The Terrestrial Residency of Constant and Eternal Border Dissolution

Article for The NXT Magazine by Christian Tranberg, Writer, Morph Community
Illustrations:  Bliss Resting

I :: on the Twin Delusions ::

We are out of balance. Our minds are frayed and shot, here at the pinnacle of History. The secular consumerist vacuum has deprived our brain of what little oxygen was left after the millennia chokehold of abrahamic dominator culture. Foul cynicism and manic relativism permeate our continent. We are lost and we are terrified, easily manipulated, unable to move, overwhelmed and petrified by the prospect that the Earth is doing just as bad as we are.

It is. The environmental crises are the symptoms of a psychopathy in our species, a deep-rooted collective insanity springing from the Twin Delusions that 1) the Earth is an alien and plunderable resource onto which 2) History is a ladder of modernization and consumption, peaking at and ending with secular postmodernity.

And on this barren rise we stand, in a trance, knees buckling, hands shaking, shuffling in the rubble of our long collapsed grand narratives, staring out on mass extinctions, the air thin, our lungs heaving, looking for anything that will lend us solace from our fears – looking to dangerous dualisms, to moats and trenches and modern fences; the loudest of the frightened leading the rest up the climb through a dense fog of burning coal.

This is the strange heritage that we shoulder every day: the skeletal remains of paternal-monarchical religions, and the hollow clog of secular consumerism. The former has structured our societies for millennia to always only benefit the most powerful, the echelon of wealth, through the tale of Mankind as alien to and supreme ruler of the Earth; legitimizing their planetary abuse by directing the gaze of the masses upwards towards a promised future otherworldly entirely. The latter has replaced heaven with an earthly promise of material wealth, but has not replaced the ladder of future redemption, only rephrased it as unbroken growth and endless consumption. The powerful are still powerful, the wealthy still rich; the church collapsed, the Father retired, but the same utopian
tracts of vertical ascension from profane and meaningless earth saturate our being-in-the-world totally. We are dwellers on a threshold, people of the not-yet, breaking dawn on
broken days.

These smog-induced hallucinations that are flickering before our eyes are dangerously misleading – leading, plausibly, to the collapse of ecosystems and mass extinctions on a planetary scale. They are structurally, religiously, financially, politically fortified hallucinations about linear ascension and personal isolation, when in fact, there is no such thing as that Future, and no such thing as superior Individualism totally separate from the living world surrounding it.

Since there is no Future – for it is only anticipations in the Now, and Past is but the tail-end of the Now, slowly burning away in the synapses of our memories – there is only and exclusively the Present. It’s not going anywhere. Now, the Present can be large or it can be small, shallow or deep, it is not a finite size. In fact, it seems eternal. It is up to us, the living, to reconcile with and surrender into this ever-presence. Everyday is a struggle to see clearly past the inherited veil of future linearity that blind us from the circular vastness of the our terrestrial Present; the present time, the present structures, the present habits, the opportunities and the obstacles that present themselves infinitely.

And since there is no supreme Mankind separate from surrounding reality, the dogma of the skin as barrier of worlds pale in comparison to the border-dissolving reality of the Earth as our original field for mind. Not only is humankind not separate, each Individual is not alone. We are open systems, contemporary science tells us, interdependent. Our sense of self is unreal. Our sense of entitlement to the Earth even more so. Everyday is a struggle to decondition us from the dominating myths of metaphysical isolation, in order to feel deeply the answer to the question, which Einstein thought most fundamental facing humanity: “is the universe a friendly place?” In these most important years of human history, as the UN coined this coming decade, we might fittingly rephrase his question to: “is the Earth a friendly place?”

Here, at the end of History, we have stepped off the Earth to regard everything from the outside, in order to know perfectly and mechanically. But being alive, being sentient and animated matter, is to be pregnant with mystical potential: feeling eternity here and now by dissolving the borders that separate us from a deeper connection with the ground – the Terrestrial, as Latour puts it; an organism more ancient than ourselves; an organism that birthed us and was never something other to begin with. In that connection lies the existential catalyst needed to break our harmful delusions and undo the damage we, as a species, are committing to ourselves and our birthplace.

