Deuce of Clubs Book Club: Books of the Weak

I'm a Lebowski, You're a Lebowski

Guy Debord: Revolutionary

No Place to Hide

Command of Office

The Christ-Myth Theory And Its Problems

The Christian Delusion

Lincoln's Wrath

How to Do Nothing with Nobody All Alone by Yourself

The Sexy Book of Sexy Sex

Bossypants

Zombie Spaceship Wasteland

Catching the Big Fish

Dig Infinity

The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones

Crazy for God

Basin and Range

Anarchy Evolution

The File

John Ringo

The Supremes

End the Fed

Burning Book

The Hohokam Millenium

God's Middle Finger

Narcocorrido

In Heaven Everything Is Fine

The Shunning

Wisdom Sits in Places

The Marvelous Country

Hamilton's Curse

The Secret Life of Houdini

The Trouble with Being Born

Schulz and Peanuts

First Into Nagasaki

Joe Miller's Jests

Human Smoke

Dirty Tricks Cops Use

A Futile and Stupid Gesture

All For A Few Perfect Waves

Systemantics

Death in the Desert

American Signs

Secret Proceedings and Debates of the Constitutional Convention

Secrets Of A Stingy Scoundrel

The Self-Made Tapestry

A Constitutional History of Secession

The Neurotic's Notebook

Interrogation Machine

Monster Midway

The Harlot by the Side of the Road

Forced Into Glory

Imperial Life in the Emerald City

J. G. Ballard: Quotes

The Compleat Practical Joker

Laugh with Hugh Troy

Pranks!

A Liar's Autobiography

Cobb

Chasing Rainbows

Letters from Tucson, 1925-1927

The Five Fosters

The Giant Cactus Forest and Its World

How to Cheat Your Friends at Poker

World Famous Cults & Fanatics

That's Not All, Folks!

God's Problem

Will Christ Return By 1988?

Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology

The Whiskey Rebellion

FDR's Folly

Wilson's War

Bully Boy

[If] I Did It

The Dark Side

Secret Origins of the Bible

Godless

The End of Faith

Why I Became An Atheist

"Life's Calendar for 1922"

Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War

The Negro Cowboys

EXPECT RESISTANCE

Monty Python Speaks

Baseball Between the Numbers

The Psychopath's Bible

Satisfaction

J. G. Ballard: Conversations

Days of War, Nights of Love

Gospel Fictions and Who Wrote the Gospels?

The Real Deadwood

Deadwood

The Revolution: A Manifesto

45

The Secret Man

Stormin' Mormon

From Psyche to Soma

I'll Gather My Geese

The Osama bin Laden I Know

Alias "Paine"

A Man Without Words

The Wild Trees

The World Without Us

Arizona's Changing Rivers

The Phoenix Indian School

Realm of the Long Eyes

John Dillinger: The Life and Death of America's First Celebrity Criminal

Buckey O'Neill: The Story of a Rough Rider

Thanks For Tuning In

Adventures in the Apache Country

Waylon: An Autobiography

My Life: Sunrise to Sunset

Mimes and Miners: A Historical Study of the Theater in Tombstone

The First 100 Years: A History of Arizona Blacks

Enter Without Knocking

City in the Sun: The Japanese Concentration Camp at Poston, Arizona

House by the Buckeye Road

Vanished Arizona

The Big Con

The Astronomy Cafe and Back to the Astronomy Cafe

A Handbook on Hanging

The Sinner's Guide to the Evangelical Right

A Mind Restored

Mr. Show: What Happened?!

Reclaiming the American Revolution

Stumbling On Happiness

Treasure Maps of the Superstitions

Sunny Slope

Did Genesis Man Conquer Space?

