#016 Unlearning time
On Fridays, I have therapy sessions. It happens online since my therapist is from Brazil and I moved 5 years ago. Eventually, he also moved to the coast during the pandemic. The sessions help me to deal with all the internal and external changes always happening. I am happy with my evolution in this sense. After talking about the blur I started to reflect on how to tackle in parallel some of my short, mid, and long-term goals. Different plates need to be balanced at the same time. Some of these goals are individual but most of them also involve some collective vision. When I am in a safe space, my basic needs are attended to, I'm not worried about financial life in the short or long term, and around people that share the same curiosity, I remember that I have this urge for questioning the established rules, the status quo, the system, you name it. It can bring better answers, but the core is to keep me in search of better questions.
The Yellow Warrior is the 16th solar seal, is our urge for the truth, not being told by someone else but by our own understanding. The archetype of the Brave invites us to develop our own intelligence in order to be able to question and decide in the best directions which action to take during a battle.
Sometimes, I don't feel in a proper mental space to keep doing what I do by myself, overwhelmed with the number of uncontrollable events happening in life, and I stop questioning to try to fit in. It's my safe door. In previous episodes, my voice started to come out from fear instead of from my soul. So I start to be silent. To someone like me, it is worst than death. I remember once, years ago right after I moved to São Paulo, I offered help at work to someone in need out of my team and I heard from a colleague that, for him, I wanted to show off. I stopped offering help for a while, fearing the judgment I heard once but echoed in my mind for many years. In my self-investigation, I am always questioning why I am doing what I am doing: the temporal experiments, the community initiatives, the efforts to help people to get to the next level of their spirals... And I keep listening to my body getting into a flow state while I am doing exactly that.
What makes me write here is my drive for questioning, but also this deep trust in my relationships. Putting together some of the key questions we've been discussing here as self-reflections, "What is my planetary service?" or "How to best serve?" is the first step (3rd tone) of finding resonance with others, asking "How can I attune my service to others?" (7th tone), connected also to learn to "How do I release and let go?" (11th tone). Our journey in time is not linear, as I keep mentioning here, and this is a good example of that. Today, my best way to serve is to keep questioning and doing better questions. I can reinforce that most of the ideas I've been sharing here are in my life for years. I questioned all of them, all of the authors, and also myself before started sharing it. But the meaningful network of ideas and practices provided by these studies only made me believe even more in the power of other relationships with time.
I will share a short piece from a book of another time studious that I feel in resonance with when I read her. Uchronia: Designing Time, by Helga Schmid. She is a British designer that dedicated her Ph.D. to questioning the dyschronia or dissonance of relationships with time we are living in. She also does not have the answers, but has a collection of the most powerful questions:
Unlearning contemporary time structures.
"I had an eye-opening moment at the event "Spaces of Transformation: Continuity/Infinity" at Tate Modern in March 2012. As part of the conversation between Olafur Eliasson, Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel, Eliasson explained the concept of "Unlearning Space – Space Unlearning".
'It is necessary to unlearn space in order to embody space.
It is necessary to unlearn how we see in order to see with our bodies.
It is necessary to unlearn knowledge of our body in three dimensions in order to recover the real dimensionality of our body.
Let's dance space.
Let's re-space our bodies.
Let's celebrate the feeling of presence.'
During his presentation, a performer ran on stage in slow motion. The idea behind it was to explore and experience the space fundamentally anew. This gave the decisive impuse for my approach of "unlearning time". (...) Our cultural temporality becoems almost like a sixth sense. The aim of my approach is to step away from the current system of clocks. In this context, philosopher Byung-Chul has has suggested relearning the art of lingering, and sociologist Helga Nowotny argues for a rediscovery of the vicissitudes of live. Taking these two approaches into account, I am not aiming for relearning and rediscovery, I am aiming for unlearning.
The term 'unlearn' in general usage means discard something from one's memory, for instance learned false information or a bad habit. I refer to the idea of unlearning in relation to the artistic practice, tather than an educational approach. The 'Blackboard' paintings Cy Twombly created in the 1960's are a suitable example of an unlearning process. He was drawing in the dark as a method to unlearn the drawing skills he had acquired during his previous art education. (...)
In parallel, I explored time as process of the human body. In order to accomplish a new relationship with, and behavior within, time, the essential initial step is to move away from its linear time structure towards a new rhythm. The thought behind this was to explore anew what we call time, similar to Twombly's drawings and Eliasson's concept of 'Unlearning Space'."
Alvin Toffler is credited with saying: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” His words are used for every business undergoing some type of digital transformation but what I am suggesting here is something beyond that. When we talk about unlearning space, and unlearning time, we are talking about unlearning cultures, and unlearning identities. In another moment I want to deep dive into the work of Dean Buonomano, a neuroscientist that says "Your Brain Is a Time Machine: The Neuroscience and Physics of Time". His work provokes about the differences between what we call time in space (physics) and what we perceive as time in our minds (psychology). The dissonance of the definition of time in both realms shows us how much we need to unlearn the fragmented worldview in order to recollect the pieces in a unified approach.
Coming back to the main idea of today's essay, questioning is a powerful tool for unlearning time as we know it and opening ourselves to experience other temporalities. You also should question the ideas I am bringing to you, considering questioning your personal bias for what question and what not as well. For instance, I know it's not easy to digest all at once this model of the Tzolkin: small cycles building bigger ones with archetypical patterns as fundamental elements vibrating together like notes composing music, an old song playing from a radio in the center of our galaxy. We enter the realm between the unknown and the unknowable. But the information in the conference presenting Sagittarius A* opening our conversation starts to show us that our questioning is leading us to a good track.
I'll stop here for today. It is Friday after all and it's sunny outside. I'll warm some of these ideas and questions in the park, with my feet in the grass.