by Maja Kuzmanovic & Nik Gaffney (adapted from the closing keynote of Anticipation 2017)
In anticipation of things already present.
Noticing. A multiplicity of futures becoming apparent in layered moments. A tangled string of beginnings and endings stretched across gradients. Inception and subsiding. A dynamic space of operation, where anticipation and action co-exist in improvised flows. Iterative cycles. Simultaneously witnessing, responding to and creating changes. Skirting of the adjacent possible. Anticipation as a framing of intent. An invocation. Anticipation complemented by attunement, by sensing liminal resonances and synchronicity. From anticipation as an instrument for effective decision making, to anticipation as a metamorphic craft of selection, uncovering, re-connecting and re-animating things that are already present. Anticipation without representation, made apparent through attention, activated in experience. Experience as a creative, world-growing force. Experiential time subsumed into an atemporal web of shifting relationships. Human, larger than human, beyond human. Slipping past explanation and comprehension. Striving towards systemic empathy, from communication to communing. Facing uncertainty. Inhabiting, exploring, experimenting. The world becomes malleable, things can become otherwise. A hex for transforming transformation. ∆[∆].
You are beginning to read a text that is almost, but not quite, a transcription of a talk.
You might be anticipating a few words, paragraphs, perhaps some images… A narrative arc, maybe a conclusion relevant to something you are doing at the moment…
What does this sense of anticipation feel like? What does it feel like in your body? Perhaps a sense of restlessness, a fluttering, a need to scroll down the page, or to close the tab… Do you need to shuffle, is your hand twitching towards your phone… Or are you quite satisfied just reading on, not anticipating anything at all?
What scenarios arise in your mind? What would you write about anticipation if you were in our place?
A multiplicity of futures unfolding as layered moments
There are countless possible futures appearing and disappearing every second. Most of these futures are deeply rooted in your past experiences. As futurists are often quick to remind us, to understand futures, we need to look carefully into the past…
When were you born? You can probably recite a date or perhaps the exact moment of your birth. A time that someone decided to record. Was it your first breath? Your first cry? The moment when the umbilical cord was cut? In some cultures, the moment your life truly begins can be months after you emerge from your mother’s body. In others, your astrological sign is calculated from conception.
Were you aware of anyone flipping a switch, from not-being to being you? Or was it more an experience of gradual becoming? What if we looked at the beginning of your life less as a specific instant and more a process of inception? A hesitant process of contractions and relaxations. A kind of pulsing and wiggling, rather than a clearly demarcated beginning.
Moving on a bit, in the time since your birth, have you ever experienced anything with a razor sharp beginning or ending? Or are most of your experiences trailing off into the past or future? An unexpected sensation before the experience occurs… a premonition or anticipation? After an intense experience, there might be aftershocks of adrenaline. A sweet scent of a pleasant memory, or the bitter aftertaste of remorse?
Isn’t everything, always, in the process of inception and subsiding? Some futures are already here, but unevenly distributed. Some futures are already past. Or perhaps the future doesn’t exist at all, and all we have is this moment…
And this one. And this one. And the next…
Are you still here?
Can you grasp this moment, the whole moment?
In meditative practices, the moment can be measured with breath. A moment of in-breath, of out-breath. Watch your own breath for a few moments…. Now try to sense the different rhythms of inhalation and exhalation that exist around you. Beginnings and endings of each breath, intertwined to form this moment. Yet the moment doesn’t stop here. It extends, infinitely, indeterminately in all directions. This moment… and this one, even though they’re relatively still, they form a string of layered moments we perceive as the turbulent times of the present. The present moment, a dynamic space of operation, where anticipation and action co-exist in improvised flows.
In the present moment, Donna Haraway reminds us, “Our task is to make trouble, to stir up potent response to devastating events, as well as to settle troubled waters and rebuild quiet places. In urgent times, many of us are tempted to address trouble in terms of making an imagined future safe, of stopping something from happening that looms in the future. Addressing trouble might mean clearing away the present and the past in order to make futures for coming generations. Staying with the trouble does not require such a relationship to times called the future. In fact, staying with the trouble requires learning to be truly present.”
Simultaneously witnessing, responding to and creating change
What does it mean to be truly present in a messy, unfinished, uncomfortable situation? For some it means finding ways to adapt to whatever happens, to be resilient. Resilient people bravely weather the storm, then return to a previous, balanced state of being. For others being present means identifying problems, bursting into action to find elegant solutions.
