Work Harder. Consume More. Die Faster.

Or: Reflections on the End of a Degree

Or: My First Accessible Blog

In many ways, this year has felt like a liminal year to me, like a rite of passage. I have felt permission to dream of social change, of radical politics, of inclusion and horizontality, of global solidarity, of good change. I have also felt very protected in this dreaming – it is easy to be radical in the compounds of a university campus.

When I’m looking at what is coming, I see vastness, openness and uncertainty. It is the first time in my life my time is not structured in clear plans, in years or clearly defined goals that I’m working towards. I find this prospect extremely exciting, and quite scary, too. It is now up to me to shape a life according to the ideals I have formed, the shapes of my dreams, to do justice to the immense gifts I’ve been given here.

The system I am stepping into is a neoliberal-capitalist one. I have experienced this system as one that harbors greed, materialism, egotism, separation and desperation. The first version of this blog was an angry rant against neoliberalism, but I think I want to say something more personal, something that rings more true inside of me.

I want to write about being scared and excited. I am scared because I have seen so many good comrades swallowed up by this system that has an incredible capacity to integrate impulses that are directed against it. I am reminded of the sell-out of many Hippies from the 60s who are now corporate bosses when I see friends with such strong ideals leave university and gradually grow disillusioned and burned out trying to change things, and slowly being crushed by the necessities of money and survival. I think I fear being crushed, too – of losing my capacity to dream, and to derive motivation and hope from my blue-eyed glasses.

I feel very ambivalent about the recent period of deadlines, and the pressures of academic excellence. In moments, I felt so weighed down by the workload that I lost the ability to nourish my soul, to just be, to enjoy everything that makes my life beautiful beyond my responsibilities, to derive purpose, intention and motivation from the small pleasures of life. I entered this degree with the intention to learn to engage with myself, my relationships, my work, and the structures that surround me in a way that stops perpetuating greed, hatred, materialism, individualism and egotism. I wanted to learn how to better put my energy and ability into working towards a more harmonious, kind and just world.

Sometimes the exhaustion was so strong that I forgot what I was here for – what I was living for. I felt myself getting pulled into the machinery, very subtly and gradually increasing my purchase of good quality coffee, lunch here, scone there, all justified by the fact that I deserved it because I had to work. I started internalizing the rhythms of work, at times not being able to allow myself the simple joy of a long conversation or a morning in bed because I felt I needed to work. I grew more distant from myself, my core purposes and intentions. The moments where I could step out of the everyday frenzy and evaluate my existence with some distance grew rarer and rarer.

When I was in Oxfordshire a few weeks ago, I read the line that is the title of this blog as a graffiti on a wall – ‘Work Harder. Consume More. Die Faster.’. This rupture of my ‘distribution of the sensible’ made me stop and think – I think I realized then my absolute capacity to be co-opted by the system. This vicious cycle of work and consumption, each justifying the other, and the terrible alienation and disconnection from oneself and others that this cycle can produce, struck me as the heart of neoliberalism – the dark soul in which it is so easy to lose yourself. Indeed, amongst all the pressure, fast pace and hectic, I had started getting lost in it.

This shake-up helped me to re-evaluate my situation, to be reminded of what I am living for. It gave me back childish excitement, deep sense of purpose, and mindful attention, qualities that I count as core to my person. This is what I draw hope from – I feel I have developed enough as a person to make good decisions as the end of this degree approaches. I will meet the vastness and uncertainty with patience, intention and gentleness. I will give myself time of quietness away from material culture and city life, spend some months doing manual work in the countryside, to slowly undo the conditioning of consumption, material dependence and compulsory work. As the muddiness of everyday reality will inevitably clash with my ideals, I aim to critically, compassionately and mindfully evaluate my position and beliefs, and integrate each new lesson with careful scrutiny. At the same time, I will invest in the practices and relationships that bring me zest and hope – there can be so much healing in a slow walk in the forest, in playing music and singing together, or in sharing dinner with good old friends.

Fear remains, but I am confident that I can meet this new chapter without losing myself and my core of unruliness. What often bothered me about the writings on liminality and rites of passage is the framing of these periods as inevitably leading to a reintegration into the structures-that-be. For this coming chapter, I will test whether I can retain a position that is pitched against existing structures after such a period of liminality. I want to know whether it is possible to forge a life that combines beauty, stillness and joy with purpose, hard work and resistance in a way that is sustainable and wholesome. Time will bring answers.

