That is how Saturday’s post ended! Finally, after a long time of playing with the thought, I was going offline!
And I was going offline AS ART! * heart eyes*!
I was literally so excited, I could feel my destiny being fulfilled.
You see, Covid started at a very strange time in my life. A time when I had finally “accepted” (a literal coming to terms with) that I was a writer, and that I would be spending so many hours each day writing, sitting behind my desk.
Realizing that had given me inspiration to counter balance the indoor, solitary writing, with work with my hands, or in a venue or outdoor location. Something in art or entertainment where both the real 3D space, as well as the real interaction with people were key.
Knowing I was already sitting on my ass for hours straight (last weekend I spent 10 hours per day writing or socially interacting at my desk), I simply didn’t have any ass sitting hours to sell, or to offer in exchange for some human interaction.
But I knew that after the coming to terms with being a writer, I would be in need of this real life. Whether paid or voluntarily work! I needed to be saved from myself.
A desk, a writer’s internal world, is such an intense place. We need “you guys” to, I don’t know, throw a cocktail umbrella at our heads or something, to wake us up from our artistic delirium.
We, writers, should not be left unsupervised, for days on end. There was a reason Alice fell down the rabbit hole: she probably sat for 10 hours at her desk too.
So by the time Covid started I was very firm in my conviction I needed some scheduled live interaction, to save me from myself. And then the pandemic came and I wasn’t the only was tied to their desk: We all were.
And the jobs I had set my eyes on, either didn’t exist anymore because they usually involved festivities, real life interaction. Or if they existed, they had this whole layer of Covid etiquette, Covid hygiene, Covid expectations, and a ten day tail where you could be summoned to get tested if a colleague had tested positive.
So aside from the fact that all sectors I wanted to work at, were closed or worked in a way that was full of stress and lacked the spontaneity that had been its charm, the actual interaction with colleagues, customers or clients, no longer had the same charm as it did before Covid. Like everybody, I minimized all social interaction, wrote and taught yoga online, and stopped looking for a job in the sectors I had wanted.
Initially, I thought I was just waiting for the storm to pass. Until the real world had found its form again, and I could resume my plan.
And then something started to shift.
. I think it was before the end of summer 2020, that I realized that after 14 years, I was no longer going to be a writer. Instead, I would take the thinking and the vision, that had always been behind the writing, into the real world and express through the spoken word and performance art. I would use the rest of this crisis to wrap up my writing (the majority of my work is written under a different name), consolidate my sites; And then go professional as a speaker, thinker, performer, and have my published work (which would be about 30 books total) available online. .
Even if I never wrote another word, I had written enough to speak about, and sell for the rest of my life..
I prepared for a professional life offline;
No longer as something that was nice to have, in addition to being a writer.
But instead of it.
. I never wanted to spend another day behind my computer, ever again. It was during this time, that a deep, burning, yearning, desire to go offline started to take shape!
Oh man, even thinking about it, makes my heart sing.
I have called it different things.
Analogue heritage: The skill to be in the real world and deal with real space, real people.
But it was also very much linked to Marina Abramovic and the awareness and acuteness of her work.
Just think of the impact of physical proximity/ touch/ live interaction after Covid! When all our minds are so programmed to start seeing other bodies as hostile.
Standing next to each other will be like standing next to a military man with an automatic riffle. We don’t even need the shock-effect of the loaded gun, knife and self-infliction from Marina’s 70s work! Another body already IS the loaded gun! Hugging other people already is self-infliction! .
The energy around physical interaction is so dense, so toxic, and the awareness of our own mortality almost tangible; When people say things will go back to normal when it is “safe”? Oohhh… you have no idea what you are dealing with here.
Things will never go back to normal. Not because situation is different; But because we are.
We are now suddenly aware that social interaction has a price. That having safe sex was just the tip of the iceberg; Every interaction can cost you your life, or the life of your family members.
. The price of social interaction and NOT living solitary and working from your study; That price is giving up having control over your hygiene.
And I m telling you from the bottom of my heart, that is a price so worth paying. And not just for the few people you voluntarily see, but also for all the ones you accidentally meet or are standing next to in jam packed trains, or at concerts, or whatever. But maybe that is the artist in me.
The idea that every person can kill you by their physical presence, is the most fertile artistic ground since the second world war.
