Tag Archives: Space

The Redeemer

When the earth no longer knew what to do with mankind, she decided to release them into space. She didn’t feel particularly proud of her move, but said to herself that it was better this way.

 

John the Baker, floating in outer space, looked at the earth from a distance. Millions of others were serenely drifting into the darkness with him. They looked like many coloured needle points from here. He tried to recognize friends or family.

‘Hey!’ Yelled a man in colourful robes at John from a distance. ‘Hey you there, mister Bakerman. John, was it? I remember you had excellent cookies!’
John the Baker gave him a single piercing look, then looked the other way.
‘We should stick together, you know.’ Said the colourfully clad man, who was managing somehow to move himself in John’s direction, his clothes hovering behind him. ‘The situation is bad enough as it is…’ he kept silent for a while. ‘do you know why she did it?’

John the Baker still tried his best not to give the man any attention. He looked back at the others. They were helplessly gaining more and more distance from what was once their home. It now seemed like an enormous blue orb, hanging in a vast, uncanny infinity of absolutely nothing. Like everyone else. In the distance, he recognized one of his old class mates, with equally little control over her movement as himself. Then he looked back at the big, blue earth. The sight did not comfort him.

‘How do you do that?’ John asked the man in colour.
‘Do what?’
‘Steer your way’
‘Steer my way?’
‘Yes, how do you manage to float in my direction?’
‘How do I manage?’
‘For gods sake, explain me how you do it, hippyman! You’re deciding on your direction’
‘Do you think I want to drift away from the earth?’
‘Look, right now, all I think is that I don’t know what to think, and that I want to get away from you. Do you think you can help me with that?’
‘The earth has expelled me as much as you. I’m not in control at all’
‘But you manage to adjust your direction!’
‘It may seem that way, Bakerman, but I’m really just floating along’
‘Hey, you know what?’ said John, who had a bright idea. ‘We could push ourselves off each other, and then both go in a new direction.’
‘Well I suppose we could’ answered the other ‘but you haven’t answered my question yet.’
‘Which question?’
‘Why do you think she did it’
‘Who did what?’
‘The earth, Bakerman. Why did she release us into space?’
‘What kind of question is that? There’s some kind of physical explanation for this…’
‘Look around you, John,’ answered the man. do you see any cows around? Pigs? Any fish? Birds? They’re not here. Nor are there plants or stones or any material except for the umbrella’s and the suitcases people were carrying.’ He grabbed an apple out of space and took a bite of it.
‘It’s just humans. And there’s a lot of them. I’m guessing all… We were released. Purposefully.’
‘Well maybe it didn’t like us anymore, then’ answered John.
‘That’s what I think! We were too disrespectful with her, and now she let us go. John was now close enough to grab the colourful man’s robe, and pulled him in.
‘Look, Hippyman, I have absolutely no intention to be stuck here in space with your happy face or your wild theories after losing everything I had. I honestly don’t care why this is happening, but it needs to stop. I am going back’. With that, he decidedly kicked the man off into the darkness, giving himself momentum back to earth.

 

Earth was, indeed, relieved by the sight of all humans floating in open space. For one thing, she deserved some free time from their constant, demanding presence. If she’d ever miss them, she could always decide to evolve some new ones out of the few remaining monkeys. She’d make them smaller next time. Maybe evolve them from the squirrel monkey. That way, they’d probably not consider hunting down lions or elephants, and they would need smaller houses, so they’d leave more for the others. They’d survive for a week on a chicken’s egg. Yes. That would work. She wondered why she didn’t think of that before.

She would miss them. Humans had by far been the most entertaining species around since the giant dragonfly. Their constant running around in anxiety, their little airplanes flying back and forth, their crazy little inventions, the way they tried to control each other with them, their self-proclaimed independence had all kept her warm inside for many centuries. For a long time, she expected all that to be harmless. It had recently got completely out of hand. The digging started to hurt, and their constant burning of everything became a menace to the others. Tigers had already been complaining about them for years, but when even the birds and the ants came home angry, she was forced to draw her conclusions. Humans had to go.

