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.

 

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.

The habits of habitat. Also, a poem

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my house, wondering if this could be her natural habitat

I said I would write about human habitat and I will. In building a house and in placing it in different types of settings, a static room in a changing environment, I have gone further than before in exploring the relationship between human and habitat.

I could rant about this endlessly, about how we still see nature as something outside our bodies, something put here for our sake, and not as what we are.

About how we think we can build ourselves away from the water we drink and the air that we breathe.

About how we want to save trees, but not the earthworm, fungi, bacteria, and beetle that make it possible for trees to exist.

About how we ruin the places we could have lived with little effort in order to make habitable the places of the planet less suited for our hairless, soft bodies, even willing to wipe out everything in order to find a new planet to ruin, thinking that space travel is a magical thing that doesn’t use earth’s resources instead of the ultimate consumerist fantasy.

But I’m tired of the sound of words, so I’ll condense it all in a jolly little poem. I call it:

De Naturae (from nature)

I thought that we made this abundantly clear

your new promised land doesn’t want you here

If the ground is covered with nettles that stings

it’s because it was made for the things that have wings

For the fur and the claw and the shimmering scale

the long curving tooth and the short stubby tail

If the sun is too sharp and the insects all bite

it’s a place for the things that will come out at night

If the rain is too cold and the wind blows right through

it was meant for the ones with skin tougher than you

If you need to make houses of concrete and steel

come here fiddlemonkey, I’ll make you a deal

Human, go back to your Eden and rest

leave the bear to her den and the bird to his nest

And if overcrowding should bring you distress

then limit your numbers, make yourself less

And should your creator with this not agree

Then tell the old bugger to piss off from me

 

Exploring the great indoors

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they’re mistletoe

I’m following a few groups online dedicated to various ways of forming a life beyond the ready-made one. It’s hardly a single thread that doesn’t in some way post the question ‘yes, but is it authentic?’

For everyone taking a step to the side of society, you’ll come across the question of authenticity. An expectation that your goal is and should be to be completely self-reliant and exist in a sort of feral snow globe.

For me, reducing the presence of modern housing facilities, like washing machines, coffee machines and basically most types of machines, is a choice of comfort and beauty, not driven primarily by a desire for a life seen as authentic or free.

The western idea of ‘free’ has come to mean detached and closed off, yet few people really feel at great liberty when they’re all alone and isolated. Quite the contrary.

It’s easy when lifting your gaze from the treadmill to get the idea that you should go off into the wild, that is, go outside our house, and aim to become one with whatever ecosystem you find yourself in. But the wild can be further away than you’d think. Not everything green is living, functioning nature.

As I drive and live and form different patterns of everyday life, sometimes completely outside modern facilities, sometimes on the outskirts of them, the borders of human habitation come into view. And the idea of the authentic emerges as something a part of, not apart from, modern society.

In groups of people longing away from cities, away from an oppressive society, there is a story, one of many, but a prominent one, about the free individual as someone who sleeps under the stars and own nothing, no possessions, no obligations, no attachments. But this form of living requires a large habitat where you have the means to find what you need, and this kind of nature is inaccessible to most as it’s regulated or built on, overpopulated,  poisoned or eradicated by industry. Most people who are homeless are far from free, and have no access to alternative ecosystems beyond the urban one, that relies greatly on houses to shelter humans from the ugliness, dangers and diseases caused by urbanization.

While I do wish for a greater insight into what I actually need and how to find it, it’s interaction I seek, not the idea of independence. Dependence is to me a reduced means of interaction, and freedom an expanded interaction with your surroundings. But to urbanized humans, they link interaction to communication with what they see as sentient, not co-existing with physical, living creatures.

I think for a lot of people it’s this interaction with a world beyond the one defined and fenced off that is meant by ‘real’. There is very little language to explain why, very few stories. But it’s the amount of possibilities, the greater network of creatures interacting, that increases freedom and approximates the idea of ‘real’.

