Forest School writing: What did I think this was going to be, the revolution? / A review of the Free/Libre Arts Unconference and TropicalBurn / The difference between me and a free person

29 July, 2019

Tineke called it soulwriting. We were talking about the trouble of caring too much about one’s projects cum funding proposals.


You either trust in a fully participatory format or you don’t. / On the academy as capitalist enclosure (edu-factory). / On the significance of deconstructing patterns of gathering and working that leave out the common good, in order to come together anew. / On the political continuity between being a parent, learning-theory, and the academic format: how to identify and re-evaluate governmentalities in real time. / Parenthood as coming with a new perception of responsibility about the structural and ritual realities we create for other people and ourselves / You either trust in a fully participatory format or you don’t: there can be no middle ground, no hybrid format, no backstage / THE CAKE IS A LIE / 5 types of freedom at the Free/Libre Unconference: (1) those who don’t know they are free to leave an oppressive set-up (2) those who know they are free and leave, (3) those who know they are free but stay to help others see through the illusion, (4) those who know they are free, leave, but project that others ought to stay, (5) those who know they are free but stay because it ultimately makes no difference and they’re enjoying the company. / I wasn’t sure whether I was free and stayed, even though the 16month old was clear about wanting to leave. Except he enjoys the cloth, it’s colourful and makes promise of ritual / How a Free/Libre Unconference can reveal the truth / The truth as graspable primarily in false starts. In small grasps. / The truth as not-text. Certainly not as academic text / My small grasps of a truth, apospasmatically shared, from the forest. The school that is being in the forest. This must be what Guilherme means.

You either trust (make space) in a meaningfully participatory format, in allowing (!) people – each other – to fall freely into patterns of work and collaboration and life, and body, out of their own drives, or you don’t. There is no middle ground. There can be no filter, no editorial layer, no concerns about professional appearances, no institutional requirements, no maximums or minimums, no preconceived restrictions of time or place. When you have this trust (and considering the Unconference line-up, come on!) ‘it ends when it ends’ is a primary value, not something conveniently forgotten about as organisers never become participants, and participants are herded onwards to tick another box. When you show trust in the people you’ve brought together, you value your time with them too much to try and structure it. You become impatient with gatherings that are arbitrarily over-organised, you find them oppressive. / You are impatient with gatherings were those who take charge aren’t seeing the deepest, most beautiful vision of what could exist between us in that moment. You are saddened by others’ will to override a gathering’s human tendency for beautiful ritual. For beautiful sharing.

When you’re organising a meaningfully free and participatory event and Silvia Federici expresses the desire to not be in an airconditioned university building but go to the beach/Famagusta instead, you don’t skip out on the event and everyone else in order to take her there. You invite / let everyone else know too. You take the Unconference to the beach of Famagusta, and this is how you change the world one deconstructive gesture at a time.

“It ends when it ends”: on deconstructing the division between work and life as a primary locus of resistance. / How to refuse-deconstruct the kinds of labour that reinforce rather than dilute this division: there can be no revolution/mass coordination for immediate change if we always need to go home early because we have to work the next day. The possibility of a sudden break needs to have a chance to override everything / The favela knows this. Hadjimike knows this too.

On moments where we radically ‘decide to stay’. Some people call it falling in love / “Don’t take the children out of the room”: On community, Mujeres Creando, and integrating work and life with a new human. / Federici’s discussion of the health-war-edu industrial complex – how something different and new and better can begin with childcare that isn’t like “parking our children while we go to work” / “In Rio there is a growing movement of community parenting” / On how the Unconference was never going to be deconstructive of politically regressive elements of the academic format / On unfair projections of sexism / On unfair projections of a division between art and technology / On RMS’s graceous nature / On RMS’s unexpectedly immediate intuitive appreciation of connection / Why did the cultural historian need to cross the ocean with her kid after the Unconference? / On the mindful practice of identifying communal priorities in the present. / On the necessity of free writing / On the importance of repetition.

On why people choose to stay in oppressive set-ups / 10 reasons why this wasn’t an Unconference / 10 reasons why if it was, it would have gone to the beach with Silvia Federici / 10 reasons why the Free/Libre Unconference wasn’t free / On formats that remain disconnected from their content as means of control / On expired formats in the information age / On formats that do not allow ritual / On ritual as constitutive to commoning and commoning practices (moments of defiance to normalised enclosing practices) as necessary for connection and change / Parenting by connection & conflict resolution by connection / On art by connection as conflict resolution / On how Federici and Sholette knew to get out / On how Stallman and Vergara stayed in to help others see that they can get out for themselves / Catlow’s self-referential eye-opener: Excel Sheets and Unconference schedules: How the grid-table creates or limits possible states of being / Soderberg and de Seta in true freedom: the social science-anthropology of contentment whatever the setting / What’s in a name: Marys get transcendence. / I wish I was a Mary / Must remember that I am free to leave oppressive setups. / You either trust in a fully participatory format or you don’t: There can be no middle ground. Insistence on a middle ground “because people need (to be given) structure” means that you don’t quite admit that you don’t have this trust, which arguably contains that you don’t quite know what this kind of freedom looks or feels like. That’s OK. Most people don’t. (Serena: Most people don’t know how to be free. Carol: And they may not like others being free in front of them). We’ve been educated out of our ability to engage and produce meaningfully outside of safe layouts. Because unsafe layouts lead to community, ritual, dance, trance-like states, sharing, sudden change in the course of things. This is why rethinking the format of politically oriented academic gatherings is important, and this is why it’s difficult. / And this is why the carnival is important. They know this well in Brasil.

