From the Map to the Terrain
Reclaiming our World for our Every-Bodies
By Tegdirb Nedyah
Sea Moon - Lucy Atherton
Some of the best moments of my life have been spent lying on the bathroom floor, smiling in gratitude for the friends downstairs, yet glad to be alone with my head on the floor next to the toilet, where I can hear the water trickle in the cistern as it meanders on its wayward path, down to the sewer and then on to the rivers and sea.
Has my life been so crappy that this debasement serves as a highlight? Or is something else going on here? Granted: I've had some crappy moments, but this activity sure as hell feels like something akin to an ecstatic submission; at least it does when I'm drunk. Something about the sound of water gives me relief - relief from the tyranny of structure, from the myth of separation. Water forgives all: it is the great body of liquid into which all our tears must flow.
No matter how separate we think we might be, all of our fluids – and I'll leave it to your memory to identify the full set – mingle in the end: the gravity that sinks us, links us. Wandering wantonly, weaving its own lines with only passing respect for man-made boundaries, just like our thoughts, just like nature, like love, it must go where gravity pulls it and nothing in the end can stop it. The flow can be stemmed – for sure - but not indefinitely.
The Map - Bridget Hayden
Rivers form half the lines on this map of lancashire and yorkshire from 1700s. The other half are coach roads winding around the hills, avoiding the gorges, dictated by the natural landscape instead of dictating to it. Perhaps The Romans never even bothered to try and turn them into straight lines. Just like it said in the Domesday Book some 1000 years after they invaded, the provinces within Lancashire and Yorkshire are deemed “areas of recklessness and lawlessness”. Long may they remain that way.
As reckless and lawless as the elements, which quite frankly just will not behave either.
For example: as one section of river or sea is constantly re-organising and repositioning its molecules, I find myself wondering: how in the world can a body of water be made subject to human “ownership”? How can this unruly element be “owned” when it will hardly sit still for a single second? When it outright refuses to be pinned down indefinitely to a fixed co-ordinate? Of course, it hasn't stopped “them” from trying...
Could we say the same about the earth, which though slower moving, is also constantly in flux? A developer can mark out on a map “his land” and claim it for himself, but this acquisition is merely conceptual: conceptual capital exchanged for conceptual territory. The only static element in these equations is the illusion of ownership in the landowner themselves, and as even their mind is perishable, this concept of owning more territory than one person can use to sustain their family starts to resemble some kind of delusional psychosis.
Mycelium - One thing to note when considering the mycelium network – the 'wood wide web' – is that the energy within the network is evenly spread. If a tree has more nutrients than it requires, it sends them to help to those that are depleted.
Perhaps it is considerably more civilised - and far less destructive - for earth dwellers to delineate boundaries of ownership like other mammals by use of their own urine and faeces (as our tears all flow to the same sea, so all our shit must return to the soil). Thus avoiding the accumulation of more land than can be used by one human.
Every patriarchal religion of the last 4000 years (the rough date the planet's matrilineal societal structure was bludgeoned into extinction) seems to have at its heart the myth of a serpent like creature who was beheaded by a "man-man" - a hero of resounding and impossible masculinity wielding a shiny sword and a drive to eliminate all evil. In our modern equivalent our hero - lets call him "Big Farmer" - fends off not just the worms, but tries to eliminate everything unpredictable in his OCD quest to monocrop the entire globe. In doing so he unfortunately diminishes the strength and health of our biodiversity and by association that of our microbiome, upon which our immunity depends. Just think of the poor worms. Shamed by association, wriggling blind, doing their best to turn our shit into healthy compost. Are they the victims of a historical re-enactment recurring endlessly on a microscopic scale?
Cracks in the Ceiling - Gemma Lacey - They say that nature abhors a vacuum. Why then is she constantly creating them? To give her something to fill perhaps? These cracks in the ceiling to could be lightening fast connections from node to node.
This reduction of diversity even extends to the realm of debate: a monocrop of narratives now dominates our media. Any dissent or diversion from the party line is either framed as ridiculous by association or not given a platform at all. Reductive binary, divide then rule. Feels almost like being we are being turned into particles...
Particles don't exist until they are being watched – it's known in quantum physics as “the observer effect”. Is this what is happening to us? Has the moralist God, who watched over our thoughts to make sure they were pure, come back as a digital spy?
If we forget to feed those parasitic handheld devices we call our friends for long enough could it be possible that we could turn ourselves back into ... waves?
I was originally going to make this an interactive map, but for all the reasons explained above, I changed my mind. I felt that to re-ground ourselves upon the earth and reconnect with the stars, the air, the water and each other we will have to avoid proffering up our experiences, unsconcious drives and energies down the feeding tube that leads directly into Jeff Bezos' endlessly open mouth. I know this will be hard, but perhaps we can all connect to each other.....without the internet?
There's hope, there's always hope.