This is the more-than-human century: the planet’s reaction to the Anthropocene is clear and present, the sixth extinction a fact, the rise in global temperatures a truth. The Earth is a living agent, not an inanimate framework. It re-acts.

To break these Twin Delusions haunting our planetary cultures is to   m o v e   from the delusion of linear, vertical progression towards genuine circular, horizontal infinity; expanding and deepening our earthbound present, springing from and resting in the inseparability of life and earth, mind and matter – our terrestrial residence.

II :: on the Movement of Border Dissolution ::

Breaking out of these heavy hallucinogenic states that our consumerist culture perpetuate, is the most important movement to undertake in this century – dissolving the calcification that render the living inanimate; breaking apart the petrification in status quo. 

The very act of breaking out of and dissolving is movement: it is not a means to reach a solid stance, but rather a trust in being here and now, a surrendering to the terrestrial conditions of life. It does not go up or into the future, if anything it expands or contracts, circles in circles. This seem to be the archetypal human dilemma reflected in the ages. Expand through connectedness and honesty, openness and wisdom, and thereby touch the infinite, the larger wholes of Earth, to heal – or contract through fear and hate, delusion and violence, to forget the vastness of being, and perish. Movement or Fixation. The latter seems prevalent because it protects the narrative of the supreme and defined Individual alien to nature, and it fortifies the myth of a Future somewhere up High, its ascension dependent on contracted hardness and closed-off-ness towards the ground of being, in order to be worthy of heavenly gains.

In this moment, our culture is feeding frenziedly on this latter fear. Nationalism, conservatism and tribalism are concrete schemes to this dilemma, because they offer people the illusion of solid ground in eternity. They offer people the opposite of a movement: a stance. But the cost of this stance, this petrification and solidifying of what flows, we see on the environment and our mental health – the two sides of the same broken coin. We do not feel well, when we are contracted and immovable. Our civilization loses touch and orientation. The Earth heats and trashes, as your body would if put under harmful stress. This is not a metaphor: Earth is to your body what your body is to your mind.

Dominant forces today are building walls and constructing borders, attempting to separate the abovementioned inseparable flow, severing our already frail ties to the living. But the danger of this moment comes not only from “the Right”, who contracts into smaller and smaller rooms of hatred and violence; it comes also from “the Left”, who is obsessed with appearance and identity; who replaces critical thinking and spiritual development with image feeds and icon worship; their insistence of being on the right side of History making them arrogantly blind, and dangerously tribal.

The vital movement is none of the above, it is a dissolving of the above, a movement beyond those borders. You overcome your small and imagined self. It is the radical movement to realize that every time you dissolve a border, another arises in the distance only to be dissolved soon enough. This expansion is not colonial or conquering, it is not a stance, or a means to reach an end – it is a perpetual movement. Stepping into this movement is stepping off the smoky ladder of History and into a timeless place that comes after its end and before its beginning; a place between humanity and living reality.

Here, there will be no space for crippling cynicism, there will be no time for moral relativism, or any of the other tenants of Postmodernism that have dulled our sense of outrageousness, made space for dangerous dingbats and climate change deniers, and blunted our instinctive response to atrocities.

On the contrary, contemporary science is pregnant with a terrestrial reverence, a cultivation of a new felt orientation to the Earth will be the prime movement. This must be the ground for a new movement in our times. In the absence of leadership, we must break the existential trance and make movement possible. In the denial of facts, we must reveal the inescapable truths of being terrestrial. In the absence of will, we must be an aperture through which the lifeforce of the planet howls. In the absence of understanding, we must translate the living significance of scientific ontology.

In this more-than-human century, we must manifest the vitality of terrestrial existence from the shadows of the post-war century, manifest the experience of the Earth as a wholly process, the terrestrial a Residency of Constant and Eternal Border Dissolution.

