A billion people


[How to be] a practitioner whose principal aim is to not be a sucker in things that matter...
Nassim Taleb

"Try to be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try to live in harmony with people of all creeds and nations."
Michel Palin in The meaning of life

In the era of open source biology, the magic of genes will be available to anyone with the skills and imagination to use it.
In the future, a new generation of artists will be writing genomes the way that Blake and Byron wrote verses.
Freeman Dyson





Open boek

A digital constitution for the world.


You don't own it if you can't root it.

The market is a place set apart where men may deceive each other.

All things are in common among friends.

We do not feel called upon to nag at our neighbour if he chooses to go his own way.



A society without hierarchy in the form of rulers and leaders is not a utopian dream but an integral part of collective human experience.
Peter Marshall


Laughter is important, not only because it makes us happy, it also has actual health benefits. And that's because laughter completely engages the body and releases the mind. It connects us to others, and that in itself has a healing effect.
Marlo Thomas


When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments. Here was a machine of precision and balance for the convenience of man. And (unlike subsequent inventions for man’s convenience) the more he used it, the fitter his body became. Here, for once, was a product of man’s brain that was entirely beneficial to those who used it, and of no harm or irritation to others. Progress should have stopped when man invented the bicycle.
Elizabeth West




No doctor derives pleasure from the health of even his friends, wrote the ancient Greek satirist, no soldier from the peace of this city, etc.



Think outside the box, collapse the box, and take a fucking sharp knife to it.


He who allows oppression shares the crime.
Desiderius Erasmus





This is slavery, not to speak one's thought.

There can be no difference anywhere that doesn’t make a difference elsewhere – no dif- ference in abstract truth that doesn’t express itself in a difference in concrete fact and in conduct consequent upon that fact, imposed on somebody, somehow, somewhere, and somewhen.
William James

Believe in truth. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom.
Timothy Snyder

It is always easier to deny reality than to allow our worldview to be shattered, a fact that was as true of die-hard Stalinists at the height of the purges as it is of libertarian climate change deniers today.
They deny reality, in other words, because the implications of that reality are, quite simply, unthinkable.
Naomi Klein

If learning to think is learning to resist a future that presents itself as obvious, plausible, and normal, we cannot do so either by evoking an abstract future, from which everything subject to our disapproval has been swept aside, or by referring to a distant cause that we could and should imagine to be free of any compromise. To resist a likely future in the present is to gamble that the present still provides substance for resistance, that it is populated by practices that remain vital even if none of them has escaped the generalized parasitism that implicates them all.
Isabelle Stengers

Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist.
Pablo Picasso

You are in the process of being indoctrinated. We have not yet evolved a system of education that is not indoctrination. We are sorry, but it’s the best we can do.
Doris Lessing

The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain. If you can't lick 'em, join 'em.
Ursula LeGuin


Democracy in Europe Movement

Carpe diem


Deep Green Resistance



Kate Raworth proposed a version of economics that lacks the usual idealist dogmas.


Email us at:

info AT epistylion DOT org

Replace AT by @ and DOT by .

Practicing materialism

Half a century ago there was a mini-enlightenment and information about resources for a philosomatic (body-friendly) existence was more in demand than today:
"We are as gods and might as well get good at it. So far remotely done power and glory - as via government, big business, formal education, church - has succeeded to the point where gross defects obscure actual gains. In response to this dilemma and to these gains a realm of intimate, personal power is developing - the power of individuals to conduct their own education, find their own inspiration, shape their own environment, and share the adventure with whoever is interested. Tools that aid this process are sought and promoted by The Whole Earth Catalog".

An echo from the axial era? Text out of something from Diderot or d'Holbach? Does it suggest that we can do everything ourselves and no longer need others? Despite everything we have received so far from them? Read on for access to resources for applying materialism.

Body techniques

What lifestyle is consistent with materiality? How to act, depends on what for, the body, its cloud, or the commons. Body techniques are for handling the part of the individual self under its skin. You are what you eat, nutrition is the key; if the body is properly supplied with chemical reactants for fuel and materials, the rest follows easily. After food comes sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll (the first is more than the cherry on top, it includes the other two). Dopamine is the common factor which suggests using it to evoke euphoric body states (some call them states of mind or moods) and for growing novel synapses. You are what you do; moving the body (in dance and some sports) generates eudaimonia and creativity. Increasing the number of oxytocine receptors on the neurons improves affection for fellow creatures and boosts ataraxia. The necessary information can be found in scientific publications. The sciences are not the exclusive property of employees of the universities and the multinationals. Biopunks have shown with do-it-yourself science the possibilities of hedonistic or epicurean programmes that are useful for the non-professional individual; the biopunks have a reader and a manifesto. The biohackers provide tools. Neurofeedback makes buying and consuming drugs obsolete since everyone can make internal drugs easily with it using a smartphone and some connected sensors. Those home-made drugs, secreted from your own brain and other organs, are free, they can not easily be made illegal by a morality police, they are much better than those from Columbia or Switserland, and have no nasty side effects. On this page are more details.

