Inner Space

In the corner of my backyard out of view from the house, I have a ring of black stones that forms an imaginary well. Like a character from a Murakami novel, I often imagine climbing down to the dark bottom of that well, where I find all sorts of other spaces: caverns, chambers, libraries, and laboratories, as well as entire imaginary landscapes, usually beaches or lakesides, sometimes a yawning abyss. It feels like there is an entire cosmos down there, big enough to swallow galaxies like raindrops. The goal of this idle reverie is the Delphic maxim, “know thyself,” and we understand ourselves with metaphors of space. 

That is why my imaginary well (for others it may be a cellar, cave, or canyon) seems so deep. To look inward is to look down into depth. We imagine the unconscious as some subterranean chasm or fathomless ocean. Post-Jungian psychologist James Hillman writes, in The Dream and The Underworld, “The fundamental language of depth is neither feelings, nor persons, nor time and numbers. It is space. Depth presents itself foremost as psychic structures in spatial metaphors.” Among these metaphors, the ego is a house, the psyche is a labyrinth, and every dream is a mythological descent to the underworld. To dream, to be deep in thought, or to be deep in psychological analysis is to explore this inner geography. 

Within this massive space, our memories are tied to more intimate spaces, like kitchens, closets, and bedrooms. Gaston Bachelard writes, in The Poetics of Space, that the house we grew up in “is our corner of the world…. It is our first universe, a real cosmos in every sense of the word.” We never stop exploring “the universe of the house by means of thoughts and dreams” because to explore the material spaces—the musty attics, damp cellars, and winding corridors—is to explore ourselves. Every drawer, chest, and wardrobe is a container for memory, reverie, and imagination. The house itself is “the topography of our intimate being.” Our very identities are housed in the spaces we knew in childhood. 

Thus, the maps we make of outer spaces give our inner worlds structure. Bachelard writes, “… over and beyond our memories, the house we were born in is physically inscribed within us. It is a group of organic habits. After twenty years, in spite of all the other anonymous stairways, we would recapture the reflexes of the ‘first stairway,’ we would not stumble on that rather high step. The house’s entire being would open up, faithful to our own being. We would push the door that creaks with the same gesture, we would find our way in the dark to the distant attic. The feel of the tiniest latch has remained in our hands.” 

In this way, inner spaces become ontological. In his Spheres trilogy, Peter Sloterdijk defines human existence as “being in” a particular kind of space, “the place that humans create in order to have somewhere where they can appear as those who they are.” The sphere is his primary metaphor for the space which Being itself inhabits; it can be a womb, a house, a city, or a globe. In particular, “The sphere is the interior, disclosed, shared realm inhabited by humans—in so far as they succeed at becoming humans. Because living always means building spheres, both on a small and a large scale, humans are the beings that establish globes and look out into horizons. Living in spheres means creating the dimension in which humans can be contained.” 

To understand something that “is,” to understand its “Being,” is to understand the space it inhabits and creates in relation to other beings. To change ourselves is to leave old spaces for new ones. 

So, we are precisely the spaces we define and most importantly share with others. We share the womb with our mothers, we share our beds with our lovers, and we share our hideouts with our coconspirators. Our relationships are defined by the spaces in which we encounter one another. Spheres are imaginary spaces for “being in” together, and Sloderdijk works from “the hypothesis that love stories are stories of form, and that every act of solidarity is an act of sphere formation, that is to say the creation of an interior.” We not only understand “I” in terms of space, we understand “we” as well. 

While I am sitting at the bottom of my imaginary well, I see myself as a kind of galaxy with a supermassive black hole at its center. I am its spiral arms and uncanny glow. This may seem inflated and preposterous, but consider the strange and sublime fact that within the vastness of outer space there is an infinitesimally small point in which all of that space is contained. Our own humble minds are just 15 centimeters long, but like jewels in Indira’s net, those tiny spaces contain reflections of an observable universe so large that fifty billion years of light could not trace its edges. The boundaries of space, as we understand them, are the boundaries of the self. To gaze above into outer space is always a gaze below too, into the inner spaces we build to hold our identities, our relationships, and our dreams. 

What is Melancholia?

Depression is defined as pathological sadness – a disease for which there are a variety of treatments. I myself have suffered from episodes of severe depression, and I have successfully overcome these episodes with a combination of Cognitive/Behavioral Therapy, anti-depressant medication, exercise, and meditation. Because I have first-hand knowledge of depression and the effectiveness of treatment, I think it’s essential that I differentiate depression, which always involves some sort of disfunction, maladaptation, or physiological imbalance, from melancholia (as in The Black Sun,) which I define differently.

