Recieved 2nd August 2018
JVA Köln, Friday, 20th July 2018
Hey there dear comrades and friends, Today I want to talk about two written pieces a truly wonderful person has sent me, because they really touched me and express what I have felt too muddled to put into words. I’m going to write a personal thank you to them, but I feel it is very important to discuss the piece publicly and openly. The first is:
Plato’s “The Allegory of the Cave” A person is imprisoned in a cave since birth, chained so they are unable to move, and can only stare at the (blank) wall in front of them endlessly. Behind them is a fire, behind which people carry objects back and forth, casting shadows on the wall. The prisoners cannot see the source, so they believe in the shadows to be reality, unable to realise they are simply the shadows of solid objects, of real things from beyond the cave. Now, suppose this person is freed. They are told that the shadows are a reflection, shown the objects that cause the shadows. This contradicts all they have ever known. Now, suppose someone drags this person outside, to the exterior of the cave, into the sun. Their eyes would be in pain, from a life of darkness. It blinds them for a time. Slowly, this reality becomes the reality. The shadows are reflections. Suppose there were more chained people, and this frees prisoner wishes to show them this world. But upon their return, the sudden darkness is blinding. This tells others the outside world is dangerous, for it “harmed” this person. They would be fearful to leave, and argue that the freed prisoner is a danger to them. The “prisoner” may be killed. Now, let us connect the dots to contemporary life. Suppose the prisoner was in the grasp of Capitalism, but a person shows them freedom, anarchy, a life where you can exist outside of the system. Their mind expands, considering the possibility. It becomes their new reality. It is real, tangible, corporeal, and achievable. This “new” reality is why I am in prison. It scares the others in the cave. I arrived here dirty, resisting any form of authority. I have been re-shackled in the cave. My eyes have readjusted to the darkness, the shadows. I think, was the anarchy of the forest a dream? It is far less tangible than this. I can touch the walls here. This is real. A clash of two realities. The forest is real, too. It has to be. I can remember the sounds, the smells, the feel of mud on my hands, the cold of the snow in my palm, the weight of the canisters as I carries water. Real tangible, corporeal, achievable. Now, just to get out this damn cave. Second, a story:
“The Royal Game” by Stefan Zweig You’d think that I’d be sick of thinking, reading, watching things about prison. Just the opposite. I hungrily read each prison piece I can find, watch shows with rapt attention. What are other prisons like? How dies it differ from my experience, how is it similar? What am I thankful for here, what do I see as inhumane or degrading? What are the thoughts of the people in these pieces, of those here too, of mine? How do each of us deal with this time? Dr. B is imprisoned in a “hotel” room, which sounds much like my cell. A door, a table, a bed, a chair, a wash basin, a barred window. I want to quote some of this text as it is almost painfully accurate, but I will do that as it fits. In this room, Dr. B has nothing. No pens, book, paper, nothing but the items listed. No watch, no track of time. No visits or visitors. Total, utter isolation. A diver in a black, desolate ocean. Nothing to hear, nothing to see. This reminds me of the first cell I went to. One day. Only a black gym mat on the floor, a hole for a toilet in the floor in the corner, nothing else. Then two blankets came, blue, itchy, single size. Total silence. Just me. More than a day really, early morning Monday to midday Tuesday. No watch. Nothing to do. But then I began to whistle, and someone whistled back. It was all we had, the whistling. I cried with happiness each time I heard it. I am not alone. I’d whistle back, dear friend, you are not alone either. I refused to speak. I was yelled at, dragged about for a short time while my prints and photos were taken. Then alone. Whistle whistle whistle. Are you okay? Whistle. Thank god. It did not bother me that nothingness but the whistling was definite help. I cannot say how I would have found it otherwise, I do not know, and I cannot guess, but I suppose I would have found another way to pass the time, as I do here. Dr. B describes this as living “outside of time, outside of the world”. Exactly. I could only tell is was night when it grew dark outside the frosted glass bricks along one wall. I can still remember the room clearly, I spent a long time counting bricks. Half wall, nineteen tiles up, high ceiling, I can almost feel the coolness of the tile as I imagine it. Starved of anything to do, I counted, steps, tiles, pinky tinged. One white near the bottom of the gym mat. New, smooth. The stickyness of the mat, clinging to my sweaty, filthy skin, like masking tape. The cold floor, which warmed slightly at night, but the walls