And it seemed to her that they were far better off in space. Flying was after all what they wanted, right? They could do it all the time now, and they did not need to worry about digging up anything first. They could constantly chill in the sun, had no more weight to carry or bills to pay, had no more responsibilities to carry or wars to fight. All of that was gone for them now. No, she didn’t doubt that out there, these people would find the redemption they deserved.

 

When, after a long flight back to the ground, John finally hit the earth again, he bounced back from it as if nothing had happened. There simply was no more attraction. He grabbed a far reaching branch. It ripped.

John had by now had some time to ponder what the hippyman had asked him. He didn’t understand what he’d done to deserve this. A lifetime of bread baking. Day in day out. Did he feed Nazis without knowing? Did he accept the money of manipulative traders? Unethical judges? But drifting away from the earth for a second time, he could not see any humans left behind. He understood he shouldn’t take the action personally. And yet he felt betrayed.

The floating itself was quite a thrilling experience. John never expected to be able to see the earth slowly gain distance below him this way. The sky was clear, and the tickling sensation of air passing by his ear was in fact quite pleasant. Moving his limbs didn’t cost him any effort. And okay, he was unable to steer himself in any direction, but where did he really have to go? Seeing the horizon slowly get rounder and rounder had something magical about it. Perhaps it was okay this way.

‘Watch out!’
He saw a woman in a dark green woman’s suit comet down from above. It seemed that their courses would cross somewhere ahead.
‘What can I do?’ Yelled John.
‘I don’t know!’
‘I’ll grab you!’ Yelled John.
‘No!’ she screamed back in slight panic.
Some seconds later, the woman’s leg crushed into Johns diaphragm. He choked. Throwing his arms around the leg, he got a hold of it and gulped. Her leg moved as if she wanted to get rid of him. Slowly revolving, they drifted in a new, common direction.
‘Let me go!’ she screamed. ‘I’m going back to earth!’
‘I just was there’ John answered. ‘you bounce against the surface and float back into the sky’
‘I’ll grab a tree’
‘Tried that, the branch broke’. He held the branch in front of her face, holding her leg only with one arm now.
‘Mine won’t’
‘It’s a thick branch, see?’ John said, and tried to catch a bypassing piece of chocolate with it.
‘Let me go!’ The woman yelled.
‘There is no-one down there.’
‘How would you know? You bounced back’ she said. Then she pushed and kicked herself loose, projecting John further into space.

In the black distance above him floated a group of people holding on together. They were shaped like a big ball. He heard some babbling from their direction. John couldn’t make out if they were partying or fighting. The ball moved awkwardly, a discharged, clumsy blob. Perhaps he could find a way to join them. He hit his branch against a briefcase to his left. It redirected him.

 

When the earth saw more people return, she created thermal columns to push them back. Her position was clear. No more humans, not even those who seemed okay. They’d multiply and turn into disaster. Blowing the returnees away perfectly supported that stance. Good. It was time to hang back, relax and enjoy the rest.

 

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Biodiversinesque

I enjoy making up new words. It’s an exploration of realms of meaning. A good new word is new territory accessible for other people too. I also like it when other people invent words. That’s why I’ll discuss Maria E. Ignatieva’s ‘Biodivesinesque’, to bring some light into this ‘blue monday’, as a marketeer once called it.

Ignatieva is a European (more or less) landscape architect focussing on urban ecology and design. In several articles, she notes that in the previous two centuries, two main styles have inaugurated globalized urban landscape design, meaning these styles were introduced in colonial territories. The first one was ‘picturesque’, a natural style in which parks look like deforested Western European landscapes, containing elements such as meandering roads and irregular terrains. Open grasslands are an iconic aspect of this style. The second one was ‘gardenesque’. This is a far more high maintenance, regular yet artistic way of designing landscapes, using a variety of exotic plant species and neatly cut hedges to convey a sense of human triumph over nature.

