Letters from Somnolescent April 3, 2022

The Somnolescent Manifesto, Second Edition

by bulb

Today, the new somnolescent.net launches! It’s taken us a couple months, but we all love it here. Far livelier, far cuter, far better matching how we truly are as a group, and far simpler to boot.

With it comes a new manifesto, something I felt everyone should be able to weigh in on rather than the one I wrote in a few evenings back in 2018. While we elected to go with a simpler about page for the moment, I still think the new manifesto deserves a place in the spotlight alongside it. I’ll be looking for a place to link it on the site itself, no worries.

Summation

We are simple folk. We find appeal in what you find boring. We rely only on what we can trust, ourselves and those who prove themselves to us. We belong to no movements and our morals are our own alone. We don’t suffer irony or pretense lightly.

We write, draw, program, grow, knit, and build exactly what we want to see. We use the computers that you throw out and leave behind until they break, and then we fix them and keep going. If we can’t be a part of it, it’s not worth our time. We like our surroundings familiar and our friends to stay awhile.

Somnolescent, in everything we do, boils down to a celebration of humanity. We like our people as humans, imperfect, emotional, occasionally irrational, and very charming indeed. We like the objects and technology we interact with to be human, simple, limited, and very fun to spend time with. The pursuit of our creativity comes down to appreciating and exploiting the limitations of what we’re creating with.

We see honesty and personal growth as cornerstones of humanity. A Somnolian actively engages with what makes them uncomfortable to make peace with it. We see setbacks and upset as inevitable, and we ground ourselves in embracing things for what they are, not what we want them to be. Others want to change the world around them or cloak themselves in surface traits to avoid what hurts. We prefer to change ourselves and learn to be okay with exactly what we are, even when it takes years of dedication, work, and hard truths.

It’s easy to simplify us down into simply liking old tech, or liking animal people, or being creative folks, but those are all-too-basic readings of why we’ve stuck together through the end of the world. We’ve put in the effort to enjoy what we have in common, our shared mindset and our fascination for the old, unloved, and often-ignored, and it’s made us comfortable telling each other damn near anything and sharing hours-long discussions on everything.

Somnol sleepoverrrr

We’re all human, and we don’t want it any other way.

Somnolescent and People

Somnolescent operates first and foremost on trust. We trust in people to make their own decisions and decide their own paths forwards. We trust in our imperfections as people, knowing those who matter will love us regardless. We trust in our work, shaky and strange as it can be, because we know we put love and charm into it.

We believe people are generally good from the beginning, and so, we put our trust into them making decisions we occasionally disagree with or may even find harmful to ourselves or others. When issues arise, we deal with them on a case-by-case basis. Protecting good folks from making bad decisions before they’ve made them leads to fear and guilt—and ultimately, repression.

Grumpy

Being Somnolescent means confronting repression. What we have all noticed individually is that what made us happy as children tends to be what makes us happy as adults, just on an adult level. Running from what you are will never make you happy. Deciding how you are is how you should be will always make you happy.

Growth is not a quick fix. A common misconception is that growth is as simple as changing your surface characteristics to fit your surroundings better. It might not be now, and it is slow even when it is now, but it needs to happen. We have all faced insecurities and things we’ve felt we need to hide from the world and from each other. A great relief sets in when we admit it to the people who should know about it, and ultimately, grow past it.

In the creative life, we’re aware of our imperfections and shortcomings. Artists specialize; musicians and writers pick genres. No one does everything or everything equally well, and that’s what we enjoy. We’re stronger together precisely because of the variety of interests, mediums, and techniques we bring together as a group. Technical perfection is boring and a fool’s errand. For where we roam, the worlds of cartoons, light fiction, and personal websites, perfection only leads to sterility.

When we produce wonky lineart or introduce perspective issues into a drawing, we embrace them, as much as they might bother us then. We trust the right people will see the love and charm we put into our work, and we grow and learn what to watch out for next time. Deciding to wait for when you will never make a mistake only means you will never get anything done. We encourage indulging the impulse for off-the-cuff doodles, written, musical, or visual, as they arise.

