“Review: ‘Devs’ Is a Cold and Beautiful Machine - The New York Times” plus 3 more

“Review: ‘Devs’ Is a Cold and Beautiful Machine - The New York Times” plus 3 more


Review: ‘Devs’ Is a Cold and Beautiful Machine - The New York Times

Posted: 04 Mar 2020 07:44 AM PST

Forest (Nick Offerman) is a know-it-all. That's not to say that he's a polymath, or wise, or even especially well-informed. Forest is a tech mogul, and his project is building a computer that uses the principle of determinism — that everything that happens is physically foreordained — to calculate the cause and outcome of any event in the universe. Its function is literally to Know. It. All.

Alex Garland is also a know-it-all. The British science-fictioneer has, as a screenwriter and director, staked out a particular genre of galaxy-brain theater. His films create twists and haunting alternative worlds from hard science and big-think, be it artificial intelligence in "Ex Machina" or bio-horror in "Annihilation." Garland is concerned with macro forces and the mortals who would master or be mastered by them; he operates at god-level.

The eight-episode "Devs," which begins Thursday on FX on Hulu, is Garland's first television series, and he writes and directs it in full. The size has a magnifying effect: It showcases what Garland does well — ideas and atmosphere — while amplifying his weaknesses in character and plot. As the techies say, it scales — for better and for worse.

"Devs" is breathtakingly grand in ideas and ambition. (Less so in content. I'm not convinced the story couldn't have been told in a two-hour film.) In a few words: Lily (Sonoya Mizuno), an engineer at Forest's company, Amaya, is drawn into a dangerous intrigue when her boyfriend, Sergei (Karl Glusman), is assigned to the project that gives the series its title, then disappears.

His fate proves to be the least of the series's questions. Among them: What is Devs? Why does Forest want it hushed up? Could the knowledge it unlocks empower humanity or enslave it? Is it possible to know too much?

The tale that unfolds is both mind-blowing and not terribly complex. But it's an eyeful to watch. Whatever is happening at Devs is happening inside a Kaaba-like lab, a luminously honeycombed golden cube that resembles the world's largest Ferrero Rocher box. There is a none-too-subtle mystical vibe, from the ring lights that halo the massive trees on Amaya's Bay Area campus to Forest's cult-leader magnetism and the cold-burn fervor of his head acolyte, Katie (a quietly terrifying Alison Pill).

Whatever is happening (sorry, the "Devs" spoiler list is as restrictive as a Silicon Valley NDA) is not good, we can infer from Amaya's low-key Evil Corp aesthetic. The offices are spooky-minimalist, and a colossal statue of a little girl bestrides the campus, her eyes glassy and piercing like a nightmare doll's.

The menace at Amaya is born of pain. Unlike Oscar Isaac's misogynist tech-bro in "Ex Machina," Forest is driven by a personal wound. (FX considers his motive a spoiler, and Offerman's reserved, stiff-furry-lip acting style gives little away, but if you haven't figured out the basics by early in the second episode, you should be checked for a concussion.)

The series has a "Mr. Robot" suspicion of capitalist power, a "Westworld" fascination with free will and a blacker-than-"Black Mirror" fear that digital utopias can be infected with hellish malware. But Garland's distinctive voice keeps whispering through those corporate-campus trees.

While his peers have social and political fixations, Garland is essentially a religious storyteller. His religion just happens to be physical science; his incense, subatomic particles; his Holy Spirit, human consciousness.

Garland, as a writer, is dealing with an enormous subject in "Devs" — knowledge at the scale of multiple universes. And as a director, he creates a trippy screen vocabulary to communicate this scope: not just FX tricks that show the same actor performing many possible actions in the same scene, but images of austere vastness, married to a droning, chanting, hypnotic score from Ben Salisbury, The Insects and Geoff Barrow.

Even through the slow stretches and occasional pretentiousness, I loved the sensual experience of "Devs"; it was like a spa visit for my eyes and ears. For an ideas guy, Garland is an especially strong visual storyteller. The end of "Annihilation" may have been confounding, but its largely wordless, beautifully choreographed climax had a deeper, subliminal logic.

Unless you're David Lynch, though, it's hard to do that at series length. Television relies more on dialogue and conversation, and there, "Devs" is shakier, given to unnatural expository downloads and speechifying. "Such big decisions being made about our future made by people who know so little about our past," says Stewart (Stephen McKinley Henderson), a programmer who begins the series as a wisecracking breath of fresh air but, by its end, is reciting poetry and speaking in aphorisms.

