Tag Archives: change

Freedom of press

A social media revolt occurred a number of weeks ago (and is ongoing), in which the Dutch and the Germans publically accused the Turkish dictator as well as their own government for not being allowed to call him a goatfucker. Since I joyfully get mixed up a good fight once in a while, I joined that argument, mainly by stating that it was not about civilized people defending free speech, but rather about westerners bullying Turks.

I’d like to carry this line of thought to punch mode now that the Dutch newspapers published an item on a far more severe threat to the freedom of Dutch speech, yet got ignored by all the free speech heroes of the past month.

This morning, it was announced that the editors-in-chief of the most prominent Dutch newspapers wrote a letter to the government in which they presented their analyses of a new law proposal. As a protection to freedom of press, the Dutch law grants journalists the right not to denounce their sources if questioned. Recently, however, the government has been accused of regularly listening in on Dutch journalists and locking them up, hoping to find out who their sources were. The government will reassess this freedom of press law in June.

The editors-in-chief draw two scary conclusions. First, the current law proposal would grant the AIVD (the Dutch version of the NSA) the legal right to trace sources of all journalists through their telecommunication systems. Second, the proposal creates confusion on the definition of ‘journalism’, and would put bloggers like myself into a grey area for the questioning bit. These laws would give the Dutch government the legal right to track down any informant without interference of a judge. Thus, people who provide sensitive information should start watching their backs. In other words: goodbye protection of the freedom of speech.

But is twitter booming? Do the comedians revolt? Is anyone else talking about it? Just a few people. If I search for ‘vrijheid van meningsuiting’ (‘freedom of speech’ in Dutch) on twitter, I find no one. Persvrijheid (‘freedom of press’) gives just a few hits.

Let’s be clear, here, I have relatively good trust in the Dutch government. I think they were more civilized 20 years ago, but we all were, so yes, they have my blessing to govern me. To give them the right to all of my future news sources, however, is a different story. Who is going to rule us next? Will they benefit from the potential law change? Maybe not, but to give an unknown future group that power is a bad idea.

I could wonder: who am I kidding? The state is already right on top of us ever since the technology is available. True, but they can still be sued for it, and it should stay that way.

Now: why is does this not cause a revolt as big as the Böhmermann vs Erdogan face-off? To be honest, I think it’s because of how the human mind works. The case is just too complex, too distant, too hard to grasp. There’s no easy black sheep. It’s not a fight on which you can place your bets. So person number one doesn’t care, and person number two doesn’t follow person number one, while person number three sees no opportunity to earn any money here, and turns the other way. Hence the case resides in obscurity.

But let’s keep up the spirit. I do believe the government will listen to these editors-in-chief. I do suspect adaptations in the plans. Still, the statement that was made would be far more powerfull if the people would join the debate. The self-proclaimed protestors for free speech are now losing their face. They sham they go against the current, yet in reality enter the main stage and scream what the crowd wants to hear.  Entertainment prevails while justice gets hidden in the noise.

 

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On Reincarnation

People usually assume that I believe in reincarnation. I don’t. I believe reincarnation is a hopeful thought that propagates itself through the noosphere, fuelled by the fear of disappearance of whatever people believe to be themselves.

Reincarnation presumes incarnation and excarnation of an individual spirit in a body. To me, there’s no sharp separation between the two. That is not to say that I don’t believe in ghosts, past life memories, visions of the future or out-of-body experiences, but I interpret them differently. My outlook on space, time and life differ, I believe, from the status quo of, let’s call it Western Reincarnation Theory. I think it’s an interesting topic, so I’ll try to explain my point of view here, starting with some examples.

Let’s start with ghosts, they’re one of the trickiest subjects. Haunted houses, dead people walking or even just the feeling that something heavy is trying to tell you something, but you can’t quite catch what it is. Some perceive it, others don’t. To me, ghosts are a charge, released by a living person during their lifetime. It can be mental, emotional or spiritual, so let’s just call it a psychosomatic charge. Imagine Lonely Jack, who constantly sits in his living room, complaining to himself about the woman he never had, the job he missed and the choices he never made. I believe this guy can leave a footprint on his living room for as long as he’s alive. Then, once he’s dead, new inhabitants could still perceive this footprint as a ghost.

