Exploration of Intimate Space

MFA Theory Thesis by Whitney Sparks, 2013

The sense of impossibility is the beginning of all possibilities.-Sri Aurobindo
“…After Chaos, two things came into existence, Earth and Love.” -Hesiod, cited by Plato, The Symposium
“The present epoch will perhaps be above all the epoch of space. We are in the epoch of simultaneity: we are in the epoch of the near and the far, of the side-by-side, of the dispersed.”
-Michel Foucault, “Of Other Spaces”

Introduction: Erasing the lines is taking the space

dis·cur·sive
/disˈkərsiv/ Adjective
1. Digressing from subject to subject.
2. (of a style of speech or writing) Fluent and expansive rather than formulaic or abbreviated.
“I have a mind to confuse things, unite them, make them new-born, mix them up, undress them, until all light in the world has the oneness of the ocean, a generous vast wholeness, a crackling, living fragrance.” -Pablo Neruda

This work is an assemblage of ideas about space, human nature, evolution, and revolution. It is a collage in words. I have attempted to organize this compilation in the best order to demonstrate what I see as the calling of our time, our species, and our planet: to recognize the importance of space and connectivity in our lives, to gain a greater awareness and understanding of the implications of both. I have chosen to write about this for my artistic theory work because the ideas I outline here give the inspiration and the very energy of my artwork (or my craft or mein Kraft…). In fact, to me, this written work is indeed a piece of my artwork, a choreography of information. In this dance of knowledge, in which subjects will twirl and sweep and embrace, I ask that readers prepare for topics and text that may twist around unexpected bends; my work is about as curly- kinky, some call it- as my natural hair.

“The glorious generalist sees the world whole.
“Because he can see the world whole, the glorious generalist can communicate thoroughly with people of every profession, religion, or background. He can pick up any book or magazine and find in it a connection to his own interests. If he is an all-the-way-there glorious generalist, maybe he can do mystical/scientific things like read the meaning of the galaxies in a fistful of sand.
“How does the glorious generalist operate?
“He starts with faith that the universe has meaning. This faith comes in two varieties — he can trust that a God, or an otherwise entitled Ultimate Reality, exists and created all this or guided it into place. Or, he can trust himself and other humans enough to believe that he can make sense of it all, that even if there is no actual collaboration between the pattern of a spider’s web and the lyrics to that Led Zeppelin song, he can still weave it together in his mind so that it has harmony and order, like a stained glass window in a French cathedral.
“Also, he trusts language. He believes that with language he can bridge almost any chasm between himself and another person.” (Llewellyn, The Teenage Liberation Handbook)

The major question I wish to explore is: What is reality?. It is a big question, and I am specifically interested in the border areas between reality and what we call fiction or figments of our imagination. How does or can what we imagine be realized or become real? Where does imagination stop and reality begin? Where does reality stop and fiction begin? More literally, what is the story — at any given place or time — and how does it abide, change, evolve, or dissolve? What makes stories live if not some alchemy of both reality and imagination!? I find it fascinating and important to ask these questions and experiment about them because it seems to me this is a — if not the — human longing: to know what is real and to engage with it…

The Sanskrit word Advaita means not-two or nondual. While there is no commonly accepted dictionary definition of Nonduality (or Advaita), it is an ancient Indian philosophical concept, mystic idea, or belief that Brahman, the name of the most supreme form of god in the Hindu faith, or, the Universe itself, is not separate but identical to Atman, the human spirit-soul or self, in general. Simplified: the universe = the self. More complexly, everything = everything else, one = any other, other = one, etc. Nondualism asserts an innate oneness of all spirit (or energy) and matter in existence. Since the term has been adopted by Western societies, nondualism, or nonduality, has come to signify deep interconnectedness and particularly a rejection of Cartesian duality (between mind and body). At its heart, nonduality is a rejection of the very idea of separation (and therefore definition). Nonduality is the philosophy behind “everything is connected!”

A premise of nonduality, with meanings ranging from connected, identical, integrated, universal, interdependent, transdisciplinary, and/or discursive, best describes my analysis of the topics explored in this paper. My methodology integrates Eastern and Western (and hopefully Other, perhaps Southern) philosophies, connects mythological and scientific investigations, identifies knowledge from mind and body, and includes information about animals, plants, and humans, with transdisciplinary insights from diverse cultures and civilizations.

How we define what is real varies radically, from person to person, background to background, from time to time. For instance, how real are our dreams? I emphatically do not seek to find, confirm, or define reality as any specific concept (even nondual) for universal agreement or use; rather, my goal could be stated as that I seek to discover the edges and connections of different realities in order to expose the multitude of various understandings or senses of what we, as humanity, consider or know to be “real.” Furthermore, I would like to highlight or, in particular, to elaborate (as anthropologist Ellen Dissanayake puts it in her verb choice to describe the innate human instinct to create or appreciate art) the complementary ways or patterns or paths in which mutually beneficial coexistence of diverse realities — whether concepts of the real, or individual beings — is possible. This necessarily borderless space, I conjecture, is the “ultimate” reality (if there is or can be one ultimate reality at all). (I confess to being intensely interested to the point of fanatical about the eventual abolition of borders…).

The collective abode of the elements is the universe, the elements separately are the shocks. (Shiva Sutras 20)

The contents of this paper proceed thus: observations of outer space from modern physics; an introduction to faith, imagination and mythological Indian space goddess Kali, Akhilandeshvari, a lesser-known related deity; a jellyfish; a theoretical discussion of evolutionary biology, sex and gender; musings on narration, nomadism, intimate space and the abolition of borders; snippets from the long, ongoing, and intensifying conversation about worldwide revolution. This document concludes with some of my personal explorations into an allegorical mythology that I call my art, an analysis of all the above (and more) through collage and storytelling (and more).

From being aware of the pure essence comes the shakti of non-duality. (Shiva Sutras 16)

Through a creative presentation of information, I will try to demonstrate the following, what I believe to be, truths:

  • that space is infinite, generative, and unpredictable as we know it;
  • that human beings can and have known or perceived this reality through spirituality or mythology, possibly forever;
  • that life itself is generative, unpredictable, and infinite as we know it;
  • that this reality, too, has been shown to us continuously, through scientific investigation;
  • that together this — collective knowledge of the unimaginable potential of space and life, combined with our awarenesses from intuition and inquisitiveness — is our organic, human power.
  • These are the powers of investigation and imagination.

Erasing the lines is taking the space. In the end, continuing with nondualism, I hope my theory becomes my practice. I wish to make an appeal that to harness and benefit from these given powers we have two immediate tasks at hand as humanity: first to liberate and unlimit our creative minds, and second to radically reorganize our global heterogeneity into free, equitable, peaceful, and ecological societies.

Table of Contents:

  1. Space
  2. Faith or Imagination
  3. Madonnadology
  4. Kali
  5. Akhilandeshvari
  6. All Hail Turritopsis Medusa!
  7. Adaptive Radiation + Circadian Rhythm
  8. Coming Together
  9. Individuality: Deep Desire
  10. Nomadic Narrative
  11. Intimate Space
  12. Movement
  13. Sink the Ownership!
  14. Wemonsters
  15. The Riddle of the Sphinx
  16. Implications: Anarchy, Organization, and Collaboration
  17. Advancing in Another Direction
  18. Bibliography

1. Space

“Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes.” ~Walt Whitman
Space, contrary to what Newton thought, is far from the rigid arena where nature’s drama unfolds. Quite the contrary, space is an actor too, responding dynamically to the presence of energy and mass.” (Gleiser, “What is Space?”)

Space is not empty. Welcome home to an abundant realm full of mysteries. Space is a realm, both theoretical and physical, where the more knowledge we gain about what it is, the more questions it leads to… thus fueling our power of investigation. In this section, I will explore some of these astrophysical questions cursorily.

“Albert Einstein was the first person to realize that empty space is not nothing. Space has amazing properties, many of which are just beginning to be understood. The first property that Einstein discovered is that it is possible for more space to come into existence. Then one version of Einstein’s gravity theory, the version that contains a cosmological constant, makes a second prediction: “empty space” can possess its own energy. Because this energy is a property of space itself, it would not be diluted as space expands. As more space comes into existence, more of this energy-of-space would appear. As a result, this form of energy would cause the Universe to expand faster and faster. Unfortunately, no one understands why the cosmological constant should even be there, much less why it would have exactly the right value to cause the observed acceleration of the Universe.” (NASA, “Dark Energy, Dark Matter”)

The past few decades have been rich with discoveries about our universe and of space. 2011’s Nobel Prize winning physicists discovered in 1998 that contrary to previous presumptions, the universe is actually not shrinking but expanding, due to the as yet mysterious forces called dark energy and and as yet unknown elements called dark matter.

Theorists still don’t know what the correct explanation is, but they have given the solution a name. It is called dark energy.
What Is Dark Energy?

More is unknown than is known. We know how much dark energy there is because we know how it affects the Universe’s expansion. Other than that, it is a complete mystery. But it is an important mystery. It turns out that roughly 70% of the Universe is dark energy. Dark matter makes up about 25%. The rest — everything on Earth, everything ever observed with all of our instruments, all normal matter — adds up to less than 5% of the Universe. (NASA, “Dark Energy, Dark Matter”)

Whatever dark energy turns out to be, the answer is bound to redefine the way we think about the relation between space, time and matter.” (Gleiser, “Celebrating the Dark Universe”)

Further, physicists’ calculations reveal that space moves faster than light, until now what we thought was the fastest speed possible.

“In classical physics, nothing can happen faster than the speed of light because no signal can propagate faster than the speed of light. But what was showing its ghostly face in quantum entanglement is a kind of influence that seems to be instantaneous and seems to take place between two connected particles, no matter how far away they are. So, rather than become more and more indifferent to one another the further away they are, these particles will forever respond to each other instantaneously as though you are effecting both of them in the same way, at the same moment.” -Catherine Keller (Quantum Theology: Our Spooky Interconnectedness)

The discovery of quantum entanglement reflects the concept of nonduality to me. That everything could be energetically identical, at least microcosmically, may sound far fetched for reality. Yet recall, for instance, that zero was not always accepted as a mathematical truth in the Western world, through the Greek and Roman civilizations, despite having been understood and used as a numeral in Ancient Arabic and Eastern societies for centuries before. New understandings of space are bound to redefine relations/knowledge of composition and identity, near and far, dark and light, more and less, here and there, as well.

“…One of the fundamental results of quantum physics is that everything fluctuates: the world of the very small is forever a-jiggling. Hence, the position of a particle (like an electron) and its velocity are always changing, in constant restlessness. As a consequence, its energy is never zero. In fact, you can never set the energy of empty space to zero because it’s always fluctuating about this value.
“For a short amount of time, energy conservation can be violated and you get something out of nothing. In practice, this happens by the amazing creation of matter and antimatter particles out of empty space (or vacuum), what we call virtual particles. They pop out of the vacuum and go back to it.
“Pushing this notion to the extreme, our whole universe could have arisen from a vacuum fluctuation. This is science’s modern creatio ex nihilo story. Space may be a stretched out bubble originated out of nothing 13.7 billion years ago. ” (Gleiser, “What is Space?”)

Space need not conform to the laws of physics- does that make it metaphysical!? The universe, our galaxy, planet, and life itself born spontaneously from nothing — space created! — a miracle? Whether or not we ascribe to a creation ex nihlo cosmology, this data prompts me to wonder, could it mean that instead of “enlightenment” (which sounds like it could be born out of a Big Bang type of explosion) what we seek deeply within is actually “enspacement” …?? …and what would that be…..?

“Atoms, electrons, and the rest of the infinitesimally tiny building blocks of the universe can behave rather bizarrely, going completely against the way of life as we normally experience it. … One consequence is that objects can get linked together, such that what happens to one instantaneously has an effect on the other, a phenomenon dubbed “quantum entanglement.”” (Choi, “Shedding Light on Spooky Physics”)

So, if we are all made up from the same collection of basic material, stardust, could it be that we — humans, as earthlings — are also spontaneously, intimately entangled with one another? How would we know?

“… Multiple experiments are underway to look for the dark matter particles we think are all around us. Not only are they “dark,” these particles hardly interact with ordinary matter at all. It’s possible, even likely, that millions of them pass through your body every second. It’s like a city with two populations, each speaking a different language, and no translators or bilingual interpreters. The two groups of people go about their separate lives, never directly speaking with each other. Likewise, in our galaxy, dark matter and ordinary matter pass right through each other all the time.” (Sean Carroll, “How the Higgs Can Lead Us to the Dark Universe”)

Could “enspacement” be our hyper-awareness or hypothetical embodiment of the swift and silent dark matter passing through and probably even physically comprising us at times? Again, my meditation on enspacement, a reconceptualization of Buddhist-style enlightenment, may seem too “spiritual” for inclusion here amongst the science lessons. Allow me, however, to remind you of the huge 2012 discovery in Switzerland of a microcosmic particle — representative of a conjectured infinite amount of subatomic particles that collectively form an energetic field — often called “god,” through/in which all matter is hypothesized to exist, which quite possibly gives everything we know its very mass.

“It’s nothing to do with religion — the only (theoretical) similarity is you’re seeing something that’s a field that’s everywhere, in all spaces.” -Martin Archer, a physicist at Imperial College in London (Sean Carroll, “How the Higgs Can Lead Us to the Dark Universe”)

Scientists at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the world’s biggest nuclear particle laboratory, located in Geneva, Switzerland last year released the enthusiastic results from their (as yet) successful search for the Higgs-Boson particle (sometimes nicknamed the “god particle”). Related studies of how this particle/field and dark energy/matter interact are already underway.

“The incredible discovery of the Higgs boson will open up new ways of probing the part of the universe that is invisible to our everyday senses: beyond ordinary matter, into the extraordinary world of dark matter.
“… The Higgs boson could be the bilingual particle we’ve been looking for. We don’t know exactly what the dark matter is, but we certainly have our favorite theories. In many of those models, the Higgs is the one particle that readily interacts both with ordinary protons and neutrons and also with dark matter.” (Sean Carroll, “How the Higgs Can Lead Us to the Dark Universe”)

One possible meaning for “espacement” could be the profound and acute awareness of our connections, invisible though they may seem to the naked eye and fingertips, to life, the universe, and indeed everything, from minerals in the ground to black holes in other galaxies. Enspaced, one would find it impossible to forget that 70% of our bodies and minds are composed of water, infinite H2O molecules, or that in breathing our vital energy, air, we share trillions of recycled oxygen atoms with every living being on Earth — for all time! Maybe to become “enspaced” we must try to attune ourselves to the conceptual infinity of tiny Higgs-Bosons in us.

“Theological entanglement is a way of reflecting on our relationships — all of our relationships, at once, together. When we do this, we get to such an impossibly infinite place that, I think, we resort to God language. The metaphors of the divine, of a love that permeates all things instantaneously, an embrace that holds everything everywhere in its mindfulness, a spirit (even a holy ghost) that has the character of spooky action at a distance is a metaphor by which can gather our very mysterious interdependencies (as creatures) on each other.” -Catherine Keller (Quantum Theology)

This kind of instant, inherent interconnectedness across distance, “Theological entanglement” or my “enspacement,” sounds subtle to experience and difficult to practice (while not online); however, there are plenty of examples of human beings’ experiments with spatial understanding to be found in every field of exploration and every place on Earth (such as the internet, for one). This seems to me a natural extension of human beings’ desire to make conscious what somewhere we experientially know to be true already, as if we really are quantumly entangled.

“The more you get into these cutting edges of science, the more the mysterious materializes. It turns out, even, that what we call “matter” is ultimately a kind of myth. …what we call matter is something much more mysterious, subtle, apparently interconnecting faster than the speed of light, just pulsing in its inter-linked processes with the unknown.” -Catherine Keller (Quantum Theology)
“Then, too, there’s the interchangeability of mass and energy, as Einstein so famously explained. … ’Only in our minds are they separate entities,’ [Paul Czysz, professor emeritus of aerospace engineering with St. Louis University] pointed out. Each and every one of us, in fact, is essentially a vast amount of energy condensed into physical form. …’If there were a way to transform you into your energy base, the ball of energy that would come out of where you are would be equivalent to what a metropolitan power station would generate over about a year,” Czysz asserted. (Noyes, “The Holographic Universe: Is Our 3D World Just an Illusion?”)

