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Upside-down, The Good Newsletter 2020 - Week 13

The weekly interactive newsletter sent out by Plukrijp to its members

For people living NOW the school of life

For YOU to send all your good news to

upside down = instead of announcing what we plan to do
(& most often find out we do not need to do), we relate what we really did

Building communities of trust is fundamental to healing our collective wound. At Plukrijp, we offer spaces of transparency and solidarity. The community allows people to encounter each other in truth and so develop trust.
We do the garden for YOU
Plukrijp functions on your frequent visits & harvests. Take along for friends & neighbours, this way we recreate real networks between us all, breaking down the illusory restrictions that now still separate many of us from our fellow man = UBUNTU.

What you can harvest now:

Jerusalem artichokes, parsnip, potatoes, carrots, celery, chards, chives, salads, rucola, chervil, spinach, purslane, mustards of all colors & textures, fresh herbs for taste & medicine.

This week @ Plukrijp
We did:
"Harvest" the rye we seeded last autumn for ground-cover & fed it to the grateful chickens. They are turning it into the compost for 2021 by scratching it into their carbon "mix". Egg laying has started also. Our chickens get/take a seasonal break every winter. When the days lengthen again & fresh greenery is offered, they start laying eggs. Later on, when the nights are warm enough (15°C ), some will go into brooding to give us new chicks. This yearly rhythm keeps our flock nearly constant. In 2019 Hugo provided us with a white flock that is integrating now. 
Dig with the grelinette (see pic) the big field at Hei, covering the roots of the rye without turning the soil structure upside down. Scratching & rolling & raking the top 5 cm levels out the field while creating a thin layer of dry dust. The many cold spring droughts we lived through 2010-2019 have taught us that every drop of moisture ion the root mass the rye built will be welcome for the seedlings in April/May.
Scratch & roll the open tunnels for the same reason. Here we did seed: parsnip & spinach in no 3, carrots & salad/leek mix in tunnel 2, (to be done still) carrot & spinach in the right part, celery (plants) & potatoes in the left part. Since we could not buy fresh parsnip seeds, we used our "old" 2016 seeds, hoping for a minimum of life force lefty. Though we have been able for years to practice "dry farming" on all our open air fields, we now like to grow these water-loving crops in a place that can, if need be, watered.
Finish the scratching of the big field at Hei. It was a big job to clear the last roots of the rye, but we wanted to avoid digging. We hope to keep a maximum of the beneficial rain-humidity in the root mass & at the same time to respect the stratification of this very fertile field. Plowing would have been the "classical solution", but not the ecologic one. By knocking with our open palms on the land we could feel the vibratory presence of "empty" space where soil life thrives.
Seed extra sweet corn in our plukpots & put them into the water-filled ditch. Extra pumpkins were planted in pots for later, less dry & cold moments.

We are looking forward to the real start of spring, so we can plant the "warm" crops: tomato, pepper, basil, courgette.

Our own seedlings of leek, tomato, basil, pepper, flowers, cabbage..are showing themselves. They seem eager to be planted.
This week we have looked into the option of getting rid of the wifi (see electrosmog: The lan-cables running around the place have been re-identified and we now know how the place is connected. In the end, all it would really take is a few adapters from lan to usb/micro usb-C&B. The question remaining: if the volunteers cannot zap their brains on command, any place, any time, and have to go all the way to one of the lan cables, will they survive? Is it ethical to deprive them of a seemingly basic human need called "direct connection"? The conscious volunteers now have access via LAN, while the others can (temporarily=we hope to educate them) keep on playing at "what I want is what I get = WIWIWIG". We also made it possible to access the vast Plukrijp Database through our local network.
We shared:

Our favorite YouTube introduction to Transactional Analysis, since every new group needs this information if they want to learn to interact in a socially responsible way with each other & the world, our so-called permaculture NEW social dynamics

Alain de Botton on "love"

Naomi Klein's "shock doctrine", followed by Bob Dylan's "with god on our side" & "masters of war". The appropriate songs for the appropriate moment.

"The real dirt on farmer John", the epic & inspiring movie that started off Plukrijp in 2007. We want to give thanks to the many beautiful young (&older) people who have passed through the place each year since 2007. The 2nd ethic principle of Permaculture states that humans must take care of each other & leave ANY place or situation they come into better than they found it. Mole-hill by mole-hill, we build durable abundance for ourselves & FOR THOSE COMING AFTER US. Will it be recorded later in history that one generation turned a century of obsessed "SELF" around into an eternity of "i am another you"?

A well done documentary introducing permaculture “Inhabit, a permaculture perspective”.