Would that footprint be self-conscious? One might ask. My answer would be: only to the extent to which the complaining is self-conscious, which is not that much at all. I don’t believe that the charge is Lonely Jack himself, I’d say it’s what he’s left behind. Then again, I do believe it is possible to send extracts of awareness into, for example, the furniture we possess, and make it look back at you. Or at another, when you’re not around. We can charge our surroundings with thoughts the way our surroundings can charge us with thoughts. Thus, some parts of us can live on. If others interact with those they empower them, and the bits of us empower those who interact.

Another typical proof for reincarnation and the separation between body and soul is the memory of past lives. The reasoning: since I experienced being in the past, apparently “I” have lived past lives. I value the occurrence of such experiences, but they don’t necessarily point to reincarnation. I see them as bridges between eras. Between lives if you will. Like meeting someone in the tram, but different. Sometimes, psychosomatic charges find their way through “wormholes” in such a strength that they invoke the “I” sensation upon the perceiver. To me, they really are just messages from the past with relevance for the listener of today. Think about it this way: you were a different person as a kid, but the aspect of “I” hasn’t changed. Ask the oldest person you know about this, and he or she will tell you there’s no difference between being old and being young. Nevertheless, all molecules have alternated time after time, lessons have been learned and forgotten, and the body has evolved and worn out. Throughout a single lifetime, we are many different people, but we don’t perceive it that way. Then why is it so hard to believe that temporarily being a different person would feel differently than being yourself?

The topic of future visions is similar. I believe that the general consensus there is that they are impossible, yet if they occur, they pass through the spirit world , mediated by beings who reside there because they have reincarnated many times. I believe the moment or vision that is foreseen is simply very psychosomatically charged, and therefore radiates back in time. Perhaps the meaning gives the charge, and the need for meaning on the other side the attraction. Metaphysical pressure differences, so to speak.

Out of body experiences? To me they are instants of high psychosomatic charge in the body, where the mind bridges space in the same way as it could bridge time. The fact that the people see and hear things in this different space, I believe, is a way for the mind to accommodate itself when away from the body. But I still think the phenomenon is powered by the life force inside the body of the one who perceives it as “him or herself being out of his or her body”.

So, if not in life after death, what do I believe in? I believe that there’s only one core soul, which is hidden deep inside all of us. Time, space and basically all rules an limits we take for granted are expressions of that soul. I think it created them all for fun. So are our bodies. Without our bodies, we would just be that one soul, undivided and forever, free from the illusions of existence we’ve created all around us. We are borrowing our bodies, our spirits and our minds from this big shared illusion, and when we die we give what we borrowed back.

Don’t ask me how that would feel by the way, I wouldn’t know.

Organized Judgement

We live in a society where judgement is an institutionalized norm. Even though we read books that say we should leave judgement up to whichever divine entity we worship, we are totally okay with apps such as Tinder or cultural phenomena like Facebook.  We are thrilled, even, when watching programs such as X-factor, the Voice or So you think you can dance. They are programs where we are stimulated to judge. It feels rewarding.

Consider the job interview structure. It is a generally accepted fact that the choice if you’re in or out is made within the first few seconds after meeting. Still, we all look upon it as an adequate way to determine who is going to work and who is not. But if there are 100 working hours for two candidates, why don’t we divide them 50-50? Because one of them is better at promoting himself? We believe that by judging both, we make a wise selection. That’s also why we vote for politicians. The truth is: we are guessing in the dark. Judging just makes us feel in charge. But do we really need to?

In the Netherlands – a country that’s supposed to be developed and tolerant – the more pigment you have in your skin, the harder it is for you to get a good job. Darker people are more likely to be searched by the police and less likely to be accepted into classy bars or clubs. And yet we keep believing that our views help us separate the wheat from the chaff. What’s more, we want to be judged by others, equally blind, as the ‘good’ group. Why else do we dress up nicely, post duck-faced selfies online and correct our exteriors with surgery?