For now, I intended to bring this rupture and process of re-evaluation that was so welcome and necessary for me into my surroundings here. So I painted the slogan of the neoliberal heart – Work Harder. Consume More. Die Faster. – on a wooden board and, with the help of friends, placed it at the entrance of campus. Thousands of students busy with their deadlines pass this spot everyday – maybe a fellow unrulista of the heart will stop in her way and take a moment to think about what she is living for.18678866_10212531193852175_473365752_n18624891_10212531194132182_1416737122_n

Advertisements

Public Space and the Poetics of the Everyday

In my previous blog, I have thought about creative and unruly ways of everyday practice. I want to think about this a bit further.

When thinking about the distribution of the sensible, I remembered yet another French philosopher I have studied a while ago, Michel de Certeau. In his work ‘The Practice of Everyday Life’ (1984), he argues for a poetics of the everyday, an inquiry into the forms that the everyday takes. He develops a concept of resistance out of this, which exceeds conventional understanding of opposition and antithesis by acknowledging the co-existence of elements of oppression and tradition on the one hand and re-invention and creative breaking on the other hand in a single act. Luce Giard (1980) investigates this form of resistance through the example of cooking. She explains how the kitchen is simultaneously a sphere of oppression and resistance for women (of that time? In what ways is it still so?). According to her, women’s schedules are guided by the daily routines of husbands and children that they have to cater for, and ways of being and making in the kitchen are handed down over generations. Thus, the kitchen represents a sphere of tradition and structural oppression. On the other hand, she observes inventiveness and creative engagement with these engrained ways of making that can render the sensual experiences of smell or touch and the manipulation of raw material during the process of cooking as a liberation and counter-current to the stress of everyday life. In this way, resistance and creativity resides in the sphere of the kitchen.

Related to this idea is the surrealist thought of de-realization. Michael Gardiner (2000), when talking about surrealism, says that ‘Surrealism aimed at collapsing the distinction between adventure and everyday existence, dreams and consciousness, art and life, essence and appearance’. Artists like Andre Breton, one of the founding members of Surrealism, tried to demonstrate the simultaneity of alienation and the possibility of liberation in every moment by re-appropriating mundane objects. This entails removing ordinary objects out of their context and transforming their meaning into poetic realms. This was thought to open a mental space to realize dreams and fantasies and expand the boundaries of the possible to include liberation as an option. With this shifted perspective, the utopian dream can be situated in the common, the ordinary, the everyday.

I found these concepts mind-expanding, and have tried to cultivate an everyday practice of resistance since. For example, you can regard the city as the distribution of the sensible that premediates forms of interacting with it, such as pavement to walk on and streets to turn into, one form of small resistance is to interact with that in novel and unruly ways. A practice of de-realizing a wall could thus be to jump over it, a practice to re-appropriate pavement could be to chalk subversive messages onto it, a practice of rupturing the invisible norms of a public space could be to create a performance in it that wasn’t meant to be there.

This is what I understand Zizek as saying when he talks about Flashmobs as present forms of resistance. It is the rupture of the sensible layout of a public space and bodies behaving in that sphere, to interrupt the normal flow of consciousness and create the possibility for new political subjectivity in the moment of the ordinary/extraordinary.

I was in a theatre group in Berlin a while ago, and for a refugee-solidarity march we created a piece of street theatre. After some thinking, we came up with a board game called ‘Europoly’. We sprayed the fields onto the pavement, and gave non-refugees the chance to experience the bureaucratic hurdles that refugees had to experience every day through the game. At moments they were held in police custody for not having a passport, they were promised medical care and then didn’t receive it so they couldn’t move on, or they were denied their families joining them in Europe. In this way, people could experience the arbitrary and violent nature that directs a refugee’s life in Europe in a playful but serious way. Here are some pictures.

IMG_6141.jpgIMG_6138.jpgIMG_6148.jpgIMG_6158.jpgIMG_6169.jpgIMG_6162.jpg

Reading Ranciere and combining him with de Certeau has made me see this piece in another way. It was fun, playful and absurd, but through this also provocative and challenging, and it definitely inspired a lot of conversation. I see it as disrupting the distribution of the sensible of a person walking in the street, which allows for previously unconsidered material to enter the mind. This provocative and confrontational encounter with new experience held a possibility for transcendence though, as there was the immediate possibility to translate the new subjectivity into action by joining the march.

