about me

What's new?

Late December 2011. I'm traveling for the next two or three months, via rideshare and Greyhound. My plan is to go down the west coast, across to Texas, then through the south, up to the northeast, and back across the midwest. I'll post updates on the home page.

(Frequently Asked Questions, aFraid to Ask Questions, and Fun to Answer Questions)

I've just discovered your site. What should I read first to understand what you're all about?
Start with my recent essays and newer blog archives, which are linked at the bottom of the home page. If you're just reading for fun, my old stuff is better, especially Best of Zines. But if you're reading for serious understanding, or if you're going to email me with questions, you need to read my new stuff, because my thinking has adapted over time.

Also here's my BoingBoing interview by Avi, older text interviews by by Tim Boucher and Burn the Furniture, and audio interviews by Paul Wheaton (2011, 28 minutes), Aaron (2006? 40 minutes), Ken Rose (2011, 46 minutes), and Mark Haim at KOPN (2009, 51 minutes).
How do you say your name?
My first name rhymes with Dan, not Don. Think of the Flock of Seagulls song, not the Kurosawa film. And I pronounce my last name like it rhymes with "free-er," but the French pronunciation is cool too.
Can you summarize your thinking?
The objective physical universe is a mental construct of limited usefulness. Reality itself has the structure of a dream -- and the Dreamer has depths that we cannot imagine. "You" and "I" are like two fingertips that don't know there's a body -- and that "body" is probably the fingertip of an even larger body, and so on...

So I agree with religion that our world arises from awareness, intelligence, and intention -- but I also agree with science that reality is improvised and full of experiments and mistakes. Sometimes the mistakes are epic. I no longer believe that civilization is a fluke or a dead end. It's more like a puzzle. Given human intelligence and mutability, large complex societies were inevitable, and we have to learn to do them right or go extinct trying.

I also no longer believe in the zombie apocalypse. The collapse is ongoing, and this is what it looks like: a steady series of changes in the background of our daily lives, with occasional local catastrophes. Big institutions can be obsolete, and suffer enormous blows, and still muddle along for decades until they are replaced by new systems that grow through the cracks. We are always in the middle of history, and there is no end to change or trouble or opportunity. No matter what happens, you always have another move.
How about a haiku?
Do you have an RSS feed?
I used to do one for essays and novel chapters and landblog posts, but even that was a chore for a one-person site. To do a feed for blog posts would be almost as much work as the original posts, and less fun. But Patrick has written a script that creates a feed based on the way I format my entries. I've uploaded it to http://ranprieur.com/feed.php. You might also try Page2RSS.
What blogging software do you use? And why don't you enable comments on it?
There are three reasons I don't do comments, any one of which alone would be sufficient. 1) I love hand-coding my own html (so I don't use any blogging software), and comments are tricky to code. I really enjoy keeping things uncomplicated. 2) Allowing comments would obligate me to read all the comments and moderate the discussion, and I spend too much time reading computer screens already. 3) I want to have only my favorite stuff as permanent content, and doing it the normal way, with comments and permalinks, would make it impossible (or rude) for me to filter down my own posts and reader comments. A principle of permaculture is that anything in high enough quantity becomes a pollutant, and I believe the internet has been polluted by too much storage capacity -- if people can save everything, they lose the valuable skill of culling.
Do you plan on publishing your writing?
It's already published right here! I've been meaning to make a physical book, but I want to do a thorough job: scan the handwritten zines, polish the essays, pick out the best blog posts, write disclaimers for stuff I've changed my mind on, have a contest for cover design, and find a publisher that uses acid-free paper at a reasonable cost. Maybe I'll eventually do it myself with a laser printer and some kind of home binding gizmo. Meanwhile, in May of 2011, a reader went on lulu.com and cranked out a book in a day. It's called How to Drop Out and Other Essays. That link goes to the paperback, and here's the hardcover. Nobody is making money on this except Lulu. There are also links to download a pdf for free. Thanks Lexie!
Why don't you submit your writing to places that will allow it to reach a wider audience?
No one who understands fame wants to be famous. I like my small, smart audience. Hopefully someone will "steal" "my" ideas and go on the book tours so I don't have to.
Are you single?
Actually no one has asked me this, but yes. Here's my OkCupid profile.
Will you housesit for me?
Now that I own a house, my housesitting days are over. But I might need one some time.
Would you like to come visit me?
Maybe! I'm still taking invitations for my current winter tour, but I'm not able to visit everyone.
Will you come speak at my class or event?
I give my writing away free, because no matter how much I give away, I still have it! I'm less generous with my time. If you want me to come speak, you'll have to pay my transportation costs (ideally in cash), and if it's in another city, someone will have to pick me up and drop me off at the airport/station (unless it's walkable). And if I'm going to be staying the night, or in town for more than a few hours when I'm not at the event, I need a place to hang out with kitchen and internet access. I don't mind crowded messy places or sleeping on couches -- I'd much rather stay with real people than in a hotel. And if your event is so low budget that no one is being paid, you don't have to pay me. You just have to make it easy for me.
What's your email address?
My name as one word, and then gmail and the other stuff.
If you have a comment on something I've written, or something you would like other people to read, you might try posting it to the Ran Prieur subreddit. My inbox is for stuff you only want me to read. I read all personal emails and answer many, but I can't do deep thinking on request. Everyone wants to send me something that they love and I've never heard of, and then I love it too, but that's only ever happened a couple of times. You don't have to bring gifts -- if you just want to email me and say hi, I like that!
Will you be my friend on Facebook, Google+, or some other social network?
So far I've been able to avoid joining those sites, and I ignore all requests. They consume a lot of attention for a low-quality connection.
Do you take donations?
Here's my donation page. I'm doing very well for money right now, but if anyone feels like donating, I won't say no.
More photos?
Here's me looking awfully skinny in Missouri in December 2008 (thanks Ken), and at the permaculture class in April 2006. (Thanks Chuck). And here I am on my land in Summer 2005. Oh, and here's a video of me, an outtake from the film "What A Way To Go".

personal links

100 things about me
How I bought a house
I bought land
Eyesight recovery
My July 2004 bike trip
Top 50 Films
Top 150 Songs
Top 25 Albums plus Hawkwind
The Condensed Beatles