Alternate Histories: 5/29, 6/13, 9/30

[Note:  this is another alternate history for the same two people who evoked the one yesterday and the one the day before.]

5/29/15

[After asking his nana for permission to talk to me]

I’m worried that I’ll never get to see my dad and he misses me and I miss him. And I miss nature, I miss everything.

Your nana’s over there, you don’t miss her, right?

No, she’s right over there, and my mom, and my auntie, except for my dad.

Are you guys in touch? [Shakes head.] Do you like to draw?

Yeah.

Maybe you could do some drawings and save them for him, I bet he’d like that.

I like to draw Minecraft. I make a comic book and I turn it into a comic book and all I do is make Minecraft, that’s all. Can I have a piece of paper? [I give him a piece of paper and he folds it.] Do you have a scissor or can you rip it? [He draws a line to show me where to rip, and unfolds a one-sheet booklet. He then goes and lugs his little cousin over to meet me and they draw together for a while on the backs of some of the alternate-history blanks, except he’s having a competition for how much paper he can cover and she’s not. I give him a marker, a clipboard, and the rest of the alternate-history blanks to take with him.]

*

6/13/15

I worked at Apeiron, I worked in Woonsocket. Life is so totally out of balance, so disconnected. We’re all implicated. It makes me so unutterably sad.

What do you do when you feel that sadness?

I try to put parts of my body on the grass and connect with Mother Earth … A lot will survive, but I think it might not be us. I try to breathe. I think about the bad things I do and how they contribute … I believe that everybody cares, given the opportunity to care.

I’ve been trying to think about what sadness might make possible.

Sadness leads to the desire for connection. Sadness informs reaching out. But I don’t share sadness often, because I want to make opportunities for people to perform their own responses, to facilitate a journey to authentic response.

*

9/30/15

But the soil wasn’t what they were worried about, you might be thinking, or it was just a small element of their worry. Their fear towers higher and their loss reaches deeper. So let’s imagine instead that W changes her direction. That every time someone says, “Beautiful day,” when she’s in line at the supermarket, she says, “It’s so unseasonably warm because the world is warming.” Every time someone asks how she’s doing, she says, “I’m sad and angry, because I can’t stop the polluting practices that are ruining the world.” When her sister calls from Houston to announce her promotion at work, she says, “We could lose between 20 to 50 percent of species out all life on earth, within the century, and that’s a conservative estimate.”

For T, it’s different. That’s too much work for us to ask a kid to do, so his family takes it on for him, and his teachers, and his grown cousins. But when he does speak about his worry and his loneliness, everyone listens, and they also listen when he talks about Minecraft, or shows them something he’s made. He gets into the habit of being heard, recognized, real to the people around him.

W never unbends, never cracks. Her presence as a mourner is total. She feels satisfaction, even peace, that comes from knowing what to do. What to do is this.

T and the kids he knows grow up–loved, recognized, embraced, curious, brave, and also confused, sad, lonely, frustrated, angry sometimes. What to do with sadness? What to do?

People do listen to W, and some emulate her. Every day they sit together for an hour and imagine their own deaths, and the deaths of everything they have ever loved. In the rest of their days, they attempt to alleviate present suffering. When people try to take care of them, to offer them food or shelter, they redirect it to someone else in greater need. They mark their faces with ashes. They are eerie, like the future.

And people, in awe of them, let them pass–into offices, into power plants, into factories. They tell the people inside the effects of their decisions, and then they leave. The next day they are back.

T and his friends let sadness make them kind and anger make them brave. They share everything they have. They run shining over the whole earth.

But what will happen, though? I hear you asking. What’s going to happen?

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Alternate Histories: 5/29, 6/13, 9/29

[Note:  this is another alternate history for the same two people who evoked yesterday’s.]

5/29/15

[After asking his nana for permission to talk to me]

I’m worried that I’ll never get to see my dad and he misses me and I miss him. And I miss nature, I miss everything.

Your nana’s over there, you don’t miss her, right?

No, she’s right over there, and my mom, and my auntie, except for my dad.

Are you guys in touch? [Shakes head.] Do you like to draw?

Yeah.

Maybe you could do some drawings and save them for him, I bet he’d like that.

