Rhizomes (english version)
This is a post that may grow over time ; it's roughly translated from french to english (thanks, DeepL revisited !) I would be glad if you helped me improve that.
Untie the knots, delicately, and tie them again immediately afterwards. Be very careful not to get anything tangled up. Weave new ties, when possible, slowly, with great care.
The first time... They don't really remember. Somewhere, far back in childhood, a sudden change of environment, a shift in perspective – it was no longer the same angle of view, a change in feeling – was it really the same colours? A feeling of being warmer. A different smell, too. Slightly different sounds (the music playing in the background did not have the same effect, did not give the same kind of emotion). Anxiety about disturbing something, about being caught. Coming back to oneself suddenly, not being able to leave again.
No doubt this first “memory” is that of the first awareness of a differentiation.
The fire crackles in the fireplace, the room smells of morning coffee. The cat is stretching. S/he has simple thoughts, the world is calmer through her/is spectrum.
They delight in it.
To allow oneself to be penetrated by the Other as one penetrates them – to allow the Other to imbibe oneself as one is imbibed by the Other. To become two beings at once, and in so doing, to lose part of one's individuality in order to accept that of the Other. To end up defining the Other as a knot that has not yet been joined. Becoming multiple as connections are made. No longer knowing who – or what – is speaking.
Bodies as filters, each filter producing another version, sometimes slightly, sometimes radically – at the root.
First contact with a tree – diffuse impression of an augmented body, both omnipresent and blind – feeling the world through the roots, the bark, the leaves, not being able to situate oneself precisely within this whole. No longer knowing exactly where the “self” ends, where the Other begins. Web of root connections, mycorrhizal network – Being able to feel things over miles.
We always think we think for ourselves but we are thought more than we think.
Just as it is not usually the conscious “I” that activates the muscles to walk or breathe, it is rare to think perfectly consciously. By controlling what we think. By wanting to think it.
So many thoughts are constantly running through us. It takes concentration to follow the thread of a thought to the end – and that's what language is for: to fix the thought with words. To force it, through speech or writing, to follow its course; to catch it up and direct it if necessary; to force it to follow a well-defined path instead of going off in all directions or to abort after a few seconds.
Images can also fix things – it is a more horizontal, spatial type of thinking. Music on the other hand is completely temporal. Thinking only in images or in music requires some training. Forcing oneself to think in a foreign language allows one to better grasp the flow of words that are formed without prior conscious intention.
Each thought has its own tone – in the foreground, the voice that will read the texts in our head or try to appropriate the dominant thought; in a lower tone, the rambling, annoying, the one that repeats itself – same tune or same thoughts – without willing to be silenced; lower still, the thoughts that we let wander without paying attention, like in dreams – or like background music. Thinking with the voice of another person is also possible – this is how dialogues are created, more or less consciously – one embodies successively the Other and oneself – at least the Other that one has forged internally and which is ultimately only another self.
We rarely take the time to listen to our thoughts.
With age it becomes less and less clear, less and less stable. Like a dream that we forget as we go along. As if one disappears little by little from oneself and only the empty shell remains – an automaton that thinks without thinking anymore.
Amine caresses the white surface that extends under their fingers. Concentration. To feel the Other circulating in the network, to manage to project oneself into it in order to transmit and receive, to integrate oneself into the network that interconnects with the roots of the trees. Others do this with birds, others with insects, it is more hazardous because it has no predefined direction, it all depends on the message – point to point or broad spectrum, to warn a particular community or as many people as possible, local or global diffusion – transatlantic or transpacific connections use marine currents and the beings that follow them – fishes, turtles, jellyfishes...
Reading – that is to say the art of receiving and understanding messages – is acquired over time and with sensitivity, it is not given to everyone and each person has their preferences, their particular gifts, their affinities with such or such species.
For Amine, it is the mushrooms, and even then, only certain species. They like to immerse themselves in their world, to listen to them live their lives, both discreet and intense.
— Sit down there.
