Fever dreams - Pleasures of Being More Than One

Door Hannah De Meyer, op Tue Dec 01 2020 08:56:00 GMT+0000

Pleasure is joy, laughter, humour, coming together,
caring for people, feeling deeply cared for by others,
tenderness, physicality in many forms, dancing, singing, touching, being touched, or not being touched, just lying down, feeling your insides (i don’t mean with your fingers, i mean just feeling them)
It might be sexual, orgasmic
It might be activating your body, waking it up
or releasing your body into rest
or it might be something that’s both, an energising release, like a volcano that erupts

It’s a pleasure to be in spaces that nurture, encourage and support you to relax and sleep, relax and cry, relax and play, relax and taste, relax and smell. Haptic spaces.

Dries Segers

Pleasure is related to minds in a state of release: orgasmic release, sleep release, dream release.
I take great pleasure in visceral ways of thinking, intuitive, associative, feral.
Info embedded in your cells, muscle memory that awakens.
Ways of thinking that happen when you inhabit your body safely.
When you move like you were born to move, and think from the gut, and speak from the gut.

Pleasure is when your body feels good and gorgeous and tasty and other people feel good and gorgeous and tasty and you all move like you were born to move.

You know, the good stuff.

Pleasure is a medicine against unpleasure

Unpleasure is the capitalist-imperialist machine that penetrates worlds and crushes bodies
Grinds bodies to pulp
Grinds its rhythm into them, into their flesh
A choking rhythm of clock time,
Of life time converted into work time, like a life sentence
Lives, years, seasons turned into Excel sheets
Singular bodies with singular rhythms, breaths, minds, ways of engaging with the world must become similar, homogenous, exchangeable

Dries Segers

This is how bodies are devalued, violated, exhausted, destroyed
bodies of water, bodies of soil, animal bodies, human bodies, insect bodies, rock bodies, bodies of knowledge, communities of different bodies

Pleasure is shelter
Resistance, refusal, ‘the right not to’
Sticks and stones and weed and bones
in the wheels of the machine
So it falters

Pleasure is reclaiming bodies as sacred

The pleasure of animism, of sensing that non-human bodies are animated, alive, intelligent
You become a witch when you realise you can talk to them,
companions that sustain us just as we sustain them
The pleasure of caring for these fragile companionships
And when they break down, you realise how much you need them: other species, lands, seasons, ways of living

Reclaiming human bodies, stealing them back out of the tight places they were strapped in, pushed into. Places that determined what they were supposed to look like, how they were supposed to speak, think, feel, behave, interact

The process of stealing back bodies is chaotic and non-universal, because this machine does not attack universally
It conquers by dividing, by distributing unequal amounts of violence onto different bodies Intersections of race, sex, gender, sexual orientation, ability, age, body size, class, citizenship determine who is cared for, exhausted, valued, violated and how much

Pleasure is a release into joy, rest, orgasm, play
Sure, but which bodies get the resources to do so? Which ones are protected by homes, incomes and spare time, laws, passports? Which ones have to work three jobs, have no shelter, have to be on their guard (often against the very institutions that are supposed to ‘protect people’)?

Dries Segers

Universality is a capitalist-imperialist myth used to constantly cover up the massive inequalities and violence that are the very essence of this machine

Universality is dead
Be in chaos
Be in joy
Be in thick, strong communities with their own rituals, reparations, languages, politics, pleasures that are specific, local and community-based
Are they islands? In an archipelago?

Gangs of interconnected animals

Community and connectedness are sources of pleasure
Kinship, chosen family means to connect and commit to people you are not related to by blood, genes, marriage, citizenship
Those categories are the possibilities for relating that a capitalist-imperialist society offers us
‘Chosen family’ is a way to broaden these narrow ideas of relation
‘Kinship’ is an invitation to extend resources, care, sympathy beyond circumscribed ideas of ‘family’, ‘our people’, ‘our nation’, ‘our species’

Would you need rituals to officialise these connections?
Maybe they stay secret, unofficial, underground, like hands under tables that pass around resources, money, care, love, messages, tenderness and fire
Like mycelium, threads of mushrooms that spread underground and connect roots of trees, plants, passing messages back and forth

Dries Segers

Relief to be part of a larger ecology
Connecting you to other bodies, spaces, things, times
Great pleasure when this connection is something you feel, a physical, sensorial, visceral experience rather than a philosophical concept
What different behaviours could come from this experience? How would we relate to things? Are they things? How do they feel between your fingers?

