Approaching the Dark Mountain

April is coming to a close and the Dark Mountain Camp and Festival at the end of May is fast approaching. For me, the question looms, How do I swing a trip to Llangollen Wales for ten days when I have no money coming in and face the slight, yet real prospect of being trapped across the Atlantic if the Norse Gods decide to ratchet up the Ashcloud! Along with these questions, come others, should I be “selling the cow” to buy these particular beans? Will such an outing do me any good at a time when practicality would insist I work to take care of business instead? What good could possibly accrue from traipsing a few thousand miles to camp in a muddy field and go unwashed while marginalized people gather to do, what?

I missed Woodstock, was out of the loop when Burning Man began, went to nxne – the Maine Boatbuilder’s Show – instead of sxsw this March, is it just the need to make one of these events before I die?

I don’t think so. Over the last decade, I’ve been working on a variety of currents that at this point seem to be culminating in a strong pull to be at that particular place at this particular time. I always have been moved by Richard Dreyfus, forking his mash-potatoes and tossing a garbage can full of soil in through his kitchen window. I’ve felt like that guy many times in my life. This time, I feel like I’ve found the place where all that scratching and all that yearning has been leading me. That it is to some hopelessly charming little hillside in Wales with a hopelessly unpronounceable name, standing in for a mythical Dark Mountain apparently guarded by a volcano in a far-off north land of fire and ice, shouldn’t be any less plausible than forging one’s way to Devil’s Peak with the tones Da da do Da mutely sounding in one’s head lost behind the chopper’s thwack, thwack, thwack.

This post, beyond airing out this mixture of doubt and declaration is also a re-direct. I’ve just posted on the – Uncivilized.ning, On Sanity…. This is a volley in my ongoing attempt to jump-start a dialogue with the all too frail and all too real humans across all that distance I hope to meet and engage with next month. Reading posts, following lists, watching videos or listening to mp3s just do not replace face to face contact. They tend to both exaggerate and diminish those you are attempting to “know.”

I can’t help but think of the Iceman. At a time, in a place where travel was much more arduous than it is today, even post – fingers crossed – Ashcloud, he and many others faced those challenges to journey far to make and maintain connections. This is a time to take advantage of what remains of our accustomed ease of travel for me to do this one more time.


2 thoughts on “Approaching the Dark Mountain

  1. Hi Tony –

    Thanks for making me think of the Iceman. I sometimes meet people who assume that, before the advent of air travel, no one ever left their home village. One of the writers who has inspired Dark Mountain (though I’m not sure he’d want the result hung around his neck) is Alan Garner. His most recent novel, ‘Thursbitch’, draws on the historical story of a packhorse trader whose journeys to-and-from his Cheshire village form one wild end of the complex web of marketplaces and campfires that was the Silk Road. One day during his research, digging through 200 years of junk at the back of the barn of a remote hill farm, Alan found a Tibetan prayer wheel. This had found its way to north-west England in the 18th century. The extent of the slow but far-reaching traffic in objects, ideas and stories which has gone on throughout human history is something that gives me hope. Life outside the bubble of “life as we know it” is not unliveable.


  2. So much of our insanity comes from how we fight to prove to ourselves that “life as we know it” is somehow the best possible choice. As anything that might break that assumption surfaces in our awareness we put all of our efforts into suppressing it, mistaking our panic for sticking to what matters; what’s possible, as opposed to making any kind of truly realistic appraisal. This is why it’s so important to heal ourselves. Without a concerted effort to strengthen our abilities to face reality, we have no defenses against the dynamic of fear and anger, delusion and repression.


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