To my mind, this is a hopeful and useful way of conceptualizing creative forms of resistance. However, there is one aspect that I want to problematize. The evaluation of their effectiveness resides in the concept of transformed political subjectivity, which is thought to lead to challenging structures and engaging politically in a different way. Although this seems intuitively plausible to me, I am aware that it is based on a particular theory of change: If you can change people’s minds, (self-)perceptions and behaviours, they will act politically in a different way, and from this basis social change can happen. However, the concept of political subjectivity is theoretical and fluid, and the evidence that social change can result from this is scant (as far as I know). I come from a psychological background and thus have a critical eye on claims of change of subjectivity without specifications of processes and mechanisms. I am slowly trying to undo a tendency to expect rigorous evidence in relation to thought and behavior change. Maybe traditional science and hard evidence is not the right angle at questions like this. Equally, however, I want to challenge my often too hopeful and general claims about effects of political cultural practice and bring my views into dialogue with what actually happens. I thus sit with the question of whether and how such creative and unruly intervention in public space, in the distribution of the sensible, and in everyday behavior and practice is able to create change.

References:

de Certeau, M. (1984) The Practice of Everyday Life.  Berkeley: University of California Press.

Gardiner, M. (2000) Critiques of Everyday Life. London: Routledge.

Giard, L. (2002 [1980]) ‘Doing Cooking’ in Ben Highmore (ed.), The Everyday Life Reader. London: Routledge.

 

Epistemology, Decoloniality and the Distribution of the Sensible

For some time, I’ve felt that postmodernism was the end of all possible thought. Everything is relative, all truths we can hold are contextual, contingent and deconstructable, and ultimately everything is socially constructed. What more can you say beyond this?

However, coming into contact with decolonial thought has been exciting, as it transcends these claims, thinks beyond their boundaries, and questions the epistemic foundation of postmodernism. It’s seems like a next-level, triple loop deconstruction. How sexy is that?

There are many authors and activists from all parts of the world contributing to decolonial thinking. For the purpose of this blog, I will focus on a group around Walter Mignolo and Arturo Escobar (2009), who are writing mostly from a South-American position. For anybody interested, I recommend reading much further than that though.

One of the main foundations of this particular take on decoloniality is the idea of ‘local histories’. These are localized, contextual ways of making sense of the world which guide how we perceive and understand the world. Despite there being many different local histories, only some have managed to influence ‘global designs’, or widely accepted ways of interpreting the world. They argue that the prevalent global design is based on the rationality paradigm, which formed and got disseminated in concord with European colonialism. With the growing empire, western knowledge based on Enlightenment thinking and subject/object divide established itself as the only valid type of knowledge and disguised itself as objective and general, despite actually being just another ‘local history’.

As a result, most knowledge that has been produced and validated on a global stage since then is either produced in Europe or based on Western epistemologies. They describe this process as a ‘colonization of the imagination’, which discredits non-European knowledge and prevents the emergence of real co-creation of knowledge between cultures. Furthermore, they claim that the decolonial option requires an epistemological break, or epistemic disobedience, to free our minds from the stranglehold of the modernity/rationality paradigm. I’ve been wondering since, what does this mean? How can we be epistemologically disobedient?

Pondering this during the class Heidegger came to my mind, and fragments of reading ‘Being and Time’ (1927) resurfaced to my consciousness from a long time ago. Granted, Heidegger was a Nazi and probably a fairly unpleasant person, so not the first one to take to aid for a decolonial intervention, but some of his thoughts stayed with me regardless. One of his famous quotes reads ‘Language is the house of Being’. Language is one of the central filters that makes the world (‘Being’) intelligible to us (the us here denoting to a subject having come to know the world through Western socialization). One could even argue that language is the most central constituent of our experience. Even our vision, hearing and touch is guided by language-related concepts we use to integrate these experiences. In class, we described Rancieres ideas of aesthetics and the distribution of the sensible as pre-debate, a sort of a priori constitution of our thought. Language could be regarded in the same way as a form of the distribution of the sensible. We can only apprehend what we can understand through language, it guides our knowledge and thought as well as the central processes of our experience, such as categorization or memory (a theory called Linguistic Determinism, see Wittgenstein, 1922).

Presently, the rationality paradigm is intimately bound up with the English language. English is the lingua franca in academia, and academia is the apparatus by which the rationality paradigm is sustained and expanded. Thus, the proliferation of the English language in academia and in schools could be regarded as a colonial distribution of the sensible, possibly limiting what we can see and think to what is comprehensible within the rationality paradigm.

