GOGBOT 2021 OPENING SPEECH

The following text is the original speech I wrote for Gogbot’s Kick-off. The actual version missed some words here and there, but the structure and overall message was kept intact.


A picture of the audience because I don’t have a picture of me.

The mass confusion created by the overwhelming amount of information that we’re subjected to everyday is only possible because of how advanced and how pervasive digital technologies are. Because yes, lies and propaganda have always been used for controlling societies, but not ever in the history of human civilization have we been as suffocated with opinions, memes, videos, and all kinds of unending streams of data.

Digital technologies infiltrate every bit of our lives, sneaking into our political debates, shaping even our closest friendships, eliciting reactions to the million catastrophes happening simultaneously around the world.

And it seems like some of us can’t get enough of it. Because we keep unlocking our phones, just coming back for more of it. We unlock it from our beds the moment we wake up; in the toilet; on our lunch breaks; every single day.

But it’s a bit lazy to blame this so-called ‘Technology’ as the root of all our problems, as an abstract monster that is out of our control and to which we are doomed to be enslaved.

We sometimes forget that even the most complex algorithms and AIs depend on design decisions which are pushed by politics and ideologies. We forget that as users we can turn technologies off, or around, or upside down.

We decide the fate of technologies just as much as technologies decide our fate.  And I think that it is under this understanding we could begin to recalibrate reality.

In my branch of philosophy, some people argue that reality is actually performed. What that means is that reality is not something that exists apart from ourselves, that we then analyze from a distance, as if it is happening beyond our control. No, reality is being constructed by us, with what we say and what we do.

Like David Graeber once wrote, “the ultimate, hidden Truth of the world, is that it is something that we make, and could just as easily make differently.”

Extinction Rebellion’s + This Ain’t Rock N Roll installation

And this is an incredibly powerful idea for activism because it confirms that when we speak up for what we believe in, when we act as if we were in the society we want to live in, we are effectively changing the world. We are effectively recalibrating reality. And just like that, your words and actions have the power to recalibrate reality.

Except there’s one problem. We all don’t just inhabit our own individual realities. We share a collective one. We share it with our friends who’ve got our backs and the best intentions for us, but we also share it with people who wouldn’t think twice in harming us to get what they want.

So reality becomes this field of struggle with everyone shaping it, whether consciously or not. Take ‘climate change’ for instance. A hotter planet is our current reality. Why? For once, because some really influential and powerful people are making an economy based on fossil fuels the only possible reality. The climate reporter Emily Atkin said in an interview, “climate change is not something that is happening to us, it is something that is being done to us.

Likewise, the infocalypse is not something that is just happening to us, it is something that is being done to us. There’s a fortune behind YouTube’s recommendations algorithms that push conspiracy theories. There’s a fortune being done behind the economy of keeping your attention, scrolling, and liking, and sharing. Someone is profiting from it.

So the way I see it is that we either consume and consume information feeding into the mass confusion and the infocalypse, or we take some control back and become accountable for the things we create, and the things we put out there, and how that shapes reality.

So that’s my message for you today: Turn digital technologies around, and focus on what you put out there. This is what Extinction Rebellion Enschede and my dear friends, Clare Farrell, co-founder of the movement and This Ain’t Rock n Roll tried to do with the installation at the Oude Markt: a confrontation with our horrifying reality of mass extinction but offering each one of us the possibility of creating a different reality.

Workshops at Extinction Rebellion’s + This Aint Rock N Roll installation

IN THE FACE OF TOTAL COLLAPSE, LET’S TALK ABOUT MATERIALIZING A NEW WORLD

NEXT UP! Wednesday DECEMBER 2nd, I will co-moderate, with the amazing Marie Janin, the symposium of THE OVERKILL FESTIVAL online edition 2020.

During this symposium, we will host 4 speakers from all over the world: artists, designers, developers, and activists who are reinventing the ways in which we understand ecosystems and reorganize society through digital technologies.

As a response to this year’s Festival’s theme “The End of the World as You Know It”, I consider this symposium a great opportunity to envision, along with our speakers, new worlds that materialize from human’s expanding ecoconcience in the digital age. Could it be possible that in these new worlds, humans are re-learning their position in the planet, connecting with digital technologies and other organic beings?

