A critical look at Dolly Freed's philosophy of "Possum Living" (1 Viewer)

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Since Dolly Freed wrote her influential book titled "Possum Living, How To Live Well Without A Job And With (almost) No Money", she became somewhat of an icon for the practice of what's called "Simple Living" - generally defined as a sort of minimalist existence based on voluntary poverty. Throughout her work she defines her own unique practice as "possum living", a metaphorical reference to the freedom and "stupidity" of the animal. But throughout her work multiple contradictions arise that warrants a closer look into her unique philosophy. For, as she says quoting Nietzsche, "Philosophize with a hammer testing idols to see if they ring true". As Dolly's philosophy has grown in popularity and its principles extorted, the hammer of investigation must be applied back to its author to examine if she, too, rings true.

The Bhagavad-Gita describes the contradiction of the life of one who renounces society to avoid it's temptations. It explains that simply not partaking in something physically does not mean that they are free from its grasp if they are still dwelling on it in there mind. Dolly's lifestyle is centered around avoiding the traps and nonsense of "civilized life." But as we will soon find out, she never actually freed herself from its grasp, and perhaps in the process even exaggerated and internalized its worse qualities in the process.

We are quickly greeted with scripture from Ecclesiastes. She writes -

"While not overly religious, we do heed the Biblical admonition that "every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God" (Ecclesiastes 3:13). Notice it says "God," not "GNP."

It is worthwhile mentioning that scripture is referenced exactly three times, one of Matthew and two on Ecclesiastes. While she takes these references in a piecemeal like manner, it is interesting to see her ignore the whole passage, with the famous "there is a time for everything". Throughout her writing she presents a scalding critique of society, but Ecclesiastes concluded with a sort of detached acceptance of both society's ills and also of it's benefit's. With her, we see a condemnation and utter contempt for most of society without its teleological understanding of the usefulness of Man's foulest features. Is this just a case of cherrypicking what one wants to believe? Although one might accuse me of cherrypicking as well, she plants her foundation firmly on this principle of the good life of Ecclesiastes, so wouldn't it make sense to take it as a whole? This is a minor objection, but could there be a larger problem lurking over the horizon that is more recognizable?

Dolly may embody the Capitalist mentality she so fought to be against. In chapter two, "The Cost of Living", she takes on a pseudo - Benjamin Franklin mentality of "frugality", or what Japanesse Buddhists call "calculating gains and losses". This mentality is pervasive throughout her book, for even she admits when talking about her education even -

"What would I have learned if I had stayed in school? Exactly what the slowest member of the class would have learned, because that's how they teach. And the subjects! Social studies, forsooth! And new math, where you learn all about "sets" and graduate not knowing how to balance a checkbook. And home economics, where they teach you to be as uneconomical as possible--Betty Crocker propaganda."

For what IS important for a child to learn is what is considered "economical", that is, what conveys the greatest amount of "profit" for the effort. Everything is generally through the lens of a profit motif, or gain, and such is the Utilitarian ideology that Capitalists share. Things are only useful and worthwhile if they serve a obvious immediate use.

She gives a parable to describe this Utilitarian attitude as follows, to which she explains "my type of people!" -

"We like the anecdote about the stranger in a small Vermont village. Walking down the street, he notices that the man walking ahead of him is provoking some peculiar behavior. The men glare at him or shake their fists. The women turn up their noses. The children are bustled across the street to avoid coming near him.

"What's going on?" he asks one of the villagers. "Is he a wifebeater? A drugpusher? A childmolester?''

"Nup. Dipped into his capital."

Couldn't we see parallels between her parable and the corporate drive to cut costs and be as frugal as possible?