Yet many of our current problems are deeply complex. Problems so easy to state, yet difficult to engage with. Often considered “wicked problems”, they have high stakes, with no obvious — let alone elegant — solution. It sounds exhausting to spend every moment trying to fix problems, that will just shape-shift into a different kind of monster…
Are there other ways of being present and “staying with the trouble”? In his book 2312, Kim Stanley Robinson suggests a “pseudoiterative” mode of being. In a pseudoiterative, “one performs the ritual of the day attentive to both the joy of the familiar and the shiver of the accidental.” We might consider this mode of being in the present as “intense interaction between creativity and receptivity”, or describe it in terms of “action research cycles”, or Rosen’s Anticipatory Systems. Or — as Tim Morton says — we’re not looking for a “compromise position between activity and passivity, but a whole new dimension that we might call wiggle room.”
Improvisation provides a good example of an experience that is both active and passive, creative and receptive, spontaneous and strategic.
What is the role of improvisation in anticipation studies? Can improvisation help us experience possible futures in the present at human scale? As rehearsals for futures that may come to pass, or as enactments of the possible. Does improvisation help us move from discussion and representations toward embodied situations? How do we transform speculative scenarios from stories to experiences? In Rosen’s terms, how do we consider a modelling relation for a set of situations?
At FoAM, we have been exploring various ways to create examples of possible futures at a higher (or wider) resolution than words or images. We began designing situational or experiential models that we call prehearsals and pre-enactments.
After uncovering key unresolved questions that an individual, collective or an organisation is struggling with, we sketch-out a set of concrete scenarios then prototype them as experimental situations. The prototype includes a backstory, a set of rules, a location and a time-frame. The characters and events emerge from the interactions between the people involved.
The participants use their whole being to explore what it might feel like to be themselves in a speculative situation that could occur in their own lives. They are invited to imagine who they would become and what their life would be like in the pre-enacted future and to act accordingly. As they experience a possible future together, they gain insight about themselves and about their relationships with others. This embodied experience helps to surface existing strengths and weaknesses — of the speculative situation and of the participants themselves.
We found that such situational modelling provides rich insights on both an individual and collective level. The participants can use these insights to adapt or refine their anticipatory models.
In a prehearsal the model of a possible future can be inhabited, explored and shaped, through observation and improvised engagement. In prehearsals the model becomes internalised, then dissolved and challenged through actions, reactions and interactions. As in play and games, improvisation becomes a tool for both getting to know the world and shaping it. Knowing that the prehearsal is essentially an embodied model, the participants can use their capacity for anticipation and speculation to stretch what is present to what might be possible. As in any good improvisation, individuals’ anticipation and action create the flow of the situation as a whole. Other people’s actions become signals for others to reach toward, like attractors for improvising with. Simultaneously witnessing, responding to and creating changes, in iterative cycles. In a prehearsal, like in anticipatory systems the participants are continuously “updating the models from lessons learned.”
“A model is a work object” Suggests Donna Harraway “A model is worked, and it does work. A model is like a miniature cosmos, in which a biologically curious Alice in Wonderland can have tea with the Red Queen and ask how this world works”
So, how do we “have tea with the Red Queen”?
We may not have a chance to prepare for this tea party. Likewise, one of the defining features of ‘wicked problems’ such as the sixth mass exctinction, is that they are not susceptible to iterative trial-and-error. They cannot be reduced to a simple model. So, why then persist with prehearsals and stochastic-tinkering?
When prehearsals, or other forms of experiential futures, are practiced regularly, we are training our anticipatory reflexes. As with meditation or martial arts, we become more intimately aware of our specific responses to changing circumstances, no matter what these circumstances might be. The wider the variety of futures we prehearse, the more we can learn about our behaviour in unpredictable situations. Through practice, we can develop aptitudes that help us engage with complex problems. We are prepared to “stay with the trouble”, whatever the actual trouble happens to be.
Imagine wanting to improve your map reading and map making skills. You’ll likely train by looking at many different maps or by making some simple maps yourself. It doesn’t matter what maps you’re reading. It also doesn’t matter if the map exactly corresponds to the territory. The practice of reading the maps over and over again is what is needed for becoming a skilled map reader or map maker.
The more we train our anticipatory skills, the more we can prepare for and navigate a wide range of futures and wicked problems.
Skirting the adjacent possible
Prehearsals provide one approach to finding some ‘wiggle room’ in a present occupied by complexity and wicked problems. Let’s look at what happens once we create this wiggle room. The present may become slightly unstuck, but not enough for you to leap into action. Instead you can try to ‘wiggle your way out’ of a problem.
