Wording

Lately I’ve been thinking about metaphors (nothing new about that in itself) and how the words chosen when talking/writing about science, ethics, and environmental issues might influence the reaction in people and their willingness to reflect and act. It’s a big field, from biblical wordings (and their translations) about dominion, usage, and stewardship of the earth to modern capitalistic conceptualisations of human beings as a resource. Words matter. Some are dark matter. To achieve the desired effects, careful wording is essential. Then again, words are easily employed to manipulate opinions and emotions. Where is the line between gently steering people via purposeful education into the direction with the most promising outlook for our species as a whole and the planet we keep changing, and blatantly misusing this tool to enforce a scientific world view on the brink of turning into an ideology to counter the ideologies deemed more harmful, to manipulate people into sacrificing the freedom of forming opinion and ruminating and coming to good conclusions based on knowledge, not fear and force? How can we use words to make people wonder again and delight in discoveries? How to break new ideas to our kind so often afraid of change and the vasteness of the cosmos? How to make people feel involved?

 

(Also, I hardly make any progress reading my books at the moment because my mind strays to all these side tracks of thought. Tonight’s rambling is presented to you by the introduction of “Earth in Human Hands” by David Grinspoon. You should see the crazy stuff Carl Sagan does to my brain … he did metaphors so well. Normally I’m a quick reader, by the way.)

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Space Stuff Comping Up! (Reading List and Poetry)

I spent autumn getting back into my beloved science fiction and space in general.

Books I started reading:

  • The Tower and the Hive (series, sequel to the Talents trilogy) – finished two of five volumes. The Talents-universe Anne McCaffrey created just speaks to me with its unique atmosphere, slow and steady but still energetic pace, nostalgic feel, and threads of hard fiction (e.g. thorough description of life in domes on a Jupiter moon) among the crazy.
  • Spacefaring: The Human Dimension by Colin Phillinger; read the first few pages. Lovely blend of space exploration and psychology, as far as I can see. Not an easy read for tired evenings, but maybe for the upcoming holidays.
  • Cosmos, paperback version of Carl Sagan’s classic. Currently in my backpack, but as with the book above it needs some time and quiet to be truly appreciated. Hard to read on the train, but his wonderful command of metaphors and the like makes it worth the slow read an contemplation. When I find a seat in the mornings I try to read a few paragraphs to set the mood for the day.

I haven’t started Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Astrophsics for People in a Hurry yet, but I’m looking forward to it as I thoroughly enjoy his (and his colleagues’) insights on Star Talk Radio.

My wishlist for Christmas contains mainly books, from Earth in Human Hands to Broca’s Brain.

Reading inspires me to write. I finished creating a series of haiku-styled factoids about our solar system which I’ll post as soon as I’ve decided whether to post them separately or in one big post. Apart from this I started collecting bits and pieces of thoughts on my reading material. I’ve been toying with some bigger ideas for a few months but they are not solid enough yet, though I might post fragments on their own.

 

The Pink Watch

When I was a child, my paternal grandfather (now long dead) gave me  Barbie branded watch. It might have been for my birthday, I can’t remember. I owned a few Barbie dolls, but I was not very interested in pink stuff. The only thing I liked about this watch was the fact that it had a little button that made the face of the clock light up, in this eerie green glow common to glow-in-the-dark stars.
After a few weeks the button and the light stopped working, maybe the battery voltage was too low, and the watch ended up in the kitchen drawer where my mother kept watches we children had outgrown and ones that needed fresh batteries or bands.
I wonder if this old pink Barbie watch still exists somewhere. My fascination with glowing things and my dislike for too much pink definitely have persisted.

My Absurd GOT/ASOAIF Theories

Most, if not all, of the following is written for personal amusement and mind games and therefore to be taken with a grain barrel of salt.

