Lovelock locked us in! While Galileo used a telescope to reveal that the Earth is part of an infinite universe, Lovelock used his electron capture detector to reveal that the Earth is completely different from any other planet because it has life. He and [Lynn] Margulis spotted Gaia. Lovelock from space, taking the question as globally as possible; Margulis from bacteria, taking the question from the other end, both realising that Life, capital L, has managed to engineer its own conditions of existence. For me that is the greatest discovery of this period, though it is still not very much accepted by mainstream science. This may be because we do not yet have the tools to receive it.
Why do you think scientists are still wary?
That such an important concept is still so marginal in the history of science is extraordinary. I have done everything I can to make it accepted. But scientists are reflexively cautious. The cosmological shift from Aristotle to Galileo is the same as that from Galileo to Gaia. With Galileo, our understanding moved outwards to an infinite universe. Grasping that took a century and a half and faced resistance. Gaia is not just one more concept. It is not just about physics and energy. It is Life.
Your work has often challenged the objective, God’s-eye view of science. You argue convincingly that humanity cannot be so detached. But the political right have twisted this approach to undermine all expert knowledge on the climate and nature crises. Any regrets?
A critique of how science is produced is very different from the post-truth argument that there are alternative truths that you can choose from. Post-truth is a defensive posture. If you have to defend yourself against climate change, economic change, coronavirus change, then you grab at any alternative. If those alternatives are fed to you by thousands of fake news farms in Siberia, they are hard to resist, especially if they look vaguely empirical. If you have enough of them and they are contradictory enough, they allow you to stick to your old beliefs. But this should not be confused with rational scepticism.
Has the Covid-19 crisis affected our belief in science?
The virus has revealed the number of things you need to know to decide what is factual and what’s not. The public are learning a great deal about the difficulty of statistics, about experiment, about epidemiology. In everyday life, people are talking about degrees of confidence and margin of error. I think that’s good. If you want people to have some grasp of science, you must show how it is produced."
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“Trust me, nobody is mad at you for being white. Nobody.”
Via Yes Magazine: "9. On my very first date with my now husband, I climbed into his car and saw baby wipes on the passenger-side floor. He said he didn’t have kids, they were just there to clean up messes in the car. I twisted to secure my seatbelt and saw a stuffed animal in the rear window. I gave him a look. He said, “I promise, I don’t have kids. That’s only there so I don’t get stopped by the police.” He then told me that when he drove home from work late at night, he was getting stopped by cops constantly because he was a black man in a luxury car and they assumed that either it was stolen or he was a drug dealer. When he told a cop friend about this, Warren was told to put a stuffed animal in the rear window because it would change “his profile” to that of a family man and he was much less likely to be stopped. The point here is, if you’ve never had to mask the fruits of your success with a floppy-eared, stuffed bunny rabbit so you won’t get harassed by the cops on the way home from your gainful employment (or never had a first date start this way), you have white privilege.
10. Six years ago, I started a Facebook page that has grown into a website called Good Black News because I was shocked to find there were no sites dedicated solely to publishing the positive things black people do. (And let me explain here how biased the coverage of mainstream media is in case you don’t already have a clue—as I curate, I can’t tell you how often I have to swap out a story’s photo to make it as positive as the content. Photos published of black folks in mainstream media are very often sullen- or angry-looking. Even when it’s a positive story! I also have to alter headlines constantly to 1) include a person’s name and not have it just be “Black Man Wins Settlement” or “Carnegie Hall Gets 1st Black Board Member,” or 2) rephrase it from a subtle subjugator like “ABC taps Viola Davis as Series Lead” to “Viola Davis Lands Lead on ABC Show” as is done for, say, Jennifer Aniston or Steven Spielberg. I also receive a fair amount of highly offensive racist trolling. I don’t even respond. I block and delete ASAP. The point here is, if you’ve never had to rewrite stories and headlines or swap photos while being trolled by racists when all you’re trying to do on a daily basis is promote positivity and share stories of hope and achievement and justice, you have white privilege."