Interesting Movies & Documentaries
Inhabit is a feature length documentary introducing permaculture: a design method that offers an ecological lens for solving issues related to agriculture, economics, governance, and on. The film presents a vast array of projects, concepts, and people, and it translates the diversity of permaculture into something that can be understood by an equally diverse audience. For those familiar, it will be a call to action and a glimpse into what's possible - what kind of projects and solutions are already underway. For those unfamiliar, it will be an introduction to a new way of being and a new way of relating to the Earth. For everyone, it will be a reminder that humans are capable of being planetary healing forces.
We created INHABIT in 2015 to help envision what a more resilient world could look like. The COVID-19 pandemic is causing a global shutdown of our fragile economy and it is a critical moment to reflect on the broken systems that run our world. The goal of this film is to inspire and empower people and we hope by offering the film for free it will have a greater effect.
The Diggers From San Francisco (1966-1968)

The San Francisco Diggers became one of the legendary groups in the Haight-Ashbury during the years 1966 to 1968. Shrouded in a mystique of anonymity, they took their name from the original English Diggers of the 1640s. The San Francisco Diggers combined street theater, anarcho direct action, and art happenings in their social agenda. Their most famous activities revolved around Free Food (every day in the Panhandle), and the Free Store (where everything was free for the taking). They produced a series of events that mark the evolution of the hippie phenomenon from a homegrown face-to-face community to the mass-media circus that splashed its face across the world's front pages and TV screens.

The Diggers were at the forefront of the so-called "back to the land" movement, and created a number of communal farms and ranches throughout Northern California.


