Reflecting on my 15-year-old self with the concepts and experience I have now, it seems to me that I was drawn to drumming because it felt abstract, because the meaning it constructs can’t be translated into any other form.

Drumming is physical. Drumming (and this is no coincidence) is emotional expression in the same way dancing is: not reliant on words, or even symbols. On the surface, drumming divides time, but underneath, it creates space for the body to be in time, and time for the body to be in space. Even the simplest of phrases, a single hit repeated at regular intervals, creates space for bodies to be: here, here, here, here. Add the most minimal variation and you get movement: left, right, left, right. Bring in differentiation of frequency ranges and you bring awareness and mobility to hips, shoulders, ellbows, hands, finger tips.

Drumming helps a body be grounded without becoming immovable. It helps a body be here without getting stuck in an anxious memory of being here. We can be here while also going forward, forward in time. Here, here, here, here. Drumming is an interactive reminder of the fact that going anywhere with intention and awareness is only possible because our being here is itself dynamic. Being here is movement.

It becomes a bit more obvious how limited the scope of science is if we summarize what it is about in a way that emphasizes its inherent restriction rather than its expansiveness:

Science is about what we can all know about the world.

I’d like to emphasize the “we all” part. A search for universals is necessarily quite limited compared to the vast space of anything that doesn’t fit the strict requirements of universalizability.

And then there is the aspect of knowledge. While some degree of knowledge can enhance our ability to appreciate certain experiences, it is not generally a precondition. Being emotionally manipulated by a skilled speaker is one example. A baby crying for mysterious reasons is another. In both cases, it is precisely a specific lack of knowledge that is required to experience them.

Our separate streams of individual experiences, the taste of an orange, the complexities of our daily interactions with people, our ever-changing and evolving personal attempts at making sense of it all, our intentions and what motivates them, our sense of what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is bad: those are not in the realm of “what we can all know about the world.”

Sure, we can sciencify all of that by asking many people questions, grouping their responses and applying fancy variants of counting, but what can be gained by doing that will always be at least one level removed from the real deal.

There are things we can know individually that will never be in the (admittedly surprisingly voluminous) bucket of what everyone (in principle, if given access) can know. And there are things we can experience individually that knowledge itself doesn’t give us access to.

Appendix

Imagine science on a date.

1

Science: “Tell me something about yourself that anyone should be able to confirm.”
Date: *leaves the scene*

2

Science [preparing for a date]: “How might I disprove the hypothesis that we are a good match?”

3

Science [preparing for a date]: “Taking into account confirmation bias, it would be wise for me to prioritize excluding false positives.”

Science [after the date]: “Welp. Maybe, under certain circumstances, this could have been good, but it wasn’t.”

we remember so we can find again.

so if we don’t need to find something again because we know there will always be more, then we don’t need to remember.

but how can we know that there will be more?

that, too, we need memory for. by remembering that there were other moments than the present one, we free ourselves of an unduly attachment to the now.

this here right now is good, but i don’t need to hold onto it anxiously, because i’ve allowed other moments to leave a trace.

my memories orient me.

Whiteness: the luxury
of seeing yourself
as human first
and everything else second

Consistent with that:
what is available to any human being
must also be available to you,
because “we are all human”

The entitlement to take from anyone
rides on the saddle
of defining human universality
from the perspective of power

It is true, we are all human.
But not in that sense.

Every time I look around
and remind myself
of continuities to hold on to,
the moment of disorientation
that I flee from
feels like freedom
in retrospect.

Whenever communication successfully occurs, the miracle of connecting and synchronizing separate consciousnesses has taken place.

If you can read the previous sentence and with certainty know what I mean by it, then, as if by a magic spell, a mental image that I saw in my mind has been recreated in yours.

But only if.

(more…)