Predictions

  • Arya kills Cersei and Daenerys, probably by killing Cersei first and taking her face to trick Dany into negotiations (or by arranging for them to kill each other), takes the Dragons and flies North to burn the Others. Optional: gives one dragon each to Jon and Lyanna (team badass girls). Or to the Hound. The Hound with a pet dragon should be quite interesting.
  • Truly all (highborn) men die and the remaining want-to-be queens resort to mud wrestling until they get caught by winter. Then the small folks and wildlings take over the realm because these stupid aristocrats get nothing done.
  • Sansa gets everyone in the North killed/captured/wighted. Wight-Sansa and Arya/Nymeria proceed to have an epic showdown.
  • Bran or Jon contact Arya telepathically as soon as she fully wargs Nymeria for the first time and give her the full picture of the wintery mess. Arya meets Tyrion on behalf of Sansa (I think deep down he still likes her at least as a friendly companion), together they convince Daenerys and all the fire worshippers (except for Melisandre, maybe, she’s an annoying creep) to torch the White Walkers.
  • No wight dragons. I mean, considering dragon glass, they probably are ice resistant. Let’s just hope they are fiery enough to cancel the disadvantage of being reptiles and therefore cold blooded.
  • Sansa and Jon try warging each other after a major disagreement.
  • Sansa wargs Cersei. I don’t know how and when, but it sounds like fun.
  • Someone accidently wargs a tree or whatever and gets stuck.
  • Meera kills Bran because she’s fed up with his behaviour. (Yes, she swore an acient oath in the books, but this guy will get them all killed if he continous to wreck havoc.)

 

Now to the real fun part –

Theories

  • Time loop. Long night and another long night, many Brandons, Dragons gone and coming back,  a second Targeryen invasion from the east, … I came to this random conclusion today when discussing with the Nerd how GRRM is planting similarities/parallels all over the books, like the resemblance of Blood Raven and the Kindly Man (thanks to Order of the Greenhand for pointing this out).
  • Interlocking time loopy multiverse mindfuck.
  • The above, caused by some kind of apocalyptic rift in space-time. Some or all characters unknowingly wander over to another time and/or parallel universe without noticing … or maybe some (like Bran) warg across space and time in a much more drastic way than already obvious.
  • Addendum to the previous thought: from the start I had the feeling that Lyanna Stark and Arya have a closer connection than just a bit of resemblance and the wolf blood. I’m not sure about the role of reincarnation in the multiverse of ASOAIF, not very likely in the truest sense, but Lyanna should have been a warg, too, and might have been vessel hopping until Arya was born and somehow either nestled into her subconscious, some kind of mind merging (what happens if you warg a baby or even a fetus before it develops a brain/consciousness?) to finally live the life she had been denied before, even at the cost of most of her memories. This in turn would give substance to some more nice mind games about Ned’s promise and why Arya wasn’t scared of the crypts and even the “ghost” (floured Jon) as a child – and why she was so close to Jon in general. Also, if Ned knew of or suspected this it might have furthered his decision to let Arya take sword fighting lessons, as it was a second chance for what remained of Lyanna.
  • Simulation with constant fixing and partial repetition.
  • Kobayashi Maru style simulation.
  • All the people are already dead and the story arc is them being in a kind of purgatory, going through scenarios again and again until humanity is refined.
  • The world is a repeated game of very elaborate chess (or cyvasse, the Nerd says) played by the deities/forces of that world, leading to a same-same-but-different character of the historic events, different ages having a different force getting the upper hand.
  • Greyscale makes fireproof. Or wight-proof. Or both.
  • Random ramblings/speculations: It’s often been suspected that the world of the storyline is set in a post-apocalyptic world. The question is, at what state of history came the apocalypse? The great castles mostly have been built so far back in history that their origins can’t be recalled, so mostly likely before whatever the apocalyptic event was (cf. the common theory that the lower levels of crypts etc. served as hiding places/fallout shelters). Had the pre-apocalyptic civlization advanced to modern anthropocene state, I doubt these castles (rare to begin with) had been preserved but no newer buildings (many, many because a lot more people). So at what point of development came the apocalypsis? Can we even draw any conclusions because of the possible space-time rift, cosmic reset, time loop, or whatever? Is the story moving towards the apocalypse (again) right now? Will we see the cataclysm that reset/looped this crazy multiverse? Are the Great Other and the light/fire deity (whichever might be the real deal) like matter and antimatter and their final battle makes the world go “poof”?
  • I think it has been quoted quite a few times in connection with ASOAIF now on twitter etc, but here you go:
Fire and Ice
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
(Robert Frost)

What if GRRM has taken Inspiration from this and history is really somewhat repeating itself? Then to create symmetry this time ice will win. Game over, everyone dead. Valar morghulis.

What If I Just Want a Simple Life?