For more info:
Bob Black - Words of Power

ART? An increasingly inadequate substitute for sex.
BLOOD BANK? Is there any other kind?
BOREDOM? Obligatory for sophisticates.
THE BORN-AGAIN? Twice too often.
CIVILIZATION? The biosphere’s skin disease.
CLASS WAR? The war to end all wars.
COUPLES? Monogamy is monotony.
THE CRUCIFIXION? Too little and too late.
CYNICISM? Long since surpassed by events.
DISCO? The bleat goes on.
DISEASE? Very dangerous: a leading cause of doctors.
ELECTIONS? Dumbocracy in action.
FAITH? Is fatal — get thee behind me, God!
THE FAMILY? No nukes!
FEMINISM? Equality with men: a paltry ambition.
FREE TIME? Work the boss doesn’t pay you for.
FULL EMPLOYMENT? A threat, not a promise.
GAYS? JEWS? Elites impersonating the oppressed.
GOVERNMENT? Guns don’t kill, politicians do.
GURUS? A good mantra is hard to find.
HIPPIES? Running on empty.
THE HOSTAGES? Not worth killing, not worth killing for.
JUDGES? Doddering despots in clown suits.
LAW? Crime without punishment.
LAWYERS? Life support systems for mouths.
THE LEFT? Left behind.
LEISURE? Paying & playing are mutually exclusive.
LIBERALS? Conservatives with guilty consciences.
LIBERTARIANISM? All the freedom that money can buy.
MARXISM? The highest stage of capitalism.
MASOCHISM? Like taking your work home with you.
MYSTICS? Have incommunicable insights they won’t shut up about.
NECROPHILIA? A social disease.
NIHILISTS? Going beyond good & evil, they stopped half-way.
PEDAGOGICIDE? A victimless crime.
PLEASURE? Interludes that accentuate pain.
POLICE? Terrorists with the right credentials.
POLITICS? Like a pond; the scum rises to the top.
PREJUDICE? Folk sociology.
PROPERTY? Is theft — and theft is proper.
PUNKS? Hippies with amnesia.
PUNK VENUES? Defoliated fern bars.
PUNQUES? Punks who attend art school.
RADIO EVANGELISTS? Less aural sects, more oral sex!
REAGAN? A step in the Reich direction.
RELATIONSHIPS? Being alone together.
RELIGION? Deifying your defects.
ROCK MUSIC? Has a great future behind it.
R.O.T.C.? Charnel knowledge.
SAN FRANCISCO? Baja Sausalito.
THE “SCENE”? How to be different like everybody else.
SEX? An increasingly inadequate substitute for masturbation.
SCHOOL VIOLENCE? Class struggle as struggle in class.
SOCIALISTS? Sheep in wolves’ clothing.
TEACHERS? Outclassed.
THERAPY? Punishment without crime.
TROTSKYISM? Stalinism out of power.
UTOPIA? Nostalgia for the future.
VEGETARIANS? You are what you eat.
ZIONISM? Jewish Nazism.
The Shock Doctrine [2009] Documentary by Naomi Klein
The Shock Doctrine is Canadian author and social activist Naomi Klein's companion piece to her popular 2007 book of the same name.
In short, the shock doctrine is a theory for explaining the way that force, stealth and crisis are used in implementing neoliberal economic policies such as privatization, deregulation and cuts to social services.
The shock doctrine suggests that in periods of chaos often following wars, coups, natural disasters and economic panics, pro-corporate reformers aggressively push through unpopular “free market” measures.
Klein posits that followers of Milton Friedman and other market fundamentalists have been perfecting this very strategy: waiting for a major crisis, then selling off pieces of the state to private players while citizens were still reeling from the shock, then quickly making the "reforms" permanent.
Plukrijp as a "salon" for innovation: Yanis Varoufakis and Brian Eno on Money, Power and a Call to Radical Change
From the surveillance state to Julian Assange, nuclear power to Obama, Greece's former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis and Grammy Award winning musician Brian Eno had a wide ranging discussion on the Intelligence Squared stage.
It’s Happening, Restructure Activated, [Fed] Is Now In The Economic Crosshairs
Strong news! Who can see the consequences of this? It is clear that with a dollar that falls like a stone (daily huge loss of value on the international stock exchanges) it is 5 after 12. Can the USA still save itself? "National Emergency" as an excuse to give up the entire 1972-2020 nonsense of the Petro dollar? What shock waves are going to boom through the international financial illusion? Is this the first
step towards the historical rescheduling of the absurd debts imposed on all countries & citizens by central banks for several years? How will China, which has been keeping the Fed alive for years through the purchase of dollars & bonds, respond to this?
Sterk nieuws ! Wie kan hiervan de gevolgen overzien ? Het is duidelijk dat bij een dollar die valt als een steen (dagelijks enorm waardeverlies op de internationale beurzen) het 5 na 12 is. Kan de USA zichzelf nog redden ? "National Emergency" als een excuus om de hele 1972-2020 nonsense van de Pëtro-dollar op te geven ? Welke schokgolven gaan nu doorheen de internationale financiële illusie dreunen ? Is dit de eerste stap naar de historische herschikking van de absurde schulden die alle landen&burgers opgelegd zijn sinds enkele jaren door de centrale banken
? Hoe gaat China, dat al jaren de Fed via de aankoop van dollars&obligaties in leven houdt, hierop reageren ?
How We Destroyed Our Capacity to Love | Alain de Botton | Google Zeitgeist
“Love is not something we are ready for from birth.
We need to get de skills up to it.”
How To 5G Proof YOUR HOUSE!!! This Is Next Level EMF PROTECTION!
My neighbours thought I was crazy for doing this! | EMF Free Home
Stop the Intentional Ignorance by listening to the short video with Barrie Trower, microwave weapons expert. He explains so well the seriousness of this issue, especially for our children.
You will find an answer to all your questions radiations on the website of Jeanice Barcello
Inspiring Link
Radiation Dangers
“Never before in history have humans been
so cleverly induced
to slowly exterminate themselves
and happily pay big money for the privilege.”
- Amy Worthington
Inspiring Books
The introduction sketches the history of the last thirty years where economic shock doctrine has been applied throughout the world, from South America in the seventies to New Orleans after hurricane Katrina. Klein introduces two of her main themes. 1) that practitioners of the shock doctrine tend to seek a blank slate on which to create their ideal free market economies, which inevitably requires an usually violent destruction of existing economic order. 2) The similarities between economic shock doctrine and the original shock therapy – a psychiatric technique where electric shocks were applied to mentally ill patients.

Part 1 begins with a chapter on psychiatric shock therapy and the covert experiments conducted by the psychiatrist Ewan Cameroon in collusion with the CIA: how it was partially successful in distorting and regressing patients' original personality, but ineffectual in developing a better personality to replace it with. Parallels with economic shock therapy are made, and there’s a digression on how government agencies harnessed some of the lessons learned to create more effective torture techniques. Torture, according to Klein, has often been an essential tool for authorities who have implemented aggressive free market reforms. She suggests that for historical reasons the human rights movement has often portrayed torture without explaining its context, which has made it frequently appear as pointless sadism. However in fact it has generally been used whenever a government is trying to enforce extremely unpopular policies, be they left or right wing. This claim is argued for throughout the book. The second chapter introduces Milton Friedman and his Chicago School of Economics, who Klein describes as leading a movement committed to free markets even less regulated than before the Great Depression.

Part 2 discussed the use of shock doctrine to transform South American economies in the seventies, focusing on the coup in Chile led by General Pinochet. The apparent necessity for the unpopular policies associated with shock therapy to be supported by torture is explored.