remained frosty cool. I shivered all night, using the one jumper they allowed me as a pillow. I wore only a thin shirt, underwear, track pants, two pairs of socks. All else stripped off me by the guards. Any sounds I mad bounced off the files, distorting the noise. Whistles sounded as if mad by a synthesizer, a themera (spooky, ghostly, non human). Isolation is effective torture of the senses, of the mind. When you have nothing, you cling to anything. You run through the what ifs, buts, maybes. They consume you. Thoughts consumed me for days, even after I arrived in prison. For a day, I had no watch. I remember the second cell I was held in with the same clarity of first. House 13, cell 209. The dirt mark near the head of the bed that looked like a deformed insect. The small school standard brown desk, black metal legs. I slept for the larger part of four days. I was exhausted. I also remember energy though, bursting, I needed to run, wanted to physically do something so badly. I ran up and down – four and a bit strides – until my legs ached from the short space. The frustration. The re-shackling back in the cave. No radio for a week. Silence. No books, no paper, no pens. Just me and my thoughts. On day four I went to Freistunde. That was it. I spent four weeks there, and only in the last week did I go to the “hobby room” (larger, allows more people than a cell) during Umschluss. So three weeks of just me and my thoughts, twenty three hours a day. No wonder I feel like I lost some of myself. I was living in my head, not in the world. Now house 10, cell 216. Ten is better, I now have letters, pens, paper. Distractions. This cell is less easy to recall, as I have not felt so sensorily starved I pushed myself to remember each brick. I do though, but more homey than clinically. This is my space, not my prison. I have things to do, I have options. This is so much easier. “Four months, easy to write, just about a dozen letters” Easy to say, too: four months, a couple of syllables. The lips can articulate the sound in a quarter of a second: four months. But nobody can describe or measure or demonstrate, not to another or to himself, how long a period endures in the spaceless…” -Dr. B Four months, dear friends, I have been held. One hundred and twenty three days so far. Taste it, feel it settle on your tongue, in your ears. One hundred. Twenty three. Days. A third of a year. Of sleep to wake up to eat to nothing to eat to nothing to sleep to repeat. Maybe not nothing, I write these, but the idea that you read these, that you connect to them, seems so foreign, so unreal to me, so strange. That a human from a thousand miles (or more) can read this through a blog and think themselves into action because they find a part of themselves in me, in my sketches, whatever. I wonder what you think as you read these, do you feel yourself here too? Do you feel you could be me? And I want to tank you for your actions of solidarity, for doing what I can’t. I see myself in all of you, in every letter I have received. Hear you voices through the words, and I cannot wait to see you. “Small signs made me disturbedly conscious that my brain was not working right. Early… my mind had been quite clear… still functioned. Now I could no more than articulate haltingly the simplest sentences… I felt myself losing my grip… always those same thoughts that revolve around one in the nothingness, until one becomes insane.” - Dr. B This feeling comes and goes. I’m sure I’ve mentioned that writing these can make me tired, and this is why. With no “brain food” you lose focus. Your attention span slips into a downward spiral. Persistent thoughts: Its, buts, maybes. Perhaps this is why some of you send letters saying I am strong, I am brace, a “fierce forest defender”. Surely if you met me, “fierce” would likely not be what comes to mind. I am just a person who had this idea that I could be for others what I need in a person. I just want to be, as I read once, “the soft yellow light that warms and protects my friends”. The world is a depressing place with all the stuff we see, that we have woken up to. The reality of the reality. I don’t want to be a part of that. I want to be a lighthouse, a light to help you home if you are lost. But I also don’t put up with bullies, or when people pick on my friends. How dare they. So, I’m here because fuck being bullied. Fuck that the state things it will crack me (it won’t). Fuck that it picked a fight with my friends, because I don’t take kindly to that bullshit. I’m here to prove to the state, to me, to you, to us, that we are fucking over being fucked with. For the forest, for the future, for you. For each and every one of you who cares about this little strange UP and anarchist prisoners, cares about anything and everyone trying to save this planet: I am here for you and I give a shit about you even if we have never met, never spoken had any contact. My fight, your fight, our fight. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing. I’m sending my love and solidarity to you. You’re so brave and you’re doing great. Keep going.