And I could not wait to jump in and be a part of it. The insight that my future lay in the real world, and that going offline would be part of it, started to take shape. I was no longer a writer.
Last Friday I wrote for my Rock Star Writer blog, a post about that it was too early to go offline. Because I needed being online, now that normal interaction was cut off. I wrote, convincing myself, that now was NOT the time. Posted the blog. And realized: “This is bullshit. NOW is always the time!!” So one day later, I wrote for this site World Between Worlds, the Day One post of my offline project. Now was, indeed, the time to go offline.
I was very happy that despite Covid, I already started living that part of my life in integrity with how my life would be post-Covid. I was already offline, meaning I used social media and email only deliberately. I did read news feed and watched YouTube. And although I knew that the news and the channels I watched, were pessimistic and could make me angry, I also knew I would not be able to stop that.
I was going into this offline project for life, so I definitely did not want to make it too strict.
But in the process, I either got it entirely backwards, meaning that it would have been a better choice to only do social media but no news at all. Or, that it was just undoable.
That I had been right, Friday. That now was not the appointed time to go offline and assume my post-Covid artist lifestyle.
Because on Sunday, for the first time since last summer, I was back to only wanting to be a writer. I had lost all desire to ever be part of the world ever again. I would throw myself head first in the looking glass AND the rabbit hole and say to the Red Queen: “Please take my soul and my head, whatever I need to pay to stay here, but don’t send me back up ever again.”
When I cut myself off from the digital world, it opened my eyes to the real world. And it was a world with people who had been so afraid of death and disease that they had blew it up, and destroyed it. And I lost all desire to create art for them.
I felt like having a popcorn and watch the show.
I had told-you-sos and really’s? and a lot of you-gotta-be-fucking-kiddings growing in my heart, until I became more evil than the Red Queen, and started wondering where death would strike.
And looking forward to it.
Disconnected from my social media and without the comforting surroundings of my Inbox; I started longing not just to withhold my real-life presence, my art, my empathy, and my love; I started longing for it all to end.
I hoped that if death struck, or if the masses lost their minds and started to riot, they would take me first, because I no longer had anything I wanted to do. Within 72 hours offline I had lost all purpose and desire to be part of this world.
So after a year of Covid I am back to where I was. I’m standing in exactly the same spot.
I am a writer. I live at my desk. But I need something solid, something scheduled, in the real world. And yes! That will be speaking, performance, art. That will all be there, as well.
But first there will be unlimited access to my socials, my Inbox, and ANY and ALL things digital my heart desires!
Ending this art project of being offline, after less than 72 hours.
. Like Alice, I have woken up after a scary adventure and found myself awake, back at the riverbank.
The dark clouds have moved away and the sun is coming through.
As the day draws to a close, and I look back at how my first day in my New-Committed-For-Life art project “Being Offline Is My Art” went, I think I would label it:
A lesson in humility.
In particular because the difficult parts I expected, were not the actual difficult parts.
Sure, there were the drawback effects of realizing how often you grab your phone to open your email or social media.
And there were the blissful pure parts of the day where I had heightened awareness of everything around me.
Something I attribute entirely to not being on a digital drip the entire day. Of not having my awareness sucked into what I call “The Matrix’.
So that was the difficult part but also the benefit which I kind of expected.
But where I slipped were the online moments. Like this message I am currently typing here, straight into the Facebook box;
“Officially” I vowed to prepare all my emails, social media posts, in a separate Word file.
And to go in copy-paste and post. Although with emoticons, finding a picture and so on, it is not that clear-cut.
But the idea was pretty simple:
1. Type, prepare “offline” (on a not interactive software)
2. And then just go in to post.
I can tell you that works great for email.
Did that. Was great.
But really knocks the fun out of typing messages like this, or composing a tweet or shorter message which I will do later tonight for myDaily Bon Jovi Yoga project.
So that was a lesson:
If I want to keep this up, I have to give myself some slack and be generous in what I call “offline”.
Maybe you could even call it a project in practicing being offline. Not an outcome of being offline/online for an x amount of minutes.
At least not for starters.
So that was one practicality where things did not go as planned. Preparing work “offline” (meaning on a non-interactive medium) is painstaking and no fun, and only works for emails.
In particular because my spelling check in Outlook is broken, so the emails have never looked better now that they’re made in Word.