I get bombarded by notions of how I should live my life as a still kind of young adult. Travel, do crazy things, meet a million people, go to festivals all the time, party hard, eat at fancy places, save the world, be a sparkly social unicorn, …

Yes, sounds nice, but for the moment, I just want a simple life. I want to work, train capoeira, make art, learn about things at my own pace, sleep, watch the snail I put into a jar to keep it for a few days before releasing it again, I want to watch clouds and listen to thunderstorms, I wish I had more friends to simply hang out with to talk, sunset hugs, sit at the beach at night; I want to have more energy to ride my bike out of the city in my free time, just feel my kind of freedom again, or read more books again. Travelling all over the world is for another year. I want to be content, have what I need, feel secure for a while. I miss the fields, the old paths, poppies and green turning to gold, summer nights spent outside. I love and hate the big city. I love and hate what I left, what I lost because I had to run off with what was left of my sanity and sense of self, and I love and hate the melancholy of being stuck between these worlds. I long for friends and community and solitude at the same time. I’m dreaming of a small rustic house with a garden and a studio at the edge of a forest right beside the modern city, with friends willing to come over for stargazing. I want a simple life with space for my complex inner world.

How to Stay Sane and Healthy at a Big Capoeira Event

  • Earplugs (foam or silicone)! Rodas and percussion classes are insanely noisy and can be stressful after a while, even if you don’t notice the effect for a long time, and keeping part of the loudness away can reduce the overall stress level by a lot! I even wore them during a few of the classes towards the end of the workshop this year, and it helped me to focus on the movements despite being tired and recovering from a headache. Also, think of your kids. I felt sorry for some of the toddlers being carried close to a roda with a bateria that was so load that even with earplugs I thought it was too loud. I might be more sensitive than the average adult, but kids have very, very sensitive ears. Protect them or at least limit their time next to the noise. (Earplugs are good for the workshop party and public transport, too.)
  • Pack/plan your meals in advance. This year I packed almost identical lunchboxes for all days, but you can do as you please concerning variety. Use foods you know you can eat without feeling full or sick during training (e.g. I know I have to avoid dairy and meat before intense trainings). I packed salted nuts, dried banana chips, fresh bananas, hardboiled eggs, cereal bars, muffins, dark chocolate, and some gummy candy (great to chew on when things get stressful or your blood level crushes). In addition I had smoothies for the morning with me – plan carefully which foods have to be consumed before they are out in the warm gym hall for too long!
  • Take some time off around the event, if possible. This year I used vacation time for the first day of the event (even though it only started in the evening) and for today, which is the day after four days of capoeira madness. Best decision ever. Use the time to buy favourite workshop food, take a nap, stretch, look at the photos and others you took, put your feet up …
  • Be aware of your needs. Go outside when you need fresh air or some quiet, take a nap on a mat, hug your friends, say no to tasks you can’t perform without your stress level skyrocketing. Sleep in. Leave early if you don’t feel well or need some people-free time. Skip a class to practise on your own.
  • If you want or have to help with the event, look for tasks that suit you. I prefer documenting the event with my camera, collecting dirty mugs and dry bottles, and helping with some small things when I have time over tasks that involve a lot of people stuff like check-in. If you like to drive a car, you can pick up people and do grocery shopping, if you like caring for people you can prepare breakfast, if you are strong or have energy left over after the event you can carry around heavy stuff or clean  … find your niche. This year I wanted to help with the final cleanup, but I was so exhausted I would not have been of any use, so I excused myself and started going through my pictures, which was accepted by the others far better than expected.
  • Bring a small towel or washcloth to refresh your face or whatever body parts feel sticky and annoying in the middle of the day. Cold water clears the head, too.
  • General advise: Have a backup plan to be more relaxed. If you know you might need medication or whatever kind of help in some situations, let one or two people know. If you e.g. can’t stand being touched by semi-strangers when upset or being overwhelmed by all the noise and chaos of dozens of moving humans, find a few trustworthy friends or teachers who will be able to recognize and handle such a situation and maybe feed you chocolate or take you out for a walk. Identify your needs in advance, communicate, feel safe.
  • Bring your favourite flip-flops or whatever kind of comfortable slip-on footwear your prefer. Some spaces might be dirty or have a cold floor, or you might want to run out for a moment without looking for your socks and putting your sweaty feet into shoes. Bring a comfortable jacket or your favourite cozy hoodie to avoid cooling out between classes or when a mestre loves talking a lot before actually getting to work. Also great as a makeshift pillow or a mini-blanket to hide beneath.
  • Drink lots of water or other healthy beverages. Pro tip: Use the bathroom during class, training rodas, or presentations to avoid queues.
  • Let go of the idea of taking part in each and every class and event. This was so hard for me the first two years, but now I’m more relaxed about this. Let go of the idea that the schedule is fixed – this I learned the hard way this year. So. Much. Craziness. (If you want to know – they delayed the troca de cordas by two days while in the meantime our instructor and his friend got their more or less spontaneous formatura and were made a full mestres! This of course ended in about three additional hours of games, speeches, and samba de roda and a frevo circle.)