Jared Anderson recommended Dorian to participate here. It was obvious through talking with both of them that they have a tremendous amount of mutual respect for each other. I found that connection to be quite moving. I am so grateful to Jared for recommending Dorian to this project as I doubt very much that I would have encountered him in this context otherwise. Dorian and his friends share an aesthetic and a way of life and during the time I’ve spent here in Bend, Oregon, I’ve noticed that this particular lifestyle is one that the people here tend to have trouble with.
I’ve been wondering what I can do about it and how I might bridge this particular gap. I’ve contemplated starting another project, dedicated to exploring the clash between the home-owning, car-parking, more conventional consumeristic citizen and the stigmatized, less polished, transient crowd who may or may not be experiencing homelessness. Well, as it turns out, Jared and Dorian gave me an opportunity to explore this within the confines of this project and for that I am very grateful.
I didn’t know anything about Dorian before meeting him today and I went into this interview with the same open-mindedness that I approach all other interviews with. And I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed talking with Dorian. Sorry to belabor the point, but please withhold your judgments about those who might look different than you. Have a conversation. I bet that you’ll learn something and be a better human for it.
Early in our conversation Dorian asked how I felt about swearing. I told him it didn't matter. And with that, there are a few more swears in this interview than in most. But, frankly, it shouldn't be swearing that offends you at this juncture with all the wild and shocking atrocities going on and the incredibly violent, racist, homophobic, and generally divisive rhetoric that ceaselessly plagues our senses. In other words, sorry, not sorry.
Also, Dorian's cat, Yin Yang, hung out with us for the entirety of our conversation and you may hear evidence of her throughout the audio.
DA: I am Dorian Zane Allstot. I am an adventure-, labor-, general life experience-seeker. I enjoy music and good food and good company and things that make me feel alive. And also things that help me and the people I care about to be liberated from poverty and oppression, which is kind of my big fucking thing as of late. My main concern has been doing what I can at this point in my life - because I'm not getting any younger - to make things as easy and make life as worth living for the people around me as possible in whatever way I can. Because I've had to spend a lot of time not doing that and feeling that that's not possible. That's generally what I do, every day, is see how I can get close to any of that stuff.
ACT: What do people mean to you?
DA: There's people that I wouldn't think twice about dying for. But growing up, especially my teenage years because I was an angsty little bastard, I had really strong misanthropic tendencies. There was people I cared about, but other than that, I did not like people. I did not like the idea of people. I didn't like myself as a person. And so, coming from that and then learning over time that people don't suck for various reasons - or even if they do, there's still reasons that affirm that existence. And there's still reasons for us to be here. People with all their inherent fallacies doesn't invalidate our existence as a people.
Where I'm at now, a lot of that can rise up sometimes. This is going to sound kind of weird and insulting, but I've come to see people a lot more on the same level as animals and plants and shit like that. I always did a lot more with animals and plants than I did with people. And now it's kind of leveled out to where all life in general with all the bullshit that it can bring and all the things that can spawn, no one deserves to feel like they're not important or not special for being here, regardless of how I might feel about them or how much I might subjectively be unhappy with their existence. No one should feel like their existence is not something worth validation. So that's pretty much where I stand on it.
Without the people I have now, without Jared or my family or these people [referring to his friends in the other room], I would probably be way fucking farther back on that progress. They're a strong anchor to what continues to tie me to being here on days when that might not be my first option.
ACT: A woman I interviewed in the second year of this project, Hillary Hurst, said in our interview in reference to others in general, You matter to me. And then I was speaking with Jared a few weeks ago, and he said something along those lines, too. It's a fairly easy concept, right? But I've been looking at it from this different perspective of using the sentiment as a point of accountability. You matter. And it's important that you know so that you start to take responsibility for the way you live your life. Because you are affecting me and others.
DA: That's huge. You're tied into things regardless of how much you don't want to be. You are tied into the network of things. When you're at a point in your life where you don't feel like you matter, then you don't give a shit about whatever you're doing to what's around you because you're so focused on you don't want to be here that what the fuck matters what happens while you're here in the first place? If you don't feel there's any value or weight on your existence, it's really hard to express that outwards towards anything around you.
ACT: What concerns you about the state of the world and humanity? And what inspires you or motivates you to do something about it?