Have been watching "Ride Upon the Storm" by Adam Price recently. This image is from it's title sequence by Benny Box.
In my backyard
Rotkelchen – European Robin May 24rd, 2020
"Little bird up in a tree Looked down and sang a song to me Of how it began"
Via Wikipedia: "Little Bird is a song written by Dennis Wilson and Stephen Kalinich with uncredited contributions from Brian Wilson. It was first recorded by American rock band the Beach Boys and released on their 1968 album Friends. It was also placed as the B-side of the album's Friends single. The single peaked at number 47 in the US and number 25 in the UK. Brian once said; 'Dennis gave us Little Bird which blew my mind because it was so full of spiritualness. He was a late bloomer as a music maker. He lived hard and rough but his music was as sensitive as anyone's.' The outro of Little Bird features a musical quotation of the unfinished 1966 composition Child Is Father of the Man composed by Brian Wilson for the Smile album. His contribution remains uncredited."
Via Wikipedia: "The avian magnetic compass of the robin has been extensively researched and uses vision-based magnetoreception, in which the robin's ability to sense the magnetic field of the earth for navigation is affected by the light entering the bird's eye. The physical mechanism of the robin's magnetic sense is not fully understood, but may involve quantum entanglement of electron spins."
Via Project Gutenberg's Birds in Legend, Fable and Folklore, by Ernest Ingersoll: "Bearing his cross, while Christ passed by forlorn, His Godlike forehead by the mock crown torn, A little bird took from that crown one thorn, To soothe the dear Redeemer’s throbbing head. That bird did what she could; His blood, ’t is said, Down-dropping dyed her tender bosom red. Since then no wanton boy disturbs her nest; Weasel nor wildcat will her young molest— All sacred deem that bird of ruddy breast."
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"At a high level, it is important to understand that mostnew relationships in 2019 begin online. Traditional methods such as introductions by friends and family, meeting at work, etc. have been outmoded and are increasingly outlier outcomes." from The Dating Market: Thesis Overview.
SUR-FAKE (2015) by Antoine Geiger: "This research echoes the SUR-FACE project. It is placing the screen as an object of "mass subculture", alienating the relation to our own body, and more generally to the physical world."
Believe It or Not!
Weird news and MythBusters January 17th, 2020
Via Wikipedia: "Ripley's Believe It or Not! is an American franchise, founded by Robert Ripley, which deals in bizarre events and items so strange and unusual that readers might question the claims. [...] At the peak of its popularity, the syndicated feature was read daily by about 80 million readers, and during the first three weeks of May 1932 alone, Ripley received over two million pieces of fan mail. Dozens of paperback editions reprinting the newspaper panels have been published over the decades. Recent Ripley's Believe It or Not! books containing new material have supplemented illustrations with photographs. Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz's first publication of artwork was published by Ripley. It was a cartoon claiming his dog was 'a hunting dog who eats pins, tacks, screws, nails and razor blades.' Schulz's dog Spike later became the model for Peanuts' Snoopy."
Via Wikipedia: "MythBusters is an Australian-American science entertainment television program created by Peter Rees and produced by Australia's Beyond Television Productions. The series premiered on the Discovery Channel on January 23, 2003. [...] The show's hosts, special effects experts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, used elements of the scientific method to test the validity of rumors, myths, movie scenes, adages, Internet videos, and news stories."
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Douglas Gordon at Eva Presenhuber, November 2 – December 15, 2019.
End of 2019
Ten memories I treasure December 31st, 2019
Being present On a weekend trip with a friend and her 2,5 year old daughter I forgot to put my backpack into the car after a hike for mushrooms. Later, when I looked for it it was gone. The next day I thought about going to a lost and found in the next city. Instead I remembered that the city had a huge hospital which is now owned by the Thich Nhat Hanh order, and called European Institute of applied Buddhism. We all went and got invited for lunch. Everything was to be done in silence – getting the food from the buffet, sitting down at a table, and eating. The little girl did it beautifully. For me it was a moving experience in mindfulness. A few days later I got a message from a lady who found my backpack – including my keys and diary. I just love when things like this happen.