She indicates me a cushion on the ground, I settle there as well as possible, hesitating between stretching my legs and sitting cross-legged. She places herself at a small meter of me, on a cushion, resolutely cross-legged. I decide to imitate her.
— Why are you here?
Her question confuses me – she knows why – she asked me – to try.
She laughs slightly.
— No need to repeat. My question was about “here”.
— Why am I here and not somewhere else?
— That's it. You might as well say it directly, it's easier for both of us.
I try to think.
— It's not easy for you, but it's not easy for me either. Pretend I'm not here. Thinking is like talking.
She looks at me for a moment with her big, pale gray eyes, then continues quietly.
— Most of the time, we receive information without articulating it clearly — the draft on our necks, the sunlight through the curtain, the smell of the pines, the roll of the ocean in the distance... You see, I just articulated them but before, they were wordless in your head. If you were multilingual, you wouldn't know in which language you thought them – because you didn't really think them, not yet, in any language. More to the point, it wasn't you – as a conscious entity – who was thinking them. Thinking requires an effort, like speaking. Except that it is more diffuse, it goes more easily in all directions. Articulating one's thoughts forces a certain logic – in general!
She bursts into a frank laugh. Then she gets serious again. It's true that I'm not thinking about anything right now. Rather, I thought of nothing before formulating that I thought of nothing.
— So, where do you place this “here”?
— We agree that you think yourself to be in front of me, “in” your body. But where, more precisely?
— Ah. In my head... Somewhere behind the eyes... Maybe slightly above and behind. In my brain... Just like everyone else.
— How would you know?
— What do you mean?
— That it's “like everyone else”?
— Would you be able to locate yourself somewhere else? For example, in your stomach?
I would have to close my eyes... To concentrate...
— Try it.
Black. I can still feel my lips in front of me, my shoulders below. I try to “go down” – in vain.
— I can't do it. Too many things, too many touches, sounds, remind me of where I really am.
— Really? How would you be more in your head than elsewhere?
— It's where my “I” think, in my brain.
— I am there. It's warm, it gurgles a little. It thinks very lightly – it's always fun to listen to what a gut says.
— Teach me.
Because I want to change, I want to understand, I want to help.
— How did you learn about us?
Why is she asking me that question. She knows perfectly well.
— It's still very confusing right now. What drives you to seek that kind of power.
Power? I would have said knowledge. I had to leave all my gear at home and enter the area naked. The hardest part was the implants. Somewhere along the line, I already jumped. It is still not clear if there is anything more than emptiness on the other side. If Camille still exists, somewhere, on the other side.
She stares at me again.
— It's all about empathy. And relaxation. Each person is like a knot. A little ball tightened around their ego. It takes a lot of confidence to loosen that.
Forget about fear. Dive in without questioning.
Her voice in my head makes me jump. It's powerful, it doesn't have the same tone as the voice I'm used to.
— There's a connection between you two, even if it's too diffuse for you to notice. That's a good sign.
— Good sign for what?
— It shows that you've accepted it in yourself.
I prefer not to answer. Not out loud.
— Let's try an exercise. Will you accept me in you ?
She's already reading my mind and didn't ask my permission, what more does she want...
— Would you share my thoughts.
Oh, the other way around, then.
She bursts out laughing.
— Always this need to determine who is doing it and who is being done. Who gives and who takes. Individuation creates meaning – and direction. To connect is to release some of that process. Who takes who? That's the question. Ready?
The color is different. The smells. The thoughts have a different sound, it is not “my” voice. I have trouble situating myself until I realize that the person in front of me is no longer her, but me. It took me a few fractions of a second to recognize myself. Panic. Who takes care of my body if I'm not in it anymore?
She laughs again. I laugh. I feel my jaw muscles twitch, the sound in my throat – it's not quite the same sound as before, it doesn't sound the same.
You're still “here”. I'm just passing on to you what I perceive. You haven't moved.
His internal voice also has a different tone.
— It's great...