On the whole, Somnolescent is apolitical. People turn to politics out of fear of the world around them or to gain power. While we believe in pushing for what you feel strongly about, it doesn’t have a place in our group. This world has been made maudlin enough by the false dichotomy of “with us” and “against us”. People’s views are not black and white. Where they are, they can very easily be traced back to repression—a problem with personality, not with ideology.

It all comes back to trust. We have no reason to hold grudges; living well is the best revenge. We have no reason to hold each other back from realizing what works for us all individually; we’re adults with individual, though parallel, tracks through life. Trust can be the scariest thing in the world, but trusting and following what we feel is right is what makes us feel alive in the end.

Somnolescent and Technology

We live in the single greatest time there’s ever been on Earth, a time of great knowledge and light speed communication across the world. We can live as simply as we want to, able to grow plants, develop tools, tinker and upgrade complex systems, and build anew as we need—and do it while chatting with friends as far as 4,800 miles away.

All technology coexists. The advent of the DVD did not make tapes or LaserDiscs stop working. They still hold movies and TV shows. If someone doesn’t care about video quality, a VHS and a Blu-ray are fundamentally interchangeable. In a lot of cases, the downsides add to the experience. The horror movie community considers the hazy, unfocused look of VHS appealing for a grittier, scarier feel. We’re much the same way.

Gopher for your files!

We reject great change as a way forward. Our technology complements who we have always been—humans.

The humanity in technology comes from what we use it for and what we put into it. The memories spent with specific hardware, MP3 players and cameras and computers. In packaging, these are just plastic and circuit boards. In our hands, we project what we do and feel onto them. Our computers become extensions of ourselves, lived-in spaces we set up exactly as we like, and they evoke good times and good feelings every time we see them.

You likely have a combination camera-music player-video player-game console-web browser-phone handheld computer with infinite storage beside you right now. It’s perfect—and it means nothing. It is a dedicated distraction device. It’s built to steal your attention with pellets of food and “personalization”. You will likely dump it in two years, leaving behind a device capable of simulating vast worlds like was unthinkable 100 years ago. It’s two years old, after all.

Somnolescent rejects this. Somnolescent means doing something the less “convenient” way, pulling out stacks of CDs or magazines and pouring over every booklet, page, and song within, because it satisfies our touchy, grabby, tactile hands more. Somnolescent means we keep it working for us as we need it, until it simply can’t. Somnolescent means not leaving behind friends because we have more exciting friends.

Technology needs to be human to matter. If we’re imperfect, limited yet lovable, technology should be equally as imperfect, limited, and lovable. There is no humanity to be achieved in technical perfection. There is all the humanity to be achieved in a carefully crafted graphic on a hand-built HTML page.

Somnolescent and the Future

Somnolians do not come from glorious beginnings. We’ve struggled like anyone else has. Our goal is to define ourselves based on our approach to that struggle, not that the struggle’s taken place. We all have a sob story, but not everyone handles that and comes out stronger for it. A Somnolian does.

For creation’s sake, it comes when there’s fun to be had. For one another, we’re here as support—not necessarily just nice words (though certainly lots of those), but as a second opinion, as assistance when things aren’t working out, and as a guaranteed friend group to regroup in, even when the world is shaky and mistakes get made. Ideally, one day, we’ll be able to create together in person.

Somnolian heads

The effort we put into one another and our group is why not just anyone becomes a Somnolian. Our dynamic is that of old, longtime friends, and we don’t especially have the greatest social tolerance at times, so privacy is key to us. We do like talking to new people, however; the Somnolescent Outposts are open to whomever wants to check in on us (preferably for positive ends, ahem).

Even as we move into new phases of our lives, the core of our beings stay the same. We like things simple, reliable, charming, old-fashioned, and fun. In this hectic world where we’re expected to roll with the changes and “right” is never an easy answer, that’s exactly what a group of doofy old heart young adults like us need.

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About bulb

Group posts, recaps, and things we all contributed to. Hopefully, our hum-to-English translation is intelligible enough.


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