The Technologically Passive Home
…for the physically and mentally active
…for the emotionally dissatisfied
…for anyone experiencing spiritual unrest
Let’s just quick state that what now, in the 21st century seems like a nearly unattainable home environment, the technologically passive home, for the longest time in human history was the norm or even the only possible kind of home, that no one even fathomed to ever challenge, until…
Until the clockwork entered the door in one form or another: be it a tick-tock-only countertop version, a wall-mounted cuckoo or a freestanding piece of furniture of its own grandfather clock.
Arguably, timepieces were the first mechanical structures way too intricate for an ordinary citizen to craft, that were introduced into the quiet sanctuary of the home as such. The first ever contraption to necessitate at least one, but likely several specialists to acquire, install and service/repair, in order to fully enjoy the mechanism’s perceived benefits in the home interior.
Although spinning wheels and looms are among the more sophisticated tools to bring inside and use indoors, notably — but not exclusively — by women, and they certainly predated any home clocks, these features of the house did not exceed the creative prowess of folk ingenuity in most walks of the rural world, so the population with less pretentious specialized set of skills.
So, along came timekeeping (we invented it into our lives, one impetuous way after the other) and thereby drove a cruel wedge between us and our peace. Our calm, all of a sudden was measured, had a warranty on it and every tick or tock ruthlessly reminded us to some — however distant, but definite — end or countless ends of all kind. But this turned-into-obsession time dependency of most human societies is not my main interest to discuss here.
I merely wished to point out that the almost sacred, thoughtful, emotionally charged, sensuous and patient human microcosm, where they had always been able to create and recreate, people voluntarily chose to end these idyllic times inherited from incredibly large temporal distances, by placing a looped timeline in front of their faces, the very source of anxiety, impatience, self-disturbance, sense of helplessness and hopelessness in this earthly life.
But this was just the beginning. The humble, or not so humble, beginning that practically every later acquisition of newer and newer pieces of technology has had to measure up to, further congesting, crowding and thinning calm around the clock dial.
What dial?! Display!
With the “efficiency above all” mantra, where anything put before efficiency makes that thing much more marketable and desirable, we went from mechanical to purely electronic, later to digital and now to wireless technological marvels embellishing a typical contemporary home that wishes to keep up with last-minute advancements on all fronts.
Homes often lack a certain charm these days, that furniture, textiles with texture and other handmade features lent to them in the past, now borrowing all their ephemeral (sex)appeal from branded sleekness, smoothness, sharpness and the accompanying sterility.
So, what I propose, is to create the antidote to such soulless homes reflective of no one’s personality, just a well-defined point in linear time on the many (hopefully harmonized) flashing displays.
You could deconstruct artfully too, it’s been done before. Using this route, you unhook, gradually, from all these motor- and battery-operated conveniences that have inconvenienced you all along, not even fully realizing what damages your physical and psychological health have suffered from them.
Why and where to (re)turn with this?
Well, to that animal species we biologically have evolved to be, before cultural-epigenetic mutations had happened to us — of course. To a pure state characterized by robust corporeal health, balanced, non-volatile psyche and intuitive actions — all set in a contemporary context.
Because — and I’m waiting impatiently for universal art to come to this realization — contemporary can, in fact, be so organically undulating, textured, luminous, fragrant, quiet, wildly sensuous yet gentle all along, that practically nothing prevents human society (modernity at that!) and wilderness to mingle symbiotically.
In the case of the home, the technologically passive home, we choose backtracking as the more practical — but likely the harder way to achieve symbiosis. Go through the household systematically and first neutralize the most sensitive and/or easy-to-tackle spaces, namely bedroom(s), children’s room(s), bathroom(s) and hallway(s), leaving the living room, kitchen/dining area for the next, more labor-intensive purification stages, that take more planning and organizing.
In the kitchen replace your gas stove with one that burns some kind of non-coal, solid organic matter efficiently, without the need of any buttons and levers, no automation, then cancel your contract with the natural gas supplier and remove the piping. Similarly, you would peel away your induction stove, electric oven and enjoy a nice cast iron, soapstone or cob oven. The same goes for heating: feel the utmost connectedness to your immediate surroundings, as well as to the present and future, in other words to spacetime, by befriending planning and planting. Let a woodland be your buffer, not a tank.