My mouth opened and said those words, I'm staring a bit, as if in a trance. I'm still in front. I feel like I'm in front. And the sound of my voice...
Blurry. I find myself back in “my” own head, but not really knowing who this “me” is anymore.
— Not everyone can do this. You may never know how to do this. Everyone has their own way of doing it, of connecting. I can help you find out what works best for you.
— Was this a test?
— Among others.
— Why take so many precautions?
— There have been mistakes before.
— I don't understand. You get into people's heads, it should be easy to see, if some people don't “fit”...
— You don't know yourself how you would react in a given situation. You think you would resist, and in the end you cooperate. Or the other way around. Empathy carries us and it is the only thing that can still save us. But we must be able to accept the pain that goes with it.
— Camille... Camille had that pain in her.
— You have it too. But you confuse it with something else – you don't hear it for what it is – yet. For twenty years, what you thought was a personal discomfort was in fact a collective discomfort. The more we are, the more we will amplify this feeling. We must form a resonance chamber. To make that discomfort unbearable to the greatest number.
Sensation of the wind all around me caressing my body – impression of depth, of omnipotence ; sudden dive towards the ocean – my brain perceived a movement just under the surface, I dive... soft and sliding body in my mouth – beak, rather – I swallow it in some jerks, it is good and refilling, it wiggles still a little... I take back altitude, my feathers have already dried, I start to scan again in the distance, the world is full of life and I overhang it... sun heating my back, I remain a good moment in static flight carried by the marine breeze, readjusting from time to time my position by a stroke of wing. Sudden change of angle, flow of tempting smells, a white point on the horizon which grows at sight – I put the turbo – fish jumps everywhere around me – I would like not to go to risk in there but it is too late – palpable frenzy, many congeners fighting and colliding in the middle of the nets, some are caught – sudden shock, throat taken... I realize the obvious and aim at a mullet that managed to avoid the trawl – I will continue by sea until another predator catches me, I take the opportunity to concentrate and spread the news of the danger around me – fish brains are simpler, I manage to control them better, I still lack training with birds – and that's why I must persist: same player, play again...
All the voices in the world. Literally. Brain open, barriers broken. How to recover the silence.
What we think we see is only a façade. The brain completes as best it can, inventing what it cannot perceive in order to produce something coherent. That seems coherent. Optical illusions are only one consequence among others of this state of affairs. The thought itself is coherent only on the surface. If you put it in writing, no one will receive it in exactly the same way. Will not draw the same consequences. Changing brains allows you to change your point of view. To complete the picture in a way.
But it would be wrong to say that you only change your head. A head without a body is a logical nonsense. A head connected to another body – natural or not – silicone dreams – necessarily thinks differently. What would my thinking be if I were plugged into a tank? A tree? A television tower?
Unlearning the subject. The subjection. To the “I”. To stop thinking as if the “I” were the source of these thoughts when it is only a consequence. What makes my pencil slide across the paper, the sentences that come to me, grow through me – abandon the self, too.
Whose fingers are these? What is belonging? To be part of? What “separates” me from this flower, what is this bee linking to?
The pill rests on the coffee table next to the deckchair. To take it between fingers, to slip it between lips organically connected to a nervous system and to a brain irrigated by a blood network that the chemical composition of the pill will soon come to subtly modify.
The pill is only an aid, a substitute for what this body does not manage yet to realize of itself – as a pair of glasses corrects a defect of vision, except that here it is the vision itself which is called into question, and, through it, the treatment of the affects by the brain. That which makes the center, where “I” think “I” am, behind these eyes.
The glasses are additional filters on this natural filter that are my eyes. Just as this glass and these walls filter the outside – and protect me when it is cold or raining.
Some filters are passive, some are active – like my brain. In the sense that it not only filters but also interprets the physical data it filters. Perhaps we should distinguish the filter from the interpreter.
I realize that I don't have (yet? anymore?) the mental tools to think about that. I left school too late or too early, go figure. Whatever, there is always time to start reflecting again. Like a mirror or a one-way glass. Mirroring oneself in the eye of others. Or the opposite.