The great unknown abundance of the universe both forms and informs the complex dimensions and relations of “matter,” indeed pure energy, across space and time and us.

“If we are mostly just empty space and energy, then — despite our solid appearance — why shouldn’t the universe be similarly holographic, in other words?” (Noyes, “The Holographic Universe)
A wonderfully weird collection of ideas that go under the heading of the “holographic principle” …developed over the last 30 or so years, initially starting with attempts to deeply understand the physics of black holes. … what happens to the information that an object contains when it falls into a black hole. Is it simply lost? …The problem is, there’s a pretty basic law of physics which convinces us that information can’t be destroyed. It can be scrambled, it can be transmuted, but ultimately it can’t be destroyed. And black holes seem to be flying in the face of that, and because of that tension a number of physicists … developed an idea that when an object falls into a black hole, … a copy of all of its information content gets in some sense “smeared out” … on the horizon of the black hole. Smeared out in some sense like a series of 0′s and 1′s, the way information is stored in a typical computer.
“…. A few years ago … string theory — the field that I work on — gave really strong evidence to many of us that this idea really might be correct. … Which means that 3-D objects, even the ones that we’re familiar with — you and me and everything around us — … may indeed be describable by information on a 2-D surface … that in some sense is at the edge of the universe. The idea is we may be that three-dimensional image of this more fundamental information on the 2-D surface that surrounds us. … we may be a kind of holographic projection.” — Brain Greene, interviewed for “Geeks Guide to the Galaxy”, wired.com

What if everything is not as “real” as it seems?

2. Faith or Imagination

Tell all the truth but tell it slant,
Success in circuit lies,
Too bright for our infirm delight
The truth’s superb surprise;
As lightning to the children eased
With explanation kind,
The truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind.
-Emily Dickinson
“To torpedo faith is to destroy the roots of . . . any system of knowledge . . . I challenge anyone to construct an argument proving reason’s legitimacy without presupposing it . . . Faith is the base, completely unavoidable. Get used to it. It’s the human condition.” -Pking (quoted by Fish, “God Talk 2”)
“If there were a horizon of meaning which exceeded the bare essentials of life, health would not be able to absolutise itself to such an extent.” — Byung-Chul Han (Düker, “From Pasta…”)

What does it all mean? Don’t we all ask this question, at least once in our lives? Some people come up with answers to satisfy themselves or others; some people never stop asking more questions; and lots of people do both. What I find interesting is the variety of ways in which human beings attempt to cope with this seemingly universally innate uncertainty.

“We overestimate the importance of whatever it is we’re thinking about. We mis-remember the past and misjudge what will make us happy. [Psychologist Daniel Kahneman] demonstrates that irrationality is in our bones, and we are not necessarily the worse for it.” (Holt, “Two Brains Running”)

The story we tell is the one that comes true. That’s my observation. So, tell the story you want to become true. Tell an imaginative story. Imagine a better story, a more complex story. Imagine a more creative story… a more creative solution to the problems of our world. Stories are our order. Stories are “narrative” but that does not mean they are necessarily linear (any more than musical means classical). Stories have as much variety and diversity as human beings have, which is to say infinite.

“I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that.” — Byron Katie

What’s interesting to me about new-age American guru Byron Katie’s idea is the concept of believing or not in one’s thoughts. Because where does god come from, after all? Doesn’t the concept come from our thoughts, our questions about the world? And also, of course, our feelings…

Awhile back I had this idea that an important role of god that few besides Rene Girard discuss is the role of the cursed. As the scapegoat, god can be someone, like Jesus of Nazareth, a distant but powerful “imaginary” figure that one can curse, vehemently if necessary, in the worst moments of life (or every time one is watching the ballgame on TV). For example, “goddamnit!” I find it interesting that Byron Katie, this guru figure, is potentially advocating for a renunciation of “god” — saying, don’t believe! you’ll be happier without that…, in a sense. If I am correct in my assessment, I’m sure she’s onto something, even though I’m not exactly atheist and would have a really difficult time not believing in my thoughts, too.

That said, I like this idea that we can be free to play with the spirit/god/dess, universe, the big ideas, physics, whatever; to believe fervently at times, to make up a story or tell a story that feels right to us or that comforts us or makes us feel more secure, or to tell or gather many stories; we can talk to this; we can dance, sing, bathe, take psychedelic trance-inducing drugs for it; we can travel a long way, by foot; we can search; we can read all about it; we can compose to its hypnosis; we can conduct experiments; we can observe; we can study; we can commune with the wild; we can disbelieve; we can ignore; and we can even go further and curse it too! Alles! In/against/with/for/to/(from?!) god/des/spirit/universe…profound idea/s, etc…., for even if it is all “just make believe,” such imagination makes and keeps us human. Our creative minds are, in a large sense, us! We need imagination to function, to work, to turn each other on! …To explore our worlds, to make love, to compose life!

3. Madonnadology:

“There are no rules anywhere. The Goddess Prevails.” -Principia Discordia
“The study of black holes has already led to the suggestion that our 3D reality is simply a holographic projection of what exists in two dimensions in the very outer edges of the universe.” (Noyes, “The Holographic Universe”)

As an artist who compulsively deconstructs two-dimensional images, via cutting and tearing (sometimes rearranging the pieces into three-dimensional installations), I identify with the elemental doubt about whether or not what we experience as “real” could be holographic “illusion” or even mathematics itself.

As a woman of the African diaspora, Black, the nonessential color assigned to me, which I embrace, can feel intensely, visually salient in lived experience, both as power and as struggle. Personal insight from my overlapping identities compels me to put forth and probe what I consider one of the most fundamental questions on perspective and information in society, science, and art: Am I Image or Anatomy? or Something else entirely (and what could that be?)? (And, furthermore, if I am image, what is it made of? If I am anatomy, what do I comprise?)

“This isn’t just about the apophasis of an infinite God, but about the element of unknowability in all of us — as creatures made in the image of the unknowable. It looks, from the vantage point of quantum indeterminacy, that every creature has an element of the unknowable or unpredictable to it.” -Catherine Keller (Quantum Theology)

Madonnadology is my study, the theoretical, visual, or textual sketches from my explorations of what could be that “something else,” a spirit, divine and liberating and feminine.

Throughout the ages, across the Earth and past history, there has lived a woman, so to speak, or other female-spirit, who has challenged the status quo so radically as to cause destruction of eras and reigns. In India she is known as the goddess Kali, divine destruction, blackness, all time and space; in the Middle East her story was so often retold that it became 1001 stories that she, Scheherazade, in this incarnation, told to conquer an evil, misogynist king; since the European Crusades (most likely before then, and still today), she is worshiped in Christianity as the Black Madonna, who, clandestine though she is, has held subversive power over the church, notably in the Americas.

“Aesthetics have substantial political consequences. How one views oneself as beautiful or not beautiful or desirable or not desirable has deep consequences in terms of one’s feelings of self-worth and one’s capacity to be a political agent.”(West, Breaking Bread: Insurgent Black Intellectual Life)

As heroic risk-takers with natural/mystic senses and cultural outsiders turned iconic “colored girls,” Sacagawea and Harriet Tubman gave my paise de naissance, the United States, lived embodiments of this legend. California, today home to Hollywood, the world’s biggest storyteller, la-la-land of the stars, is named after black Amazon Queen Califa. Thomas Edison even named the first film production studio- a factory of dreams- “Black Maria”! Each of these examples — and many others — may or may not be based on real historical people. Each is a woman of imagination. Collectively their Madonnadology, as I call it, is a spirit of belief, a matter of faith in chaos, change, and ultimately, the unknown. In a world of artificial light pollution, I see their stories as a beacon of darkness…

“I am chaos. I am the substance from which your artists and scientists build rhythms. I am the spirit with which your children and clowns laugh in happy anarchy. I am chaos. I am alive, and I tell you that you are free.” (Principia Discordia)
“In absolute truth, my fundamental nature is the supreme wisdom of emptiness. …I will lead all beings without exception to liberation. The manifestations of the infinite paradises are inconceivable. …I am the daughter who reveals the various paths. … Ultimately ‘above’ and ‘below’ are non-existent and, in nature, equal. …
“I am the basis of everything. In the non-dual, directionless expanse of space, with loving-kindness for all beings of the six realms who have been our parents, and with supreme joy like the sun that clarifies everything, I care for all beings with equanimity, just as a mother protects her child. This is your daughter’s motivation. …
“The primordial wisdom fire blazes with luminous clarity… Through the union of method and wisdom, sun and moon, the nectar of purification descends. The essential nature of the absolute embodiment of rapture is perfected. …
“The confidence of the inseparable ground of the unique essence is discovered. That is your daughter’s state of fruition.” -Mandarava, The Lives and Liberation of Princess Mandarava [Ancient Tibetan Buddhist text]
“O dakini, your essential nature is like space. Free from limitations of coming and going, sending and receiving, your nature, inexpressible, is the natural enlightened embodiment of rapture speech that possesses the 60 melodious branches. With a form that effortlessly dissolves into the expanse of great bliss, you, dakini, are free… like a cloud that dissolves in space, the cycle of birth and death is alien to you. Your sublime form performs the magical dance, the nature of which is like the reflection of the moon in water. …You emanate throughout the three times to tame the minds of beings in whatever way is most needed. O woman made manifest… goddess, your dance brings satisfaction to the sentient beings’ senses. Goddess …, although your present embodiment dissolves into the sphere of truth, you will continue to reveal multitudes of individually appearing manifestations in accordance with the needs of beings… No one is capable of determining the measure or limit of your ability. Throughout all aeons of time, venerable mother, may I never be separate from you!” (Padmasambhava, The Lives and Liberation of Princess Mandarava [Ancient Tibetan Buddhist text])

I am indeed obsessed with this reclusive “mother/daughter/goddess/lover” figure, this evasive fixture, this perhaps figment of humanity’s collective imagination. I am fascinated, transfixed, by a universally networked complex too ephemeral to be a concept, that describes or embodies the drastic edges between life as we experience it and the unknown… Madonnadology could be called, simply, the power (and reality) of our imagination.

Yet the figure of the black madonna as a form exceeds that of the human being, achieving impossible feats and surpassing corporal limits. As such, this goddess, as I view her, is another human attempt to approach or describe space or the universe. Or the womb.

The womb is not only a maternal space, it is a universal space, the only such space — conceptually “one,” an innumerable multitude in physical expression — besides the Earth itself, through which every virtually human being passes, and must. Furthermore, beyond ideas of intimacy or the personal, the womb expands notions of “the self” to mind bending angles and challenges any right to solitude (the former attribute well reflected in Kali’s ego slaying role, the latter in the Black Madonna’s near constant companion, her baby Jesus). The womb is a space of negotiation, between beings who cannot directly, linguistically communicate, yet, who paradoxically are vitally, fatefully attached to each other. This space is an embodiment, like the goddesses themselves, of the unknown — we may have all been there, but none among us can reliably remember it, nor can we ever go back. This womb, the chora, the dark goddess in her transcendent, enduring manifestations, calls forth as metaphor for metaphor… She represents the power of our imaginations, developing from unseen subconscious desires, to create ever permuting incarnations.

I think the imaginary or spiritual aspect of the human quest for knowledge is possibly as important as our scientific investigations. If for no other reason than because we still don’t know so much — what the universe is composed of how it functions, where, if anywhere, did it come from — we cannot afford to willfully, ignorantly exclude certain fields of knowledge, such as mythology, which are so deeply a part of human exploration and philosophy. Neither can we afford to squander the innate opportunity to explore and possibly even expand our brains and consciousness.

Furthermore, I find it just as important to focus on the microcosmic human composition and perspective as I do to consider all of space. Not because I think Earth is the center of the universe or human beings necessarily so unique, but matter-of-factly because we are human! Our state of being requires observation and investigation; it demands that as much as, if not more, than our environment. Partially, I opine, this is a matter of responsibility. For, not only do we try to understand (our world), we also make it up as we go… ! As much as we may exist to investigate, we exist to imagine. And as we what discover we deem to be true, so, too, what we imagine, often enough, becomes truth in the form of our lived realities. At least we can be aware of this phenomenon so as to practice it conscientiously.

4. Kali

“My Mother is the principle of consciousness. She is Akhanda Satchidananda; indivisible Reality, Awareness, and Bliss. The night sky between the stars is perfectly black. The waters of the ocean depths are the same; The infinite is always mysteriously dark. This inebriating darkness is my beloved Kali.” -Sri Ramakrishna, The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna

Kali is a black/blue goddess of S P A C E . Kali, Kali-Ma (Mother Kali), Shyama (Cloud-colored One) or Kalika, is also the Hindu goddess of death, destruction, birth, rebirth and resurrection. Kali is the feminine form of the Sanskrit word for black, space, and time. Mythologically, the goddess Kali rules over the current era, the Iron Age, of time and will oversee the transformation from the apocalypse as it were of this world into the dawn of a new day… (post 2012 Mayan baktun change, now, perchance? who knows.)

Thou art Kāli, the original form of all things, and because Thou art the Origin of and devourest all things Thou art called the Adya [the Primordial One]. Re-assuming after Dissolution Thine own form, dark and formless, Thou alone remainest as One ineffable and inconceivable. Though having a form, yet art Thou formless; though Thyself without beginning, multiform by the power of Maya, Thou art the Beginning of all, Creatrix, Protectress, and Destructress that Thou art. (“Kali”, Wikipedia)

I am attracted to darkness. I am interested in blackness, and this example of it, color and concept, especially. I consider myself black, and, like many artists, I am interested in my own image. I am interested in what it means to be black — whether as a person, as an idea, as a being, as a human doing, as well — just as I am interested in what it means to be human, alive, to be in love, to be a woman, or to be beyond death.

Kali is depicted fiercely standing over her god husband, Shiva, with her hair wild and long, her blood red tongue thrust down to her chin. She wears a chain of human heads, a skirt of mortal arms, and holds up one dismembered head dripping blood into a bowl held by another of her hands below. Depending on how many arms the Kali icon has (4, 10…) she holds a variety of weapons and issues benefic mudras (hand gestures). And what has she slain? Whose heads hang as a garland of grisly decoration around this vicious goddess? The (evil) EGO of mankind!

Reveling in her vivid, bloodthirsty destruction, Kali joyously calls on her devotees to confront their fears — death, mortality, insecurity, lack of control, pain! Almighty Shiva lies nearly a corpse at her feet because, legend has it, he, the greatest god in the Hindu pantheon, had to still the earth from her ecstatic dancing with glee. Yet Kali is a righteous goddess, destroying only what is necessary to pass on to the next, more fruitful stage of life. In this way Kali stays true to her name: she creates space.

I find satisfaction in an idea of wholeness — that the “answers” to all questions are within us — that we each embody darkness or blackness in some sense, and how is that? I am intrigued/enamoured with the range of darkness and the spectrum of blackness.

I do not believe in race because in point of fact it does not exist biologically speaking. As a social construct of course race is real; it is also inherently political, and given this I oppose the concept vehemently. The blackness that I consider myself is certainly related to race but it could never be summarized by a label assigned to me, this engine of systematic oppression called race, with its subsets one of which the polarizing “black” (a further subset of which is the relatively new “African American,” what people call me).

Don’t get me wrong: I am black and proud. But only the most superficial element of my blackness is the classification known as “African American.” Black is deep… In the case of many black people our depth begins with our families’ histories. African American is a misnomer for people like me who are the descendants of slaves because we are not African nor born on the continent of Africa nor African immigrants nor even children of African immigrants. We are Americans with over half a millenia of bloody roots in American soil.

Here I am the foreigner, though. In Europe blacks are the immigrants; the immigrants are black; they are foreign and unknown (and if one assumes an ignorant association, to be feared). In the United States, our black or “African American” origins are almost completely obscured. Our history remains all too often untold, and black communities the world over all too often segregated away. To be black is to be a dark stranger.

Some say Kali is the Black Madonna, that nomadic gypsies brought her cult with them to Europe that inspired the mysterious statues and paintings of Catholic Christianity’s mystic woman-goddess, the Virgin Mary with dark skin.