Link to the Facebook Event
Link to the Symposium WebPage

ABOUT THE SPEAKERS

🗨️ Natasha Tontey is an artist and graphic designer based in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Natasha’s work explores the influence of fiction in our thinking of the future. She is interested in the notion of “manufactured fear” and horror as a method for public control. Her videos and performances often use macabre tones and challenge social tendencies of anthropocentrism and conformity with binaries.

Her recent project “Pest to Power”, shown at The Overkill online exhibition, explores the future of the Earth through the agency of cockroaches. She invites the viewer to consider these little fellas’ existence: thousands of years of being denigrated by humans, relegated to the role of an unwanted pest, carriers of filth and disease. Could we learn something about our own humanity by adopting the perspective of cockroaches? How could we revise our relation to all species in a way that is constructive and sustainable?

A still of Pest to Power (check the video at the The Overkill Online Exhibition)

🗨️ Maize Longboat is a digital media educator, videogame developer and producer based in Tiohtià:ke (also known as Montréal). He is the creator of Terra Nova, a two-player cooperative game that narrates the first contact between an indigenous person and a settler. However, this first contact happens years into the future, after a massive climate event has forced most humans to leave the planet.

As a Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) from the Six Nations of the Grand River, Maize’s current collaboration within Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace and the Initiative for Indigenous Futures, is a testament to the thriving presence of Indigenous people in digital space. His work helps shatter misconceptions of Indigenous peoples’ relation to digital technologies, and contributes to their self-determined future.

Terra Nova – click here to play!

🗨 Barnaby C. Steel is the co-founder of Marshmallow Laser Feast, a London-based experiental art collective that uses Virtual and Augmented Reality to expand humans’ perception and experiences of the natural world. The collectives’ creations allow people to embody, for example, the senses of mosquitoes or trees.

Barnaby believes that VR can tap into the emotions and imagination of a human population that is increasingly concentrated in cities, spending most of its time indoors. His vision is that these techno-artistic creations will encourage people to protect ecosystems and connect with other species.

Teaser of Marshamallow Laser Feast’s ‘Treehugger’. A version of this piece can be visited in The Overkill Online Exhibition.

🗨️ Iris Zhan (@iris4action) is a 17-year-old climate activist based in Maryland, U.S. Iris is the co-founder of Fridays For Future Digital, an initiative that gives young activists an outlet to protest online when they cannot convene physically for climate strikes.

Iris is also an active member of the Sunrise Movement, a youth-led grassroots campaign in the United States, that has been lauded for its influence in Joe Biden’s increasing attention to climate mitigation policies. Iris and her colleagues work extremely hard to materialize a sustainable and decarbonized world. I am excited to have her fearlessness and conviction present at our discussion, as well as her experience of the impact of digital technologies in activism.

JOIN US!

I’m sure this will be a super inspiring session that will unleash our imagination and give us ideas on how to move forward and leap into new worlds. Join us by watching the live stream on YouTube (17:00 – 20:00 CET / 11:00 – 14:00 EST) so you can ask questions to the speakers through the live chat. See you there! ♡

CLIMATE TECHNOPOLITICS!

Since September 2020, I started working as a doctoral researcher at the University of Twente in The Netherlands. (that means I’ll be trying to get a PhD degree from now until 2024).

I felt really lucky and grateful when I learned that that my deep interest in the relation between Climate Activism and Digital Technologies was picked up by the “Ethics of Socially Disruptive Technologies” (ESDT) research programme. The main goal of this recently launched programme is grasping how technologies are changing central ideas and concepts in ethics and political philosophy, calling for new theories and methods to understand the role of technologies in a fast-changing society.

My research is contributing in particular to two research lines within the ESDT program: The Human Condition and The Future of a Free and Fair Society.

I can’t stress enough what a wonderful opportunity this is! I’m getting to collaborate with some of the best researchers in the field of Philosophy and Ethics of Technology around the world! I am deeply honoured and thrilled to be part of this dream team and develop new theories and methods in the political philosophy of climate change and technolgy.