Thinking back to culture, it is possible to assume that different languages and forms of categorization and intelligibility actually alter the ways we experience the world. Somebody told an anecdote in class that described how when Columbus reached America, his crew stayed on the ships close to the shore for several days to observe the movements at land before starting to conquer. The story further claimed that the ships were so large and unlike anything the indigenous population had ever seen that they could actually not see them. Even today, there are plenty of psychological studies that suggest that processes of categorization and perception work differently across cultures (for example Unsworth et al., 2005).

If we hold it possible, then, that our language determines how we see the world, and that there is a way to rupture our rationality paradigm in order to enable an epistemological break, the question remains how we do this. Heidegger held artists and poets in high esteem because to him they were inquiring into the truth of Being by using, going beyond, and abusing, language. In many ways it seems like he was trying to do just that. Reading Being and Time, especially in German, Heidegger used so many abstruse words, neologisms and obscure grammatical structures. It felt like often he was wandering on the borders of what was intelligible, and was completely stretching and expanding these borders to go beyond language towards the ‘truth of Being’. I’ve felt the same with some texts we encountered throughout this degree (although it is possible that this was just because I wasn’t smart enough to understand them properly!). If somebody fancies an experience on the edge of the intelligible, I recommend reading ‘Perspectival Anthropology and the Method of Controlled Equivocation’ by Viveiros de Castro, a text we encountered in Empowering Society last term. After failing many times to actually understand what was going on, I just turned my thinking head off and let the words sink in and wash over me. Although I didn’t take a clear conceptual lesson from it, I still felt like I had learned something after.

So maybe that is a way we can be epistemologically disobedient and go towards an epistemic break. Maybe we can engage with texts but not use our rational understanding brain, and instead try to engage with it in another, more creative, elusive and uncertain way. Maybe we can utter things that aren’t structured and don’t really make sense logically, and see whether we can rupture the logic that frames our own being-in-the-world in this way. Maybe we can write poetry, performance or prose that breaks with the tradition of logic? Maybe there is a way to cultivate an unruly practice in the way we engage with academia and the intelligible world, the world of the intelligible?

PS: Here is the product of some free writing in which I tried to turn my analytical head off. Experimental poetry or verbal diarrhea? You decide!

IMG_7663 copy.jpg

Here’s a typed version if it’s not legible.

Ripping out the seams bone shackling thunder thirst-quenching sip of colf blood uncovering the wounds under a chest that has been squashed beneath the steel-toed boots of a sound that makes the foundations of the ivory tower shake in disbelief of the mass graveyard that is has been built on hands covered in mud penetrating the edges of the fingernails deep into the soul once pure untouched golden now black stained recognizing itself in its full human beauty dancing delight in its own filth changing the scene of that very orderly dinner party that I used to attend in former days what has happened to this civil arrangement all of a sudden everybody is dancing naked unmasked masturbating and vomiting aroused and disgusted by our real appearance that has become the centre of this gathering the walls are caving in and what we thought we knew now seems so irrelevant irreverent the unholy face of this very golden bull that before we had all been kneeling and praying to is now offering its excrement-coated instestines for a glorious feast that may last days or weeks and that our grandchildren will remember as the day god died and the new order was born when finally humans could be humans again and could dance and sing like it had once been a long time ago

Unsworth, S. J., Sears. C. & Pexman, P.  (2015) Cultural Influences on Categorization Processes. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 36, 6.

Mignolo, W. and Escobar, A. (2009) Globalization and the Decolonial Option. New York: Routledge.

Heidegger, M. (1927). Being and Time. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag.

On Prefiguration, Horizontality and Love

all-about-love-bell-hooks-1-638.jpeg

First of all, I want to say that I’m really uncomfortable writing this blog. Through the last year, and fuelled by my engagement with MAP, I have come to regard my own thoughts and opinions as momentary truths that are constantly open for challenge and change. I feel I am constantly walking the tightrope of wanting to hold opinions that reflect my values, but being open and self-critical enough to have these be moulded by each new experience and encounter. To not get paralyzed and retain the capability to act, I have come to understand my opinions as transient reflections of the present state of my thought process that still retain enough substance to be valid sources of action. But the nature of writing a piece can never reflect this fluidity of thought as it gives the illusion of a manifest solid opinion fixed in time and space. One of the things that I have enjoyed most about this class is how what everybody shared challenged, complemented and deepened my understanding and changed me as a result. This blog will not be able to reflect this dialectic. It will rather be a chaotic conglomeration of open questions, open-ended thoughts and partially articulated feelings.