Even if a part of this behaviour has natural roots, these issues should be publically put into question. Whoever is hip today will be forgotten tomorrow. I wonder how aware people are how much we collectively praise judgement, yet at the same time carry the burden. Is that truly necessary? Could we change this in society? In ourselves? Would you?

Psychoindustry

On february 13th, a group of students decided to occupy the Bungehuis. That building was just sold by the University of Amsterdam, who no longer wished to use it for education of arts and languages. Students did not agree with a debate night, they wanted commitments by the board. At the time the building was still being used by the UvA, and many people, including the press thought the occupation went too far. But the Faculty of Humanities supported them.

After several attempts to talk to the occupants, the municipality of Amsterdam ordered the riot police to evict the occupants at dawn of the 24th. They were taken to jail, where they were held for some days.

That afternoon, a different group of students hit the streets for a protest march against the eviction. 300 of them went towards the Maagdenhuis, the board office, and occupied that instead. They were visited by the Mayor, but did not leave. They presented their demands the nex morning: resignation of the board and democratization of the decision-making.

In the years after the crisis, there have been enormous government cuts on university subsidies. Students are no longer funded, research budgets have reduced and teachers no longer have time to attend the enormous amounts of students, a problem that has worsened throughout the years. Instead of being places for dialogue and reciprocal teaching, Universities are turning into psychoindustries where minds are bred and force-fed information without being able to digest it in a social or ethical context. This is what the students protest, and they are finding support.

The students are still there. Over 400 teachers and employees have already signed their loss of confidence in the board. There have been protests on similar topics all over the country. More are scheduled. Nationwide newspapers acknowledge the issue. Just now, as I write this the UvA has offered a plan to increase democratization, and pressurize the government.

It is no isolated movement, but it’s part of a global trend. It’s not just the universities that are being industrialized, it’s all of us, and all nature that surrounds us. We are letting it happen, and it’s going too far. It is for that reason that this simple impulse has triggered something so much bigger. The movement has not stopped, and will not until we liberate our psyches. Let this be a motivation for all of us.

The mental chains are cracking and with our effort they will break.

Barking weather gods don’t bite

As far as the eye could see, crowds of people coloured the squares and the streets of Agratan. Emerging banners revealed the ruling discomfort about the way the weather had been. Antonio was present too. This would not stand.

The sky was as bright blue as it had been for at least six months. People got blisters at first. Nasty skin burns, caused by the unexpected appearance of continuous bright sun. They’d rapidly learn to anticipate these troubles by wearing light, long limbed clothing, the stores of which had popped up all over town. All salesmen of these wearables had similarly shaped, straight, cornered jaws. They all spoke the language fluently and without a detectable accent. Their fantastic merchandise had become the new hype, particularly in the classy neighbourhoods.

The municipality soon had to introduce water use quota. The plants started to hang. Visitors with below average nose sizes suddenly sold little solar pumps with spaghetti thick pipelines that could be unrolled till the river. Streets in the centre were rapidly covered with thin grey tubes. Walking meant trouble, let alone driving the scooter through town. Because of the zooming noises of the little pumps it was hard to have a normal conversation at some spots.

The real trouble had only started two months ago, when the river was evaporated. The noisy tubes over heated and broke down. People with remarkably circular ears tried to sell rain powder. It was supposed to invoke rain clouds when boiled dry, but the process smelled and it did not cause a single drop to fall. Some had wasted their final drinking water with it. The round-eared lads were soon chased out of the village with thin grey whips. Gardens as well as arable fields looked yellowish brown. The city’s food supply was in jeopardy.

‘No respect whatsoever’ said Barth. ‘First they tell you barking weather gods don’t bite, then you stop the rain, then they run out to the streets thinking that if they hold up some slogans and scream, you will suddenly change it back to normal. What do they think we are? Their bosses? Why would we even give them a fleecy cloud? Why?’
‘Remember when years ago you would always love it when they appreciated our work? Their imaginary independence has spoiled them, I agree, but that’s no reason to wish them gone. Think of all the…’
‘We don’t need them! They need us! They survive only for as long as we keep dosing their rain drops and temperature. What if we’d forgot about them for a blink of an eye? They’d all be dead! Weak little bastards. We deserve a break.’
‘Wouldn’t it be a pity? After all these years we invested into their civilization? We’d get bored within a year, and then what? Grow it all again?’
‘Have you read those signs they hold up? “Barth go storm yourself”. Storm myself? “The weather isn’t just yours”. Then whose is it? “Weather gods or better gods?” They think they can live without us? Where is the respect?’
Rothumin opened the air and entered the hall.
‘Have you seen it? They’ve got nerves…First they tell you you don’t exist, then you drop a tiny spark upon them, then they become all spiny and demanding. Then you dry them out a little, and look at them now.’
‘I know, right?’ quarrelled Barth. ‘Shall we flood them?’