Hope I can share some progress on my research soon ❤

I don’t know why I care but I very much do

Reasons for being nice to other lifeforms abound, but around them, there is a ghostly penumbra of feelings of appreciating them for no reason at all. Just loving something never has a great reason attached to it. If you can list all the reasons why you ‘should’ love this particular person, you’re probably not in love. If you have no idea, you might be nearer the mark.

— Timothy Morton, “Being Ecological

Füssen, Germany

Bodies of water are usually terrifying to me. I find fish completely alien and disgusting since I’ve had memory, which is why I can hardly enjoy swimming in lakes and seas. But last weekend, I decided to overcome this fear and surprised myself with a plethora of sensations. 

A group of friends and I spent a day in Füssen, a charming town in the Bavarian region. It was a sunny Saturday and we were picnicking by a lake. With a little bit of encouragement from my friends, I took my slippers off and stepped in the water. It was covering my ankles and I quickly looked down to discover I was surrounded by dozens of fish. They were swimming there, centimeters away from my skin. I was petrified and overfull by a feeling of unease, but I waited and paid attention.  The fish weren’t even curious about my presence. They were just there being fish and doing their own thing. I felt silly. 

I slowly walked further into the lake, up to the point I couldn’t see them anymore. I knew they were there in big numbers, swimming around my hips, my waist, and my shoulders. I took some air and submerged my head in the water. I came out frantic, gasped, and looked at the hills and mountains surrounding the lake. I was so little in a mesmerizing landscape, sharing the fresh water under the warm sun with these little fellas. A friend pointed out there were a couple of ducks swimming my way. I felt like that meme of Arnold Schwarzenegger being one with Nature.

After a few minutes of trying really hard not to freak out, I noticed one of the ducks caught a fish in its mouth and I suddenly became super conscious about water creatures. I nervously came out of the lake, feeling victorious, nevertheless. 

Why does it matter?

Because after reading hundreds of pages about our “being” ecological, (not in the sense of caring about the environment, but in the sense of becoming deeply aware that we are just a part of this über complex system we call nature), I’ve decided to take these lessons off my books and into my experience of the world I inhabit. This is what made me step in the lake and pay attention to the fish that have so intensely disturbed me in the past.

It’s almost indescribable, the shift I get to feel in my entire body, like scraping from my skin all my preconceived notions of self-importance in an ecosystem that has a life of its own. It isn’t always pleasurable nor easy. I was born and raised in the city, with concrete below my feet and smog within my lungs. I became most familiar with A/C, leather couches, iced coffee and perpetual electrical outlets. Sometimes, experiencing things like fish in lakes feels daunting, awkward, unfamiliar. 

Come to think of it, everything in my cultural upbringing taught me that us humans are a special kind of species. We can force beings we don’t find pleasing out of their habitats. We can domesticate other beings to meet our most capricious desires. We can transform our environment to simulate our modern dreams of minimalist lofts, carpets, lamps, ceramic, mosaic. 

It’s starting to dawn on me that perhaps we shouldn’t. Perhaps we should be respectful and pay attention to our surroundings and the other lifeforms that inhabit it, stop making our needs and wants the center of the fucking universe. It doesn’t matter if it’s fish, snails, bees, weeds, flowers. Shifting our perception of other lifeforms and our relation to them is the single most powerful feeling I believe can make us ecological. 

The greatest tragedy for folks like me who grew up in concrete jungles is that if we don’t make a conscious effort, this mysterious feeling of being ecological will pass us completely by. We might visit forests, oceans, deserts, the Mayan jungle, but we’ll consume them just as we consume iced coffees. We’ll watch the waves until the sun sets, cocktail in hand, from seats where we can’t quite see coral reefs dying. Then we’ll go back to our resort to sleep in a king size bed with fresh linens. 

It is not our destiny, though. We’re always one decision away to rediscover the world with the eyes and curiosity of a child. We can decide to venture into unknown sensations, looking closely and attentively at other lifeforms as if nothing was given, as if things weren’t there for our pleasure or consumption. All we need is to be respectful and take a minute to pay attention. I’d say otherwise, all we’re left with is petty pleasures. We’ll be missing out on something truly magical, destroying irreplaceable things and ourselves in the process. 