But there was something else…
Other than the humility lesson that “being offline” is more “practicing being offline” or “brave attempt to be less addicted and constantly checking my phone”.
The other thing was that the “offline” work time, so using other non-interactive websites or software, still drained me….
I had expected tonight would be totally different than I had been feeling the rest of the week!
That the anxiety that often haunts me, the restless energy that seems to build up during the evening because I m always on my computer, would be less now that I did not use interactive media.
Now that I had avoided a lot of checking and browsing, and had already had my peaceful blissful moments as a payoff, I was SURE the evenings would be swell!
Except they re not.
I feel just as “hit-by-a-truck how the fuck did I get myself into this?” as I always do around this time.
Just as “Oh, and then I still have to do yoga too…” wondering why I didn’t do that at a moment when I could still keep my eyes open.
So those were the very down to earth aspects of my first day of this new lifestyle “Being offline is my art”.
And yet, as humble these beginnings were, they did give me enough to start understanding why this is indeed an art project, and not a lifestyle choice.
It’s not digital minimalism.
It’s not a productivity tip.
It’s not me trying to overcome an internet addiction.
It is art.
Because just like people who live in a time-capsule, f.e. a house in the 19th century style, I do feel how this untethers me from modern culture.
I quit Netflix months ago, which is not an interactive medium at all, but I just didn’t like the endless possibilities it offered.
That was already a big step for me, because I liked being there. Liked watching what everybody else watched, or at least having that readily available.
I have written a lot about popular culture over the years, and although much was from the 80s 90s, I ve always gone through phases when what I wrote was more contemporary.
Like my Sex and the City phase, Vampire Diaries phase, and I watched all available episodes of Stranger Things and Lucifer.
When I quit Netflix, I knew I untied myself from that…
That I would not be writing about contemporary popular culture anymore which made me kind of sad.
But today, the first day of practicing being offline, was a deepening of that.
It was a realization that I was cutting myself off from normal everyday society. And that it had been inevitable.
That I had always known solitude and being solitary was my path.
Not in the yoga sense of meditating and turning inward and connecting with God.
I had not cut myself off from the digital world for spiritual reasons, at least not that clear.
Going offline is part of choosing art, the creation of it, and choosing to have a limited number of sources and input from others.
In particular input from non-personal sources, things you encounter because you’re on the internet.
I m not on the internet.
Hence: I don’t see them anymore.
I interact with other people (yes)
I investigate topics, I watch dvd’s, and I will also chat/ attend live streams.
But I will not be attending and interacting and going after, everything that catches my eye and interest.
What I make and write will inevitably be far less relatable than it has been.
And even the process will be different:
I ve been writing since 2006 under pen name, but always with all tabs open.
All social media open.
As I was typing, internet was my window at the world.
And it no longer is.
I’ve closed my digital work studio, where I have been having my adventures for the past 15 years and saying:
I live offline. I ve moved my art studio.
When I m online I am a tourist.
I am no longer a resident online, and not an employee with an online office. I am no longer dating online either, although I stopped that in 2010 officially. But I simply will not be online to build a relationship and meet people that way.
I have left the crowded squares, the public buildings, and now I am in a large spacious room. I don’t know where, but I assume it’s where all art comes from:
That I am in the world between worlds.
And I ve taken my place at the table.
Suzanne L. Beenackers email@example.com Paypalme
According to sociologist Catherine Hakim there are not three types of personal assets (economic, cultural, and social capital), but four. The fourth is erotic capital.
Hakim’s work is not unique; There is a Wikipedia page on erotic capital that showcases the work by other researchers as well. And I also came across an article that was entirely devoted to proving that Hakim’s theory was inferior to the other research. I think it was implied that it was unfair that the world didn’t know the other research. It had not made it out of the academic world into the mainstream world. But Hakim was the first to call it Erotic Capital. And not, like it was called before, Sexual Capital.
Whatever the content of the theory of one researcher versus the other, all trying to explain the same thing; Erotic Capital IS the better word! Most sexy word wins. Or, to stay within the lingo, the word with the highest erotic capital, wins.
So what wording will make it, when we’re talking about the art of staying offline? Or perhaps more accurately; The art of leveraging, your offline time. As well as leveraging your online time!
