Words & Visuals

Ruben Spini

A piece on consultancy as divination, neurodiverse agency and cloud computing research.
"Like St. Andrew's manna in the hollow of the ampulla, destiny is formed in the void by virtue of the same complementary laws that preside over the birth of a poetry: abstention and accumulation. The world that will have to take shape in that cavity is not ours." (Cristina Campo)

   The elective element of my disorder is mercury.

   This analogy has condensed into an Italian saying, typically whispered between adults tired of a hyperactive child: “He has quicksilver on him!”. For he is incomprehensible and elusive, like the drops of mercury escaped from a thermometer and now sliding across the floor tiles. But the elusiveness of a mercury droplet, as well as the convex shape it takes in the thermometer channel, depending on one of its intrinsic properties, called capillarity repulsion. The tighter its container gets, the lower the mercury goes—the exact opposite of water, which I still see climbing the thin capillary tubes of memory during a middle school science lesson.

   Similarly, mercurial intelligence suffers if forced into a limited area, while it expresses itself brightly in the open field. 18Πρόνοιαν τίμα
Value divine forethought

   I landed a month ago in Greece for an art residency. 10Καιρὸν γνῶθι
Recognize a critical moment
Due to a syzygy of pandemic, economical and personal factors, I could not leave the airport or return home. I chose to wait for my return flight, forwarding the allowance of the residency to rent a room on the sixth floor of the hotel inside the Athens airport, where I have spent 27 days to date. 43Πᾶσιν ἁρμόζου
Adapt to all things

   It is because of capillarity repulsion that I must actively protect the nomadism of my thoughts in this limited hotel room, draining my days here through free, empty hours, 39Χρόνου φείδου
Save time
and the solitary stroke of a few useful rituals. Among these, the most important one is certainly a long recollection in the opaline, and large enough vessel, which is the bathtub.

   There I spend the second half of every afternoon, answering calls. 45Ἔχων χαρίζου
If you have, give


Over the past four weeks, my afternoon bath has encoded itself autonomously in a cryptic ritual, 108Ἄρρητον κρύπτε
secret what should be secret
faithful and functional 103Βουλεύου χρόνῳ
Give timely counsel
as the very best algorithm.

   First of all, I take my clothes off before entering the bathroom. Then I wash myself twice from the forehead to the arches of my feet, I loosen my hair, which is now very long and I always tie back, except for those two daily phases of prophetic activity: bathing and sleeping. As I rinse my hair, with my head tilted under the water, those shiny helical curls fill my field of vision, and I find them equal to the copper conductors hidden in the core of electric cables. Designed to transmit everything from annunciations to S.O.S., but prone to short circuit. Poor insulation and no grounding whatsoever. 77Τύχην στέργε
Embrace your fate

   The synthesis of some personal mythology of mine is perhaps the first poetic exercise that allowed me, as a child, to claim an identity 13Ἑστίαν τίμα
Honour the hearth
that would not compromise my neurodivergence. 33Ἴδια φύλαττε
Guard what is yours
I used to repeat it at school, when I did not feel interested in a lesson, or involved in some game, or reciprocated in my affection. 12Ξένος ὢν ἴσθι
Know when you are an outsider
At that time I recognized it was not enough to follow the clouds with my eyes, and I imagined myself leaving the window behind, simulating Icarus’ flight higher and higher in the atmosphere. 102Ὀφθαλμοῦ κράτει
Control your eye
Covering myself with frost by crossing the nembi or liquefying myself, gone lost in the water cycle. 11Φρόνει θνητά
Think mortal thoughts

   As the tub fills up, and the room with its steam, I observe my face, 125Ἀπόντι μὴ μάχου
Do not fight an absent foe
practising a dissociation similar to the one that kidnapped me at school. It happens in parallel to the replacement, in the mirror, of my doppelgänger by a blurry halo. What I feel then is similar to Cotard’s syndrome: the illusory belief that I no longer have organs or blood, that I am petrified, a peaceful living dead; 134Ἐπὶ νεκρῷ μὴ γέλα
Do not make fun of the dead
after exhaling this very last breath I turn my back on me, and I tiptoe to the bathroom door, closing it completely after turning off the light. In complete darkness, I return to the bathtub and soak in, feeling nothing but tepor, and my eupnea between the rivulets of water.

   When my eyes get used to the darkness, a singular harmony is formed between my pupils, black holes’ little sisters, and the dark void of vapour around me. 91Ὁμίλει πρᾴως
Have kind interactions
As I do in drowsiness, I find myself under a night sky, with its own meteorology, where clouds and phosphenes move together. 35Ἄκουε πάντα
Listen to everything
Here the future is a spectre of thought, and we share our secrets silently, through ascents and glides.


In the bathtub, I adopt the same dark cockpit philosophy behind the last few decades of aircraft design: as long as the ceremonial darkness around the pilot is not broken by some warning light, there must be no anomalies, and the flight proceeds well. When a client calls me, the vacuum I am floating in gets briefly lit by the screen.
   But today is the last day of my stay here, and I reject every call I receive. 49Ὅσια κρῖνε
Choose what is holy

   Consultancy has always relied on two specular types of neurodiverse expertise. 57Τέχνῃ χρῶ
Make use of expertise
The first one is based on details, and weaponizes monomanias, systematizing through a bottom-up analysis a high amount of information. The ADHD tradition131Προγόνους στεφάνου
Honor your ancestors
is instead oriented to Gestalt thinking, and made of Pindaric flights. It’s close to a form of divination, called hyperfocus in the scientific literature. As such, the intuition that orients my thoughts is not a concept, but a sensitivity. It may come in a flash but takes work to develop in a confidential relationship. 21Παιδείας ἀντέχου
Hold on to your learning

   As I turn the light on, condensation starts flowing in small droplets from every last surface, including my skin. 147Τελευτῶν ἄλυπος
At your end be without sorrow

   “They weep here / For how the world goes, and our life that passes \ Touches their hearts.”


7 Ἀκούσας νόει
 Listen and understand
10 Καιρὸν γνῶθι Recognize a critical moment
11 Φρόνει θνητά Think mortal thoughts
12 Ξένος ὢν ἴσθι Know when you are an outsider
13 Ἑστίαν τίμα Honour the hearth
18 Πρόνοιαν τίμα
 Value divine forethought
21 Παιδείας ἀντέχου
 Hold on to your learning
33 Ἴδια φύλαττε
 Guard what is yours
35 Ἄκουε πάντα
 Listen to everything
39 Χρόνου φείδου Save time
43 Πᾶσιν ἁρμόζου Adapt to all things
45 Ἔχων χαρίζου If you have, give
49 Ὅσια κρῖνε
 Choose what is holy
57 Τέχνῃ χρῶ
 Make use of expertise
77 Τύχην στέργε Embrace your fate
91 Ὁμίλει πρᾴως
 Have kind interactions
94 Υἱοῖς μὴ καταρῶ
 Don’t doom your descendants
102 Ὀφθαλμοῦ κράτει Control your eye
103 Βουλεύου χρόνῳ Give timely counsel
108 Ἄρρητον κρύπτε
 Keep secret what should be secret
125 Ἀπόντι μὴ μάχου
 Do not fight an absent foe
131 Προγόνους στεφάνου Honor your ancestors
134 Ἐπὶ νεκρῷ μὴ γέλα
 Do not make fun of the dead
147 Τελευτῶν ἄλυπος At your end be without sorrow