Picture of the lake taken by Diana

The aftermath of 2019

After a couple of very successful new year’s eve parties that ended with me biking home at 8:00 A.M. in a freezing winter day, I woke up to the first day of 2020. I started to notice a feeling that I’ve had the whole day. I feel … like I am waking up, hungover, after a one-year-long party. 2019 was a crazy rollercoaster ride and I experienced it all in a small city in the middle of nowhere, Western Europe. My dearest Enschede!   

While stubbornly chasing my dream of researching the history and philosophy of global networks of climate activism, I stumbled upon a fortunate series of events (also known as a grant) that allowed me to both write a proposal for a PhD project and become a regular crew member in Tankstation (a volunteer-based venue for art exhibitions, music shows, dinners, and general hanging-out).

I would spend my evenings drinking pilsner while tending Tankstation’s bar, taking pictures of the food on the plates and the bands on the stage. Frequenting that place introduced me to a community where money has almost no value. I flourished among friends who loved to invest their time cooking, serving, planning, building-up, not as a business but just for the sake of doing something cool together. I got a glimpse of how a world that is not obsessed with economic growth but works in harmony with the environment would look like. 

Tankstation’s crew ♡

Being a part of Tankstation’s crew opened the door for me to a fascinating underground scene of artists and musicians in Enschede. I met an insane number of audiovisual artists, DJs, photographers, festival organizers, yoga instructors, rebels, and ravers. I spent a lot of evenings getting into profound conversations about art, technology, and culture. I also spent a good amount of time dancing like nobody was watching. I would enjoy for hours the sets of talented local and international DJs, modular synthesizer musicians, live coders, and whatnot. Perhaps I had one too many drinks, but I also experienced a different kind of partying:

I gladly completed a research honours’ program at the university, received an honours diploma and submitted my research proposal to various institutions that could fund my PhD. I was euphoric to learn that my proposal got awarded by the university. The graduate school committee concluded that my idea of looking at how Internet platforms are mediating the evolution of contemporary political conflicts had a lot of potential, it was a highly relevant project, and could mean a serious breakthrough in my field. We made a cool video about it, but I still had to wait longer to find out whether I was going to get funding for actually carrying out my research. 

The waiting time came along an invitation to organize an art festival. I had never done anything remotely similar in my entire life, but I figured I would never know what that was like if I never tried it. This project gave me experiences of a lifetime. I found myself reaching out to all these amazing colorful people in the art scene and actually collaborating with them! Hard work turned into a two-day vibrant, beautiful party in a dream-like environment. On the day of the festival I was overflowing with joy, running around with timetables and phone numbers in my hand. I wore a royal guard hat. I felt incredible. 

A promotional video made by the amazing Annebel

But the funding for my PhD research was still on hold while climate activism was at its peak. I started to get really impatient. I figured if I couldn’t research climate activism yet, then at least I could experience it in-the-flesh. This time, I went beyond walking in environmentalist marches. I joined the peaceful blockade of an Amsterdam’s bridge and nearly got arrested by the Dutch police (my mom doesn’t know that). I then joined the local Extinction Rebellion group in Enschede and helped organize a campaign for joining one of the Global Climate Strikes. 

A peaceful blockade by Extinction Rebellion Nederland
during Rebels Without Borders

When I wasn’t volunteering at Tankstation, or organizing festivals, or advocating for keeping fossil fuels in the ground, I was getting back in touch with my musical side. I was finally able to buy an ukulele and devoted myself to master the E-chord on it, relishing in any noticeable progress. I also saw Bad Bunny and John Mayer live!

To me, the year reads like an absolute dream. But in all honesty, living it left me completely worn out. 

The rejections to all my scholarship applications eventually wasted my passion for community work and activism. It also wasted my wallet. The truth is I’ve had to live quite cheap since I moved to Europe. While the wonderful privilege of chasing my dream job makes the sacrifices all worth it, it doesn’t pay rent and it doesn’t give me a European passport.

So I finished the year by accepting a job as an engineering consultant in Eindhoven. I am moving to a different, bigger city in a few weeks. I will likely spend most of 2020 exploring new places and trying to remember how to be a Mechatronics engineer. 

