The New York Times has gone ahead and done what it does best, torpedoing my idealistic future plans by taking the contemporary back-to-the-land agriculture movement and frothing it into an obnoxious hipster trend. It’s not easy negotiating that tricky balance between sweat and ‘sparkling mead’, between chicken brooders and brooding indie chicks—and it’s a balance that I’m afraid my sensibilities are simply not prepared to confront. And so it is with great resignation and a heavy heart that I here, today, quitclaim my prospects as a husbandman. When the nation’s Grange Halls have all been turned into yoga studios, my anguish will be be total and undivided.1
Luckily for me, though, farming is not the only form of primary production that needs hipsters to reclaim it from the bonds of Industry and the idolatry of Technology. Fishing is too relaxed and meditative for my tastes. And forestry was long ago successfully colonized by the twin forces of beards and flannel.
That leaves mining.
So, friends— are you tired of getting your metals and ores from massive, rapacious, anonymous corporations? Fed up with the community breakdown, environmental carnage, and psychological deadening that has accompanied the mechanization and globalization of the minerals sector? I certainly am. The ascendant techno-fetishism of the mining industry has been even more extensive and more far-reaching than that of the agricultural sector. Not only am I unable to say who mined the metal in my laptop—I can’t even say what continent it’s from. Vast, impersonal economies of production and trade furnish us with minerals that have been so extensively processed that it’s nearly impossible to recognize the metals we consume as natural objects, harvested from the earth.
I long for the days when local communities were bound to their local mineshaft and their local miner. I miss the time when men would crawl into an adit with nothing but a pickax and leather gloves, muddying their hands and blackening their clothes with the honest telltales of labor and love, joined together to draw value from the earth. Which is why I’m taking it upon myself to pioneer the trend of organic mining. You’re interested in back-to-the-land? This is back-into-the-earth, connecting our bodies and souls to Gaia’s bounty. Take note, editors of the Times: book me now for an interview, as five years from now my respiratory illnesses may prevent you from getting an attractive photo!
Since my Social Studies degree has left me woefully unfamiliar with mining techniques, I’ll have to start from scratch, asking older miners for advice and scouring trade publications from the nineteenth century. Undoubtedly it will be difficult to compete against corporate strip mines. I’ll sink a few shafts, looking for a good seam, and maybe some of my first excavations will yield low-quality stuff. But with my youthful good looks, enough trips by Subaru to the nearby Miners’ Market (in an attractively redeveloped train shed), and a Tumblr on which to post oversaturated photographs of my timber headframe, success is a certainty. In any case, I’m only planning to do this for a few years before becoming a graphic designer.
Of course, even if you’re not able to work a pit yourself, there’ll still be cultural byproducts you can benefit from. Expect hardhats, headlamps, and heavy coveralls to be de rigueur at the next Mumford & Sons concert you attend. Buy yours now before the thrift shops inflate their prices on a wave of urban demand!
- I have emails proving my longstanding intention to take over the New Hampshire Grange long before this ‘Hank Keogh’ fellow came along. And let me just tell you, whippersnappers, my Grange meeting plans involved all tractor pulls, all the time. ↩