Wiggling combines the alert passivity of keen observation with patient, experimental action. Like when a predator becomes quite still before pouncing, or walking across a frozen lake. You become aware of the existence of possibilities just out of reach. Slippery and exciting like soap bubbles. Wait for too long and they’ll disappear, try to grasp them too forcefully and they’ll burst.
What if we would engage with the world as if it were made of soap bubbles? What if there’s no way to be certain of one’s decisions, if confident action becomes impossible? Or as Anna Tsing says, “What if (…) precarity is the condition of our time — or, to put it another way, what if our time is ripe for sensing precarity? What if precarity, indeterminacy, and what we imagine as trivial are the center of [what] we seek?”
Let me give you an example of working with precarity as a source of creativity.
For several years we hosted “transiencies” at FoAM bxl, a residency programme for people or organisations undergoing major transitions. Most of the ‘transients’ were in precarious positions, usually following a destabilisation of their status quo — an illness, burn-out, consequences of political upheavals, or difficult economic conditions.
While the transients were still trying to grapple with loss, or traumatic change, their surroundings demanded to know “what’s next”. Being part of FoAM’s programme provided them with a degree of legitimacy. A transiency allowed them to consciously inhabit the time of their transition, without exactly knowing where they might end up.
Similarly to rites of passage, the uncertain time of a transition has a long liminal phase. In a liminal phase, a person is separated from the certainty of the past and can’t yet decide what might be the best way forward. In a society driven by solutionism, this phase tends to be short or often overlooked.
Yet it is in the liminal state that the transients tend to find their most profound answers. In this phase they are free to experiment with their true aspirations. While experiencing the precarity of the liminal state, the transients came up with their most creative, disruptive and meaningful answers. For example, one of the transients began her journey as an artistic director. She came out of it as a guide of rituals for unacknowledged loss.
The most important thing we needed to do was hold the space open for transition. We provided a context in which it was OK not to know what’s next. Instead, we encouraged people to try things out, to come up with propositions and hypotheses, then test them out in their own life. They began on a small scale, with short time-spans, then gradually expanded in scope. We guided the transients through the process that we like to describe as “skirting the adjacent possible.”
When you’re not sure what the future might hold, shift attention to noticing what is already present. Watch for different possibilities to experiment with. Reclaim, reframe, synthesise and connect rather than isolate, reduce, fix and dissect. Dissolve rather than solve.
Consciously inhabiting a life transition is a form of training for living with uncertainty and wicked problems. It gives you permission to experiment, to frame your purpose as a hypothesis, as a starting point, not an endpoint. “In our accelerated world,” says Beth Comstock “We’re best served by taking stock of our assumptions and transforming as many as possible into hypotheses. (…) Thinking this way takes the pressure off, because we don’t feel like we have to know something that isn’t yet knowable. We’re free to let the future be the future.”
Approaching everything you do, including who you are, as a series of experiments opens up space for agency, for surprise; for being wrong and learning from mistakes, no matter how unpredictable and murky the situation might be.
Anticipation, framing of intent, an invocation
What is the role of anticipation in such an experimental approach to life? Anticipation contributes to framing of intent. Why is intent important?
Well, once you’ve created some wiggle room in the present and explored some of the adjacent possible, you might want some of these possibilities to become manifest. How do you help the possibilities to materialise in the present? Most worldviews and belief systems have ways of invoking the spectral possible.
A prayer to St. Anthony might help with a lost set of keys. At life’s many crossroads, turn to Hecate or Papa Legba. At any moment you might make an offering to Green Tara for protection and White Tara for good health. When in need of prosperity or success in business, best ask Lakshmi and Ganesh. Alternatively, follow the predictions of stock-market gurus or the black art of economics.
While the specific deities and invocation methods may differ, they all provide ways of focusing attention and framing intent. This is important, because attention helps clarify intent, and intent helps bind anticipation to action. It prepares the mind, and prepares the body. “In the fields of observation” says Louis Pasteur “chance favours only the prepared mind.”
Could we consider anticipation as a nonsectarian approach to invocation? Anticipation shapes the perception of things that are already here, to better notice the liminal things that might be emerging. To help us clarify what is important in the noise of being.
Anticipation isn’t necessarily about invoking a preferred future, but could be seen as a way of invoking appropriate actions.
There are many forms an invocation can take, from burning effigies to writing a position-paper or a mission statement. Each form has a particular voice that invites a specific response. Each form speaks to our different sensibilities.