The show's arid, cerebral tone is matched by its performances. Mizuno's manner is both intense and detached, which may fit the stylized cool of the direction but doesn't give a viewer much to attach to in the focal character. The liveliest role goes to Zach Grenier ("The Good Wife") as Forest's security chief and enforcer, who spikes all the "Devs" talk with action.

Mostly, though, the talk in "Devs" is the action. This is the sort of drama where even the thugs serve up disquisitions on Tiananmen Square and the historical uses of power along with their beat downs. It's half techno-thriller, half art-directed TED Talk on determinism, multiverse theory and the observer effect. The biggest fights over "Devs" will probably be over the things I can't tell you about, particularly the ending and how it resolves the big conundrums the first seven episodes set up.

Personally, I found that ending a little empty and unsatisfying. Yet I didn't regret going on the haunting philosophical forest walk it took to get there. Garland is telling a daring story, one that, among other things, questions whether we're even watching a story in the traditional sense — in which characters make choices and determine their fate — or if, as Forest argues, "Life is just something we watch unfold, like pictures on a screen."

It's both a timeless argument and one appropriate for the era of peak TV. Is our existence an interactive adventure? Or is it, "Devs" asks, just the ultimate binge-watch?

EU tempers expectations on U.S. mini deal in March - Politico

Posted: 05 Mar 2020 07:00 AM PST

Updated

With help from Megan Cassella, Adam Behsudi, Jakob Hanke and Cristiano Lima

Editor's Note: Morning Trade is a free version of POLITICO Pro Trade's morning newsletter, which is delivered to our subscribers each morning at 6 a.m. The POLITICO Pro platform combines the news you need with tools you can use to take action on the day's biggest stories. Act on the news with POLITICO Pro.

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The European Commission is dialing down expectations that it'll have a U.S. mini deal to announce when EU trade chief Phil Hogan is in town this month. As of Wednesday, Hogan has no meetings set up with U.S. officials for his Washington trip.

U.S. business and retail industry leaders are urging American consumers to keep calm and continue conducting business as usual in the face of the coronavirus outbreak.

The No. 2 Senate Republican is filing legislation to ensure that 5G security is a negotiating objective in trade talks. It's a move that could complicate negotiations with the United Kingdom, which has allowed Huawei to have a limited role in building its 5G network.

IT'S THURSDAY, MARCH 5! Welcome to Morning Trade, where your host has been obsessively watching the worst reality TV show: "Love is Blind". Anything I should be watching once I finish that? News tips to share? Let me know: srodriguez@politico.com or @sabrod123.

EU TEMPERS EXPECTATIONS ON U.S. MINI DEAL IN MARCH: The European Commission insisted Wednesday that it's "substance over speed" when it comes to trade talks with the U.S., dialing down expectations raised by EU trade chief Phil Hogan that a deal could be announced by March 18.

A commission official added that Hogan will not meet with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer when he visits Washington that week.

WTO on the brain: "Commissioner Hogan will make an official visit to North America from 16-18 March. The principal purpose of the visit is to participate in a meeting ... in Ottawa on 18 March … [to] continue the discussions regarding the reform of the World Trade Organization," a Commission spokesperson said.

Hogan will be in Washington on March 17 to deliver a speech at Georgetown Law's Institute of International Economic Law, the spokesperson said.

However, the spokesperson left open the possibility that official meetings could be announced later. "Other elements of the program will be finalised in due course," the spokesperson said.

BUSINESS, RETAIL LEADERS DOWNPLAY CORONAVIRUS EFFECT: The coronavirus outbreak has disrupted supply chains and dampened demand in China and elsewhere, but the broader economic effects are still likely to be quite limited, U.S. business and retail industry leaders said Wednesday.

"We don't think that this situation is going to pose any lasting long-term negative effect on our industry or on other industries," Stephanie Martz, chief administrative officer and general counsel at the National Retail Federation, told reporters. Given the strength of the overall economy, "it's irresponsible to speculate and certainly to speculate negatively at this point," she added.

Back up and running: Martz was one of several industry leaders who spoke at a press conference at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, where the overall message was for American consumers to stay calm and keep conducting business and planning travel as usual.

