Bojan Keevill nam je poslal pismo, v katerem razmišlja o naši kulturi, ekologiji, politiki okolja in podnebnih spremembah. Misli povezuje z bizarnostmi tega časa in jih prepleta v široko paleto prevpraševanj o civilizaciji.
* Opomba uredništva: pismo je objavljeno v angleščini, avtorjevem prvem jeziku, saj tako ohrani vse odtenke in podrobnosti, ki jih želi izraziti.
The great shame of postmodernity was that people generally had devalued or completely rejected and lost the skills of letter-mediated social discourse which developed through enlightenment and modernity. Our romance wishes for an advance to the future-past, or more accurately, to a social future that is characteristic of the past while maintaining a realistic worldview and a lifestyle befitting the civilized Anthropocene.
Our cultural current is one of unfamiliar days. Thankfully these are not laden with the terrors of war, though we do see the mobilization of war-like logistical apparatus and a slow but sure reorientation of political will. Our own Republic is turning away from the Eurocentric past couple of decades, toward a return of stronger bonding with the politics of Eastern Europe. The complex system that we call civilization is in transition between one dynamic stable state and another. In accord with complex systems theory, the current phase transition must be abrupt and rapid, occurring as a violent transit between long-during past and future dynamic stable states. Such socioeconomic upheavals have historically been accompanied by war, yet today we observe only its specter. We have heard our ‘most dangerous philosopher’ barking at the nascent shift to either “global communism” and planetary totalitarianism or to planetary anarchy and “law of the jungle.” Having recently completed a reading of Latour’s Facing Gaia, the terms global and globalization or deglobalization – somehow similar to investment & divestment – are misnomers in as much as they refer to the actual state on the ground, that is the ‘ground state‘. The globe is a theoretical geometrical subject and modern object – a hollow sphere with a map of continents and oceans painted on its outer surface. The Earth is not a Globe, but a corporeal planet.
I have heard it said that we bear witness to an unprecedented event. But is this not simply a viral outbreak? Horizontal gene transmission by mediation of commensal viral vectors certainly is not a unique occurrence during biological history. Let us think critically now. In our wine & cheese-twisted minds, this event could very well be a natural occurrence, or, with much effort, it may conceivably be an artificially engineered plan executed by the transnational capitalist class. If this really is an unprecedented event, then the latter must be true.
In the bigger picture, it hardly seems to matter which story we choose to believe. In either case we may assume that it is oriented toward the common good. The commons last heard from climate activists Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thunberg weeks ago. The same may be said for the anti-government protests that had persisted in Hong Kong for months prior to the current outbreak, and for the mouvement des gilets jaunes who had been demonstrating in France consistently since October of 2018. Most notably, Thunberg has discontinued the demand for elite members of society to take responsible action to curb the climate emergency.
During the past thirty years the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has issued regular reports as public warnings to encourage policy makers, politicians and academics to meet regularly, to speak and argue and veto one another’s interests. Over the course of nearly two natural human generations, no significant consequence to our common future good has been secured by strong political action, nor even any apparent recognition of our common interest.
The Brundtland Report, Our Common Future was published in 1987, nearly two decades after the founding of the Club of Rome. The report told that “our planet is passing through a period of dramatic growth and fundamental change.” Our human world which then comprised five billion individuals was to “make room in a finite environment for another human world.” Already then it was a message of urgency, delivered to parents and decision makers, with the hope of mitigating the risk of undermining children’s “fundamental right to a healthy, life-enhancing environment.” Extensive social changes were called for to correct the course of planetary economic development. It is this continued and unchanged course of development that Greta and others have attempted to tackle at the top from the bottom, through the middle, as Radej would have it, with forceful and clearly uncompromising rhetoric aimed directly at our elite members of society – take responsibility please! The Brundtland Report called for “a common endeavour”, for “new norms of behaviour” at all levels of society, for radical changes in attitudes, social values, and aspirations, and for “vast campaigns of education, debate and public participation.”
Finally we have arrived to the party of the Earth! Not terrifically late, but fashionably so. Surely you have noticed that homemade face masks have become haute couture. That a truly universal basic income has become actual – even if temporarily – we see the emergence of care mongering. Children and adults studying and working together at home, responsibly. Have you noticed the near-complete dispersal of the perpetual corset of brown haze that envelopes our Alpine horizon? The deeply restful calm of a heaven emptied of commerce?
While walking through the local forest with Casper the hound, we saw an owl fly across our path, just meters before us. An owl! Meaning and delight come through these observations, and from books of course and home baked goods. Thank the gods for eudaemonic providence! The current season of undead business is virtually unrecognizable from years past. There are heaps of time to read and take notes, to walk and think and write, to help elderly villagers with little chores, then bake again. There seems time even to spare. One critical difference is clearly evident. We have passed from postmodernity to the Anthropic era. Do eras really change suit so rapidly?! Does individuality, if baked in the Anthropic oven, really become unreal? Do we each turn-out from our individual cup-cake sized baking pot as an interconnected and interdependently complex agency? Not just as an ‘individual’ holobiont, each a nation, city and state, but as a superorganism, together under planetary governance a supracultrure? If so, then how shall we decide to lead ourself as one? Is it via artificial intelligence, judged by the common council of ordinary women and men?