People raised their fists into the sky.
‘Barth, shmarth!’ yelled one.
‘No rain, no fame!’ screamed another. There was a flash of light, barely visible under the burning sun. Nobody noticed the man’s collapse. People pushed each other around, then back over the square. The streets kept filling up. Antonio felt this would not work.
‘We should go’ Antonio grabbed Aylita’s hand and moved into the direction of their apartment at Kubili street.
‘Why the rush?’
‘It’s getting dangerous here.’ Getting out of the agitated crowd proved to be a quest. The crowd pulled them towards Liboni street, which would be a big detour through some alleys, likely overflowing with people. Antonio grabbed her arm and forced them the other way. Behind every heavy body appeared another, looking into the sky with wide open eyes and sweat on the forehead. They met anxious kids in the crowd. Antonio held his focus steady on the corner of the Dellastreet. They bonked against shoulders, hips, elbows, fat soft bouncy bellies and the occasional head. Most didn’t notice their bypassing, none moved away. The direction of the movements turned. Somewhere ahead people were pushed up to a wall and started a wave in backward direction. Antonio managed to slip in between some protestors and the couple made a stride forward. As waves of crowd kept trying to engulf them they held on tighter and tighter. Step by step, they managed to get into less thronged streets. After some more quick manoeuvres they reached Kubili street, which was less packed. More people were trying to reach the squares.

Antonio took a bottle of water, gave Aylita a long kiss, and hurried up to Mt. Keytara. The yellow vegetation around him was gave a threatening outlook. Branches broke wherever he placed his foot. Should his people move to a different place?As he rose, the eddying in the movements on the ground shrank. He perceived them as a nest of ants without their queen, desperately oblivious, on the verge of eating each other in the face of scarcity.

It took a few hours before Antonio reached the top, where he met a small group of protestors. He recognized some from the Popular Party of Agrathan.
‘Do you have any water?’ asked a tall one with a beard. He gave him his bottle. ‘What are you coming to do up here?’
‘I’m here to deliver a message to the weather gods’
‘We all are!’ screamed one.
‘Go away!’ yelled another.
‘We will solve this!’, said a third. The group slowly moved forward. Antonio did a step back. Another one. They moved faster. He made a swift turn with his hips and while he did, a whirlwind appeared around him. It pulled him into the air. The quibblers too became smaller as he lifted into the air.

Antonio landed on a cumulus. There was Barth. The average sized human that he was, was not sure if that relieved him.
‘Hello, Antonio’ said Barth. He had the appearance of an enormous snowman, but without carrot and with a longer neck. His eyes sparked with flashes of lightning. ‘My name is Barth’.
‘That’s an impressive name’ answered Antonio, intimidated mostly by the fact that he was sitting on a cloud. He looked at its surface.
‘Well thanks’ answered Barth ‘I’d have preferred Maximilian, but it’s alright… Better than Bart or Bert anyway.’
‘Yes’, said Antonio.
‘Or Antonio…’ said Barth with a grin on his face. Antonio did not respond.
‘Would you like a drink?’ proposed Barth airily. ‘I recommend the cloudshake or the golden raindrops.’
‘A cloudshake would be fine’ answered Antonio, hiding his uncanny feeling.
‘Good choice! I like you! Could you bring us two cloudshakes, Agarabas?’ He yelled. ‘Agarabas makes excellent cloudshakes. Do you like the view?’ Barth kept the chit-chat going until Antonio took the first sip of his drink which, admitted, was the best cocktail he ever tasted.

