Radical Tenderness

Co-sensing With Radical Tenderness Deck of Cards

Co-sensing with Radical Tenderness is a collaborative text written by Dani d’Emilia and Vanessa Andreotti, based on the work of the collective Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures, of which we are a part. Initially called ‘An Invitation to Radical Tenderness’, this latest version was edited in 2021.
Radical Tenderness is a term Dani first encountered whilst working as part of the transnational performance collective La Pocha Nostra (2009-2016). Since then, Dani has been researching its modulations and mo(ve)ments in different art-life realms.
The work of Caro Novella with Quimera Rosa collective introduced Dani to an important contrast between consenting and cosensing that enlarges the field of intimacies beyond human interactions, which resonates with Indigenous ancestral teachings at the core of the “Teia das 5 Curas” Indigenous network, whose practices inspire our text.
Our use of the term co-sense refers to a movement of decolonization that involves various invitations, including dethroning the ego, decluttering affective landscapes, and disinvesting from colonial entitlements and from violent and unsustainable systems.
In the work of the GTDF collective, we co-sense with Radical Tenderness in order to invite a political practice of healing and wellbeing grounded on metabolic entanglement: the fact that we are part of the living metabolism of the planet. As a nascent practice, radical tenderness attempts to move us away from the usual politics that is encouraged and rewarded within modernity/coloniality towards more maturity, sobriety, and accountability through decentering and disarming the ego, decluttering existence,  developing layered discernment and gradually disinvesting from modern/colonial harmful desires.
The modern/colonial politics that we are all  socialized into operates through economies of virtue and shame that are only activated with a particular political grammar that is normalized/naturalized within modernity/coloniality. This political grammar speaks through vocabularies of
  • human exceptionalisms and protagonistic agency
  • transactional and enmeshed forms of relationality and projective empathy
  • un-self-reflexive and self-serving notions of empowerment and emancipation
  • the expansion of (colonial) entitlements, and
  • the exaltation of egos and ego-logical desires
This grammar conditions our attachments to certainty, control, comfort, convenience, consumption, and (mono-layered/ mono-logical) coherence.
Modern/colonial politics can be very useful in modern/colonial contexts as it can mobilize recognition, representation and redistribution within modernity/coloniality, and alleviate the effects of violence for marginalized groups. However, modern/colonial politics is also used by groups who want to protect their privileges and status within modernity/coloniality, in competition with marginalized groups. This modern/colonial politics cannot interrupt the inherent violence and unsustainability of modernity/coloniality or deal with the challenges that intensify with modernity/coloniality’s decline.
Radical tenderness is an invitation for us to learn to hospice modernity/coloniality dying within and around us, and to be taught by these deaths. Through learning from the gifts, harms and limits of the modern/colonial politics, radical tenderness also invites us to assist with the birth of a grammar of politics OTHERWISE, without suffocating the newborn with blankets of projections and idealizations.
The cards are divided into 5 suites, each suite evokes a disposition (stamina, entanglement, unknowability, resilience, discernment, layering) and is represented mostly by non-human elements such as light,  mist, shadow, thorns, water, trunks, entangled roots, and uneven landscapes.
Each card offers an invitation.

You can order a deck here.


Co-sense with RADICAL TENDERNESS and …

[discernment suite]

  1. Dance beyond the loop of identification and dis-identification, beyond what you like and what  you don’t like.
  2. Offer the gifts of your failures. We all mess up, we all cry. 
  3. Don’t cast upon everything a blanket of interpretation, silence the noises in your mind.
  4. Renounce unrestricted autonomy and the obsession with form. Find stability in the rhythm beneath the movement.
  5. Make room for new forms of co-existence to encounter you.
  6. Interrupt desires for protagonism, futurity, and legacy.
  7. Stop trying to shape reality according to narcissistic desires for pleasure, comfort and convenience.
  8. Disarm, declutter, and decenter yourself.
  9. Relinquish fantasies of comprehension, consensus and control.
  10. Let go of possessions, of possessiveness. 
  11. Interrupt the consumption of knowledge, experiences, and relationships.

