Wolf at the Door

By Slim Wolfe

The article about teen texting etiquette in the May issue is a good reminder that socialization is largely a factor of limits and boundaries. One Santa Fe teenager recently told a story of going cold turkey (a drug addict’s expression for quitting a habit) for five days. People of my age never had that kind of habit as teenagers – but didn’t feel particularly limited if they couldn’t use their mobile devices to preen their egos and store their information. Life went on.

Progress – evolution, if you like – is all about getting past boundaries and limits. We don’t have to walk from France or Germany to Jerusalem to crusade against the infidel, any more than we have to live in trees. Our options are multiplying so quickly that the only thing which won’t be obsolete in ten years is probably inflation. The ability to live and work within boundaries and limits was once the mark of a mature, intelligent, respectful human being, but lately we’re determined to be unstoppable, like Genghis Khan on a fast horse. We believe we can win.

And wars are started because someone believes they can be won … so said poet Andre Breton, who lived through the Third Reich’s occupation of his native France. The Third Reich didn’t believe in limits or boundaries, and maybe the new powers achieved in 21st century gadgets and hookups bring on a form of psychosis as well. For me, a healthy state of mind means contentment if the phone doesn’t ring for several days straight. Why live in a beautiful natural environment if you spend your days and nights in an unnatural flat-planed rectangle staring at an ugly little gizmo and pushing buttons?

We’ve certainly gone beyond the limits of our language, mixing verbs, nouns and adjectives at will. “Text” was never a verb twenty years ago. “Google” was spelled “googol” and meant an unimaginable, infinite number. Then again, we’ve freely modified the language of religion, and we find “jee-zuss” where people once found “yay-soo.” So it’s not so strange if we mix up our Spanish, French and German vocabularies when we name our towns, roads and children. Villa Grove in Colorado or Casa de Lunch in Buenos Aires, we’re trying to get beyond our boundaries. I’ve got an image of George Bush II learning to get past his limits and say his name in German: “Gay-orgg?”

It’s all about being cool. We used to advertise on our doublets with the icons and colors of our religions or our liege lords now we walk around with shirt-billboards for beer and ball clubs. We create a “buzz” for our motor-vehicle products with names like Escalade and Acura, many of which have a pseudo-Latin flavor. We can hardly focus on the scenery when driving our highways for the distraction of all the oncoming traffic emblazoned with catchy names like “Itasca.” We’re no longer limited to the white Anglo-Saxon mindset, thanks to Motorola radios and Ipana toothpaste, but we’re still limited to our notions of normal aspirations.

And now our so-called sportsmen, some of them, don’t want to be limited to a three-round clip in their guns. Get a life. Real sports would involve quarter-staffs, not machine guns. I always thought if I didn’t get it after the second shot, game over, but then again I wasn’t ever trained to fantasize that the thing in my sights was a mother-raping terrorist raghead. Guns DO kill people, because when you have a gun, you don’t have to use your brain to negotiate, compromise, resolve or agree to boundaries.

If we’d learn to live within reasonable limits (instead of spending hours on “Google Earth” spying on everyone’s private backyards) we’d have fewer bankruptcies and foreclosures, fewer highway crashes, fewer problems with alcohol and addictions, less depletion of our air, our topsoil, our oceans, and other resources, less unplanned children, and we might even return to intelligent and enjoyable music and art. If we’d been happy with a limited regional economy based on mining, agriculture and manufacture, we wouldn’t have become dependent on well-heeled vacationers and patrons of boutique enterprises. Or, in the words of the famous graffiti, if God had wanted Texans to ski, he would have made bullshit white.


Slim Wolfe pushes the envelope with innovative minimal off-grid living. Access his email with the password “luddite.”