Further Adventures in Practical Ontology

Maja Kuzmanović & Nik Gaffney

And other ponderings on existing and engaging with the crystalline fragmentation of the world into many incoherent, jostling realities.

Grow Your Own Worlds.

Appending a letter “s” at the end of the “world”, FoAM’s rallying cry acknowledges that reality is neither singular nor permanent, but that with every action (and inaction) and every life (and death), worlds may multiply, burgeon, or shatter into many more.

Grow. Worlds. Grow your own. Your own worlds. Grow your own worlds. At FoAM, we set conditions, build tools, and choreograph the processes that encourage things to grow. We “grow our own”, cultivating minds, environments, organisations, collaborative techniques, and governance structures. We “grow worlds” — immersive situations, participatory workshops, gameworlds, site-specific experiences, and experiential scenarios.

Living amid the perpetual shattering of worlds can be like walking on broken glass. Precarious, crunchy, painful, bloody, and unstable. Yet it is also like walking beneath a frozen waterfall, where ice crystals refract the slightest hints of light into a kaleidoscope of shimmering potentials. Each shard graceful, sharp; a crystal clear prism in its own right. Prismatic Refractions

Magic derives from life — that which is alive, or was alive, or even that which was alive so many ages ago that it has turned into something else. All at once this understanding causes something to shift in your perception, and and and You see it suddenly: the network. A web of silver threads interlacing the land, permeating rock and even the magma just underneath, strung like jewels between forests and fossilized corals and pools of oil. […] Threads in the clouds, though thin, strung between microscopic living things in water droplets. Threads as high as your perception can reach, brushing against the very stars.

N.K. Jemisin, The Broken Earth Trilogy

The network and the fragments. No recourse in context.

“The world” is “out there”, while worlds are everywhere. Like a crystal lattice or colloid, they exist as an infinite array of discrete points, extending in all directions. Worlds intersect, permeate, amalgamate and re-combine, across scales and dimensions. Desakota Uncertainty If there isn’t one world but many, porous and partially connected, then a single, unchanging worldview (nationality, culture, belief system) that excludes all others is damaging and doomed to failure. As worlds proliferate, so do worldviews. They grow, mutate, and become something else, all the while re-aligning with other changing realities. Everyone is a world intersecting other worlds, forming aperiodic arrangements. Growing your own worlds requires “strong opinions, weakly held”; cultivating a curious, open mind capable of adapting to changing circumstances. Navigating change, a heuristic approach to learning is more pragmatic than clinging to fixed theories or doctrines. Letting go of preconceptions, not knowing, listening and observing before intervening in a situation, with an attitude akin to the beginner’s mind.

If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.

Suzuki Roshi

Jostling ontologies. The end of one world is where another begins.

When your world is shattering, every shard is a potential resource for growing another world. At a distance it might look like a chaotic jumble of fragments, but from within, looking around can reveal surprising possibilities and connections. Fragments are nestling, embedding, crystallising, and emulsifying around each other, generating new formations with each structural shift. For those grappling with uncertainty, resources can be found in the most unexpected of places, people, and endeavours. It might be a matter of changing where and how we look. The Naming Resources might be few and far between, but abundance (of some things) can be found amid scarcity (of others). Apero Broken worlds clash and crack as they jostle to coexist, and finding paths through and between may require some ontological acrobatics.

Some worlds are built on a fault line of pain, held up by nightmares. Don’t lament when those worlds fall. Rage that they were built doomed in the first place.

N.K. Jemisin

The complacency of determinism is to be avoided at all costs. Things could, can, and will (given time) be otherwise. Vigilance is necessary, adjusting one’s posture and perspective in response to changing conventions. Growing your own worlds in the thick froth of other, extant worlds is a constant balancing act. In the early 21st century, specialisation is often an economic necessity, required to support one’s livelihood. Overspecialising can be dangerous, though, when steady jobs and fixed career paths are in scarce supply. Developing a transdisciplinary sensibility can alert you to fields, initiatives, or people to gravitate to when circumstances change. Flexibility, an experimental mindset, and an appreciation of different ways of doing things can make it easier to start over, building on the past without clinging to it. It also makes the work more interesting and diverse, banishing boredom (albeit at the cost of coming to dread the inevitable question: “So, what do you do?”).

Movement creates heat which is also light that waves like sound which tightens or loosens the atomic bonds of crystal as they hum with strong and weak forces. In mirroring resonance with all of this is magic, the radiant emission of life and death. This is our role: To weave together those disparate energies. To manipulate and mitigate and, through the prism of our awareness, produce a singular force that cannot be denied. To make of cacophony, symphony.

N.K. Jemisin

Growing worlds into being.

Growing your own worlds does not imply constructing your own realities and building echo chambers, conspiring with some to the exclusion of others. Instead, it is to engage with these worlds (as shattered and broken as they are) as one might a garden; cultivating patiently, observing and interacting. A More Than Human Manifesto

Growing worlds is a practice of being in and with the colloidal froth of becoming. Within The Screened Circumference of the Minds Eye Embroiled, entangled, involved. Life, Life Support, and the Afterlives of (Im)possible Worlds Gardeners know that their garden cannot be insulated from the rest of the world, nor from their own actions.

We didn’t appear out of thin air, we live here!
Bob Vylan

Further reading & references

A More Than Human Manifesto