recentpopularlog in

robertogreco : frontier   5

The Last of the Monsters with Iron Teeth | Carcinisation
"In all species, the play of the young is practice for the essential survival tasks of the adults. Human children play at many things, but the most important is the play of culture. Out of sight of adults, children learn and practice the rhymes, rituals, and institutions of their own culture, distinct from that of adults.

The Western child today is mostly kept inside his own home, associating with other children only in highly structured, adult-supervised settings such as school and sports teams. It was not always so. Throughout history, bands of children gathered and roamed city streets and countrysides, forming their own societies each with its own customs, legal rules and procedures, parodies, politics, beliefs, and art. With their rhymes, songs, and symbols, they created and elaborated the meaning of their local landscape and culture, practicing for the adult work of the same nature. We are left with only remnants and echoes of a once-magnificent network of children’s cultures, capable of impressive feats of coordination.

Iona and Peter Opie conducted an immense study of the children’s cultures of the British Isles. The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren (1959) is comparable in richness to Walter Evans-Wenz’ The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries (1911) on the fairy faiths, or to Alan Lomax’ collections of American and European folk music.

These children of the recent past observed what the Opies call a “code of oral legislation” – cultural institutions for testing truthfulness, swearing affirmation, making bets and bargains, and determining the ownership of property – the adult legal code in miniature. These codes universally included a subject absent from adult law, however – that of asking for respite, what we recognize as “calling time out,” and what today’s children reportedly call “pause,” a usage imported from video games.

They had call-and-response shibboleths and rhymes about Mickey Mouse and Shirley Temple, but they also performed the rites of a calendar full of ancient meaning. In the northern countryside, they wore oak apples or oak leaves in their buttonholes on May 29 to commemorate the escape of Charles II – on pain of being whipped with nettles by other children. In the south, however, the children spent October preparing bonfires and making elaborate “guys” – effigies for burning on Guy Fawkes Day.

These children’s cultures recognized the existence of terrible monsters, and they were able to organize against these threats. In 1954, “hundreds of children in the Gorbals district of Glasgow were reported to have stormed a local cemetery, hunting for a ‘vampire with iron teeth.’ According to press reports at the time, they said that the vampire had ‘killed and eaten two wee boys.'” (Sandy Hobbs and David Cornwell, “Hunting the Monster with Iron Teeth,” in Perspectives on Contemporary Legend Vol. III, 1988). This incident was one of at least eight “hunts,” documented in newspaper articles and interviews, from the 1930s and continuing until the 1980s. Hundreds, or in one case thousands, of children participated in monster hunts that often lasted several nights – militias called up not just against the vampire with iron teeth, but also against such characters as Springheeled Jack, an unnamed banshee, and ghosts known as the “White Lady” and the “Grey Lady.” Adults in 1954 blamed horror movies and horror comics for the vampire hunt (much as video games would be blamed today), but Hobbs and Cornwell trace the children’s adversary back much further. Nineteenth-century parents (and perhaps generations before them) had threatened their misbehaving children with the fearsome Kinderschreck known as “Jenny wi’ the airn teeth,” and her characteristic dentition is displayed by ancient bogeymen from Yorkshire (Tom Dockin) to Russia (Baba Yaga).

In order to develop and express their culture and achieve such feats of coordination, children require time and space apart from adult supervision. In the West today, outside of tiny pockets, this independence is almost exclusively the prerogative of poor children surrounded by crumbling cultures that lack the will to monitor and protect them. Groups of these children still attempt organization and armed resistance (Act Two, “Your Name Written On Me”) to protect themselves from ubiquitous violence when adults refuse to do so.

Outside of pockets of extreme deprivation, children’s society is severely restricted by our practice of placing children under the equivalent of house arrest. In only three generations, children in the British Isles as well as the United States have lost their freedom to roam, their independently explorable territories shrinking from hundreds of acres to the dimensions of each child’s own back yard. This is not an accusation toward parents; their decisions reflect their judgments about their children’s safety in the world. Specifically, parents judge that there is no community beyond their doors that they can rely on to keep their children safe. Christopher Alexander’s Pattern 57: Children in the City (A Pattern Language) states that “If children are not able to explore the whole of the adult world around them, they cannot become adults. But modern cities are so dangerous that children cannot be allowed to explore them freely.” Unfortunately, this has become the case not just in large cities, but in small towns and even rural areas.