She acknowledged that there has been some supply chain disruption coming out of China, with electronics manufacturers being the hardest hit. But as much as 50 percent of factories are coming back online, Martz said.

Can't lose China: During the same event, Chamber CEO Tom Donohue dismissed the idea that American companies should begin to re-examine the extent to which their manufacturing and business models are dependent on China.

"A country of that size and that scope is essential to the global economy," Donohue said. "So to give up China and tell everybody else to go involve themselves with that economy is, it's not a good idea economically, and it is certainly not a good idea geopolitically, for our well-being."

IMF: CORONAVIRUS WILL SLOW GLOBAL GROWTH: International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said the organization is beginning to look at the more dire scenarios of how the coronavirus will affect the global economy.

"We unfortunately over the last week have seen a shift to a more adverse scenario for the global economy," Georgieva said at a press conference on Wednesday. She added that global growth in 2020 will likely fall deeply below last year's levels.

The IMF predicted in January that global GDP would expand by 3.3 percent in 2020 from 2.9 percent in 2019.

Emergency funding: The IMF also announced $50 billion in emergency financing for low income and emerging market countries. Of the total, $10 billion will be available at zero interest for the poorest countries. The funds add to the $12 billion the World Bank has made available to countries fighting the virus.

Supply chain impact: The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development said the slowdown of manufacturing in China because of the coronavirus could result in a $50 billion decrease in exports across global supply chains. The EU would be hardest hit, with a $15.6 billion blow. The U.S. is experiencing an estimated $6 billion decrease in exports.

THUNE: HUAWEI SHOULD BE PART OF TRADE TALKS: Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) will introduce this week legislation that would make 5G security a goal of U.S. trade negotiations. That could complicate U.S.-U.K. talks, which are expected to begin in the coming weeks.

Huawei has already emerged as a source of tension between the U.S. and U.K. Last month, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson allowed Huawei to build a portion of the U.K.'s future mobile network, despite U.S. efforts to get allies around the globe to ban the Chinese telecom giant's networking equipment. Since then, the Trump administration has continued lobbying the U.K. to backtrack on its decision.

SCHAKOWSKY: DROP SECTION 230-STYLE LANGUAGE FROM TRADE DEALS: Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), who is drafting legislation that targets the tech industry's liability shield, intends the bill "to protect consumers from illegal third-party conduct on internet platforms," she wrote in a recent letter to Lighthizer. She went on to link the legal protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to an array of online ills, including misinformation and counterfeit products.

No place in FTAs: In the letter, Schakowsky urged USTR to drop Section 230-style language from future U.S. trade pacts, as she and other House Energy and Commerce leaders have advocated for months.

EX-IM CHIEF: BANK LOST $20B IN SALES AMID QUORUM BATTLE: The U.S. Export-Import Bank lost the opportunity to back $20 billion in export sales during the four years it wasn't fully operational, Ex-Im President Kimberly Reed said Wednesday.

Good news: The Ex-Im Bank is now working through applications tied to about $40 billion of potential business, Reed told the House Appropriations State-Foreign Operations Subcommittee.

Refresher: Ex-Im could not approve transactions worth more than $10 million for nearly four years because it lacked a quorum on its board. Congressional infighting over the future of the agency prevented nominees from moving forward. That ended last May, when the Senate confirmed Reed and two other board members after Trump made a push to revive the bank. Congress also cleared a seven-year reauthorization of the bank late last year.

— Singapore regulator Daren Tang has been nominated to lead the World Intellectual Property Organization, a United Nations agency, in a win for the U.S. and EU. POLITICO Pro reports.

POLITICO takes a look at the six things that made it into the $8.3 billion emergency coronavirus funding package — and what didn't.

THAT'S ALL FOR MORNING TRADE! See you again soon! In the meantime, drop the team a line: abehsudi@politico.com; mcassella@politico.com; dpalmer@politico.com; srodriguez@politico.com; jyearwood@politico.com and pjoshi@politico.com. Follow us @POLITICOPro and @Morning_Trade.

Coronavirus got you working from home? Here's the tech to keep you sane indoors - Evening Standard

Posted: 05 Mar 2020 03:50 AM PST

It was the week that coronavirus fears really hit the capital. A Deloitte employee has tested positive for the virus, while Sony Pictures Entertainment has closed its office in Soho amid fears of infection. In London's tech sector, fintech Curve is shutting up shop tomorrow for one day only to test if its operations can handle all of its employees being out of office.

