core

Sit-ups, high plank, low plank, side plank. Crunches, reverse crunches, bicycle crunches, side crunches, oblique crunches. Mountain climbers, knees to shoulder, leg lifts, scissor kicks, bicycle kicks, flutter kicks, jackknives, in-out abs, ski abs, the C-sit for the V-in.

The amount of painful, unpleasant shit people [N.B. myself incl.] go through to work out their abs, when the best ab exercises are simply laughing and fucking.

Cerejas

Perdi o trem das onze. Espero pelo seguinte comendo cerejas sujas na estação. Sabem a ti.

Sinto nos pés a dor aguda das horas que andámos juntos; no braço a impressão suave do teu último toque quando nos despedimos.

Pára-me quando começo a dizer merdas, por favor.

Desfaço as cerejas entre a língua e os dentes; a carne delas explode-me na boca em sabores intensos com evocações longínquas.

Como-as uma a uma, duas a três, uma mão-cheia. Não me saciam da tua partida.

the definitive tentative guide to identifying and maybe (but let’s be frank mostly not) solving relationship problems

(not using capitals in the title makes this seem more thrown together than it actually was, thus unconscious lowering your expectations for the quality of this text)
(isn’t this called self-disqualifying or something?)
(the explanation above doesn’t eliminate this effect, just as knowing you’re taking a placebo doesn’t prevent it from making you feel better)
(I’m quite fond of road cycling, and there’s a common ritual before each group ride which is to announce to everyone within earshot how you (i) have barely slept, (ii) have been too overworked to ride for the past few weeks, (iii) are feeling that old knee pain from an injury you got at karate when you were 8 come back, (iv) need to bring your bike to the shop since your wheels are getting untrued, etc.)

 

Identification
I got mad knowledge o’self, brothers gotta find knowledge o’self

You can hardly fix issues you’re not aware of, so the first step is as simple as identifying what’s wrong — simple but not necessarily easy, since it presupposes a non-negligible degree of self-awareness, of being able to take a step back from within yourself.

Try to be aware of your feelings, identifying them as they happen. Of course, most times you will just feel like something isn’t right and not be able to identify what is wrong: an undefined sense of imperfection, uneasiness, without a clear identifiable edge to it. When you don’t know what you want, but you vaguely feel like this isn’t it, but can’t quite put it into words, can’t quite give it shape?
Surely you’ve had conversations such as, Not this, What then, Something else, Like what, Like not this, like do you even listen to me?!

Here’s the challenge. When ‘it’ makes its presence subtly felt, grip it and hold it down. Examine that vague uneasiness. Bored? is it from dull conversations, unimaginative or non-existing dates, unchanging routine? Uncomfortable? is it from impromptu personal confessions, claustrophobia-inducing emotional entanglements, vulnerability caused by having brought them too far into the rest of your life? And, while we’re at it: powerless? is it from always surrendering your own agenda and priorities to theirs, feeling like you’re never able to go beyond their surface while letting them scramble your whole self, having (for once!) invested too much in the relationship and having them be the one skipping by and dropping carefree references to a potential impending breakup?
By the way: those were just examples, not a checklist — and we could be here all fucking night, seriously, and not in a good way, so the point is just to self-aware yourself into realizing what’s going on.

Then, whenever you have identified a negative feeling, register it.
Write it down — it will (i) better crystallise it from a vague feeling into a concrete, defined issue, (ii) force the creation of a mental space for a (brief) reflection on it, and obviously (iii) allow you to revisit it later on.
Three or four sentences or even bullet points are fine, by the way — Wallacian, thinking-addicted overcomplication may well lead you to overstate the issue’s dimension and lead you to dig too deep — unnecessarily, counterproductively deep — into yourself. Step into a room outside of life, but ensure you’re always able to look out the window at it; don’t reduce it to a sliver of light barely making it through layers of autopsychanalysis.

After you’ve written down an outline of the issue… do nothing about it. This will be hard: you might tend to be impulsive and have a strong bias to action. Your mind might be telling you to do! fix! act!… but first, do nothing. Really. If it’s really that urgent, it might be unfixable anyway. Just let it simmer. Over the next few weeks, see if it comes up again or if it was a one-off thing. Go back to it from time to time and see if it still holds, looking at it from different moods and states of mind, in different times of day, different times of month — when you’re ovulating, PMSing, menstruating, and everything in between. Refine what you’ve originally noticed, discarding or accentuating or adding new observations when appropriate.

