It's an easy smile, but a fully pronounced one -- effortless, insofar as "effort" is a product of willpower, but I couldn't smile much wider, I don't think.

I just read "The Grammar of Animacy", a chapter of Braiding Sweetgrass. On its heels, I'm seeing even the words I just used in a fresh, gentle light:

  • "fully pronounced": language articulated to the full; a smile is an expression, spread out across time, and this one used all of that time, to the full

  • "effortless": not to me, the thinking me, but the thinking me is only one nexus of consciousness participating in the ensemble performance that is Isaac

I'm struck by the schizm between animate and inanimate language that Robin Wall Kimmerer (the author) gently describes. It's present even in indigenous languages, from what she says: more things are ascribed beingness (and therefore the grammar of animacy) than are not, in those languages, but there is still a divide. The table made by humans is not a being. The bay, that earthen embrace of water, is. In English, much more of the world is pushed over that line, away from humanity. Nearly all is objectified, which exacerbates an already vicious cycle. The other is reduced to object, without dignity, without selfhood, and in our language we find no natural prompting to pause and listen for its voice.

I wanted to call this a war, but I don't think the other side is fighting back.

As Robin describes Potawatomi (and Ojibwe, and others), and the ways in which those tongues naturally nudge its speakers to consider the beingness in more of the world than less, I feel a warmth from the same center of my body that guides me around software. Software! Both the code that I write, and the code that I find in the world. And the groups who perform it.

(Pausing briefly to reflect: "perform" is an unusual verb choice. I almost deleted that and substituted "create", but considering software as an ensemble performance is how my perspective works. All of its component parts are alive, and so work itself is also alive. Just like Isaac.)

The dividing line between thing and being is subjective, clearly. I don't think there's a correct place for it. In the same way that nature is "red in tooth and claw", in the same way that the violence inherent in nature is inextricable from its aliveness, I think this dividing line is one that serves the manner of our creation -- the manner in which we are currently creating. To make, something must be undone. This is not cosmically criminal. It may be locally criminal, and it will have effects beyond those consciously intended, but it is natural. For all that I and we decry the "othering" of our fellow human, and even of the natural world beyond humanity, "othering" is part of the system.

I can't tell you what to do with that. It's just there, plain and unblinkingly clear.

This perspective does give me a gentler-feeling place to place all of the tensions I absorb from the world around me. With my particular flavor of autism, it's sometimes difficult for me to tell which emotions come from within me, and which are from outside. (Again, that dividing line, currently placed here for psychological convenience.) And I do see the beingness in all things. Humans, sparrows, trees, rivers, and also the sofa on which I sit, the product of a global supply chain and ethically complicated labor. And software, the code that I write myself later today and the code that I find out there in the world, like offerings at a bazaar that I weigh carefully, feeling out which pieces belong in my home. It's all alive, it's all speaking. I am nudging the dividing line back, bring more of the historically and culturally other back onto my side of the line. Not that the line really exists beyond my own mind, of course; it's a line suggested to us by the zeitgeist, but it has no effect until it is made real in one's own individual perspective. So for me, I am moving my line further away -- I am expanding its borders, privately welcoming more and more of the world into my working definition of family. Vibrational alignment being what it is (and I mean this in the "that which is like unto itself is drawn" sense), I imagine that the world is welcoming me, too.

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