CTO Matt Collinge says the team will be relying on the likes of Google Drive and Slack to get work done, in what he describes as a "simulation of a 100 per cent remote working environment".

If you haven't been ordered home for two weeks without colleague contact already, then it may be on the horizon. And while some might rejoice at the prospect, for many the phrase "work from home" strikes fear into our hearts, here's your "start up" guide to WFH.

Swap meetings for Zoom 

That mandatory meeting everyone has to crawl into the office for on a Monday? Ditch the face-to-face time for some electronic facetime in the form of Zoom. The video conferencing company saw its stock price surge 15 per cent on Monday as investors wanted to cash in on fears of the virus. 

Zoom makes it easy to hold video conferences anywhere. You can share screens and collaborate on documents, keep up to date with plans on chats and even hold webinars and training sessions, all with the help of a webcam. It works on mobile devices as well as computers, with companies like Uber and TransferWise on board as clients.

And if you're worried about Zoom's servers being unable to handle all the extra load, then don't. In a blog last week, founder and chief executive Eric Yuan said:  "It's my responsibility as Zoom's CEO — and Zoom's unique responsibility as a company — to do everything in our power to support those impacted by the coronavirus outbreak by committing our reliable technology, expanded access, and agile customer service."

zoom.us 

Swap conferences for Hopin  

Conference after conference has been cancelled because of coronavirus, from last week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona to Google's I/O developer conference which wasn't expected to take place until May. An online events company Hopin has the solution. It's an all-in-one events platform that allows organisers to replicate the experience of an offline event in a digital format. Whether it's a keynote for 100,000 people or intimate networking, attendees can join in sessions via livestream, video conference or chat all without leaving their home.

Hopin is an events platform that promises to replicate IRL networking events online (Hopin)

The UK Green Party conference is going to take place via Hopin, while Sheetscon, a Google Sheets conference with 5,000 attendees will go ahead online next week.

The company recently raised £5 million from Accel and Slack Fund to push its tech further in 2020. Founder and CEO Johnny Bourfarhat says: "We are building the future of events." 

hopin.to

Swap exercise class for Fiit Club 

Staying in your flat for two weeks is a surefire way to develop cabin fever. Vent all those frustrations with some sweaty exercise, courtesy of fitness app Fiit. Challenge your cooped-up colleagues to a tough HIIT workout using the app's live leaderboard classes which take place throughout the day. Take on a non-stop Power class or Remix session, which includes four circuits of different training styles.

Remember, the more points you score, the higher up the leaderboard you climb and it will give you bragging rights on the company Slack channel. 

fiit.tv

Swap cinema trips for Kast 

The joys of no longer having an hour-long commute means more time for leisure activities after work. While you won't be able to hit the pub with your work pals once 5pm hits, you can go to the cinema together… sort of.

Kast is an app that allows you to watch films and boxsets with friends even though you're not in the same room.

The Kast app lets you join watch parties for TV, games and films online with up to 100  people (Kast)

You can host a party of up to 100 people to finally get started on Netflix's hit series Cheer or catch up on the final episode of Love Is Blind. Simply stream the Netflix video on Kast's web app or web portal and share the streaming link to your pals who can login in online or on the mobile app.

Buying the popcorn is solely on you.

kastapp.co

How to Prepare Now for the Complete End of the World - Getaka.co.in

Posted: 05 Mar 2020 09:21 AM PST

This post was originally published on this site

OKANOGAN COUNTY, Wash. — When the end comes, some will not be waiting in a bunker for a savior. They will stride out into the wilderness with confidence, ready to hunt and kill a deer, tan its hide and sleep easily in a hand-built shelter, close by a fire they made from the force of their two palms on a stick.

Four hours from the Seattle airport, in a valley called Methow, near a town called Twisp, Lynx Vilden was teaching people how to live in the wild, like we imagine Stone Age people did. Not so they could get better at living in cities, or so they could be better competitors in Silicon Valley or Wall Street.

"I don't want to be teaching people how to survive and then come back to civilization," Lynx said. "What if we don't want to come back to civilization?"

Some people now are considering what it means to live in a world that could be shut down by a pandemic.

But some people are already living like this. Some do it because they just like it. Some do it because they think the end has, in fact, already begun to arrive.