Part 3 covers attempts to apply the shock doctrine without the need for extreme violence against sections of the population. The mild shock therapy of Margaret Thatcher is explained as being made possible by the Falklands War, while free-market reform in Bolivia was possible due to a combination of pre-existing economic crises and the charisma of Jeffrey Sachs.

Part 4 reports on how the shock doctrine was applied in Poland, Russia, South Africa and to the Tiger Economies during the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

Part 5 introduces the Disaster Capitalism Complex where the author describes how companies have learned to profit from disasters. She talks about how the same personnel move easily from security-related posts in US government agencies to lucrative positions in corporations.

Part 6 discusses Iraq after the 2003 Invasion, which Klein describes as the most comprehensive and full-scale implementation of the shock doctrine ever attempted.

Part 7 is about the winners and losers of economic shock therapy, how narrow groups will often do very well by moving into luxurious gated communities while large sections of the population are left with decaying public infrastructure, declining incomes and increased unemployment.

The Conclusion doesn't recap the rest of the book, instead it talks about the backlash against the shock doctrine and economic institutions that propagate it like the World Bank and IMF. South America and Lebanon post-2006 are focused on as sources of positive news where politicians are already rolling back free-market reforms, with some mention of the increased campaigning by community-minded activists in South Africa and China.
The only "right education" is "growing up into a worthwhile world".
Compulsory Miseducation is a critique of American public schools written by Paul Goodman and published by Horizon Press in 1964.
Already established as a social critic of American society and the role of its youth in his previous book Growing Up Absurd
(1960), Goodman argues in Compulsory Miseducation against the necessity of schools for the socialization of youth and recommends their abolition. He suggests that formal education lasts too long, teaches the wrong social class values, and increasingly damages students over time.
Goodman writes that the school reflects the misguided and insincere values of its society and thus school reformers should focus on these values before schools. He proposes a variety of alternatives to school including no school, the city or farm as school, apprenticeships, guided travel, and youth organizations. Reviewers complimented Goodman's style and noted his deliberate contrarianism, but were split on the feasibility of his proposals. Goodman's book was a precursor to the work of deschooling advocate Ivan Illich.
The effect of the corona panic on most of us.
Use Frustration As Motivation
A text by Koenraad Rau from
Greater Potentials, worth taking into account
Just a few months back, I had to put on a mouth mask because the air in Asia was so polluted.

Now people with mouth masks walk "against this virus".

What a surreal happening.

Today I heard that here in Belgium an argument broke out in a supermarket about .....toilet paper.

Well good.

I am writing to you today about motivation and how to live your life correctly, how to keep track.

Everyone has a moment like this that frustration arises ...

when there is a difference between ...

how something is and ...

how you actually want something to be.

Now perhaps more than usual.

And there you can choose.

Either get stuck in frustration,

or use the frustration as a source of motivation to change things.

It is always a choice.

There is enormous strength in frustration with which you can propel yourself forward to your biggest dreams.

Experience frustration consciously ...

and use it to refocus and find the right track again.

This crisis also has an opportunity in itself ...

A student wrote to me how her company moved down a few gears move...

but how they add extra time and space for their own growth and evolution.

By now more of the vacant time enables you to spend it on meditation and the cultivation of life energy

In times like this, you can turn back & focus on what really matters.

Air pollution is DEcreasing worldwide as everything comes to a standstill.

Many people have to stay at home and limit their activities.

You have a unique opportunity to be full of purer air, full of prana.

And at the same time to strengthen your immune system.

You have a chance to improve your mental capability of researching and refining.

How are your emotions?

Where do you notice fear, where positivity and hope?

How unmoved do you remain under everything, focused on the ultimate goal?

Don't jump into the river and let yourself be dragged along in the flow.

Sit along the bank and observe the water flowing past.

It is always yin and yang.

There is no shadow without light.

And if over the years you have somehow strayed from your path ...use this global break to get back on track.

Stay healthy.

Use your time wisely.

For a higher human potential,

Koenraad Rau
The problem with playing safe in love
Written by Katherine Woodward Thomas
There’s an inherent tension between the need for closeness and the need for safety.

Closeness implies authenticity. Baring one’s soul to another in service to deepening the bond between you.
Yet truth
is often the
enemy of safety.

And many of us will push truth-telling aside in favor of predictability.

In that moment,
we value control
over candor,
and sacrifice
sincerity for stability.

Carving off a slice of our soul in the process.

