Think Like A Mountain/
because colonizing heaven might not be such a good idea.
As part of the proposed research framework The End Of Nature As We Know It, which was announced by cultureland.nl (Amsterdam/Starnmeer) for residencies in 2018, I suggested a small experimental research with the working title: Think Like A Mountain/because colonizing heaven might not be such a good idea.
Thinking like a mountain, for me was a metaphorical starting point: Well to propose to think like a mountain in a very flat landscape as the polder landscape around Starnmeer could be understood as very headless if this is a word. Anyway, but it is not like that. It is exactly because of the flat landscape that I proposed it.
The notion behind it addresses our capacities of imagination. How can we think like a mountain in a flat landscape and why should we try it? It is an attempt to question in a poetic way why we think what we think – why we feel what we feel – and why we hear what we hear and so on and how it would sound like if we imagine it from different ways of being like, for example, a mountain in this case. The notion of thinking like a mountain is just a possible example for it and can be understood also as an example for the thought experiment of ‘how to address the universe as your library‘. To be curious about the things we encounter and explore them beyond the fact that we LOOK AT THEM (if we can) AND THINK WE KNOW WHAT THEY ARE: If you hear term mountain, you definitely might all have a very concrete image in mind in less than even a second, but what comes to your mind if you try to imagine to think like a mountain? Any concrete ideas? I don’t know it either. Of course, you might google it as I did and as expected there is mostly always something to be found: „Thinking like a mountain“ is actually a term coined by Aldo Leopold. In his book A SAND COUNTY ALMANAC (1949) in section sketches here and there he discusses the thought process as a holistic view on where we stand in the whole ecosystem. To think like a mountain for him means to have a complete appreciation for the profound interconnectedness of all elements in the ecosystem. He came up with the term by watching a wolf die.
Obviously uncountable philosophers, ancient and contemporary as well as natural scientists, etc. have been thinking about the place of humans in nature. In the past years, we have been able to follow up many discussions on the so-called Anthropocene which examines the influence of humans on natural conditions or natural disasters and it has been discussed controversially and criticized for overemphasizing the influence of humans as such. Now we find new proposals for example from Donna Haraway in her book Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene.Here she proposes a kind of making odd kinships, which means something like making kinships with other species to get another interconnectedness with other beings. This is just an example of a current approach not specifically my point of reference.
For me, the notion of thinking like a mountain implies this idea of other ways of becoming by trying to put yourself in the ‚position‘ of a mountain – so to speak, just the thought experiment of synchronizing with the mountain. This title does not want to explain the work or the research interest neither should it should work because of the title. Rather it proposes a kind of an entrance into a state of being between poetry and paradox. Which understands the imagination as the starting point for maybe something like a participatory realism. As the research itself is the work, somehow, it’s about the materialization of an idea that I understand only incompletely. Though it is a complete attempt.
The video was first installed at the storefront at Cultureland and could be listened from the street, Admiraal de Ruijterweg 181, Amsterdam.