To put it simply, depression is a disease; so if you are depressed, something is wrong with you. You are feeling an overwhelming and continual despondency that is inappropriate to your particular circumstances, and more generally, atypical of a healthy, thriving human being. You have an illness that warps your perception of the world, and you need treatment.

However, when you experience melancholia, there is nothing wrong with you. The “symptoms” you are feeling – lethargy, pessimism, low motivation, slowness, emptiness, grief, loneliness and even thoughts of suicide – come from a deeply felt awareness of death, loss, and impermanence. These feelings are entirely appropriate to your situation, and to the human condition, and may reveal some essential truth about your world.

In melancholia, suicidal ideation is not a literal impulse to kill one’s physical body, but a longing for transformation, both of one’s identity and the world in which that identity is enmeshed. (In later blogs, I will introduce the concept of egoicide.) Melancholia is not a problem to be solved or a condition to be cured; it is a truth to be encountered, an experience to be felt more deeply, and a window to insight.

I associate melancholy with many of the topics that obsess me, including Buddhism, Post-Jungian psychology, Imaginal experience, mysticism, existentialism, art, aesthetics, cinema, and even mathematics. It’s a word that I will use often in this blog, and it’s important that readers understand that I am not romanticizing depression, rather, I am investigating a related, but unique state of conciousness.

In the Venn Diagram below, I’ve differentiated four separate kinds of sorrow or despondency. YELLOW is ordinary sadness, the kind of sadness we feel in response to common disappointments, failures, and losses. GREEN denotes depression as treated by CBT; it is a negative cognitive bias caused by negative automatic thoughtsmaladaptive behaviors, and/or dysfunctional world beliefs. BLUE is depression caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain – a deficit of serotonin and dopamine. Pink, at the bottom, is melancholia.

It seems likely that most of us are feeling some mixture of these four elements when our mood is low. My point is not to argue whether the neurochemical model or the Cognitive/Behavioral model of depression is valid, but rather to differentiate depression-as-illness from melancholy.

In particular, I want to challenge our culture’s relentless pursuit of happiness and obsession with psychological growth. If sunny optimism defines what it is to be “healthy,” then the culture begins to see any encounter with the darker, more tragic, and rightly depressing aspects of life as “unhealthy.” Melancholia is seen as something to be avoided, like saturated fat, herpes or income tax.

When we “grow out of” every experience of deep sadness, then melancholia as a necessary, vital and enriching human experience, is denied and forgotten.

Future blogs will explore the idea that our inability to tolerate sadness (like our inability to tolerate boredom) results in a “positive cognitive bias” or patholgical happiness, which may ultimately be more destructive than depression. Lingering over the inevitability of death, illness, and decay disturbs our very American fantasies of perpetual expansion, economic growth, and boundless possibility.

(See my recent blog about the perverted symbolism of sunny, happy, optimism: The Tyranny of Sunlight. )

If melancholy is seen as just another problem to be solved by programs of self-improvement, then vital parts of the human experience fall into Shadow -unacknowledged and unspoken.

So, the process I’m exploring in this series of articles on The Black Sun is one that DOES treat the various forms of depression as illnesses, but the goal is not to eliminate the experience of deep and heavy sadness, but instead to correct our cognitive bias and right our neurological imbalance so as to allow for a more meaningful and transformative encounter with melancholy.

James Hillman described this process in “The Dream and The Underworld” as a deliberate descent into Hades. This descent humbles the “heroic” ego. It is not a quest with an objective, or a riddle that needs answer. It is a “move backward” rather than forward, a process that is “pathologizing” rather than healing; it is an experience that offers not happiness, progress or victory, but only meaning and depth; It is an unsettling and eerie encounter with a dream world that is both irrational and psychotic; it is a voyage into imaginal space, and eruption of the Ordinary Numinous in which we wrestle with archetypal entities, neither quite real or unreal, who are “deceptive, unpredictable, frightening, and wise.” It is the journey down into the mythical and the alchemical – a place that we can only interpret with metaphors or images, as we would a dream:

“The brood of night gives the dream an atmophere that is far from the happy optimism of growth psychology or the secret delight of sexual desire. We are not being told that our dreams help us, that they round out our lives and inflame our creativity. Nor are we being told that dreams pour out of a libidinous wishing well. Instead, they are akin to deceits and and conflicts, to the lamentations of ageing and the doom of our destiny. The dream takes us downward, and the mood that corresponds with this movement is the slowing, saddening, introspective feeling of melancholly.”