We also see a Machiavellianesque like strategy for intimidation and working outside the law, another corporate strategy. For example, she writes -

"Visit his house late at night and do something to let him know he has an enemy who has no intention of playing the game by his rules. (If you don't know his address, look it up at the courthouse. I explained how on page 133.) Do not take a weapon or anything that could be called a weapon that you wouldn't want to discard if necessary. Go on foot. I'm going to leave it to your imagination as to what to do when you get there. However, some people say that houses have windows, and others have it that bricks may be found. And cars are often left out at night and might have their tires about them at such times. And still others say telephone lines run outside of houses and are thin. And I've heard that penknives are sharp. Don't be in a hurry--look the situation over for potential. Perhaps he has a dog, so you might want to take along some liver or meat to befriend it. If the dog is downright vicious, come back another time and poison it. It's no sin to kill a vicious animal, and it will make your adversary feel more vulnerable."

Of course she gives a disclaimer type sentence, "make sure you are in the right", but if she's half the scholar we think she is she is well aware of Plato's maximum "no man does evil knowingly". Of course people will think they are in the right! With all this slight of hand use of rhetoric, and her instance on solving problems outside of authority, it represents quite well modern corporate mentality, except today we call it "corporate jargon" when we get the runaround.

It's peculiar that the poorest and the richest share in the same mentality. With smugness she says "I'm not paying the welfare chiselers to breed like flies" when describing why they don't want to pay taxes. Very identical to the corporate wing of Republicanism we see today. They both see taxes as giving to some unworthy group, a burden, a parasite. She ironically describes herself as a "sensitive" woman, and yet she can look down on other humans as a parasite of some kind?

The case for the "possum living" as a antidote for consumerism, materialism, corporatism, is by far weak and actually embodies it's general principles of the "maximizing impulse" that accompanies so much of the business mentality that is responsible for our own modern anxieties. I think what Dolly missed was the "hidden" costs of her lifestyle, something that lurks beyond the scope of calculators and business ledgers. Survival at any cost leaves its toll on our humanity.
 
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mouse

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Allow me to suggest that frugality is not a function of capitalism, and economics is not about money.

Economics is about the allocation of finite resources. Frugality is an approach to that allotment process.

> Things are only useful and worthwhile if they serve a obvious immediate use.

de Tocqueville nailed us pretty good on that one. It's an accurate and unfortunate reality of ratrace culture.
 
OP
William Howard 2
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Economics is about the allocation of finite resources. Frugality is an approach to that allotment process.
I think that's a good point. Frugality and efficiency do seem like pretty identical concepts.

Idk. I don't think "economics" actually exists as it's own subject. What guides others in the way of making use of resources? I would say beliefs. I'd imagine then frugality exists as a philosophy, but can't be predicated under "economics" by that definition.
 

junkpolecat99

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Did you write this?

Since Dolly Freed wrote her influential book titled "Possum Living, How To Live Well Without A Job And With (almost) No Money", she became somewhat of an icon for the practice of what's called "Simple Living" - generally defined as a sort of minimalist existence based on voluntary poverty. Throughout her work she defines her own unique practice as "possum living", a metaphorical reference to the freedom and "stupidity" of the animal. But throughout her work multiple contradictions arise that warrants a closer look into her unique philosophy. For, as she says quoting Nietzsche, "Philosophize with a hammer testing idols to see if they ring true". As Dolly's philosophy has grown in popularity and its principles extorted, the hammer of investigation must be applied back to its author to examine if she, too, rings true.

The Bhagavad-Gita describes the contradiction of the life of one who renounces society to avoid it's temptations. It explains that simply not partaking in something physically does not mean that they are free from its grasp if they are still dwelling on it in there mind. Dolly's lifestyle is centered around avoiding the traps and nonsense of "civilized life." But as we will soon find out, she never actually freed herself from its grasp, and perhaps in the process even exaggerated and internalized its worse qualities in the process.

We are quickly greeted with scripture from Ecclesiastes. She writes -

"While not overly religious, we do heed the Biblical admonition that "every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God" (Ecclesiastes 3:13). Notice it says "God," not "GNP."