Ceremony An ultra inspiring, and brave friend of mine initiated and orchestrated the most beautiful, cathartic, and heartfelt ceremony for her family and friends to say goodbye to her brother, who had just died. I have never experienced anything like this before. A lot of feelings flooded the room, many tears, and sobbing – deeply felt connection and love, straight from the hearts. I was totally overwhelmed, and am still so grateful to have been invited.
Conversations In preparation for my Transformats seminar for our Klang and Realität master program I watched many of bell hooks' conversations. She is a great, kind, beautiful, honest teacher, and an important inspiration for me. You will find many of the conversations here: bell hooks at The New School. The New School says, "hooks (née Gloria Watkins) is among the leading public intellectuals of her generation. Her writings cover a broad range of topics including gender, race, teaching, and contemporary culture. During her residencies bell hooks has held conversations with Laverne Cox, Cornel West, Gloria Steinem, Melissa Harris-Perry, and New School students." Watch them all!
Comedian I think it was the first warm day of spring when I still had a lot of energy in the evening, and looked up the local newspaper to find something to do. I saw that Hagen Rether was doing his Liebe program at the Cologne philharmonic and went although it was sold out. The lady at the tickets told me that someone had just left their ticket for her to give it away for free. It seemed like a sign saying I made the right decision. The show was truly mind-blowing. I laughed and cried for three hours straight.
Concert A friend discovered Angel Bat Dawid in Den Haag where she played her European premiere at Rewire this year. The Guardian calls her debut album The Oracle "one of the year’s best releases in any genre, where swelling vocals, warm organ chords and lilting and freaked-out clarinet lines combine in a profoundly affecting whole". In November I saw her in Cologne on a slow Monday night. She was truly living her process, I think. After the concert I bought her record and asked her to sign it. She gave me a deep hug. Later that night I saw her ran and scream through the place like thunderbolts. I am still in awe. Thanks to Swantje Lichtenstein!
Film One of my all-time favorite gurus is Laurie Anderson. In 1989 I saw her live for the first time, and went to see her concert film Home of the Brave shortly after. Everything about that film influenced me, and this year I thought about showing it in a seminar, and re-watched it by myself to see if it still has an impact. It did, and I combined the film with interviews about one of her recent project Habea Corpus. Some teachers just stick.
Guided tour In the middle of an extremely hot and dry summer I went for a guided tour to see why the opera building in Cologne has been in a building freeze for three years now. It was nice to walk in the cold basement floors of the amazing structure, which gets dismantle to it's original design by fabulous Wilhelm Riphahn. It was also hilarious to see the total construction madness -especially in the energy, ventilation and water infrastructures- that led to the halt of the renovation. A witty and fun tour indeed.
Tea After my last yoga lesson for this year my teacher placed a little gift next to my mat. I did not know what to say because only I got a present. I asked if I could open it, and it was a little bag with dried Linden flowers to make Limeflower tea from it. It also had a note which said that I can connect with nature and specifically the lime tree in our street through those flowers. The tree and nine others are about to fall for a new school building, and we are both members of a civic group, that wants to save the Linden tree and her friends.
TV The best reality TV I have seen -ever and by far- is Queer Eye. I agree with The Guardian when they write, "there is so much emotional truth going on here and not for a second does it feel manipulated. It sums up the excellence of this show: it has political nous, it has heart, it has style and it feels utterly relevant to now", and in another article, "it is kind and warm, and it is the most feelgood of feelgood TV, and it manages to entertain by crossing, for a time at least, boundaries of class, of race and of sexuality". My favorite fab 5? Of course the one and only Jonathan van Ness.
So, here we are... And what is next?
