Broken Worlds

Don’t take this wrong, but will at the end of this week all this ‘direct action’ change the world, or only bolster the positive feedback between a few humans across the planet that we at least tried to do something (“Look at us, we tried to wake you up! etc.”)? What I fear is that the truth is that nothing will be done to stem the tide, that in the end it will be like those Burning Man festivals that mark a high point in peoples nostalgia for something indefinable, but once the party is over all that is left in its wake is just a wasteland of deserted dunes where the trash-bins of history keep nothing but the silence…

Maybe I am too pessimistic, but having lived through such things before and listened to climate activism for sixty years I tend to think we are doomed to lethargy and decay, that humans want other humans to do something rather than be bothered to do it themselves. People will buy into something for a few days, weeks, months but in the end will go back to their failed lives like the passive and disturbed creatures they are… at least till the next best thing once again lights them up. But as we both know this is just a game of narcissistic lament rather than a sustained revolution against the order of stupidity on our planet.

What we need is a harsh and bleak accident (Virilio) to disturb our sleep, to awaken us permanently from our lethargic nightmare. We live in denial of reality, drifting in the illusions of all our sundry cognitive biases. Even if we feel that nudge in the carcass of our thought that speaks to us of death we will cover it over in some urgent scheme of radical denial. We cannot bare to much truth, we would rather accept our lies, our fictions.  Striping our minds of the deliriums of our desires we slip into the cage of indefinable nostalgia for the pristine, the pure. In the end it is like the universe itself a decaying and fragmented display of a mindless process that for all its grandeur will end in nothingness, its fractured lights all going out one by one till all that is left is an eternal darkness and cold infinity of zero.

6 thoughts on “Broken Worlds

  1. What I fear is that the truth is that nothing will be done to stem the tide…

    I assume it’s safe to say the protestors share your fear? Alongside the scattering of egotistical motivations, I suspect it actually comes down to part of the deal of having decided to live, even though death theoretically renders it all pointless. Once you’ve decided to live in the face of death, why not protest in the face of political-cultural intransigence? Even death is an unknown – nihilists refuse this unknown as much as theists. How much more so political hegemony, historically subject to occasionally rapid phase transitions?

    When it comes to the majority not out on the streets, though, you’re probably right about the bleak accident.

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    • Oh, sure, like everyone else I’m voicing only what I see rather than what is outside my own focused lens. I think we all have our own lens onto the fractal state of our times, which is as it should be. And, yes, I speak to the mass mind of the illiterate and non-reading public at large who are infiltrated by mass-media and second rate propaganda (i.e., the ideology of our era’s mind-set, etc.). When I speak of accident it is more in the line of Paul Virilio’s concept… in his book the Original Accident he called for the creation of a Museum of the Accident to fight our habituation to horror and violence, and our daily overexposure to terror, in the name, not of some preventive war, but of a preventive intelligence that would help us deal with both natural and artificial disasters. More of a Dadaist notion that any real working praxis, but even for him it was about waking people up from their ideological sleep.


      • Thanks, didn’t know the Virilio museum idea.

        Tangential Dada connection, apparently it would have been Tzara’s 123rd birthday today. Came across this quote from him I didn’t know: ‘Dada is not modern at all, it is rather a return to a quasi-Buddhist religion of indifference. Dada puts an artificial sweetness onto things, a snow of butterflies coming out of a conjurer’s skull.’

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  2. I think the question we need to ask ourselves is this historical moment is ‘have social movements worked before’? If we search the archives we can learn about the very real grassroots struggles that propelled the Indian independence movement, the U.S civil rights movement, the breaking of South African apartheid, and various other well known social revolutions in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Here the answer to the question of feasibility is YES, social movements have changed the institutional structure of societies before.

    It is light of the lessons and successes of these movements that many of us now feel inspired and compelled to participate in civil disobedience. And having to listen to arm-chair analysts and pontificators about the fate of this movement only amplifies our determination. The time for wordy bourgeois intellectual expression and ego-masturbations is very much over.

    Will the ecological protection movement work in the long run? I have no idea – but it’s not looking good at this point. But that doesn’t mean we give up trying to spark a full-scale revolution. To remain passive and sit idle in the groves of habitual consumerist life is to delegitimize any claim we might have social conscientiousness and self-responsibility. If people can’t find it in them to participate I’m not sure what else could happen in the collective register for us to “awaken” us from the nightmare of globalization and consumerist production? Do the white-male overlords need to have their tee-times disrupted, or their flights downgraded to business class for shit to really hit the fan?

    Also, i’m not at all convinced it is about us waking up. It might be more about making our systems tolerable enough for enough people that humans can just be lazy and indifferent in new ways. Raising the level of cognitive development of the vast majority of people fast enough seems improbable.

    HICKMAN: But in some ways we need to accelerate a form of decadence, to undermine the whole edifice of the Neoliberal order which is the fruit of a false vision of Enlightenment propaganda. So in that sense decadence, as Nietzsche thought as well will produce the last man – which is not to say the end of humanity, but rather the last man of the present world order of a culture of death. After that we need more creative and inventive minds to pull the threads of the chaotic order that is emerging from these ruins of capitalism, invest our energies in imaginative reconstruction of desire – of what we truly want in a humane society and civilization.

    As I look at the extremes like Land and Zizek etc. I do not condone either of them, and yet they represent a certain limit of thought that we must confront with more imaginative appraisals and artistic excellence. Art as ‘action’ – back to the streets… there is more in street arts than in the whole edifice of academic scholarship at the present moment. Street graffiti and art performance awakens us to the music underlying this change that needs more fuel…
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    JAMES: I think we need to accelerate™ some aspects and decelerate others. Undermining neoliberal orders will require struggles on many fronts: discursive flows/formations, technics, new or restored political praxis, cognition, habits, laws, etc. Accelerating certain processes might help to exasperate particular systems, but it might intensify even worse aspects or tendencies that completely dampens our ability to adjust. The ‘accelerationist wager’ risks enhancing and mutating and then bolstering the very systems we wish to exit.

    The “last man” of the present world order could mean negative extinction (discontinuity) or positive mutation (continuity), but without pushback in the right ways – ways that make room for a collective, mutually inscribing and enhancing movement and collaboration of bodies – we leave it up to to capitalists to decide which it will be.

    We need, as you have said, “Art as ‘action’ – back to the streets… there is more in street arts than in the whole edifice of academic scholarship at the present moment. Street graffiti and art performance awakens us to the music underlying this change that needs more fuel…”

    We need more carnivals of mutant possibilities. Spaces of deterritorialized encounters. Definitive breaks in the edifice of programmed normalcy. We need a deep libidinal revolution that matches consumerist sufficiency and fancy with erotic and kinetic rejuvenation.

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