I like to draw Minecraft. I make a comic book and I turn it into a comic book and all I do is make Minecraft, that’s all. Can I have a piece of paper? [I give him a piece of paper and he folds it.] Do you have a scissor or can you rip it? [He draws a line to show me where to rip, and unfolds a one-sheet booklet. He then goes and lugs his little cousin over to meet me and they draw together for a while on the backs of some of the alternate-history blanks, except he’s having a competition for how much paper he can cover and she’s not. I give him a marker, a clipboard, and the rest of the alternate-history blanks to take with him.]

*

6/13/15

I worked at Apeiron, I worked in Woonsocket. Life is so totally out of balance, so disconnected. We’re all implicated. It makes me so unutterably sad.

What do you do when you feel that sadness?

I try to put parts of my body on the grass and connect with Mother Earth … A lot will survive, but I think it might not be us. I try to breathe. I think about the bad things I do and how they contribute … I believe that everybody cares, given the opportunity to care.

I’ve been trying to think about what sadness might make possible.

Sadness leads to the desire for connection. Sadness informs reaching out. But I don’t share sadness often, because I want to make opportunities for people to perform their own responses, to facilitate a journey to authentic response.

*

9/29/15

Okay, you don’t believe in the bell in the sky, you don’t want to make the bell in the sky happen. How about this…

When you’re in pain it’s natural to throw yourself down on the breast of your mother, if she’s not your enemy. And so the slopes with their scrub, the sidewalks with their cracks, the parks and beaches and vacant lots and meadows become dotted, striped, coated with people in pain, W and T among them, in different places, their chests or fingertips seeking contact with the dark earth. They share their sorrow with her and they rise up replenished; they take her wounds into themselves. Because of where and when they are, they lie eye-to-eye with yellowjackets and ants, they look to the side and see acorn caps and plantain leaves, a loose feather or a fallen oak twig. They look to the other side and see someone’s shoulder, or their hair interweaving with the grass.

They know (and if they don’t, they tell each other) that a big group of people in a place has a tendency to leave a mark, so they are careful with the length of time they stay. They start by grooming the places they lie down for human-made debris, but then they start to ask: what counts? Is garbage in a trashcan or a landfill better for the skin of the earth than garbage in the leaves? Some of them bring trowels and pick meditatively at the asphalt or concrete.

Mostly people stay for a little less long than it takes their body and their bacteria to move food or water along, so as not to cause problems with their shit or piss. But a few people lie there all day, for days. Maybe they’re skipping work, or don’t have work. Maybe they’re ignoring their families, or have no families.  Their sorrow is profound, and the people who lie next to them sometimes begin to bring them food and water, help them to nearby toilets or latrines reserved for them, even bathe them. They become shrines.

The other thing that happens is that through the seasons and years of lying on the ground, people come to know it better. Their ears and noses, as well as their skin, become attuned to its shifts, its layers, its veins, the motion of creatures within it or water below it. Someone who lies on the ground all the time can tell whether the ground they lie on is rich in plastic sediment, or lime, or mycorrhizae, or aerobic bacteria. They can sense the degree and nature of its strain or plenty. More often, it’s strain, and they share that stress and sorrow. Sometimes they can even tell what it needs, and ask for that, or bring it there–manure, or charcoal, or certain kinds of plants, or better drainage–not to serve humans better, but to feel more itself, to steady its balance.

… Does this offer you what you need? Do you believe it? Do you want to make it happen?

Alternate Histories: 5/29, 6/13, 9/28

5/29/15

[After asking his nana for permission to talk to me]

I’m worried that I’ll never get to see my dad and he misses me and I miss him. And I miss nature, I miss everything.

Your nana’s over there, you don’t miss her, right?

No, she’s right over there, and my mom, and my auntie, except for my dad.

Are you guys in touch? [Shakes head.] Do you like to draw?

Yeah.

Maybe you could do some drawings and save them for him, I bet he’d like that.

I like to draw Minecraft. I make a comic book and I turn it into a comic book and all I do is make Minecraft, that’s all. Can I have a piece of paper? [I give him a piece of paper and he folds it.] Do you have a scissor or can you rip it? [He draws a line to show me where to rip, and unfolds a one-sheet booklet. He then goes and lugs his little cousin over to meet me and they draw together for a while on the backs of some of the alternate-history blanks, except he’s having a competition for how much paper he can cover and she’s not. I give him a marker, a clipboard, and the rest of the alternate-history blanks to take with him.]

*

6/13/15

I worked at Apeiron, I worked in Woonsocket. Life is so totally out of balance, so disconnected. We’re all implicated. It makes me so unutterably sad.