I’m in my first paragraph of trying to jump from erotic capital to what I have called Analogue Capital, and things already get wordy.
So I write this post knowing that Analogue Capital, Analogue Heritage, and Analogue Resilience, are not necessarily the words that will be the ultimate definition of what we, ten years from now, will all know. And I will only discuss Analogue Capital in depth.
The other two, which I may work out in the future, are; – Analogue Heritage Defined as offline habits, rituals, spaces and places, groups of people. – Analogue Resilience The ability to go by without the digital world, in its functional use. So this would mean for example keeping on an analogue landline/ home phone. But the analogue resilience I think is more acute, in the ability to not be in continuous conversation with, or exposure to, the online world. And to not need the distraction of apps or refreshing pages. The ability to “be present” in the offline world.
I will only discuss Analogue Capital; Defined as literally monetizing offline time/ analogue life, and/or learning to prevent overspending our time and attention online. For some Analogue Capital will mean selling their offline time (delivering deep work, work that requires high concentration), and for others it will mean achieving wealth because they win all their free time back.
And I am aware that Analogue Capital may or may not be the wording that we end up using, ten years from now. But the reason I chose to add “Capital” and not an “-ism” such as Minimalism and Veganism, which have become normal principles in the past decade, is because Analogue lifestyle choices CAN be a lifestyle change; Yes.
Just like as a principle you can refrain from consuming animal products and keep your possessions minimal; You can choose to entirely refrain or limit your online time, out of principle.
But,the reason I have coined it to “Analogue Capital” and not (like Cal Newport did in his book Digital Minimalism) to an -ism; Is because I believe being offline is an asset.
Unlike minimalism, or veganism, you could choose to be offline/ live analogue, because you want more money and more power.
Having an offline life is not just a lifestyle choice, that reflects your values (as an “-ism” lifestyle is); It also makes your brain, your talents, your presence, more valuable. You can monetize yourself better, just like people high in erotic capital can monetize theirs.
To illustrate this, I will use a comparison to something Brian Eno said about the creation of art. Genius versus Scenius.
In general it is thought that much like religion, the “idea” (genius) comes to an artist from above, from God, and it is the artist’s job to let the message through and bring it to this earth.
Like the topic of blogpost, this topic of living offline, is a Genius or genie, that has been around me for weeks now, and it wants me to write very often.
I usually ignore this genie, although the fact that I have known from the start of this blog a few weeks ago, that this art blog would rely heavily on offline values and offline life proves that this genius or genie, he or she or it, does have a large influence on me. But still, I usually say to the Offline Genie: “I already wrote about you last Tuesday. Mommy doesn’t have time for this.”
But this morning little Genie started dancing around while I was still in bed, and before I knew it she was lying next to me and we had spent 90 minutes together, browsing topics like erotic capital, Chronos versus Kairos time, and relational aggression among teenage girls. The latter has gotten worse because of social media and Whatsapp communication, whereas the boys now shoot their friends digitally, instead of resorting to violence with their rivals or settling power structures physically, as they used to. First conclusion of Genie and me: Boy worlds have become more peaceful, girl worlds unsafer.
Those are the things Genie and me talked about, as we used my Samsung internet browser. As you can see Offline Genie is not a purist.
But at the same time, my ideas about online life are not just brought to me by this offline Genie, or Genius. My ideas or sources of inspiration also come from the world itself. From “the scenius”.
In the seventies Brian Eno worked closely with Robert Fripp (duo Eno & Fripp), and they both worked with David Bowie. So the scene, or the scenius would have been “London in the 70s”, which already provides an array of topics, atmospheres, social circles, sensations. And then the interaction between Eno & Fripp, the interaction (collaboration) between Eno and Bowie, the collaboration between Bowie and Fripp, would be the other energetic bubbles popping up or spontaneously being created in response of them interacting.
These musicians didn’t get their ideas just from their geniuses/ the spirits/ from God; They also got them from the scene they were in. The scenius.
The reason I believe being online is costing you money, is because – Oh! Wait! I HAVE TO first talk a tiny bit about the addiction element of online media.
Short version: In 2012 Facebook engineered their platform to reward you (this is a thing in your brain where you get addicted to the Likes, like digital heroine) and all the other platforms and news media and so on followed. If you’ve seen the movie The Matrix, you can compare it by all of us being tied to an (online) world we are sucked into. Our souls are on the internet, in our phone, while our offline bodies are devoid of awareness just like the floating bodies in the Matrix harvest tanks. Okay that was not short.