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Banksy on Instagram.
Beep. Ding. Vroom.
Sounds that will define the highways of the future September 28th, 2019
Via The New York Times: "Two years ago, Nissan hired the studio Man Made Music for what seemed like a straightforward task: Design a sound that its quiet electric vehicles could play to announce themselves on the road.
The automaker wasn’t just splurging on a flashy feature. It was preparing for a federal regulation set to take effect next year that would require all hybrid and electric vehicles, which are quieter than their gas-guzzling ancestors, to emit noise at certain speeds for pedestrian safety. […]
The team at Man Made Music, which is used to developing audio for TV, movies and radio, spent nearly half of 2017 working on the sound, a layering of sampled wind and string instruments, and analog and digital synth sounds [listen to “Canto,” the future sound of Nissan’s electrified vehicles]."
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Illustration by Geoff McFetridge, who not only has his own design studio but has been showing internationally with his so complex yet simple, elegant, colorblocked works.
Via Nature: "When faced with a personal problem people typically give better advice to others than to themselves. This has been termed ‘Solomon’s Paradox’, named after the biblical King Solomon who was wise for others, but not so when it came to making decisions that would have an impact on his own standing.
Suppose that instead of imagining a problem from the perspective of another you were actually able to have a conversation with yourself about it, but from the embodied perspective of another.
A previous study showed how it is possible to enact internal dialogue in virtual reality (VR) through participants alternately occupying two different virtual bodies – one representing themselves and the other Sigmund Freud. They could maintain a self-conversation by explaining their problem to the virtual Freud and then from the embodied perspective of Freud see and hear the explanation by their virtual doppelganger, and then give some advice. Alternating between the two bodies they could maintain a self-dialogue, as if between two different people.
Here we show that the process of alternating between their own and the Freud body is important for successful psychological outcomes. An experiment was carried out with 58 people, 29 in the body swapping Self-Conversation condition and 29 in a condition where they only spoke to a Scripted Freud character. The results showed that the Self-Conversation method results in a greater perception of change and help compared to the Scripted. We compare this method with the distancing paradigm where participants imagine resolving a problem from a first or third person perspective.
We consider the method as a possible strategy for self-counselling."
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Illustration by Laura Callaghan, a Irish illustrator based in London. On her Instagramm she subtiles this image, "Maidin Mhaith 3. A piping hot cup of HELP."
"BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
DON’T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
DON’T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.
The Four Agreements sound simple, even simplistic. But try keeping just one for an entire day!"
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Big Science is the 1982 debut album by avant-garde artist Laurie Anderson.
Na na na na na, na na na (bop bop-bop-bop-bop, bop)
July 21st, 2019 The Hippies Were Right: It's All about Vibrations, Man!
Via Scientific American: "The mind-body problem enjoyed a major rebranding over the last two decades and is generally known now as the hard problem of consciousness […] Fast forward to the present era and we can ask ourselves now: Did the hippies actually solve this problem? My colleague Jonathan Schooler of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and I think they effectively did, with the radical intuition that it’s all about vibrations … man. Over the past decade, we have developed a 'resonance theory of consciousness' that suggests that resonance—another word for synchronized vibrations—is at the heart of not only human consciousness but of physical reality more generally. […]
Stephen Strogatz provides various examples from physics, biology, chemistry and neuroscience to illustrate what he calls 'sync' (synchrony) […] Fireflies of certain species start flashing their little fires in sync in large gatherings of fireflies, in ways that can be difficult to explain under traditional approaches. […] The moon’s rotation is exactly synced with its orbit around the Earth such that we always see the same face. […]
The panpsychist argues that consciousness (subjectivity) did not emerge; rather, it’s always associated with matter, and vice versa (they are two sides of the same coin), but mind as associated with most of the matter in our universe is generally very simple. An electron or an atom, for example, enjoy just a tiny amount of consciousness. But as matter 'complexifies,' so mind complexifies, and vice versa."