Biodiversinesque goes beyond both styles by integrating deeper understanding of the behaviour of natural environments into the design. The designer lets go of the imperative to imprint a thought upon the landscape. Instead, she or he shows appreciation for nature by taking vital characteristics such as ground water, local species and weather fluctuations into account during the design process. When working with nature, instead of over its back, areas have the potential to become far more biodiverse. This style allows for dynamics in vegetation patterns, since surprises are appreciated instead of being seen as messy and a lack of park management. Through biodiversinesque design, landscape architects can convey the beauty of ecological processes to the visitors of a park, while blending the urban landscape into the natural surroundings.

Reconnecting the urban ecosystem with the surrounding ones, a process that is advancing steadily in Europe, is a way to invite traditional flora and fauna back into the lives of city dwellers that may have forgotten about them. It is a public acknowledgement of the fact that not interfering can sometimes lead to better results than doing something. With her presence, nature gives us soft, subconscious education. By allowing nature back into our lives, we peacefully become it. All we essentially have to do is give it some space.

Gutwrench

When I make up words for emotions, I look them up to see if they exist already. This one did. Not only is it slang for – apologies for the upcoming graphic in your head – large penis, it also has the meaning of emotional scattering, anxiety and despair, sometimes caused by uncomfortable images. Do take a moment to enjoy this inconvenient homonym for our brothers with whale-sized willies, then let’s move on to the emotion I’d like to discuss, shall we?

I considered deathsqueeze and lossgrip, but gutwrench works better for me, because I don’t think the the word should encompass it’s cause. It’s as if somewhere central below my navel, around the exglow area, an invisible hand grabs my intestines and suddenly wrenches them like a wet towel. It comes together with pulsating pulls at my adam’s apple and uncontrolled crying. Surrounding belly muscles contract as well. It draws my full attention to that inner spot, much like a 220 volt electric shock, if you ever had that.

Some clear triggers for this sensation are the death or the long-term departure of a person close to me, and the breakup of a relationship. In fact, looking closer, the trigger is usually a very specific, self-centered memory, such as that persons expression of appreciation for me, or the image of me staying behind on my own. I believe gutwrench has a lot to do with a turn of attention from something shared to something individual. I oversee the beauty of what is lost, wishing to be able to express that to the person, but I can’t, because he or she is gone. The hole that person left behind is painful and at the same time there’s new freedom. That realisation feels good for me, but it is a type of betrayal too. Everything is intensely happy, yet intensely sad.

Because this experience squeezes my being so tightly, the relaxation afterwards is very deep. As if some weight has truly disappeared, I see the world under a different light: more laid back than usual. I’m open for new things, ready and obliged to dive into new experiences, into new beings. Even though I went through gutwrench, I’m still here, and that knowledge has primordial power.

The word gutwrench existed as something negative. I understand it as a manifestation of a bond. How about you?

 

Slit

I drive my bicycle by the Huizingalaan for my job. There’s an anxious feeling, but I can’t put my finger on it. The traffic light is red. Shall I cross the street anyway? I’m almost at my third destination of this morning, meaning I’m halfway the duty: taking pictures of the litter on the street. The rubbish in the grass doesn’t matter, that’s not in the assignment. I decide there’s no rush, so I just stop for the red light. The weekend pops into my mind. We had a nicely easy pace, far slower than the footsteps I hear behind me. They’re close, actually. I want to turn my head, when I feel a firm, warm hand on my right ear. It is attached to a left arm that is now in front of my face. It my face in a turn to the left. A sharp cold blade enters my neck on the left side of my Adam’s apple and painfully slits through. I am surprisingly aware of it cutting my aorta. My body pressure drops. I’m calmer than ever when I bend my right shoulder forward towards my steer. Whoever is behind me still holds my face back and I’m looking at the sky. I feel my legs give way and my body comes down like a scaffolding with a missing lower pole. My heart pumps out quantities of blood and I cannot stop it. My extremities start tingling. The feeling steadily creeps in. I lose perception in my skin.

He doesn’t look into my eyes, but instead goes straight for the inner pocket of my coat. I hear myself attempt to ask what the black hat expects to find there. His survival? Another pulse of life leaves my arms and legs. It’s sad. The dark black coat and the hat run off with my wallet, leaving what is left of me buried under the bike I had with me. “Now nobody will know who I am”. The thoughts sound distant but meaningful. Light flashes appear. They come with a pulsating headache. Part of my view is replaced by colour patterns. Someone I once briefly dated enters my vision. Never thought she would.

