about me

What's new?

November 2014. Late this summer we both took a motorcycle class and bought scooters. Now we're settling in for winter, and I've just added several truckloads of leaves to the yard to continue building the topsoil.

(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 essays and newer blog archives, which are linked at the bottom of the home page. If you're reading for fun or inspiration, you might prefer my old stuff, 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 there are some interviews of me. In text, the BoingBoing interview by Avi, and older interviews by by Tim Boucher and Burn the Furniture.
In 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).
And here are four videos, around 100 minutes total, of me being interviewed in October 2005 for What A Way To Go: Life at the End of Empire: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4.
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?
I used to be a doomer optimist, expecting the collapse of civilization to make a better world. Now I think the big systems will muddle through the coming climate and resource disasters, and the world will get better, worse, and crazier all at the same time. My fear is that the growing power of technology will be used to maximize comfort, stability, safety, and entertainment, by sacrificing autonomy, responsibility, risk, and aliveness.

I used to think rural homesteading was a good idea. Now I think the isolation is harmful, and the transportation costs exceed the savings of growing a little more of your own food. A better strategy is to get a modest house on an urban residential lot, grow high quality fruits and vegetables, ride your bike to the store for cheap staple foods, and take advantage of the economic opportunities of the city.

Politically I'm a patient anarchist and a provisional socialist. For now we need government to moderate the tendency for political and economic power to become more and more concentrated and unequal. But as ordinary humans become more aware, and as we invent new kinds of horizontally-connected systems, we can work toward a world with zero coercion and widely distributed power. It would probably take a few thousand years, except that in only a few hundred years we'll have new technologies that will reframe political and economic issues in ways we cannot imagine.

Here are my philosophical beliefs condensed to 100 words: Matter is an emergent phenomenon of mind. Somehow, mind is divided into many experiencing perspectives. All perspectives are related, but by default their experience is inconsistent. Experience becomes more consistent across perspectives as they agree to share the same world. Your reality is a compromise between your creation and your surrender to the creations of others. In a world with high consistency, objective truth becomes a useful intellectual shortcut, but perfect consistency is impossible. Human consciousness is not the sole reality creator. There are powerful and subtle creative forces that we can explore through expansion of consciousness beyond the self.
How exactly do you live?
I've answered some questions about this in my Frugal Early Retirement FAQ.
Do you have an RSS feed?
Doing it myself would be too much work, 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 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'd like 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. In May of 2012, she put together a collection of my zines: paperback and hardcover. Nobody is making money on this, not even Lulu since they take a percentage of the author's profits. Some of the texts are also available as free pdf downloads. 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?
No. Leigh Ann and I have been together since September 2012.
Will you housesit for me?
Now that I own a house, my housesitting days are over.
I thought you lived on an off-grid homestead.
I do have ten primitive acres with a tiny hut and some berry bushes, but I don't spend a lot of time there. Do you want to buy it? Check out my Landblog FAQ or the landblog archives from 2004-2011.
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?
Basically the same as this website, except instead of my name dot com, it's my name at gmail.com.
I like it when people email me to say hi. You don't have to bring gifts. Commenting on stuff I've written is fine. If you have a comment on something I linked to, that's between you and whoever wrote it. You can also post on the Ran Prieur subreddit.
Do you take donations?
Here's my donation page. I'm doing well for money, but if anyone feels like donating, I won't say no.
More photos?
Here's the last good pic of me before the beard, in my backyard in July 2012. Also, 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
Frugal Early Retirement FAQ
Winter Tour FAQ
How I bought a house
I bought land
My July 2004 bike trip
Favorite Films


Favorite Songs
Big Blood, my favorite band
Favorite Albums plus Hawkwind