August 29, 2011 § Leave a comment
Yesterday was an unofficial holiday out at the farm — Pear & Gorgonzola Salad Day. A harvest festival to celebrate the pears becoming ready, we buy a nice block of gorgonzola cheese, candy up a few walnuts from our trees, snip some lettuce from one of the raised beds, toss it all together and chow down. We eat it with whatever else is ripe — this time, a pasta dish with our own fresh tomatoes and basil, sauteed garlic and onions — with whomever of the family is around. There are no rituals, practices, or traditions associated with Pear & Gorgonzola Salad Day except to eat pear and gorgonzola salad. We manage to do that pretty darn well.
Pear & Gorgonzola Salad Day this year prompted a conversation on food, labor, debt, and money. My mom is shocked and appalled that she can’t get people — especially those who go on and on about their farmers markets, their health food stores, and their CSA programs — to drive up to the farm, spend a little bit of time outside, and come home with a box full of free food. I definitely see where she’s coming from — the food is (not at all figuratively) falling off the fucking trees over there. She asked a few times, why don’t people do this? The only thing I could think of at the time — people are intimidated by free things.
Maybe intimidation isn’t the right word. We don’t know how to handle it. And yes, I include myself in this camp. Getting something for free is like incurring a debt I don’t know how to pay back. It doesn’t matter that there is no debt and there is no paying it back — I just have a hard time shaking this compulsion, this feeling that in order for a relationship to be equal, it needs to be reciprocal. And, in order for people to treat me well in the future, I have to make sure the reciprocity in our relationship is actually tilted in their favor, all the time.
This seems like a way of thinking totally colonized by capitalism, and not very befitting of, well, me. But upon coming home, Didi sent me this amazing interview with David Graeber about his new book, and now I’m thinking much more clearly about this. Really only that last sentence is fucked up — the part that assumes that there is some great moral ledger sheet in the sky, upon which deeds and relationships can be quantified, on which reciprocity could be tilted in any direction at all. Debt is part of social interaction, sure, but it’s not the basis of it. And the idea of quantifying it, enforcing it, and never forgiving it, is just sociopathic.
So, new crazy organizing dream: global default day, December 21, 2012.
No? That’s too cute? Well, alright.