“What did you do wrong?” I hear.
“Should I have ignored the red light and crossed the street?”
There’s no answer. I feel the question press stronger upon me.
“Should I have looked behind me when I felt something was wrong? When I heard his footsteps? Should I have seen him when he wanted to attack?”
Still no answer.
“Should I have taken a shorter coffee break, so that the evil would never have met me? Perhaps I should have called in sick this morning, when I felt that little headache rise? Or should I have forgotten my camera at home and caused a delay, or overslept a little, or made some more love or…”
“What did you do wrong?”
The similarity in tone and volume with the earlier question is frightening.

“Was it my dedication? Should I have been a more effective worker? More persuasive? Should I have been more pro-active in times where I was needed? Should I have tried harder to convince others about this team building idea? Should I have put more effort in the workspace? Cleaned more? Worn more suitable clothes? Perhaps I should have reviewed my products better? And the others’? Paid more attention to their personal problems instead of my own?
It remains silent for a while.

“Should I have been more loving to my girlfriend, maybe? Thought less about sex, perhaps? More about tenderness and care? Cuddled more? Should I have avoided those other girls I felt a stronger affection to at times? Spent less time drinking with friends? Should I have mastered my feelings better, so that she would’ve had a stronger shoulder to rest on? Tried harder to listen to her when she had a hard time? Perhaps I should have practiced Yoga? Should I have asked her to marry me? Have babies? Would that have saved me from this horrible death? Should I have reached out to her more while I still had the chance? Did I date the wrong girl?

“What did you do wrong?” Again, the exact same words in the exact same, serene but powerful voice.
“Should I have saved more energy? Bought more organic food? Perhaps I shouldn’t have bought a car? Lived a more sober life, cared more about strangers? Should I have visited my grandma more often? Learn from her words and give her some news on how the younger people live? Should I have fought her lonely existence and restored the generation gap? Should I have called more with my parents? Asked them for their points of view? Listened to their warnings? Should I not have moved so far away? Chosen my dad’s profession, tried to understand him? Should I have granted them a grandchild while I had the chance? Could I have been less hard on my brothers? Fought them less, given them more space to be who they were? Should I ha…

“What did you do wrong?” am I in a loop? Will this go on an on?
“Should I have dedicated my life to the spiritual? Moved to a monastery? Helped out in the third world, perhaps? Should I have actively practiced a state of constant joyful trance? Strived for enlightenment? Compassion? Should I have passionately sought the wiser ones to support me in a path of service to the divine? Travelled through dimensions? Been more in touch with myself? Should I have established a disciplined bio rhythm? Meditated more? Should I have been an example to those who needed one? Or perhaps I should have been more humble? Taken my convictions less seriously? Or simply have been more open to others? Where the Christians right? Should I have just understood that Jesus was our one and only saviour? Should I have separated milk from meat? Prayed towards the middle east? Or maybe I ignored you when I met you, disguised up as a homeless person? Or were you dressed up as a business man? A beautiful woman in a long black dress, perhaps?

“What did you do wrong?” I’m running out of thoughts. What if I don’t find the answer? I don’t know what to say.
“Should I have slept more?”
“That’s enough, man!” says the voice. “I was just messing with you! You should have crossed the red light while you still could. Your first guess was right. But it’s too late for that now” a jolly laughter. “Anyway, dude, welcome to the afterlife.”

A plea for the space in the smiley

SmileyPlea

Which one looks better? Number two, right? Then why does everyone write smileys like the first one? If anything, that one looks as if it’s being squeezed.

Here’s a hypothesis: it’s because of a false sense of rush. People feel the need to hurry, and can’t afford to tap the spacebar between the colon and the bracket. They believe it is acceptable to write a smiley as a frog’s face. Everybody does it, after all. If this is true, they are caught in a system of neglect. For vague reasons, they renounce the use of details, character and happiness. Watch the pictures once more if you are not sure.