DA: What concerns me the most is the lack of understanding and the weird bubbles of ignorance and, on a city to world level basis, the lack of willingness to have compassion and understanding for someone outside your own perspective. I believe things work in cycles. It's not so much that these things shouldn't happen. It's not so much that all this ignorance and the huge dichotomies between what one person sees to the other and the inability to find compromises among that and the way that creates almost like a dog-eat-dog mentality because everything speeds up and becomes more and more crazy. I can understand that. I've seen that happen in cycles in history before. But with the way that we're evolving now and the rate at which things are happening and the things that are coming to a head, I don't know.
What concerns me the most is our ability to reconcile that before we hit an event horizon of we've gone too far to be able... you hit the end game at some point. We're really good at pushing ourselves to damn near annihilation and then learning from that and coming back and then doing the same thing again. But at this point in the world, there is so much destruction going on and so much capacity for destruction just based upon people's lack of understanding. I guess what concerns me the most is we're like an infant learning to walk, but we're walking right next to the side of a volcano. You can slip and stumble. There's the part of me that's like, Well, if that happens then that's what happens. That's what we get. That's what we deserve. But I'd very much like to see what would happen if we could get to that point, learn from it, and then what we look like after that. What concerns me is the possibility of not getting to see that. We're pretty much in the generation that gets to watch everything get torn apart and live whatever life I have left in the fucking remnants of us fizzling out. Which, I like Mad Max and shit like that, so that might not be too bad...
The way in which I'm motivated to do things about it... when I was younger, I wrote out this five-step plan to save the world and unite humanity and shit like that. I don't know, as I've grown up, that didn't work out. But it happens more in a day-to-day. I find myself in a lot of different circles and a lot of different places and interacting with people I'd never guess myself to interact with and interacting with now people I feel super at home with. I have the ability to, in my personal life, do little things to bridge that gap to understanding. I can be hanging out with some well-to-do friends who might not understand how things are working on the lower levels where people don't have as much and they don't have that perception or that understanding and there's things that can be brought to light - just these simple conversations with your interactions - that kind of help people broaden their understanding.
And vice versa, people who have never had the ability to see how things work on a higher level or might only have resentment or anger or frustration with people that they see in different circles because of experiences they had with them. It's not that those things aren't valid, that you've been mistreated or ostracized or marginalized by certain people, but to take away that projection that you have because of those experiences and still understand that those are people and be able to see them more as people as opposed to this projection. Through conversing, through allowing people to meet with people they otherwise wouldn't have the chance to meet with, through offering different perspectives I gained that might cause somebody to be like, Oh, shit. I never thought that. I never saw this caste of person as a person like that. And that makes them just a little bit more human. It might not totally 180 their perspective, but the next time they're interacting with that caste, there's at least some kind of seed, regardless of how much we might clash, of you are still a person. In that same kind of sense, you matter. I might fucking hate your guts and I might want in every fucking way, shape, and form to think that you stand against everything I'm working towards, but that still does not invalidate you as a human being.
ACT: If community is our relationships to each other and the world we live in, what does our inability or refusal to consider all the different needs and inequalities mean to you? There is the possibility that what we're so attached to - and what we spend our whole life chasing - is wrong.
DA: That's instant terror for a lot of people. In my experience, I do notice that same thing. Even though we're more globalized than we've ever been at any point in history, there is still a heavy, heavy tribalism mentality that goes on in virtually every level. Communities get split so heavily between different groups, which isn't necessarily a bad thing at all, but it is when it becomes an in group versus out group kind of thing. There's such a strong tendency to clique up and be like, This is my group and anything else is not my group and therefore, fuck that. It's really crazy strong. It's the cause of a lot of really whack shit. Everyone's so enraptured in their own needs and also not sure what they want, but know they don't have what they want and they're so concerned with trying to fill whatever that is. People would rather go with the familiarity of this is what I want even if it's a total lie to them as opposed to not having anything to cling onto at all and be like, What if I don't know what I want? or If it's not this, then what is it?
A lot of times people choose the devil they know or the devil they don't to where this might not in any way, shape, or form get you the fulfillment that you want, but it's what you were committed to a child or it's what you signed up for now as a young adult or it's what's you're mentally rutted into and so that's what you're gonna ride with regardless of where it goes. People just like being, through fear, stuck in their own bubble. There is a stubbornness about it. It's not like they weren't given any other information; they just didn't have any other option - they're specifically going out of their way to shut down other options because it doesn't fit into this picture that they've already decided is their picture.