‘Antonio,’ said the big cloudy man, ‘we have to get to business. The reason why I lifted you and not the others was because I thought it nice that your T-shirt was inside out.’ Antonio looked as his shirt. ‘You seem to be less of a control idiot than the self-proclaimed gentlemen down below.’
‘Thanks’ answered Antonio, perceiving a dubious quality in this compliment.
‘Now, Antonio, could you tell me, on behalf of your people, what exactly is the problem that you seem to have with us?’
Antonio felt bad about telling this nice guy with his excellent drink about his people’s desire to see him drop out of the sky. He tried to postpone answering. A spark of lightning ignited in his host’s face.
‘Well…’ said Antonio, trying to sound confident ‘they are not very happy with the recent lack of rain’.
‘If they weren’t very happy…’ answered Barth ‘they surely would not be on the streets as massively as they are, would they? Please, dear friend, speak the truth. We wouldn’t like it to rain Antonio upon Agratan.’
‘They hate you out of the crevices in their bones. Your sudden ending of the rain has caused them all kinds of trouble. They think it’s cowardly and egoistic. They want you to bring the water back.’
‘Why?’
‘They’d die otherwise’
‘Indeed, they would die!’ Thundered Barth while he turned dark grey. ‘They would die! And do you know why they would die?’
‘Because you’ve stopped the rain?’ shortly after his answer, Antonio sank into the cloud, hang there for a while, then bubbled up again.
‘Try again’
‘Because they insulted you?’
Antonio sank through the cloud and fell into the air. A sudden upward wind pushed him back, until he sat on the cloud again.
‘No, it’s not because they’ve insulted me’. Another big snowman figure came in. She walked behind Barth, and threw her arms around his neck.
‘Are you threatening this little earthling, dear?’
‘I’m not threatening him, we’re having a drink’
‘Then why did I see him fly below the clouds?’
‘I am teaching him something’
‘What’s your name, little fellah?
‘Antonio…’
‘Well, Antonio, it’s nice to meet you. I’m Perla. I make rainbows. The answer Barth looks for is that the humans would die because they have life, and it was us who gave that life to you.’
Barth shot an angry face at his wife. Antonio was silent for a while. Then he opened his mouth slowly and said ‘thanks…’
Barth looked at him with big eyes. They looked deep black now. He kept staring for some time, then burst into tears.
‘You’re welcome’, said Perla, and she left the room.

Below, big warm raindrops splattered on the masses cheeks.

Breathshake

In the series of new names for unspoken emotions, I´d like to discuss breathshake. Breathshake is what it sounds like, a deep shaking of the breath that interferes with the actual breathing. It comes together with a pulsating fear of the loss of life, possibly that fundamental one. In fact, I´d challenge you with the thought that breathshake is a pulsating appearance of life out of a state where it is not. Appearance of emotion too. It´s probably the most terrifying fast emotion I know.

The obvious pathway to the experience of breathshake is running out of air. You can do this by not stopping with breathing out, going very deep into the water or doing sports while breathing far below your natural rhythm. The first option is probably safest. In these cases, my diaphragm starts contracting and I have the sensation of being cut off. The thought “this situation is eternal” forces itself upon me. You could call it fear of death, but I think it is a fear of never getting access to life anymore. While silence is present, a feverish tingly cloud dwells up in my upper body. I feel sweat emerge from several spots. I sense that the feeling could subdue me from the back of my neck and shut off my awareness. It never has.

Lighter forms of breathshake can occur without that I run out of air. An interesting thing that can trigger this for me is the tought of not receiving attention from a person I love. It can also happen in conversations where I feel incapable of standing up for myself the way I think I deserve. It is as if the conversation partner suppresses my self-perceived value and does not recognize my true character, or whatever it is inside me that needs to be appreciated at that moment. The parallel with being cut off from oxygen is interesting, as if human attention also is a substance we need.

The pulsating character of breathshake delivers a remarkable alteration of states of mind which reveals parts of myself to me. Fuelled with panic, short, shallow gulps of breath try to resolve the feeling of sinking away into a swamp. That experience alternates a state of tranquility and acceptance, as if the end is already there. This tranquility eventually takes over and allows my breath to deepen again. All of it happens quite quickly.

