Rune Soup / Hermitix: The Anarch

So I used to make fun of Thoreau for all the reasons everybody else does, but a new episode of “Rune Soup” and “Hermitix” convinced me I had the guy wrong.

You know: people joke about how he went out to Walden and he didn’t completely separate from society. Not really. He hung out with the Emerson’s. He walked into town. Etcetra. I used to feel that way too. I was stuck in this fiction of rigid definitions. People must be either in or out, but what can I say?

I’m a Westerner.

The episode in question is a so called “swapcast” between the show Hermitix and the show Rune Soup, so named because they taped it and then both used the same tape as an episode of their own show. They are kind of co-interviewing each other. You could call it a “conversation” but there is a way in which they take turns interviewing each other.

It’s a good episode. I hope they do it again. In the meantime, I want to focus in on one point.

Meta-nomad, the host of Hermitix, ends up talking about this concept of the Anarch. This comes, he says, from a writer named Ernst Junger. The anarch is not the “anarchist” who is working to change the world around him. The anarch simply steps aside from the world as it is and follows his own path.

To use the metaphor of a river, most people flow with the river and let it take them wherever it goes. There are also those who fight it, and stand in the river and try not to move. Those people are going to be washed away eventually though. It’s just a matter of time.

The anarch steps out of the stream and walks alongside it at their own pace. He might even get back in from time to time, as needed, but he’s still got a level of self-determination that the other two don’t. He’s removed, but he’s not isolated.

That’s what Thoreau was doing. The truth is it’s just not realistic to be a human in the world off the grid. We need each other, and most of us aren’t off the grid. But you can be at the edge of the grid. You can wander away from it from time to time. And you can also go deep in.