Then, when you feel you have a clear enough picture of what is going on, time for…

 

Communication
Just the basic facts, can you show me where it hurts?

After you managed to draw a clear picture of the issue(s), it’s time to let them know about it. Try to ensure that you both have enough time and the right frame of mind for this discussion.
Book an open-ended slot on both your agendas; ending this sort of discussions unilaterally is likely to cause needless resentment.

Also, when talking about how you feel, don’t let your partner interrupt you: you need to be able to present your feelings in your own rhythm, and as your own story. Organizing information as a coherent narrative helps you, and them, make more sense of it: humans love nothing more than a story. Also, try to always present the issue both in terms of events and how you felt about those events, so that it is both objective and personal.

When you’re finished stating your point, force yourself to take a step back. Give them time to think things over, ask clarifying questions, present their own version of things. Two opposing factors weigh here. Your feelings are undeniable, regardless of how arbitrary and capricious they might seem or be, and should be addressed. Of course, this doesn’t mean it’s not fully up to you to make this happen, i.e. collaboration is desirable, delegation isn’t. However, some changes are ultimately unfeasible even with the best, most driven collaboration, so you are likely to have to accept a certain degree of failure and inaction, even though backing down and accepting failure within relationships might sound to you like a shitty ask.

As an extra, try to assess the quality of the discussion as it happens: did they prevent you from following the fairly straightforward guidelines described above? avoiding, ignoring, multitasking, interrupting, one-upping, dismissing, unfocusing, deflecting? if so: did they actually do it or did you want to see them as having done it?

 

Initiative generation
I’m building higher than I can see, I want fantasy

Depending on how solution-oriented you are, you might already, as you’ve identified the issues at hand, have automatically entered into problem-solving mode, having come up with a list of possible initiatives to fix them as well as those initiatives’ feasibility, requirements, and timings, and you might feel the need to communicate them and start working on them straightaway, either because now that you feel like you’ve identified what’s wrong you feel a sense of urgency about fixing things or just because of sheer enthusiasm.

However, try to avoid doing it until your partner had the chance to reflect on the issues you told them about.
Otherwise, they are likely to feel overwhelmed — and react impulsively — and excluded from the whole process, which is a sure recipe for failure. To put it idealistically, this should be a collaborative process, since there’s a second person who’s as much a part of the relationship as you are and should have an equal stake in it. To put it practically, think about how it feels to be handed a memo or to-do list which you had no say on; compare it to when you get to participate in the whole problem-solving process, from the first brainstorming onwards. That difference in interest, investment, and engagement is a result of what is normally called “buy-in”, and a lack of it means that even the best-thought plans will get shelved and ignored indefinitely.
Give your partner time to come up with some of their own proposals, which should address, or at least strongly acknowledge, some of their feelings, concerns, and issues; it should always feel like you’re both making efforts and both getting the rewards. However, be careful not to point this out explicitly; let them come to this conclusion, to avoid it seeming like you are only addressing their concerns in order to score “selflessness points” and obtain leverage in getting what you want.

Try looking for inspiration and suggestions online — make use of the “information overload era”, or whatever they’re calling it now, where information is growing exponentially and the ease of accessing it is decreasing accordingly. Or so I hear: as a highly ambitious career-minded young urban professional, I only use the Internet for writing moronic texts across two computers and for networking, and by “networking” I mean “trying to find wealthy middle-aged women interested in a sugar momma relationship”.
As I’m told, though, it should be easy enough to access blog posts and and articles and lists and listicles addressing this issue and attempting to offer solutions (such as this one), though most of them will be utterly useless and simply feed on and regurgitate one another, without a sliver of new thoughts or insights (insert obvious joke).
Use the resources at hand: it’s highly unlikely that you won’t find a single vaguely useful idea, which you can then tailor to the specificities of your own situation and personality or at least see as a starting point or guideline to be developed on; and, if nothing else, the awareness of the commonness of these issues might bring you some much-needed grounding and sonder, since being aware that your own issues are common and have been faced and solved by other people is actually a powerful tool in itself: it makes them smaller, less unknown, less intimidating, more approachable.

Also, make this process as free from constraints, pressure, and risk as possible. Come up with what you feel like; don’t turn down or put down ideas yet; let everything be as open-ended as feasible. You’ll have time to whittle everything down later, in the next step, because…

 

Selection, prioritization, and calendarization
I’d like to be under the sea in an octopus’s garden in the shade

… some ideas will be stupid, some will be unfeasible or require too high a commitment, some you barely know how to approach.

