Saturday, January 3, 2009
Part I, Catabolic Collapse
This photo was taken very near the 94/Livernois location, this house is
typical of those in the area. Almost entire blocks are dominated by structures
such as this one. Once a placed called, "home"....................
(Just think of the stories, that the tree from behind the house could reveal...)
What is Catabolic Collapse? It is a theory describing the dynamics of how civilizations decline devised by John Michael Greer, in 2005. Since that time, this theory has captured the imagination of thousands throughout the intellectual world. It certainly has mine. It can be found on the side bar from his site http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/ .
Perhaps the best way to describe catabolic collapse, comes from John himself in his book entitled, "The Long Descent" A users guide to the end of the industrial age. I strongly recommend this book, as in my opinion, best describes the predicament that this civilization now faces. More about this later... In it John uses a metaphor in describing catabolic collapse. It goes something like this: Using home ownership instead of the fate of civilizations, this concept may come to light. Until recently when most people bought homes, they did so within they're means. During the housing bubble of the last few years, many people bought much more of a house than they could actually afford, on the assumption that the appreciating value of the property, along with other advantages of home ownership, would make up the difference.
However, many of these people didn't realize just how much it would cost to own, maintain and repair the new home would be, and that the soaring real estate prices made it difficult to comprehend that with every boom, follows a bust. Soon, many of these people who thought they could get rich off the investment of their home(s) found themselves in an awkward predicament, as they no longer cover the costs with their income. One popular way to cover this gap was through home equity loans, however that option was removed when housing prices began to fall and credit began to tighten. Once the opportunities began to narrow and every option, taking on more debt, left repairs and maintenance on that investment, unpaid. In time, the rising costs overwhelms available income, resulting in foreclosure.
This process of booms and busts, represents cycles that are repeated over and over, again and again, throughout history. It can be reflected in the business cycles, market fluctuations and if I may be so bold, reflected in one's own life experience.
To visualize the cycles of descent that this model (catabolic collapse) suggests, the descent of this civilization, (as with most others) will likely display a gradual arc downward, much like that of a "roller coaster ride", viewing it from a distance. Imagine for a moment, a roller coaster cart (representing civilization) going down the tracks, lasting for 200 years of decline, in time. At the peak (when the civilization is at it's height and begins to decline), the roller coaster cart begins it's descent, it falls for a period of time, comes to a "bottom" then proceeds to make a climb to the next level or hill. The coaster cart then crests that peak (at a lower level from the one preceding it) and begins to make another fall, bottoms, climbs (there may be little "bumps" along the way) to another peak at yet another lower level, and on and on. Another example, may be that of a sledder, starts the slide at top of a mountain, slides into a gully, proceeds up the next hill. The sledder crests that hill and slides through the next gully, through some bumps and up the next hill and back down again and proceeds through this process (or series of hills), all the way down the mountain...
In Part II of Catabolic Collapse, I'll attempt to elaborate more on the cycles of descent.