At some point, one might even begin having an entire life outside of the stability of their relationship—an affair, an addiction, a dark secret that becomes an entire universe unto itself. Because God forbid one takes the risk of upsetting the apple cart by doing something as crazy as tell the truth as it lives at the bottom of your belly.
Do relationships demand everything from us then? Are there no parts of ourselves we might keep private?
There’s a difference between holding onto your autonomy, and withholding to the point of being deceptive.

And one need
always maintain
a portion of their
solitude, even in their
most intimate relationships,
if one hopes to be happy in love.

Yet once integrity is compromised, the relationship is in danger of becoming a lie, and your life together a farce.

Real relationships require
integrity, trust and truth
as the foundation of the
emotional home you
build together.

Learn, therefore, the art of balancing the baring of your soul and the honoring of your autonomy. Discover how to dance between truth and tact, confessions and discretion and honesty and good judgment.

And remember the wise words of author Paolo Coelho, “Telling the truth and making someone cry is better than telling a lie and making someone smile.”
Alice in Corona-land, through the magnifying glass,
an exercise in perspective

March 25, 2020 By Tim Urban
You won’t believe my morning.

I went out on my daily excursion to sit on the front step of my building for ten minutes holding my breath when people walked by. Normally, I spend the time diddling around my phone, but I forgot to bring my phone this morning, so I just looked around.

As I was taking in the emptiness of the street, a little glint caught my eye in a patch of dirt on the sidewalk. I bent over to look closer, and there was the glint again. It wasn’t a normal glint like from a shiny rock or a piece of metal—it was a little pinprick of flashing light.

Intrigued, I was now on all fours looking closer. And I saw the most surreal thing.

Tiny houses.

Like tiny houses. Each about a millimeter high, like ornately carved grains of sand.

I was either dreaming or looking at the coolest, cutest little art project ever.

As I examined the microscopic village, I noticed what looked like a scrawl of teeny letters on the dirt next to the houses. It said:


Now fully having the time of my life, I looked around for an oval. I searched for a few minutes with no luck until I saw, a bit outside the area where the houses were, a little strip of silver, maybe two millimeters long and a millimeter wide. Careful not to damage the houses, I put my thumb on it.

I won’t be able to accurately describe what happened next, but I’ll try my best. Imagine if the ground underneath you suddenly felt like a furiously spinning liquid whirlpool, combined with the feeling of freefalling, combined with your entire visual field turning into a blurry gray, combined with the worst nausea of your life.

And then, just as fast as it started, it all stopped. I cowered for a few seconds trying to catch my breath, and when I opened my eyes, I wasn’t in New York anymore.

I was on a pastoral ranch, surrounded by big log cabins and a bunch of people staring down at me as I looked up at them, still on all fours. One of the people said to me, “Are you okay?”

“I feel okay, but I’m having severe hallucinations.”

They all started cheering and hugging and high-fiving each other.

“Are you doctors?” I asked.

“He thinks he has the virus,” one of them said, and they all roared with laughter.

A woman shushed the crowd and said, “Okay, back to work everyone. I’ll give him the briefing.”

The others left, and the woman smiled at me. “I’m Layla.”

“Hi Layla. Do I have coronavirus?” I asked.

“You don’t have coronavirus,” she said. “You’re just tiny. We shrunk you to 1/10,000th of your normal size. You haven’t moved anywhere, you’ve just gotten much smaller.”

“Fuck,” I explained.

“Yeah, I imagine it’s a lot to take in,” she said. “Let me try to clear things up. There are different tiers of human life, not just the one you’re used to. Our tier is exactly 1/10,000th the size of yours. In yours, people are about 180 centimeters tall. Here, we’re about 0.18 millimeters tall. We’d say 180 micrometers tall, but I know in your world, micrometers don’t mean very much.”

I stared at her. “You’re telling me I’m 0.18 millimeters tall right now?”

“Correct,” she said. “About half the size of a dust mite, or a little taller than the width of a human hair up in your world. A person in your world with really good eyesight could barely see you, if they looked closely. And see that house over there?” She pointed to a large, three-story house. “In the scale you’re used to, that would be about 10 meters high. Here, it’s about the size of a cubic millimeter—the size of a grain of sand on the sidewalk. Some of our houses were actually carved from grains of sand.”

“Hold on.” I stopped her. “I’m very scared of bugs. I wrote a whole post about it once. Are there giant bugs here?”

“Yes and no. There are no bugs in our village because we lined the perimeter with a poison that kills any insects that come too close. But you wouldn’t want to walk too far away from the houses—about three centimeters from here, you’ll cross that barrier and run into things you won’t like.”

“How about flying bugs?” I asked diligently.