Interpolation: in life in general, but especially in relationships, I feel a strong bias both to agreement and to action is highly desirable.
(In part, there is a Costanzian heuristic at use here: these are characteristics that I emphatically do not have, and since I, like Seinfeld’s George, err on the side of feeling like “every decision I’ve ever made in my entire life has been wrong”, it follows that these must be highly desirable mental features. I try to base most of my opinions on self-loathing and/or sitcoms.)

A relationship in which participants tend, by default, to say no to one another’s proposals and to not act in case of uncertainty is ultimately doomed, not to mention fucking boring and pointless.
If being with someone else isn’t an opportunity to step a bit beside yourself, then what is? If you are so firmly committed to a personal myth, to a certain representation (both meanings: as construct and as performance) of your self, that you are unable to move out of the limitations and constraints that it defines for you, that you defined for yourself… are you not (i) willingly embracing stasis (ii) precluding the very possibility of self-improvement (iii) preventing the discovery of new experiences/ pleasures/ interests (iv) severely limiting the number of people you might be with to those who will like you and/or tolerate you within a very narrow range of how you currently are?

I mean, I’m not saying to throw your time-tested comfort-maximization strategies and risk aversion and everything else out the window at every occasion, though more on comfort sub. But do you avoid any kind of exposure so much that you could absolutely never say something like “elope with me Miss Private and we’ll sail around the world”? or have you ever set something ablaze? told anyone about a book that made you cry? I’m pretty sure fucking Costanza hasn’t.

(Actually, among that song’s lyrics is “we’ll help the passers-by”, which, if you remember Seinfeld’s finale, lends my seemingly flimsy comparison a whole new relevance and depth.)

Comfort is value-neutral — what you find comfortable is what you are used to, and if you’re used to spending your weekends, say, drinking beer with breakfast cereal and avoiding calls from your few remaining friends and masturbating all over yourself, a coffee date on a sunny Sunday morning is decidedly uncomfortable, and voluntarily foregoing that comfort is much easier said than done. Nonetheless, comfort comes to be something we not only spend most of our lives chasing but consider a significant factor in assessing whether we enjoy being with someone (“everything feels so easy and effortless”, and so on).
That the very thing which we seek in our relationships often be a factor in their unsatisfactoriness and, eventually, demise might, after all, be one of those social/ mental/ behavioral traps that is impossible to avoid.

There’s no clear solution here, except maybe to voluntarily develop the aforementioned biases to agreement and to action, so that the default action is to say yes, and to do, and to go… and a strong burden of proof is placed on the “no” decision? End of interpolation, but this mindset is one I’m starting to have a strong attraction for.

 

Anyway, I feel like the key for success is to convert the initiatives you both proposed into something that:

  • you both feel is a step towards ensuring the medium-term viability of the relationship;
  • you both feel like you haven’t been coerced or pressured into accepting, since a negative attitude towards the steps meant to ensure the relationship’s viability can easily mutate into a negative attitude towards the relationship itself;
  • you both feel excited and looking forward to implement — this step here has a catch, since it actually doesn’t matter if you naturally feel e. & l.f. to anything; you just have to make yourself feel so, and yes, pretending consistently is the same as being, and no, I don’t know how to do it;
  • is SMART (I won’t insult you with an explanation but I will patronize you by asking you really take some time to understand and internalize all that the acronym implies, and will repeat it);
  • is SMART;
  • takes into account the above biases to agreement and to action; if you notice yourself become defensive on an upper meta level against these bias themselves, please refer to the Costanza heuristic and apply to self;
  • considers the possibility of failure without thereby precluding the possibility of success.

 

Implementation
We can give it time, so much time, with me

Okay, now everything gets fucked, I mean, it’s fine when you’re discussing something in a specific setting and in a defined time-frame, giving it your full attention. But life is what happens in-between, the integral sum of all those infinitesimal moments scattered among the few discrete major ones, and the latter are the ones that stay with you but the former ultimately end up mattering much more through like just sheer temporal extent.