James Hillman, The Dream and The Underworld, pg. 34

So, using my own images, an experience of melancholy means peeling away the layers of yellow, green, blue, to reveal the red… and the black.

That “something that emerges” is represented by The Black Sun.

Ordinary Numinous

One of the symptoms of severe depression is a “loss of meaning.” Activities and goals that once seemed urgent, suddenly appear trivial, transparent as ghosts. The world starts to feel immaterial. Nothing matters. Although the body feels heavy, as if made of led, the purpose and function of ordinary material things feel vaporous. Interacting with the material world – doing dishes, taking a shower, walking the dog or cleaning one’s office – becomes confusing and overwhelming.

This is the weight of The Black Sun, which hangs dark and leaden, warping the horizon and poisoning the sky.

However, unlike neurochemical depression, for which we take drugs, or depression of cognition and behavior, for which we have short-term talk-therapy, what I am experiencing now is melancholy.

Melancholy is an uncanny state of mind, in which the meaning falls away from things, and a different kind of meaning – metaphorical and numinous – fills the empty space. It’s as if the usual daytime sunlight has darkened, but under the weird illumination of The Black Sun, familiar household objects shimmer with mysterious symbolism.

For example, yesterday, as I walked outside to my office in the backyard, I was struck by the sense of being out of synch, not “at home,” even spooked.

Then looked across my backyard…

Numinous everyday objects.

In a sea of green grass and leaves all lit up by late afternoon sunlight there were, hidden in shadow, three purple flowers that gave off an otherworldly glow.

The ordinary numinous.

All at once, I had a sense of vertigo and awe, as if I were glimpsing some secret that runs deep beneath the ground of commonplace objects. I can’t say what that secret is, or what these flowers “meant.” The flowers were just numinous.

nu·mi·nous/ˈn(y)o͞omənəs adjective: having a strong religious, spiritual, or mysterious quality; suggesting the presence of a divinity.

Numinous comes from the Latin word numen, meaning “divine will” or “nod.” It suggests a figurative nodding, of assent or of command, of the divine head. English speakers have been using numen for centuries with the meaning “a spiritual force or influence.” 

I myself an atheist, and I do not believe in the supernatural, as such. Yet, when I looked at those flowers, something nodded. So at times like those, I feel like a closet mystic. My experience melancholy becomes an altered state of consciousness in which hidden forces and occult meanings radiate from within the utterly mundane.

To be clear, when other people use the word “numinous,” they usually mean something like this…

Pagan Stone Circles – Four to Five Thousand Years Old.

Whereas, when I use numinous I am usually freaking out at something seemingly humdrum, like this…

A circle of five stones I found on the beach.

As another example, early this morning I sat on the couch, my head hanging like a sack filled with wet sand.

However, I looked up at my front door, and through the little window, I could see the sunlit trees whipped by gusts of wind. The little patch of green pulsed and swelled like a green-tentacled anemone in an aquarium.

My Front Door

As I stared, that same sense of vertigo, dread, and wonder welled up in my chest. The front door, the window, and the tree beyond it, all of which I’ve seen daily for twenty years, suddenly were alien, unfamiliar, and WEIRD.

My Front Window

For me, the window was no longer just a literal window; it was a metaphor glowing with thousands of meanings and connections. Its semi-circular shape was a half-sun, the bars were like rays, and the shape doubled in my mind…

Window doubled.

…momentarily becoming a SUN, fiery and unrelenting.

Window as Burning Sun.

As I will write in my next blog, the “sun” is an oppressive symbol for me. It evokes tyranny, oppression, and death.

Sun Symbols, Helios, The Sun King.

However, the window was not an ordinary sun, it was The Black Sun, the symbol I have been exploring in recent blogs.

As a Black Sun, the window felt not like an oppressive fire, but as a kind of portal – a window to another way of seeing.

Drawn by the gravity of The Black Sun.

As I stared at The Black Sun, I felt I could see beyond the dark bars into a rich landscape of pattern and meaning that was always there but hidden behind the stultifying familiarity and habit: the ordinary door, the ordinary window, and the ordinary tree branches bobbing in the ordinary wind. Now it had transformed; it was the ordinary numinous – a window lit up by the eerie rays of melancholy.

An ordinary window becomes numinous – a portal to someplace else.