Look Homeward, America

Radicals for Capitalism

Kayaker's Little Book of Wisdom

God Is Not Great

The Echoing Green

The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll

K Foundation Burn a Million Quid

The Facts of Life and Other Dirty Jokes and The Tao of Willie

Just Six Numbers and Our Cosmic Habitat

Wild Goose Chronicles

Behind Bars: Surviving Prison

Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce

The Gang They Couldn't Catch

Manhunt

A History of the End of the World

Al Sieber: Chief of Scouts

Apaches & Longhorns

Deep Survival

Captured

DINO

Sock

Bo: Pitching & Wooing

You Are Worthless

You And Your Hand

Access All Areas

Field Guide to the Apocalypse

The War on Terrorism

Those Idiots From Earth

September 11: An Oral History

Mortal Questions

The Heresy of Self-Love

The White Flag Principle

Medieval Panorama

An Honest President

Those Words

À rebours

Peterson's Incident Report Book

Boo! Culture, Experience, and the Startle Reflex

Victory Denied

Nothing, Arizona

A Porcine History of Philosophy and Religion

O Holy Cow!: The Selected Verse of Phil Rizzuto

DOME COMPENDIUM OF TOPICAL TREATMENT IN PROCTOLOGY

¿Hablas conmigo

Thirty-three Candles

Black Monk Time

Men of Distinction

Alexander the Corrector

Space Viking

Mark These Men

Hallucinogenic Plants

Prohibition: An Adventure in Freedom

JESUS! He's Our President

LOVE

How to Watch Football on Television

Merrill Markoe's Guide to Love

Lincoln: The Man and The Car

Whatever Men Know About Women

Biographies of Italian War Heroes

ABC of Espionage

Art Colony Perverts

Devil-ution

Starting Right with Bees

Planet Earth is a Cult

Baseball Letters

Fetish

Dopey Doings

Democracy: The God That Failed

Handgrenade Talk

Hi, How Are You?

het zingen van het ijs

The Museum of Jurassic Technology Jubilee Catalogue

The Rector and the Rogue

Colorful Cacti of the American Deserts

Odd Jobs: The World of Deviant Work

The Hungry Man's Outdoor Grill Cookbook

How to Get Invited to the White House

How to Work for a Jerk

Never Work for a Jerk!

The Mentality of Apes

Your Vigor for Life Appalls Me

Dr. Strange: Sorceror Supreme

Nautical Notions for Nibbling

A Short Introduction to the History of Human Stupidity

The Fake Revolt

Coup D'Etat

History of the Town of Felicity

Hood of Death

Dolls' House Bathrooms: Lots of Little Loos

Border Security / Anti-Infiltration Operations

Living on Light

God is for Real, Man

Did the Apostle Paul Visit Britain?

Twin Peaks

2001

Power Phrases

The Truth About Wagner

The Life of the Bee

Tombstone

Science Looks at Smoking

The Chiricahuas

The New Dark Ages Conspiracy

The Big Question

Everybody's Book of Epitaphs

The Death of the Fuhrer

Mindfuckers

Gorbachev! Has the Real Antichrist Come?

The World's Worst Poet

Alyssa Milano: She's the Boss

Home is the Desert

Nine Lives: From Stripper to Schoolteacher

How to Start Your Own Country

How to Found Your Own Religion

Sex Objects in the Sky

Indian Oratory

Bastard Without Portfolio

The Bedside Book of Bastards

Hopeless -- Yet There Is Hope

Bible in Pocket, Gun in Hand

Margie Asks WHY

Death of a Hippie

Wake Up or Blow Up

Feeling and Form

Guilt

A Mile in His Moccasins

Mojave Desert Ramblings

Passing of the Outhouse

This Way to Happiness

The Happy Life

Young Only Once

The Monkey Gland Affair

Bert Bacharach's Book for Men

The Two Babylons

For Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes...

Why Christians Crack Up!

Why Do Christians Break Down?

Hava Nagila!

Beethoven or Bust

How to Abandon Ship

Livin' in Joe's World

The Last Democrat

Salvation Mountain

The Varmint and Crow Hunter's Bible

Love in the Western World

Jack the Ripper: Light-Hearted Friend

Little Men of the NFL

No One May Ever Have The Same Knowledge Again

The Secret Museum of Mankind

James Bond's World of Values

We Did Not Plummet Into Space

The Boy Who Didn't Believe IN CHRISTMAS

The Great Escape From Your Dead-End Job

All About Tipping

My Loser Godfrey

A Haircut in Horse Town

Mucusless Diet Healing System

Jefferson Returns

Lincoln Returns

Churchill Returns

Corporation Freak

Null Bock auf DDR

So You're Going on a Mission?

Nudes in My Camera

Why I Hate the Nazis

Flesh, Metal & Glass

The James Beard Cookbook

Mortal Refrains

Deadbolt

Amy Grant: A Biography

The X Cars

We Were Five

Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder

Hello ... Wrong Number

I'll Kill You Next!

Murder in Vegas

Did MAN Just Happen?