Kali as a mighty deity performs a crucial role in the Hindu faith. With her inebriated rage and terror, her rambunctious dancing, and her constant state of unabashed passion, she (to the West unfamiliar with her, especially) offers a completely differently valued view of femininity. Enraptured and frightening, yet a savior to the unlimited nature of everything, Kali gives us the rest of what womanity has to offer besides maternity, warmth, and comfort within the status quo.

“[Ramakrishna] considered swear words [to be] as meaningful as the Vedas and the Puranas and was particularly fond of performing japa (ritual counting of rosary) by muttering the word “cunt”.

Indeed, as the claimed avatar himself told his devotees: The moment I utter the word “cunt” I behold the cosmic vagina … and I sink into it.

That is actually not quite as odd as it might initially seem, for “cunt” itself derives from Kunda or Cunti — names for Kali, the Hindu Divine Mother goddess, beloved of Ramakrishna.” (Kick, Everything You Know About Sex Is Wrong)

Beside the smooth, superficial saccharinity called sexy (epitomized by the Marilyn Monroe goddess-ideal of the West), Kali prefers to be rough and wild, a breathtaking argument for spontaneous, untamed, often quite explicit and raw sensuality. Some images of Kali depict her decapitating an embodied human ego whilst mounted in orgasmic copulation with Shiva. With such imagery, Kali creates space by extending edges — intensifying friction against other possibilities, known or (better yet) UnKnoWN…

Being black in name and color, Kali is known as a goddess of the unknown. “That shit is deep/ deeper than my grave, ji,” as slain rapper of the East (US), The Notorious B.I.G. put it. Deeper than the color of any human skin, to be black in this sense is to give black a deeper meaning, one in which the fact that you can’t see into the dark makes it sacred and safe, protected by a mystical aura of divine purpose.

“If you need to visualize the soul, think of it as a cross between a wolf howl, a photon, and a dribble of dark molasses. But what it really is, as near as I can tell, is a packet of information. It’s a program, a piece of hyperspatial software designed explicitly to interface with the Mystery. Not a mystery, mind you, the Mystery. The one that can never be solved.” -Tom Robbins

The depth of blackness reaches the soul… Soul, not so coincidentally the name of the music black artists gave the world and made America famous for. Black is beautiful. I love to celebrate my blackness — the blackness of my being, socially and innately, externally and internally — of myriad significances. The fact that I “am” black and have known that my whole life — the fact that I literally live this black experience — serves as a powerful metaphor for me for the vaster blacknesses that exist. The cosmic blackness of outer space, for example, the divine blackness of goddess Kali Ma, the rich black earth, the blackness of black holes that may hold other universes; the blackness of night when nature, naked in hunger, libido, and the hunt, is awake; the closest blackness when we close our eyes and are alone… I am (or not) this, I am reminded.

Black is dark… I don’t need to announce that I am black and I rarely do. This is because my skin is dark. Everybody knows: that’s what we call black. “A black person.” Liberal white friends of mine have complained to me about this term, because, they whine, your skin is not actually black. I know that! Doesn’t matter. I didn’t make it up, first of all. That’s not the point of it, secondly. The point is that to your ancestors my ancestors were dark enough to be different, and today you still see that difference between us; that is black. Darkness has a dominant negative connotation. Accepting this, my blackness remains dark. The history of my people is fraught with violence and injustice, negativity.

On the other hand, however, rejecting negative stereotypes of darkness, black is still simply dark: black is unknown. Blackness, like Kali herself, remains an enduring, beguiling mystery. She can inspire awe or silence or invoke fear unfathomable. Blackness may be called one color, but upon the slightest interrogation yields complexities untold.

5. Akhilandeshvari

“Our practice is not to clear up the mystery. It is to make the mystery clear.” — Aitken Roshi

Kali has a sister goddess who, perhaps, is even more radically tangent to Western Judeo-Christian virtues. Akhilandeshvari, the goddess of never not broken, celebrates her fragility and precariousness. If quantum physics teaches us about the interconnectedness of everything, and Kali about a fierce love that is new space, then Akhilandeshvari provides an brilliant example of fragmentation, which yields potential.

“Ishvari” in Sanskrit means “goddess” or “female power,” and the “Akhilanda” means essentially “never not broken.” In other words, The Always Broken Goddess. Sanskrit is a tricky and amazing language, and … the double negative here means that she is broken right down to her name.

But this isn’t the kind of broken that indicates weakness and terror. It’s the kind of broken that tears apart all the stuff that gets us stuck in toxic routines, repeating the same relationships and habits over and over, rather than diving into the scary process of trying something new and unfathomable.

Akhilanda derives her power from being broken: in flux, pulling herself apart, living in different, constant selves at the same time, from never becoming a whole that has limitations.

The thing about going through sudden or scary or sad transitions is that one of the things you lose is your future: your expectations of what the story of your life so far was going to become. … your future dissolves in front of you. And of course, this is terrifying.

But look, Akhilanda says, now you get to make a choice. In pieces, in a pile on the floor, with no idea how to go forward, your expectations of the future are meaningless. Your stories about the past do not apply. You are in flux, you are changing, you are flowing in a new way, and this is an incredibly powerful opportunity to become new again: to choose how you want to put yourself back together. Confusion can be an incredible teacher — how could you ever learn if you already had it all figured out?

This goddess has another interesting attribute, which is her crocodile. Crocodiles are interesting in two ways: Firstly, … the crocodile represents our reptilian brain, which is where we feel fear. Secondly, the predatory power of a crocodile is not located in their huge jaws, but rather that they pluck their prey from the banks of the river, take it into the water, and spin it until it is disoriented. …By riding on this spinning, predatory, fearsome creature, Akhilanda refuses to reject her fear, nor does she let it control her. She rides on it. She gets on this animal that lives inside the river, inside the flow. She takes her fear down to the river and uses its power to navigate the waves, and spins in the never not broken water.

Eric Stoneberg writes:

Akhilanda is also sometimes described in our lineage like a spinning, multi-faceted prism. Imagine the Hope Diamond twirling in a bright, clear light. The light pouring through the beveled cuts of the diamond would create a whirling rainbow of color. The diamond is whole and complete and BECAUSE it’s fractured, it creates more diverse beauty. Its form is a spectrum of whirling color.

This feeling of confusion and brokenness that every human has felt at some time or another in our lives is a source of beauty and colour and new reflections and possibilities.

…But remember Akhilanda’s lesson: even that new whole, that new, colourful, amazing groove that we create, is an illusion. It means nothing unless we can keep on breaking apart and putting ourselves together again as many times as we need to. We are already “never not broken.” We were never a consistent, limited whole. In our brokenness, we are unlimited. (Peters, Elephant Journal)

Although written sometimes distractingly in appeal to our emotional, feminine sensibilities, the observations Peters makes here, and the example Akhilandeshvari presents, make good inspiration for an open, utopian future society, one comfortable in flux. Comfort with fluctuation is imperative in our space — whether the womb, the world, or the milky way — because it happens all the time; a friendship with adversity (if possible) and love for diversity also really help.

Another way Akhilandeshwari is helpful is in reconceptualizing images of traditionally western hegemonic conceptual femininity. For example, the Marilyn Monroes or Kate Mosses of our eras who have embodied physical and emotional ideals such as whiteness, blondeness, certain shapes, superficiality, capitalism, irresponsibility, sacrificial kindness… Akhilandeshwari in comparison allows us to consider perhaps that unpredictable and/or emotional responses that are immediately transparent as such may at times be necessary, whether for the individual (/”soul”) or for an externalized or circumstantial shared realization.

6. All Hail Turritopsis Medusa, The Immortal Jellyfish!!!

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” -Charles Darwin

If you think many armed immortal life & death dealing deities are far fetched for inclusion in a semi-rational work of inquiry, then allow me introduce you to Turritopsis, the jellyfish who (may, in fact) live forever!

“…Death, for a tiny sea creature, is not inevitable. Turritopsis nutricul, a jellyfish-like hydrazoan, is the only animal known to be potentially immortal.”
“…In 1996 biologists in Genoa published a paper called “Reversing the Life Cycle” … The scientists described how the species — at any stage of its development — could transform itself back to a polyp, the organism’s earliest stage of life, “thus escaping death and achieving potential immortality.” (Rich, “Can a Jellyfish Unlock the Secret of Immortality?”)

Thus proving (once again): nothing is impossible — even living potentially immortal beings on earth with the ability to electrocute us with one of their many primordial “arms”!

“This finding appeared to debunk the most fundamental law of the natural world — you are born, and then you die. … One of the paper’s authors, Ferdinando Boero, likened the Turritopsis to a butterfly that, instead of dying, turns back into a caterpillar. Another metaphor is a chicken that transforms into an egg, which gives birth to another chicken. The anthropomorphic analogy is that of an old man who grows younger and younger until he is again a fetus.” (Rich, “Can a Jellyfish Unlock the Secret of Immortality?”)

I offer all of the prior examples, from Scheherazade to the jellyfish, as a form of intellectual inspiration and/or imaginative stimulation rooted in reality (whether cultural or zoological or other).

“Once it reaches sexual maturity, Turritopsis looks like a tiny, transparent, many-tentacled parachute (only about 5mm in diameter) that floats freely in warm ocean waters.” (Bai, “The Curious Case of the Immortal Jellyfish, Discover Magazine”)
“We also know that, in recent decades, the immortal jellyfish has rapidly spread throughout the world’s oceans in what Maria Pia Miglietta, a biology professor at Notre Dame, calls “a silent invasion.” The jellyfish has been “hitchhiking” on cargo ships that use seawater for ballast. Turritopsis has now been observed not only in the Mediterranean but also off the coasts of Panama, Spain, Florida and Japan. (“Even though specimens from different locations have different numbers of tentacles (from 8 to 24), genetic tests confirm that they are of the same species.”) The jellyfish seems able to survive, and proliferate, in every ocean in the world. It is possible to imagine a distant future in which most other species of life are extinct but the ocean will consist overwhelmingly of immortal jellyfish, a great gelatin consciousness everlasting.” (Rich, “Can a Jellyfish Unlock the Secret of Immortality?”)

This incredible frontier of scientific discovery is already animating some, to a fervor occasionally as intense as that of a religious devotee. Turritopsis’s Ramakrishna then may be marine biologist Shin Kubota who tends the only colony of immortal jellyfish in captivity in Japan.

“Dr. Kubota told {NYT reporter Nathaniel Rich}, “… at the root of the Tree of Life is the jellyfish. … The immortal medusa is the most miraculous species in the entire animal kingdom. … Once we determine how the jellyfish rejuvenates itself, we should achieve very great things. My opinion is that we will evolve and become immortal ourselves.” ” (Rich, “Can a Jellyfish Unlock the Secret of Immortality?”)

7. Adaptive Radiation & Circadian Rhythms

Let me now say something about what the word ‘solitude’ means. We know three solitudes in society. We know a solitude imposed by power. This is the solitude of isolation, the solitude of anomie. We know a solitude which arouses fear on the part of those who are powerful. This is the solitude of the dreamer, of the homme révolté, the solitude of rebellion. And finally, there is a solitude which transcends the terms of power. It is a solitude based on the idea of Epictetus that there is a difference between being lonely and being alone. This third solitude is the sense of being one among many, of having an inner life which is more than a reflection of the lives of others. It is the solitude of difference.
— Michel Foucault and Richard Sennett, Sexuality and Solitude
No man has ever been entirely and completely himself. Yet each one strives to become that — one in an awkward, the other in a more intelligent way, each as best he can. …We all share the same origin, our mothers; all of us come in at the same door. But each of us — experiments of the depths — strives toward his own destiny. We can understand one another, but each of us is able to interpret himself to himself alone.
- Hermann Hesse, Demian

Biologically, all human beings are 99% genetically the same. Different people may have different needs, but most of our needs are basic, biological (if socially influenced) human needs (why they continue to be inadequately addressed is another, political, question): air, food, water, shelter/security, love/affection/sex, beauty/creativity, nature/space, physical movement and mental stimulation, health, work/activity, community, purpose/beliefs/faith/ideas…

“An interpretation of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, represented as a pyramid with the more basic needs at the bottom. …Recent research appears to validate the existence of universal human needs, although the hierarchy proposed by Maslow is called into question.”

There are a stunning variety of combinations and configurations of life structures to fulfill these needs (albeit to varying degrees of success)! Taking life structure/”lifestyle” on an individual level, human diversity is infinite. But diversity need not equal inequality in quality of life.

The continuing process of the growth of life on Earth is called evolution. The event of the overthrow of a governmental or political regime or hegemony in favor of a radical new, hopefully more equitable, order is sometimes called revolution. What I would like to propose now is a combination of the two: a revolution via evolution. What to turn over, where? How about capitalism/poverty, patriarchy/misogyny, and xenophobia/racism, everywhere? How and what does that have to do with evolution? I will explain at length here.

An evolutionary process called adaptive radiation bears witness to the possibility for life to rapidly change in response to environmental cues. In adaptive radiation: a single species — that is, a great number of individuals together — diversifies biologically, rapidly. A specific group of life’s members each change in radically different genetic expressions to develop new and natural ways to deal with a changed or challenging environment. The most famous example of this phenomenon are Darwin’s finches of the Galapagos islands.

“There are now at least 13 species of finches on the Galapagos Islands, each filling a different niche on different islands. All of them evolved from one ancestral species, which colonized the islands only a few million years ago. This process, whereby species evolve rapidly to exploit empty ecospace, is known as adaptive radiation.” (PBS)

Ecospace! Niches! Evolution — into space! Darwin’s finches evolved from one unified species of bird into thirteen, each with its own unique physical traits (body space) developed to take advantage of specific feeding resources — fruit, seeds, leaves, insects, etc. — each distinct from the other so as to share the same geographic space. Diversity, equality, achieved through pure necessity.

It establishes that we are difference, that our reason is the difference of forms of discourse, our history is the difference of times, that ourselves are the difference of masks.
-Foucaut, L’Archeologie du Savoir

Allow me to return to a more detailed description of the unparallelled immortal jellyfish, in order to shed light on regenerative biological processes.

“… Like most hydrozoans, Turritopsis passes through two main stages of life, polyp and medusa. A polyp resembles a sprig of dill, with spindly stalks that branch and fork and terminate in buds. When these buds swell, they sprout not flowers but medusas. A medusa has a bell-shaped dome and dangling tentacles. Any layperson would identify it as a jellyfish, though it is not the kind you see at the beach. Those belong to a different taxonomic group, Scyphozoa, and tend to spend most of their lives as jellyfish; hydrozoans have briefer medusa phases. An adult medusa produces eggs or sperm, which combine to create larvae that form new polyps. In other hydroid species, the medusa dies after it spawns. A Turritopsismedusa, however, sinks to the bottom of the ocean floor, where its body folds in on itself — assuming the jellyfish equivalent of the fetal position. The bell reabsorbs the tentacles, and then it degenerates further until it becomes a gelatinous blob. Over the course of several days, this blob forms an outer shell. Next it shoots out stolons, which resemble roots. The stolons lengthen and become a polyp. The new polyp produces new medusas, and the process begins again.” (Rich, “Can a Jellyfish Unlock the Secret of Immortality?”)

The examples I have selected to discuss in this essay may be idiosyncratic, yet each speaks to a pervasive phenomenon on Earth, namely cycles of regeneration through or following incredible loss.

“…The rejuvenation of Turritopsis dohrnii and some other members of the genus is caused by environmental stress or physical assault. We know that, during rejuvenation, it undergoes cellular transdifferentiation, an unusual process by which one type of cell is converted into another — a skin cell into a nerve cell, for instance. (The same process occurs in human stem cells.)” (Rich, “Can a Jellyfish Unlock the Secret of Immortality?”)

This process is similar to cellular regeneration in other animals.