So, the Black Sun is not religious or supernatural. It is mystical in the way that a Platonic understanding of mathematics can be mystical. By that I mean… if mathematics is “the formal study of pattern” and if those abstract patterns (like pi, imaginary numbers, and transfinite sets) exist as real-yet-immaterial facts that we discover about the world, then The Black Sun is the poetic counterpoint. Just as there are circles and derivatives that describe the patterns of material objects with spooky accuracy (see The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences), there is an eerie network of non-material metaphors, patterns, and signs that run like roots beneath our familiar names: “Door.” “Tree.” “Window.” A network revealed and electrified by melancholy.

Have I lost you yet?

Anyway. This is all a way of saying that when you start looking into The Black Sun, ordinary shit gets WEIRD.

The Black Sun is Not…

If you look up The Black Sun on Wikipedia, you will find a symbol that is NOT the one I will be writing about. This Black Sun originates from Viking decorative designs but was repurposed by Nazis, The SS, Occultists, and the Alt-Right. If you see it someplace, run away.

By contrast, when I refer to “The Black Sun,” I’m referring to a poetic, psychological, archetypal, and metaphorical perspective on severe depression, or rather “melancholy,” which I plan to differentiate from depression.

These images of The Black Sun come from medieval alchemical texts, painting, and literature:

La Genèse – Robert Fludd, Utriusque Cosmi, tome, Oppenheim, 1617
Marc Chagall (1887-1985). Black Sun over Paris, 1952, Lithograph on ivory wove paper.
Black Sun, print by Bill Mayer
The Black Sun by Stanton Marlon

The Books that are guiding me are The Black Sun: The Alchemy and Art of Darkness by philosopher, and post-Jungian analyst Stanton Marlon.” Marlon writes about an “egoicide” through creative work, and despair as a fuel for transformation.

The Black Sun by Julia Kristeva

I’m also reading The Black Sun by philosopher, Lacanian psychoanalyst, and feminist, Julia Kristeva. Through art, literature, religion, and philosophy Kristeva writes of melancholia as a “noncommunicable grief” over a lost erotic Thing. “The Thing is inscribed within us without memory, the buried accomplice of all our unspeakable anguishes.” However, the heavy light of the Black Sun brings with it a “metaphysical lucidity.” Says Kristeva, “if there is no writing other than the amorous, there is no imagination that is not, overtly or secretly, melancholy.”

More on this soon. I’m still gathering my thoughts.

A Tyranny of Sunlight

Sunlight is usually a symbol of life, growth, happiness.

However, I seem to have a kind of “reverse” seasonal affective disorder because I get happy during times of clouds, wind, and rain, and sad under the summer sun. August is my time of withdrawal and hibernation.

In fact, the Sun has become, for me, a symbol of tyranny, death, illness, and depression – not a smiling, warm, life-bringing emoticon. Let me explain why:

The Sun God

The Sun is traditionally a male symbol associated with male gods like Helios, Apollo, Ra, and Initi. (The Feminine in our culture is most often associated with the moon.)

The Son God

The Sun/Son also associated it with a Judeo-Islamic-Christian God, and Moses, Jesus, and Mohamed as the ultimate straight, white, cisgender, middle-aged males.

As I’m sure you know, straight, white, cisgender, middle-aged male is a brand with stock at an all-time low.

The Sun King

The personified sun is often made literal. “The Sun King” is another name for Louis XIV of France, who is famous for his egotism, arrogance, opulence, paranoia, warmongering and absolute power.

With his penchant for gold and opulence, as well as his arrogance, egotism, and childishness, our own “Sun King” is Donald Trump.

Thus, “The Sun” as symbol takes on all the qualities of Donald Trump, Harvey Weinstein, and Bill Cosby (or for that matter Bill Clinton): the straight, cis-gender, abusive, dirty old man who embodies “The Tyrant” archetype. The sun’s “growth” is just the inflation of ego.

Furthermore, Jared Kushner is a “Sun Prince.” Here “sunlight” or “son light” is a symbol of privilege and nepotistic power.

I am, alas, a straight, white, cis, middle-aged man, and so “The Sun” is a symbol of toxic masculinity that leaves me without symbol, archetype or role model with which to identify.

“Enjoy The Sun”

The Sun as a symbol of happiness, health, and growth has been co-opted by advertising as a trigger for consumption. “Enjoy the Sun,” which is free to all, has been replaced by “Enjoy Coca-Cola.”

“Growth” and Capitalism

Unrestricted and neverending “growth” is the fuel for capitalism, which only can sustain itself if the economy continually expands – if our own production and consumption continually grow. This kind of growth is not healthy. Plants and animals do not grow this way. The only thing that grows unrestricted and neverending is cancer.