Meaning: operationalization is the death of strategy. Cf. vast cemeteries of New Year’s resolutions.
Give yourself daily tasks to keep the initiatives both constantly happening and in your mental foreground.
Have regular discussions on whether things are getting better and on whether you should change course.
Remind yourself of and remind each other of and simply celebrate the mere fact that you’re doing something. Stasis and decay and misery are easy and comfortable; action is risky, laborious, demanding.
Bonus: acting will inherently increase your investment in the relationship and in your partner and make you value it more (to a point), inciting further action and generating virtuous-circle positive side-effects.

All this is a continuous and iterative process, by the way; it never really ends.

And it will bring frustration and disappointment, inevitably. Some things won’t work, and others will but will imply too much work to be feasible long-term; this effort might breed resentment and feel like a sunk cost, especially since you might not be used to investing so much in a relationship. The feeling of carefree fun might be lost irrevocably, and with it your enthusiasm for it all.

Also, new issues will come up.
But that’s okay: at the end, accepting someone else is accepting their limitations. That you won’t be able to mould them to your perfect image, that some of their flaws will never be corrected. That, every single day, you’ll have to live through countless tiny disappointments, and be aware of the unsolvable major issues that underlie them.
That you’re not walking towards any end state, only forward, and often not even that much.

“Problems don’t go away — they change and evolve. Today’s perfection becomes tomorrow’s swampy cesspool of shit, and the quicker we accept that the point of life is progress and not perfection, the sooner we can all order a pizza and go home”.
Mark Manson

RSK

If what they say is “nothing is forever”
Then what makes, then what makes, then what makes love the exception?

 

Do you think of your past relationships as short stories, rather than novels?

Do they have stable, lasting middles, or just beginnings and endings?

Do you have trouble remembering all your exes, and sometimes suspect they have weekly support groups to help each other figure out just what happened and how it all went wrong? If so, do you imagine these meetings taking place in large rooms, with several participants joining via videoconference?

If all of the above is true, you might be a Relationship Serial Killer. You string attachments one after the other, never letting them get too serious or last for too long. You might be complaining that it was their fault, not yours, but… you do know the only thing that all your relationships have in common, right?

(You.)

Of course, you might be a loud and proud RSK, never having a moment of self-doubt about all the relationships you ended, and actually regretting not having pulled the trigger earlier on most of them. If you’re a world-class RSK, you might actually have compiled a list of exit strategies for when relationships seem to drag for too long, from which you choose, each time, the most appropriate one, in order to minimize (or, sometimes, maximize) the emotional damage from the break-up. For them, of course – meanwhile, you’re happily skipping away with the next object of your affection. If this is your case, then skip this article and give me a call so we can go have emotionally detached sex – though I must warn you that I get extremely depressed when post-coital. Also, pre-coital. And also sometimes coital, but the pain actually helps me last longer, so you might consider that a plus. What I’m saying is will someone please make it all end, I can’t take it anymore.

Back to the point: however, if you suspect you might be a RSK, but find yourself repeating “there were problems from the beginning, it had to end when it did” when what actually happens is that (i) waking up more than ten times next to the same person makes you feel like kicking down the nearest emergency exit and running outside in your underwear, and (ii) emotional closeness on your side makes you feel vulnerable and tied down and claustrophobic and emotional closeness on the other person’s side instantly makes you vaguely but overwhelmingly icky, and (iii) you find yourself occasionally wondering what-if and conclude it might not have been as bad as it seemed then… take a glance at what follows.

Jantar para Quatro

“bambúrrio” é uma palavra que não é suficientemente usada, talvez por não soar nada ao que significa. sai mais natural dizer “um pneu furado quando estou atrasado para uma entrevista de emprego? que bambúrrio!” do que “encontrei o meu antigo melhor amigo, que não via há cinco anos, numa estação de serviço de Freixo de Espada à Cinta? que bambúrrio!”.

 

 

em outubro de 2011 tive, juntamente com o meu primo, uma ideia para um filme que até chegámos a escrever: um jantar de amigos em que tudo fosse desaparecendo

(primeiro um guardanapo, um copo, um talher, um prato)
(depois uma pessoa, a comida, mais loiça, outra pessoa, a toalha, as cadeiras)
(no fim ficaria uma só pessoa sentada a monologar, já sem mesa)

sem que ninguém se apercebesse de absolutamente nada
(as personagens estariam a comer e conversar e no plano seguinte não teriam prato nem interlocutor e nunca fariam referência a nenhum desses factos)

(o que me parecia maravilhosamente desconcertante)

mas em que ao mesmo tempo as conversas fariam indiretamente referências óbvias à situação