What did I think this was going to be? An EU-funded revolution? / Maybe it was always going to be an enclosure: alienated academic labour in the guise of community discourse / No, at some point there was a choice. / Was this always going to be an enclosure: maybe nobody else ever imagined it as anything else / Why did the idealist cross the ocean? / Why did the idealist go to TropicalBurn / To discover better attempts at reconnection, among people who know how to survive in the (as) wild (as possible), in the Tropics / THESE COCONUTS ARE PRIVATE / From one enclosure to the next / TropicalBurn as spectacle / But this is on private land. But this is on private land. But this is on private land. But this is on private land. But this (eco-paradise) is on private land / “If this wasn’t guarded people would invade” and if it had belonged to the state it would have been ruined or … privatised (like it is now). But maybe it doesn’t matter who (we) think owns the land, maybe what matters is what happens there, or how it’s allowed (!) to be.

The only thing we can control is the texture of our interactions / And this may be our primary teaching/sharing tool. / The only change possible through Whatsapp, Facebook or Instagram is one that necessitates more Whatsapp, Facebook or Instagram / Instagram art and why there seems to be no free software movement in Brasil (it turns out there is!) / The missing principle to the free software movement is ‘use as few pieces of software as possible’ / The absolute necessity of familiarising your kid as early as possible with techno-survivalist petro-anarchist (?) post-capitalist spectacle communities / A crazy wonderland of hardship balanced by beautiful miracles. A tribal village (or a number of very different tribal camps actually) working to make every second a sublime experience. / TropicalBurn and the image economy / TropicalBurn as a capitalist enclosure. / Seeking baby compatible ambience pockets – a broader metaphor / Must listen to infants more. They know when to stay / TropicalBurn: Thank you for the subtly branded extremely useful artifact you’re gifting to me, in conditions of deprivation, I will remember you as an excellent marketeer and invite you to future projects / But the goddess singer didn’t sing at TropicalBurn, Carol didn’t bring out her guitar – But the burning of the Serpent the night after almost everyone left was amazing / Community: the public art of creating a beautiful and meaningful life, without taking the children out of the room / The only thing we can control is the texture of our interactions: Playlistening / What Israeli parenting gurus (military trained, military minded) don’t understand is the wonder of connection through play / Livia’s answer to the suggestion that children should be kept out of an experiment on concentration-intention: “If you can’t focus your intention because there are children around, then you don’t know how to focus your intention.” / I found a ribbon in the sand bearing the words ‘radical self-reliance’, and tied it on my wrist, astonished. The baby had been ill the previous days and had taken a while to open up to people or engage in extended meaningful interaction with anyone, including me. He wouldn’t let other people hold him (indeed why should they? he’s interested in play, in balls, and voom sounds, in running around, not being at the mercy of the unpredictable approaches to intimacy of strangers.) He wants to be free. Livia to J: “You just want to be happy!” / He also needs to feel connected and given the chance to communicate with new people, not be among people who are stuck in non-communicative behaviors, who need isolation, or are staring at screens / On social media as oppressive setups / To my friends producing amazing work for Instagram: The only change possible through mobilisation that takes place there, is one that perpetuates the use of these media. This is far from the most beautiful thing we could be doing right now. We will live better lives, our children will live better lives, people far away will be less negatively impacted by the systemic effects of such isolating and disconnecting automatisms if we decentralise, slow down, look around and at each other. We need to be free of the built-in distractions and addictions of these tools in order to connect with each other and our environments. And if these media stand in for the connection missing in our environments, then we need to see this placebo for what it is, and make the changes we need so that we stop relying on these bad tools for the design of our future. These media centralise control over information and are actively stopping us from creating futures where these forms of exploitation are absent, futures with other kinds of values at their core. The only meaningful thing to do on these platforms, asap, is organise where to meet when we leave them. / How the heart of the carnival was elsewhere. / How the Unconference was a success. / How TropicalBurn was beautiful. / Letting go is a difficult thing. Maybe letting be is easier? /

On hereby exiting the edu-factory through soulwriting. On exiting the sad politics of longing for the beach, towards a militant politics of joy, in the forest.

July 2019
from Ixodos at A Casa Lar
Tijuca Forest, Rio de Janeiro


Goodell, M. (2019) Cultural Course Correcting: Black Rock City 2019. Retrieved 24 July 2019 from

Cultural Course Correcting: Black Rock City 2019

Janni, D. (2018) Burning Men: Consumption and Creation in the Late-Capitalist Wasteland. Retrieved 24 July 2019 from

Loizidou, C. (2016) NeMe: Not(es) on participation [on writing (on art) in the first person] (updated).

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