Sunlight and Global Warming

In the last 50 years, both wild animals and rainforests have reduced by half. From an environmental perspective, the human race is an ever-growing cancer, killing all other forms of life. The Sun is now a symbol for global warming and the Anthropocene.

Lastly, I’m fair-skinned so The Sun has a literal association with cancerous radiation. Laying out in the sun only gives me a painful, burning rash. Give me fog and gloom any day.

The Black Sun

So, The Black Sun, as a symbol, even though it is still linked with melancholy and grief, offers a weirdly comforting light, an uncanny freedom in darkness, and an opportunity for transformation.

For more on the Black Sun read my other posts:

The Black Sun

The Black Sun is Not…

Ordinary Numinous

The Black Sun

Black Sun #1 by Sean Hood, pastel on paper, digital remix

My interest in the “Black Sun” as a symbol and a metaphor began when I read Stanton Marlon’s book The Black Sun.

It is a symbol that evokes death, depression, suicide, and nihilism, but The Black Sun also shines with eerie, numinous luminescence. If the white light of the noonday sun is a symbol of positivity, optimism, the Ego’s plans for perpetual growth, the paradoxical light of the Black Sun is a symbol of egoicide and rebirth through creativity.

Under this weird illumination, depression is not (just) a disease to be cured by medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy, but a call to creative action.

Black Sun #2 by Sean Hood, pastel on paper and digital remix

I have the sense that in our consumer-capitalist frenzy of relentless activity and growth we attempt to abolish melancholia, boredom, and grief. The Black Sun is desperately needed as balance to the Tyranny of our well ultra-bright, smiling world.

The Black Sun is a portal that allows the depressed and despairing a path to avoid literal suicide through symbolic egoicide. This path leads into darkness instead of away from it, and reveals an unexpected bounty of compassion, gratitude and awe.

“Do not then close your eyes to the agonizing Sphinx, but look her in the face, and let her seize you in her mouth, and crunch you with her hundred thousand poisonous teeth, and swallow you. And when she has swallowed you, you will know the sweetness of the taste of suffering.” – C.G. Jung

Writing For Screens – Introduction

In about a month, I’m going to presenting an academic paper and twenty-minute “talk” to a symposium at the University of Portsmouth in the UK called “Writing for Screens.” My topic, unsurprisingly, concerns screenwriting, but it is more specifically about how approaches to screenwriting can adapt and evolve in the 21st Century.

Why would approaches to screenwriting need to evolve at all? How is writing a movie in 2019 any different than writing a movie in 1969? Aren’t the basic tools of storytelling pretty much the same as they were when Aristotle wrote Poetics? Regardless of the internet, interactivity, transmedia, gaming, and virtual/augmented/alternate realities, isn’t writing a movie pretty much the same as it has always been?

Well, my premise is in the paper is “no.” Things are not the same, and approaches to screenwriting and storytelling need to evolve. As I write the paper, record a video presentation, and interact with others who are attending “Writing For Screens,” I plan to share my work here on Undergrids as it develops (and by posting daily on Ask a Screenwriter.)

So stay tuned. Please feel free to comment (and challenge my conclusions.)

More to come…


So, since many of our children are refusing to go to school today in order to protest climate change, I’m going to invite the rest of you – ironic Gen Xers, sensitive Millennials, and stubborn Boomers back into the classroom in order to learn a new word.

Ever wonder why so many people are skeptical about global warming? Ever wonder why so many people, who understand perfectly well that humans are baking the planet, don’t do anything about it? Every wonder why it so hard for YOU to care, really care, about climate change more than say, losing weight, Game of Thrones, or what your ex just posted on Instagram? Why exactly is it that so many of us who are not in Gen Z are so complacent about the biggest calamity to hit our planet since a comet got the dinosaurs?

Well, an extremely useful word, when trying to understand the average person’s indifference to or outright denial of climate change, is HYPEROBJECT.

Ecologist-Philosopher Timothy Morton coined the word and defined it as “objects that are so massively distributed in time and space as to transcend spatiotemporal specificity.” What that means is that “Climate Change” has no specific place, yet it touches everything across the entire globe; it covers times at least as far back as the industrial age but perhaps as far back as the dawn of agriculture, like a spooky fog only visible at a distance. It is not “present” in a way that one can point to, like pointing to an apple, or a country, or a basketball team; we can only point to its effects, its traces, which can seem suspicious, like the footprints of Bigfoot.