What would the programme guide for the Anticipation conference sound like when framed as an invocation?
O materialised time,
O time of foretold futures and remembered pasts
We summon you across multiple timescales, beyond fictional horizons, and in hidden utopias…
We call on you, time, to intertwine with power and freedom of social change.
Open ‘spaces of appearance’,
Open unexpected ways of knowing, being and acting into the world.
Come to us in our times of unpredictable loss, while we witness the known orders destabilising!
Guide us towards responsible behaviours and away from unintended consequences
Show us how to distinguish fact and fiction, guide us towards truth
Help us govern the future in a time of crisis.
May we bridge Anticipation, Decision and Action
May we pave paths for anticipatory governance, legacy and democracy.
For the present and our experiences of it should not become stagnant or destroyed!
May we work with people, and work with uncertainty.
We invoke anticipatory agency in the everyday!
We invoke futures literacies for all!
May we co-create a better future, for humans, animals and the planet!
And through all of our serious pursuits, let us not forget to tell stories and play games…
Anticipation complemented by attunement
With intent clearly framed, you begin to enter in a state of attunement. A state of alert but effortless attention, through which you notice subtle resonances and synchronicities. Similar to what André-Marie Ampère described as ‘feeling around’ the realm of the invisible, or ‘tâtonnement’. In this state, a prepared mind is capable of recongising relevant signals amidst deafening noise. It is as if you can turn down the volume of the world to listen to voices otherwise unheard.
Isabelle Stengers calls this state “an art of immanent attention, an empirical art about what is good or toxic — an art which our addiction to the truth has too often despised as superstition.” The empirical art Stengers talks about is witchcraft. Witches, she says “are pragmatic, radically pragmatic, experimenting with effects and consequences of what, as they know, is never innocuous and involves care, protections, and experience.”
When it comes to working with complexity and wicked problems, you should not shy away from the craft of attunement, whether or not you consider yourself a witch. By tuning into different ways of knowing the present, a wider range of possibilities can become apparent.
“The space of attunement” says Tim Morton “is a spectral realm that is “analog,” thick, not rigidly bounded, so that more than one choice becomes available. The floating of decision in this spectral attunement space is accurate. And highly determinate.”
Anticipation, a metamorphic craft
Morton’s image of “decisions floating in attunement space” is an evocative one. In contrast to the ‘step-by-step’ approach of corporate foresight, attunement evolves through ‘jittering-and-flutterring’. Instead of the staccato rhythm of strategic planning, attunement works with a heterophony of resonances. From the acceleration of ‘either-or’ to accretion of ‘and-and-and’.
In complex and messy situations it’s not about making right or wrong decisions. It’s about ‘better or worse’. It’s about finding propositions that resonate with particular people and situations, at a particular time.
While attunement may uncover resonances that are already present, anticipation is needed to sense through the different ‘pace layers of the long now’. From rapid fluctuations of fashions to glacial movements of rocks.
Anticipation allows us to select and connect an assemblage of propositions that are worth committing time and energy to.
“Agnostic about where we are going” Anna Tsing suggests “we might look for what has been ignored because it never fit the time line of progress”
In this context anticipation can be seen as an ambient aptitude. An aptitude which permeates a collection of techniques, rather than a single sharp instrument or a trademarked method. A ‘soft form anticipation’ akin to soft-form martial arts (like aikido) as opposed to hard-forms (karate). Soft improvisation with potential vs. hard combat against the inevitable. Anticipation in this context is a metamorphic craft rather than a hard science. These forms of anticipation cannot be learned from books (or lectures) alone. They are acquired through embodied practice, repetition and reflection.
Experience as a creative, world-growing force.
What does an embodied practice of anticipation mean?
Noticing, attention, attunement and anticipation make possibilities apparent. By experiencing these possibilities, they become animated.
An ‘objective’ representation ‘about’ anticipated events or their consequences is often too abstract. Representation can be too distant to instigate transformation. We all know about the inefficacy of communicating about climate change through graphs and statistics. This is not to say that words, numbers and images don’t have transformative potential. Think of recipes, spells or love letters — they too use written or spoken signs, but in such a way that they gain the capacity to incite substantial transformations. “Spells” says Warren Ellis “are nothing but poems intended to write something new on the face of reality.” The difference is that while a climate change graph is a representation, a spell is an invitation, a proposition to participate in an experience.