A couple of times a year, Lynx — she goes by the name professionally, though it is not her legal name — teaches a 10-day introduction to living in the wilderness. When I arrived for this program, Lynx ran to me, buckskins flying, her hands cupped tightly around something that was smoking.

She held it toward my face. I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply. Confused, she moved her smoking handful to someone else, who blew on it lightly. It was an ember in a nest of seed fluff. Lynx was making fire.

Her property looks like a kidnapper's lair from a movie. But her dream, she told those of us gathered, is a human preserve. Her vision is called the Settlement. It will have a school, where people can come in street clothes and learn to tan hides. But to enter the preserve itself will mean giving oneself over to it.

"You walk into it naked and if you can create from that land what that land has to offer, then you can stay there," Lynx said. "It's going be these feral rewilded people. I'm thinking in two to three generations there could be real wild children."

We set up our tents around her property. I had a sleeping bag from high school, a Swiss army knife and a stack of external batteries. It scared me that there was no cellphone reception. We communicated over the week in hoots. One hoot means hoot back. Two hoots means "gather." Three hoots means an emergency, like near-death level.

The class may have been there to go ancient, but they brought very modern food requests. In a group of seven, one student was a strict carnivore — Luke Utah, who likes a morning smoothie of raw milk, liver and egg yolk. Another was a vegan. One student said they were so sensitive to spice that even black pepper was overwhelming. One person was paleo, one was allergic to garlic, and one was gluten-free.

Louis Pommier, a French chef turned backpacker, was bartering his skill for attendance. He nodded empathetically as he heard these restrictions but would go on to mostly ignore them. The first night he made a chicken curry.

Many of the people who were there came feeling useless in their lives. Some had just quit their jobs. Lynx said many of the students who come for the monthslong intensives (another option) are divorced, or on their way to it. Several talked about feeling embarrassed at how soft their hands were, and how dependent they had gotten on watching TV to fall asleep.

We woke up the next morning and gathered around the open fire for boiled eggs. Soon we would learn how to chop down a tree. First Lynx greeted the tree. She put her hands on it.

"If you're willing to be cut down, will you give a yes?" she asked. She tugged the tree. She calls it a muscle test. Apparently the tree said yes. "We have to kill to live," she said.

Many students had brought elegant knives and axes from rewilding festivals — there's a booming primitive festival circuit, with names like Rabbitstick Rendezvous, Hollowtop and Saskatoon Circle — but when confronted with an actual tree they didn't want to use those. There was an old ax they used instead. Its head periodically flung off, each time narrowly missing someone. The tree eventually fell, a foot from my tent.

Credit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times
Credit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

The vibe was a mix of Burning Man, a Renaissance Fair and an apocalyptic religious fantasy. There was no doomsday prepper gun room — what would happen when bullets run out? Nor was there a sort of kumbaya, gentle-love-of-nature-yoga-class vibe. When Lynx told the story of killing her first deer, she said the deer, wounded, tried to drag herself away.

We shaved off the tree's bark and got to the cambium, the soft inner layer of bark that we would boil in water. This would be used to tan hides. We learned on supermarket salmon skin. We tore into the plastic bags of sockeye salmon with stone shards, then descaled the skin with dull bones.

Lynx demonstrated how to process a deer hide using a hump bone from a buffalo. She sent us to go look for bones from the kitchen. Our job was to scrape off the muscle and fat. The hide was heavy, wet and beginning to rot.

Sometimes she played a deer leg flute while we worked.

That night was bitterly cold. I wore every piece of clothing I brought. Lynx coached us in warming big rocks by the fire, rotating them like potatoes, wrapping them in wool blankets. I heaved my two rocks, too hot to touch, covered in ash, into the sleeping bag with me.

"Another thing you can do to make a big cozy bed is just rake a pile of pine needles and just burrow in and put logs on either end so it stays together," Lynx said.

Lynx looks like Peter Pan, only 54 and with bone earrings. She is thin and quite beautiful, deeply wrinkled in a way that skin doesn't usually get anymore. One day she wore red grain-on leather pants and her belt buckle was an elk antler crown. Another day it was a coat made of buffalo. She carried a Danish dagger made of a single piece of flint. On her belt was a little pouch made of bark-tanned salmon skin and deer hide holding a twig toothbrush, a sinew sewing cord and a bone needle, a piece of yerba santa for smudging.