Dressing the ego


The price barrier is the great argument against dematerialization: if your gadget has a small defect you discard it because it is too expensive to repair it. That attitude produces gigantic refuse heaps. It could be countered by including sustainability in the design of products. Cradle to cradle is a start. Built-in user servicability is also necessary in sustainable products so in order to send that message to producers, refuse to buy gadgets that cannot be opened with a common screwdriver. Until all equipment is designed sustainably, some degree of repairing and modernizing can be done now after consulting do-it-yourself-websites that supply the information:

Open Source Materials for DIY
Open source lab
Do it yourself
A magazine for the tinkerer
How to make it
Bits and atoms
A hacker
Cradle to cradle
Repair Café
Open Source Ecology

But first check out the fixer's manifesto. Youtube has many instruction films on DIY-techniques. But when all is said and done, the price barrier for dematerialization is not high because discarded but still working gadgets that are a few years old cost nothing and function almost as well as expensive modern equipment, provided some attention is given them. What is the point of buying a new electronic gadget if an old computer from a scrapheap easily does the same job? The famous proverb "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Give a man religion and he will die praying for a fish." says the same as the quote of Gandhi, "Spin your own clothes and the british will go away". They mean: if you do it yourself, you are free. Or: if you make it yourself the commisars and managers have to leave. Refurbishing rather than buying the latest novelty (that usually isn't) also helps dematerialization.

Survival in emergencies

Public utilities increasingly fail if privatized. If power stops coming out of our wall plugs, there is no money, shopping, and communication which means water, food, shelter, and protection are no longer available. How do we continue life when that occurs? Using information on doing things yourself that can now be collected. Examples:

Many solar energy projects
Cooking using solar energy
Practical action
Fast Online
Low Tech
No Tech

Useful tidbits

Internet unchains knowledge including knowledge about what cannot be known and is the third great invention in the technology of texts since people began to write. No publications can be owned and therefore all publications must be freely accessible online. Those that must be paid for, have been stolen. Spread the word; digitizing archived texts and putting them online is the continuation of bookprinting with other means.

Virtual library
An open library
Another open library
An archive
Free books

Access to public knowledge makes small beautiful

Gigantic corporations produce gigantic prices but they are not unavoidable. We are gradually eliminating the big energy companies by producing our own energy with solar cells and windmills. Can we also disarm the big multinationals in food, pharmaceuticals, and other vital resources? We have to. With our dependence on a few corporations that have monopolized food and pharmaceuticals we poison our life. In these old fields we are less emancipated than in the newer case of computer technologies where open source hardware and software are available. Excess costs incurred by relying on monopolies such as Microsoft, Google, and Apple can now be easily avoided by using GNU/Linux or FreeBSD in open source hardware. Open source knowledge made it possible. Recently a movement has started to make public knowledge actually available to the public (the rightful owners by definition) as Sparc, open access, libre knowledge, and open data. Open source pharmacy and genetics are very much needed and actually possible now, even under our present crippling patent law system. Where is the Torvalds of our vital resources?

Online education

Youtube channels
Open culture
Do it yourself lectures
Project Zero
Khan Academy
Online Learning Harvard
Future Learn Courses
Open culture

The commons


The coming revolution aims to end nationalistic and commercial coercion (Occupy Wall street and Arab spring were small symptoms). That revolution is impossible but also inevitable if only because it is utterly unacceptable that bankers and CEO's of multinational companies behave internationally in ways that would be criminal for persons and institutions within one country; or because nations permit themselves what they forbid their subjects. Another source of the revolution, perhaps the main one, is the massive misery allowed and stimulated by current financial structures and economic habits. Each drowned body of a boat refugee that washes ashore on a European beach is another compelling argument for poliltical action.