Anyway, where was I? Got it: “The reason I believe being online is costing you money, is because “
It’s because if we take the Genius (inspiration from above) Scenius (inspiration from others around us) comparison; Internet addiction has pulled us in a perpetual Scenius without being able to talk to our Genius. And to a very large extend, our Scenius isn’t real.
In our scenius we are not improvising with our synthesizers and cracking jokes with David Bowie.
And instead we’re anxious about what we just posted, or what someone else has posted. We have Whatsapp groups where people are asking for attention, people we never chose to have in our lives to the extend that we are in continuous conversation with them.
We are way too available to the Matrix, to the world, to Mark Zuckerberg, to anybody who wants to presents their advertisements to us. Even if, most positive scenario, even if The Matrix of the internet is real. Even if it is a reality that it can be used as a “Scenius”, as creative ground and inspiration, and I know from 15 years of being online that it is;
Even then being online needs to be managed, because internet is a predatory force in the Scenius.
A healthy Scenius (again: credit for this word to Brian Eno, not me) is a combination of online and offline contacts, with limited or at least managed/controlled exposure (in both) to whomever and whoever wants your attention or your money.
In the offline world, we have numerous boundaries to protect people from entering our space. No one can just barge into the noise cancelling recording studio and disturb your Bowie collaboration, mid-day! We do not open the door for everyone. We make small talk and keep an emotional and physical distance. And to navigate our decisions and the in-person dynamics we can see how the other person responds.
But online there are no rules, hardly any etiquette, and it is unclear when or where you can safely come closer. Or “who” is welcomed to come closer, and who is not.
The chaos of the online space is best compared to the impunity of the wild west. And the habit of constantly being online and checking your phone can be compared to smoking in the 50’s which was then done by everybody everywhere.
Ten years from now, legislation and etiquette on the internet will be clearer, its limitations more widely known, and the first groups of people will have established strong online/offline boundaries. Just like there were people who no longer allowed you to smoke in their house, there will be companies, theaters, but also friends you visit, where it will no longer be normal to be online during your stay.
It will change, just like smoking changed.
Even if you are not an artist, or do not believe in a Genius, only live in the real world, and are very social and do not like solitude; Even then it pays off to only go online deliberately. When you know what you are going to do there.
Cal Newport calls this “operating procedures”, in his book Digital Minimalism. It means that for every app or website, you know when you’re using it, and what you’re going to do there/ how you’re going to use it.
I ve been writing for three hours, and I can feel this article has not even covered half of everything there is to say about Analogue Capital.
One more aspect I want to cover is, is that you can only capitalize/ use analogue capital if A. you know you have it , and B. stay in touch with the online world.
I will explain this with Madonna’s erotic capital and with the online world/ offline world of The Matrix.
Madonna only benefited from her beauty, because she knew what she was doing. Like a sword; Erotic Capital needs to be wielded. It doesn’t need to be harnassed to work; A sword is always a sword. But it needs to be harnessed and wielded to work for you.
If you live in the woods, in analogue paradise, you have all the advantages of living in that timeless energy the Greeks called Kairos time. You have all your time back to yourself, and you can spend it on making things for you and your family.
But the money probably will not start rolling in until you write a book about offline life, start giving guided tours over your property, start The Offline Academy, have an Instagram, start giving management seminars, have an elite clientele, and so on.
Madonna was just as magnetizing her first years in New York, as she was after she became famous. She already had “the sword”. But the reason she profited from her erotic capital, was because she was practicing that sword. Training her moves, planning her moves. Making them with great confidence!
Madonna did not sit on the couch until her erotic capital started making her money. She worked it!
So that is the first aspect of Analogue Capital that I wanted to share, closing this post: You have to know your worth, and work it, as a deliberate offline person.
And the second thing I want to leave you with, is the comparison with the real world, in the Matrix.
Near to the core of the earth there is an enclave of real people, a rebel settlement called Zion. It’s in the Matrix movies 2 and 3. These are either people whose bodies are freed from their tube, and their minds are freed from the Matrix. They can be recognized by the scars/ connection points in their bodies. And the other people are normal humans, who were born in Zion in a natural way.