“Oh, I haven’t mentioned time yet. Okay so time here moves 100 times faster than it does up on your tier. Time scales up inversely with the square root of the size difference. So 1/10,000th of the size means 100X faster time. So when a flying insect starts to descend into the village, our defense crew has over a minute here to handle the situation. They fire a jet of air at the insect that deflects it away from us. Same deal for dogs. Every year or two, a dog will pee on us. The defense crew keeps track of every dog walking by. At 1/100th the speed of our world, we first see an approaching dog about ten minutes before it gets near us, and by the time a peeing dog is lifting its leg over us, we’ve had plenty of time to draw the tarps, which roll over the entire village and cover everything—the same tarps we use every time it rains or snows.”

“Good to know. But why am I here?”

“Right, I was about to get to that. After a heated debate in the village, we voted to bring someone from your world here, because we wanted to show you something. We’ve been trying to catch someone’s eye in your world for three of your weeks. That’s almost six years here. That’s why everyone was so excited to see you.”
“How did you catch my attention?”

“With that.” She pointed at a tube on the roof of one of the houses that looked like large telescope. “That’s a super-powered laser that we’ve been trying to shine in people’s eyes as they walked by on the sidewalk. But no one noticed. Until today. Way out on the horizon, we piled boulders into the shapes of letters that spelled out the instructions, and you were dicking around just hard enough that you actually bent down to read them. We’re thankful.”

“What was that oval in the instructions?”

“Look down.”

I was standing on a metallic oval about the size of a swimming pool.

“This is our trans-tier station. When you touched this with your thumb, it shrunk you down to our tier.
“Wait.” I looked up at her. “Do I live here now?”

She laughed. “Don’t worry. We’ll send you back to your world in a little bit. Now come with me.”

I walked with Layla towards the other side of the village. I looked around. Everyone was staring at me. Some people waved.

“What’s that?” I asked Layla, pointing up at what looked like a sheet of color stretching into the sky.
“That’s your apartment building. All you can see from here is the first brick. That band of light way up in the sky is the mortar between the first and second brick in the wall.”

We walked into a small building and entered a room with a long white table in the middle. Layla turned towards a wall on the side of the room, and suddenly the outline of a square formed in the wall. The square moved outwards into the room and rotated downwards until it was parallel to the floor. Layla pulled a tweezer-like tool from her pocket and carefully pinched what looked like nothing a few centimeters above the panel.
She walked over to me. “Open your palm.”

She put her tweezers into my hand and dropped something the size of a grain of sand. I raised up my palm to look at it. It was reddish and fuzzy.

“What is it?” I asked.

“SARS-CoV-2. What you’ve been calling ‘coronavirus.’”

I flung it across the room. “What the fuck.”

Layla laughed, touched the square, and the little object flew back across the room into its spot above the square.

“It can’t hurt you here. The viruses of your world are way too big to do any damage in our bodies.”
I stared at her, trying to process the situation. “How do you know about coronavirus? And how did you…get one?”

“Oh we know everything about your world. Your tier moves so slowly compared to ours that your technology is eons behind ours. Our tools have allowed us to watch your world since your prehistoric days. As for how we got a coronavirus particle, we didn’t get it—we made it.”

You made the coronavirus?”

“Well, with a little help. Follow me.”

Again I followed Layla, again dumbfounded, this time out of the building toward a fenced-in area outside. When we got close, a door in the fence opened and inside, we stood together on the edge of what looked like a barren circle of land.

Layla opened her hand. The little virus was sitting neatly on her palm. “SARS-CoV-2 is a standard sized Coronavirus—about 120 nanometers in diameter. 120 nanometers is ridiculously small in your world, but in ours, you can roll it around in your fingers.

“Cool…let me think about that for a minute.”

“Wait, I can explain this better. In your world, this is a perfect size analogy:
SARS-CoV-2 : grain of sand :: grain of sand : house
In both cases, the relationship is 1-to-10,000, which is also the relationship of our world to yours. In your world, your apartment building is huge, a grain of sand is tiny, and this coronavirus is unfathomably microscopic. In ours, the virus is tiny, a grain of your sand is huge enough to live in, and your apartment building is unfathomably large.”

“Makes sense.”

“Now, what’s a virus made of? Atoms. And atoms are about 0.1 nanometers in diameter—about 1/1,000th of the diameter of a SARS-CoV-2 particle. That’s small even for us. An atom is almost as small for us as a virus is for you. Constructing a virus requires incredibly complex engineering and tools that can interact with the quantum field. We can’t do it ourselves.”

“So how—”

“Look down.”

I looked at the ground.