“…While other animals can undergo limited transdifferentiation to regenerate organs (salamanders can regrow limbs, for example), Turritopsi is the only one that can regenerate its entire body. …Scientists believe Turritopsis can repeat its life cycle indefinitely.” (Bai, “The Curious Case of the Immortal Jellyfish, Discover Magazine”)

The possibility for holistic regeneration through radical metamorphosis, particularly most naturally occurring after destruction or loss, inspires me to hopefully imagine our innate, biological potential to be better — more vital, more cooperative, more considerate — human beings. Of course, such awe-inspiring displays of unending life are also rife for trite human technological exploitation. As Dr. Shin Kubota, who is also a celebrated musician in Japan, opines:

“… I believe it will be easy to solve the mystery of immortality and apply ultimate life to human beings. … Human beings are so intelligent,” … But then he added a caveat. “Before we achieve immortality, we must evolve first. The heart is not good. … Self-control is very difficult for humans,” he continued. “In order to solve this problem, spiritual change is needed. … Human beings must learn to love nature. … We must love plants — without plants we cannot live. We must love bacteria — without decomposition our bodies can’t go back to the earth. If everyone learns to love living organisms, there will be no crime. No murder. No suicide. Spiritual change is needed.”

And the most simple way to achieve this is through song. “Biology is specialized,” he said, bringing his palms within inches of each other. “But songs?” He spread his hands far apart, as if to indicate the size of the world.” -Dr. Shin Kubota (quoted in Rich, “Can a Jellyfish Unlock the Secret of Immortality?”)

I love when science and art recognize each other as allies. Another example from science that inspires me, artistically and otherwise, is circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythm is quite literally perfect timing for each day. It is how sunflowers follow the sun as it traverses the sky, for example. Or, when, on occasion, my schedule is so well organized that I manage to journal and practice yoga in the morning, arrive at the studio before noon to work, and still make it home to cook dinner before 9PM.

“A circadian rhythm is a roughly 24 hour cycle in the physiological processes of living beings, including plants, animals, fungi and cyanobacteria. In a strict sense, circadian rhythms are endogenously generated, although they can be modulated by external cues such as sunlight and temperature.
“Circadian rhythms are important in determining the sleeping and feeding patterns of all animals, including human beings. There are clear patterns of brain wave activity, hormone production, cell regeneration and other biological activities linked to this daily cycle.” (ScienceDaily.com)

Everyday, all living beings interact with energy from the sun. All living beings gather information from minerals and cooperate in chemical processes with other organisms. In each of these countless exchanges exists possibility. Moreover, our bodies have developed to make the most of opportunities for nourishment; we have evolved to greet each day, anew.

“The strata are judgements of God; stratification in general is the entire system of the judgement of God (but the earth, or the body without organs, constantly eludes that judgement, flees and becomes destratified, decoded, deterritorialized).”
-Deleuze and Guattari, Thousand Plateaus

Even as adaptive radiation, cellular regeneration, and circadian rhythms are biological subjects of study, they can also be thought of as miraculous creations of “the divine” (“whatever the hell that is,” I think, is an adequate description of what I mean by “divine”, or “whatever the heaven”). I do not find the two mutually exclusive. Evolution as creation? Why not? What else could it be, anyway? Creationism makes no sense in our real and natural world and does not adhere to our own acquisition of knowledge (Learning, I opine, is a divine — whatever the heaven — gift not to be stifled or manipulated). Yet evolution fails to answer (and indeed probably cannot answer) the question of Why. Why life? Put science and spirituality in dialogue, however they may disagree, and life and our exploration of the unknown begins to make the most sense of all (to me). Life is discourse, plus intercourse! Life was created through evolution, life evolves now, continues to be creative… This is not my point, however; it is merely my, admittedly unusual, perspective.

Where psychoanalysis says ‘Stop, find yourself again,’ we should say instead ‘Let’s go further still, we haven’t found our body without organs yet, we haven’t sufficiently dismantled our self.
-Deleuze + Guattari, Thousand Plateaus

My point is more theoretical. Imaginary, even. What if humans were to adaptively radiate on a circadian cycle? Yes, to actively evolve. If you find this idea impossible you are probably of a majority opinion. Consider for a moment, however, the very brain you are using to think this is impossible. What do you know about how it works and what it is yet capable of?

“[The brain] is composed of 100 billion electrically active cells called neurons, each connected to many thousands of its neighbors. Each neuron relays information in the form of miniature voltage spikes, which are then converted into chemical signals that bridge the gap to other neurons. Most neurons send these signals many times per second; if each signaling event were to make a sound as loud as a pin dropping, the cacophony from a single human head would blow out all the windows. The complexity of such a system bankrupts our language; observing the brain with our current technologies, we mostly detect an enigmatic uproar.” (EAGLEMAN, “What Our Brains Can Teach US”)

What does humanity yet know about what we are innately capable of? I suggest that human beings attempt, from now on, first to explore and investigate our own selves more deeply, intimately, and creatively (both scientifically and “spiritually”), and then to, perhaps simultaneously, rapidly diversify and become as idiosyncratic as possible in order to sink into our true desires and unique spirit-natures (animas) until we have collectively acquired myriad solutions to the challenges that our current environment/s, particularly under the pressures of climate change and the global financial crisis, present us with every day — We are challenged everyday; let us practice this everyday!

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it.” -Muhammed Ali

We shall meet each challenge, deciding how to adapt each moment as the larger spirit of time/the greater powers of every hour/nature/shakti direct us. We will have to listen carefully. We will pay attention; we must. We will grow aware, and then, when we can communicate with the Earth in her own equanimous language, we will transcend…!

numinous |ˈn(y)oōmənəs| adjective
having a strong religious or spiritual quality; indicating or suggesting the presence of a divinity : spiritual, religious, divine, holy, sacred; mysterious, otherworldly, unearthly, transcendent.
ORIGIN mid 17th cent.: from Latin numen, numin- ‘divine power’ + -ous .

And “-nous” also meaning nos “us.” We. The divine — whatever the hell this, life on Earth, is! — is collective! It is in our minds…together. “God” is us, we are Love, and the fountain and temple of this Love/union of human spirit is the biological, anatomical, evolutionary body. The divine, the unknown, is in our bodies, uniquely. We have with and within us at all times a spring of earthly inspiration, an example of pluripotentiality and communication!

8. Coming Together: Sex, Gender, Love

The erotic is a measure between our sense of self and the chaos of our strongest feelings. It is an internal sense of satisfaction to which, once we have experienced it, we know we can aspire. For having experienced the fullness of this depth of feeling and recognizing its power, in honor and self-respect we can require no less of ourselves.
— Audre Lorde, “Uses of the Erotic”
“Precariousness becomes extensive at birth, because survival depends from the beginning on social networks, on sociality and the work of others. The fundamental social dependency of a living being due to its vulnerability, due to the impossibility of a wholly autonomous life, also highlights the eminent significance of reproductive work. Because life is precarious, it is crucially dependent on care and reproduction.”
— Isabell Lorey, “Governmental Precarization”

It all comes down to sex- the narrowing physical and psycho-social space between one and other. Will I be attractive enough to the person I find attractive? And how do we predetermine or judge our chances for success, through the mysterious laws of magnetism — which inherently (subconsciously) rest upon the polarity of gender? But if we can embrace the gender we are — the human being — the spirit in the precise, unique fluidity that we live — then the polarity as an external absolute begins to lose its controlling power. The loss of such sexual “guidelines,” in conjunction with more integral, honest, and personal spirituality (or ethics), could bring about a much needed communal realization that love is free for everyone and that there actually is more than enough to go around. Love is limitless like the intricate, powerful combinations of feminine and masculine that exist on a continuum and go beyond the borders of all-male or all-female in either one. As in plants for example, who even flirt with animals, and us.

Within each of us is male and female energy, in an equilibrium that varies. If we let our spirits/subconscious-conscience guide us, I think, we need not worry about the uncomfortable, artificial problem of gender definition. Because we are all each comprised of both feminine and masculine matter, there is no reason to reject or become defensive about either one nor the other; we can embrace any number of narratives and embody them as our own, in our individual way, in balance, within us. The ultimate goal is to love people loving whomever and however they choose to love, people choosing to do what they feel comfortable with, what they feel passionate about, what they want to do. The more accepting we are, the easier it will be to feel free! When we experience such freedom, a huge weight will be lifted from humanity’s shoulders.

Love desperately needs your imagination. …Your imagination is the single most important tool you have in your daily fight to be Free. It is the source of every act of liberation you will ever need to pull off.
— Rob Brezsny

Please, bear with me now as I observe some overarching, heteronormative generalizations about gender as it is frequently engaged or mythologized in our world. These image/stories form the basis of the polarizing gender stereotypes, which we perform, to greater or lesser extents, on a continuum…. I guess that it may be helpful to reconsider these as points on a map of notions of human sexuality. Where we go from here is up to us.

Woman’s story, historically and mythologically has been told as regenerative; it is cyclical. Her basic sexual function is receptive, open, like a circle. (Wo)manifestations of this may be keen internal/emotional awareness and/or creating and maintaining external spaces, exhibited traditionally in childcare and domestic service.

On a man, his mouth could be called the masculine embodiment of the female vagina. The mouth as the masculine feminine: it opens, accepts, and craves to “create space”, space that in this case is the human body as developed through nourishment; it receives readily for digestion; or discussion.

Man’s story, historically and mythologically, has been told as linear, it is historical de facto. His basic sexual function is penetrative, forward. An external manifestation of this is questing and conquering. Female creates and maintains space; male finds and moves into it. Repeat. This is a story that has been repetitively retold and enacted, as such it is a subjective truth: it is the western problem of phallocentrism.

A feminine embodiment of the male penis are her fingers. The fingers can be a feminine masculine: they create and manipulate to “move forward”, to effect technological progress; they probe and can penetrate. They touch readily.

Both the fingers and mouth are of significant importance in sex: they stimulate their correlates on the other (holding hands, kissing) and the genitals. It’s not hard to extend the imagination and see how all forms of sex, including both heterosexual and homosexual intercourses, play with these physical conceptions. Women often prefer to be stimulated by the fingers (the feminine masculine) before (both developmentally and in foreplay) penile (or other) penetration. Reciprocally, men often prefer to be stimulated by the mouth (the masculine feminine) before (both developmentally and in foreplay) engaging in vaginal (or anal) intercourse. It is through these nearly universal medians, mouth and fingers, which, of course, can be used the other way around — mouth stimulation/oral sex on women, finger stimulation for men, too — that we gradually and comfortably approach the unknown (the opposite sex, or other person) through the well known (our masculine or feminine sex part substitute/surrogates). We all create and explore space; the only variables are when and how we do each.

“That’s how, long ago, the innate desire of human beings for each other started. It draws the two halves of our original nature back together and tries to make one out of two and to heal the wound in human nature.”
-Plato, The Symposium

Exploring the masculine and feminine properties of men and women, and vice versa, could help us to understand ourselves and our actions better. I share these ideas not to nail us to heteronormativity, but to expose our behavior and explore the human continuum of desire in shape and action. We are open and we insert. In Wicca (a modern form of Pagan spirituality) this male/female symbology is characterized by the Blade (m) and the Chalice (f), or the Wand (m) and the Web (f). With just a pinch of additional imagination it is easy to see how many items can become our probe or our receptacle. For example: scissors, a paintbrush, a cooking spoon, a cooking pot, a bowl, a baseball glove, a fork, a knife, a hockey net, a hammer, a bedroom, a flowerbed, a needle and thread, a pen, a paper, a canvas, a spoon, a whip, a watering can, a hose, a swimming pool, ETC! All of these objects can offer or enter or accept or all three! The feminine receptacle offers and accepts through opening, the masculine probe enters and accepts with penetration. The probe understands, the receptacle observes, and vice versa.

In the patriarchal hegemony of our current culture, we tend to categorize penetration as conquest or an invasion into a created (and peaceful), existent space. But it is important to remember that sometimes a probe, venturing out into the unknown in exploration, creates new space, as in the case of the development of the Internet. And at times a space or land spreads or moves or adapts or effects change, such as a weather space, acting more than receiving. So either one can come “first,” just as either one can be considered “male” or “female.”

I outline this duality to illuminate the duplicities within it, not to affirm its rigidity (or heteronormativity). I hope there is a difference between awareness and emphasis; surely, there is an important distinction between observing and condoning. That said, what I find important is not so much my interpretation of generalized gender roles, but rather the openness for sexual variation within any such conception.

“The break with the universal is not a radical one. Instead of one universal there are several, on different levels.”
“The true frontier is between constants and variables. The critique of universals can be translated into a question: how is it possible that anything new might come into the world?”
-Manfred Frank and Gilles Deleuze in dialogue, What is a Dispositive?

Homophobia, the fear of homosexuality, is, I believe, at its roots, the fear of experimentation. Everyone experiences homosexual energy — whether being attracted to one’s own gender, being interested in one’s sexual appearances, apparatuses, and responses, or sharing interest in general in the spectrum of sexuality — on some level, at some time, whether it’s received, rejected, projected, offered, felt, or sheltered. I see the human homoerotic desire as a manifestation of deep inquiry, the mirror aspect mythologically. This desire or energy can be penetrative or expansive and has an aura of newness and unpredictability. It is a precarious charge that gives the thrill of adventure, which can be frightening (because identities make us insecure).

How can one practice freedom? With regard to sexuality, it is obvious that it is by liberating our desire that we will learn to conduct ourselves ethically in pleasure relationships with others. (Foucault, Ethics: Subjectivity & Truth, 284)

Just as all people come into contact with what I’m calling homosexual, homoerotic, or “self-reflexplorative” energy, all relationships — friendships, marriages, platonic, romantic, collaborative, competitive, inharmonious, too — cross through (or wade in) ambiguous intersexual energetic fields that evade definition, and sometimes yield reactions. Our reflective, reflexive human natures crave to explore extensively, to understand, ourselves — just as badly as we desire intercourse, the sensual exploration of the other as the other explores one. From such intrinsic knowledge we know creativity comes innately; originality is reborn in the world! But there is a risk, the risk of seeing our shadows, too, to confront the pain with which we have also identified ourselves.

“All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art.” -Jorge Luis Borges

Self expression (with the safety and comfort for it) is one answer for our difficulties in accepting sex and gender multiplicity within ourselves and everywhere. Everyone must be free enough to tell, follow, deliver, take back, and/or change one’s truth and narrative — however that comes out. Expect and accept imagination; expect and accept truth! Everyone has his or her (or other) perspective to share, and that’s infinite.

“I have a message and will fight to the death for it: …Find out who you are and be it” -Lady Gaga

Sex allows us to reproduce, and this, with the resultant babies, automatically generates change. Sexual reproduction is the birthplace of change in life. This heterosexual reality has become a metaphor. But, backing up, the idea behind the call that we humans diversify rapidly, in my metaphysical sense of “adaptive radiation,” is not sex itself, but is in what sex represents. (Ideally) Sex = physical entanglement in the act of love. Love. Love is the only way we are or will be able to diversify, because only with love do we have the necessary acceptance that individuals need to be able to be who we are and try new things, without losing the community we depend upon to shelter, feed, clothe, comfort, support, and Love us. We need love because it is our spiritual support, and make no mistake, what I outline is nothing less than a spiritual mission.

“By spirituality I mean … the subject’s attainment of a certain mode of being and transformations that the subject must carry out on itself to attain this mode of being.” (Foucault, “The Ethics of Concern for Self as a Practice of Freedom”)

9. Individuality, Deep Desire

“Yet, what a real living human being is made of seems to be less understood today than at any time before, and men — each one of whom represents a unique and valuable experiment on the part of nature — are therefore shot wholesale nowadays. If we were not something more than unique human beings, if each one of us could really be done away with once and for all by a single bullet, storytelling would lose all purpose. But every man is more than just himself; he also represents the unique, the very special and always significant and remarkable point at which the world’s phenomena intersect, only once in this way and never again. That is why every man’s story is important, eternal, sacred; that is why every man, as long as he lives and fulfills the will of nature, is wondrous, and worthy of every consideration. In each individual the spirit has become flesh, in each man the creation suffers, within each one a redeemer is nailed to the cross.”
-Hermann Hesse, Demian
This is not then an ethics of the individual at all, at least not of the conscious subject, rather, it is an ethics concerned with that impersonal desire that the former masks and which, for Lacan, constitutes the very truth of our being. It is, we might say, an ethics turned upside down.
— Simon O’Sullivan, “Lacan’s Ethics & Foucault’s ‘Care of the Self’”

Now is probably as good a space-time as any to say a few words about “the individual.” Each of us is one, so where does individuality really fit into an entire world (and sometimes even cosmic)-view? What is the reality of individuality?