As a result, children’s society has less and less to do with the land around them – land which, anyway, they are unlikely to occupy when they become adults in our hypermobile society. Children’s society exists on the internet if at all, with raids in video games and chat rooms replacing geographically colocated monster hunts. (This is increasingly the case with adult society as well, which also lacks architectural and geographic support.) It should be noted that the internet is not the cause of these problems. Rather, the internet is the precarious reservation onto which culture has been driven, bleak and uncanny, inhuman in scale. And even the internet is increasingly monitored and reshaped by the same malignant tiling system that drove culture here in the first place. What will happen to culture when even this frontier is closed?

The failure of adult culture, both its physical architecture and its social institutions, has impoverished children’s culture. And in return, children no longer avidly train, in their play, to take over the burden of preserving and remaking adult culture. Somewhere a child alone in his room, wearing headphones, is fighting Jenny wi the airn teeth, a computer-controlled enemy in a video game. But perhaps at least it is a multiplayer game, and he has his fellows with him."
children  freedom  2014  unschooling  parenting  learning  autonomy  childhood  1959  ionaopie  peteropie  trust  culture  feer  chrisalexander  apatternlanguage  deprivation  society  housearrest  howwelearn  education  thechildinthecity  canon  internet  online  web  videogames  games  gaming  geography  place  frontier  safety  lindabarry  decentralization  schools 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Solarpunk: Notes toward a manifesto | Project Hieroglyph
"It’s hard out here for futurists under 30.

As we percolated through our respective nations’ education systems, we were exposed to WorldChanging and TED talks, to artfully-designed green consumerism and sustainable development NGOs. Yet we also grew up with doomsday predictions slated to hit before our expected retirement ages, with the slow but inexorable militarization of metropolitan police departments, with the failure of the existing political order to deal with the existential-but-not-yet-urgent threat of climate change. Many of us feel it’s unethical to bring children into a world like ours. We have grown up under a shadow, and if we sometimes resemble fungus it should be taken as a credit to our adaptability.

We’re solarpunks because the only other options are denial or despair.

The promises offered by most Singulatarians and Transhumanists are individualist and unsustainable: How many of them are scoped for a world where energy is not cheap and plentiful, to say nothing of rare earth elements?

Solarpunk is about finding ways to make life more wonderful for us right now, and more importantly for the generations that follow us – i.e., extending human life at the species level, rather than individually. Our future must involve repurposing and creating new things from what we already have (instead of 20th century “destroy it all and build something completely different” modernism). Our futurism is not nihilistic like cyberpunk and it avoids steampunk’s potentially quasi-reactionary tendencies: it is about ingenuity, generativity, independence, and community.

And yes, there’s a -punk there, and not just because it’s become a trendy suffix. There’s an oppositional quality to solarpunk, but it’s an opposition that begins with infrastructure as a form of resistance. We’re already seeing it in the struggles of public utilities to deal with the explosion in rooftop solar. “Dealing with infrastructure is a protection against being robbed of one’s self-determination,” said Chokwe Lumumba, the late mayor of Jackson, MS, and he was right. Certainly there are good reasons to have a grid, and we don’t want it to rot away, but one of the healthy things about local resilience is that it puts you in a much better bargaining position against the people who might want to shut you off (We’re looking at you, Detroit).

Solarpunk punkSolarpunk draws on the ideal of Jefferson’s yeoman farmer, Ghandi’s ideal of swadeshi and subsequent Salt March, and countless other traditions of innovative dissent. (FWIW, both Ghandi and Jefferson were inventors.)

The visual aesthetics of Solarpunk are open and evolving. As it stands, it’s a mash-up of the following:

• 1800s age-of-sail/frontier living (but with more bicycles)
• Creative reuse of existing infrastructure (sometimes post-apocalyptic, sometimes present-weird)
• Jugaad-style innovation from the developing world
• High-tech backends with simple, elegant outputs

Obviously, the further you get into the future, the more ambitious you can get. In the long-term, solarpunk takes the images we’ve been fed by bright-green blogs and draws them out further, longer, and deeper. Imagine permaculturists thinking in cathedral time. Consider terraced irrigation systems that also act as fluidic computers. Contemplate the life of a Department of Reclamation officer managing a sparsely populated American southwest given over to solar collection and pump storage. Imagine “smart cities” being junked in favor of smart citizenry.