Terror at the Atlanta Olympics

Criswell Predicts

Your Next Ten Years

They Pay Me to Catch Footballs

The Phantom Menace

Just For Fellows

The Lopsided Gal

Astrology and Horse Racing

The Cokesbury Stunt Book

The Origin of Things

Remarks on the History of Things

U.S. Government Sewing Book

Funeral Tributes II

Blinky, the Friendly Hen

The Serbs Choose War

My Mystery Castle

Iggy

Funeral Customs the World Over

The Right to be Let Alone

Mormonism and the Negro

The Church and the Negro

Preacher with a Billy Club

Fighting Parson of the Old West

Invisibility: Mastering the Art of Vanishing

How to Disappear Completely

The Gentle Art of Making Enemies

How to Catch a Man, How to Keep a Man, How to Get Rid of a Man

Langenscheidts Konversationsbuch

Marlene Dietrich's ABC

The Bible in the Hands of Its Creators


Deep Survival

Laurence Gonzales (2004)

 

In a true survival situation, you are by definition looking death in the face, and if you can't find something droll and even something wondrous and inspiring in it, you are already in a world of hurt. Al Siebert, a psychologist and author of The Survivor Personality, writes that survivors "laugh at threats . . . playing and laughing go together. Playing keeps the person in contact with what is happening around [him]." To deal with reality you must first recognize it as such. (27-8)

Some high-angle rescue workers call body bags "long-term bivvy sacks." It sounds cruel, but survivors laugh and play, and even in the most horrible situations—perhaps especially in those situations—they continue to laugh and play. To deal with reality you must first recognize it as such, and as Siebert and others have pointed out, play puts a person in touch with his environment, while laughter makes the feeling of being threatened manageable. (41)

There was another more fundamental difficulty that the snowmobilers faced. Our sense of a mountain, the earth, is a sense of something solid, and our experience confirms that. Nothing in our learning tells us that a mountain is going to come apart before our eyes. It makes no sense. It hasn't happened, therefore it cannot happen. The mountain certainly didn't look fragile. The snowmobilers literally couldn't believe it. We think we believe what we know, but we only truly believe what we feel. (64)

My father used to perform a card trick for me and my brothers. Anyone can do it. He'd shuffle a deck and ask us to pick a card, not show it to him, and replace it anywhere in the deck. Then he'd let us shuffle the deck so that it would seem impossible for him to find the card. But when he'd show us the cards, one by one, he'd watch our eyes. When we saw the card that we'd picked, our pupils would dilate, and he'd know which card we'd picked. The involuntary physical response is proof that there is an emotional component to the process of matching the model with the world. (72)

Perceptions do not incorporate the world in a literal way. If you try to imagine the face of your mother, there is no photograph of your mother waiting in your brain. Rather, fragments of the image, in cluding its emotional content, are stored in a dormant form scattered across numerous neural networks. When you call forth your mother's face, they all light up simultaneously in what Antonio Domasio calls a trick of timing to create an illusion that you're seeing your mother's face, or something like it. The way we store what we know about the world is much the same. Mental models are distributed across the brain. (76)

Recent research demonstrates that talking on a cell phone while driving, whether hands-free or not, causes inattentional blindness, the psychological equivalent of [this]. (81)

Psychologists who study survival say that people who are rule followers don't do as well as those who are of independent mind and spirit. When a patient is told that he has six months to live, he has two choices: to accept the news and die, or to rebel and live. People who survive cancer in the face of such a diagnosis are notorious. The medical staff observes that they are "bad patients," unruly, troublesome. They don't follow directions. They question everything. They're annoying. They're survivors. (85)

In the World Trade Center disaster, many people who were used to following the rules died because they did what they were told by authority figures. An employee of the Aon Insurance Company on the ninety-third floor of the south tower had begun his escape but returned to his office after the security guards made a general announcement that the building was safe and that people should stay inside until they were told to leave. Before he died, he spoke to his father on the phone: "Why did I listen to them—I shouldn't have." Another man, an employee of Fuji Bank, actually reached the ground-floor lobby, only to be sent back in by a security guard. A third worker called a family member and recorded a final message on the answering machine: "I can't go anywhere because they told us not to move. I have to wait for the firefighters." (174)

