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How can we restore our connection to other beings, human and nonhuman?

We have all seen COVID-19 unravel some of the fundamental limits of our society.

 

Now, the urgent question is: How can we restore our connection to other beings, human and nonhuman?

Noh performer Noboru Yasuda writes a history of Japanese conceptions of borders - as loose and ambiguous - in his book, The Power of Awai. A simple example is the engawa, an element of Japanese architecture symbolizing the ambiguous space between the inner and the outer. We also find it in words such as “to think” (kangaeru), which we associate with subjective action, yet whose etymology can be traced to the interpersonal (kau) and bodily (kami) processes of crossing and mingling.

Philosopher Nobuo Kioka warns us that, so long as we depend on the dualist logos paradigm and remain incognizant of the inter-life space between the human and the natural, we will never overcome the ecological crisis of our age. We must better understand, he says, the multiple and complex layers of power and submission that lie deep beneath these crises.

We cannot forget the polyglot and polymath from Meiji Japan, Minakata Kumagusu, who researched slime mold – an epitome of life and death – to discover ultimate meanings of life itself.

 

How can we resensitize ourselves to new life emerging from it?

Since the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions, humankind has attained drastic progress by developing an objectifying lens towards its natural partner. The cost of all this is visible in the emergence of modern subjectivities cocooned in human affairs and disconnected from anything ambiguous, uncertain, uncontrollable.

What does it mean to reimagine the space of awai?
How can we resensitize ourselves to new life emerging from it?

In it might lie key wisdom for restoring deep roots and connections, for rethinking ecological ontologies suited for our time. In it might lie key wisdom for thriving together with the grand and complex ecosystems of our spaces.

At Ecological Memes Global Forum 2021, Emergence from AWAI: Regenerating Human-Nonhuman Relations, we will be welcoming a wide array of special guests – business leaders, pioneering thinkers, innovative artists – from the world over.

 

It is time to be immersed in the world of awai.

In addition to keynote lectures and panel dialogues, we invite you to a variety of special sessions which have been made possible with an online forum: meditative aquatic music; a trumpet shell performance by an esteemed Japanese mountain priest; experiential art workshop on heartbeats; a global real-time celebration of the spring equinox at 10:37 CET on 20th March.

There is a reason why this 4-day forum is on the spring equinox: It signals the perfect alignment of solar centrality with the center of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, and marks the beginning of astronomical spring.

It is time to pause, listen and attune ourselves to the grand rhythms of life and the universe. It is time to bridge the East and the West, to explore the emerging imaginings, paradigms, and practices towards a co-thriving future.

It is time to be immersed in the world of awai.