A few words on Hope.

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A rare, clear morning in the drenched landscape.

From a tiny house on wheels, you notice a lot about the world. You get close to its current state. And there is little doubt that there is a crisis going on. It’s noticed in the condition of the roads, the cost of moving, the sheer amount of people you compete with for a place to park or to fill your water tank. The lack of places to go and of nature that isn’t poisoned or fenced off. And on the changes in the climate.

The choices of climate this autumn has been one of drowning or burning. Half the world is literally on fire and the other is drenched. I’m in the part with the water.

And I have also been, as some of you might remember, making quite a few shifts and changes to my house. This means new vulnerable places while it settles and of course, leaks. And of course, with every new attempt of fixing the problem, I hope that this time it will work.

There is a lot of talk of hope these days. Most of the focus of environmental groups in the media seems to be on presenting solutions to give people hope. But hope is nothing in itself and to keep holding it up like a holy grail is downright dangerous.

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Also, strange women lying around in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government!

In my case, it took me weeks of patching a part of the roof before I took down the wall close to it and discovered that the water that I thought was coming from one place, was in fact being led in via a knot hole in one of the beams that I had not thought about at the time of construction.

I this situation, hope made matters worse by letting me cling to a structure that clearly wasn’t working instead of carefully deconstructing  it and make something else. Hope is not what gets you out of a difficult situation, it’s more often what keeps you in it.

For my generation, we’ve been brought up on talk of hope as some sort of magic. In songs, films, books, media, we have been fed with hope as all you need to get you through and that you have nothing without hope. And yet, if you read accounts of people who have been in truly dire situations, clear thinking and quick reflexes has been far more helpful than hope. Also, carrying a grudge can get you really far.

Hope, of course, costs nothing and is absolutely no threat to any form of authorities. A person who is hoping, is a quiet one, and has something to lose. Only when you really have nothing, will you risk everything.

To keep ranting on about ‘not giving up hope’ and ‘not letting hopelessness win’ is really keeping people from accepting and analyzing the situation. Even then, to come back to the climate-issue, people will still not agree on the course of action. But at least we have a chance to know what we’re disagreeing on.

Hope is not without importance. It’s the icing on the cake. The light glimmer of the possibility of better times. But it’s not something to base your actions or decisions on. Accepting the situation, analyzing the facts and possibilities in that situation, and forming a plan from that analysis, are. It is important to point out though, that accept is not giving in. It merely means seeing things for what they are at the moment, the better to change what’s really there.

The way things are now, ‘hope’ in climate issues is rapidly becoming synonymous with rash, superficial or short-term solutions. Many of there presented in the ‘new green deal’ and many with far more potential for irreparable damage than the situation we’re in.

If you get bitten by a snake and ask your companion if it’s a poisonous one, ‘I hope not’ is a lot less reassuring of an answer than ‘I don’t know’ or even; ‘yes’. And you certainly wouldn’t want to hear ‘I hope so’.

Halloween update, soul care for a house

Joyous Halloween, Samhain, Winternight or what name you might celebrate this turning of the year under.

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boys and girls of every age, wouldn’t you like to hear something strange?

I’m still working on the update of the interior, as I’ve fallen under the spell of Getting Slightly Better At Things. The very dangerous point in one’s development on a field where you’ve just gotten good enough at what you’re doing to see all of the little errors left from very early on and also get a ton of new ideas for improvements.

In addition there’s the usual amount of care a house needs after a year or so, the fresh coats of paint etc.

Also, it takes time to grow back the magic, the pieces of soul that invariably gets chipped at or damaged with any extensive rearranging of a house. Taking things slowly allows the change to come more gradually, rather than as a shock. My house needs time to heal from the repairs and various operations. The tipping point between a home and a diy- project is a fine one, particularly with a house where you can’t just close a door and call it a day. And it takes at least as much time to reconstitute my house as a home, reading books in it, lighting the fireplace, curling up in the sofa with a glass of wine, relaxing on the sun deck etc, as it takes to actually build. This might seem like relaxing, but it’s necessary and intense work. Of a more occult kind.

I expect I’ll be done in time for winter at least, and head further south with the last of the swans.

Here at least are some insights to what I’ve been working on, a chance to see the structure before my house again gets wrapped up in mystery.

 

La Chouette Revisited, or; Et in Archadia ego.

