Krinomai By artist Koen Vanmechelen

Krinomai By artist Koen Vanmechelen


The word crisis derives from krinomai, an ancient Greek word with meanings such as separating and sorting, but also distinguishing and deciding. A crisis creates a moment of truth and a possible wormhole to the future, to another future. Today, however, we are only acquainted with the negative connotation of this word. And that is unfortunate since a crisis can be so much more than a disaster.

I consider what we call a crisis today a consequence, a culmination, the eventual outbreak of a much larger crisis that was initiated long before. The problem is that we do not experience the onset of an upcoming disaster as a problem. During its silent birth, we thoughtlessly experience the most pleasurable of times, and in that casual act itself, the resulting problems develop. We live, confident about the makeable future and our confirmation bias blinds us.

However, many old stories remind us that when measuring ourselves against the forces of nature, we, humanity, are doomed to be defeated. Consider the hubris of Icarus, son of Daedalus, the man with the wings of feathers and wax. He flew too close to the sun, which caused his ‚arms‘ to melt, so he tumbled down and drowned in the sea. The haughtiness of owning a celestial body meant his demise.

One could say that the crisis in this legend is not the fall of Icarus, but is essentially the preparation for his flight, and the act of flying. In this view, it would be wise to look at what history is teaching us and to carefully listen to the predictive narratives and memes which past millennia have bequeathed us. It could provide culture and science a new platform on which their fusion is seen not only as an entertaining feature of museums and art galleries but as a meaningful fusion for unraveling complex issues that can help us in the future.

A real tool that measures the crisis in times of abundance so that the word crisis once again regains its full meaning. Then we could be pro-active in dealing with emerging problems and intervene in time, to avoid a catastrophe and make fitting decisions.


Koen Vanmechelen, Photo by Mine Dalemans