“[T]he importance of propositions is not limited to matters of truth and falsity.” notes Giorgias Romero, “Language is used to evoke attention to features of the world that another person may be missing. Perhaps someone wants me to look up at a branch in a nearby tree. She has propositional feelings of a rare bird being there. Her interest may be in my entertaining the same proposition, but the most effective method may be just to point with a certain expression on her face, or to say “look quick” with some excitement. These gestures may lead to the result better than the sober statement that there is a rare bird there.”
As immersion or participation increase, responses to an experience become more immediate. According to Whitehead, experience is an event where differences between mind and matter, subject and object become indistinguishable. “We have continual participation with the world” according to David Abram “we can suspend a particular instance of participation (e.g. when your mind wanders as I speak), yet we can never suspend the flux of participation itself.”
So when “what if?” questions manifest in immersive “as if” situations, all our senses are engaged and the experience can become an animating force. A speculative experience can animate us in the moment, but more importantly the visceral memory of an experience can re-animate a sense of agency and possibility long after the actual experience is over.
Experiential time. An atemporal web of shifting relationships
What happens during a truly engaging experience? Say, on a hike through a breathtaking landscape, or making love, or cooking, or whatever else you tend to get fully absorbed in… One thing that happens is that our experience of time changes. Change doesn’t happen in clearly delineated steps from one moment to another.
Instead, experiential change occurs by accretion, shift, shattering. It’s the accretion of a slow build up, the gaining of weight, momentum and inevitability. “Time” says Thomas Pynchon “did not so much elapse as grow less relevant.”
What becomes more relevant is the flow of experience between you and all that is not you. The separation of ‘self’ and ‘other’ grows less relevant.
You can experience the stickiness of not having an outside, having no ‘away’ to escape into. Time dissolves in a web of connections and ever-changing relationships. It’s an experience of worlds that are overlapping and intersecting and interfering; anything but separate, always entangled, always about to become.
Working with experiential futures is less about imagining the next big technological breakthrough or plotting a profitable course of action. It is more about exploring the porousness and adaptive potential of human and non-human relationships.
It’s like prototyping a sympoietic system. Beth Dempster coined the term sympoiesis “from the Greek words for collective and production (…) to describe systems which, in contrast to autopoietic systems, are characterized by cooperative, amorphous qualities (…) Sympoietic systems emphasize linkages, feedback, cooperation and synergistic behaviour rather than boundaries. (…) Ecosystems and cultural systems are examples. They are self-producing to some degree, but rely on the addition of new information as a source of adaptive potential. The systems are evolutionary and are characterized by continuing complex relations among system components. Though the systems have pattern and demonstrate a dynamic balance, they are inherently unpredictable.”
Towards systemic empathy. From communication to communing
Experience is interconnected and entangled. Unpredictable. It can never be fully explained. There is always something that slips beyond words. A description or a model of an interconnected world does not encompass all the complex processes of making connections.
“In order to honor the making of connections” says Isabelle Stengers, “to protect it against models and norms, a name may be required. Animism could be the name for this rhizomatic art. (…) Against the insistent poisoned passion of dismembering and demystifying, it affirms that which they all require in order not to enslave us: that we are not alone in the world.”
In some languages (Mayan, Turkish, Japanese, Tibetan, for example) relational nouns describe movements and relationships between things. How could we make anticipatory language liquefy, become unstuck, mutate on occasion? How do we communicate to connect rather than dissect? Could panpsychism re-invigorate frayed connections with humans and non-humans alike?
What if we took Karl Schroeder’s idea of “Thalience” as something more than science fiction. Thalience proposes that “rather than us asking what reality is, reality itself can tell us.” Could thalience inspire us to create a different type of technological engagement with the world?
How would we engage differently with emerging AI, if we assumed that they are capable of experiencing the world in a way that isn’t comprehensible to humans, but is no less valid? How then can we share perspectives, assumptions or experiments?
Similarly, how do we engage with a dwindling forest, melting permafrost, or an out-of-balance microbiome? In animist traditions, when faced with the unknown, the intimacy of communing may be more important than the clarity of communication. In communing, the exchange is real but not necessarily rational, real but not always measurable.
“To engage with animism” notes Graham Harvey “necessarily involves being provoked to think more carefully about what it means to be a person. [T]he understanding that persons always live in relation with others and, in animist communities, are regularly encouraged to act respectfully — especially towards those one intends to eat. (…) animism is always local and specific. It might not be at all romantic, transcendent or esoteric, but might instead be quite practical or pragmatic as people negotiate everyday needs.”
This gets to the centre of the matter — knowing that we are not alone in the world, how do we negotiate our everyday needs and desires in turbulent times?