Things have been quiet on the owlfront for the last weeks. Or, things have seemed quiet. Under the surface, there has been great shifts.

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notice anything new?

After a year of living in my tiny house, I have become more familiar with my daily needs and movements, and with the movements of the house. Things have settled. And, as soon as they settled, a revamping has begun.

At first, the idea was to alter one bit of the ceiling in my sleep alcove, but as I started dismantling the materials, I saw that I really wanted to redo the whole alcove.

Luckily, I’m absolute crap at seeing how much work something is, or I’d never get anything done at all.

My new roof is first of all partly shingles, or shakes, as wooden shingles are called. I’m new to this too, and it’s a quite sophisticated move, so I expect to have to make some repairs and alterations again soon.

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The hippy, hippy shakes

I have also lowered the total height and made a flat top roof on the alcove, giving me more space to sit up in bed with my morning coffee. As I never really used the alcove window, I ditched it, but made a more elaborate window/ passage to my roof terrace (or, roof).

In addition, the living room windows have been lined better and given a double set of shutters, for better on-road protection.IMG_20191003_144756052

What has taken so long with this has mostly been the careful dismantling, redefining, care, and brush-up of as many as possible of the former pieces. I didn’t want to simply throw bits of my beloved house away, not unless they were damaged beyond repair, and so this whole process has taken three times as long as it would have if I’d gone out and bought all new stuff (or, you know, used blueprints, or knew what I was doing, or if it hadn’t been a heatwave because somebody broke the climate).

Reusing my old materials both gives the house a sense of continuity and rebirth, and it gives me a better understanding of what I’m working with. I still don’t know if all my ideas have worked, for example if my net gasoline use will be reduced due to a more streamlined design, but we’ll find out in time.

For my next post, we’ll be taking a look at the newbies indoors. I have such sights to show you…

Symphony of destruction

To create, one must destroy. This also is true for furniture.

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Throwback to me in a former dwelling in 2014, not sure why it suddenly came to mind. Anyway, on with the post…

I have, after a year of living in my house, found that I’m quite fond of having my afternoon nap on the sofa. While it’s a lovely sofa, it’s also just not quite long enough to sleep on comfortably. Originally, the length was determined by the proximity to the fireplace and a fear that a longer sofa would be a fire hazard. However, the heat from the fireplace is distributed differently than I expected, and I can safely move a step closer to the flames.

As I said, it’s a lovely sofa and I want to keep it, I only want to change it a bit. But I’ll need to take it apart first, and this is frightening. The good thing is that since I made the sofa myself, I know how it’s put together and I know that the different pieces are not merged so closely that they can’t be made into something new.

Taking something apart is just as much, if not more work than putting it together. At least if you want to be able to use the pieces again. It would have been much simpler just to tear the armrest off. Much, much simpler. Let me demonstrate with a series of pictures:

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The rebuilding of one of my favorite parts of my house is only possible because the pieces are intact. I could, of course, have destroyed the former ones, gone out and bought new material and remade the whole thing but that would be just plain stupid. The point here is that destruction is not evil, it’s a needed part of life. Nothing static is alive.

From this perspective, it could be presumed that the current mass ecocide is not a great crisis in the greater picture, that perhaps this is just another turn of the wheel.

But there is a great difference between de-assembling and re-assembling building blocks and just trampling down everything like some great big hulking thing. Or worse, constructing things that are so melted down they cannot be taken apart and turned into something different.

And this is why the human destruction of the planet is a crisis. It’s not mere destruction, but a meltdown of the very building blocks. This is evidently clear in nuclear reactors or the invention of plastic, which I have ranted about before and which I elaborate on and link to ideas of immortality in modern interpretations of Norse religion in a closer look at Loke’s contribution to the death of Balder.

It can also be seen in the way they keep removing matter from the cycle of life, primarily their own bodies. When dead, humans destroy their bodies by pumping them full of poison or burning them and enclosing them in stone and in lead, or in more plastic. And then they poison everything that tries to make use of this much needed matter, the fungi and earthworm and scavenger. It may not seem as much, but is says a lot about how humans think of themselves, as the point and end of all things, as something on top of a pyramid, as the apex of creation. With this mindset, there will soon not be any more creation.

Humans aren’t just destroying, they’re depleting. And they’re doing it in the name of the good and just as well as greed. It is time to step into the circle once more and see the world around you not as something to conquer or consume, not even to protect, but as your next self.

