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…)

A recurring difficulty in my life is the arbitration that is required to govern the many impulses campaigning to be elected into that coveted seat that determines focused activity, each hoping to fill this glove of potential for long enough to hatch into at least a nudging touch on the clay of materialized stories evolving in, through, in front of, and around me. Even only that sentence just now has had to struggle to see the light of black on white without which it could never hope to be remembered and, more devastatingly, to even gain existence in the first place.

A thought fully thought is a wave perfectly crashing into itself to cancel out its own noise, a beautiful tautology of arbitary inner complexity. There has to be something left unresolved, the end of a string to hold on to and unravel its trace and be led back to the place where you can see that, and why, and how, the sculpture it holds the key to is unfinished and is, mysteriously, essentially characterized by its unfinishedness, is about its own unfinishedness.

But anyway, I digress. All this was meant to be is a note to myself that I should remember to breathe, stretch, and drink water.

Dialing down intensity and ambiguity,
once—or sometimes—a necessity,
has become a dominating habit.

Bright light washes out textures,
contrasts become lines become edges
in a never-surprising orientation quest
that may have lost its purpose.

A patchwork, a spider web,
has put itself around me,
bite-sized tiles covering every inch,
every angle, telling a story
of simplicity.

There are betweens,
I can see them if I try,
but the betweens are always second,
made betweens through and
in relation to the firsts
on and along which I crawl
towards my prey
so reliably.

My unspoken committment
is to a parasite feeding off of my fear
that without submitting to it,
I might not survive
or not succeed.

Necessity has become a habit
and now the habit
pretends to be necessity
justifying that leap like propaganda
through its own pervasiveness.

It is time to stop the domination
and try a bit harder
to allow everything
to be anything.

The grammatical passivity in a situation thought of as ‘being stared at’ is misleading in that there is always an active element, an element of participation in acknowledging and thereby giving relevance and priority to the way I see others and their actions as relating to me in a specific intentional way.

A rock can’t ‘be stared at’, at least not from the perspective of the rock itself. A rock can’t be penetrated by eyes, can’t be shaken by voices shouting hateful utterances at it, can’t be moved by a convincing performance of social exclusion. A rock doesn’t fucking give a shit. You’re going to have to go up to it and physically move it to make it care.

I am not a rock, but maybe I can come close by watching carefully over who I give my attention to and to what degree, and whether I might accidentally validate their attempt at creating a situation in which I play the part of a puppet in a story they tell themselves and each other by indicating to them that they’ve broken through, they’ve gained access to my attention, to my inner world of care, to a place of vulnerability. If need be, my eyes can be a camera on a body-shaped tripod that can see many things in its view without specifically and visibly needing to look at any of them.

But how can I overcome the enabling passivity of a puppet in a story that is a vehicle for my exploitation? Do I need to become active and do something to override the attempted narrative with my own? Not necessarily. I may just be able to refuse to even give relevance to the situation in the first place. If I don’t see myself as being gawked at or laughed at or shouted at, then that situation isn’t happening in my world. Instead of being passive in a situation, I can be passive not-in a situation, or put even more simply: instead of being in a situation, I can not be in it.

This more radical passivity can alternatively be seen as a state of freedom: the freedom to care or not care, the freedom to give attention to who or what deserves it, the freedom not to be in a situation that I haven’t brought into conceptual existence by my own choosing but that was rather brought upon me uninvitedly by a hostile invasion.

“But why so closed?”, you may ask, “why would you support a narrative of hostility by making your inner world impermeable? Aren’t you implicitly and paradoxically accepting their terms by choosing not to engage with them? Wouldn’t openness be an even more radically free and freeing attitude?”

I had that question myself, but realized that it is really not like that. What it comes down to is the specificity of the terms that my caring or not caring implicitly accepts: At any moment in time, there is always an infinite number of arbitrary things that I could care about, but don’t, and none of my non-carings need to be justified. If I care, I care.

Care is always free to be assigned without any justifying basis whatsoever and therefore the choice not to engage with a hostile and hostilizing narrative doesn’t need to be grounded in accepting any terms that may be seen as relevant from the perspective of the narrative itself, but whose relevance is arbitrary from any number of alternative perspectives.

I will so aim to be
a rock that can care
but will only do so
on its own terms.

A smile is what happens when you ease into safety. It can be cautious, confident, or casual. A smile can be a smile of weakness pleaing for empathy, a smile of power threatening to harm someone, or a smile of connection inviting someone into the safeness of feeling at home where and with who you are.

Where there is a smile, there is a boundary somewhere closeby, a shell enclosing and protecting what’s on the inside. A smile can be a door inviting someone in or shutting them out of a place. A door that is always open or always closed is useless and might as well not exist. A door represents, is evidence of, and is a manifestation of an ambivalence towards closedness and openness, a contradiction that can only be resolved over time by selecting the appropriate state in any given situation. A smile is not for everyone. Where there is a smile, there is also vulnerability somewhere closeby.

A smile can be a mechanism of deflection. Like a shopkeeper blocking the way into their shop during their smoke break, a smile can draw attention to the possibility of establishing a connection while at the same time denying it. “Move along. This door is not for you.”

A smile can be a genuine expression of joy. Sometimes my body informs me of the enjoyment I experience by orchestrating the muscles in my face to take on a shape that humans, collectively, have learned to understand as a symbol of the subjective good. “I am at ease.” The symbol acts as a proposal for others to consider and either go along with or reject. “Maybe this is good. Maybe we are safe. Maybe we should maintain this. And maybe more of this would be even better.”

The subjective good can be grown through the resonance that is enjoyment. It is not a coincidence that dancing, sex, and laughing have a rhythmic aspect in common: itensity is prolonged, is given a temporal existence, through resonance. The good is not only acknowledged but actively taken part in. Rather than remaining on the outside as something to merely observe and take note of, the good experience becomes amplified in and through the body whose excitement it initiated.

Resonance is difficult to keep secret. Not only is the door wide open, the entire protecting shell itself is vibrating visibly and audibly. Laughing, especially the loud laugh of a leader, is a wasteful display and celebration of safety. Echos of pleasure and confidence warn even far observers of the power that would justify such carelessness. At the same time, they attract those looking for a home, for a place to belong, for a hearth to gather around.

While many choose to pass the opportunity and leave the radiating shell alone, occasionally a face dares to take a peek through the open door. Its cautious smile indicates openness but also vulnerability. “What is good for you is also good for me. Please don’t hurt me. I am only looking for warmth.”

Alcohol. Life is momentum and forgetting. Life is more of less.

Caffeine. Life is rest and action. Life is jitter becoming intention.

Marijuana. Life is being lost. Life is threads, webs, and yet: nothing.

Amphetamine. Life is going forward with what is clear.

Modafinil. Life is persistence. Life is holding time in your hands.

MDMA. Life is togetherness. Life is trusting others to love you back.

Ketamine. Life is assembling fragments. Life is brittle facades.

Cocaine. Life is me. Life needs the occasional kick in the ass.

Psilocybin. Life is puzzlement. Life is doubt and choices.

LSD. Life is there. Life is patterns in ambiguity. Life is beautiful, wonderful, and powerful.

Und jetzt habe ich mir gerade
den heißen Kaffee
über das Oberteil
gegossen.