There can never be a single answer. In our experience at FoAM, the beginning of an answer is as simple as — “stop. look. be kind.” These simple words remind us that under the surface of the frantic business of everyday life, there is a state of profound stillness and openness, which we can access even in most difficult of situations.
Especially in difficult situations like a life-threatening illness or an unexpected disaster, where uncertainty becomes the order of the day. Interestingly, when such situations are faced with equanimity rather than denial, fear gives way to empathy and solidarity.
“Solidarity,” as Tim Morton reminds us, “a thought and a feeling and a physical and political state, seems in its pleasant confusion of feeling-with and being-with, appearing and being, phenomena and thing, active and passive, not simply to gesture to this non-severed real, but indeed to emerge from it.”
Uncertainty can appear much less scary when it is shared with others. Not just some others, but everyone — human, non-human, animate or partially-animate.
Instead of walls and exclusions, we need more zones of conviviality and solidarity. We need to engage in ever wider ecologies of practices, to participate in a proliferation of kinship networks across sectors and cultures.
Never forget — we are all in this together.
We invite you to anticipate how your work will increase an enjoyment of the present. How it will increase our capacity to face, re-imagine and transform intolerable circumstances? Not necessarily to overcome uncertainty, but to live with uncertainty and even thrive in it.
We need structures to manage uncertainty rather than attempting to impose certainty at the expense of catastrophic failure.
While the sense of the moment may be one of accelerated change, there is simultaneously drag, weight and the inevitable delays of change that takes too long. Injustices perpetuated. We find ourselves in situations without an escape velocity.
Is the uncertainty we’re experiencing just a series of erratic oscillations or are we in the free fall toward something more massive? Things are collapsing, and sometimes the best thing to do is let them. Accept the gritty reality of it all.
This doesn’t mean giving up. Quite the opposite.
We have to find ways of “surviving collaboratively in disturbance and contamination” says Anna Tsing “We need this skill for living in ruins.” We no longer need grand narratives but rather open-ended assemblages that invite a range of different contributions. In uncertain times, we need deeply felt aspirations rather than dry statements of purpose.
Instead of just tackling the “big problems with the brightest minds”, we need to get our hands dirty with entangled problems, and draw upon the wide variety of minds around us.
This distinction is described evocatively by Ahmed Salman when he asks “Is curiosity the archer’s razor-sharp arrow piercing the bullseye time and time again? Or is curiosity more akin to an evolving sponge, devouring its surroundings, slowly morphing into an unparalleled overflowing monstrosity?”
A hex for transforming transformation
While the times we live in can appear disturbing and uncomfortable, in such turbulent times the world also appears more malleable.
Things can more easily become otherwise. “We have a chance to write ourselves into a future we want” says Anab Jain, “other worlds are possible.”
As Tim Morton reminds us “World is always spectral. World is the noise your behavior makes. World has a virtual, modal quality about it that you can’t delete. Worlds are partial objects, like everything else. They are more than the wholes of which they are parts.”
If worlds are partial objects, then the linear path to a ‘certain future’ spirals into unknown multiplicities.The purpose-driven, unidirectional ‘onward and upward’ of Prometheus gives way to Hecate’s ability to see in dark places, to see in several directions at once.
Futures unfold through convolutions rather than revolutions.Uncertainty ebbs and flows, with moments of intense upheaval yet also unpredictable periods of quiet tranquillity. Previously solid foundations appear porous and permeable. The gradual shifts of ecosystems, the acute tremors of natural disasters, the cyclical changes of seasons, chaotic weather patterns and unpredictable economies.
Change is a constant, shapeshifting presence. It can be an opening to explore different dimensions of the possible. A way to move towards a more heterogeneous, compassionate and imaginative culture.
“As we reach for words that might encompass the vastness of the unravelling now underway” write our friends climbing the Dark Mountain “the great tide of loss that our kind has brought about (…), it seems these are the words that come to hand. Whether taken up in a spirit of humility or of hubris, this is a language that speaks of ultimate things, of power, of loss and longing, of limits and of the limitless.”
As we take leave of you today, we call on you all to keep searching, keep uncovering promising ways of viewing, being and acting in a world — where the continuity of human life itself is no longer certain. Create experiments, create outliers, create clearer views of the now.
Anticipating change, hoping for change, or even fighting for change might not be enough. The idea of change itself might have to change.
We need a hex for transforming transformation. “A poem to write on the face of reality”, with all the force of collective intent.