It seems like people's own individual needs aren't met and people are so concerned with that because inherently people are going to want to appease their own needs before anything else. That's what I mean by infantile. Even though people can be grown-ass adults and shit, the mentality of I need my needs met and my needs aren't met and so who gives a fuck about whatever the hell is going on if it doesn't concern me meeting my needs? And that's a huge thing. I'm not trying to say you can blame someone for it because how you gonna blame someone being like, I want me and my family safe before I focus on anything else? The society we live in, the structure, the way it's devised - it creates that kind of atmosphere to where you better go out and get yours, otherwise someone's gonna get it and then you're just fucking left with nothing. So, I understand where it comes from, but it's definitely something that is driving us farther and farther down the ditch. It's shitty because it's so understandable, but at the same time, it's something that needs to be transcended. In order to make things better for everyone you need to not be concerned with just yourself. But people have trouble doing that until they themselves feel okay. And if a lot of times people don't even know what they need to feel okay in the first place, then it puts you in a really difficult-to-break cycle.
ACT: I used to ask a question about hope, but Ive changed the terminology. I'm glad to give credit to Jared for helping to change my perspective on this. Hoping for a better future implies wishing some magic to take place and usher us into a better existence, but the reality of it is that a better future is possible and the only thing standing between it and where we are now is work. So, do you think we will accept responsibility and make the necessary changes to evolve in a better direction?
DA: So, at this point in my life, that's pretty much what my main concern is. I don't know. Historically speaking, we, as a [species] are very good at pushing our self to the point to where we pretty much have no other option. It's shitty that we tend to learn a lot better from the stick than the fucking carrot, but that's just how it goes. I know a lot of people who aren't going to give a shit about the planet dying until they can't go out and buy shit from the store anymore. Like I said, we have no other option, and so that's a strong motivator for that to happen. What we're doing now - on so many different levels - the way that we are trying to operate and move forward as a species is completely unsustainable. In an evolutionary timeframe, we are on a super short fuse. It's literally just not going to work. If we were to continue doing exactly what we're doing, it's going to kill us and a bunch of shit on the planet and that's just gonna be it. And so I think that the fact that that is an undeniable inevitability is going to be a huge motivator for people to start taking accountability. Because there's no other option. The only option is that we recycle ourselves, essentially, into something that won't do that.
So, my main concern is at this technological, political, general collective mental state that we're at... because every time we do come back from the edge we are wiser for it. Even though there's a lot of cleaning up to do and there's a lot of pain and suffering that comes from that, we get a little bit wiser. And there's one more cycle to look back on and learn from. It's just that at this point we're very capable of shooting ourselves too badly in the foot to be able to step back from that. We're at the point now where it takes one crazy motherfucker in charge to set off an entire world of devastation. The fact that we're teetering so heavily is the only thing that, I don't want to say gives me doubt, but pause. I'm not really personally gunning towards either one. I do what I can within my life and hope that that will create a ripple or spread enough to at least create at the very least a little bit more of an awakened existence within me and the people I interact with in the world on the way down, if nothing else.
Beyond that, yeah, just watching. What becomes more of a concern is, with that on the horizon, how do I continue to appreciate and approach life and not get caught in a we're all fucked kind of mentality? Because that puts you right back into the loss of accountability to where you can look at things and be like, We're all fucking fucked anyway. Why am I gonna try to give a shit about this person or do this thing or work towards this thing if it's all fucked? I don't think that even the threat of inevitable destruction is something that should invalidate life in the first place. Even if we're sowing the seeds of our own destruction, the fact that we get to be alive to experience even that is pretty goddam miraculous.
ACT: I get a little discouraged by the lack of significant influence that even some of the greatest historical figures with essentially megaphones that reach the corners of the globe (i.e., Jesus, Ghandi, Mother Teresa, Barak Obama) have had. And it makes me wonder how much I should hope to accomplish with this project. But I feel very strongly compelled to do my part to help sort out a better destiny. I'm just kind of at a loss for understanding why it seems so many people aren't thinking like that.
DA: In a best case scenario you could have people dragging their feet. A lot of times it provokes direct hostility. I agree with the statement that you can't do really great things in this world without having some enemies in the process. There are people that will see what you're doing, regardless of how good for everyone it is - even if they're included in that - it's not the way that they've been doing things or it's not the way that they think that they're gonna best benefit or it's just something that's not familiar. People in their fear and defensiveness of that get hostile.
