How does an idea make you feel?
What’s the weight of your joy?
Is there a path with no weeds?
What is the texture of your sorrow?
What is the color of your memories?
Is there a way without detours?
Often I pass through portals of living concepts, ideas, symbols, and metaphors within my writings and teachings. This threshold gives access to an ancient and precious place. Through it, I access the odd landscape of every thought, word, or concept, each with a living multitude of intermingled reverberations. Opening these threads of concepts and ideas unfolds primal and complex relations of information with shapes, weights, melodies, textures, colors, and stories — dynamic places full of different perspectives, tracks, threads, and numerous weeds growing all around.
Opening this field frequently leaves people with a sense of utter abstraction, implying the assumed severance between the practical-material world from the visionary realm, the place where ideas live. People feel lost about the final objective or goal of walking through these ancient vibrating landscapes. They often ask me: what’s the point? This is not practical — all I need to know how to get to point A to point B objectively. Please give me clear instructions, a method, a map, or a to-do list. I often get told that this is just philosophy and theory, in the sense of holding an abstraction away from authentic reality, ever requiring the practical step-by-step instructions to change things effectively. But what if “the instructions map” is retrieved from getting lost in these unmediated odd and weedy places?
Hypostatization, or the fallacy of misplaced concreteness
I’ve been sitting with this personal inquiry for some time now. Is it a neurodiverse kind of perception through which I feel the particular weight, shape, or texture of an idea? Possibly, a pathological one through reductionist modern eyes?
So many people say it’s only theory or philosophy, but for me, ideas are a deep contextual practice. Tethering words, and concepts through all the textures and emotions is a wild weaving of intimate possibilities, a living and practical endeavor. A profound and instinctual complex response to what is.
Of course, everyone’s different; everyone’s perception is singular, with each of our rich entangled universes reverberating in information, contrast, and paradox. Nevertheless, I feel ideas are not abstract, not far away or inert, dwelling in an impracticable realm in opposition to the material objectifying reality. Visionary landscapes of ideas do not avoid action, but sustain it. In my bodily lived experience, ideas and concepts are not weightless, for I feel their contours, mass, presence, and kinship to landscapes of their own dynamically interwoven existences.
Hypostatization, or turning something abstract into a concrete thing or object, speaks that the map is not the territory, where a reductionist perception tries to confine living patterns assuming their constancy. Unfortunately, this anxious need for stability can lead to the creation of sterile models (indeed with no weeds), where complex reality is constantly mutilated to fit in it. But I also find this concept, somewhat limited in itself, for it does not sustain the inherent nature of the paradoxical and ambiguous reality we live in, favoring unilateral-logical-human-centered “truth.”
So, working through possibilities, with and within ideas, I feel submerged inside life itself (through my biased perception and with many weeds around.)
The return of the small gods — particular deep contextuality
In this culture, we reduce it all, from ecosystems to cultures, creating a minor and diminished perceptive cognition of reality. The monoculture of pervasive lurking absolutism is everywhere, always trying to linearize hierarchically everything to one single voice, perspective or tone. Everything that shifts from the norm is wrong, disqualified, or labeled a pathology.
The small gods and wild plants became silent, for we exchanged security for absolutism, neglecting the deep contextual diversity around us.
Ecologist Paul Sheppard refers that the receding (capitalist-colonialist genocide) of wild nature decreases complexity in our psyches. Also, Laura Sewall and David Abram speak about how our biological eye's long-distance and deep gaze have collapsed by all the screens we’re addicted to — again reducing our cognitive ability for in-depth perception.
This constant reductionism coupled with cultural absolutism is why the concept of neurodiversity is essential. Though it’s been used in a limited pathological sense, we need it as a threshold to reclaim the singular diversity of our lived and experienced perceptions. This includes what happens physically to our bodies, encompassing emotions and ideas in the psyche.
For centuries in this particular culture, with its impoverished detachment from the rich diversity of the natural world, a hole has been opening, forgetting, and mutilating other forms of sensing reality.
I’m never talking about recreating an absolute model, the quintessential one-fits-all recipe because that’s been the problem all along. Instead, I’m referring to remember the complex sacred diversity in its many forms, allowing it to be felt deep within once again. It has to do with what you are attuned with your whole body senses when lost -much more than five senses, all working in a primal rhythmical melody. When lost, where do you look, what are you sensing, what do you perceive? The cultural impoverishment of perception keeps us above the surface, obsessively maintaining a flawless path towards the solution, conclusion, or end-goal. We cannot get lost, much less with weeds in our direction. So, we try very hard to keep the track straight and linear, rooting out all the weeds that stubbornly keep growing in our way to get something.
But the weeds keep invading the track, entangling with the forest edges, changing its linearity into a curvy stream of consciousness. They slow us down, we think. So we keep rooting out all the weeds because they have no meaning in the goal we set out to conclude, simply distracting us from the final purpose.
Although the presence of wild plants supports and roots the paradoxes of life itself. Weeds have a sensitive and profound invitation to activate the core of perceptive diversity, for they are the primers of nutritional soil, pioneer vegetation that comes first to prepare the way for life. They call to an intimate journey of warmth and presence — the recovery of our instinctive creative nature, our cosmic-telluric self, freeing it from the violent damage by neglect that we have culturally inflicted on it. It is an invitation that recreates a valuable and fertile space of transmutation and play.
Life can be demanding, and we seek security, and something fixed so that nothing derails once again — never to be lost or allow weeds in the garden. Understandable and human. There is a whole disconcerting fragility when touching the constant transmutation of reality as we know it. But there can also be an inevitable maturation in this arduous journey — a growing up. This maturation is a process, not a destination or solution. Our entire integrity works with what emerges in conscious flow and not just in control, co-creating in reciprocity; it is not about prediction or being in charge. Our lives don’t have to fit into “dry” or “objective” models because this matrix always has to be adapted, extended, or changed according to the fundamental multi-contextual living realities we are.
It is not the final, linear, or objective answers that can decipher a multidimensional life process. The greatest treasure is that this life is not about conclusions but discovery and creation, through which we can re-conceive ourselves, again and again, letting the wilds plants flourish and be heard once more.
We are traveling the creative paths of life, a journey full of detours and wild places where we should get lost over and over, reclaiming diversity and cherishing all the weeds growing in our path.
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[Disclaimer: all these words and weaved concepts are birthed through my lived, biased, and always limited perception of things, not supposing to bring any absolute truth.]
By Sofia Batalha
Mammal, author, woman-mother, question weaver and dismantling global-colonial-technological-capitalism one day at a time. Awkward prose-poet with no grammatical knowledge. Pilgrim through inner and outer landscapes, remembering ancient earth practices, in radical presence, active listening, ecopsychology, art, ecstasy, and writing. Author of seven books, editor of the free online magazine, Wind and Water, Re-member the Bones Podcast, and Beyond the Sea Conversations — all in Portuguese.
More information: sofiabatalha.com