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A Prophet Speaks

Ken Layne is a weird dude. And I say this as a guy who subscribes to Layne’s delightful periodical and listens to his quirky podcast. But the thing is, he’s also largely correct on the things that matter in our particular moment:

I feel like we are post-language now…. Things are more symbolic. The relationship between words and facts and objectivity and their impact seems to have separated to the point where most of the writing that I see, especially on something like Twitter, is by people baffled that people don’t get what they are trying to say. It’s depressing.

He’s also right about the draw of the desert wilderness, something the missus and I have only recently come to terms with:

The Romantics very deliberately mixed the excitement of paganism, taboo, spiritualism, romance—the idea that you go out in the wilds not to quietly and respectfully count wrens but to openly seek communion with the world. The weird parts of the desert I try to push and validate as our equivalence of Moses in the Sinai or Paul on the desert road or the Buddha sitting out under a tree hallucinating demons….

I’ve had a mystical experience in the desert: silence. Not the absence of sound, but the literal presence of silence. And believe me, there’s a huge difference between the two. You feel it; a connection to something bigger than you, whether God or Gaia or whomever. These experiences are real—and “incredibly relevant to today,” says Layne. “The numbing horror of social media and the digital age. To escape it is getting harder and harder.”

But escape it we must if we’re to keep our sanity.



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