People who are impacting the world or have the ability to impact the world, I feel like that comes with a lot of those days. I almost feel like it would be impossible to take up that role or even on a way smaller scale hit that point and not have countless of those days of having to re-steel yourself for what am I doing, what am I devoted to, why am I devoted to it? I don't feel like it's a point of not feeling hopelessness; I feel like it's a point of that comes as a natural part of the process and the tenacity you have to feel that and then like, Well fuck. I'm doing it again today. This ain't gonna lead goddam anywhere, but this is what I'm doing. This is what I feel compelled to do. I have no idea if I'm going to die and have all of this mean nothing, but I'm doing it again today and I'm doing it again the next day because that's what it feels like I have to do. Because that's the best I feel I can do now. I don't know a champion of anything that hasn't known the experience of getting their shit rocked constantly before you can get to the point that you can have that kind of pull in the first place. And even at that point, it transforms into new trials of people disregarding you to people being vehement towards you. Which, you know, also strengthens the cause because then it can make the people who do believe in that band together stronger and it gives a beacon to unify under when those people have it.
ACT: Do you have a sense of purpose?
DA: On and off. When I was younger I felt that I could not enjoy my life if I was not able to craft this world into something that I felt worth living in. Because at that point, growing up... I'm a long-term fucking outcast in pretty much every goddam regard. I would feel so just not okay, just not happy with myself and the place I was and the things I saw happening in the world that I was like, If I can't do something about this, I don't want to be in this world. What's the point of living a life I'm forced to live in a way I don't want for people I don't like in a time that I don’t get to choose what I do? Fuck that. So I became super angry, but super committed to pretty much trying to become the best person I could be in my own young mind in order to be the person who could make those changes in the world. Or die trying and then not have to worry about it.
So, I had a huge sense of This is what I have to do 'cause there's no other option. Because I'm fucking unhappy if I don't do it. Once I got into my teens there was so much different shit going on and I went out to a lot more pessimistic, nihilistic kind of view of I can't do shit about shit. The world's gonna do what it's gonna do. People are gonna be shitty people and I just need to fucking carve my way through that shit. Or not give a fuck about it - just be stupid and self-destructive and things like that. And so now at this point, I've found a tension and a balance between the two. I'm not nearly as gung-ho - there's this or nothing - as I was when I was little. I'm also not willing to just throw everything to the wind and say, Fuck it ! because I can't make the world exactly the way I want to.
I'd say my sense of purpose now - the mantra that I always repeat to myself - is I liberate my loved ones from poverty and oppression. And so, whatever way I can do that in each day, that's my purpose. I may not be able to make this world perfect - I might not even be able to make this world better - but if I can create some network so that at least, if nothing else at all, the people that I care about - which expands as I get older, which is cool and hopefully can keep growing until I die - can create a network to where we're all a little bit better off in the storm of bullshit. Even if I don't get to see the end of the bullshit. Even if we don't get to survive it and we do fuck ourselves up while I'm here, my purpose is to make being here as fulfilling and non-oppressive for myself and the people I care about as possible until I'm not capable of doing that anymore.
ACT: Do you have any closing thoughts?
DA: I'd say the biggest thing that a person can do if they don't have any mission is to be honest and perceptive of what you want. Because, regardless of what happens to the world, that's going to be your driving force. And if you don't know that, that's what allows you to be swayed by other shit that's probably also not going to be what you want but for someone else's ends. So, to know and to evaluate, understand I'm here on this Earth. I might not have chosen to be here. I may not have enjoyed being here. But I am here. And if I'm going to continue to be here, what do I want while I'm here? And continue to go after that question, even if it starts you off in a super selfish place. And that's okay to follow that. Because, in my experience, as you follow that and you're honest with that, once you hit what you want... you're like, Oh man, I want a bunch of money and bitches and you get that and you're like, Alright, well, this isn't fulfilling. Now I have this. Where do I go from there?
Things change as you grow and as you take in new information, what's you want is something that is fluctuating. You find out things that you definitely don't want, which is also great. To be committed to that in as honest a way as possible would be my general closing statement. Learn from everyone, but know and do what you want. That's the only way people are going to take accountability is if they're working towards what they want. And with luck and grace, what everyone wants will eventually, by some means, collectively mean what we wall want for each other. 'Cause those goals, on the deep levels, all end up being the same.