She pulled me toward the center of the circle of land and then pulled me to an abrupt stop.

“Look closer.”

I bent over as far as I could and strained my eyes. No. Fucking. Way.

Another microscopic world.
“Is that…”
“Yup. That’s the tier below us. Give me your thumb.”

She carefully placed the virus particle onto the ground. Then she guided my hand to the ground, touching both of our thumbs to a little metallic spot.

Whirlpool. Falling. Grey. Nausea. Misery.

I eventually got a hold of my trembling and drooling and opened my eyes. In every direction, as far as I could see, stretched a hazy blue-ish / purple-ish plane. It also began to dawn on me that I wasn’t standing or sitting on anything—I was floating.

After about a minute of wondering what the hell was going on in my life, a patch of the sky darkened. The dark region became smaller and more defined until it condensed into Layla floating next to me.

“Please don’t leave me again,” I said.

“Sorry, my thumb hit the pad a split second later than yours did. Time moves 100 times faster here than up there, so you got to spend some reflective time here by yourself.”

“Okay where are we?”

“We’re outside your apartment building. Remember?”

“Righttt. So what size are we?”

“We went down the same jump you did when you transitioned from your world to ours—we shrunk to 1/10,000th of our previous size. So you’re now 18 nanometers tall. If you stood on the edge of a cross-section of a human hair, it would take you about two hours to walk across it.”


“Time here is now going by at 100X the speed of time in my world, which means it’s moving 10,000 times faster than the speed of time in yours. You could spend a year here and less than an hour would pass in your world.”
“Kind of like Inception?”

“Not really. Anyway, nothing down here works the way it does in our worlds. Like see how the ground is all eternal and purply?”


“That’s not really ground, and it’s not really purple. When you’re this small, there aren’t any solid objects in the sense you understand. And your eyes are too small now to perceive the visible light spectrum.”

“So what the hell?”

“I don’t really get it either. But the people who live here have incredibly advanced ways of manipulating the quantum field so we can feel like we’re intact humans, floating in place, seeing purple. They set it up this way because it’s something we can make sense of.”

“That’s nice of them. Where are they all anyway?”

“The thing is, they don’t like our world, and they really don’t like your world. They interact with us occasionally, when it’s necessary, but they’ll never allow you or anyone from your world to see them or know anything about how they live. This is actually the first time anyone from your world has been allowed down here, other than Andy Kaufman, who’s lived here since 1984.”

“Then why am I allowed to be here?”

“So I can show you this.”

Layla held her hand up in front of her, with her palm facing outwards. Her palm lit up and when it did, a bizarre-looking giant object was revealed in front of us.

“This,” Layla said, “is SARS-CoV-2. Down here, it’s the size of a house.”

I looked up at the vast virus in front of me. It looked nothing like it had when it was a fuzzy grain of sand in my hand. It was transparent, like a massive, intricately structured, sphere-shaped jellyfish. There was a kind of furious movement within the transparency, but I couldn’t see anything specific moving. It was confusing.
Layla motioned for me to come close to the virus. She took my hand and placed my palm onto the virus’s almost invisible surface. It felt kind of like palming a grape bunch except instead of grapes it was tapioca balls like the ones in those bubble teas—if the tapioca balls were vibrating so vigorously that it felt a little like being mildly electroshocked, like when you put your finger in an electrical outlet. It was an unpleasant sensation, though not quite painful, and super weird and cool-feeling.

“Pull one off,” Layla said.

It took me a few tries to latch onto one of the atoms, because they’re “slippery” (quotes because there is no word for what it felt like, but “slippery” gets the general idea across), and when I finally got one and pulled, there was a lot of resistance. When I pulled it, it dragged the adjacent atoms along with it, and the harder I pulled, the more ferociously and unpleasantly it vibrated. Finally it snapped free. I looked at my fist—I had an atom.

Layla smiled. “Cool right?”
So cool. Can I keep it?”
“Sure good luck with that.”

I was so awe-struck by so many things, I had forgotten how intensely confused I was.

“Wait, so why did you make this?”

She turned towards me. “As I said, because of the way time moves—”

“Your world has been around a lot longer than ours.”

“Yes. And this world we’re in now has been around a lot longer than mine. They know much more about everything than we do, and they can do things we can’t even begin to understand. The stuff they can do is so over our heads they can’t even explain it to us. And we’re that far ahead of your world.

For a long time, as advanced as this world was, it relied on us to preserve our world for its own survival. It exists on a patch of dirt in our village. If our village were destroyed, they would be destroyed with it. But a while back, they worked out the technology for how to be location independent, which means they can move from wherever they are to any other place in the universe instantly.

