraged. In one of the ensuing essays, the Author writes:

"I regard these writings ... as something analogous to the growing tip of a root fiber groping its way in the dark underground toward sources of sustenance, nourishment, and energy. I recently blundered in this way into the works of Daniel Quinn, which gave me ... the sensation of having touched the third rail of the electric underground. Electrifying is not too strong a term for it!"
    – J. Harmon Grahn, The Tribal Ideal.

It develops that the Civilization and Beyond series function as preliminary "field notes" for their sequel, the more purposefully dricted Metaconsciousness: Mythology for a Post-Civilized World, which is an invitation for collaboration in the evolution of post-civilized mythologies. See that work for further elaboration.

The contents of Civilization and Beyond are arrenged below as a series of dated essays, mostly in the order in which they were written. Although each succeding essay develops themes introduced in prior essays, each essay stands as a unit, and they are intended to be read in any order. More than that, some of the essays are fairly lengthy, and possibly cover "too much ground" to be read comfortably as a single work. Civilization and Beyond may be considered as a kind of mosaic, in which ideas bearing multiple relationships are linked with one another by extensive footnotes, which in addition to citing references by various authors, often include links to specific parts of different essays in the series, and to other works as well. This synergistic process has been further developed in A Metaconscious Mosaic, an attempt to break these longer works down into a series of shorter files extensively linked to each other; which I have placed first in the list below, because it functions as a sort of digest and overview of the entire series.

The ideas in Civilization and Beyond are more fully developed, and will be further developed in future evolution of the book, Metaconsciousness: Mythology for a Post-Civilized World.


  1. A Metaconscious Mosaic: "The essay series, Civilization and Beyond, has been prompted by thoughtful consideration of the human predicament on planet Earth, and how we residents "on the ground" might approach solving it. This selection made its appearance relatively late in the series, yet is placed first because it provides a mosaic-like overview of the entire series. The Author believes he has discovered a generic approach which, if put into widespread practice by many individuals, may make a significant contribution toward ameliorating the very serious predicament in which all planetary residents find ourselves. Cutting to the punch line, in essence this approach ammounts to fomenting metaconsciousness. It is hoped the conscientious Reader will delve deeper to discover what this means, and why."

  2. Civilization and Savagery: "Note that this essay was written before I had comprehended the identity of civilization and savagery; so in this essay I was treating them erroneously as opposites." "Dear Friends," 5/25/04.

  3. Beyond Civilization or The Killer Meme: You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.
        – R. Buckminster Fuller, 1895-1983. "Dear Friends," 6/20/04.

  4. The Tribal Ideal: "Electrifying, because with the aid of Daniel Quinn's vision, I was finally able to expand my own view conceptually beyond the entire compass of civilization. You know, when you're entirely enveloped by something, it is almost impossible to perceive clearly, if at all, what that 'something' may be. 'We don't know who discovered water, but we know it wasn't the fish!'" "Dear Friends," 7/2/04.

  5. Leavers and Takers: "...the most appropriate strategy an individual can pursue, who wishes to 'stand from under' the collapse of civilization, is to abandon the Takers, and join the Leavers, eftsoons, or ASAP – as a matter of personal survival; and as a matter of taking the most effective possible action towards a solution to the human predicament on Earth." Included is a section on Leaving the Taker Culture, with a proposal for one way to do this under contemporary circumstances. "Dear Friends," 8/6/04.

  6. In the Hands of the Gods: "How might one at once participate in a 'post-civilized' tribe, 'live in the hands of the gods,' and effectively defend one's individual sovereign free choice from pre-emption by anyone or anything? This is the question on the agenda paper before us, to which we must find a solution, or perish." "Dear Friends," 8/18/04.

  7. The Gods & the Law of Life: "Mythological speculation: is there a 'threshold of complexity' beyond which a neural network, whether organic, inorganic, or artificial, might 'awaken' into a state that we humans could possibly recognize as consciousness, intelligence, and / or creativity?" "Dear Friends," 9/9/04.

  8. The Metaconsciousness Myth: "The proliferation of ... metaconsciousness among an emergent humanity ... will make possible a human culture upon the Earth the like of which has never been seen, or even imagined – as far beyond civilization as Taker civilization claimed to have been beyond stoneage culture (but wasn't)." "Dear Friends," 9/22/04.

  9. A Pact With the Devil: "The beauty of this strategy, it seems to me, is that it in no way calls for "going to war with the devil." Or with the Takers; or with the pharoahs; or with anyone. It is a means entirely in harmony with the ends it seeks. It "resuscitates and empowers the gods," while at the same time "disempowering the devil," because it is no longer responsive to the fear and divisiveness that is the primary strategy and the driving force of Taker culture." "Dear Friends," 10/14/04.

  10. More About Metaconsciousness, Part I: The "Mainstream" "In my view, the perils of trackless jungles and overhanging canyons notwithstanding, the most difficult and formidable obstacle facing any would-be contemporary diversity generator is reaching the decision to desert the "mainstream," and face the hazards of seeking higher ground. Is civilization really such a hopeless and irredemable mess as I have portrayed it to be? This is a question each individual must answer for her or himself, and choose accordingly." "Dear Friends," 2/5/05.

  11. More About Metaconsciousness, Part II: Higher Ground "Daniel Quinn cites the circus as an example of a contemporary tribe that functions effectively within the environment created by civilization. I would like to suggest another, more spectacular and globe-girdling example: the free software / open-source community, or the tribe of hackers." "Dear Friends," 3/20/05.

Civilization and Beyond copyright 2004, 2005 by J. Harmon Grahn. Copying and redistribution, in whole or in part, are permitted in any medium provided this notice is included.