Fake news on the asocial media made by trolls in the USA and Russia, (and the IOT) clearly shows how politicians get elected. Not all political movements have an ideological message based on fake news. A few sites involved in anti-platonic analysis and activities are:

Commons Network
Charta 08
Creative commons
Citizen Lab
Freedom of the Press
A European institute
Yes Lab
Open Democracy
Democracy Now
Dissident voices
The post-carboniferous
Utopian economy
Digital society
With all reason
Open knowledge
Open Source Hardware Association
Project Worldview
Concerned scientists
Capability approach
The end of capitalism
Time Bank Stroom
Freethought blogs
The commoner
Graebers debt
Inequality, a choice

How to survive in an ideocracy

Public opinion and the government everywhere is still largely platonic and those who have more sense than either are therefore not welcome in a society made by and for ideots. Some freethinkers in history have shown how to survive in an ideocracy. Read their biographies and start with those of Spinoza and Havel. In other words, adopt many identities, select your friends, notice what is politically correct, who does what and why, and find out whom to avoid and how. Generally accepted legal malpractices cannot be changed by a small group and materialists are a minority that can only cope with idols by avoiding them. It is however vital not to slide further down the platonic slope on which we all sit. Or, in the formulation of Niall Ferguson: "Today ... the biggest threat to Western civilization is posed not by other civilizations, but by our own pusillanimity - and by the historical ignorance that feeds it." Those words should stimulate us to cherish our materialism that is secretly admired (but exploited and misused) by the whole world. Check out the links given above to sites on political action.

It is possible to do something: cultivate your lifestyle, it may spread. We are manipulated and exploited by sales managers; we let them do it so we can stop them if we want to. Religious and political propaganda is like commercial advertisement and can be neutralized. How? Consider commerce as a representative example. Trade used to exclude warfare but commerce now has itself turned into a form of war. Start your defense against it by doing the opposite of what commercial ads want you to do in order to avoid the idols they try to infect you with. Ads are a continuation of industrial environmental pollution with other means according to Michel Serres. So, buy your equipment from recycle shops, ebay-like organizations, and small shopkeepers while they still exist. Refuse to buy a gadget that is deliberately designed so that you cannot repair it yourself. Do not buy chicken in the supermarket (or anything else); doing that feeds the MRSA-bacteria. Take only unpatented medicine if you need medicine. Pay cash. Use local currencies. If you must have a bank, choose one that does not invest in antisomatic projects. Replace your car by a bicycle to generate more free time for yourself. Avoid using internal combustion engines in order not to finance suicide terrorism. Use open source technologies, they actually exist. Don a gray hat and block implementation of ITR's. Assume several identities and keep their actions well separate. Support antiplatonic movements such as Amnesty and Médecins sans frontières. Vote for the party that has the most philosomatic programme. Treat a Greek pensioner, even if only to soften feelings of guilt. Sponsor the training of a student in a developing country. Sponsor an illegal cleaner in your home town, in short, help victims of ideots. Inspiration can be found online.

Join a church if you must

What religion should an infidel put on the form of an immigration officer? None is read as communist and access will be denied. Kopimism is also thought to be another name for communism by the masses. Lokayata or Carvaka could be tried but Jain, Buddhist, or humanist are approximations of None that might work better (but would not help to get into theocracies).

The arts

The arts can conveniently be classified in the familiar two groups: the platonic or conceptual arts that is a play with ideas, words, and symbols; and the democritic or (f)actual arts in which objects and their behaviour are central. A few examples of non-conceptual or concrete arts are:

Mad Art Lab
Material Matters Media
The Space
Ars Electronica
Creative applications
Theo Jansen
Philip Beasley


We are change
Green resistance
Transition initiative
Ecological economy
World of matter

Communication in an open commons

Free software foundation
Video for Change
Open media
Digital self-defense
The invisible Internet Project

A few ideology-free news-servers

Arts and letters daily
The Baffler
The Intercept
The Nation
New Left Review
Seed Magazine
Daily Anarchist
Open Democracy
Democracy Now
Democratic Underground
Big think
World news
Words and concepts
Human rights
Open culture
World Information
The Register
News from hackers

Persons worth checking out

George Monbiot
Graham Harman
Richard Dawkins
Sam Harris
Richard Heinberg
Derrick Jensen
Umberto Eco
Douglas Rushkoff
A. C. Grayling
Cosma Shalizi
Kishore Mahbubani
Noam Chomsky
Amartya Sen (here as well)
Taslima Nasrin
Isabelle Stengers
Vandana Shiva





A name of a concept often means different opposing things. A materialist is either a greedy egoist or someone who has a philosophical opinion. An idealist is either someone who aims for something perfect or is an adherent of a philosophical opinion. Materialist has a negative or a neutral meaning, idealist a positive or a neutral one, depending on the context. What a story says depends on the choice of the author. If authors omit a list of definitions of their words, their story is not intended to inform; poets, orators, and stand up comedians do not define their terms.