What do you do when you feel that sadness?

I try to put parts of my body on the grass and connect with Mother Earth … A lot will survive, but I think it might not be us. I try to breathe. I think about the bad things I do and how they contribute … I believe that everybody cares, given the opportunity to care.

I’ve been trying to think about what sadness might make possible.

Sadness leads to the desire for connection. Sadness informs reaching out. But I don’t share sadness often, because I want to make opportunities for people to perform their own responses, to facilitate a journey to authentic response.

*

9/27/15

When you see a sad eight-year-old, you may feel an impulse to reach out to him, to enfold him. If W could see T, small and matter-of-fact, willing to talk to a stranger provided he had permission from his family, her attention and her yearning might condense around him until he became the world. But W can’t provide what T, according to him, needs: she can’t bring his dad back to him. What she can offer he might not need–he has a mother, a nana, an auntie, cousins. And a sadness that seems as big as the world isn’t the same as the world–healing one is no substitute for healing the other, though it might feel like it.

W would like to see T live to grow up, and she adds, in her small ways, to the things that may make that more likely. She doesn’t just work with Apeiron’s programs in schools, she’s helped to insist on safe school sites; she stands with efforts to hold police accountable and develop community justice alternatives. She protests fare hikes and cuts to library services. Her fear is for T, and everyone his age, and for herself, and everyone her age, and for the grass–the whole, old world.

And what does T want? He misses his dad–he wants to know that he’ll see him someday, in a day that hasn’t come yet. He misses nature–maybe he’d like to lie on the grass, too, or smell a different set of smells. But he’s not going to get in a stranger’s car and drive out to a meadow or the woods. And he might not get to see his dad again.

So in this story, what W and T need, and thus what they have, is a place to be wholly lonely even in the midst of love, to touch the face of their helplessness. A time of day, a signal to send to a satellite that sends back to everyone who calls to it all the voices together, amplified and textured into a deep note. It’s not comforting, but it’s solid. T’s auntie lets him use her phone to call out and to listen back.  And this –combined with the meeting of their bodily needs, combined with the equalizing of their relative safety–lets them rest a little, lets them work, lets them enjoy, lets them change what they do.

Alternate Histories: The Stratigraphic Story

I’ve been reading Lee Billings’s book Five Billion Years of Solitude because I want to write about space (as fact and dream) and planetary history, and I just read the part about stratigraphy and deep time. This reading has made me think about how paleoclimatologists (like friend of Climate Anxiety Counseling Tom Webb), geologists and others who study Earth as a planet find the stories that they tell, interwoven with other stories. It’s also made me think about science’s history of trying to look at one thing at a time when everything exists and changes in relation, and about the way geologists are the ones who’ve proposed the term “Anthropocene,” and about where and how we find and make stories.

From now on, all my posts here will have one bolded, italicized word in them that links back to this post, and these words will slowly add up to an alternate history of deep future time, or at least medium-deep. You will need to take my word for it that I haven’t prepared the whole text of the story beforehand; rather, interactions between the posts I want to make (alternate histories, reflections, upcoming booth sessions on October 14th and 15th, relevant actions and events) and the words I’ve already used will dictate the next word and, thus, the direction of the story. The words will exist in relation, in context, in their own time; only over time will they reveal their additional relation, their slowly accumulating meaning.

When it’s done or “done,” if we live that long, I’ll post it here in its entirety.

Snap the Shore, See the Future: 9/28-30 and 10/28-29

A chance to see and show the rising tide, from the Rhode Island Sea Grant:

“September and October have the highest predicted tides of this year, with Rhode Island tides running 1.5 times higher than average. Head to the shore on September 28-30 and October 28-29, 2015 and join the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council, URI Coastal Resources Center and Save The Bay to capture this year’s highest tides, often called King Tides, Spring Tides or Moon Tides. These extreme tide levels provide a glimpse of what the state can expect as sea level rise accelerates with climate change, where this could be our daily high tide by mid-century. Participating is easy: simply grab your camera or smart phone and head to the bay, tidal river or ocean during the high tides, install the free MyCoast app (links below) and submit your photos!

If you don’t have access to a smart phone, simply go to MyCoast.org and upload your photos on the website.

All times indicated are for Newport (for other locations see below):

Sept 288:20 AM; 1.4 feet above mean high water
Sept 299:11 AM; 1.5 feet above mean high water
Sept 3010:02 AM; 1.5 feet above mean high water
Tide data provided courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

What if I don’t live in Newport?