(por exemplo, falando do Boléro do Ravel, ou da maioria das músicas dos Godspeed You Black Emperor!, com as suas estruturas de crescendo contínuo que não são necessariamente percetíveis no momento mas apenas quando a música é considerada na sua totalidade)
(ou daqueles conhecidos vídeos do indivíduo vestido de gorila que nos passa pelo ecrã mas que não vemos simplesmente porque não lhe prestamos atenção)
(ou das peças do Beckett, sempre o Beckett, esta mesma lógica de decadência impercetível, “always the same, always worse”, como já ouvi a alguém)
(o monólogo final seria uma referência a uma peça do Schönberg que vi uma vez em que os músicos se iam levantando e abandonando o palco um a um, ficando no final apenas um a tocar sozinho)
(perguntando-se como interpretar essa escolha artística, se seria uma metáfora para algo)
(e concluindo que não, que tinha apenas sido uma ideia parva do autor)

 

(tudo isto me parecia muito esperto e muito meta)

(e ainda estou contente com o meu eu dessa altura por ter pensado nisso)
(was ist seitdem passiert?)

(H/M;O/P)

George: My life is the opposite of everything I want it to be. Every instinct I have, in every of life, be it something to wear, something to eat… It’s all been wrong.
(…)
Jerry: If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.

 

There are happy optimists; happiness zealots, undisturbable by reality, soldiering on unwaveringly in their Great Leap Forward of relentless positivity. They would earnestly read self-help books except they don’t even feel the need to.
Avoid if possible.

There are miserable optimists, always looking upwards only to have life repeatedly headbutt them in the nose; recognizable at their uneasy smiles, unreflected in their absent stares and hinting at a dash of cognitive dissonance.
Pity them; lend them a hand and try to gently drag them downwards.

There are happy pessimists, ever pleasantly surprised that reality exceeded their gloomy expectations. They make self-deprecating jokes but actually laugh at them, and make sincere attempts to develop self-avoidance strategies.  “No, we don’t”. Shut up, this is my own personal fantasy, truth is an irrelevant attribute here.
Try to be more like them, which is to say, to act more like them (no, your hypothetical “inner self” mysteriously never coalesced into actual action is just narcissistic wankery).

Finally, there are miserable pessimists, for whom pleasurable and satisfactory events lead to a flash of optimism which is then instantly replaced by seemingly unsurmountable dread at how, if everything will go wrong anyway, there is now so much more potential for it to go wronger, so maybe pleasure and satisfaction should just be avoided in the future, which of course ultimately doesn’t help, etc.
They have analysis-paralysis, and so would you if when faced with a choice you had to consider not only the pros and cons of each option but also that the pros are themselves cons, and let’s not even add a layer of masochism which sometimes causes the cons to be themselves pros, hence cons, etc.
(You have to have a system.)
I’d say “lend them a hand and try to gently drag them upwards”, but actually don’t since that would be something good, and, as mentioned above, etc.

Co-pilotagem

Numa viagem de carro, o co-piloto tem três funções essenciais, que se listam de seguida.

Orientação: o co-piloto deve saber indicar ao piloto a via a seguir; se a viagem foi planeada com antecedência, é ele que deve ter, na véspera, procurado informar-se sobre o caminho a tomar, tomando notas se necessário. Pode juntar-se a esta função a de auxílio à condução: em cruzamentos onde há veículos que vêm de ambos os lados, o co-piloto deve ser responsável por indicar ao piloto se há veículos a vir da direita; se há várias placas de sinalização, cabe-lhe lê-las, permitindo ao piloto concentrar-se na estrada; deve também assinalar-lhe eventos como o fim da via de circulação, a presença dum veículo cujo condutor pareça desatento e potencialmente perigoso, etc.

Música: o co-piloto é responsável pela música. Não é um requisito implícito que prepare antecipadamente música para a viagem, mas deve operar o rádio e/ou o telemóvel, consoante a fonte preferida. É de salientar que a escolha da música pertence ao piloto, devendo o co-piloto tocar as faixas pedidas por ele, ou sugerindo outras hipóteses viáveis, sempre sujeitas ao veto do piloto.

Telemóvel: como o piloto está, obviamente, impedido de utilizar o seu telemóvel enquanto conduz, o co-piloto deve atender chamadas, ler e responder a mensagens, etc. Estando envolvidas questões de privacidade e identidade respetivamente, é de importância capital que o piloto dê o seu consentimento antes da leitura e envio de qualquer mensagem escrita, assim como do atendimento de qualquer chamada.