The resistance fighters, among which Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), spend their time mostly on their ship, where they have the equipment to go into the Matrix.
The rebels, or people in the world of Zion, spend their time mostly in their physical bodies. They are far less powerful than the resistance fighters who go into the Matrix. In fact, the people in the world of Zion are dependent on the machine/ artificial intelligence to clear the air, cool their habitat. Zion is not as agile as the resistance fighters on their ships, not physically (their world is fixed) as well as mentally (their mind is always in Zion).
This analogy shows us where true power lies: It is in moving between these worlds.
If you go offline to your house in the woods, your power is limited because your world is fixed.
The other option is to be like the resistance fighters; and this is when analogue capital comes in. If you live like a resistance fighter, then you are offline most of the time (on your ship) and you go into the Matrix deliberately, and after carefully reading Cal Newports operating procedure! 😉 That’s how you go in the Matrix, meaning that’s how you go online.
But you don’t go there to be entertained; you go there on a mission.
Finally, a word of comfort; In The Matrix, there are good programs too. They look like really nice people, so (naturally) you first assume that they are resistance fighters, who have a physical body somewhere else. But they are programs. Really sweet and wise ones. This too reveals itself in the later parts of the Matrix, not in the first movie.
The same thing goes for the internet; It is not a bad place. You will meet the most amazing people there.
And the great news is; They are real.
Suzanne L. Beenackers
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A distinction I often make, to explain why an artist feels differently and prioritizes differently (or should). And, as I have come to realize today, will probably also respond differently to crisis (or should!), is by comparing artists to the other group, one I have called “builders and sustainers”.
Which are two groups; The builders on one hand, who may even be creators but because the only acceptable direction of that creation is upwards (and not downwards) they are not creators in an artistic sense. But creators in a productive sense.
And the other group are the sustainers or the service providers. They are there to make sure everybody’s assets, including their bodies, are taken care of or even upgraded.
In theory, or globally, there is an equal amount of builders and sustainers necessary, but with many labor/”partial builders” being relocated to Asia and other low-income countries, more sustainers are needed than builders. At least in the west. We do not build our own products, but we are still dependent on the caretakers of our society being physically present.
However, because the majority of the service industry is work that used to be done by women, which means for a long time free or unpaid or it was not done for example education for everyone; The costs of sustaining something, or providing services to those who did not have those in the past, are usually not calculated. Nor let’s say “happily paid”.
This is one of the major flaws of capitalism; Everything that was done by slaves or women 2000 years ago, or for people who would have been slaves or marginalized in those times, is still underpaid and undervalued to this day.
So. Knowing all that, it is perhaps no surprise that within this group of builders and sustainers, which we will refer to as “normal society”, they’ve got a lot on their minds as it is. Even if we don’t start counting in Roman times, but take the industrial revolution as a starting point of modern society, one can see the improvements that were made did not come from an artist making a beautiful escapist painting that made people forget their worries.
They came from people starting revolutions, refusing to leave until the thing was sorted. Or it came from artists who were knee-deep into politics, and who did not provide a band-aid for the soul; They gave you a sledge hammer to tear the institutions down.
The artists who mattered in the times and for the times, were the ones who jumped right into the builder and sustainer world and gave the bad guys a beating they would not soon forget.
Now first of all, if I would create art to be remembered, I would not recommend creating something that is current. The best way to be remembered is to be practical, make stuff that sells, to not be too much of a nitpick with your principles, and to blatantly fill your pockets. This is also usually the art that makes it through the ages because once someone has either paid a lot for your work, or made a lot of money from your work, your legacy is much better protected. And who was right and who was wrong is soon forgotten. Do we still remember which bands played South African resorts during apartheid? Even the ones who were adults in the 80s will have forgotten. Another example is the fascist promotion movie Triumph des Willens. From what I have come to understand Leni Reifenstahl was not a fascist: She was a smart business woman.
So from a financial perspective, what to create in the Covid crisis is really simple: Something that sells.
So those are, in my opinion, the two purest options: Either you get yourself dirty and put yourself in service of a 2000 year old battle of capitalism, emancipation, and worker repression. Which would mean finding out which groups are unfairly hit by Covid regulations (my pro-tip would be to look at the group under 25) and then you are going to support them.
Or, alternatively, you simply suck the world dry until the final penny.