Check online for your local high tide times. For example, high tide varies at different locations, referenced to Newport High Tide:

Newport: 0 minutes
Wickford +3 minutes
Providence: +13 minutes
Weekapaug: +41 minutes
Bristol: +13 minutes
Block Island – Old Harbor: -13 minutes

If you are in enclosed tidal body or salt pond, the tides can be an hour or more later than in the open ocean/bay.”

Another Chance to Speak Against Raised Fares for Senior/Disabled RIPTA Passengers

There are meetings today in Providence and Bristol to offer feedback on RIPTA’s fare change proposals, which would increase fares for senior and disabled passengers. Please go today if you can. Living fairly means meeting people’s needs.

11am-12pm, The Commerce Center at The Providence Foundation, 30 Exchange Terrace, Providence

5:30-6:30pm, Burnside Building, 2nd Floor Meeting Room, 400 Hope St., Bristol

There were also meetings Tuesday in Woonsocket and Kingston; I’m sorry I didn’t post those here. Someone who attended one said:

I went to the RIPTA meeting at URI. I was one of about 5 people who showed up. There were more RIPTA people around than “voters.” We were asked to read panels with the current fares, panels listing 4 options for other ways to structure fares, and then to vote and comment. Each option would charge disabled and poor seniors something.

UPDATE: I went to the Providence meeting, which was as this person described, except that many senior and disabled riders were also present and did outnumber RIPTA employees/spokespeople. It’s possible to adapt the “voting”/comment structure to demand a plan that doesn’t increase fares for senior and disabled riders on fixed incomes, and that’s what I and a few other people did: we used comment forms to explain why we couldn’t endorse any plan that raised those fares. According to RIPTA, there will be public hearings about the proposed fare increase for senior/disabled rides (with opportunities to make statements on the record) in November, and those hearings will be announced at the RIPTA website, so check back there–and ask about the hearings if you don’t see them listed.

Climate Anxiety Counseling: Some Links and News

The Climate Anxiety Counseling booth, plus some extras, will be at the Alliance of Artists’ Communities Conference on October 14th from 11:30 to 1:15 and on October 15th from 8:30 to 3.

This booth session appears, along with other performances and activities and actions, on ARTCOP21‘s map of events leading up to the climate change conferences in Paris in December (video autoplays at that link). You can look for something near to you.

Because it costs money to get into the AAC conference, I’m also holding a booth session in the traditional Kennedy Plaza/Burnside Park location on October 15th, from 3:30 to 5pm, while the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy sets up and starts its Beer Garden. It will only cost the normal nickel to talk to me there.

Also on October 14th, at 5:30, I’m talking about Climate Anxiety Counseling, responsive art-making and intimate public discourse as part of the Creative Medicine Lecture Series (scroll down a bit). It’s open to the public, which is you.

More people are talking and writing about the weight that the knowledge of climate change and its effects can exert on our bodies and minds. I’m in this article; here’s another one; here’s a whole website.

For those who want to act as well as feel, have a look at the Climate Disobedience Center–they’re new, so let’s see what they’ll do, and let them know if we want them to do something more or different.

Alternate Histories: 5/5, 6/13, 9/21

5/5/15

I’m always mad at people who are happy when it’s warm in winter … In person I’ll be like, “Oh, I’m a winter girl,” or “I like having seasons, I’m from New England.” On Facebook it’s good and bad, because I’m far away and I can’t see their faces, and I get angrier, but I work myself into a frenzy and either I end up writing nothing, or I write something really angry and then I try to edit it so I can actually convince somebody, and then it ends up being too weak so I don’t write anything. Especially with my family, who are on the other side of the political spectrum … They’ll use something you said when you were six against you in a conversation about climate change. It gets so emotional so quickly. Then I want to say things like, “My son!”

Like, “Don’t you want your grandchild to have a future?”

*

6/13/15

Mom: Warming in general. Typical stuff that you hear all the time. We’re connected together, so once one thing gets out of sync, the whole thing falls apart. I live in Pennsylvania, and this past winter was so cold, and a lot of people in the neighborhood suffered–they lost plants or trees. Nobody has any time to do anything. I just keep on going. But–I know how it sounds to say this, but I have faith in the next generation coming up.

Daughter: They say you’ve already screwed it for us.

Mom: Anything they tell me to do, I would do.