According to nonduality, of course, the reality of an individual as separate from a whole is nonexistent. However, this is not a very practical everyday perspective. While in India, I had countless opportunities to learn and hear repeated the common phrase “same, same, but different.” Only now, at the time of writing, do I realize that this may be the best definition to the as-yet in the Western world relatively definition-less “nonduality”: “same, same, but different.” I think this phrase can serve as a functional definition for the individual, too.

The individual is ultimately always a question of definition: where are the borders of one individual defined, how, and why, and when? Do we define these limits for ourselves or are they somehow- through society or lack of free-will — preordained? I think our individual definitions, of each of ourselves and for others, tend to lie on a spectrum in between the extremes of the self-made- or it-was-written- man. However s/he is defined our approach to the individual and individuals in our lives is crucial to observe and critical in creating freer, happier, and healthier relationships. We cannot ignore the individual in favor of easily phrased generalizations. Yet, because this individual aspect is, by definition, minute and finite, this makes it difficult to talk about the individual or individuals impersonally yet relevantly.

Here, psychology presents some useful modes for discussion, both as the study of minds and egos (selves) and as a point of view to good health. A major caveat here is that, historically speaking, unfortunately, psychiatric work has not always been worthy of the word “care.” This is partially because, collectively, we are still figuring out what it means to have a healthy psyche and/or what it means to be “good” at all. It stands to reason that healthy individuals would foster a healthy society. But what is a healthy mind and what not? As I hope is by now apparent, there can’t be just one kind of good. Good comes with diversity. So, not delving into any particular life experiences, but to help offer answers closest to my own, individual, perspective on these issues, I share this insight from Foucault’s “Care of the Self” via Simon O’Sullivan:

First then, the “Care of the Self” is “a certain way of considering things and having relations with other people;” it is an “attitude towards the self, others, and the world.” (Foucault, 11) Second, it is a “form of attention, of looking;” “a certain way of attending to what we think and what takes place in our thought.” (Foucault, 11) And third, perhaps most important, it also names a series of actions — or practices — that are “exercised by the self on the self” and “by which one takes responsibility for oneself and by which one changes, purifies, transforms, and transfigures oneself.” (Foucault, 11) The “Care of the Self” is then less an ethics based on a transcendent law or authority than an intention, a mode of attention, and a particular practice, or set of practices. — Simon O’Sullivan, “Lacan’s Ethics & Foucault’s ‘Care of the Self’”

Individuality takes place in actions! Little actions, big actions, communication and choices, everyday activities or habits, and in once in a lifetime decisions or events — these happenings constitute the moving ground of the individual. The best we can do is to respect the soil of our souls as nourishment and plant the seeds of the fruit we wish to taste next, with prismatic understanding that we are the roots and the hands in the dark of the earth.

10. Nomadic Narrative

The map is open and connectable in all of its dimensions; it is detachable, reversible, susceptible to constant modification. It can be torn, reversed, adapted to any kind of mounting, reworked by an individual, group, or social formation. It can be drawn on a wall, conceived of as a work of art, constructed as a political action or as a meditation. Perhaps one of the most important characteristics… is that it always has multiple entryways…
— Deleuze + Guattari, 1000 Plateaus
“Acting against time, and thus on time, for the sake of a time one hopes will come…” “This is not to predict but to be attentive to the unknown which knocks at the door.”
-Nietzsche, Time and Meditation (II) referenced by Gilles Deleuze, What is a Dispositive?

What if we lived on earth like nomads? What if home meant travelling and travelling was home? Well, in fact the human population is and always has been in a state of constant migration, across lands, seas, mountains, deserts, and oceans, roaming ceaselessly over the entire Earth. As we move about now more and more often, faster and faster, it might be helpful to adopt more integrally nomadic lifestyles as societies, and for well stationed people and families — folks who haven’t and/or don’t want to move for a long time — to participate as nomadic hosts, conductors on an underground railroad to the world, with open doors and open minds, and with free will, ideally…

At the time I decided to come to Switzerland, for the MFA program, I was travelling in Laos and had been living nomadically in Southeast Asia for almost 2 years. I moved as a foreigner, between different spaces with more or less travellers from many other lands, and I never doubted that my experience was only one outsider’s perspective. I found India chaotic yet magical, Thailand paradisical yet sordid, Cambodia tragic at one glance, bewitching in a moment. I thought it was important to acknowledge this, and not, with each new guesthouse entered, to pretend to become a know-it-all about cultures to which I had only brief exposure.

When I came to Switzerland in 2011, I felt inwardly sure that I needed and it was important to have a sort of private space in which I could be myself, indefinitely, unlimited by notions of my identity based on nationality. I valued, above all, an idea to create, creatively, my own little world, for the purpose of exploring art. I thought, if more people would commit to this type of intense inner investigation, and construction, the world might be a better place, with happier, freer people.

Arriving in Zürich, the fairy-tale like setting of the city — between the Alps and the rivers, the bells and clock towers, the trains and the surreal threshold of the Hauptbanhof… instantly enchanted me. Switzerland seems to have succeeded in an important way to maintain a balance between nature and society, with cleanliness, beauty, safety, and an order belonging to every element.

The longer I have lived here, however, the more I have seen of some of this setting’s inherent drawbacks: the shocking tolerance for xenophobia, as evidenced by the blatantly racist propaganda of the SVP political party, violent encounters I have personally endured, the legality of racial profiling by police (and the people who willfully refuse to question its rationality). Strict adherence to the rules, be they legal, scholastic, related to transportation, or conversation, becomes not only second-nature, but appreciated as a kind of quality itself. Being black and therefore involuntarily, constantly labelled as “Other” here, has only sharpened my awareness and my disgust for this behavior.

What am I doing here?! I have asked myself countless times by now. Finally, I have begun to formulate an answer. It has something to do with the exact notion of an imaginary safe, private world that I envisioned for myself before arriving here. Switzerland, I believe, is exactly such a place within the real, global world — a safe haven with luxurious, virtually crime-free cities, wealth that exponentially outnumbers its own population, situated in a majestic mountain enclave of the highest peaks in Europe, which seem to touch Heaven. I asked for this! Like everyone else here, native or fellow immigrant, there is something that I valued about the Swiss way of life.

But what are these values? They aren’t sharing, they aren’t moving. Self-sufficiency is one. Following the rules, perhaps, supersedes it. Dare I posit, greed is creeping as another. Greed based on an irrational fear that there won’t be enough, that order could collapse, fear of change. This immobilizing fear has led to what I call a “can’t do” attitude, in a society of “Debbie Downers” — Swiss citizens are all too quick and all too pleased to point holes in any new proposal or to see only the cons in any unfamiliar circumstance. To me, certainly, at least retrospectively, these are not the highest of values.

(These attributes are not necessarily unique to the Swiss. At least according to a nondualistic perspective, each of us harbor some of these negative, restrictive tendencies, to varying degrees. This is obvious if one only examines international border laws and the exorbitant visa regulations of every modern country.)

When I speak now of what I call intimate space, I want to distinguish it from mere private space. Intimate space is all about interconnectivity, not individual worldviews. Although individual worldviews will, necessarily, persist, imaginary boundaries, whether personal or more widely enforced, are the rules we make up for allowance of entry, whether to our company or to our countries, and either way I find these borders artificial and restrictive, unsatisfactory. The definitions we adhere to are not healthy. I do not think they are even what any of us really want, nor even often believe. These limitations are merely a collective fear-based reaction.

The important truth, to me, is that there is enough space for everyone. There is enough energy for everyone. We have enough energy and space within ourselves and what Earth provides. We must only think creatively, collectively, and respectfully…! What we really want, I think based on my observations, is connection. We actually want to be connected to each other! But we don’t want to be endangered by each other. How will we rise to this occasion?

We have to look more closely at and think more intently about space, first and foremost, I posit. We have got to come to the realization that the arbitrary lines that divide us are what endanger us the most. Realizing this is a tremendous opportunity to more fully occupy our space, of/with abundance and to take joyful responsibility for the energy that we give and take with others, contributing to the space.

What are the occasions where these challenges and opportunities are coming up? Our world is experiencing an increasing impetus to experiment on terms of space and sharing, prompted by climate change and global migration. Both climate change and migration are powerful examples of the magnetic, possibly cataclysmic attraction between the forces of nature and wills of humanity (the latter of which could also be included as a member of the former category). Both climate change and mass global migration are feared yet probably unavoidable consequences we must face.

I strongly suggest a reconsideration of the nature of our fear — this enclosing fear and insecurity — our innate human sense of precariousness, of separateness. Perhaps our problem is fear itself, as a US president famously conjectured. Perhaps fear of lack and lack of control, fear of other people, fear of ourselves and our desires is what has generated and regenerated the very same global problems with which we now have to deal. If this might be the case, or even part of the situation now, then our job must be to re-conceptualize our relationships, to imagine them differently, to deconstruct them, to construct better models, to re-relate entirely, I recommend, on positive, loving terms. This suggestion forms the support for my ideas for envisioning, finding, and dwelling in intimate space.

The stories we tell ourselves and others in intimate spaces can yield the answers and solutions to the callings of our hearts like magic. This is how we may begin collectively to co-create our “new” world, using all the riches and wisdom and questions and journeys we have gathered until now, weaving the narratives together… or letting them intertwine organically like vines. Then and there we can see what it is we desire, and we can be it simultaneously.

“What is frail falls away; stories that take root become like things, misshapen things with an illogical core, which pass through many hands without wearing out or falling to pieces, remaining in essence the same, adjusting here and there at the edges, nothing more, as families or forests reproduce ever-changing appearances of themselves; the geology of fable.” (Bail, Eucalyptus)

In the process of trying to imagine a new narrative for our world — one which, if it does not encompass everything (an absurd, ambitious task I’m not sure is necessary or wise), will hopefully leave room or space for all of it — I am by no means the first person to attempt this impossibility. I see more and more literary shots taken at the history of the world or human beings everyday it seems. Some great (as in big, not necessarily as in good) examples of authors of “narratives of or for our world” that changed our world (or at least a lot of folks’ perspectives on it) are Plato, Freud, Friedans’ The Feminine Mystique, Kinsey’s sex research, Darwin’s The Origin of Species, Einstein, Harriet Beecher Stowe. Each of these authors of ideas made a whole population, spanning continents and generations, think differently about the world around us. But none is entirely 100% accurate. All narratives have some open corners or ends, and often certain things — other stories, facts, information, historical coincidences, or numerical data — will attach themselves to narratives, whether to support or discredit them.

“The break with the universal is not a radical one. Instead of one universal there are several, on different levels.”
“The true frontier is between constants and variables. The critique of universals can be translated into a question: how is it possible that anything new might come into the world?”
-Manfred Frank and Gilles Deleuze in dialogue, What is a Dispositive?

What I would like to imagine, however, is a story with maximum magnetization power, a story with gravitational pull nearing the Earth’s… so that it would be the Earth’s story, rather than the history of the Earth’s victors. That story would surely satisfy some universal desire and quiet some global “wemonster,” even as the narrative shifts or rocks with each newborn element. How to be maximally inclusive?

When I say I am trying to imagine such a story now I do not mean that I am trying to write this narrative. I do not imagine being the author of a gravitational field! As I imagine what such a story would be or could be or is — including what is currently contributing to it — I inevitably add my own stories to this mass and energy that is ours, every person on Earth’s, collectively. So, this metaphorical buzzing planet of stories within or orbiting planet Earth is not a oneness in the sense of uniformity, but rather a universal infinite flux of variation and deviation on different narrations (in different nations).

11. Intimate Space

“The assumption that life, because it is precarious and endangered, because it is exposed to an existential vulnerability, must be or even could be legally or otherwise entirely protected and secured, is nothing other than a fantasy of omnipotence. Living bodies can never be completely protected, specifically because they are permanently exposed to social and political conditions, under which life remains precarious. The conditions that enable life are, at the same time, exactly those that uphold it as precarious. Only an ontology that takes interdependencies into consideration, and not an “ontology of individualism”, is capable of discerning and recognizing the precariousness of life without defense reflexes.” (Lorey, “Governmental Precarization”)
“Participating in relationships has a feeling of texture to it. There is none of the illusion of security that rigidity feeds. Rather, there is the security and freedom that comes with participating in an ever-changing kaleidoscope of a moving process where one belongs.
“Security does not come from having things ‘nailed down.’ Security comes from knowing that one always has a place in the movement and the changing. . . When we can no longer hide behind a role, we are pushed to present ourselves and then run the risk of real intimacy.
“Intimacy, real intimacy, is always out of control.” -Schaef, “Native Wisdom for White Minds”
“There is no such thing as personal happiness. Happiness is one hundred percent relational. …Our happiness is completely and utterly intertwined with other people: family and friends and neighbors and…people you hardly notice. Happiness is not a noun or verb. It’s a conjunction. Connective tissue.” (cited by Barber, Idealist.org)

With the term “intimate space,” I conjure up conceptions of togetherness. Where I find the beauty that I call intimate space is in the human (woman, man, boy, girl, other, etc.) spirit’s ability to be together potentially but not necessarily unto oneness with other spirits (of human or other nature) while simultaneously remaining spontaneous, conscious, and free. Intimacy + Space. Closeness, fondness, affection, cooperation; innate liberty, boundlessness — what a powerful, luminous, luscious combination! I visualize intimate space as small comfortable corners in our world that open like caves to portholes or black holes of voluminous room (anywhere on the spectrum of dark and light) when accessed. Or like all the life teeming visibly and invisibly within an oak tree.

This morning it began to rain ever so lightly in the forest. I looked up to blue sky pieces between a damp pine tree-scape; another drop of water fell, and I saw that it was raining from the trees. From the ground a mist rose giving a clue to solve this mystery: last night’s low clouds, the pre-dawn fog, now condensed in the sunlight forming raindrops in the treetops, transforming pine needles and branches temporarily into clouds.

Later, on a sunny hillside beneath a loose row of Alizer Blondes, an unseen wind played with scattered brown leaves. This joyful spirit lifted the fallen dead gently from earth in a spiral dance, caused by the collision of warm and cold air.

Both spontaneous moments in natural ecosystems felt surreal to my humble senses, and, both, while not technically microclimates, represent meteorological/ecological examples of what I call intimate space.

If intimate space was a phase of the moon it could be both the waxing and waning half, the first and last quarter moon, the in-between phases of potential.

“I dreamed you were a cosmonaut of the space between our chairs. And I was a cartographer of the tangles in your hair.” -Andrew Bird

The sensation of intimate space is acute, magic. It causes butterflies, like a finger’s print at an origin of skin that sends waves of blissful sensation throughout the body. Intimate space can be life-generating energy! As touch connotes orgasm, and can even become it, so space can equal force, can create change from its very existence.

Intimate space is the feeling of flux and flow, to and fro that is bliss… Like the swingset, the experience is also childlike. The laptop computer has become a doll for grown-ups. Many have other miniatures, smart phones, cell phones, iphones and the like. It doesn’t matter whether these electronics take on anthropomorphic doll form or not: they are fabricated little humans, with, saliently in our internet age, possibilities to connect, share, express. Mine is my constant companion; I cannot stand to be without it, to be caught standing or sitting, alone, doing nothing. Unless I am in a library or near to books, or in a kitchen, where there is always stuff to check…

Domestic space is intimate space, nature is intimate space… Workplaces and schools rarely (or sometimes barely) qualify, I would say, due to the requirement that one is there in the first place. They inherently lack spontaneity of origin, choice, free will…. (unconditional love?) One must go to work or school, so dictates society, nearly everywhere now. But what about the art space or, worse, the gallery? These spaces, as well as theaters, music halls, and all other performance or visual art designated space, I would say, have the potential, yes, for intimate space, but with the caveat that it is difficult for them to achieve, as I perceive it. This is due to their, like workplaces and schools, semi-requisite stance. In the case of the art space, one may not be required to be there, per se, but one almost always feels as if one ought to, whether as practitioner or guest. An artificially imposed inclusion/exclusion factor typical to galleries or artspaces exacerbates this feeling. Bars, restaurants, dance clubs and other venues for entertainment and the participatory side of art experience, on the other hand, are definitely made with aspirations to achieve some kind of intimate space, although mostly for reasons of extracting profit. Museums, I would argue, hover in the balance between art and entertainment space, and therefore frequently obtain what I would call a highly public form of intimate space. (Perhaps this is why I’m so fond of museums.) Transportation stations and airports, for different and much more pragmatic reasons, achieve a similar state, I think.