Bearing this in mind, I want to say that I was very moved and inspired by the session on prefigurative politics. As my politicization happened largely in anarchist thought and action, it has for some time been a concept that I have been holding very close to my heart and drawing a lot of inspiration from. The hard questions and good challenges that people brought to the class made me really question my relationship to this concept, but I have come out of it feeling renewed in my conviction of how important it remains for my own political organizing today. I want to write a few lines about why that is.

Just upfront a few words on definition. When I think of prefiguration, I think mainly of Boggs definition of embodying the social relations, decision making structures etc. that one strives for in ones practice. Thus I think that prefiguration is actually not by definition linked to horizontality. If a very hierarchical group organizes hierarchically to achieve a hierarchical society, that to me is also prefigurative. The main implication for politics of resistance is that if you want to shape a different world, you need to also embody the founding principles of that world in your actions.

Many important questions were raised in the seminar about the possibility and usefulness of horizontality and diversity, the central principles of the alterglobalization movement. We questioned whether horizontality would be possible on a larger scale, what its limits are, and whether centralization of power might actually have more equalizing forces and may be more efficient. The article we read was speaking about the nature of power to centralize and establish hierarchy, and the continuous process of attempting to decentralize power. As an anarchist, I have approached hierarchy and power with utter questioning, but not with absolute rejection. I think that some power relations are useful, as for example in the relation between a student and a teacher. If the teacher is sincere and good, the power dynamic is set up to resolve itself: the student will one day be as knowledgeable and skilled as the teacher.

In the same way, in political organizing some power might be useful. In my experience of working in larger groups on political campaigns, such as the occupation of Bramber House to combat privatization of services at Sussex, the general meeting split off into smaller working groups. These worked on particular tasks, and fed back their progress and open questions to the general meeting, which made the important decisions. In some way, power and representation reappear in this setup. Horizontality thus becomes a maxim that is never achievable, but always strived for. Given, then, that horizontality is an unattainable end-state that will never be reached and that power reappears with its tendency to centralize, the important question in my mind becomes where the right to reject a decision, the sovereignty and responsibility, comes from. In our democracy today it is very hard to reject a decision made by the powers-that-be. In most cases, power is exercised from the top-down. All important decisions in the general meeting/working group set-up are made by the group as a whole. In this way, the efficiency of power is retained in smaller groups, but the ability to shape the course of action lies within the collective. Power is exercised bottom-up. To me this is much closer to horizontality, and much more desirable, than the democracy we presently live in. Acknowledging that power will always be there, and finding ways of organizing that make use of the efficient sides of power whilst retaining the sovereignty in the mass thus becomes a more helpful way to conceptualize and strive for horizontality to me.

The question of whether this can be applied for larger groups still remains. Having political conversations with pretty much anybody and arguing an anarchist opinion usually conjures up the question: Well, all your ideals are good, but what exact system do you propose? Chomsky helpfully argues that nobody is smart enough to come up with a perfect system. We just have to trust in our ability to experiment and shape it as we go along. That is prefiguration. And my experience with working groups, general meetings and large scale decision making makes me hopeful that we can develop creative ways of making this happen. Working on deepening democracy, participatory budgeting, and participatory community-run projects are all pieces of the puzzle to my mind. Depending on one’s definition of the concept, it could be argued that they are all prefigurative in some way.

Still, many hard questions have to be posed to prefiguration and horizontality. In my experience, it has all too often been an insular, exclusive and white space that retained characteristics of a bubble. What happens when we actually apply this on a larger scale, how ready are we to embrace real difference in a prefigurative spaces, is consensus debilitating or useful? Might a prefigurative space be a space of explosive creativity that creates a vision and faith in the possibility of crafting another world, which in itself is inherently transient? Complexity theory teaches us that systems remain in relative equilibrium unless perturbed significantly, and then they only change if there is another ‘state’ (not in political terms) that the system can transform into. May prefiguration present a vision for another ‘state’, which needs to be complemented with sustained larger-scale action in order to create lasting change? Looking at these questions on a larger historical scale, is the mere contact with a prefigurative space, the possibility of another world, meaningful enough to create sustained action, sustained challenge to the system? May prefiguration thus be an inherently transitory state that serves to sustain itself on a longer scale? As with anything, prefiguration is not the whole answer. But what role can it retain in a more comprehensive appraisal of change, social action and resistance?