It is worthwhile mentioning that scripture is referenced exactly three times, one of Matthew and two on Ecclesiastes. While she takes these references in a piecemeal like manner, it is interesting to see her ignore the whole passage, with the famous "there is a time for everything". Throughout her writing she presents a scalding critique of society, but Ecclesiastes concluded with a sort of detached acceptance of both society's ills and also of it's benefit's. With her, we see a condemnation and utter contempt for most of society without its teleological understanding of the usefulness of Man's foulest features. Is this just a case of cherrypicking what one wants to believe? Although one might accuse me of cherrypicking as well, she plants her foundation firmly on this principle of the good life of Ecclesiastes, so wouldn't it make sense to take it as a whole? This is a minor objection, but could there be a larger problem lurking over the horizon that is more recognizable?

Dolly may embody the Capitalist mentality she so fought to be against. In chapter two, "The Cost of Living", she takes on a pseudo - Benjamin Franklin mentality of "frugality", or what Japanesse Buddhists call "calculating gains and losses". This mentality is pervasive throughout her book, for even she admits when talking about her education even -

"What would I have learned if I had stayed in school? Exactly what the slowest member of the class would have learned, because that's how they teach. And the subjects! Social studies, forsooth! And new math, where you learn all about "sets" and graduate not knowing how to balance a checkbook. And home economics, where they teach you to be as uneconomical as possible--Betty Crocker propaganda."

For what IS important for a child to learn is what is considered "economical", that is, what conveys the greatest amount of "profit" for the effort. Everything is generally through the lens of a profit motif, or gain, and such is the Utilitarian ideology that Capitalists share. Things are only useful and worthwhile if they serve a obvious immediate use.

She gives a parable to describe this Utilitarian attitude as follows, to which she explains "my type of people!" -

"We like the anecdote about the stranger in a small Vermont village. Walking down the street, he notices that the man walking ahead of him is provoking some peculiar behavior. The men glare at him or shake their fists. The women turn up their noses. The children are bustled across the street to avoid coming near him.

"What's going on?" he asks one of the villagers. "Is he a wifebeater? A drugpusher? A childmolester?''

"Nup. Dipped into his capital."

Couldn't we see parallels between her parable and the corporate drive to cut costs and be as frugal as possible?

We also see a Machiavellianesque like strategy for intimidation and working outside the law, another corporate strategy. For example, she writes -

"Visit his house late at night and do something to let him know he has an enemy who has no intention of playing the game by his rules. (If you don't know his address, look it up at the courthouse. I explained how on page 133.) Do not take a weapon or anything that could be called a weapon that you wouldn't want to discard if necessary. Go on foot. I'm going to leave it to your imagination as to what to do when you get there. However, some people say that houses have windows, and others have it that bricks may be found. And cars are often left out at night and might have their tires about them at such times. And still others say telephone lines run outside of houses and are thin. And I've heard that penknives are sharp. Don't be in a hurry--look the situation over for potential. Perhaps he has a dog, so you might want to take along some liver or meat to befriend it. If the dog is downright vicious, come back another time and poison it. It's no sin to kill a vicious animal, and it will make your adversary feel more vulnerable."

Of course she gives a disclaimer type sentence, "make sure you are in the right", but if she's half the scholar we think she is she is well aware of Plato's maximum "no man does evil knowingly". Of course people will think they are in the right! With all this slight of hand use of rhetoric, and her instance on solving problems outside of authority, it represents quite well modern corporate mentality, except today we call it "corporate jargon" when we get the runaround.

It's peculiar that the poorest and the richest share in the same mentality. With smugness she says "I'm not paying the welfare chiselers to breed like flies" when describing why they don't want to pay taxes. Very identical to the corporate wing of Republicanism we see today. They both see taxes as giving to some unworthy group, a burden, a parasite. She ironically describes herself as a "sensitive" woman, and yet she can look down on other humans as a parasite of some kind?

The case for the "possum living" as a antidote for consumerism, materialism, corporatism, is by far weak and actually embodies it's general principles of the "maximizing impulse" that accompanies so much of the business mentality that is responsible for our own modern anxieties. I think what Dolly missed was the "hidden" costs of her lifestyle, something that lurks beyond the scope of calculators and business ledgers. Survival at any cost leaves its toll on our humanity.
 