Satchitananda is a Sanskrit word meaning literally “reality awareness bliss.” Sat = truth, or reality; chit = awareness, or consciousness; and ananda = bliss. Combined, this Satchitananda is a powerful concept, a word often repeated in yoga and Hindu and Buddhist song, mantra, and prayer. Satchitananda says, essentially, that the three entities of truth, consciousness, and bliss are all one and the same entity, and furthermore that Satchitananda comprises, is, everything: Everything we know, everything we cannot understand, everything in the universe, the concepts of god, evolution, and more… Satchitananda, reality/awareness/bliss, means both that heaven is here and now and knowing that heaven is here, now.

But does it? Can reality equal bliss?! Perhaps … but how?

12/3/08 Letter:
“This past Thanksgiving weekend I was verily blessed to go on a Vision Quest in the woods/wilds of Northern California.
“…The vision quest, i must confess, was a lot like a wedding. A marriage and its consummation between myself and the Earth, two previously distant lovers. with an escort, giving me away. … Isn’t this why intimacy is kept private? Or is it why the numinous is mysterious? … I believe that the reason for our/(liberal) reticence about the spiritual (that which is holy and related to life), has its basis in our/(conservative) shyness about sexuality. (And where the two meet — the sexual and spiritual — is: In Love!)
“Yet, the earth is not silent about this/these things! Our very planet speaks loud and clear — and, I kid you not, most audibly in nature through the birds and bees (I mean, all you hear at the top of a mountain is birds cawing, bees [or flies, occasionally] buzzing, and every now and then, the wind [dutifully carrying seeds and pollen for the plants]) — on both the sexual and the spiritual — the latter to my eyes especially visually breathtaking with trees and ferns growing after fires, lush green Mountain peaked vistas, the changing vast and beautiful sky, a lake waiting for more rain, three tall old redwood trees growing from one base (so tall it’s impossible for a human to look at them alone… without tools such as a ladder or helicopter or many others’ shoulders).” (Whitney Sparks)
“That awkward moment when you realize the sound of the nature is the sound of billions of creatures trying to get laid.” The earth is made, created, evolved from sex & mystery, which I like to call spirit.
“… Well this, plus parasites. In fact, one of the foremost theories on why much of life, including humans, reproduces sexually, as opposed to the much faster and more economical asexual reproduction or cloning, has to do with an evolutionary race that tries to avoid parasites/death by parasites — creatures (like “worms” and ticks and diseases) that live by siphoning energy generated by other life forms. Yes, there is a “Dark side”! You knew it had to be true, and this is it/its basis…” (letter by author)

Through awareness — absolutely clear understanding — and total acceptance — without denial — of truth, of reality, of all of what life is (whatever it all is), as we feel, see, know it, we may experience bliss… somehow. We might surrender to the object of our hearts’ desire. Through our instinctual desire for that bliss that we begin to apprehend theoretically, hypothetically, philosophically, in daydreams, or through crude analysis of Sanskrit, it may become our experiential reality.

“Before we condemn this dark side as all evil, consider other manifestations of the dark. …For example, Night. The night is beautiful. Especially with stars! But it is also very dangerous, and death and killing in the natural world frequently (every night of course) occur here/now. Yet, of course life cannot exist without Night and what it brings: sleep, the changing moon and tides, the hunt and food for predators (who are often nocturnal), all of which fuel the life cycle and seasons. Well, parasites too… a bit more difficult to see, but they have and do perpetuate life as it exists, in particular, as I have pointed out, parasites have necessitated SEX! (which also often occurs at night). So sex, as much a part of life and light, the birds, bees, our music and spirituality, comes with deep dark roots, which can’t be denied or ignored.
“And of course there’s death. Death has always been related to spirituality, it is our link to the unknown….
“… We have got to, we must, dig into our souls. And love, there. and forgive. (and forgive especially our parasites)! and grow and communicate (express!)! We must wear our compassion for each other and this earth, knowing the dark side, understanding its place… we must embrace and respect sex, our collective spectrum of sexuality, we must respect and engage the feminine energies, those until recently so shamefully squandered historically… It is imperative (and inevitable) to be in touch with the spiritual, manifested to/through each individual in his or her way. We must find the indigenous, the integrity, within. … that means going dark, going deep and discovering forth roots full of nourishing earth — healthy sexuality and spirituality, that is. I believe this is our human role and I believe it can Change the World and preserve the Earth, at the very same time. This would be, that glorious Transcendence. “ (letter by Whitney Sparks)

Subjectivity is (a) reality! Subjectivity is the invididuo-communal reality of exploring our circumstantial world, internally and externally, until we begin to understand intuitively what is really real and what is illusion… at least to our own senses. Perhaps the key to knowing Satchitananda is growing to see or feel, what life is… Then to accept these truth/s, whatever they are, and even however non-objectively they come about.However unexpected, however personal, however difficult, however humbling, however awesome, complex or simple, beautiful or painful… whatever unusual, whatever universal… whatever flows, let us accept.

Some of us have had the good fortune to feel a kind of Satchitanada at one time or another. Being in love may be the most referenced example. Yes, but what about the rest of the time? The time we spend when we’re not feeling bliss, rapture, or orgasm… what about the times when we’re not in love, romantically, spiritually, politically, or otherwise? The following exercise comes from erudite and popular writer Rob Breszny, creator of the American syndicated column Free Will Astrology.

Notice how you feel as you speak the following: “The strong, independent part of me resisted the embarrassing truth for a long time, but I finally came to accept that I’m someone who craves vast amounts of love. Ever since I surrendered to this need, it doesn’t nag me all the time, as it used to. In fact, it feels comforting, like a source of sweetness that doesn’t go away. I never thought I’d say this, but I’ve come to treasure the feeling of having a voracious yearning to be loved.”

The aim of this thought experiment is to find the rhythm, so to speak, in living, life, or being alive, of love… to experience the bliss of not exactly bliss yet! The satisfaction that is subtlely embodied as a kernel buried within the juicy flesh of desire. To savor the sweetness, and the tartness, whether alternating or simultaneous, of our vital need. To affirm our sense of want or even emptiness as life-giving and creativity-generating, rather than wastefully, foolishly deploring ourselves for what feelings naturally rise up within us. This idea reflects similar ideas expressed by Foucault in his “Introduction to the Non Fascist Life” that reject shame as counterproductive to a truly liberated society.

I recently embarked upon my second vision quest on Uetliberg, here in Zürich (the same mountain that inspired Carl Jung as a child). While my first such expedition into nature, in California, 2009, brought me profound awareness about the contributions of parasites and the relevance of symbiotic life, for example in trees, reflecting this time, I see the significance of insects, communal, multitudinous, yet highly organized creatures. Symbolically, I think my awareness and emphasis is shifting from minute, idiosyncratic, but finite partnerships to broader relationships and communities approaching infinite belonging.

12. Movement

‎”Precariousness is thus by no means individual; it denotes the common existential vulnerability that is shared with others, the condition that connects us with others. At the same time, shared precariousness is also the condition that exposes us to others, that makes every body, every life fundamentally dependent on others. This social interdependence can express itself both as concern and care or as violence.”
— Isabell Lorey, “Governmental Precarization”
“Withdraw allegiance from the old categories of the Negative (law, limit, castration, lack, lacuna), which Western thought has so long held sacred as a form of power and an access to reality. Prefer what is positive and multiple: difference over uniformity, flows over unities, mobile arrangements over systems. Believe that what is productive is not sedentary but nomadic. … It is the connection of desire to reality (and not its retreat into the forms of representation) that possesses revolutionary force.
— Michel Foucault, “Introduction to the Non-Fascist Life”

Movement is that beloved, desired state of massive collective action forward, toward a large and bliss-like or utopian goal. Movement is the process of life, evolution, never static, fully embodied and with organic collective-conscious intent. The collective aspect of Movement can be and is realized in a variety of ways, from deliberate to “coincidental.” Because Movement is so large a concept, aspirationally comprising humanity and its spirit/life entirely, it is imperative to realize that this evolution cannot be achieved through dictatorial means. This would be impossible, approaching as it does, stasis, which is antithetical to Movement. Movement can and has been broken down into more specific goals with group actions toward these, but on a large scale these Movements are really apart of the global Movement of the Earth and its peoples (toward total spiritual freedom, I would say). Movement is the summation of Practices, based upon ideals and goals — the outpouring of the human spirit, in all its variety/varying forms. Movement is unlikely, in its entirety to be derivative of any one Manifesto, yet when realized Movement fulfills the desires and beliefs that come purely from humanity and our expressions on Earth. Movement, as the name suggests, is based in action. Our actions, individually, then collectively, our everyday actions, like Practice and our planned actions like demonstration or manifestacion.

“‘This is a revolution,’ she says. ‘But we are gentle revolutionaries. Everything we do is underpinned by kindness.’” — Mary Clear, quoted in DailyMail, about her hometown of Todmorden, UK’s new practice of planting public food to share freely. (Graff)
‎”In the end,” Wael Nawara says, “things will turn out alright, because the relationship between people and authority … has changed forever. …That self-discovery changes everything.” -from Time Magazine Person of the Year 2011: The Protester (Anderson)

Recipe for a Seven Day Revolution:

To be conducted alone or with others, friends, family, or strangers, according to one’s needs and circumstances.

“As a collective body, we must be prepared to run full out.” (Sen, Colorlines)

Day 1: Healthcare assessment, homeopathy + ayurveda, yoga, chi gong, physical well being, nutrition, local foods education

Day 2: Emotional well being, meditation, co-counseling, massage + acupuncture, touch and reception, exploring spirituality in dialogue (by choice)

Day 3: Relationships, a tool kit: active listening, Family constellations, Tantra teachings, OM massage

Day 4: Work, education, and money: autodidactism, what to do with life/methods of practice, finding meaningful work, alternative education, alternative work schedules/places/situations, “giving back”: how to live community supportive lives in solidarity (as opposed to charity)

Day 5: Lifestyle care: environment, reducing, reusing, recycling, squatting/ecobuilding, travel, permaculture, balance, nature

Day 6: Dealing with Conflict: nonviolent communication, tai chi, capoeira, martial arts and self-defense, protest strategies, legal rights

Day 7: Manifesto! communication and writing, media literacy, community share circle, arts + crafts workshops and exchange

“I think this is what Occupy Wall Street is right now: …It is a space in which people who feel a similar frustration with the world as it is and as it has been are coming together and thinking about ways to recreate it. ”
-Manissa McCleave Maharawal, “So Real It Hurts: Notes on Occupy Wall St.”
‎”The recognition of commonly shared precariousness could then go hand in hand with the recognition of the connection with others and thus with a greater valuing of care and reproduction work. In this way, the connection with others, ineluctable sociality, would become the foundation for the political, rather than an individualized independence that must fend off the negatively connoted dependency of others.”
(Lorey, “Governmental Precarization”)

It is like a dream coming true. And the dream is change — change, uncertainty, liberty (what Kali is all about). With a dream of change, we invite the unknown to come into our lives. Dreams of change are free, are dreams of freedom… And dreams of freedom are far less attached to any specific outcome than we may mistakenly think at first. Imagine space. Lack of limits is space, just as the elimination of definition is freedom…

“Ours is also a laugh of creation and joy, anchored solidly in the present. Our free and equal access to the common, through which we together produce new and greater forms of the common, our liberation from the subordination of identities through monstrous processes of self transformation, our autonomous control of the circuits of the production of social subjectivity, and in general our construction of common practices through which singularities compose the multitude are all limitless cycles of our increasing power and joy. While we are instituting happiness, our laughter is as pure as water.” (Negri/Hardt, Common Wealth)

What we’re talking about when we talk about peace or balance or harmony or revolution (which is movement, which is space) all the time, is a circle. An O of openness — to our pain, to its roots, to its resolution, to growth, to life, to death, to light, to dark. The circle is not merely a form made from the union of common ends, but also a space where everything can pass, come, go, or stay. It is a round of awareness, acceptance, and action simultaneously that exists when we participate consciously in these. The O, the orb, is both vastly empty, clear, open, and yet full and abundant with everything, like — lOve.

13. Sink the Ownership!: Abolish Possession & Reclaim Space

“We are born into this wonderful planet, where resources are abundant and free, yet humans force other humans to pay for the very necessities of life. How does that make sense? Why should we pay for living on a world we all share? Why does one human have the right to financially enslave another in order to further their own lives? Does this make any friggin sense? Think about it.” — Daniel Zeitgeist Rowan

There’s a reason why when you act crazy people say you’re “possessed.” Possession (and ownership, like slavery) is bad, in my Marxist-influenced but not-so-well practiced opinion. Possession is bad because it isn’t real, or really viable: no thing can be owned permanently due to the fact that nothing lasts forever, including relationships between people and objects, animate or inanimate. So, by “bad” I mean that I would advise that it is unwise to invest too much in the idea of property. Yet, this is the basis of capitalistic society! Yes, I am calling for us to abandon it… one objectification at a time.

I don’t use the words “slavery” and abolition” for nothing: the very concept or idea of ownership, I think, has formed the foundation for continued networks of human trafficking and slavery, especially sex slavery. Some say prostitution is the oldest profession, however slavery in human society is at least as old, and the two are not unrelated, now or then. We, as human beings, have got to get it through our heads, bodies, and communities, that people and sex and indeed nothing really is made to exist within the dangerous confines of being privately owned. Ownership or possession is the most acute form of objectification. And at the very least it is past time to say, nay to shout: HUMAN BEINGS ARE NOT OBJECTS !!! No person is an object. As I have tried to demonstrate throughout my work, we are SO much more than that! Let us respect each other, as infinite beings, please. Doing so we will realize the entire Earth as a shared subject.

Taking myself, for example, my most personal, most privatized possessions are not my home. I live in a WG, shared house, with a nurse, a writer, a musician, a garden and three cats, where I spend about less than a third of my time. The other two thirds I live unequally split between the Loch occupied house, a truly dynamic space I call my second home, and my studio at school. ALL of these spaces where I live and work and eat and sleep are communal and shared and perhaps exceptionally creativity generating. I have no furniture or appliances. But the clothes I wear and my computers, expressions of “my style” and guardians of my thoughts/information, I own. I am furthermore willing and happy to begin to think about how to decrease ownership of these items as well. I dearly love my library, perhaps altogether, across two continents my largest real possession, but a large part of this love is my love for sharing books and their information and the potential for such sharing a great collection represents. Many people, especially within families, share clothing or eventually give it away. Much of my wardrobe is second hand. So, my point about abolishing possession is indeed radical, but that does not mean it’s not rational. In fact my idea is a gradual, if at all possible, comfortable shift away from ownership, through a natural realization that we don’t really need it, at least not much. Most of our stuff we can share, at least with people we choose, and I argue, it would be a lot more fun if we did!

I am very interested in exploring the definitions of gift economies as alternatives for our current global economic crises. In the particular and particularly wide case of space, it is my suggestion that people treat (as opposed to use) land as hosts and reconsider the concept of possession as exchange.

A friend optimistically suggested to me, perhaps we are finally moving to a more physical, more authentic appreciation of the real (ours individually, humanity’s, Earth’s) body instead of artificial representations of its needs, e.g. money. I hope so.

Another, divergent example of the significance of space to human experience, from civil law:

“NORTH LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Save Florida Homes Inc. and its owner, Mark Guerette, have found foreclosed homes for several needy families here in Broward County, and his tenants could not be more pleased. Fabian Ferguson, his wife and two children [an African American family] now live in a two-bedroom home they have transformed from damaged and abandoned to full and cozy.
“There is just one problem: Mr. Guerette is not the owner. Yet.
“In a sign of the odd ingenuity that has grown from the real estate collapse, he is banking on an 1869 Florida statute that says the bundle of properties he has seized will be his if the owners do not claim them within seven years.
“A version of the same law was used in the 1850s to claim possession of runaway slaves…” (Cave, NYT)

Is it merely an ironic coincidence that the same law used to hold people of African descent captive as property could be used some 160 years later to grant property to the descendants of these same stolen people? Perhaps not. Could it be “Dark Matter”’s quantum entanglement across space and time? Maybe!

