As I awake into this moment,
I can see that all my thoughts
were just guesses,
a web in the clouds.

Quietly I look at them,
how they float around
trying to support me,
help me stand,
help me crawl,
help me climb.

But now I’m also here
next to them
flying.

A knocking at the door demands my attention. “Open the door and tell me who I am!”

Who could it be? Am I ready for this encounter? The knocking continues. “Please open the door! Look at me and tell me who I am!”

Alright then. Here we go.

As I open the door, I see noone.
But something has changed. It — whatever it is — is here.

What is it?
It is not a thing, not a who or a what.
It is this.
This here.

There is a resonance, a wavey motion, a way of being carried, moved, shifted.

I realize that without me, it couldn’t be. Without this body, there would be nothing for it to inhabit and nothing giving rise to it. And without being let in, all it could be is an ever-louder banging on the door.

Now that it is here, the question has disappeared, but I decide to answer anyway.

“You are a modulator. You are music, dance. You are life. You are emotion.”

On my walk yesterday, I had a little think about what makes relationships what they are. I realized that there were actually more significant dimensions than I had previously considered and that being aware of them can illuminate hard decisions about them.

I used to think that a relationship involves 1) another person and 2) activities you usually engage in with them: having conversations over coffee, going for bike rides, having phone calls, sitting on the balcony, and so on. And if you enjoy those activities with that person and you want the person in your life, that would be a positive way of looking at the relationship from this two-dimensional perspective: Who, and What.

But there are other significant dimensions as well: 3) In what kinds of spaces, physical places, do you connect with them and 4) at what times of the day, which days, how frequently, how regularly does that happen? So the Where and the When.

Looking at those dimensions together, the Who, What, Where, When, it seems to me that when making choices about relationships, what we are dealing with are questions about a kind of life architecture: a structure that makes it possible for us to do the things we want to do with the people we want in our lives, in spaces that are suitable for that and that are reachable for us, and at times that allow for the right level of continuity and sustainability.

If any of those requirements are not satisfied, the relationship can still exist as an idea, but it may not feel like a functioning relationship in practice. There is a chance that that difference is felt as a kind of dissonance, like something isn’t right. It can even be felt as anxiety. And that dissonance can undermine the idea of the relationship over time. It can undermine the commitment to the relationship as a whole as a part of your life.

And what about 5) the Why? The Why is related to commitment, to love, to my chosen path in life, to who I am as a person, who I want to be. Why spend my life with this person and not just anyone else? Why those activities and not just any? Why here and there and not just anywhere? Why now and then and not just whenever? It’s because that’s what I want in my life. It’s what I can say Yes to.

If I don’t commit to answers to those questions, then I am just floating, flowing, being an observer of circumstances. I would prevent myself from experiencing the satisfaction of feeling like things are right the way they are, and I would likely not be able to recognize opportunities for improvement.

On the flip side, if I commit too strongly to very particular answers, if I measure everything against strict, unadaptable ideas, I may prevent myself from experiencing the enjoyment of the fundamentally unstable flow of what it is to live, to be alive, to live a life in the here and now.

When I think of intelligence, I don’t primarily see it as something different people possess different degrees of. Rather, I see it as a kind of dynamic invisible shapeshifting that individuals can engage in in the realm of concepts.

A static mind, a mind that doesn’t grow through its self-shaping interactions with its world, is neutral in that regard. Knowledge can be neutral too, except for when in a given sitution, it opens up a path to get excited about and commit to.

The ability and willingness to commit to an intentional shape in a given situation. Flexibility, adaptability, playfulness. Differentiated shapes and patterns of motion for every occasion, every mood, every need, every intention. Like an octopus, just not always as immeditately spatial-physical.

We all have these abilities as humans. In human togetherness, what matters more than some abstract notion of intelligence as something related to problem solving, or even worse: something that can be measured, is the question: Do we bring life to each other’s lives?

I only realized a few weeks ago that when I drink coffee in the morning, there is often a point at which I feel like stretching, which makes sense because stimulants activate muscles, which makes them tense up.

Another thing that tenses up muscles is anxiety. Anti-anxiety medication does the opposite, and so do deep relaxation techniques.

“I feel like stretching” is an interpretation of something my muscles are made to do sometimes, just as “I feel tense” is an interpretation of something similar in a different conceptual context. One has positive connotations, the other negative.