Daughter: We learn the limitations of humanity. In Rochester, the winter there every year is like this winter tenfold. I live up here, and this winter, we had federal emergency aid, we ran out of sand twice–if something actually catastrophic happens, we’re hosed. We’re not ready. We’re comfortable.

*

9/21/15

Talking together, B and H and K begin to do something unthinkable: they begin to change the quality of their expectations, the way they expect. It’s hard. It’s like prying up pavement: it wrecks what you had, and it hurts your whole body, and you don’t know what’s underneath. It could be useless. It could be terrible. You could die anyway.

But they are coming to understand that they will die anyway, and the parents among them, B and K, are beginning to know–know isn’t the right word, it’s like a miniature black hole in their flesh–that their children will die. That they can’t protect their children and their children can’t protect them in the way that they thought. That the spring may not come in the way that they thought, that the fall might not cool, that the heat might not fade, that the snow might not melt. And this is what they begin to say to the people they know.

Not surprisingly, the person with cancer writes back I fucking know that, and the person who police flung to the ground only two nights ago writes what do you think I think about?  But the world is changing itself and us, shifting its distribution of matter and its ways of mattering. Here, it manifests as parties, short pilgrimages, where you go outside in the season and listen to its insects and eat whatever it offers and tell it you are willing to hear its new name.  There, it shows up as a wall that doubles as a gravestone, acknowledging on the outside people who’ve already died of heat or flood or famine while on the inside sheltering, for now, people who may not die today.

The person with cancer receives their care for free, and dies quietly without much pain; there is no time to hoard, no reason to withhold. The person who traced a tattoo around the maps of their bruises knows it will be the last mark the police leave on them, because there are no more police: that’s not a good use of resources. The night watch prowls and sings, walking off their anger from the time before. Fear is a companion, the jumpy, sad companion for whom there is no permanent soothing, no lasting comfort. The world really is dangerous and life really is brief. The world really is rich, complex, fragrant, and life really is full. Whether B buries her daughter or H buries her mother (or burns her, eats her, gives her to the scavengers) their sorrow will be full, and it will be real, and they will live in it.

Alternate Histories: 5/7, 7/8, 9/16

[These are anxieties from two different people; here’s an explanation of why they’re together.]

5/7/15

Finding work. I have a job, I wanna find a better one. More money, more stability. I don’t mind dangerous–I used to work unloading the freight when it comes off the 18-wheeler, sometimes it shifts around, you can’t just take it off however. I worked with electrical and manual jacks–you have to be certified, you have to know what you’re doing. I’m not too concerned about global warming.

*

7/8/15

How we’re gonna make the transition into a new kind of world. I can feel the vision of the new world–I’m ready, a lot of people I know are more than ready, but we don’t know how to make smooth transitions from the way things are now. And I hope there won’t have to be a crisis or a tragedy in order to change people’s habits, which are deeply engrained. I’ve been trying to live my way into it, and I can see the structures crumbling. No one I know has any money, everyone I know is broke. They say the economy’s fine but it’s not fine for anyone I know. I have a lot of things I can offer the world, but I can’t figure out how to monetize them. We have to figure out how to put other structures in place. A friend of mine’s trying to start a Rhode Island mutual aid network*, where people who have real skills could share them with each other. But I owe [a very large amount of money] to National Grid and I can’t barter my skills with them.

*

9/16/15

In this story, Y and V are able to work around their apparent similarities and differences long enough to listen to each other, to hear each other’s frustrations–what feels to them like an impassable rift in the earth. It feels like if you could just fill the rift with money, you could walk across it to a good life, or a new world.

Through talking together, it comes to them that this isn’t the case. They begin to sort out when money is a convenience, and when it’s a leash. This gives them two questions to answer: how can they get the things they need? and how can they get loose?

They (and  their neighbors, their families, people they went to high school with, the local ombudspeople and state house clerks and linemen and engineers that are those people’s cousins, spouses, friends) combine the utility payment strike with templates for lower electricity use, solar clotheslines, charging stations; practice and training in operating small and large-scale ways to generate electricity.  Electricity isn’t the goal; electricity is an arena. It’s one way they question and enact and redistribute power. It’s one place they recognize and make use of relations, of bonds.