Here, immersion will mandate radical honesty; disintegration of dominant delusions will require a recognition of the planet as our necessary ground; and halting the environmental catastrophe means embedding ourselves in the web of living mystery, to foster a genuine collective sanity.

III :: on Experience of the Terrestrial, and Psychedelics ::

If the air had a color, say rose-pink, we would experience our connection as immediate. Visibly embedded in our planet’s breath, our textural life support stretching vibrantly out of our throats, we would feel less isolated, less alien to the biosphere. But that’s living on the surface, where the air is invisible, just like meaning. The greater felt reorientation of our cultures cannot escape the mystical aspects and conditions of being alive – and shouldn’t. In fact, this is where we must begin: with Experience, the intentional responsiveness twixt living reality, intelligent bodies, and symbolic minds.

The scientific data is here. What is still missing, as Andy Fischer pens it, is “the existential sensitivity, the felt orientation.” The Terrestrial, as Bruno Latour puts it, must become “a new political actor.” But the cartesian dualism is a hard knot to untie. To catch up with scientific truth, we need poetic rhetoric to magnify the microscopic and make tangible the titanic; to translate into felt reality what science tells us ontologically. Now more than ever, because truth does not wait to be understood.

The truth that we, the living, are an open conscious network of mystery and a way for the planet to experience itself, is not a religious claim or a dogmatic belief – it is a felt realization from scientific fact. 

Science is changing our understanding of reality towards greater entanglement and embeddedness and inseparability, and hopefully, we will also start to feel more entangled, more embedded and more inseparable from the Earth we live on/in/with/from. 

But our Experience of being-in-the-world is preconditioned by the Twin Delusions, which drive mirrors between the world and the mind, and squeeze the Felt Terrestrial Present to a thin steppingstone for an Imagined Otherworldly Future; paving an oil-stained road for climate change denial and postmodern, nihilist impotence. 

All thought and all behavior originating from these delusions, however new they might appear on their surface, are bound to repeat the same mistakes, to merely push forward in new shapes old myths, and fortify the trance of anxious wall building. We are so strongly preconditioned by the Twin Delusions that we seek solutions within their framework, rather than breaking their spell.

This is why the felt reorientation of our cultures towards environmental balance will have to be more than politics, it will have to be mystical in nature: experiencing, down to the bones, that the Earth is an organismic whole, which produces self-awareness such as the human mind; that the terrestrial is an intelligent, sentient, experiencing organism to which we are mystically bound. Arising from science, a reverence towards the terrestrial ground of being, our field for mind. 

We need only look to the current Psychedelic Renaissance in cognitive sciences and psychiatry to illuminate this vital point. Here, the biggest paradigm shift lies not in the chemical difference of the substances now being tested to treat mental disorders, but in the change of perspective which follows: the mind seems to heal itself of treatment-resistant disorders through border-dissolving experiences that releases the Individual from both cartesian narratives of inner/outer, self and world, and the rigid social constructs of identity and ideology – and thereby bring about a renewed connection to and meaning with reality. 

The standard pharmaceutical drugs prohibit or encourage the brain’s production of certain chemicals like dopamine or serotonin, whereas psychedelic drugs plunge the mind into chaos, and melts away the borders of our inner landscapes, so that the mind can, like that of a child, relate freely and playfully, with kindness and reverence to itself and its surrounding reality once more. To be able to tell a different story about one’s life, to be released of the rigid narratives of dysfunction. Begin again now always already with awe.

And that is precisely what we are in dire need of: a giant terrestrial acid bath that dissolves the calcification of decades and centuries and millennia of twin delusional trance, in order to be able to tell new stories and create novel meaning about a different way of being earthbound – to  m o v e  towards hitherto unknown symbols.

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Morph is a Copenhagen-based visual community and creative studio, founded to create a space for artists looking to broaden their works’ social impact and reach. Born out of Copenhagen’s youth cultural movements, Morph explores visions of tomorrow’s society by re-thinking conventional narratives and aesthetics – hacking commercial platforms with an activist agenda.

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