I have such mixed feelings about it! On one hand, I am excited to take the challenge: an office job in The Netherlands. That’s wild! On the other hand, I feel so comfortable and happy with my current lifestyle and inside the Enschede community: the people at the university, the artists, the activists, the crush, and some of my oldest friends from this side of the world. I will have to change my wardrobe, my habits, my attitude. Although new jobs are usually a reason to celebrate, my heart finds the bittersweet taste of failure in this outcome.

But the show must go on and the one-year party is over. I know I have to work even harder to be able to do my research in the future. I want all of us to understand better how Internet platforms are influencing our way of tackling decisive political challenges for our civilization. Who knows how and when I will get back on my philantropic track, but this detour does not mean I am giving up on reaching my goal. I found my way of helping the world become a better place and I’m sticking with it.

Now, while helping the world become a better place may sound like a silly, even disingenuous, enterprise, it is exactly what has kept me moving forward during this intense experience of existing as a human being on Planet Earth. I am married to that enterprise, that is my truth. With all its perks and with all its nightmares, I embrace and wear my truth with pride and that is the scariest thing I have ever done in my adult life. 

I’ll leave you with a writing assignment I did when I was 8-years-old. I found it a few months ago during my summer back in Mexico. Do take into account that I was in catholic school so try to overlook the references to Jesus. It’s also in Spanish, but I made an English translation. This writing made me realize that apart from all the wild experiences I’ve lived these last 20 years, not a lot has changed inside of me. 

“What do I expect in this year 2000?” dated January 1st, 2000. 

I have always felt desperation about the suffering of my brothers and sisters, the wars, floods, shortage of food and injustices. Knowing their suffering makes me feel it too. This is why I hope for peace and justice. I pray to God for his help to get these people out of their misery. I also hope my family is united, to have more friends, and that we don’t fight one another. I also hope this year is a year of celebration, that governors, mayors, and presidents realize that power is useful to help the people; that thieves stop stealing; that gangsters stop writing on walls; that people will stop cutting down trees and hunting animals; that kids follow Jesus Christ. Because I hope for a world full of peace, love, coexistence, understanding and friendship among everyone. THE END.

PATYT WINS THE TGS AWARD OF 2019

For the first half of 2019, I was polishing an idea for a PhD research in History and Philosophy of Technology. Thanks to a grant given to me by the University of Twente (which covered 6 months of salary), I could develop a full research proposal in which I explain the questions and methods I would use to expand our understanding of how Internet platforms are having a crucial impact on the political response to climate change.

On September, this proposal was awarded the ‘Twente Graduate School’ (TGS) Award of 2019. The award came with a bit of cash, a huge bouquet of flowers, but most importantly, it put me in a great position to actually carry out the research I dream of doing!

Instead of explaining what the research proposal is all about, I will let you check out the video and hopefully provide some more details soon! Enjoy 🙂

Here are some other links covering the news that might interest you:
TGS Award for Philosophy Student Patricia Reyes, coverage from U-Today
Patricia Reyes Benavides wins TGS Award 2019, Press release from the University of Twente

UT students plan to rebel for life

This article was first published in U-Today. You can check the original publication following this link

As a response to the latest scientific reports that warn of climate breakdown and biodiversity loss, UT students are joining the global movement of ‘Extinction Rebellion’ by forming an activist group in Enschede. Two members of this recently formed group are explaining how to bring awareness about these issues.

Extinction Rebellion is a global movement doing nonviolent protests to push for policies that prevent environmental breakdown. The movement started last year in the United Kingdom and has quickly spread to different countries around the world, including The Netherlands.

‘Extinction Rebellion Enschede’ started assembling last April, after the association Sustain organized a talk about Extinction Rebellion at the DesignLab. ‘The talk brought everyone together, at least from the UT, and that catalyzed the whole process,’ says Channah Hilhorst, a 20-year-old ATLAS student. During this talk, Hilhorst met Linda Brumme, a 22-year-old psychology student, who recalls: ‘It took some time to get started but two weeks after the talk we had our first meeting.’