Breathshake relativizes my concerns. It can release some tensions, but it also makes me aware of my incapacity to be fully in control of myself. I am aware again that somewhere deep inside me lingers a deep desire for taking part that can become stronger than myself. The thought is humbling, but slightly discomforting too.

Orgelet

So two days just passed in which I was once again lost on big and smaller roads in France, carried along by well willing locals with their innate stories and perspectives, while I tried to shake off the worries and concerns of my little life in the Netherlands, meeting them all the more in their contrast with the nature and freedom I viewed from a very close distance.

It’s remarkable how differently time passes by when one hops from spot to spot. Is it a mind-set thing? With only three hours on the road, how many sites have passed by today that would totally be worth further examination? Have fragments of myself perhaps remained behind, still hovering around to perceive the local beauty? Have pieces of my soul remained in conversation with the beautiful people I’ve met along the way? Is there a realm somewhere, where what has happened is still taking place? Is that why all those lifetimes have passed since I left Barcelona? In this state, stronger than in others, the feeling seems so real…

In the same way in which this lifestyle is exhausting, it is extremely energizing. Massive amounts of inspiration get sucked through my existence like water through narrowing river banks. It is impossible to guide it all into shapes, yet I experience things vividly, and am right here to digest it all at once. I feel the space and the strength to accomplish anything I want, but the need to do little more than flow. But more than last time I travelled, I am carrying a burden. It is here with me, in between all beautiful voices. To survive in a Metropolitan world, you need to push things at the cost of others.

Was it a mistake to surrender to the city life? Or was the mistake,  that I chose to grow up? That I did not arrest time before my twenty-fifth? That I did not manage to place myself outside of the big bad wild West? Did not find the loophole?

Thirteen

I’m sitting on a half-terrace-tapas-place somewhere in the center of Barcelona wearing my summer outfit. On the table: a tortilla con patatas and a beer. I’m guessing this street is about four meters broad but there is a perpetual stream of people in both directions. I am looking out on some shops. The closest ones are called See the city by bike, Happy pills and Calzedonia. Between those last two, there is a portal with a tag of the rooster that laid the eggs I’m eating. Above them, characteristic dark brown balconies with on the background walls that are light reddish-brown or beige-yellow. Some balcony doors have dark blue ornamented frames, others are sober. There is a kitchen gas tank outside one door. Hanging plants on the fence somewhere else. And the omnipresent Catalonian flag.

The people of Catalunya want independence from the Spanish government. This place historically was a separate country. When it was conquered, inhabitants were forbidden to speak their own language. Today, flags and statements on the walls express the ongoing drive for separation from the Spanish regime. The movement is so alive that on last year’s Catalunya Day, hundreds of thousands of people held hands to make an over 400 km long human chain from north to south.

A boy just jumped on a girls back. Both are around twenty-five. She walked away with him. An old lady with a hat and two crutches passes by very slowly; step-by-step-by-step. A guy with long black curls and a significant beard comes out of the bike shop, stands still on the doorstep, hands in his pockets. He whistles somewhat, watching girls pass who wear only the essential. A tall man, thick black glasses, very short grey hair, makes long, slow strides while he discusses something with his shorter male partner. Judging his serious looking explanatory style, the topic seems intellectual-arty. A several months old tiny being, bright blue eyes wide open, pushed forward, makes a high-pitched pffrr-horse-sound. A red car drives by. It’s from Girona. Two attractive creative looking people inside. Do they own a shop here? A fat man on the phone, holding hands with a little girl. A Spanish looking retired trio, two men and one woman. A guy with a blond afro, holding a scooter helmet that makes you wonder: how did that ever fit on there? Two older ladies, one supporting the other with her arm, holding a bag of medicine in the other hand. A semi-tall teenage boy in tourist outfit who seems to be looking for somebody. A guy with bright red shoes, followed by a girl in black, holding a black hat of almost a meter in diameter. A guy with a shirt with on it Tarot card N°XIII : La muerte. A guy riding a taxi bike.

How long has this been going on? How long will it last? Will it be affected by independence, politics or war? Will it be touched by famine or pandemics? Or perhaps these streets will once sink into the sea, after which the people will pass by in boats?