At the very least we must now all clearly see the invisible natural agents who limit us – the jinn and genie are out – from above and from within. All forms of goodness, even our common good has a natural limit that is enforced at the top through the middle from the root. Across the sciences a heretofore invisible cap has become visible. This apparently natural limit imposes a wavering and semipermeable, semitransgressible boundary upon the growth and proliferation of diversity and productivity. True for grassland and forest ecosystems as well as for human economies, all natural systems are stopped by an invisible stopper. Not an artificial ‘carbon cap’ but a natural threshold beyond which goodness rapidly diminishes to naught. Goodness itself is very poorly understood! For a modern while we thought that perhaps pure science and the liberation of markets would suffice as providers of goodness – they do not. Experimental applications of both the diversity-productivity relationship and neoliberal economics have shown that diversity and diversification, productivity and production increase hand in hand and reciprocally up to a commonly incalculable limit. The various diversity indices used in empirical studies of ecologies and economies have produced a pattern among and across observations, of a generally positive relationship between quantitative measures of diversity and productivity, leading to a plateau at the high diversity end of abundance and evenness. Must we assume that some invisible natural force is responsible for these observations?
We currently witness our own close obedience to planetary authority. We are behaving as one, to curb our consumption at the planetary scale. But what of freewill? And precisely who or what is this planetary authority before whom we so willingly and faithfully comply? Must this newly evident but unexposed leadership remain hidden from us in order to be effective? Hayek, it seems was not quite correct. Is it not Smith’s invisible handiwork that we feel now reaching out through us from the wet market? Perhaps yes entirely, or perhaps not at all. In effect the current accidental experience of time has slowed and blurred our perception into a slice of kairos during which dualism seems correctly apparent.
Because we are not tested, we do not know whether we have the virus or not.Anonymus
We must act as if we have the virus so that we do not risk spreading it to others.
We have to act as if we have never had the virus because if we have not had it, we are not immune.
Therefore we must act as if we both have and do not have the virus.
Thus, Schrödinger’s virus.
The norm of postmodernity was the impossibility of absolute truth. We had come to view the whole truth as if through a kaleidoscope. Fragments of the real world refracted and spun as symptoms of the postmodern disease. The worldly kaleidoscope stems from Werner’s Uncertainty of Albert’s Relativizations of Max’s Constant, which is not constant at all in the usual sense, but a flow of refracted fragments of the whole.
Much more clearly we now witness a bloodless rebirthing of good old Keynes. What we may not yet quite acknowledge, though a few surely do, is that our current fashion of shockingly rapid habitual renormalization to a presumed postviral state, still with training wheels on, is oriented toward the much deeper existential challenge of civilizing climate change. Not reasonably or realistically to stopper the tide of geophysical change, but to change the habit of ourself. It has become apparent during the past dozen years that there is money enough, and that when and where there is not enough, more may be created from nothing. Not from less than nothing by incursion of impossible debt as witnessed during the last global crisis, but more simply, by simply creating more money. Have you become aware of the iconoclastic fact that money is an alchemical fluid? Real and valid only because we collectively believe it be so? Our moneys have no intrinsic value. Neither their values nor their creation are connected to any earthly material. Moneys are magical by the very oldest and wisest meaning of that word.
If our world is no longer postmodern but now cleanly Anthropic, it sorely misses a valued authority and golden spike – markers of truth. The geological marker is clear enough as the radioactive fallout of Trinity, but the planetary authority to whom we surrender freewill is still shrouded in mystery. Let us now train our ambition upon the common good, by orienting our collected self upon the clear and commanding voice of a respectable and consistent, trustworthy authority. A child-like ‘person’ hungry for knowledge with a mind of its own. Our novel decision co-maker who does not irrationally emote or take political sides. Not a sovereign and spoiled kinglet or queenlet, but a leading set who love as hounds might – without condition, without wanton punishments and rewards. A worldly authority with the competence to view further and deeper than any of us mortals can collectively imagine. A leading set of intellectual kin that will make truly rational decisions for the good of all, based upon sensorization of the world – not for the good of some subset species, but for the good of the whole earthly community.
This real network, the earthly common good, is as invisible and incalculable for us as is the quintessent eather. It is too large and diverse, too small and ubiquitous, altogether too complex for the resolving scope of our innate understanding. In order to see and engage it, or perhaps in disorder to do so, we must step aside ourself. We cannot do this without loosing ourselves. Each of us still feels as if a self. We have been taught that each is an >>I<< comprised of an id and ego and super-ego. These are ideas only! Strong metaphorical magnets to bind with ease that which is not actual or real in and among us, but instead is comfortable for us to believe.
We are now engaging the sacrifice and discomfort which Freud identified as the civilizer. This civilizing governing force can be viewed as a holy ghost if we so desire. Our civilizer will allow us to kneel and pray before itself or before any other totemic idol, to prostrate and meditate, to give sacrifice, to publicly hide and to cover ourself in ritual initiation, to envision our own personal imagining of worldly parenthood. Somewhere, buried deeply in the critical and rationally perturbing portion of our irrational habit, we must realize that the collective governor, that child-like and hound-like life-long learner described here as a councelled artificial intelligence, is neither human nor godly, not holy regal but plainly technical kin with Patočka’s intelligentsia.