No entanto, cada uma das funções depende, evidentemente, da aprovação do condutor, que:
– tem poder de veto sobre a música escolhida pelo co-piloto;
– lhe autoriza e indica as comunicações por telemóvel;
– pode recusar-se a seguir as indicações do co-piloto, assumindo assim a responsabilidade da orientação.

Sobretudo, e a montante, o condutor pode escolher quem quer que seja o co-piloto, recaindo assim sobre si as consequências eventuais da impreparação deste. Sugere-se, portanto, que seja o viajante cuja personalidade se adeque mais à tarefa de co-piloto, com o consentimento do condutor, a assumir essa tarefa, podendo eventualmente preparar-se previamente para ela, em caso de viagem mais longa ou por vias pouco conhecidas do condutor. Algumas características a ter em conta são:
– capacidade de concentração ao longo de toda a viagem – um excelente co-piloto é inútil se não estiver acordado;
– bom sentido de orientação, vista apurada e capacidade de processamento da informação percebida;
– gosto musical relativamente alinhado com o do condutor, mas aceitação da inferioridade hierárquica, em caso de eventuais divergências.

Posto isto, então e neste Verão, vai-se a qualquer lado?

Eu só queria ir à porcaria da Croácia…

        I have always felt a strong interest in environmental topics. As such, despite having obtained my BSc in Physics, I decided to get my MSc in Environmental Engineering at Instituto Superior Técnico in Lisbon, where I learned about a variety of topics, some of them more technical – water supply systems, waste management, environmental impact assessment – and others less so, e.g. environmental policy and economics. This interest also led me to participate in other activities, such as, last year, the Federation of Young European Greens’s Youth in Crisis conference, at the European Parliament, where I met with like-minded youth to discuss the environmental, social and economic problems Europe faces today, as well as, recently, Maastricht University’s Student Forum. There, my working group, led by a tutor, had three intense, but very satisfying days to approach, research, structure and write a policy proposal – which was later presented to a representative from the European Commission –, on the subject of the circular economy, which called for the implementation of a “product passport”. This document would, for each manufactured product, include thorough information on materials, in order to improve recycling processes, either public or producer-led, thus closing supply chains and preventing loss of the materials’ value, with the goal of reducing resource extraction and delaying the coming resource crisis. I count that event as one of the most positive experiences of my life, for allowing me to meet and collaborate with some of my highly achieving, motivated and environmentally aware peers – several of whom I have kept in touch with, which is by itself a positive outcome –, for the atmosphere of focused and collective learning and working, and for having produced a tangible result. As such, I am hopeful that my participation in Green Academy will be an experience just as, or even more, rewarding.

        The above-mentioned Student Forum, as well as my learnings over the past few years, have led me to see that a big part of the ecological problem that we face now and that is bound to worsen in the next decades arises from the continuing reliance on GDP growth – thus, on increasing consumption, leading through overexploration of natural resources – as an absolute, incontested goal. Not only has GDP been known to be flawed since its inception, for assigning equal value to good and bad activities and for not considering non-monetary ones, but it fails to account for the depreciation of capital, especially natural capital, our most precious resource and the one on which all economic and human activity ultimately depends; despite all that, GDP continues to be seen as an absolute metric of a region’s wealth and even as a proxy for its well-being. Thus, the destruction of natural capital – for instance, through depletion of natural resources – is seen as a positive and wealth-generating activity, when in reality it can be anything but, since its negative consequences need not be accounted for under GDP; likewise, spending in ecosystem enhancement and conservation is seen as wasteful, instead of as an investment with positive future returns. Several alternative macro-economic indicators whose calculations include unpaid work and environmental damage, such as the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare, have existed for decades, and the transition towards their adoption appears to me as a pressing undertaking, for evident environmental reasons but also due to other factors, chiefly the significant upcoming increase in systemic unemployment due to automation. Moreover, apart from the over-reliance on GDP, the fact that modern economies all orbit around debt and depend on it for functioning is a major factor in sustaining the current trend as well, for debt, to be paid back (with interest), requires growth from those who contracted it, and almost every economic actor has.
This criticism of growth is tied to the validity of the commons model more closely than it might appear, since only in an economy that values sustainability and resilience over unbridled growth can natural resources be seen as sources of subsistence rather than as commodities: thus, the ‘commonization’ is also a ‘de-commodification’ – and, of course, a ‘de-financialization’, since resources (or, as they are known in those settings, ‘commodities’) are also treated as assets that can be traded and speculated upon, even at the expense of users, as was seen in the global food price crisis of 2008.
        Since the commons model for natural resources is seldom applied nowadays, and, when so, only at a fairly local scale, I think that there need to be adequate structures to ensure its proper implementation. For instance, an issue to be considered is how the commons depends on the existence of social bonds between its users. These bonds will decrease self-interest and render each user dependent, to a point, on social approval from the rest of the community, leading them to maintain a sustainable level of consumption. In a globalized economy where users have no bonds tying them to one another, those pressures disappear and users’ selfishness increases: unsustainable consumption will arise more easily. Moreover, in resources whose exploration is very capital-intensive (i.e. with high fixed costs) users have an incentive to maximize their consumption, in order to better profit on their initial investment. Two examples of these issues at play are, in my opinion, the collapse of Newfoundland’s cod stocks (large, international trawlers with satellite imagery and radar data) versus the relative sustainability of Maine lobster fishing – a local community using labour-intensive, artisanal capture methods. On the other hand, in developing nations, the opposite dynamic appears: it is only because some resources (such as the large African mammals, or the tropical rainforest) are seen by some as a commons for all of humanity that international financial and logistical efforts are made towards their conservation.