“I hold this to be the highest task of a bond between two people:
that each should stand guard over the solitude of the other.” -Rainer Maria Rilke

A reevaluation of possession may be aptly applied to our relationships with each other as well, especially romantically. The concept of marriage, obviously — according to skyrocketing statistics of the hetereosexual divorce rate, peoples’ evolving views on gay marriage, and revealing evidence of an incredible spectrum of human sexual behavior and desire — is screaming for change. Personally, I cannot yet come to any conclusion about what that one overarching change, or remedy, if there needs to be or is one, could be; but perhaps that’s just the point: there is no conclusion; relationships are inherently and should be treated as flexible, as fondly as possible.

Because I maintain that possession is ultimately unreal (although it can be useful in the most quotidian circumstances, possession however is not necessary for intimacy. Intimacy, nor even privacy, does not depend upon ownership!) I do recommend that we take space, especially intimate space, as we need and find it available, that is unoccupied. Immediately on the heels of taking space, comes collaboration, a necessity (as taking space is) and (likewise) a challenge.

In my opinion, shared by many people I’ve found here, one of the absolute best parts of Zürich tradition are its history and current communities of squatters and occupied spaces. Today, the Binz besetzte Haus on 111 Uetlibergstrasse serves as the most vivid example of this anarchistic tradition.

“Seit Mai 2006 ist das Fabrikareal an der Üetlibergstrasse 111/111a besetzt. Heute wohnen rund 50 Menschen hier. Mehrere hundert Personen nutzen das Areal regelmässig. In den Werkstätten wird täglich gearbeitet, Theatergruppen und Bands proben, Filmprojekte werden realisiert, der Trainingsraum ist ausgelastet. Leute kommen um etwas zu machen und sich mit anderen auszutauschen. Das ist die Binz, sie ist in voller Blüte, bietet vielen Menschen eine Existenz und Raum für die Verwirklichung ihrer Ideen.” -Binzbleibtbinz.ch “C’est Quoi Ce BINZ?”
“Heute, am 16. Juni 2012, erklären wir das seit Frühling 2006 besetzte Areal an der Üetlibergstrasse 111/111a für unabhängig und rufen die AUTONOME ZONE BINZ
aus. Die AUTONOME ZONE BINZ wird durch gemeinschaftliches Leben, leidenschaftliche Aktivität, banal komplizierte Auseinandersetzung, gezielte Desorganisation, kreatives Chaos und akuten Widerstand entfaltet.
Die AUTONOME ZONE BINZ ist weltumspannend horizontal vernetzt mit anderen Gebieten, Gruppierungen und Menschen, die die Unabänderlichkeit der gegebenen Strukturen nicht akzeptieren.
Crime Power statt Prime Tower!
Die Unabhängigkeitserklärung der BINZ ist ein unabdingbar notwendiger Akt radikaler Selbstbestimmung. Das Ziel ist nicht die Isolation, Marginalisierung oder Autarkie, sondern ein souveränes Terrain, das sich jeglichem Zuständigkeitsbereich entzieht.
Die AUTONOME ZONE BINZ existiert und verteidigt sich gegen alle Versuche, sie zu zerstören.” -BINZ/ Familie Schoch declaration June 2012
“Since May 2006, the factory area at the Üetlibergstrasse 111/111a has been occupied. About 50 people live here. Several hundred people use the site regularly. The workshops is worked in daily, theater groups and bands rehearse, film projects are completed, the training room is busy. People come to do something and share with others. This is the Binz, she is in full bloom, offering many people a livelihood and space to realize their ideas.” -Binzbleibtbinz.ch, “C’est Quoi Ce BINZ?” (translation by me/google)
“Today, 16 June 2012, we designate the area occupied since spring 2006 at Üetlibergstrasse 111/111a as independent and called AUTONOMOUS ZONE BINZ
The AUTONOMOUS ZONE BINZ is developed through community life, passionate activity, banal complicated debate, deliberate disorganization, creative chaos and acute resistance. The AUTONOMOUS ZONE BINZ is networked globally, horizontally with other areas, groups, and people who do not accept the inevitability of existing structures .
Crime Power instead of Prime Tower!
The BINZ Declaration of Independence is an indispensable necessary act of radical self-determination. The goal is not isolation, marginalization or self-sufficiency, but a sovereign territory that defies any jurisdiction.
The AUTONOMOUS ZONE BINZ exists and defends itself against any attempts to destroy it.” -BINZ/ Familie Schoch declaration June 2012 (translation by me/google)

The Binz, as it’s called, with its colorful installations from flying merry go rounds to a swimming pool overlooking railroad tracks, with its community of 50–60 inhabitants and hundreds of visitors proves, with just one example that alternative space arrangements and occupation is possible.

Doing this, furthermore, the Binz, and other squats in Zürich and beyond, engender intimate spaces. Added delight comes to play when relishing a delicious home-cooked brunch in a kitchen that towers over a DIY spiral staircase, like one imagines Rapunzel might have built herself to escape her possession. Or when writing poetry in the tiny all windowed front office, once a business double-doorway, of what is now the Loch (“Hole”) besetzte (occupied) Haus. Or piling up on an outdoor bed, a mattress in a public parking lot that suddenly in the sunlight of the newborn spring blooms with a picnic of blankets and bodies and food and happy people enjoying the innocent intimacy of relaxing together. It’s not magic; as Arundhati Roy prophecies, Another world is possible!

Occupying space is not always as radical or complicated as it may sound. Many moments of “intimate space” happen in public spaces, such as in a park or theater, or in other private spaces such as hotels or friends’ homes. We take this type of sharing of space for granted, instead I suggest we acknowledge and expand it. Forests and other natural lands are great places to get to know respectfully that can provide incredible intimacy of space that need not be purchased or owned. Unfortunately we begin to encounter more laws in urban locations; however, streets and subways and libraries, etc. should also remain open areas for connection and communication among people, freely. I consider taking space as an assertion of something already irrevocably true: this space, here on Earth is ours, to share.

14. Wemonsters:

The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.
— Albert Camus
What does it mean when nightmares dream of peace? When shadows wish for light?

Part of my artwork has been inventing “Wemonsters,” a word I made up to describe humanity and anthropomorphize all our fears, insecurities, oppression, suppression, and “depravity” (sometimes quaintly called sins), with a particular focus on women. Similar, but opposite the Madonna figure are Wemonsters.

  • Wemonsters are also multi+plus but are typically categorized as such: fragmented, different, dispersed, heterogeneous, chaos, etc., and not (as a Madonna is often referred to) as one.

I hope that by mythologizing encounters with wemonsters, I will present a step to a new ethical platform (ethos) through which human beings might begin to take responsibility for creating and tending peace, simply by refusing to hunt ourselves any longer…

“Women’s culture, minority culture, the culture of any subaltern group, has always been dismissed as being overemotional” -Lauren Berlant (quoted in Kennedy, ”A Modern-day Sentimental”)

Wemonsters are us — we, women, monsters, society, humanity — us, in all of our worst forms…. Wemonsters represent everything from strong emotions to disease to violence to shame to loss and so much more… from insects to predators to toxic environments; nightmares and dangers; regrets, rejections; unknown human, plant, animal, and fungi, psychological and physical threats, etc.

  • Wemonsters appear to oppose unity

Because Wemonsters are literally based on fear (and human behavior), they have a lot to do with human pain and suffering. According to my belief, we, our human spirits, are entitled to peace, which implies a quiet and stillness. Our human bodies, on the other hand, to my observation, are entitled to movement. Therein we have a union and/or conflict within us… from which root springs our journey and our suffering. How do we enhance and continually manifest the necessary dualities of action and rest? How do we know that neither is more important than the other. In some Eastern philosophies, yoga is the practice of this balance (nonduality). As one moves one’s mind is stilled and calmed. Where the pose, the asana, embodies stillness, the movement is in the breath, pranayama, within. Through inverting our impulses to be action oriented in external body and craving calm in our minds, an awesome harmony is found.

  • Wemonsters devour everything

The reality, however, is that pain cannot always be avoided, and this begs the question how do we deal with it? How can we? I think it is profoundly unwise to deny the reality of suffering and its place in our lives. In fact, the acknowledgement of our personal and collective suffering can greatly clarify the communal the causes of our pain, which can only help lead to the alleviation of the many human problems we continue to face.

RESPECT existence, or EXPECT resistance.

Movement and action allow us to channel the reverberation of suffering… with effort and concentration perhaps sometimes we can transform the negative energy of pain into positive energy, of some kind. The mind is most helpful for this when it is equal to the level of the body, when it is subdued from its ego in a state of clarity that it innately desires. Of course, clarity in pain or suffering is hardly easily obtained! But it is not impossible. One thing that helps is practice and awareness. Practicing awareness aides clarity, which is why and how I came up with wemonsters. Looking at wemonsters could be one form of practicing awareness, somewhat like playing enables children to practice activities they may really perform as adults.

The importance of practice cannot be emphasized enough. With the exercise of the body the mind respects it more and the two are more in tune; with the practice of mindfulness and meditation one is ready to see and use clarity, even in suffering. With practice our movement and peace is actualized — and after practice, then transcendent praxis: these experiences can become even more robustly manifest during crisis.

(This is nicely visualized in a yoga story of the Hindu über-god Vishnu, who, before the dawn of creation, swallowed a cosmic vat full of poison, thus saving the universe by holding the venom suspended in his throat until the substance transformed into truth.)

  • Wemonsters are everything we wish we could eradicate.

Human beings have a natural prejudice against wemonsters — prejudice as defined by psychoanalyst, Elisabeth Young-Bruehl:

“All prejudices are rationalizations of actions. Prejudiced people think that their actions against a target group are right, necessary, normal. But … — there is no “prejudiced personality.” … I argue that there are three basic forms of prejudices. Basically, people want to get rid of the members of a group; manipulate them into being servants; or erase their identities.”‎ (Yale Press)

My idea is that Wemonsters are essentially, mythologically, the monsters that live and hide under grown-ups’ beds. As such they lend themselves easily to being creatures of the dark and darkness. My theoretical and artistic question is how does one shed light on such shadowy forms? I believe the time has come to face our fears, so to speak, to reconcile. Because in our collective denial, repression, and guilt we remain ever at war within ourselves… with ourselves, the parts we refuse to like. I’m not saying we have to like these creatures, just that we must acknowledge their existence and furthermore give them a space… In the end I do not envision a classic fairy tale erradication of the Wemonsters, by any princess, prince, pair, priest, or preistess. No, but perhaps if a space is made, one safe from our attacking judgements, these banes of our existence, our wemonsters, will be content to keep peace with us. This peace I imagine could only be a collective peace, a balance held between the wemonsters and us, so to speak, and therefore there can be no barrier between us other than trust. or love…

”He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he become a monster. And if thou gaze into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.” — Nietzsche

Perhaps love is even possible. We don’t know because we haven’t tried yet, and we don’t know what useful surprises the wemonsters might have to teach us.

15. The Riddle of the Sphinx

“Revolution is not for the faint of heart. It is for monsters. You have to lose who you are to discover what you can become.” (Negri/Hardt, CommonWealth)
“…The positive, productive monsters of liberation, always exceed the domination of modernity and point toward an alternative” (Negri/Hart, CommonWealth)

My multi-part creation “The Riddle of the Sphinx,” based on a narrative I wrote in verse, expressed as an illustrated, published book, a triptych of wall-sized collage paintings, and a couple of videos, is meant to be, above all, an “ART-WORK.” It is not meant to sell, sell, sell; it is not meant to be an academic treatise; it is a work of imagination, contemplation, and creativity. I would say “pure & simple,” but such things never are! Art necessarily contains some aspect of the unknown, some mystery or it wouldn’t be interesting, that which cannot be easily explained but which fascinates… a “je ne sais quoi”! For me, it is important that my work embrace chaos, to a large extent. It is about MULTIPLICITY! Variation, permutations, and their integration into a diverse and constantly fluctuating whole… etc. Yet I am not afraid to trace a path along which a story may travel.

“The Riddle of the Sphinx” is loosely based on Greek mythology of the Sphinx, and more specifically inspired by philosopher Jacques Lacan and 19th century painter Gustave Moreau’s interpretations of this fantastic female creature and the story of the image of a wild cat-bird-woman who asks incredibly difficult to answer questions and poses a violent threat to mankind. Relating to something within her, I reached deep into this iconic “wemonster” to pull out a new, illustrated narrative.

“The Riddle of the Sphinx” is meant to be provocative — and, based on reactions, that I think I have done! I hope also that my work would be read and viewed, ideally experienced and contemplated over time, allowing for more subtle ideas to seep in… the phenomena I reference and play with — such as, hybridity and diversity, psychology, immigration, integration, identity, dualism, revolution and reconciliation…

“The abolition of identity, leaving behind who you are, and constructing a new world without race, gender, class, sexuality, and the other identity coordinates is an extraordinarily violent process, not only because the ruling powers will fight every step of the way but also because it requires us to abandon some of our core identifications and become monsters.” (Negri/Hardt, CommonWealth)

The traditional answer to the riddle of the sphinx — what walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at midday, and three legs at night? — is not just “a man,” it is Oedipus, the seeker, himself. (Who, fascinatingly enough, in his original mythology was so overwhelmed by knowledge of his self, that he would kill his father and rape his mother, learned from an oracle, that it nearly destroyed him). In my reconception, however, in order for her solution to remain open, and inclusive of a subject that is not only “man,” the Sphinx’s question must also be flexible. What could the Sphinx ask? When she asks us what are our true selves… What’s comprises a soul? Perhaps, she tells a riddle inclusive of herself… What is a woman? Ain’t I a woman? … Am I image or anatomy, or something else entirely? What is your truth? What is Love? …etc.

More (real) Riddles of the Sphinx:

The more you have of me, the less you see; what am I?

There are two sisters: one gives birth to the other and she, in turn, gives birth to the first. Who are the two sisters?

When liquid splashes me, none seeps through. When I am moved a lot, liquid I spew. When I am hit, color I change. And in color, I come in quite a range. What I cover is very complex, and I am very easy to flex. What am I?

The following passage is from “The Hysteric’s Discourseby Gérard Wajcman, which discusses Jaques Lacan’s theories of the same and his use of the myth of Oedipus & the Sphinx as a map (in the Deleuzian sense) of the above. Accept for the first instance, I have replaced every mention of “hysteric” to “the Sphinx” to illustrate my meaning.

“… With Lacan, the hysteric is a chimaera, bringing to mind the myth of the sphinx. With the question she poses to man, the sphinx not only institutes a certain relation of speech, but specifically the discursive relation of agent to other. The question is the hysteric herself; she is the barred subject, whose body is marked by unexplainable symptoms. These symptoms define her discourse as a question addressed to the other. Brandishing her suffering, she acts as the sphinx posing a riddle to man. Having acknowledged her question, he raises to the position of master endowed with limitless power: he is the master of knowledge supposed to have the answer capable of silencing her. … The riddle of the subject supposes the other (priest, physician, analyst) capable of resolving it.
“…The [Sphinx] can be said to institute a discourse when we do not cast out her question, a question that runs irrepressibly through history, despite all attempts to set it aside once and for all. What causes this history? If we can answer this question, we will have established the [Sphinx] as agent of discourse. To put it yet in another way: what makes the [Sphinx] so enticing to have induced all that literature about her? …” (Wajcman)

I see in Moreau’s painting of Oedipus and the Sphinx the soft, tiara-framed face of a classic Disney-style princess pleading, albeit a bit aggressively, with her would-be bridegroom to break the curse that renders her more inhuman than her sisters-in-story, Odette and Odessa in Swan Lake and “Ariel,” The Little Mermaid (the Sphinx was cursed not innocently but as a punishment for her smart mouth, you see…). Only he can answer her riddle and destroy her monstrous animal hybrid form (So she thinks). And what is the answer? In my version, the magic words are not fixed but variable! They must only be his words, and not just any words: his truth.