Once the pill is swallowed, it becomes easy to move the center, to extend it, to dilute it – to lose it completely, perhaps. Even if nothing moves in truth (if anything of the order of truth exists). Only the perceptions change, by the modification, the attenuation of the filters. The little finger of the left foot becomes for a time the receptacle, the fictitious center of accumulation of a “me” that deflates and leaves any pretension of governance.
A fly lands there, it becomes a vehicle and an interpretative knot before the whole realizes that it neither needs vehicle nor knot anymore...
(What amazing eyes a fly has! And what a strange impression to see oneself – to see what one has become accustomed to calling “one's” body – through that filter!)
I almost “lost” myself. Without a knot, it seems, one returns to the original chaos – well, to the chaos that we imagine was there in the beginning, but perhaps there was never perfect chaos, perhaps in the beginning was the Knot...
(One must be careful to loosen one's knot without untying it completely if one wants to be able to find one's vehicle afterwards – the more “I” release the tension, the more “I” feel the other knots as if they were part of “me”).
What is taking care of “my” body when “I” leave it like this? False question, based on a false problem. “I” don't leave anything at all. There is no movement, there is only a difference in perception. Maybe the only thing that moves is the timeline, and it moves differently when “I” start to loosen the knots. Nothing really moves in space-time, which by definition includes the dimension of time – when “I” try to represent this space-time to myself, it looks like a jelly of which our three-dimensional space would be a cross-section – the only one that our brains manage to visualize, all our organs functioning in this space – except that in order to function, we also need time – and what could it mean to visualize without pretending to extract oneself from that jelly. There is something rotten in the realm of the mind.
The effect of the pill has been absorbed, “I” am back in this narrow body that serves as my vehicle.
Where does the purely bodily end and the “spirit” begin – this “I” who thinks to think – Descartes was fooled by the “I”, he posed as a hypothesis what he wished to obtain as a conclusion.
“I” does not know what that “I” designates. “I” is a composite thing which only controls a tiny part of what constitutes it – what about the intestinal flora, these viruses or bacteria which “colonize” me (long live the colon), what about the air, the coffee, the alcohol, the hormones, the sperm, the shit, the urine, the sweat, the saliva, what about this prosthesis that has become and that I feel like “my” arm (the original arm being no more but still making me feel – by the pain, the tickling or the irritation – as if it still was...) what about these digital prostheses that extend the range of my senses, increase my memory and calculation capacities, sometimes allow me to feel differently... where does the “I” end (and does it even begin) ?
Spatial and temporal limits: coarse barricades for whoever wants to succeed in (self) boxing, naming, classifying.
To soften and melt, to dilate, to fluidify, to diffuse. To refuse the rigidity of the border. I took another pill and with it, the journey.
One day, maybe, “I” will manage to do it without the pill – there are some who know how to – but I didn't have the patience for this learning process and there wasn't time enough – anyway the pill is already me, in me, we form a continuum in space-time except that space is no longer really space and time is no longer really time – displacement without movement I is everything and nothing at the same time, yet another of these dualities-binarities that our species is so fond of – black-white, yin-yang, shadow-light, wave-particle, male-female.
The Earth is an accumulation of knots, some so rigid that they seem petrified – and others as fluid as the wind.
Everything is a knot and the catastrophe is all the more obvious. The Earth is a ball of nerves ready to explode, waves still partially contained pulsate and gain in power – cascading denouements.
Dying is only a particular denouement, a knot is erased and solved, and this (being?) done, forms new resonances – the particle splits or is absorbed but the wave continues its way.
Can the cry of a child be resorbed in a wave packet? (Dostoyevsky greets de Broglie – a woman walks in the shade, child or not – that's not in question). Everything may be allowed, but everything is fundamentally connected. The tearing off of an ant's leg resonates to the end of the universe and the end of the universe can only echo it – since there is no end, and everything is here. In this formidable sounding (reasoning?) board, human actions are an endless howl.
It will have to stop.