What worlds do we live in?

« One must first decide in favor of one’s own mind and taste. Then one must take the time, and the courage, to express all one’s thoughts about the chosen subject. Finally, one must say it all simply, setting one’s goal not charms, but conviction. »

Francis Ponge, Memorandum. Le parti pris de choses, Gallimard, 1935.

Do I really have to ask myself this question: what kind of world do we live in? Do we live « in » a pre-existing world determined by immovable mathematical laws into which we insert ourselves, that is, the world as a container? We know the lessons of Galileo, Bacon, Descartes, Newton, Einstein. If the world is pre-existent, it is easy to consider that it is at our disposal and that we are entitled to exploit it to live better and better. Everything is reduced to a mechanical vision of the world and of life. We are then all parts of a machine — and even small machines, we must admit — that must work in the best conditions. As individual machines, in order to live better , we must be concerned with being efficient and productive in the best possible conditions. How can we measure this efficiency other than by the pleasure we can take in living like machines? But if one morning the part is found to be defective, it must be repaired or replaced. And if the machine is really about to stop working, a group of enlightened individuals will give the order to build another one: the parts are rearranged, some are eliminated, others are modified and new ones are built. 

The « we » implies a community and also the project of several communities living together. If we refer to the question of « in », the community is a machine and the individuals who compose it, its parts. Still in this logic of « in », « living » is reduced to a function to which we must conform at the risk of being eliminated, and we will conform if we submit to a new perception of happiness. 

« What kind of world do we live in? is an unworthy question. It forces us to carry the burden of fear, anxiety, to be alert to all perils, it immobilizes our dreams, it encourages us to live in crates and lets us know that, in the end, we will always be behind the times. It forces on us the verse of Baudelaire I am the wound and the knife. It supposes a slow disintegration of the bodies which little by little will become obsolete; it is the insidious announcement of a world without men. It cultivates the ignorance of ignorance. 

I would therefore gladly dispense with this « in » in order to rethink this « us » because living is not to conform to a sequence of mechanical processes, and even less to a set of algorithms. To paraphrase the poet René Char, life cannot be grasped. 

That is my question: « What worlds are we living in? I see in this the hope of several possible worlds, complementary and not antagonistic. We create the worlds we live in by refusing to be wandering laborers. To live is to create the world, to create is to live the world. We listen to and think about ourselves, we are aware that the other also thinks and listens to himself and that it is possible to listen together. A harmonious whole favors the simultaneous blossoming of balanced individualities. One is the cause of the other and the other is the cause of the one. This is the principle of co-causality, of co-emergence. Co-emergence inside-outside, inside and outside. 

To live is to listen to ourselves, to think, to be aware, to hesitate, to stumble, to tremble, to stir our passions, to encourage our different skills, to cry alone, to laugh together, to remember, to open our bodies, to talk to the trees, to listen to the insects, to respect ourselves in order to respect the other. In short, to be in motion, to act, to improvise, now, always. It is also to overcome the fear of freedom to be, to create and therefore to accept the responsibility of building our freedom. 

Let’s live the world and reject the question « what world do we live in? », it promotes a perception constructed by technology specialists that makes us lose touch with our experiences and locks us in abstractions. Let’s refuse to move away from the spontaneous experience of life, let’s escape from this collective hallucination that turns us into machines. Let’s live the world we create and create the world we live. 

Luc Delannoy, Philosopher, writer 

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