Maybe it’s because when you type it without space, some programs replace your signs for a little smiley image. This explanation is even worse. It means that people place their creativity in the hands of some machine, coded for commercial reasons. They believe that industrial outputs are better than their own, and therefore let their acts be controlled by it, even when they are not working with that program. Very sad.

Or perhaps people feel that the bigger the smile, the happier the face. Those people I’d like to ask to stand up, walk to the mirror and try it out for themselves.

Putting the space within the smiley is an act of resistance. With this space, one shows that he does not succumb to the degradation of the creative mind. One shows control over the own agenda and willingness to offer a tiny bit of extra time to the reader, just for the sake of his joy. The user of this space tells the world that he cannot be pushed in the direction where our surroundings or inventive marketers try to get us.

Don’t you agree that society is saturated with colours, smells and yells? Using this space shows that you too believe in a world where absence of information is appreciated. It symbolizes faith in a more easy, gentle and comprehensible society, where things can happen at their pace. Isn’t it wonderful that this can be demonstrated with something simple as a smile?

: )

Happiness on a map

A hand sized acorn leaf settles itself on my lap as I bike back from work. It is beautiful how nature can make you feel special at times. I’m on my way to Qu’awa D’or, a coffee place where I will pick up our poster. That’s where this started.

It’s been about three months since I met Korrie de Vet, laughing. She invited me to join a meeting about a happiness route through Amsterdam Oost. The idea: volunteers share whatever makes them happy with those who walk the route. I propose a week later that we use our garden for something. A fire for example. That’s what I like to do. But I’m open for more plans.

Over the past months, I have tried to mobilize the neighbours via our shared Facebook page. People were interested as we went by the doors, but nobody showed up at the meeting I proposed for yesterday. So no grand plan, no filling of the space, just fire. People will bring the ambience. That is, in fact, precisely the idea of the route. The lack of control seems just to be something I have to deal with.

A lady I met before awaits me at Qu’awa d’Or. She shows me the poster. There’s a map as well. It indicates all the happy spots in a colourfull way. It even has the name Sailing on Dreams. I learn that there will be a shamanic opening ritual, performed by the lady who took the initiative. She once dreamt to create this route. It will exist this weekend. Those are the ones.

I’m curious what these days will bring. My preparation was mostly in thought, little in action. But simple plans now rise. Be welcome to join. We’re number 11.

The Devil’s Mount

Berlin, summer 2012

I feel it the instant I walk through the door. Sound surrounds me. Every footstep, every click of my fingers, every single breath I take echoes around in the spherical shape I’m in. The sound fades with mathematical precision, until I make another move and ignite a new cascade. What my ears hear is all that matters.

Berlin’s great! After a two-week holiday at Zuzana’s place in Slovakia, we are now staying at Taicia’s. The city breathes art. Many squatted buildings are settlements for people to create. One solders a horse out of metal waste, others paint. We found a stage on the street, with music no one really liked but everyone appreciated, just because it’s Berlin. And then you have the remnants of the Wall, meandering through the city as a dried up river of torn emotions. It reminds us of our schizophrenic past.

We stumble upon a free exposition hidden somewhere deep inside a building near a bridge. The theme is resistance. The walls show pictures of demonstrations in all corners of the world this past year. There are pictures of the Arab spring, Occupy and Pussy Riot. Somewhere on a tile there’s a line that compels me. “The only real revolution is inner revolution”. I buy a book about the sacredness of trees.

It’s like finding yourself in a fully new game. I like to sing. I usually use my voice to reconnect. I now freely let sounds emerge from deep inside me. In my mind’s eye I see a stream of energy leaving through my mouth, far out into space. Alex Grey-like patterns. Everything is connected.

We arrived at the Teufelsberg after a half an hour walk through the woods. This building was built by the Americans to listen in on conversations by the USSR. It has been squatted and the walls have been adorned with amazing graffiti pictures. It has a tower with an enormous orb on top. I’m running around in it. Clicking, jumping and bungling around in euphoria.

There’s a window. Everything’s purplish red because the sun sets in the woods.