Saturday 21st June 2018
I kind of want to talk more about this “prison insanity” which comes and goes. Lately I find it difficult to focus, to read focus, to read for more than a couples of minutes at a time, because without a regular challenge my brain has been unable to pull itself together enough to make real attempt at anything. I’m learning German, but it can become so overwhelming sometimes, so much information, it starts to feel like my brain is literally cooking. I’m also more forgetful, as it feels like information doesn’t really “sink in”. I think that’s the stress of being here though, and the count down to my trial, where there is a possibility I must return to this cell. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this as well, but time here is strange. Rarely anything happens here, so the days feel slow. But then you look back and it feels fast because you can’t really remember the days, they’re all the same. Four months of my life have passed, but sometimes I barely feel it, the weight of that time. Of how much I’ve missed. Essentially, I live in a bubble. But I can’t see outside the bubble. Really, I can’t find a better way to describe this than I live in a cave. I cannot see beyond the walls. And that is easier. I can, if I need to, ignore, what I’m missing out on, because I can’t see it. It’s like living outside time and space here. This long, never ending dream where you stumble through each day to wait to go to sleep to do it again. I’m not depressed by this though. It is was it is and it is not forever. I’m just going to be glad where time starts to feel normal again. I’m still not sure how I feel about writing about prison and how it feels here, as I think sometimes if I read my own letters from outside of here, if they were written by someone else, prison might seem quite frightening and/or difficult. For me the only “frightening” (but not even that, perhaps just unnerving) thing is feeling like my mind is slipping. Which it is, there’s no point hiding it. Slowly it is coming back though, I feel more like “me” than I have in months thanks to all the new reading material I have to start exercising it again. Drawing helps too, but I’ve felt so starved of new material to draw it has started to frustrate me. I guess that has o do with my brain slackening as well though, my creativity comes and goes. I want so badly to draw, I’m a visual person, I love to see things, but it doesn’t feel right lately, maybe because I’m trying to force it. Another reason I’m so excited to go back to the forest – so many things to draw! As for the “difficulty” of being here, which I’m sure I have also talked about, it’s not the worst place to be, but it isn’t so easy sometimes. Ignorance is bliss. Don’t think about outside, just live in here until it’s over. Thinking about my friends, going about their live, breaks my heart. I’ve missed birthdays, but it’s not even that, it’s the time apart that is killing me. Are they going okay? Do they know I miss them so much my heart hurts some days? One particular letter from my old flatmate left me speechless. Studio boys, if you’re reading this, I love you, thank you. I’m too worried to write letters back to those in my “birth country” so, for now, I can only give a shout out to them in these open letters, and hope they read them. But, for those that this applies to, I’ll be out soon, then I’ll spend a day calling all of you. To my friends who have not known me for as long, I miss you all just as much. I’m so excited to see you again. To hug you, to be around you, to hear your voices. And to those I haven’t met yet – I’m really looking forward to meeting you!! I’m going to finish this letter on this page, before it start becoming too much for my brain to handle. I want to say though that prison is not, to me, unbearable or terrifying or any of that. It just “is”. A different state of being. A strange existence. But it is not forever, which I look forward to when I have a bad day. Not forever. Days to go, not weeks. I can do this. So, stay strong, stay wild, stay brave, dearest friends. I love each and every one of you. Thank you so much for you ongoing support and solidarity, for all the letters, noise, visits, every little thing. Thank you. All my love, energy, passion, strength and whatever else you need. Keep fighting. <3 UPIII