Being part of an ecology that is more than you
You are not the centre of this ecology, you are moving somewhere in the edges

Unpleasure machines

The capitalist-imperialist machine was born from splitting
Splitting peoples from their land
Splitting creatures into species, into races, in two genders
Hierarchies that split
Borders splitting worlds into nation-states
People split into citizens with rights and non-citizens with no place or protection
Hydroelectric dams splitting rivers
Metals split from their mountains
Creatures split from their habitats
Objects split from the communities that made them and put in museums

Work split off, cut off from the cycles of seasons
Work split and stretched beyond the limits of our endurance
until it feels like a rope around your throat

all work and no play makes bodies so tired they forget
all the things we did before

like growing food and building shelters
like knowing what plant to put on which wound and where to find it
like talking to animals, taking on their powers
we could shapeshift
we had music and mushroom potions that could make us fly
we could read winds and water currents and our dreams
we had songs and stories
we could listen to other bodies by touching them with the tips of our fingers
we could be in several places at the same time: dead, alive, resurrected, hunting and gathering

The machine grinds these memories to dust

So, try to remember

Remember our ancestors who built the machine?
Our ancestors, not everyone’s, not ‘humans’
Our ancestors: white Europeans
Remember the ropes they used to strangle entire worlds?
Looting raping destroying enslaving extracting
What does this machine do to the people that built it?
And to their kids?
And their kids’ kids?
And their kids’ kids’ kids?
And their kids?
White crimes that are passed on, that we live off and live in,
that live in our cells, our genes, in the bricks of our houses, our courts, train stations, theatres
That flicker from the coltan in our screens
No wonder the machine started eating us too
No wonder we’ve come to look like this, no wonder it shows on our faces
I mean, what did we expect?

Remember the smell?
The capitalist-imperialist machine was born from burning
In Europe, 600 years ago
when you looked up and sniffed because you smelled something strange
And they were burning the next-door neighbour because they said she was a witch

Remember that even after hours of burning, there were always pieces that remained?
Bits they couldn’t destroy
Like her bones and her teeth

Dries Segers

Her bones are made of calcium and phosphorus
Calcium is a rock-hard, insoluble mineral salt
Phosphorus is a poisonous, combustible non-metal which spontaneously ignites and glows in the dark It’s the stuff on the tip of matches.
Bones on fire
Teeth on fire
They can burn without burning up, burn with grief, burn with rage, burn with pleasure Remember?

Potential histories remain in the unburned skeletons
Skeletons that can grow flesh, and start to breathe again
Inside the bones, creatures are rehearsing, waiting to branch out, turn into the limbs of alternative historical bodies


Lie down
Say no
Lie down, resist the grinding rhythm of overwork
Tell them we said no

Saying no
is a practice of generating respect, creating value
a practice of boundaries and care
in a system that is structured around the devaluation of our time, our intelligence, our bodies retreating, striking, resting
Capitalism tries to sell us our basic rights of pleasure as “me-time”
a momentary escape that is only allowed because afterwards you’ll grind even better
Tell them we said no

Dries Segers

Unlearn this
Imagine bodies resting together
Unlearn machine-time, clock-time
Unlearn the rhythm of grinding
Unlearn overwork
Unlearn splitting
Unlearn ropes
We suck them out of each other’s flesh, rub them out of each other’s organs, smoke them out of each other’s bones
Sticks and stones and weed and bones
Sticks in the wheels of the machine

The practice of napping
A practice of regeneration
Carve out time for this
Your mind becomes very wide when resting
Giving in to gravity
Decomposing in comfort
Falling to pieces
Falling out of the centre
Turning into a web that catches ideas like a spider’s web catches flies just by hanging in a place where flies hang out

Critter Chaos

Pleasure as places where the strong-willed, conscious, aggressive, goal-oriented rhythm of the machine is abandoned
A ritual or a dance or a dream or a song that decentralises you
becoming other than you
becoming many
becoming dark
becoming freaky
becoming magic

Go into your body, go into it as if it were a house
and meet the critters that live there
muscles, organs, feelings, memories, ancestors, bones, ghosts, pieces of genetic info
the touch of skin, flesh, hair
places where hair has been removed
the echo of rocks, branches sticking out of the ground
The pleasure of decomposing, becoming other to yourself, the pleasure of letting yourself become more than one

Molecular matter and its multiple rhythms
Micro-flows of uncontrollable critters
that remind you: you are not a machine
the critters might use fever and vomit and inflammation to exorcize machines out of you
while all the while suspending you in the borderland between sleeping and waking because that is where they live
they rub your organs, your muscles, your veins
History, Reason, Enlightenment and addictions to grinding are rubbed to numb rubber
and rubbed until they soak off and leave your body
you’re sweating in the sheets
you’re wetting the sheets

The molecular critters wake up in the moment right before you fall asleep
Or when you are absorbed in games, especially games invoking rhythms, music and play rather than intellect
They live in dream space
They make your body sound like a polyrhythmic chant