Right, now I will go have a nap on my sofa. And then I will start to take apart my roof.

 

Anniversary. Or: The hunt for nightmares begins.

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there’s a hint here to my upcoming plans

Yesterday marked one year since my first night in la Chouette, the first step towards making the house a home. Building a house by yourself from scratch, there are no indicators for at what point the heap of planks and nails and bits and pieces becomes a home. No one tells you this. No estate agent or landlord will stand by to convince you why this particular amount of enclosed air is a home.

Now it is a home and I have almost already forgotten how it was like to live enclosed in society. Looking back, it was hellish. That’s not to say my lifestyle is careless or easy.

Recently there was an article about tiny houses in a Norwegian paper. There was a feature of me, and an interview with an informal college where students could build a tiny house as one of the activities. The headline read ‘Tiny houses can make your life simpler’.

I have no idea what part of the interview they got that from. Certainly not from me.

While building and living in a house on wheels of a moderate size, popularly referred to as ‘tiny’ house, has turned out well for me, it’s not by any means a simple life. That was never the point.

To be clear, you don’t rid yourself of any problems this way, but you do get a whole set of interesting new ones. I think I have said that before. And often.

While building, I worried a lot about keeping the rain out, about how I would do my cooking, cleaning, where to get wood chips for my compost toilet, and about all the rules and regulations on the road. None of this has really been very important.

The house definitely has a better indoor climate than anywhere I’ve lived, and this has had a remarkably positive effect on my health.

The main part for me was to get away from noise. Not just from cars and neighbors with sick ideas of ‘fun’, such as actually listening to dubstep and tribal trance, but also from the drone of windmills, the angry hum of solar panels or electric car chargers and air conditions.

The downside to this is that you notice very clearly how few places of quiet are left. How the noise pollution is everywhere and increasing with every ‘green’ invention.

You become very aware of the difference it makes to be 8 rather than 4 billion people on the planet, as there was when I was little.

And this is the downside.

The roads are not places for travel, but for being chased from one place to another and there are few places to stop. Nearly all land is regulated, fenced off or built on. While the house has turned out like I wanted, the world has little place for freedom. The problems you face are mainly about how to maintain your balance. Not on the edge of society, because that no longer exists. There is no outside, it’s all been drained to feed the human fantasy of supremacy. The balance is on the edge of the existing and the not-yet real.

I have already made real a not-before existing type of house. In the time to come, I will continue to shift reality. I have plans to delve into the very place for the collective nightmares of western Europe and see what’s really there. And if it can be brought forward from the stories.

How to be vulnerable, part 2. Loneliness

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this is the strangest life I remember

I’m often asked if I don’t get lonely on my travels. And then I answer ‘no’, and the person asking the question usually hears ‘yes’, because they think they would be and cannot imagine any other possibility. A lot of people dreaming of taking a step to the side of society fears loneliness, as in being outside the herd. I’m not lonely on my travels, but I do get lonely on those occasions when I visit society. 

Loneliness is not something that happens when you’re alone. It’s contagious. It’s an open wound, a gaping, roaring chasm that, ironically connects all modern humans. Nothing brings us together more than our loneliness.

We think ourselves so alone that we look to other planets, even go as far as to communicating with or attempting to revive the dead for company.

We scrape together small groups of families and friends, and they might put a lid on the loneliness, but they can’t heal it. They might, if you’re very lucky, put such a lid on your loneliness that you can ignore it for as long as you live, apart from in those silent hours of dawn. And you will always be afraid that they will leave you or die. Which they will.

The usual way of dealing with this, when taking a step to the side, is to make yourself not want company. This is taught in several religious practices, such as Buddhism, and most western self-help pseudo religion. You learn a sort of smarmy detachment where you love and respect all as long as they don’t get too close. You either build a shield around you or you cut yourself off to such a degree that you think yourself beyond all emotional damage, eternal in your enlightened loneliness.

Western philosophy is infected with solipsism, the idea that we are all alone in our heads and that we can not know what other beings think or feel or if they even exist. This is shared by most of the people who have influenced our way of thinking and it’s utterly absurd. In some ways, they’re right of course. It’s difficult to put yourself into the mind of another, hence the confusion when people ask about my presumed loneliness. The flaw is to believe we exist in our minds and that it matters what or if anything else thinks.