Organisms have spectacular capacities. Gulls perfected their aerodynamic technology; electric eels are masters of electrostatics; trees are high because they control osmotic pressure; dogs have developed very sensitive gas sensors and termites have discovered thermodynamics and applied it. Optics is used by all organisms that make vitamin A from light in order to form eyes. No plant or animal needed to take up semiconductor electronics in their physiology as they already had katalysis. Acoustics for communication is an art that humans and sea mammals exploit. Language is a human speciality. The ambiguity of words helps bisociation, lateral thinking and creativity in poetry. Informative narratives need jargon which has new words that have a single meaning because those words are more efficient than old, equivocal, and threadbare terms. Hence the following list of words (some of which uncommon words) that are used for concepts discussed on this site (some of which uncommon concepts).

Antimaterialistic - Hostile to matter; a characteristic of the opinion of ideots.

Antisomatic - Against the body, hostile to body functions, acts, and needs, antimaterialistic. Characteristic of ideologies.

Archism - Political expression of idealism, antonym of anarchism. Archism implies servitude. Sometimes called statism.

Ataraxia - Temporary state of the brain characterized by absence of fear, excessive stress, disgust, shame, grief, rage, frustration, and depressivity. Condition that enables flow and full attention. Unfetters creativity, liberates play.

Cloud - Metaphor for the exosomatic part of a renormalized individual; used like the cloud concept for the domain of computer activity outside the computer. A person is a body dressed in a cloud (some clouds are like typhoons of fog banks). If the biological body dies, its cloud usually disperses, and a universe perishes. The cloud, which is largely a social product, forms the individual and glues individuals to each other. An approximation of cloud is personal ecosystem or information bubble.

Democritist - A synonym for materialist in the sense of adherent of philosophical materialism.

Endosomatic - Belonging to the biological part of a person, the part under the skin.

Eudaimonia - Temporary state of the brain characterized by felicity, cheerfulness, pleasure, and happiness. Valued in hedonistic ethics.

Exosomatic - Belonging to the non-somatic part of a person, outside the skin but close to it; the exosomatic part (the cloud) consists of embedded things, parts of related persons, and relations.

Idealism - Originally the belief system that claims that only ideas really exist or that whatever exists is only an idea. Here idealism is the conviction that transcendencies exist besides matter and independent of it. Dualism is another word for it. Idealism is a continuation of magic with pretenses. In discussions it is like mental glue that usually leads to a "narrative fallacy".

Ideocracy - Society built around idols and controlled by ideots. Theocracies are ideocracies controlled by believers that have gods as idols.

Ideogogy - Educational system to teach all about idols in order to turn pupils into ideots.

Ideology - A coherent set of directions for policy, based on exalted, august fictions (called idols) having imperatives that take priority irrespective of antisomatic side effects. Religions are ideologies based on theistic idols.

Ideomaniac - An exaggerating ideot; a fundamentalistic platonist.

Ideot - Adherent of an ideology. A synonym for platonist, believer, or romantic. A cognitive dissonant.

Idol - Idea or coherent set of ideas as a tool designed to explain and convince; basis or source of an ideology. An idol is an authority that is sacred and beyond doubt. Idols are verbal totems and act like memes or mind viruses. A generalization of the idol which Francis Bacon proposed.

Idolatrous - Idol-worshiping, gushing. An Ideot is idolatrous of his idols.

Materialism - The insight that only matter and the void exists and that all else is action of matter in the void. Materialism acts as a cognitive lubricant and stimulates skeptical empiricism. Often the word materialism is used in a different and more negative sense. To avoid confusion the synonym materiality or the neology "materealism" could be used instead of materialism as defined here.

Materiality - Another word for materialism, a noun derived from the adjective material.

Metachemics - Ontology in materialism as metaphysics is about ontology in idealism. Metaphysics provides explanations, metachemics provides means.

Philosomatic - Beneficial for the body, appreciating the body. Analogous to philosophic.

Platonist - A synonym for idealist or romantic in the sense of adherent of philosophical idealism.

Renormalisation - As applied to humans: transformation that converts a biological body having strong interactions with others, to an individual that has an extended phenotype in such a way that part of the interactions are integrated into the person that then has sufficiently weak interactions with similarly transformed others to justify considering that person a true individual. Such a renormalization dresses a bare biological body in a cloud of artefacts and relations.