She never sat or rested on an object, even to eat. She always crouched. She ate out of a tree burl that she had hollowed into a bowl.

Our clothes made a statement. We were not backpackers. No artificial colors, no carabiners and dangling straps and sexless sea foam green fleece. Here we wore tight leather pants. The whole point was to bring our animal selves here, and animal selves should attract mates.

One day Lynx wanted us to go to town for groceries. She wore her skins. We smelled disgusting. In town there was a church with a billboard that read, "Alert today, alive tomorrow." There was a yarn store called Fiber next to an antiques store advertising itself as a nostalgic journey. We wandered down the aisles reeking of rendered, rotted deer fat and smoke.

"She's like a blond-haired blue-eyed dressed up like a North American native person from a century ago, so she's a striking image that's easy to capture a lot of people's attention," Matt Forkin said. He is a hardware engineer with X, Alphabet's experimental tech division. He has studied with Lynx, and is also now going in on some land in the Sierra Foothills with friends where they plan to go wild.

There are several of these new rewilding compounds emerging. One of the larger efforts is in Western Maine, where a group is working to replicate a hunter-gatherer community. What used to be a handful of bush-craft schools to learn these skills is now an industry of hundreds.

On a walk Lynx found some deer scat and handed it out, and a bit of stringy inner bark too, some dead limbs, mullein stalks. I asked what kind of plant a branch is called and she bristled.

"Naming something makes people think they know it when they don't," Lynx said. "It's the golden torch light spindle. That's what it does."

A group of her former students visited with stew, and we sat around a fire. They had two young children in tow, and homemade plum mead. They started just like us, they said. They were city people, mostly from the Bay Area. I visited their enclave the next morning.

Down a dirt road, past ramshackle cabins and horses, one group of permanently rewilding people have set up a series of yurts and shelters.

Epona Heathen, 33, used to have a different name and used to live in Oakland, Calif., working at a thrift store. She felt the call to wilderness while studying sociology at University of California, Berkeley.

"I'm writing this paper and the chair is wobbly, and I don't know how to fix it," Epona said of her time in the urban world. "I'm eating eggplant, and I don't know where it grows."

"One day I was like, 'This is crap. We live month to month. We spend all our money on booze and coffee. We can't save like this. We can't live like this. We all talk about getting back to earth, but we did know anything about it.'"

After some time on organic farms, they found Lynx. They decided to stay for a six-month Stone Age immersion.

"We had to come with 15 tanned hides and five pounds of dried fruit and five pounds of dried meat," she said.

Her partner Alex, who is 31 and who worked at a grocery store as a wine specialist, bought a property nearby. Now about a dozen young people live there.

Epona's yurt is 16 feet around and 12 feet tall, with a small wood-burning stove. She built curved bookshelves along the wall. Most of her food and medicine is dried in jars. There is a cat named Kitty and a dog named Arrow. She identifies as an animist.

"People say, 'Oh when the apocalypse comes. …' What are you talking about? It's here. I'm a collapsist," she said. "I'm not invested in maintaining the comforts we have."

The Heathens, as the group named themselves, sometimes calls the cities they came from Babylon, all the same, all fallen.

The biggest challenge, they've agreed, is that no one around them is old.

"Most of us are in our 20s and early 30s," Epona said. "You start to see where the holes in society are, and our holes now are elders."

That night, Alex took a horse over the mountain to visit some friends, while Epona stayed behind to host. She made deer, squash, and root vegetables stew. They had vats of plum mead and got the sauna going.

There are enough people on the hill for a variety of love triangles. Epona and Alex split. Now Epona is dating a young woman on the property.

Alex grew up in Montclair, N.J., and inherited some money. He is bald, muscular and tattooed. He said he used to be more dogmatic about living primitive, but that is changing.

"I just moved out of my yurt and into a house," he said. "I got a second truck."

Roxanne, who is 26 and has bright curly red hair, was here for community, she said. She was working alongside Alex, rubbing salt into hides. She just moved a couple weeks ago and had been working at a coffee shop before this.

"You know, the thing about living the dream is it's really hard!" she shouted, hauling another salt bag.

There is a main house down the hill, with a land line that everyone shares. The place is decorated in skulls and massive birds. There is a buffalo strung out to dry outside and a tall stack of deer legs at the door. More fit and dusty young people lounged inside. They were roasting a deer leg.