A young boy with long hair has the front bottom of his shirt pulled through the hole for his neck. It looks as though he’s wearing a bra. It could have been me twenty years ago. Someone came out of the rooster door. Someone else went in. She left it open.

 

Below a river

The Ebro Delta. We just had a delicious comida in a restaurant on poles in the sea. My aunt is driving her car, exited because with its far-stretching flatness, this landscape looks like her country of origin. With its palm trees, great egrets and temperatures of 30ºC and above, it looks a lot like Spain to me. Exactly as I want it to.

I consider taking a picture, but I don´t.  The inclination triggers a thought. Every person is a unique being with a unique path and unique experiences. I am now sitting here in the back of a car, perceiving a landscape in which people have grown up, raised their children and found their way back into the earth. By taking a picture, would I have overlooked them? Capturing this landscape would be a visual reference to my own passing through it, far less meaningful than theirs. Do I even have the right to claim this land and take it home?

And those who would see my picture stand even further from the place than I do. To them, It would likely just be another image that drifts by, along with an ever-increasing amount of others. It would instantly erase itself from their tiny memories and remain hidden in a dark corner of an enormous database of forgotten stuff. With what purpose?

Some people believe that humans are on earth to experience. Some say that these experiences are stored somewhere in a collective field of knowledge. The idea would explain our tendency to so carefully document the things we see and hear and think. You hear objections to that behaviour nowadays, but I don´t think it´s fundamentally bad.

And yet there is something tragic about it. However well we try to put the moments we experience in forms and works, there always are essential aspects that slip away. We can photograph, paint and write what we want, but the intangible besieges our existence, approaching us continuously from angles we instantly forget. On the plus side, perhaps this feeling helps us live with the fact that similarly to the pictures, words and ways we once so passionately held on to, one day we too will disappear.

Happiness engineers

If you work at Google nowadays you eat the healthiest food, work out and take naps whenever necessary. Your bosses will avoid conflict situations for you, encourage you to meditate and do whatever else is in their capacity to keep you as an individual happy. Why? When you are happy, your products are better.

In some advanced farms, cows are being trained to choose the timing of their milking by themselves. The machines they use for this system measure milking frequency and milk quality for every cow individually, and continuously adapt the cow’s diet to make her milk as nutritious as possible. The philosophy: every cow has innate needs satisfying those results in happiness and great milk. Such farms save human labour hours because no one has to force the poor animals into milking machines.

Have you ever heard of Plant Lab? This organization advocates that plants don’t enjoy growing in nature at all. The constant combat for light and nutrients and the irregularity of the weather make them stressed and weak. After long-lasting experiments, they have concluded that plants prefer stable, controlled conditions with purple light, the perfect amount of nutrients and a warm gentle breeze . In their arrangement, plants grow faster, are more nutritious and are more resistant to bugs. In fact, their defence systems become so effective, that if you take a seedling out of Plant Lab into the field, you don’t need to add pesticides for a whole month.

These are just three examples of how the performance of living beings is being optimized with support of knowledge and technology.  By paying more attention to the individual wants and needs, providing not more than the necessary, the boss spends less and gains more. The workers are happy. That’s a win-win, right?

Something in that construct itches me, but it’s not easy to place. Perhaps it is the fact that it emerges out of the industrial paradigm, out of the reductionist idea of beings as objects with on/off switches. By taking the experience of this being into account, by listening to it, one respects it in a different way. The reductionist paradigm meets the holistic paradigm, lifting society to an unprecedented state of enlightenment.

I haven’t convinced myself yet. Is it the idea of domineering? By giving someone precisely what he wants, one can control him entirely and use his energy at will. It increases the power of industry owners and mankind in general to a new level that can become scary if the power is in the wrong hands. Then again, if need satisfaction becomes the status quo, the owners are replaceable.

What itches me most, I think, is the fact that over my lifetime, I have learned to appreciate adventure and uncertainty. I have learned that longing for something for a while can deepen satisfaction in life. Perhaps I am afraid that if this trend continues and the emotional turbulence stabilizes, we will forget the beauty of suffering. Yet we luxuriant people have already long forgotten that.

I might just be old fashioned.