I want to write about another aspect of prefiguration and horizontaliy that I find very important, which is often overlooked. In my experience, conversations about questions such as ‘how do we structure horizontality practically’ can get very conceptual, systemic, and othering. I’ve heard and done much a talk about systems and structures out there that we need to reconceptualise and change, and that is important. But another aspect that in my mind is equally vital is our own position, our internal process, our self-transformation, that contributes to this process.

I want to start making this point by telling a story. I was working in a non-profit food coop a while back that had as its goal to provide organic staples at accessible prices. The main team were around 10 people, making most decisions together. The discovery of my own agency to shape a process that I was also part of and working for was absolutely transformational, that on the side. At some point, we had gotten into some debt, and one of our members proposed to introduce a significant price mark-up and save some money for when that would happen again. For some time, there was a lot of unspoken tension and talking behind the backs of others, and animosity build up. Many of us seemed to feel an inherent moral high ground, as if we all knew what this coop was about, just this one person was wrong. At some point it got too much, one of our members named the elephant in the room, and we had the conversation about the principles of the coop that was long overdue. The conversation was hard and long and we never reached a consensus, but we all came out changed and strengthened by it and could continue the work in a satisfying way for all. I realized then that truly working horizontally with other people is beyond structures and organization. It requires so much internal work, so much questioning of ones own assumptions and a significant step away from the socially conditioned belief that ones opinions are more right than those of others. It requires constantly being open to the possibility that one is wrong, which is existentially painful and threatening. In the same way, I think that this process entails a significant giving up of power one already holds. Due to my relatively privileged background I have been accustomed to holding a whole lot of power. Giving this power up has not been and is not easy, but when striving for horizontality I think that it is essential.

Following this line of thought, I believe that in a capitalist system that preaches competition, individualism and division, loving, caring for each other, and listening, are absolutely radical acts (I don’t take credit for this thought – somebody said it the other day and I would love to reference them, but I forgot who it was!). In my experience, these qualities are absolutely vital for working horizontally. By its nature, you will be making decisions with people you disagree with, and mustering up kindness after a two-hour discussion, or shutting up when you really want to say something and reflecting on whether what they have to say might actually teach you more than speaking, is difficult but essential. Beyond horizontality, I believe that in the present political climate it is vital to come together with people who hold very different opinions, and creating spaces for exchange. In the case of the UK, I think that the grievances that lie at the heart of anti-establishment sentiments left and right are real, and it would do so much good to be able to express them with each other after they have been shunned for so long, and build bridges across what divides us. This requires openness, love, curiosity, kindness and critical self-reflection. If we cannot realize these values this in our communities, how can political systems possibly function on their basis?

Discussions around whether horizontality is desirable and feasible are important. But I think that they need to be complemented by an inquiry into the personal qualities that make it possible in the first place. Fostering these is prefigurative practice, and I think that horizontality without such an inquiry is indeed impossible. Somebody said in the seminar that it is egoistic to just rely on personal transformation. I agree. But likewise, focusing on structural change without inquiring into one’s own position is futile. I think that anybody engaged in work that tries to make the world a better place should also be encouraged to reflect on the power one holds and how one perpetuates systemic inequalities, and question whether the ideals one strives for are realized in the very relations to the people one is surrounded by. Inquiry and action, personal and structural change, have to go hand in hand. Otherwise, I believe that sustainable change cannot be achieved.

Finally, I want to acknowledge that prefiguration and horizontality are contextual. As we discussed in the seminar, in Tahrir horizontality might have mainly been a way of protecting oneself. In my experience of political action, however, and in my future aspirations of working politically in this country, prefiguration for the moment retains its radical appeal. After some hard discussions, I still believe that in the context of this country, there is value in experimenting with new ways of organizing that question and decentralize power, of shaping these through a learning process as one goes along, thereby working to realize the desired world in the here and now. And I believe that our inquiry into our own role in this process, and a constant questioning of how we realize our ideals in our lives and relationships, are essential. I understand though that the argument might not apply at all in different contexts.

As a postscript. I kept pondering on the transformative power of being in a prefigurative space, of experiencing the reality of difference when everything that surrounds you is rupture, the explosive character and formation of vision and faith. A little haiku was the product of this pondering. Here it is.

Though thunderstorms reign

Buds raise their shy, sturdy heads

We have awoken