        The commodification of natural resources also results in the benefits arising from their exploration reverting to the wealthiest, thus leading to inequality and social exclusion, the conflation of economic and political power, the enforcement of a top-down centralized system of strategic decision-making, etc., as well as other diverse associated phenomena such as the concentration and proprietarization of knowledge or the erosion of small-scale communitarianism.
        Whereas the changes made towards a ‘greener’ economy are economically beneficial to some, such as producers of renewable energy or makers of cleaner cars, the paradigm shift towards an economy based on commons rather than on commodities, on stability rather than on growth, would, despite allowing for fairer access to resources and reducing our environmental footprint, bring no such obvious economic advantages. This results in this systemic transformation being incredibly difficult to implement: large multinational companies and resource-rich countries rely on exploration of natural resources and need growth to not only increase their earnings and their power but even to be self-sustainable – and, as more powerful institutional actors than citizens, they tend to impose their will in the case of conflicting interests. Thus, the best scale at which to effect this transformation could be a local one, where resources’ users can have social bonds and common goals, and where large groups’ interests and influence are felt less intensely.

        I believe that to reverse this trend of “top-down hubris” (Robert Steele) is a daunting but enticing challenge, and I hope that, by attending Green Academy this coming August, I can learn more about these issues from experts, discuss them with my peers, and actively participate in the proposed workshops, as well as enjoy and get to know the Croatian seaside and the island of Vis.

Smrt cycklistům!

A cidade de Praga é famosa por ter uma rede de elétricos densa no centro e abrangente na periferia, o que a torna numa das cidades cujos habitantes mais utilizam este transporte público. Se, numa rua de Praga, se olhar para cima, é provável que se veja a entrecruzarem-se uma rede de catenárias; para baixo, de carris. Estes tornam a cidade perigosa para os ciclistas, particularmente nos cruzamentos, onde a densidade de carris que partem em diferentes direções requer bastante destreza para ser ultrapassada em segurança. Este facto ilustra uma curiosidade histórica interessante. Após a revolução de veludo, o novo regime checoslovaco pretendia apagar todos os sinais do comunismo, tendo a bicicleta sido nomeada como um dos alvos a abater. Por se temer que uma proibição gerasse descontentamento popular, decidiu-se implementar em Praga uma densa rede de elétricos, com dezenas de linhas que servissem praticamente toda a cidade. O plano, ambicioso, teve sucesso: no primeiro ano de implementação plena, morreram 637 ciclistas e 2019 ficaram permanentemente estropeados devido a quedas nos carris dos elétricos. Aquando da separação do país, em 92, poucos ciclistas sobreviviam, e hoje o rácio de bicicletas para SUVs na cidade é de aprox. 1 para 120. A contínua deposição de partículas emitidas pelos veículos a gasóleo sobre as paredes dos edifícios comunistas foi dando origem a uma tonalidade única de cinzento que a cidade patenteou em 2007, à semelhança do que fizera Yves Klein com os seus famosos quadros azuis.