As noble as the first option sounded, and as tempting the second, I could not make up my mind between the two.
I did not want to create something that was justified just because it “was good”. Or a protest or something. And I also did not want to create a new Triumph des Willens.
The only thing I really wanted? Was to destroy all my work and start living like a hermit.
In the words of Luke Skywalker when he isolated himself on a deserted planet and then a deserted island: “I came to this island to die.”
But before I destroyed the map to my new offline whereabouts to disappear forever, and before I sunk my X-wing into the ocean so that I could not change my mind and leave, I figured the least I owed myself, was to cut the decision in half: Starting with the work I have created under pseudonym.
I have been using that name for over 15 years, to write books about sex and I write diaries, and I was not “done” there! I wanted to stay. But there was a big problem; That work was related to sex, in particular sex as a single, and therefor the entire work was based on a freedom we no longer have. And also on a mood I am no longer in. There is nothing more off-putting than calculating if you’re willing to cough your lungs out with a week long fever, all by yourself in your house where no one dares to enter; If you’re willing to die, kill your friends, colleagues, or family members you’re going to see in the upcoming 10 days, just because you could not keep your pants on?
Call me crazy, but for me, that kind of knocks the fun out of it.
Under the current circumstances I really don’t have anything inspiring to say. Nor to do! And it really is not just the physical risks, it’s as if an entire mental world has been poisoned. Covid has crept into our minds. To see Covid as something we need, or even can, contain if only we all stay inside, is a political choice. It is a mindset of control, of trying to keep nature from killing us. Sex is the exact opposite.
Sex is knowing that you’re going to die, and that the only thing that will save you from the pointlessness of it all is to have sex. That is an entirely different paradigm than trying to contain a pandemic.
I simply refuse to have conversation about “are you sneezing” “have you been vaccinated”, in social situations and in particular when it comes to sex. Until we can freely stand next to each other, feel each other up, kiss, cheat, live secret lives and so on, without having to deal with DEATH? I really can’t see myself having a sex life again.
It’s over. The spark is out, to give just another Star Wars quote.
I m leaving sex to the married people. And I may have said that with sarcasm in my voice.
So after yesterday, after the day I decided having a pen name was pointless and that it could be safely abandoned, today was the day I would decide on what to do with the work under my real name. Something I did not start, until recently. And even now I still wonder: Have I started? Or am I one leg out?
Have I committed to being a writer under my real name, after quitting teaching yoga, or am I still coasting, waiting, hesitating? Do I even want to be known under my real name?
Would I not be much happier destroying it?
If I delete all my social media profiles, my websites, my Linkedin; Do I still exist? If I stop following the news, how will I see the world?
If mid-Covid I would stop informing myself, would it be like taking the red pill in the Matrix? Will I see a world the others can’t?
Is there a law that says I have to open my email? What if I closed my email and just stopped existing digitally? Can I still be a creator, if I don’t exist digitally?
Do I still exist?
Where my decisions on my pseudonym had revolved around the actual work (writing, books) and what to do with it, my thoughts about my work under my real name, centered around: If there is no “I”, do I still exist?
Can I exist in work alone?
I believe in art coming from the things you encounter everyday. This can be online, but also in the real world.
I feel NOW is the time, to turn my back on the digital world (without turning my back to the people who want to interact with me), and to find out what my art is, if I only show up for: -my art -other people
Coming from 24 hours where I could only just keep myself from destroying all my accounts and all my work, that sounded surprisingly constructive. And humane.
With sex as my main value taken out of the equation, my new life reflects my temporary main values in times of Covid: Art & Real connections.
Tomorrow I will resume creating under my real name and I will start making books from the work I did under my pen name. I will be offline the majority of the time, for the upcoming months if not years. I will not be checking any news, other than a quick headsup before I go out the door, to make sure I do not get fined.
My work will no longer be current.
Because I believe my work does not lie within the world of the builders and the sustainers. It lies “just” in being a creator.
I think I never quite fully explained what the big difference is, between builders and sustainers on one hand, and creators on the other, did I? It is very relevant.
The big difference is that builders and sustainers, keep things as they are or make them better.
But the creators, artists, are not just the creators of worlds. They are also the destroyers of it.
They’re the ones offering you the red pill.
Suzanne L. Beenackers
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