I’ve been ill again this week, which meant slowing down. I read a lot. I reread some, too. A quote from the YA novel Sophie’s World:

The only thing an astrologer can do is predict the past.

That is a call for magic if I ever heard one.

I have been thinking a lot again about the double slit experiment, and how nothing happens in the world until it has been observed. I have been thinking about where I put my attention. And what, by doing so, I help make happen in the world.

So I am off most social media now, which seems to me to be a place of ugliness, outrage and memes that are basically a processes of continual recontextualisation, in a quest to create the greatest possible divide between people.

A democracy can quickly develop into mob rule.

Also from Sophie’s World.

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Looking back, I was most creative when I was without a television, and before personal computers. Sometimes lonely. But most often, in a place of solitude. In a place where I thought deeply before I said anything – had an opportunity to say anything – and had time to think twice about it all.

When I had them, social interactions were more than an exchange of witty sound bites. Or an attempt to control what people thought of me.

I had more questions than presumptions then. Even sober, I was more intrigued by the world, than I was suspicious of its motives.

I’ve been thinking about Shakespeare’s “sound and fury”.  All our fretting. And what futile noise we make.

I want to observe more in the space between the noise: more of the trees in the wind, more of the birds (who are sheltering in the bushes on this rainy morning).

A soft autumn is settling, and I am going to help conjure it into being.

(or: Why I left Facebook)

1. A partisan-dream of a headline in my Facebook feed. Baited, I click over and there is no article – no information – just a few lines of “content” and links to the kind of ads that used to come as unaddressed junk mail pamplets in a 3-dimensional mailbox.

2. An article in my feed written by a twenty-something giving advice about making it big in the “art” world (my quotes). It includes the advice to be an amateur first, and dump everything your amateur attempts produce onto YouTube because eventually something will go viral. The author of the article uses the phrase “Quantity becomes Quality”, apparently without intentional irony.

3. Yet another article in my feed uses the phrase “attention economy”. It is the first time I have noticed this label. I never thought there would be anything more dehumanising than capitalism.

4. Therese May gives a speech while wearing a bracelet featuring a famous Leninist. First thought? Mail Trump a Che Guevara T-shirt for their next hand-holding photo op. Second thought? Self-congratulatory chuckle, and note-to-self to post this on Facebook.

5. I got another heads-up: Do not “friend” XXX on Facebook because they are a hacker. Last time, this warning was in English. This time in Norwegian. I think: What if this meme began when a 15 year-old girl in San Francisco tried to ostracise her rival in a clever way. And now, 5 poets in Boulder Colorado, a 75 year-old woman in Norway, and I are are among the thousands inadvertently helping?

6. A Dutch photographer with racy wedding picts says, “This isn’t 1900”. Another headline in the “news” (again, quotes are mine). First thought? Send this guy a link with some Ancient Roman ceramic motifs. And maybe some etchings from the Victorian era? Second thought? We have, literally in our hands, pedestrian access to historical information on a scale that no one could have dreamed of in 1900. And yet, we are still stuck in our adolescent view of having invented everything ourselves – from sex, to hand-wringing despair over the idiocy of the younger generation.

That’s it. Now, I am going to go read from an old-fashioned codex book, dog-ear the pages, and scribble marginalia as a futile act of necromancy.

Because, as I am sure you agree, everything was better before.