All gone!


when i first came to escotilha8 there was a czech guy living in a tent in the garden. vlad. 20 years old, had lived on the street since he was 15. troubled, angry, had one of those personalities that made him easy to make fun of. and we all did.

every morning he would get dressed up in an old suit jacket that he had found, take out his piercings and hide his mohawk under a cap. he'd walk to the airport and ask for change. he told me he was saving to buy his mother a birthday present, but i don't know how true this was.
he came to me one morning after i'd known him a couple of days.
"is it possible... is it possible that you borrow me one or two socks?... my feet..."
he had been wearing old boots every day and his feet were all covered in blisters
"of course, here you go"
"thanks! i give them back tonight"
"no it's cool, you keep them"
he hands me his half eaten toast and cold coffee
"we look after each other, yeah? like friends?"

friday night at the squat, L came home and asked P
"is it true about vlad?"
without turning away from his movie...
"yeah, he's dead"

and that was it.

"how can you back to watching the fucking matrix? what happened to vlad?"
they look at me like i'm crazy
"just another overdose, ash. he's a stupid kid, responsible for his own choices. it's... what... are you crying? you can't get attached to junkies. you'll be crying all the time. he's not our problem."

i wasn't attached to vlad, i won't miss him. i probably never would have seen him again. but when does the death of a 20 year old kid become "just another overdose"? does the way that he died affect the value of the life he had?

it's true, he was responsible for his own death, he made stupid choices. but we all come into the world and are dealt varying amounts of shit. sometimes the kid who was raped and thrown out at 14 lives a functional, happy life, and sometimes the rich girl with the perfect childhood commits suicide. i don't know vlad's story, but should a person's ability to deal with the shit they're given, to make the right choices and live a productive life, affect the value that we attach to that life? i don't think so.

why is somebody's value so linked to their intellect, charisma, social status? vlad wasn't smart, or funny, or popular, but had he been, i believe that people would have responded very differently to his death.

"not our problem"?
this guy came into our lives needing far more than a bed and something to eat, and he was ignored. it was too difficult. too fucking hard to care about someone who needs more than a litre of bad wine and a free punk show to make them happy.

i would rather suffer over the death of a kid i hardly knew than to be so desensitised to this. vlad potentially had another 80 years ahead of him to turn his life into something beautiful. i'm not religious, i don't think there's anything to come after this life. this is the only chance we get to find beauty, meaning, love - maybe i'm wrong, but i don't think vlad found that.

i tried to explain all of this, but in the end we all went back to champagne and the matrix. just another friday night.
just another overdose.



though it may have been cathartic, i must say trashing the place was easy, mostly because tatiana and ash did all the work. i just showed up as a venerable guru and burned some stuff.

but i must say there are some things that have changed the way i perceive the world profoundly. here are some random snippets.

in 700 guests, i found no good way of predicting anything based on sex, gender, age, nationality, color of hair and so on. i also found that people's responses to myself (a fixed variable) are also pretty much random, ranging from love to hate with everything in between, fitting a nice bell curve that proves that it is a uniform distribution. this pretty much settled a simple thought: we are all clueless regarding other human beings and should ditch, once and for all, all stereotypes, with no exceptions, including gender. all stereotypes are profoundly wrong, and we just use them to confirm our bias

anarchy doesn't work because anarchists don't like to work, but anarchy works if you work a bit extra and provide the basics (food, warmth, security). this means that for anarchy to work, you have to work extra for everyone else and provide for others, meaning you end up being a slave of the community. i see this as one of the many paradoxes of anarchy. but the right answer is: anarchy works, under certain conditions.

people are pretty much an empty shell, filled with what's around them. what other explanation can there be for having 700 random people (with 3.8 connectivity) in your house and not a single one stealing or harming anyone else? we are defined so much by our setting, that a well designed setting will shape people into entirely different human beings. but don't get pompous. everyone reverts to the same lazy, selfish, oblivious fuck they were before, but with some new pictures to tag on facebook. PEOPLE WILL BECOME WHAT YOU TELL THEM TO BECOME! so remind them that they are full of shit. that will ground the ensuing conversation. then you can tell them how awesome they are.

messiness has a tipping point. too clean gets creepy, too dirty and shit grows exponentially, but there's a point where it's just right. it's in that point that people feel "at home"

if you're a young mid-twenties man you're fucked. races have racism, females have feminism, nationalities have xenophobia. but if you're a young male, you're on your own. the lone male traveler is one of the most kicked around of travelers out there.

beautiful people are too used to be catered to and agreed with and are wrong just as many times as everyone else, they just get told that much less often. learning to be able to reject this bias is essential to be socially fair. the inverse is valid for ugly people too. disregard the looks! write it on paper and see how a pretty face makes commonalities sound so interesting just because you want to procreate! ridiculous!

we may think we treat everyone the same way but we don't. everyone caters the pretty girl and kicks the ugly guy. that is profoundly wrong and, if anything, looks must be seen as a warning.

if you are born A and get told that A is always B, you will live up to be B, even if there's no B in you and you're a genius in C. everyone just lives up to their own (and their surrounding) expectations, prejudices and stereotypes and EVERYONE SUFFERS EXACTLY THE SAME WAY BECAUSE OF IT! the fact that everyone is forced to live a lie, to lie to themselves, and to live up to something they are not. yup. that model looking girl is just as fucked up inside as that fugly balding hunchback. everyone is just trying to cope with being real in a fucked up world. if you know how to recognize that in people, you will know people deeply. they will also cry on your shoulder. a lot.

listen. but don't be a neutral listener or people will revert to mindless shit. if the conversation is headed towards mindless shit, say it. interrupt and expose that fact. ask people what they really care about. ask people their story, what are they most passionate about, what world do they want to see. ask people fucking difficult questions. you will hear the most amazing answers if you let people bloom. water this with alcohol and food. we all need brain calories and a little loosening up.