A sense of collapse underlies their opposition.

"From a purely rational engineering mind looking at the trends in the data, exponent times an exponent, our utilization of natural resources is way beyond the natural carrying capacity of the earth, and we're seeing that in essentially ecosystem collapse," Matt Forkin had told me. "In our lifetimes there is a very high chance we will see major social collapse. I do think there will come a time when these skills are practical for a large number of people."

Alex made a gesture toward the small town over the hill and down the road. "Everyone is partying their final days away," he said.

Lynx was padding around in wool in her little cottage at the end of the property. She sleeps indoors in the winter. Her home is all exposed wood and overflowing planters, horns and old rattles. She was prickly and suspicious, upset that I had left her property to visit the Heathens.

Her daughter, Klara, lives in Washington, D.C. Klara's boyfriend works for the World Bank.

"When I met him," Lynx said, "my first question was, 'Do you hunt?' No. 'Do you chop wood?' He said, 'I could try.'"

Lynx is single, and that is starting to bother her.

"The hard part is finding a partner to share it with," Lynx said. "Maybe I'm getting to the point where people get fixed in their environments."

She had a traditional childhood with traditional parents in London but left at 17 to play music. She moved to Sweden, went to art school. One day she met a man and they moved to Washington State to backpack. She went into the woods.

For a while, she was married to a man named Ocean. They had Klara. She home-schooled her in the mountains in Montana, but Klara went to live with Ocean. Lynx went farther into the wilderness.

But even she cannot escape money, yet. A week-long class costs $600. "I have to have my foot in two worlds to maintain some semblance of how I want to live in this world," she said. Klara answers email for Lynx.

In September, Lynx will lead another fully Stone Age project, marching into the nearby public lands. All clothes must be handmade, all food gathered.

Lynx's family still lives in London, mostly. Her sister is a freelance conservator.

We imagine that someone striking out into the wilderness is doing so to get away from everyone, to be alone. The people I met wanted the opposite. They want a life where they cannot survive even a day alone. They cannot get food alone, cannot go to the bathroom, cannot get warm alone. They want to be dependent.

"The city is actually the place of rugged individualism," said my classmate Joan, who grew up in suburban Philadelphia and uses the pronoun they. "Here I'm using my hands and with people all day."

Before being in the wild, they were addicted to video games and loved social media; very soon, Joan said, they were going to smash their smartphone. They were wearing a thick vest they had felted, with a full marten, body and head, sewn in as a collar for warmth.

"Some people don't get it, but I prefer this life," Joan said. "No, I don't use toilet paper. I use moss and I like it better."

Together, in the wild, everyone had to soften. One night, one of the guys said something offensive about gender roles, and a couple of us got annoyed. Then we all had to stop arguing because there was no one else to be with. I started arguing about politics with someone. Instead of going away, he had cold contraband beer, and I had nothing better to do than learn more about him. My only entertainment was the people around me. It made them more interesting.

"Really coming back to nature means responding to the social responsibility too. Someone says you have this personality flaw, you can't just avoid them. You have to respond. You adapt," Epona said. "Rugged individualism is a lie. Rugged individualism cannot survive."

"There's a social skill set of working in a community," Luke Utah said.

At one point, I got separated from the group. There was nothing I could do. I checked the river. I checked the houses. I checked the little pine needle burrows where people sometimes slept. I hooted once. I hooted twice. I sat and waited in a terror while it got dark.

Our time makes social obligation largely unnecessary. When I moved apartments, I hired TaskRabbits. When I got cold, I turned on the heat. In the woods, the evening entertainment I got was what we could provide one another. Now, suddenly, I did not want to be alone for a minute. The dependence felt amazing. I shrieked with joy when the group came jaunting back.

The next time I went to town, I dreaded the spasms of my phone wriggling back to life. I could feel the reception in the air, could feel being alone again. I was relieved to cross over the hill, out of service and back again to Lynx and my friends.

Deer legs are very useful. Their toe bones can be whistles and buckles and fish hooks. The leg bones become knives and flutes. Tendons become glue. I popped the black toes off into boiling water. Slicing with obsidian, I peeled the fur off and then the muscle and tendons. I sawed the ends off the bone. I used a twig to oust the marrow. The carnivore ate it. This would be my flute.

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