Hyperobjects are just too big, too elusive, and too weird to get our heads around. They don’t behave as ordinary “objects” are supposed to behave- objects like cars, carrots, winter, or the super bowl. This is why it’s easy to get emotional about an ordinary object like the weather (it’s raining!) buts its hard to get truly emotional about climate – which seems to happen mostly in other places, to other people, someday far in the future.

In a sense, denialists and skeptics are right when they say climate change doesn’t “exist.” Rather, it weirdly haunts the weather, making it more extreme but never “causing” a specific event.  It rises in intensity slowly, boiling us like a frog in a pot, without us noticing year by year that anything is really happening. It appears in statistics about warming oceans, dying coral reefs, melting glaciers, and superstorms, but those statistics never manifest in ways that interrupt our day-to-day lives.

The human brain simply isn’t built to deal with hyperobjects. Our minds evolved to think about time scales contained by seasons and lifetimes. A hunter on the savannah only had to think about straightforward objects (that lion stalking me…) with clear temporal boundaries (…it appeared this morning…) in particular places (… here the foot of these mountains,) that are unambiguously NOT other things (A lion is not a deer. A lion does not slowly morph into a deer. The heard of deer is not partly caused by a lion.)

Hyperobjects are everywhere but also nowhere. They are so big and so withdrawn from everyday experience, the average person (like you, like me) has trouble maintaining strong emotions about them. So with climate change, we mostly just ignore it, and if we do try to get our heads around it, we become paralyzed by its terrifying and spectral immensity. In fact, Hyperobjects can seem vaguely religious in scope, which is why people talk about “believing in” global warming – as if it required a kind of leap of faith, taking science as scripture.

But Climate Change is real. It doesn’t care what you believe. And it’s unfolding right now. It is, in fact, another comet striking the earth in hyper-slow motion, over the course of decades and centuries, hyper-distributed over billions of exhaust pipes, chimneys, and industrial farms.

Other hyperobjects include things like “race” and “class” and the growing continent of human trash clumping together in the Pacific, but perhaps the biggest hurdle we have to understand climate change is the hyperobject human species. As Western democratic capitalists, we always see the world through the lens of Individualism. As an individual, “I” have essentially no effect on climate change. The exhaust from my car, the beef that I eat, and the number of times I ride on an airplane make no difference. Or rather, it all makes a difference so small, it becomes a kind of MICRO-object, so tiny that it’s just too tedious and abstract to bother with. It’s hard enough to think on the level of family, tribe or nation; it’s nearly impossible to think about ourselves on the level of species.

Nearly impossible for us, I mean.

Gen Z grew up with hyperobjects. They understand on an emotional level how vanishingly small things, like a single tweet, can blow up into something vast and global. They have an intuitive sense about how things, like a social media storm, can be distributed widely in time and space, yet can become powerful, destructive, and deeply personal.

For Millennials, Gen-X, and Boomers, climate change is a thing that’s happening to someone else, in some other place, at some future time. For Gen Z, climate change is happening right here, right now, TO THEM.

And, unsurprisingly, they are freaking out.


For more on hyperobjects, I think anyone interested in climate change should read Timothy Morton’s book, Hyperobjects. It’s been around for a while, but only in academic, intellectual and activist circles. Morton’s writing is inventive and entertaining, so reading it won’t feel like doing homework or eating Kale.

What is an Undergrid?

An UNDERGRID is mesh of human relationships that defines, supports and sometimes entraps an individual.

Meaning Emerges from undergrids

Unlike a culture, subculture, or community, or family an undergrid is determined, curated, and maintained by an individual at its center. It is a pattern of regular encounters, conversations, and intimacies from which emerges an individual’s sense of meaning. Just as thoughts emerge from the electricity of interconnected neurons, meaning emerges from the interpersonal electricity of undergrids.

Your Tribal Undergrid

We each have deep relationships with roughly one hundred people. This mesh of connections is a tribal undergrid.

your Core Undergrid

An artist is responsible to their tribal undergrid for inventing new patterns of meaning and experience, as well as illuminating patterns that already exist. An artist needs a core group within the tribe, who inspire, challenge, and collaborate. This creative circle of three to ten connections is a core undergrid.

The Blog “Undergrids”

A human being thrives by cultivating and curating undergrids, especially face to face. Creative work thrives when it serves and enriches the core undergrid first, the tribal undergrid next, and the wider public last.

This blog is about tending undergrids. So, you are reading this sentence because you belong to mine.