freeloaders breed freeloaders. freeloaders always have money, but never when you need it. freeloaders will always bring friends, take more space than they need, and use a very elaborate and powerful suffering puppy dog look to get their way. if you don't want to have kids but want the experience, get a freeloader or two. here's the catch: a freeloader is the most adapted one to survive, so that suffering look is complete bullshit. learn to treat it like it is: another strategy to get by without doing shit for anybody else.

everyone thinks their music is the best, that their youtube videos are the funniest, that their vacation pictures are the best, mostly because they are so fucking clueless that they forget that only in their subjective experience those things have emotional content. yet EVERYONE will want to impose their tastes on everyone else, i argue not because they see it as imposing, but because they want others to feel that emotional response. news flash: nobody else does. if they were playing that wonderful polka song at that beach when you had your first kiss IT'S NOT THE POLKA SONG! i can hear it a million times IT WILL NEVER FEEL LIKE A FIRST KISS!

the better the humbler. the best buskers, artists and thinkers are the ones that SHUT UP! the ones that value words, music and moments enough to know they are precious. now don't confuse quiet with retarded-and-hiding-it. if someone has a tremendous gift, you just have to recognize it and feed that bit of their personality. they WILL BLOOM if you give them space and time to do it. the most generous and giving will not need to leave a mark, to write on your walls or to leave you notes. they know that the biggest mark you can leave anywhere is generosity and inspiration.

there are no such things as facts. everyone lives a fictional tale and only seldom you'll encounter someone that understands the scientific method enough to know that, that reality is somewhere beyond our comprehension and we're so fucking limited that there is little hope to get critical thinking to spread. the most common stories will always be the invisible aura energy mumbo jumbo, not the actual fact. that is probably one of the saddest (but most creative) things about human beings. they do not live in the real world, they live in a waking dream, walled up in their own beliefs and seeking only like-mindedness.

if you do not choose who you interact with, you will be miserable. you will be proven wrong every day, over and over again. it is a choice between being aware and miserable or oblivious and happy. can happiness come if you are aware? i'd argue yes, but only from adding meaning to your life. the easiest way to be happy is to remain in your bubble, to keep only the friends you agree with, to care only about your tribe. but that's closing yourself up in a cushioned cage. it saddens me that almost everyone i met falls in this latter category.

everyone is the promised messiah, everyone has the solution to all of mankind's problems, everyone knows best about everybody else. yet the people that will save your ass are the ones that make no such claims.

everyone is capable of being the most amazing expression of cosmic exuberance. but to get there, everyone needs shelter, food and real human connections. because if any of this fails, we get what's out there, 6 billion lazy, selfish, fearful sacks of meat that will destroy and kill everyone and everything they encounter.

my house provided shelter, food and real human connections, so it created amazing expressions of cosmic exuberance. all it needed was a keeper. everyone can be a keeper, and every house can be a hatch. yet one of my saddest realizations, is how rare this place and its activities were.

i know that despite hearing inspiration stories, nobody started anything (prove me wrong). but i know i can never go back to living a normal life in my own cushioned prison.


godspeed starstuff ☆★☆☆★★★☆☆☆☆☆

it did burn out. not with a big flame, but with a small, slow, warm stench.


filipe on the guitar, 31.01.2010


here are some sources for last night's discussion about human nature and the usual sidesteps
- Philip Zimbardo: The Time Paradox
- Steven Pinker on the myth of violence
- Sheep recognize faces and emotions (and check out the faces of stressed sheep)
- Spencer Wells builds a family tree for humanity (the quote on the 2000 individuals thing, around 60000 years ago)
- Hans Rosling's new insights on poverty /
Hans Rosling shows the best stats you've ever seen
stats stats stats!

godspeed starstuff ☆★☆☆★★★☆☆☆☆☆



to everyone following this blog, i am informing that we are burning down the house by the end of this month.

for the last 3 months, the setup has been sub standard due to some emergency bookings. because of that, i haven't been able to maintain the controlled setting i had been working on for the past year and a couple of months.

as a consequence of this, in 73 days we've had a total of 23 guests creeped out. before this situation, i had a total of 11 guests creeped out in 440 days of hosting. so, for the first case, it ammounts to about 2.2 guests a week, versus 0.175 guests a week (1 every 1.43 months). if i compare the two ratios, we can see that the creeped out factor increased 12.57 times. since it is over an order of magnitude, i cannot consider that the setting remains the same.

due to this fact, i am invalidating all my data from the change date onwards, as it seems the setting is clearly different and no longer under sufficient control for meaningful statistics. despite that, i still have about 650 guests before this, so my data is still statistically significant.

due to this change, and due to a fortunate collision of my trajectory with tatiana's and ash's, i have decided it was time to burn down escotilha8.

regarding escotilha8 itself, i will publish a book with a portrait of the progress of this house, its birth, growth, bloom, and death. not as a serious book, but more as just a small paper shrine to all the wonderful things that we created in this house. i will also publish some of the statistics that i collected.

i've always been a fan of ephemeral beauty, and like to see this house as a giant star stuff mandala that we grew for the past year and a half. i will create other mandalas, albeit differently, but the pleasure of living such a process remains.

to everyone that made this star stuff mandala with me, a deep thank you. each bit of star stuff you left behind helped shape a wonderful local inversion of entropy that has made me a better human being in every way possible. i sincerely hope that this isn't just true for me.

as for this blog, it will remain and probably will continue being updated for a while. but escotilha8 is over, and we are now burying it and destroying it.

as for the new mandalas, i will post their coordinates on this page.

again, to everyone that stayed, a deep thank you and godspeed starstuff ☆★☆☆★★★☆☆☆☆☆

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