We don’t have that technology yet. We tried to learn from them, but we couldn’t grasp the fundamental ideas well enough to develop it ourselves. So we’re stuck in our location.”

“In New York City?”

“Yup. We migrated here in the 1800s when we determined it would be a good place to interface with your world, should the need ever arise. We’re also not the only people in our world. There are lots of villages like ours in different parts of the Earth. Once we connected with you, the others stopped broadcasting their location. There’s no reason for more than one of us to be revealed to your world.

For most of time, Earth was a safe and stable home for our world. But over the last century, your world has been advancing exponentially in technology but remaining stagnant in wisdom. You’re rapidly gaining tremendous powers but still behaving like short-sighted primates. The voice of wisdom is there, but it’s being trampled over by political parties, religions, and nations too mired in blind conflict to lift their heads up and see the bigger picture.”

“It’s funny you say that Layla. I’m actually writing a whole thing about—”

“Oh I know. We did our research on everyone who lives in your vicinity so we’d know how to communicate with the person we brought to us if we caught someone’s attention. That’s why I’m speaking English and speaking in the odd way you do. Your little series is cute, even if it took us forever to read—but it will have limited effect. Your world is stubborn about growing up. And in the process of destroying yourselves, we believe you’ll destroy us as well.”

“So you’re trying to kill us off with a pandemic.”

“If we wanted to kill you off, you’d all be dead right now. It’s an option we hope we don’t have to use. We were once like you and we empathize with your struggle.

We created this coronavirus to fall into a certain sweet spot—not damaging enough to destroy your world, but bad enough to cause a long and scary global crisis. Short of an alien attack, it is the one thing that could make all humans in your world feel like they’re on the same team against a common enemy. The first and most crucial step on the road to a long-lasting species is the epiphany that you truly are a single team, alone in a dark and dangerous universe. We’re hoping the virus can help push you in that direction.”

“I feel like there was a better way to do this.”

“We probably could have thought a little harder about it.”

“Yeah cause it’s going pretty badly up there is the thing.”

“Totes. Anyway, we couldn’t make the virus on our own. It’s hard enough to make something that small and complex that involves atomic and subatomic construction, but we wanted the virus to be precisely as harmful as it is. We needed help. The tier below us is less vulnerable to your world than we are, but for reasons I’m not entirely sure about, they also believe living in a multi-tiered ecosystem may be important in the future—so they share our interests. They agreed to build the virus for us.”

“How did you manage to get the virus into our world?” I asked.

“It’s funny. You have to imagine it from our perspective. If you’re us, the world you’re planning to transform is a planet with nearly an AU diameter, full of 18-kilometer tall people—people so tall, your world’s airplanes could accidentally fly into their belly buttons. Now imagine you’re standing on that planet, smaller than one of their dust mites, pinching between your fingers something the size of a grain of sand on your scale. You find your way onto one of these giants’ football-field-size teeth, and you flick the grain of sand into his kilometer-wide chasm of a mouth. And that’s supposed to change the trajectory of their future. It seems impossible.

“And yet.”

“And yet. With some very clever maneuvers, we flicked our little particle into the mouth of an unlucky giant, and it did the trick. By the way, we were dying when you blamed it on a pangolin of all things.”

“He seemed guilty. I still don’t understand why you brought me down here.”

“We weren’t originally planning to reveal any of this backstory to your world. But after watching things unfold for the first few weeks, we don’t see enough of the effect we were hoping for. Maybe if your world learns that there are other worlds out there—worlds that did manage to triumph in the wisdom game—it’ll empower the wise voices to stand up with a bit more courage in this struggle and in even greater challenges that lie ahead. It’s a long shot, but these are desperate times.”

“I guess it’s worth a try. I’ll write a post explaining what I learned from you.”

“And tweet out the post and send it out to your email list and stuff?”

“Eh. Fine.”

“Ready to go back up to your life? Only 23 seconds have passed there since you shrunk down.”

“Yeah let’s do it.”

Layla and I moved ourselves on top of the big metal oval.

“I’m going to increase my size 10,000-fold and yours 100,000,000-fold, so you can go back home in one shot…which is a good thing because transporting up is even worse than transporting down.”

“I have one more question.”
“How many tiers are there?” I asked.
“No one knows for sure. The people on this atomic-level tier tell us they know of at least one tier below them, though they won’t tell us more than that. And no one seems to know about tiers above yours. Your world is thinking about that, with all your multiverse talk. We’re still working on that one too.”
“If you ever figure it out, will you let me know?”
“One thing at a time.”

We touched our thumbs to the metal.
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