The riddle, or enigma, is a basic speech-form — a minimal enunciation (énonciation) — which compels the one to whom it is addressed to respond in the form of an statement (énoncé). The [Sphinx]’s enunciation is injunctive: “Tell me!”
This mandate to speak is a fundamental aspect of the Demand: only speech is demanded, nothing else. The one who acknowledges this injunction, or mandate to speak, is given the power to satisfy the Demand. This constitutes him as the capital Other. By posing the riddle, the [Sphinx] commands the Other from her position as agent … The demand compels speech, solicits an answer. It requests virtually all of speech, all that can be answered, as if all of language carried the mute question: “Who am I?” Asked by the [Sphinx], this question, essential for her, appears to arise from the structure itself. She identifies with the structure of speech, the synchrony of which is a question-answer…
The [Sphinx] demonstrates that all speech proceeds from the place of the Other. The Other is master, letting the as yet inarticulate subject come into being…
The division of subject and object, an irrevocable effect of language, provides the treacherous ground for [the Sphinx] to perform its manoeuvres.
… When the [Sphinx] takes command by posing her question, the outcome is knowledge, answering as such. Knowledge in turn answers the question “Who am I?” (Wajcman)

The Sphinx, in her inability, in my retelling, to speak without interrogation, has become a generator of knowledge, especially (since otherwise they are killed) of self knowledge. But what is knowledge of the self, if the self is, as I have expressed, an unlimited, moving subject? Such knowledge must inherently, necessarily always be in flux, changing, sensitive to new input and evolving as one subconsciously directs… By asking the questions, the character of the Sphinx provokes constant awareness of this fluctuating deep knowledge. In my story this wisdom gets embodied as a mysterious underground water source that rises up.

“The [Sphinx]’s role regarding knowledge is precisely ambiguous. She solicits knowledge by offering herself as its precious object, compelling man to always generate more. But on the other hand, her solicitation pushes knowledge to its limits, demonstrating that knowledge does not coincide with the truth that it supposedly expresses. Disengaged from the truth, knowledge fails to account for [the absurdly fantastical presence of the Sphinx]. And yet the two aspects are linked: the failure of knowledge incessantly fuels the riddle, and hence the production of knowledge.” (Wajcman)

I interpret that the Sphinx wants to be identified — to receive an answer to the original, Maharishi question — with the addressed. She believes, I believe, that, at least in some sense, she is the same as this “man,” in answer to the Greek riddle, who is himself, by diegesis, a seeker, questing if not questioning, a querrant at her mirrored oracle. The Sphinx is nondualist! Her true knowledge is that of the synthesis between monster and man, magic and mundane, masculine and feminine, the two (or more) participants in a dialogue, the synthesis of others, which is all but impossible for the individual human man to know, without presence for an extended time in a communion of diversity (such as travel).

“As the subject who exhibits … an enigma for knowledge, the [Sphinx] pushes the one to whom she addresses her question to know (pousse-à-savoir): “Look at my body, there you will find the answer to my question.” She offers herself to man as a ravishing enigma, as the object of a knowledge that divides her from herself.” (Wajcman)

The body is very important in my analysis. There is sufficient biological evidence to show that the mind and psychological phenomena are physically present in the real human body. In my story I have chosen to invent different Wemonsters (conceptually described above) to illustrate the innate hybridity of human nature (the knowledge that begs to be identified). My metaphor of the monster — mythologized in “The Riddle of the Sphinx” on a phenotypical plane with distortions of the body and combinations with animal parts — extends to both psychological and, naturally, physical origins of (non-geographic) human diversity.

“… The [Sphinx] embodies the division between subject and object in a particular way. As subject she incites desire; but when this desire moves towards the object that causes it, the [Sphinx] cannot condescend to be this object. She incites man to know what causes his desire, inciting him to acknowledge her as the inaccessible object of his desire.” (Wajcman)

Self-knowledge — the awareness of one’s own desires, and their complex natures — is essential, I believe, to the creativity required to imagine a better future on Earth. Self-knowledge is knowledge of what one has to offer the world, naturally, organically, from within, willingly, and even joyfully. True self-knowledge includes knowledge of otherness, born of communal experience (and acceptance).

“The Riddle of the Sphinx” asks about this disjunction, the tantalizing gap between what we observe and what all we can understand (or not yet) about what we observe. The question and disjunction that circle about Truth. What is it? Can we see it? Can we name it? My inquiry into this indefinable space amounts to a metaphorical probing around the human roots of science and spirituality. How we choose to perceive each other and so to act — as well as how we narrate — I opine, determines everything in this world — even “ultimate” revelations of “Truth.”

The story I tell is one of privilege and rejection, shame, resentment, anger, violence, sadness, loss, destruction; this negativity is a part of our world and certainly a part of life. Therefore, even what we don’t want has some place. Where exactly do these undesirable “wemonsters” of Earth belong? And that I envision is my challenge as an author. How to tell a story that tells it all — the all of us — of all of us!?

This is also a story of mystery and the unknown; of hope, of friendship, of family, of love, of community; of animosity, offence and defense; of learning, knowledge, and wisdom; of reunion, redemption, resurrection and utopia and joy; endings and beginnings; a story (I hope) of liberation.

“The Riddle of the Sphinx” is a story of how we all become monsters, what are our triggers and what are our symptoms. This is a story of how we all become human, what soothes and reminds us we belong. This is a story of our ability to act supernaturally, of how monstrous energy transformed becomes passion and compassion, revealing the powerful desire in us all (that is love). This is a story of how and where and when we most fully embody our limitless spirits.

16. Implications: Anarchy, Organization, and Collaboration

“We are prisoners of a blood-stained, tear-soaked hope. This means we are free to imagine and create a more deeply democratic world than we have yet witnessed in history.” -Cornel West
“Wizard of Oz: As for you, my galvanized friend, you want a heart. You don’t know how lucky you are not to have one. Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable.
“Tin Woodsman: But I still want one.” (Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of OZ)

With intimate space, creative narratives, and indeed everything I attempt to talk about in this essay, the process of “progress” is as relevant and perhaps even more so than any projected “outcome.” (Because there is no outcome. It’s life, it’s the earth… it just keeps going. or not).

As we recognize/remember/reconsider (from the latin con sidere, “with the stars’…) the universe, and through its study learn more about our own elemental natures, this could be the conscious inspiration to activate our human circadian adaptive radiation or other innate capacity for exponentially increased evolution… to life at a higher free-quency! The utopian concepts (for which I’m inclined to find some spiritual basis, whether previously articulated or not) of what a higher form of life is, however, remain to be discovered and decided by the people of the world, as more and more of us find our circumstantial and integral reasons to rise up to reclaim socio-political and eco-logical power.

I think we need to start thinking a fresh, redraw the lines — but before I say make a new grid, no, first we must erase all the old boundaries! This is critical.

Instead of pretending to know, let us listen. Instead of making assholes of ourselves, let’s stop making assumptions.

“With our concept making apparatus called “mind” we look at reality through the ideas-about-reality which our cultures give us. The ideas-about- reality are mistakenly labeled “reality” and unenlightened people are forever perplexed by the fact that other people, especially other cultures, see “reality” differently. It is only the ideas-about-reality which differ. Real (capital-T True) reality is a level deeper tha[n] is the level of concept.
We look at the world through windows on which have been drawn grids (concepts). Different philosophies use different grids. A culture is a group of people with rather similar grids. Through a window we view chaos, and relate it to the points on our grid, and thereby understand it. The ORDER is in the GRID. …
Western philosophy is traditionally concerned with contrasting one grid with another grid, and amending grids in hopes of finding a perfect one that will account for all reality and will, hence, (say unenlightened westerners) be True. This is illusory; it is what we Erisians call the ANERISTIC ILLUSION. Some grids can be more useful than others, some more beautiful than others, some more pleasant than others, etc., but none can be more True than any other.
DISORDER is simply unrelated information viewed through some particular grid. But, like “relation”, no-relation is a concept. Male, like female, is an idea about sex. To say that male-ness is “absence of female-ness”, or vice versa, is a matter of definition and metaphysically arbitrary. The artificial concept of no-relation is the ERISTIC PRINCIPLE.
The belief that “order is true” and disorder is false or somehow wrong, is the Aneristic Illusion. To say the same of disorder, is the ERISTIC ILLUSION.
The point is that (little-t) truth is a matter of definition relative to the grid one is using at the moment, and that (capital-T) Truth, metaphysical reality, is irrelevant to grids entirely. Pick a grid, and through it some chaos appears ordered and some appears disordered. Pick another grid, and the same chaos will appear differently ordered and disordered.
Reality is the original Rorschach.” (Principia Discordia)

Erasing the lines is taking the space. And of course where lines are definitions and limits, space = freedom! and infinitely so!

“Withdraw allegiance from the old categories of the Negative (law, limit, castration, lack, lacuna), which Western thought has so long held sacred as a form of power and an access to reality. Prefer what is positive and multiple: difference over uniformity, flows over unities, mobile arrangements over systems. Believe that what is productive is not sedentary but nomadic. … It is the connection of desire to reality (and not its retreat into the forms of representation) that possesses revolutionary force.
— Michel Foucault, “Introduction to the Non-Fascist Life”

I’d like to start a global movement for the abolition of all borders. I oppose the concept of nations. By erasing these lines, so all Earth’s people shall be free! Free to move as we always have… without visas or residencies or invasive security checks …and most importantly, without prejudice!!!

“As long as we continue to live as if we are what we do, what we have, and what other people think about us, we will remain filled with judgments, opinions, evaluations, and condemnations. We will remain addicted to the need to put people and things in their “right” place. To the degree that we embrace the truth that our identity is not rooted in our success, power, or popularity, but in God’s infinite love, to that degree can we let go of our need to judge.” — Henri Nouwen

Yes, I am talking about anarchy with dignity and integrity! (No, I am not talking about g-o-d “God.” Don’t get distracted; it’s always a metaphor…) But the reason why anarchy scares so many people as a concept is because we think of it as a result, some outcome of revolution, instead of as a means or process, which is what true anarchy is and always will be. Considered as an outcome anarchy is equated with chaos, which is inaccurate. Anarchy, contrary to popular belief, is not lack of organization nor lack of discipline. In fact I believe in anarchy precisely because I believe that the best discipline is internal, integral discipline as opposed to externally imposed versions, AKA prisons. As a process, integral discipline is a beautiful movement. Like Lacan’s ethics or Foucault’s “Care of the Self,” these are the actions of observation and reflection through which we (and/or some other “higher” spirit and/or a collective consciousness) guide ourselves (toward the objectives of our deep desires), in which we both teach and learn to be our true selves. Our “best” selves: our kind and compassionate selves as well as our passionate and untamed selves, simultaneously realized… in the milieu of everybody else doing the same/different things.

“Both order and disorder are man made concepts and are artificial divisions of PURE CHAOS, which is a level deeper tha[n] is the level of distinction making.” (Principia Discordia)

The foundation for working together and collaboration is nonjudgement. From this all-important basis of nonjudgement (which, I would argue, is even more serious than nonviolence!), we can build through sharing space. Collaboration makes more space! And this shared space, you know what I’d call it? Intimate space! Intimate space is the inescapable space of togetherness, shared peacefully, spontaneously, freely, abundantly in love with others.

My universalist anarchist plan is this then:

1. Erasing the lines, taking space (back from institutions, patriarchy, hegemony, hierarchy, history, capitalism, oligarchy, plutocracy, institutional racism, misogyny, the prison industrial complex, homophobia, xenophobia, etc.)

2. Nonjudgement, making space (for everyone to come out from our shadows. without attacking those shadows when they come out, too… but making a safe space for and from them), sharing narratives

3. Collaboration, sharing space, building, making, even drawing new lines or shapes if we wish. Everyone being creative in our awareness of unlimited space

‘We have it in our power to begin the world over again.’ (Paine, Common Sense)

Organization = power. Reorganization = empowerment! Presentation is a form of organization. Narrative is a form of organization. Choreography is organization. … So, Let’s get creative!

17. Advancing in Another Direction

We are not retreating; we are advancing in another direction.
“An act of thought is an act of art.” -Eva Partum

The Reorganization of Information = The Empowerment of Art

Everything explored in my artwork, which has multiplicitous amalgamation at its axis, this paper, and how I try to live my life, which, incidentally, has been nomadic since the day I was born, and, to an unknowable extent, what I have become, is a synthesis of what I have discovered (to be true, to me). I feel inspired to play with the idea of nonduality and experiment with narration, installation, occupation, movement, assemblage, and anarchy as means to find and dwell within (and without in) an intimate space that approaches peace within inevitable precarity, where anyone might feel comfortable or ready to join. I have landed on these ideas because what I perceive is that human beings need to be free, are born free. We are each equal to each other and our rights to live as we choose without intentional harm caused or suffered can and should be protected to the best of our ability. We have to be able to move and explore and change as free and autonomous beings; we have the rights to find what we need. And we need to commune (urgently, intimately).

We — I reach out to energetic people, people who work in many fields on all fronts, many different fronts at a time (whether or not they are “multitasking” in a literal/physical sense), people with artists’ souls — not in the cliched sense of tortured, but rather in a collective and/or spiritual sense, people who have felt a calling, people who live solitude in the Foucaultian sense of “being one among many” — will give birth to new visual culture, not art nor media in their exhausted, corrupted traditions, but constructed and deconstructed art/works (or crafts, or Kraft) in various media, dynamically designed and creatively interacted to produce, present, perform, or provoke a reorganized society. Whether our work remains exclusively bound by the visual remains to be seen, or heard, or otherwise experienced. I hope (and trust) it will be as unlimited as possible.

I do not pretend that what we’re doing is altogether new; this is an experiment in anarchistic creative collaboration, informed and inspired by exemplary movements as diverse as Dada, which began as a community of art and anti war practitioners in Zürich or the collective of cultural revolutionaries known as the Harlem Renaissance in the United States (both of which burst at the seams of history circa 100 years ago); but perhaps what we will do — what we create — will be new. That is my initiative inspiration. Or that is another inspiration if not the first; the lure of the new, the allure of newness, birth are a part of the calling that I feel for my generation, yet I do not believe that this sensation or this vocation — you may call it art or crafts or Kraftä — is new, either. But it does not matter.

Subjectively stated, a good artist both trusts and unlimits herself. Not financially defined, I would distinguish “successful” from “good” by saying that a successful artist is furthermore able to share her artwork with a lot of people. A successful artist has a broad (and diverse!!!!) community. A successful artist, by my standards, approaches nonduality, through her intense subjectivity…

One of the reasons I chose to state explicitly “visual” culture is because it pertains primarily to space so recognizably, and because I believe space, to paraphrase Foucault yet again, is the most important element of our era. And that may be as opposed to time. Time, Einstein has already proven to us, is relative. If time is relative it follows that everything based fundamentally on time is also relative. History — the understanding, field of knowledge, or (I might even say) agreement upon which the order or organization of events — what came before or after, what was first or last or in between, what is new or not (and why, based upon this temporal reasoning) — is thusly relative. This is just one example of exactly the type of reorganization of information that I’m talking about and want to pursue. It will take both space and new (or different) agreements about time to accomplish this on a relevant scale.

This reclamation of space and the reorganization of sense I hope will inspire a broader awareness, knowledge, respect, and compassion for coexistence with a greater and greater diversity of acceptable notions and options for what anyone considers or creates as real. This is a crucial study for what I see as our most critical challenge as human beings on Earth now : to get along!

“I don’t think a shift is needed for freedom to be conceived as an ethos; it is immediately problematized as an ethos. But extensive work by the self on the self is required for this practice of freedom to take shape in an ethos that is good, beautiful, honorable, estimable, memorable, and exemplary.” (Foucault, Ethics)

Ultimately, I believe neither art nor sexuality nor spirituality nor race nor society nor life itself should be hierarchical. They are matters of choices that we make, consciously or unconsciously, as societies and individuals with identities, in how we engage with others. I don’t think sexism/misogyny or sexual exploitation or racism/xenophobia in the art world or ultimately in the real world is insurmountable. Each is a question- or better yet, a demand- of awareness, choice, and compassion, and also a matter of creativity. How to subvert these systems? … Use imagination for justice! In order to get along we need to be free, to feel free, and to want others, everyone, to be just as liberated. Then, I believe, we will know love.

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