Co-sense with RADICAL TENDERNESS and …

[unknowability suite]

  1. Make space for the unknown and the unknowable, in ourselves and in others.
  2. Seek sense-fullness rather than meaningfulness. Don’t hold “being” hostage to “knowing”
  3. Allow your state of wonder to stay open, without always trapping it into meaning.
  4. Stop fearing fear, uncertainty and emptiness.
  5. Experience dis-illusionment and dis-solution. Surrender without collapsing.
  6. Engage with creativity beyond the intellect.
  7. Follow non-normative and non-linear time.
  8. Relate beyond desires for coherence, purity and perfection. 
  9. Forget being either or, be both and more and moving.
  10. Be open to what you can’t and may never understand.
  11. Invoke and evoke a political practice of healing that is beyond what human intelligence can fathom

Co-sense with RADICAL TENDERNESS and …

[resilience suite]

  1. Be receptive to the teachings of your shadows.
  2. Mourn your illusions, compost your shit, ferment yourself.
  3. Learn from repeated mistakes (both your and other people’s). Make only new mistakes in the future.
  4. Take notice of all the skins and places we inhabit, the bones and lands that bear our weight.
  5. Look into the mirror and release the fear of disappointment, disgust, rejection and abandonment.
  6. Face your complicity in the harm and violence that sustain your comforts. Disinvest from arrogance, superiority, and status.
  7. Let go of the fear of ‘being less’, the pressure for ‘being more’ and the need for validation.
  8. Look at painful and difficult things with the love of really wanting to see.
  9. Allow your body to feel the pain of and in the Earth without feeling overwhelmed.
  10. Tune in, rather than empathize with. There’s a difference. 
  11. Notice how you move between your comfort, stretch and panic zones.

Co-sense with RADICAL TENDERNESS and …

[entanglement suite]

  1. Dissolve the limits and weight of your body, allowing others to move through, with and for you. 
  2. Discover the whole of humanity, different creatures and multiple universes inside yourself.
  3. Deactivate your expectations for belonging and focus on unlearning the logic of separability.
  4. Recover exiled capacities, expand sensibilities and dis-immunize intimacies.
  5. Listen to non-human authorities, and honour our responsibilities towards them.
  6. Understand that the earth is not an extension of our bodies, it’s the other way around. 
  7. Witness ‘being ‘in several layers:  me and you, me in you, us in ‘neither me nor you’.
  8. Integrate with a wider metabolism, with a much longer temporality than your human body.
  9. Tune in with the collective body, both human and non-human. Feel your entanglement with everything, including the ugly, the broken and the fucked up.
  10. Allow yourself to be guided by a metabolic intelligence. Enable neurogenesis and learn to breathe and be water. 
  11. Notice the ways in which our thoughts and emotions are biophysical processes.

Co-sense with RADICAL TENDERNESS and….

[stamina suite]

  1. Turn the heart into a verb: corazonar, senti-pensar.
  2. Collectivize your heart so that it breaks open and not apart. 
  3. Tend the wounds created when the skin holding one body stretches and tears in order to receive and be refigured by another. 
  4. Condition your intellectual, political and affective muscles for facing storms and running marathons in tortuous terrains. 
  5. Offer palliative care to the dystopic world that is dying, both within and around us. Be receptive to the teachings that these deaths offer.
  6. Increase care in proportion to risk. Do it with humility, humor, generosity and reverence.
  7. Activate the sense of hearing in all parts of your body, so that through listening we can witness and heal each other.
  8. Listen to unspoken wisdoms. Nurture intrinsic, rather than productive value.
  9. Remember that our medicines are both indispensable and insufficient. 
  10. Assist with the birth of something new, without suffocating what is being born with projections and idealizations.
  11. Embrace yourself as both cute and pathetic, be courageously vulnerable.

Card Reading Suggestions:

Choose 3 suites (water, roots, cacti, bridge, sunlight)
Draw a card from each suite.
Possible guiding questions:
  • What is the relationship between the cards?
  • Do you feel any resistance to what the cards are asking from you? Where could this resistance be coming from?
  • What systemic problem is each card responding to?
  • How do these systemic issues manifest in your daily life?
  • How do they affect the quality of your relationships?
  • How difficult are the invitations of the cards? What are the invitations trying to move you to do?
  • Can you think of any context/situation where these invitations would not be the most appropriate?
  • Is there any memory you associate with what the cards are presenting to you?
If you do the reading with another person or a group, you can use the invitation to depth conversations available here. In this case, your collaborative reading needs to avoid  virtue-signalling, competitions for moral high grounds, offering advice, or rescuing each other from discomfort. Set the collective intention to extending our collective capacity to stay with the complexities, the trouble and the storm. 
You can turn this into a weekly practice. Here are some questions that can assist with that:
What has been difficult to learn/unlearn?
What is becoming easier?
What have you been taught so far?
Check your bus. Are there any passengers who need a container?
Are there any passengers who are not happy but who are not ready to show themselves?
What do you need to let go of in order to go deeper in this practice?
We are grateful for the Musagetes Foundation for the support offered in the production of this deck of cards.

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