Illustration by Christin Call

Planets whizzing out of control, stars flung like frisbees into the farthest, darkest fields of the universe? Somehow not. Planets have orbits, stars congregate in clusters, gas clouds accumulate and billow. In this void, this vacuum surrounding us, something beyond gravitational pull and the momentum of mass is at work. Calculations (and serious inquiry) only in the 1970s to begin to understand dark matter—the hidden substance, an almost undetectable netting that threads through the universe connecting all objects. An invisible binding force between the dervishing masses.

Sitting in a shabby, paisley chair in Wichita, Kansas in 2002. Mustard yellow, creamsicle orange, lime green. The boy I’d been dating raised an eyebrow. It disappeared under a rag of blond ringlets, a suggestion pulling at the bow of his cupid’s arrow lips. “Everything comes down to sex if you follow it far enough.” In college, yes, you discover Freudian sex drive. Putting the cat on my lap down, I squinted, paused, Doth the lady protest too much?

Neil deGrasse Tyson recently showed us the cosmic calendar—all human life happens in the last 14 seconds on the last day of the month of the year. Sex really a modern invention, and not required by all living creatures. Then what else is there? What is the invisible thing?

Scientists Roy Baumeister and Mark Learly had already written a paper in 1995 as an elaboration of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. What is fundamental of psychological motivations, what underscores our strong drives for power, achievement, and sex? The need to belong, to find one’s kind, to feel known.

Belongingness, only that faintest buzz, hardly detectable, that which sensitizes to the hive, somehow keeps us hovering towards one another. Jonathan Haidt saying, We are 10% bee, and Darwin saying before him, Group selection—in which we select for cooperation, social adherence, to unify against other tribes. And our wings are really too small, our bodies too heavy, but still we zing and zip, a constantly forming and unforming cloud.

Can we be in the fluctuation that is community? So much written about utopias seems as frozen as Plato’s Theory of Forms—that ideas like Love, Beauty, Altruism live somewhere in static, ice-y perfection, more real, more concrete than this amorphous mob of actual society. Let’s realize the false premise that living bodies, always in flux, could ever be static. We are exigent, and all of our processes, structures, and systems, like us, are also continuously arriving or departing.

On another day around that time, sitting in a dark room, elbow pressed on the desk chair to analyze a floor plan of a Minoan palace. Professor Hemans telling us, We look to potential movement of bodies in a space to determine a building’s structure, to supposition its function and meaning. Yes, we must move in some direction in order to find the possible pathways. The moving is an expression of purpose.

And what gives us purpose most strongly, says modern psychology, is the movement towards belonging—and community is the amorphous and agile swarming of that belongingness.

Christin Call is an assemblage artist and Co-artistic Director of Coriolis Dance. She is writing a series of essays “What is Community” for STANCE as a recipient of Velocity Dance Center’s Creative Residency Program. Her multi-disciplinary work What is Home an Obscure Kingdom an Opera Buffa It’s You Always You will be presented by Northwest Film Forum in July 2018.

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