The animals of the A(utonomous) N(ervous) S(ystem) regulate your body beyond your conscious control
processes that are too fast or too slow or too plurally complex for you to handle consciously
muscle contractions,
dilating pupils,
digesting food,
making the hairs on your back stand up straight

The animals of the ANS assess situations, places and persons
Are they dangerous or safe?
and make your body act accordingly by activating OS or PS

the OS
short for “sOS, dO Something, get me Out of thiS”
the red alert of the body
the alarm button
It makes your body fight, flee or freeze
Flight makes you run
Fight makes you attack
If fight nor flight are possible, the OS freezes your body,
in a half-coma, a half-death, from which you wake up when the danger goes away
The ice of the freeze can linger in your body for years,
but the animals of the PS can heat it out

The PS
short for “PsssssssS, come here, we’re waiting for you, we won’t go anywhere, we’ve been here for ages”

PS is a posse, a gang of animals
they’re wild, covered in mud and blood and slime and they’re close to the earth
the animals of safety and rest and release and pleasure and joy and fucking and dreams and being together their tentacles run everywhere
they run in the lungs, in the heart, in the mouth, in the throat, in the voice, in the heart, in the gut, in the g-spot, the uterus, the prostate and the ass
if you join them, the rhythm of your heart drops
they get excited when you sing
if they feel safe enough, they’ll let your body cry
they’re the animals of release
they make your boobs squirt milk
they make your pussy squirt
(In Latin and Greek the inner labia are called nymphae or númphē: water goddesses, the ones through which the water comes
And the water was not called water but nectar of the gods
And the squirting was not only squirting but a libation, a ritual liquid, poured as an offer to gods or spirits, or in memory of the dead)

Several studies show that persons with spinal cord injuries, paralysing them from the waist down, can still orgasm intensely when the mouth of their uterus (a.k.a. the A-spot) or their prostate is touched and stroked PS animals wait for you, they don’t go anywhere, they’ve been here for ages

Dries Segers

PS animals as old as the earth
that is why they can activate the entire earth in a single body
like this pic, which depicts the universe, with the cardinal directions, and the planets, and the stars and the moon and the sun and the terrestrial world, and the weather, and storms and hail and lightning
but which is also a very anatomically correct picture of pussy

the PS animals remind you: you are not a machine
They are polyrhythmic
the ah haa ah haa of the lungs
the tap taptap tap taptap tap taptap of the heart
the kroooooooo of the liver
the swoosh of the blood
the tsjo ra tatata tsjo tsjo ra tatata of the tongue and the throat
the iiiii jaa djata iiii jaa djata of the bowels and your gut and the taste buds in the back of your tongue


Unlearn shame, self-hate, internalised bullshit
Uproot it, materialise it: write it down and burn the paper
Slay ghosts from the past
Take traumas to the trash
Go on a rage camp
Break the spells
Wallow in grief
Let what no longer serves decompose in the soil
Decorate the graves with candles, flowers, bowls of water, pink salt, coloured rocks and burning herbs

Dries Segers

Materialise immaterial stuff, like memories, desires, intuitions, ghosts, dreams: draw them, or put small objects together to make a shrine
Rewire the nervous system towards a sense of safety
Make rituals for expressing and sharing joy, sensuality

I mean, if I think about witches, magicians, people coming together in intimacy, this is what I imagine them doing: sitting by each other, holding each other, massaging each other as if their fingertips were ears; these are alchemic encounters, the intense pleasure of caring for each other and the joy of carrying things in your own singular ways and still not carrying them alone

Good stuff

adrienne maree brown, Emergent Strategies: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds, 2017
adrienne maree brown, Pleasure Activism, The Politics of Feeling Good, 2019
Amanda Piña e.a., Endangered Human Movements - Vol.3, 2019
Ariëlla Aïsha Azoulay, Potential History, Unlearning Imperialism, 2019
Franco Bifo Berardi, After the Future, online lecture
Franco Bifo Berardi, Beyond the Breakdown: Three Meditations on a Possible Aftermath, online article on e-flux
Rosalyn Bold (ed), Indigenous Perceptions of the End of the World: Creating a Cosmopolitics of Change, 2019
Silvia Federici, Beyond the Periphery of the Skin: Rethinking, Remaking, and Reclaiming the Body in Contemporary Capitalism, 2020

Melanie Bonajo, Instagram
Tricia Hersey, The Ministry of Naps, thenapministry.wordpress.com & Instagram

Das Weltall by Hildegard von Bingen
Hieroglyphs by Chloé Dhauwe and Ine Meganck
Other pictures by Dries Segers