When [Morey] told us we could navigate without compass or map, Jonas and I both were pretty skeptical. We'd just come from an Air Force-style survival school where a knowledge of map and compass was paramount. But the lesson was not about finding our way in the woods; it was about navigating the human brain.
As we hiked through the trailless forest, Morey stopped every 20 or 30 yards to point out something, and we'd examine and discuss what we found. After we'd followed him deep into the woods, he asked us to close our eyes and point the way home. It is a humbling experience to find that you can't. I'd been following him, which is never a good idea. I had not walked my own walk, and as a result, I was lost.
Morey directed our attention to the last place we'd stopped to talk. We could still see it from where we stood. "Remember, we talked about the bittersweet vine there?" We'd taken a sample from a vine that's good for making cordage. So we hiked back to that spot. Then he pointed to another spot, where he'd shown me ways of seeing and walking that were used by Native American trackers and other Aboriginal peoples. He called it "Owl Eyes and the Fox Walk," that full-body alertness I'd seen when he listened to the birds. It can put you in an altered state of perception, he said. We returned to that spot. From there, we could see the place where we thought we'd found the hoof print of a deer, but it turned out to be the entrance to a vole tunnel. We had squatted there to discuss the difference between voles, moles, and mice.
Thus, hopping from one conversation to the next, we were able to retrace our steps exactly and to remember in great detail not only where we'd been but what we'd said and done at each spot. In what seemed to be a featureless and homogenous forest, Morey had given us tangible cues, like road signs, which we could easily follow home. He had discovered an effortless way to embed a reliable mental map in our brains.
"It's called song lines," he said. "And it's an ancient navigational technique used by Australian Aboriginals."
In Australia the Aborigines have a "labyrinth of invisible pathways," as Bruce Chatwin wrote in The Songlines, "which meander all over Australia and are known to Europeans as `Dreaming-tracks,' or `Songlines'; to the Aboriginals as the `Footprints of the Ancestors' or the `Way of the Law.' Aboriginal Creation myths tell of the legendary totemic beings who had wandered over the continent in the Dreamtime, singing out the name of everything that crossed their path—birds, animals, plants, rocks, waterholes—and so singing the world into existence. . . . A song . . . was both a map and a direction-finder. Provided you knew the song, you could always find your way across country."
"If you do that when you go into the woods," Morey told us, "you'll never be lost."
I was cynical at first about pretending to be a deer or an owl or a fox. But when I phoned him weeks later, Morey was able to recite in detail the steps in our journey. He remembered specific fallen trees, a patch of Japanese knotweed, and the way the wind was moving the leaves on a stand of maples. "It's not like I tried to remember that," he said. "It's an ancient instinct. And it's still alive." It was the first time I'd heard a strategy for making the mental map match the world. Map and compass are artificial methods for doing that, and they work well. But this was . . . deep. It was aboriginal neuroscience, using implicit, not explicit, memory circuits to embed the map in the unconscious mind. (189-91)
[A great book about this practice in Apache culture is Keith Basso's Wisdom Sits In Places—DoC]

Survival is nothing more than an ordinary life well lived in extreme circumstances. He embraced the world, and the world embraced him. He was not lost, so all was not lost. . . . Not being lost is not a matter of getting back to where you started from; it is a decision not to be lost wherever you happen to find yourself. It's simply saying, "I'm not lost, I'm right here." Which is, significantly, what a child would say. Zen mind. Beginner's mind. (240)

He awoke in the morning quoting Shakespeare to himself, shouting at the roof of his snow cave. "I felt delighted . . . bellowing the words in my best Laurence Olivier voice. . . ." When the brain is allowed to relax its grip on the survival struggle for a moment, as we've seen, it eagerly gets to work. And where there is no new input to process, to map or memorize, it jumps up and gives you a core dump. That's when you'd better hope you've spent your life building a core. (244)

Be humble. A Navy Seal commander told Al Siebert, the psychologist who studies survival, that "the Rambo types are the first to go." Don't think that just because you're good at one thing, it makes you good at other things. (283)

The perfect adventure shouldn't be that much more hazardous in a real sense than ordinary life, for that invisible rope that holds us here can always break. We can live a life of bored caution and die of cancer. Better to take the adventure, minimize the risks, get the information, and then go forward in the knowledge that we've done everything we can.
No, some people would rather not see it, but the bull is there for all of us. Some of us choose to pass the cape in front of its horns. To live life is to risk it. And when you feel the rush of air and catch the stink of hot breath in your face, you enter the secret order of those who have seen their own death close up. It makes us live that much more intensely. So intense is it for some that it seals their fate; once they've tasted it, they just can't stop. And in their cases, perhaps we have to accept that the light that burns brightest burns half as long.
But I believe that if you do it right, you can have it all. I adhere to what my daughter Amelia calls the Gutter Theory of Life. It goes like this: You don't want to be lying in the gutter, having been run down by a bus, the last bit of your life ebbing away, and be thinking, "I should have taken that rafting trip . . . " or, "I should have learned to surf . . . " of "I should have flown upside down—with smoke!"
Pete Conrad was the third man to walk on the moon. He died in a motorcycle accident on an ordinary day. It took him a while to die as he went to the hospital. I wonder what he was thinking. I hope it was: I did it all. (295)


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