In modern (by modern, I mean what has grown and gained traction for the past 5000 years or so) society there is loneliness embedded in the system. Civilization works by cutting people off from the world and from each other, teaching us to look to gods or leaders or rules for meaning and that if you simply exist, there’s something wrong with you, or you’re not living fully. 

For a lot of people, the markers of loneliness are formed by opportunities. Not what they have, but what they are told they can have, conversation, sex etc. Often it surprises people that none of these things make the loneliness go away when achieved.

The loneliness we have is from being severed from life and death. From ‘nature’ if you will. The word ‘nature’ itself shows how far this has gone. That we even have a word to separate us, make us lonely. Our language, while usually seen as a mean of forming connections, is full of more or less subtle ways and words for cutting us off. It doesn’t need to be though, as this article on the Irish language explores.

Nature is not the trees, it’s not a bird or a beetle. It’s everything that lives with and feeds on everything else. And to be civilized is to have your whiskers plucked out, tendrils severed so we can’t feel, we can’t notice the life that surround us. Even outside the hermetic houses we only get the vaguest sense of what’s there. We are existential cripples.

Or in other words, we’re lonely.

Rewilding means healing this as far as possible. In this context, with this in mind, it’s not dangerous to love. Or, to attach yourself to what seems fleeting and unsure. And you’re never alone. I do love. I do miss people that live where I grew up. I miss people I meet on my travels. I grieve when someone dies, and I have losses I will never get over. I can start to care about someone really quick and think about them often. But not being with them doesn’t mean that I’m lonely. Not as long as I get to be outside civilized society. Not as long as I can hear birds. I’m not afraid to love. But it does scare me how fast my new found senses deteriorates as soon as I step back into a city, or even an agricultured landscape. So why do I go back? Oh, for the company of those I care about of course. I’m nothing if not the embodiment of ambiguity.

How to be vulnerable, part 1

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Nearly relevant, but quite pretty image of my house in its current position.

Today I spent the whole day sanding down, washing and waxing my kitchen. 

After nearly a year of living and moving, the floor boards are stained, the racks for the pots are knocked out of whack, and there’s a general air of ingrown dinners over the kitchen area.

And as I’m sanding down the pine, first with a coarse grade, then a finer, I come to thinking that while there are plenty of tools and advice around on how to seal things off and close a structure, it’s surprisingly difficult to find tools and ways to keep and maintain an open structure, or, to maintain your vulnerability while not being permanently wounded.

My house is a vulnerable structure. It’s pretty open to the elements in its construction and the materials are not impregnated or heavily treated. This is a conscious choice, to live with something living instead of building a tomb. As I said before, I’m deeply uncomfortable in most modern houses for the reason that they feel like something meant to die in rather than something built for living things. 

But a living thing needs care, it needs upkeep, and to find the balance of closing and opening is the hardest thing any living organism will face. Too open, and you’ll rot or be eaten alive, to closed and you’ll suffocate or starve.

I recall how, back when I was building, I went to get a piece of marine plywood for what was going to be the first attempt on a hatch to access my roof terrace. I went to the store, found the piece I wanted, checked the specifics, and then I asked the sales attendant if the material could handle the rain, meaning that it would not rot when wet in a hurry., as some materials do. He then regarded me with an expression as if I had made a lewd suggestion involving the two of us and a diseased aardvark. When he regained his composure, he carefully explained how I needed to buy a special kind of lacquer and a thinner, sand down the wood, lacquer it with a quite thinned mixture, wait for about two days, repeat, and repeat again at least five times with thicker mixtures of lacquer and thinner. I took a look at what the lacquer and thinner contained, panicked, thanked him for his time and left. 

There are oils, tar solutions, techniques and mixtures you can use to keep wood longer while not building a bio hazard. But a lot of this knowledge is lost and what is left is heavily guarded and not easily accessible to the common crowd or amateur builder, such as me. And most of the building industry is based on the idea that everything has to last forever, or you’ve failed. 

Of course I spin this thought further as dinner dust is clogging up my throat and dulling down my clothes. And I think about how we’re taught to do this with our bodies and our minds, making them rain proof, death proof, indestructible and by this, becoming already dead and a walking bio hazard, as most houses are. 

And we have very few tools to really maintain our minds and bodies. A lot to close them off and fixing them, few on how to care for on a daily, living basis as something living and interacting. This idea I will explore in part two, coming up.