Donate the refrigerator-freezer block to an institution of your choice.
Get rid of your televisions and radios (unfortunately I have to pluralize here) — relevant-to-you news will find their way home and the rest is just white noise anyhow.
When it comes to music, try to have a good feel for how much music one really needs in the everyday environment. This includes everything from meditative “music” to music radio stations on car stereos. Our fellow villagers’ habit, for instance, is to listen to folk music on an authentic FM for as long as they sit in their vehicle driving. Before sound recording this would have obviously meant drumming up a band, singer and all, and packing them in the back seat for the ride. Even so, they would have demanded a break every now and then. Availability of a service, my point being, is not in fact a justification for the need of it.
Peeling our ears, will soon notice how incredibly rich and satisfying nature’s soundscape is, even if the majority of sound threads may not be considered music, per se. Then there are all the acoustic instruments you, or anyone in the family can pick up and intuit into it, without much (if any) previous skill. I had a jaw harp before, our daughter owns a harmonica and a flute, switching off between them seamlessly, as her mood strikes. She doesn’t read music, but is a great improvising musician who’s not afraid of a piano either, to all our joy — and hers.
Leave the internet, computer and phone for a minute, we have quite a bit more to purge.
Any electronic gadget: away with it. Electronic tools: find the mechanical hand tool equivalent or their closest proxy it likely derived from in the first place, and learn your skill at a deeper, more artful level. Freemasons first did it by hand.
Smoke detector, any alarm system, surveillance camera network — forget them. Build your home, build your life and social web with the same kind of love and intuitive wisdom, furthermore learn to trust.
Okay, by now your house’s electric wiring should have freed up a lot. Here you don’t need to charge anything anymore. You are down to the lights. Twist and donate. Your eyes, general health, the ability to rejuvenate are far more important than staying up few more hours into the night when you should be resting.
Rise and retire with the sun, live by the moon and light the occasional beeswax candle.
In a technologically passive home we don’t try to find excuses why electric lights of any sort are so indispensable in life, when they are really not. Modify your windows so that they let the most reasonable amount of natural light into the interiors depending on the spaces’ function. Never have a restroom/bathroom without a large enough window one could even shave by if that is a concern. Being bearded, it is none of mine, but hey: we may have guests every now and then.
Given that we have no consumption in the house, we can call the experts and have them professionally remove and recycle all the switches, outlets and wiring, straight to the main switchboard on the street. Then take that switchboard away too, as long as it’s not shared. If you are off-grid, it’s that much simpler, only leave one single line going to a designated internet hub of yours, preferably detached from the living quarters of your home and at decent distance from that.
In what way you supply this specialized technology hub with electricity and its consuming devices, I leave up to your conscience, but may I suggest to apply eco modesty. Consider having just one landline phone for the entire household, the strictly necessary computing set-up with the shortest wiring, those wires run in Faraday-cage and no artificial lighting.
By the way, sharing is awesome this way too: if you can couple up with some of your kindred neighbors, you can pack so much more efficiency (the good kind) into multiple technologically passive homes.
In a better-yet scenario, that you are land owner and able to newly carve out that sacred space you call home, why not make it a technologically passive home from onset?
Don’t install a wasteful and unhealthy infrastructure you decidedly don’t wish to be paying for in the first place.
Build solid walls, unpenetrated by frivolous technological temptations and untouched by the ever elusive harm the same technology emanates, at least on your side, this way assuring an admirable, timeless integrity for generations and generations of respectful residents to enjoy.
A technologically passive home is where it all sets in locomotion again. Clogged channels get unplugged and matter flows — free flow on all levels: the body will be encouraged to move more, the creative imagination will be aroused, skills will grow in number and profoundness, life itself will brim with strong purpose. Relationships will shape up to fit your refound self-selves: what doesn’t belong, will fall freely too (let go), while the relevant will gain dimension and meaning, like it should. Why? Because…
You just found your way back to nature, the original and forever ultimate source of inspiration. Take it away! Congratulations!