The group is holding weekly meetings to plan what actions to take in the near future. ‘The first step is to have information talks, to see who’s interested and give people a network to communicate,’ explains Brumme. 

ACTING DEAD

The students are also considering doing nonviolent protests in the city, like ‘die-ins,’ where people lay down on the floor and act dead, or ‘swarmings,’ blocking the traffic for a few minutes. ‘This is to express the urgency of the situation. But what you don’t want is people thinking that you’re an irrational fanatic protester because that’s not the philosophy behind Extinction Rebellion. It’s all based on science so you have to be careful of how you come across,’ says Hilhorst. 

When asked whether the group has specific demands for the UT, Hilhorst tells that ‘part of what Extinction Rebellion wants is for universities to educate students on what’s going on in the world.’ To what Brumme adds that ‘this is aligned with Extinction Rebellion’s first demand of telling the truth about the climate crisis.’

Hilhorst mentions that although sustainability is part of the University’s vision for 2030, it’s still unclear how they’ll reach an adequate goal. ‘I think they’re trying. As a student, I feel you can learn what sustainability is, but it’s still not connected to a feeling of societal responsibility.’

‘You could choose courses that go in that direction, but it’s up to the students whether they want to learn about it and it’s easy to miss it. I think this should be taught always and from the beginning,’ reflects Brumme. 

BUILDING A STABLE NETWORK

Right now, the activist group is only constituted by UT students. However, they’re aiming to engage more citizens in the initiative. ‘It’s nice that students organize these things but students can be quite fluid. They are in the city for some five years and then leave. We want to build a stable network of people that work here and live here,’ explains Brumme.

To achieve this goal, they’re organizing a talk next Tuesday at Tankstation, which will be given by Paul Hendriksen, a member from Extinction Rebellion Deventer. ‘What Paul will do is bring together the latest insights on climate science. He gives numbers and facts, which are really important to base our decisions on. He explains in which state the world is because many people don’t know yet that there’s a climate crisis. After that, he will talk about Extinction Rebellion’s demands and what they’re doing because there’s so much going on already,’ says Brummer.

The students will organize more open talks where they will discuss where and when to take action. All their events will be published on their new Facebook page.


EPHEMERAL

The text below is one of the columns I wrote for the U-Today journal. You can check the original publication following this link

 

IMG_4736

Ana in de Trein

 

I’ve been trying to decipher why the bondings between students who meet on Campus feel so unique. Beyond that vibe of easygoingness, there is something else. It feels as if everybody is in a hurry to know each other better, to become closer friends. And then it hits me: sooner, rather than later, everything will disappear. Our study programs will be over. Our time in Enschede is limited.

Promises of going to visit each other at our hometowns and keeping constant contact through social media are genuine, yet ideal. This setting in which we have built our friendships is temporary. What we have right here, right now, is golden.

How could we conceive gold in such a short period of time?

It might result from a combination of the novel spaces on Campus we inhabit. Concrete, wood and glass buildings amongst forest trees, lakes, and bushes. The mostly rainy days when we gather in warm, dimly lit, wood-scented pubs at the Oude Market to click glasses full of Grolsch beer. The weird accents, habits, and stories of people which countries of origin we could hardly locate on a map before meeting them. And finding out, after all, that we have many things in common. We understand each other’s concerns. We laugh at each other’s jokes.

All of it, together, like a mysterious process of alchemy we cannot entirely comprehend, culminates in the creation of the most precious element. Good times, crazy laughs. Running together along the platform to catch a train, getting that last round of drinks before the bar closes, venting out over a cup of coffee how hard it is to adapt to this fleeting yet demanding environment. Coined, far from home, in the heart of a random small city in the middle of nowhere: friendship and companionship in its purest form.

Next thing you know, people are accepting jobs overseas. They’re flying back home, settling down in remote places. Everyone’s spread out across the world once again to live their own adventures. And what felt like an ongoing rollercoaster of intense experiences is now imprinted on our memories like a projection of photographs switching a hundred frames per second. So fast, that we are unable to appreciate a given one in that much detail anymore.