Demongato

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This crust punk scene in the U.S. is another form of colonialism , imperialism, hipster elitism , genification . Traveling can't be someone making their own money , helping the community , doing their own thing . It's has to be parasiting the community , It's no better then when the Rome invaders white washing other cultures . Bunch of immature kids too insecure in their own self worth that they need to prove the world something because they lack the character to function in the everyday world .
 

mouse

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another form of colonialism , imperialism, hipster elitism , genification
To paraphrase The Princess Bride, "I do not think those words mean what you think they mean." Unless I am misunderstanding your position, the sentence is functionally equivalent to something like:
  • This crust punk scene in the U.S. is not genuine.
  • I disapprove of this crust punk scene in the U.S.
Some might say that the calling out of the U.S. crust punk scene as Not True Crust Punk might itself be a form of elitism. :p

Of course I could be totally off-base; if so I am willing to be corrected.
 

creature

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> Things are only useful and worthwhile if they serve a obvious immediate use.
the taco village had an obvious addiction to analytics..
unless he was making observational commentary, he dinna nail anything except his own, poor thermodynamically impaired soul..
 

creature

plastic wingnut in a microwave
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To paraphrase The Princess Bride, "I do not think those words mean what you think they mean."
to paraphrase nothing, uhmm...

oh.. never mind..

i don't think there's a crust punk worth their dirt that would trade 1 second of air on their eyes while the fields go by, to try & justify what they are towards any kind of ideological horse shit that sound like no more than a clawing at some sort of stupid formalistic assertions attempting to grasp at equivalences within the very society which fucking opossums probably would disdain..

i suspect any reasonable opossum would say "fuck this human shit, i'm a fucking opossum" & then would go be an opossum, rather than reguritate what other non-possums say about fucking possums..

man.. i am getting fucking jaded..
 

creature

plastic wingnut in a microwave
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This crust punk scene in the U.S. is another form of colonialism , imperialism, hipster elitism , genification . Traveling can't be someone making their own money , helping the community , doing their own thing . It's has to be parasiting the community , It's no better then when the Rome invaders white washing other cultures . Bunch of immature kids too insecure in their own self worth that they need to prove the world something because they lack the character to function in the everyday world .
so.. ypu're saying.. like.. when.. kids eat garbage or .. decide to do with as little as possible (like carrying most of what they own, if not all of what they own) are fucking **oppressors???**

so.. you're.. like.. a conservative republican, or.. i dunno.. you just have no clue what traveling is?? you just like to hear your own words because you think they sound smart???

holy fuck..

i hope yer being satirical, pal..
if you are, it's beautifull, & now i know how a lot of people feel about *my* shit..
& i think maybe i should apologize for some of it..
but..

it sounds like you're sucking chicken grease off your fingers because you like syntax & grammar..
your semantics, however, are sadly inconsistent, and your premises intentionally false, though i doubt you are aware enough of your own limitations to understand how that could be true..

but man.. if it is comedy?

it is fucking perfect : )
thank you!
 

creature

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& just in case you *are* serious.. well..
guess what?
i travel.
i earn my own money.

& you may not know it, because you lack the perception, but *we are* our community..

& fuck your 'real world', because we have to much character & confidence to give two drips of shit about it, except when it suits us to laugh at folks with your level of inexperience to think they know enough about our motives and imperatives to tell us which end of a fucking hardboiled egg should be cracked first.

you probably have no sense of community..
probably no true bravery & therefore quite possibly no intrinsic worth..
you certainly do not understand hardship, peril or risk, nor are you wise enough to know when your own prejudices compound your limitations because you assume that outward characteristics are the primary characteristics which define individuals..

you are the very archetype of a fool..

unless you are trying to be funny, in which case i would personally bless the crown upon yer little pointed head...
 
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