Y’s grandniece dries her clothes in the sun and charges her insulin pump at a station just down the street. V’s best friend’s great-grandchild spends their days unraveling old wires with the greatest care, disturbing the hyphae and the ground-feeding birds as little as they may. Someone wearing a headwrap containing a patch of Y’s great-great-granddaughter’s old dress climbs to her aboveground home (for flooding) in a disused power tower. Electricity sings through the brain stems of shrews and squirrels, sparks in the conversations among protists in the soil. It’s loose and bound, loose and bound.

 

 

Alternate Histories: 6/13, 6/13, 9/14

[These are anxieties from three different people; here’s an explanation of why they’re together.]

6/13/15

Him: My big anxiety is that if you look back 65 million years, when the temperature jumped, it jumped in a span not of 100 but of 15 years, 8 degrees Celsius. We couldn’t adjust for it.

Her: The sea level rise from that–

Him: Basically if you melt all of [the] Greenland [Ice Sheet] you get 8 meters of rise. If you melt East and West Antarctica, you get an automatic 300 feet. Countries other than the U.S. are gonna push for geoengineering, but that has massive negative consequences. And the other thing is methane. There’s a tipping point with methane release as polar ice melts, and it’s greenhouse gas with 27 times the power of carbon dioxide. That’s really the thing that’s gonna put us over the edge. No policy can stop that. Barring geoengineering, this will happen.

Her: Based on the models.

So if this is definitely happening, what does that mean–

Him: For civilization?

I don’t think you know that. For you.

Him: It would be very sad, because we’re of the generation that actually had a chance to have an engineering impact for future generations. Cheap agricultural production is gonna collapse, and there’s gonna be an expansion of people who are denied their basic human rights.

Do you think there’s structures we could set up now that would reduce the chance of that?

Him: When I was younger, I went to Cuba and I looked at agricultural reform that was part of the reaction of the government to Russia’s collapse. All the imports of things like grain stopped. So they had to move from an agriculture that was focused on producing coffee, sugar and tobacco to a diversified local agriculture that could feed the population of the island. They were overall able to adapt the food supply, shift away from state-run agriculture. If we could facilitate such a shift–but agriculture runs off fossil fuels and glacial meltwater … I got burnt out on international development. Now I’m just trying to make money enough to make sure my family is safe. I’m building nonmilitary drones–they make 3D plans of buildings … I don’t see a total extinction event, I just see a very rough period for human rights. We have a tendency to hunt till there’s no more, drill till there’s no more. I personally think that humans are awesome, because humans make awesome things–humans are grasping the fundamental nature of reality in a way that no other creature has.

6/13/15

More storms. But it doesn’t feel personal to me, not like a personal fear. It’s more like the collective weight of an increasing level of disaster. It feels like a heavy weight, a collective weight of too much–too much happening at once. I have some sense of the fallout of that kind of [event]. I think there’s a lot of people that would vanish, would fall away, would die, and then the few people who are left would have to sort it out.

*

9/14/15

G sees history, and N feels it, looming above them, poised to fall. Let’s entwine not what they imagine, which is similar, but how they imagine it. When G is frightened, they gather data–names, relationships, likelihoods, projections, things that seem to them incontrovertible. When N is frightened, they register emanations–feelings that they share with other humans, with the strain that will show later in the year as blight on the edges of maple leaves, ground turning sour under heavy, sudden downpours, edged jokes about the Ocean State.

G can help tell us what structures we might put in place, what resources we might make available. Will we need new ways to balance what we permit with what we object to? G can seek out ways that people have handled this in the past, all through storied time, and correlate them with our coming needs. They can weigh the effects of different methane-capturing technologies and paces of reforestation. N can tell us if what we’re doing is working. Is the weight lighter? What does the air taste like? Which excuses do the violent try to make, and do they fly?

This happens–they tell us these things, and we listen, and act–and people who think like G go to places where that kind of thinking is needed, or wait where they are for people who think like N to reveal themselves. They come to recognize that data describes them, that history is something they are in, that the fundamental nature of reality is not something we grasp. It operates through us–we are among its tissues and its elements.

Through conversation, through proximity and through shared effort , people become better at each other’s kinds of thinking. Of course there are more than two; there are more than ten, or even a hundred; when we look away from all the different ways that people can see and understand the changes, we’re faced with the ways squids “understand” them or the way rocks “feel” them. And as we know this–as it’s expressed in numbers or in sounds–we may change what we do. This seems abstract, semantic, but history in us is as palpable as a dash of cool wind, the taste of bananas, a neck muscle easing.