Will we be left feeling like we have missed that alchemy formula, incapable of recreating those good times, bounded to reminisce about them? Perhaps that’s why we relish our gold while we can hold it.

We stick together. We overcome our hesitations to give out free hugs, compliment our fellows, express what is in our hearts. All because we know that, after all, that precious gold is ephemeral.

Philosophy 101

Well, this week was the last lecture of what has been an amazing scholar year. So I came up with this little recount of what is like to be thrown in the pool of philosophy after lying on a dry rock under the sun for 25 years.

overthinking

Amazing illustration by Ruslan Khasanov

How do I begin to express in words how much I love philosophy? When I first signed up for this Master I was expecting to understand the stubbornness with which people around me held onto their worldview, I came here expecting to find proofs of why other people I disagreed with were wrong, I wanted to learn how to better defend my arguments of how things should be.

What I found left me speechless. I realized I was far off from being a part of any solution to the problems of society, I was infected with the disease I so badly wanted to eradicate.

Engaging with my classmates and professors, the smartest people I had ever met in my life, was like the punch in the face I needed to wake up from my delusion. Sure, my point of view was valuable, but it was useless if I couldn’t listen, if I couldn’t draw connections between our different outtakes on reality, if I couldn’t synthesize our alternative experiences in the world. I learned to be humble with my opinions, even if I’ve been reading and cultivating myself in any topic for weeks, or months, or years. That humbleness and disconcert might at first give you a sense of despair, the feeling of being completely ignorant, but the benefits end up surpassing that unfounded fear. Because there is so much more to learn once you give up on your “right” opinion.

I learned there is no such thing as universal truths, despite my previous blind loyalty to modern science as the overarching source of knowledge. I learned to consider that any story and account of facts, scientific, philosophical or historical, is impregnated with undesired influences from what is happening in its surroundings. I learned that the end results of any intellectual inquiry carry with it the watermarks of where and when it was conducted. And despite our frustrations, our attachment to this ideal of absolute facts, the best we can do is justify our beliefs as inferences to the best explanation we have at hand. There is no limit to how much one can open his or her mind, once you’ve gotten rid of all your assumptions, of all the things that you’re so sure that you know, that is when the real conversation starts.

This is all hard for me to express in a blog post, but after a year of countless lectures on great thinkers (not all of which I agreed with), after more than the compulsory amount of colloquia about the amazing research people are conducting right now in what is now my field, and after philosophising with my classmates along, let’s admit it, more than a couple of beers at the Bolwerk, my brain has completely exploded. I’m still trying to put together the pieces, and I know that when I’m finished, that shit’s gonna look and function entirely different.

If we hold a conversation in the future, just know that I am completely done taking anything for granted, and I will push you and everyone around me to do the same.

In this incessant search for the meaning of existence and its purpose, in this tenacious goal we hold on to understand what the fuck is that we are doing in this world, philosophy really brings you to your knees, it hits you with a thousand Newtons of force and makes you feel like a tiny, tiny little ant walking clueless in the immensity of the Universe.

I am completely in love, and though I have to accept sometimes it raises in me a bit of anxiety, to know that I will never ever be capable of finding the ultimate answer to explain this mess we call life makes it much more exciting to get out of bed every morning and explore it with the curiosity of a 6-year-old.

To philosophy, cheers. 🍺

Perspective

The evolution of my perspective is my favorite part of growing up. When I realize that I am able to analyze problems or situations from which yesterday I did not have that much information. My brain starts making connections and finding patterns increasingly sophisticated, and I rediscover things I didn’t know I  didn’t entirely understand.

And it is something that has no cost, it doesn’t go away, it doesn’t stay static, it just is, and it defines me. It defines how I construct my reality, it makes the world more complex and intriguing, filling it with more adventures and enigmas to solve. And it is mine, just mine, nobody can entirely get it, and nobody can see the world through it, it is all that I am and all that no one else is.

And it evolves, one day at a time, with each article I read, each interaction I have with another person, each lecture I attend to, each unexpected feeling. And then I think if this is how it is at 25, how will it be at 30? at 60? And then time stops being a burden, is my ally and is essential for the experience. And then growing up is no longer scary, and becomes utterly exciting.

IMG_4897