Paraules

Constantly updated.
I libri non sono fatti per crederci, ma per essere sottoposti a indagine. Di fronte a un libro non dobbiamo chiederci cosa dica ma cosa vuole dire.
For a language with such a huge vocabulary, English’s words tend to be ridiculously polyssemic.

abreact: to re-live an experience aiming to release repressed emotions.
aegis: protection; auspices (under the ~).
aloft: high up [of].
anatopism: thing that is out of its proper place.
athwart: from side to side [of], across.
aureate: golden, gilded; inflated and pompous in style.
aver: to assert the truth of; to declare.
beget: to cause, produce.
belletristic: related to belles-lettres
candent: glowing with heat.
canny: cautious; astute; skilled; frugal.
cantankerous: disagreeable, contentious, peevish.
cavil: to criticize for petty reasons.
chichi: affectedly trendy; pretentious.
chide: to scold naggingly.
chirr: to make a shrill, trilling sound, like a grasshopper.
cincture: belt.
colander: kitchen utensil for straining e.g. pasta.
co-opt: to assimilate, appropriate.
copse: thicket of small tress or bushes.
countenance: appearance; face; composure; (v.) to tolerate; to approve.
crud: filth; contemptible person or thing.
crux: the vital, decisive point; perplexing difficulty.
curlicue: ornamental, fancy twist (lit. or fig.).
daffy: silly, crazy.
doughty: steadfastly courageous.
dun: dull, grayish brown; dark.
easement: relief; convenience.
ebb: to flow back; to fade away.
egress: exit, way out; act thereof.
equipoise: state of equilibrium; counterbalance.
espy: to see at a distance.
extol: to praise loudly, to laud.
festoon: decorative chain of flowers etc. suspended between two points; to adorn [as] w/ ~.
flag: to fall off in vigour; to droop.
flush (adj.): even or level; contiguous; prosperous, abundant; blushing.
fritter: to squander; to shrink (~ away).
gestalt: a unified whole; shape, form.
gumption: initiative; courage; shrewdness.
hale: sound, entire, healthy, robust.
harry: to harass, annoy; to ravage.
inchoate: not yet fully formed; chaotic, disordered, incoherent.
instantiate: to provide an instance of or evidence supporting sth.
jettison: to cast overboard; to throw off.
jones: addiction, intense craving.
jut: to protude; that which protrudes.
knotty: having knots; intricate.
lackadaisical: listless; indolent.
lay (n.): the way wherein sth. lies.
lurid: gruesome; shocking; shining fierily; livid.
mavourneen: darling, sweetheart.
miffed: annoyed, irritated.
mill: to move around aimlessly, confusedly (~ around).
moon: to act listlessly; to sentimentalize; to gaze dreamily; to spend time idly.
muggy: oppressively humid (weather).
mythopoeia: creation of any myth.
niggle: to repeatedly/pettily criticize; to spend to much effort on details.
oscitancy: act of yawning; state of being drowsy or inattentive; dullness.
outlying: lying at a distance, lying outside.
paucity: scarcity, fewness.
protean: variable in form; versatile.
prurient: having, or causing, lascivious thoughts.
rapt: deeply engrossed; enraptured.
riven: torn apart.
sallow: yellowish, dirty, murky.
saprogenic: producing or formed by putrefaction.
schema: plan, diagram; outline, framework.
send-up: humurous parody.
sinew: tendon; strength.
smarmy: excessively flattering, servile, etc.
spindly: slender and weak-looking, like a spindle.
squabble (n., v.): petty quarrel.
tack: to follow a zigzag route; to change one’s course of action.
tapered: narrowing gradually towards a point.
threnody: poem, speech or song of lamentation, esp. for the dead.
topos: a convention or motif.
travail (n., v.): toil; suffering resulting from hardship.
uxorious: too fond of or submissive to one’s wife.
vitiate: viciar.
wallop: heavy blow; emotional impact; thrill.
wan: pale, sickly-looking; dim; bland, uninterested.
wanton: done maliciously, unjustifiably; reckless; sexually unrestrained; excessively luxurious.
warren: bldg or area with many tenants in limited quarters.
wheedle: to (try to) influence by flattering.
whopper: uncommonly large object; big lie.
yoke: jugo.
zaftig: plump, full-bodied (esp. woman).
zot: to zap, kill, destroy.