Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Guest Post: Finding Diamonds in the Dustbin of the 19th Century by Destiny Kinal, Author of Linen Shroud

Please join me in welcoming Destiny Kinal to Let Them Read Books! Destiny is celebrating the release of Linen Shroud, second book in the Textile Trilogy, and I'm pleased to have her here today with a guest post about the themes that form the basis for her trilogy and her hopes for the future.

Following the award-winning Burning Silk, The Textile Trilogy picks up the story of two families, one Native American, the other French Huguenot, with the central novel in the trilogy, Linen Shroud. 

Here, as the changes that brought civil war to the United States gather and then break, a savage transformation challenges our dreams of possibilities on this new continent, transplanting the sensory world we evolved with as agricultural humans.

Pitched battles for the soul of the future are underway, echoing the bloody battle between North and South:

✥ Will the women of European bloodlines win the respect and equity their Native American sisters enjoy in their matrilineal culture?

✥ Will the craft village be able to hold out against the onslaught of the Lowell model, the factory’s assault on the fabric of community?

Finding Diamonds in the Dustbin of the 19th Century
by Destiny Kinal

In Linen Shroud Destiny Kinal beautifully illuminates how our ancestors approached conundrums similar to the ones we are facing in our time now, with vibrantly alive characters expressing both Native and European values. How does flax—a tough and finicky plant fiber with a willowy blue flower—transform into the luminous satiny textile that lasts for generations, growing more soft and supple with time? The formative struggles that Linen Shroud draws on suggest that the conflicts our ancestors succumbed to or mastered in the nineteenth century have shaped us to find solutions today to the insoluble.

The first two novels of the Textile Trilogy, each based on a fiber, are fused style to substance, silk being sensual and electric, linen being difficult to process but long-lasting.

Burning Silk celebrates the sensory world unmitigated by machinery powered by extractive fuels, which set a new pace for the rhythms of life.

Linen Shroud deals with conflict and the losses. The difficulty of creating something durable.

By the end of the18th century, it became clear that a new breed of settlers would not co-exist with mixed blood people. The lands we sought to take, we took by force, not willing to co-exist and learn a new way of life.

Linen Shroud reflects the many wars that were being waged in the middle of the 19th century.

Resistors were still thinking they might succeed. The fast-paced machinery of the extractive fuel age broke apart the traditional craft village, which had defined us as a species, to relocate community in the factory town.

The guilds of this time foresaw modernity's devastation to the environment and to the community. 150 years later, we are now fully witnessing the effects of a virulent capitalism and dislocation.

All of the damage that the nineteenth century wrought, and the twentieth century nailed into place, can be remedied, if we have both will and vision. Earth herself has proven to have strong powers of regeneration. Will we die as a species because we cannot moderate our consumer culture, the glut of which is choking us?

The Petroleum Era can be seen as a 150 year blip, an anomaly in the long span of the evolution of our species, the last 12,000 years being lived in small, agricultural, craft-based communities.

We already have the positive elements of reconstruction in place.

Mixed-blood cultures have long been acknowledged for their vibrancy— a blend of dissimilar people producing new cultures. Witness the Metis, the mestizos, la creoles.

Matrilineal cultures, that way of life lived by the Iroquois or Haudenosaunee tribes, are not the inverse of patrilineal, with one gender dominating the other. Haduenosaunee women are finally being acknowledged for their contribution to our global women's rights movement.

Parity between the genders may be our natural state.

With their patriarchal blinders on, European men could only see the earth itself as a resource to own and portion out into private reserves rather than commons to share and use sustainably.

Historians on the side of the victors, have long ridiculed groups who imagined another path forward. The so-called Luddites, saboteurs, commies, hippies, labor agitators have been grossly misrepresented in our formal histories.

Why should individual rights be privileged over the common good, so pervasive in the short history of this country?

It will take great efforts to change the tide.  I don't minimize this.

The potential damage to all cultures from war can be stepped around with human tools like diplomacy, international law, gun control, mediation.

Europeans did bring some constructive aspects of their way-of-life to the Americas.
Communities were organized into guilds around craft cultures that included textiles, basketry, tanning, and pottery similar to how some native cultures structure their societies.

The values and practices espoused in the Sixties and Seventies have infused our mainstream culture. Freshly re-imagined architecture, food, medicine, education, birth, and death have been agents of transformation

With solar technology now coming fully of age, alongside water and wind, we can generate the energy of commerce.

Resistance has been resurrected as an honorable path.

The best of the traditional ways, the ones we evolved with, are being restored: respect for elders, communal nurturing of children, coming of age ceremonies, learning at the side of artisanal experts, handwork.  Knowing how to raise and preserve food.

Privileged college-educated young people are returning to the land, their instincts for analysis telling them they must learn to grow food, to resurrect craft, to live simply.

The time has come for women to take their place and to speak up for the values that we hold dear.  When we are given positions of power, do we emulate what men have done or work to put in place a world that our children's children can live in, safely?

We no longer have the luxury of time to explore more dead ends, as we did in previous eras.

Perhaps we had to be brought to this point of armageddon, the site or time of a final and conclusive battle between the forces of good and evil, (Wikipedia) with all the attendant ills that make us feel transformation is impossible, with the planet reacting to the shift in its balance point with violence, with young people retreating into opioid addiction.  Is this the place we had to reach in order that we might listen to the whispers of our hearts?

What compromises can we live with? What must we do so our species doesn’t have to die, taking this beautiful, diverse world with us?

So what if our species took a disastrous turn?

Just as the Earth our Mother has miraculous powers of restoration, so too does our species have resiliency.  We can recover and restore our world.

 I believe this: What we have imagined can still occur.

About the Author:

Deconstructing the descriptive words in the author's bio, Destiny Kinal is a lifelong political activist and community organizer, whose writing has spanned the range from journalist in Aspen CO... to analyst of new values and lifestyles to the Fortune book artist in France's book village in the bioregionalist whose work on the Susquehanna echoed those of her colleagues in other watersheds. Now publisher of the new sitio tiempo press, an imprint of Reinhabitory Institute, Kinal finds the process of discovery involved in reinhabitatory strategies compels most of her friendships and travels, while being a good grandmother and aunt steers her toward tactics: programs and publications for children to discover their own reinhabitory strategies and values. Visit Destiny's website for more information about Destiny and her books.

1 comment:

  1. Just a point of clarification: I am the co-founder of our collective press sitio tiempo, along with Judith Thomas, master weaver and handwork teacher of teachers. Our collective is bioregional in philosophy with an editorial board, a consistent team of editors, book designers, production and public relations professionals. Sounds good, doesn't it? An author comes into the collective with the right and obligation to participate in every aspect of creating a book. Turn out it's more challenging: we might have published 1-2 books a year in our six years. Instead we have published 3 in six years, a middle grade book about a native boy whose culture is destroyed after the Spanish arrive and the first two books of the Textile Trilogy, seven years apart.
    If you have a book with some substance, one you think we might be interested in publishing collectively, give us a call to discuss it.


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