Patience Said the Sun to the Flowers
Surround yourself with trees. The air is so clean. You'll find yourself to think clearer. In their shadows and broken branches, life is flourishing.
Another Sunday, Another Naive Weekly - Observations From The Internet Wilderness.
Later today we leave Copenhagen behind, taking the highway towards the horizon where the sun rises. It is Uno’s first trip abroad. It is also the first time Ana and I cross the Danish border in seven months. Few decades ago this would not have been worth mentioning, but looking at the number of boarding passes piling up in our Apple Wallets from the last years, 2020 is unusual.
We are staying a couple of days in my mom’s Swedish cabin. The cabin is so small that it is impossible to believe that there once lived a family with twelve kids. With no electricity, nearby neighbours or spare room for mountains of toys, these kids must have used the surrounding forest as their living space.
I bet the kids knew every tree around the cabin. They must have drawn the trees countless times. They must have climbed and fallen from the branches. They must have fell the trees and heated the cabin with its logs. And maybe they have spoken with the trees; asking the trees about the weather of tomorrow and where to forage? But I doubt they ever asked the trees how to create life from toxic. That is my 2020 question to the trees later today.
Abby Nocon needs no words to make herself heard, she just stands in front of you with a listening body and smiling face. When she talks, she talks balanced, capable and without judgement about technology and the world we live in. She recently took a one year sabbatical from creative strategy and design to redefine her practice. She’ll be writing about technologies of the self at publicdiary.substack.com from next week.
K: Who can write the future?
Abby: This is something so dear to my heart, as someone who likes to use futures as a technology. The world we are living in was designed in a way to stop many of us from being able to write the collective future(s). The more I work in this space, the more I believe that we don’t write it. We dream it. We shape it. But there is still chaos and also change, which is constant and always in flux. So how could we possibly write down a future like it’s set in stone?
I like the way adrienne maree brown thinks about futures — “a stream of ever-mutating, emergent patterns.” From her perspective, deep change and the future comes from shaping the smallest patterns of our daily lives. So we can all write our future(s) in our own small ways, and then again as a collective, and then this can ripple to the world. Everyone can do this, but we must trust each other to do it, too.
K: What would be your fictional dream job title?
Abby: Inspired by a friend, I’ve recently added “HWIC” to my Linkedin (which I never, ever use!). It stands for “Head Witch in Charge.” I look forward to the day where we don’t need job titles at all.
K: How do you think about time?
Abby: I no longer subscribe or rely on empirical linear time. Even physicists say that our perception of time is an accident. I’m very interested in cycles and in lunar time — the moon’s cycles, my cycle as a woman, Jewish time (which is also lunar), astrological time, quantum futurist time. We are undeniably in a moment of global and cosmic crisis, so it feels especially potent and important this year to drop the capitalist version of time.
I’m interested in whatever energies are available to me including ancestrally prepared ritual technologies, which for me as Jew(ish) witch-y person are based on the moon. My ancestors understood that while we are here because of the sun, the moon is the receptive energy that reflects the sun’s light to us in the darkness. So they attuned their calendars to the cycles of the moon and synced to the solar calendar to know when to plant and harvest. I think there’s a lot of wisdom in combining the ancient with the future. So I do still count time, but I want to do so in order to bring my human body into alignment with the pace of the seasons, the plants, the animals, and the stars.
K: How do you prepare for death?
Abby: I had to do this recently. I had a lump and convinced myself, with the help of google, that in fact what I had was a rare, accelerated form of inflammatory cancer. In the ten days between my initial referral to the breast clinic and my non-diagnosis, I decided I needed to plan what I’d do if I were to be dead within the year. I did. I also grieved. But I mostly planned: who I’d make amends to, who I’d yell/scream at, who I’d kiss, where I’d go, what I’d write, who I’d tell, who I’d never speak to again, what I’d read, how I’d be buried (sustainably)... and then, I was fine. It was just a cyst. So, now I have this great amount of clarity. And a rough plan for the year.