Also, most animals will have some form of nest, den, sett, or form of living quarters. They don’t just sleep where they stand. If healthy, they will spend great parts of the day keeping themselves and their dwelling clean, beautiful and comfortable. If ill, they will ignore their grooming or in some cases, overdo it, washing away all their fur if stressed.

A house need not be any more unnatural than an ant hill, but the lengths humans have gone to in order to simultaneously expand and remove themselves from their habitat is absurd. And disruptive to anything living, including humans themselves.

In western society the house has become something like a religious matter. It is seen as a micro cosmos in itself. In many cases, as a reflection or expression of the dweller, their innermost self, their soul.

I like having beautiful and meaningful things to look at. I want my house to be a wunderkammer, a place for magic and dreams.  It’s also a physical place to sleep warm and soft, to read without having the wind carry my books away, to cook without being invaded by over eager insects. I don’t however, want to be trapped, or have other things trapped in it.

The house, the dwelling, is only one small part of the whole habitat. The whole habitat of any creature will include the space to find food, find company, having an array of plants, predators, bacteria, the ecosystem, if you will. All the things the body interacts with.

I will explore the vast, strange world of the habitat in my next post.

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a slightly more permanent glimpse of the strange

ps. I made it beyond the London vortex, with help from my counter part, which is the only way to cross a maelstrom.

The road is not the road

Look very carefully. This is a road.

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To move along it, on water or land, is to travel. Following the paths animals make through the woods, is to follow a road, for they know where they are going.

Humans, as a rule, don’t.

I have said it before and I will again, a highway is not a road. All roads that are roads are in some way linked to water. Either by the movement of water or by paths animals make to find water, it follows underground sources and roots of trees, carrying water. Sometimes humans alter the course of water, creating floods or droughts. And highways were invented to carry soldiers and weapons to invade your neighbor. They are not anything close to a road merely tools for human destruction.

I have no illustrative pictures of highways, because when I land on one, I’m quite enough busy with finding my way off again.

This past week I’ve been driving for longer stretches than usual. One drawback of having a car-towed house is that you’re confined to mostly false roads made for cars, and they are only built for transporting things and humans from place to place, and therefore extremely uncomfortable, with no time to think, or to look or to consider where you’re going. I’ve kept to county lanes, when possible, but even here it’s too easy to take one wrong turn and then be caught on a lane with no turning back.

The lane of no turning back is a narrative I understand that people like to use as a metaphor for life choices. This is, of course, a construct and has nothing at all to do with real roads, or real lives. There are no straight roads, and if there are, they’re human inventions. And there are no straight stories, no inherent cause and effect. And always another way.

Fear of the dark

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I’ve always been afraid of the dark. Not outdoors, but inside, in houses. Not that there was anything there. The problem was you noticed there wasn’t. It took decades, of course to realize this, where I’d search films and literature for monsters to explain and embody this nameless fear. I had no real idea of what I was afraid of. In reading books and newspapers and meeting people, I soon found there were a lot of options, but none of them could really explain the reluctance to the dark room. Nothing that is dangerous for a human is more or less dangerous depending on the degree of light.

But you can’t really hide where you are in the dark. It reveals everything. It’s a common misconception that light shows things as they really are, but it doesn’t All light does is narrow down your perspective and make you focus on few enough items or ideas to make your surroundings bearable.

In the dark, you can’t set your mind to one thing and look away from all the others. Everything is apparent at once. And if then you’re trapped in tonnes of concrete, you’ll notice. And go mad with fear. Indeed, most modern humans are quite insane.

Night outside is rarely dark, and never quiet. Unless you live in an overly populated human habitat where the only sounds are sounds of desperation, others trying hard to hide where they are with mind- numbing musical sounds.

I have said before that I wanted to build walls I didn’t need to hide from and I think I have. I fully trust that if I should die inside of my house, both me and the house will dissolve and revolve properly. Because it is ultimately the entrapment of the soul that is the horror of houses. The worst ghost under the bed is your own.