Bottom up, top down. Activation, interpretation.

Our being is layered and wired up in circular ways and we don’t necessarily always have a clear grasp of the direction of causation in these loops we spin through.

An idea for something to practice together when spending time with people:

Every time a topic ends, instead of reaching for the next one, be quiet together. If a conversation meanders, end it.

Observe your desire to speak. Is it constant? Does it increase the longer there is silence? Does it come in waves? Are the words pushing your mouth open or are you freely allowing them to form and come out?

When your inner threshold is reached, allow yourself to speak, but only after taking conscious note of the conditions.

If it feels difficult and maybe a bit unnatural, it is worth practicing. Think of it as a kind of social meditation.

In addition to getting to know yourself better and growing your ability to make choices more freely, some of your friends may benefit.

I don’t remember writing this, but… thanks, past me:

< notes to future me >

look. this is the direction i want you to look in. trust me, please. you can only see if you follow your decisions even if they are always somewhat arbitrary. trust me not because you know that i’m right, but because there is no other way for you to see.

I’m not entirely sure what I wanted to tell myself, but this note reminds me of when I was 9 years old and took a moment to try to make it possible for my future self to remember what it was like to be me as a child.

Don’t grow up and think that you were probably just a child with no interesting thoughts, no rich inner life, no unique view of the world. If you can remember this moment, you’ll remember what it was like.

Well, it worked, child me. I remember. Thanks for that.

Concepts are like drawing a face on a cloud so you can see that it looks like a face.

Concepts are like using a lawn mower to measure the height of grass.

Concepts are like scrolling through an endless stream of #nofilter sunset photos.

Concepts are like giving your 11 children 3 names.

Concepts are like keeping the zippers with the millipedes.

Concepts are like taking a bath in a latex catsuit.

Concepts are like a disco ball looking at itself in the mirror.

power makes violence a home

power uses violence to create an inside

power has windows and curtains

power has arms creating distance between eyes and hands

power maintains a safe space for violence

power is fertile ground for shallow justification

power makes violence just

power makes justice directional

power makes violence necessary

power doesn’t know how and when to let go

When I am moved to speak, I don’t have the words yet.

I become a boat pushed onto water, wiggling with unguided potential.

I become an untrained runner hearing the starting signal, ready for a false start.

I become a bent match breaking without a spark.

If language is supposed to be a medium, a mediator, an adapter, how come it feels like a wall to run against, a hole to squeeze through, a confinement to burst out of?

Leuchtende Flächen strahlen mir in den Sinn,
jeder Ausschnitt ist für sich bedeutungslos.

Formen erscheinen mir durch Erinnerung,
mit der ich das Gewirr ertaste.

Die Idee der Ferne ist niemals fern,
sondern immer hier.

Dort bist du für dich
mir hier.

This is a post about collective action.

But let’s rewind to the beginning.

Bacteria are weird birds: instead of having a specific audible call that allows them to identify members of their own species — “Me! I am here! I am me! I am here!”—bacteria emit and receive an identifying chemical which tells them whether enough of their own kind are in the same place, in which case they can justify spending energy on individual action which translates into collective action (this is called “quorum sensing”, see video below).

One chemical for an entire species.

Within such a group, in and through their chemical language, they are all the same.

Human language is incredibly complex. Why would we need such a complex mesh of meaning to identify ourselves and identify others? We could also ask the question in a way that puts us in a more passive position: what justifies such complexity for the purpose of being identified, being made visible, audible to other participants in the medium of language, more or less consciously and intentionally?

One answer might be that identification is only one function of language and so you wouldn’t expect its complexity to be justifiable solely by that.

But consider the implications and consequences of identity rephrased not just as a superficial label, but as a characterization of who we are, how we relate to others, what trajectory we are on, who we share experiences with, what we want to work towards: by that meaning, it becomes difficult to draw a boundary around identity and separate it from aspects of life independent of it.

When I say, through my varied elaborately assembled audible or visible sculptures, strings of words, signs: “this is me, I am here” and, through the responses I receive, I feel seen and accepted: that is a connection, a first step towards acting together.

Birds find each other over long distances. “Come over here!”

Bacteria team up for collective action when they’ve reached a sufficient density. “We are many.”

And humans?
How do we act collectively?