K: What would you be doing if given financial stability and three months space?
Abby: I’d buy a car and drive to a house on the sea in France or Spain. It will also have an herb garden, a nearby forest, and a writing room that faces the ocean. I’d work through my writing. Maybe leave with a novel, or a book of poems, or an existential breakdown. Certainly a manifesto. That’s all I want to do right now. I feel like I should say travel or build a machine that can repair the world, because it’s sort of a selfish answer. But I hope that I can write something that will do both those things someday for someone.
K: Who are your spiritual mothers and fathers?
Abby: I would like to think we can have an infinite amount of spiritual guides, who show up when you need them. Right now, I’m learning a lot from writers, poets, mystics, and psychoanalysts. They really know it all.
Here are a few I have been calling upon: adrienne maree brown, the French post-structuralists (inc Roland Barthes), Clarice Lispector, Lilith (in the feminist Judaic sense), Rainer Maria Rilke, Hildegaard von Bingen, Anne Carson, Frank O’Hara, John Weiners, Marguerite Duras, Maggie Nelson, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Dane Rudhyar, the goddess Hecate, Emily Dickinson, Rasheedah Philips, Simone Weil, Kathy Acker, Mark Fisher, bell hooks, Elissa Schappell, Octavia Butler, whoever runs the @cinemamonamourpage on Instagram, my grandmother Amelia, my dear friend Emmalea Russo.
K: What question would you ask a tree?
Abby: Before I ask a question of the tree I’d like to offer it a song, to place a hand on it’s bark, and listen. I think it’s important to do this first, before asking anything of it. There’s a holiday in Judaism called Tu b’Shvat. It’s the New Year Birthday celebration of the Trees and it always takes place on a full moon. It happens in January or February, when the days are starting to stretch longer and we start to think about growth again. What I like about this day is that it reminds us to honor the more-than-human world and encourages us to think about our role as stewards here on Earth. And to greet the trees like a lover! Like a being you adore. There’s a great scene in the OA with trees, too, that follows this teaching. But you’re more interested in the question… Tree, do you still believe in us, after all you’ve seen? And what do you need?
K: What is your most frequently used emoji?
Abby: Lately I have been using lots of “analogue” <3s. But mostly 🥴, which is called “woozy face.” It’s sort of a “ughhh did I really just say that, please accept me as I am, with humility” meets “smitten” meets “this world/person/thing is crazy omg.” So it’s actually very versatile.
The title says it all. This is a detailed guide of how simple it was for a person to retrieve a former prime minister’s passport number with only a public Instagram post. Maybe stop posting boarding pass photos when we can travel again, ok?
The Internet is crowded with words we don’t read. We get discouraged from bad writing, but also from bad layout. This short web publication by ReadyMag explains how to improve online readability. Ironically, the lesser designed version of the same article is easier to read.
It is lazy to believe your users are lazy. My naive worldview appreciates reading blog posts like this. It asks designers and developers to respect their users and have a set of principles for their products. Next step is to challenge the idea of frictionless.
“Here’s an idea. Now that flip phones and dual screen phones are making a comeback I would love to have an alarm clock app that could use both displays, one to show the time and the one in the back to ease you in the morning illuminating the room as the sun rises.” — Claudio Guglieri
I’m debating this section of the newsletter. I want to use it to shed light on the many independent tools and services existing. However, I don’t know if I should do it in topics and I’d hate to limit the projects I highlight. If you have opinions please hit reply. Until next time, these are useful tools for everything images:
Screenotate - Annotates your screenshots so you can copy the text.
GIF Brewery - Turns your screen into GIFs.
Cropper.js - Crop the image to your liking.
Image Scrubber - Anonymize photographs taken at protests.
RemoveBG - Removes the background of your images.
Squoosh - Reduces the size of your images.
Storyform - Creates text videos for social media.
Colourise - Adds colour to your black and white images.
Hi, I’m Kristoffer and you have just read Naive Weekly - Observations from the Internet Wilderness.
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Photograph by Ana Santl.