Tumblr lit up within the last week from this post envisioning a form of solar punk with an art nouveau Edwardian-garden aesthetic, which is gorgeous and reminds me of Miyazaki. There’s something lovely in the way it reacts against the mainstream visions of overly smooth, clean, white modernist iPod futures. Solarpunk is a future with a human face and dirt behind its ears."

[via: https://twitter.com/jqtrde/status/519152576797745153 ]
solarpunk  future  futures  jugaad  green  frontier  bikes  biking  technology  imagination  nearfuture  detroit  worldchanging  ted  ngos  sustainability  singularitarianism  individuality  cyberpunk  steampunk  ingenuity  generativity  independence  community  punk  infrastucture  resistance  solar  chokwelumumba  resilience  thomasjefferson  yeomen  ghandi  swadeshi  invention  hacking  making  makers  hackers  reuse  repurposing  permaculture  adamflynn  denial  despair  optimism  cando  posthumanism  transhumanism  chokweantarlumumba 
october 2014 by robertogreco
6, 3: Seasteading
"So Jim is a blacksmith – a word I mostly hear these days in jokes about obsolescence. He lives on a small, rural island where he has the time and quiet to think and work very hard on small things that most people have not imagined. He is also one of the most globalized people I know. I’m counting people who had “major liquidity events” and whose Twitter profiles say their location is SoMa/SoHo or whatevs. Jim is narrowly specialized labor, enabled by things like oligopolistic global shipping companies.

And likewise, my family’s off-the-grid setup – solar panels, their own well, their own garden – relies on solar panel manufacturers, modern well-drilling rigs, and the internet.

Many visitors are offended by this. They have a rhetoric of simplicity that feels that e.g. buying gasoline to run a generator to have electric lights in winter is failing to live up to the promise of living in the woods. But for my family and others, that promise was never made. It’s a projection, an assumption, an outsider’s stereotype. They are not claiming or trying to be out of the world.

What do you get from living on a natural seastead oops I mean small island? Well, you get a different kind of time – a different set of distractions. Not simplicity, but a reallocation of complexity that suits some people. You get too many things to list here. The one I want to talk about is that you see your material dependencies more clearly. That is, you have to carry the gas that you buy. You know where your water comes from, even if it’s just as technologically mediated as a Brooklynite’s water – maybe more – because you have to replace the pump from time to time. It’s not that you have less of a supply chain, it’s that you pay more attention to it because you’re the last link in it. You unload your kit, your cargo, your stuff, from a literal-ass boat that goes across the water."

So here is what I can tell you: our material culture is vast. The substrate of comfortable, middle-class-as-portrayed-in-primetime American life is ginormous, far beyond anyone’s understanding in any depth. Years ago there was a Neal Stephenson Wired story called In the Kingdom of Mao Bell, from which I often think of the line (phrased in terms of Western culture, but mutatis mutandis):
For a Westerner to trash Western culture is like criticizing our nitrogen/oxygen atmosphere on the grounds that it sometimes gets windy, and besides, Jupiter’s is much prettier. You may not realize its advantages until you’re trying to breathe liquid methane.

Which is only to make a point that is easy to make but very hard to appreciate, and I have to practice making to myself in new ways all the time, re-estranging it to re-familiarize it: what we have going here, this system by which roads are paved, you can appeal a court ruling, you can just assume you got the right change back at Whole Foods, Whole Foods exists, etc., is so big and complicated that you can’t appreciate it. At best you can call upon cognitive intercessors, like thinky magazine features on the cold chain or whatever, to mediate between your grasp of the size of the culture and its reality. I say this as someone whose job is partly to look at enormous depictions of material culture – I mean staring at the Port of Tokyo–Yokohama, or Magnitogorsk, is kind of what I do all day, and I still take it for granted.

And the system has tremendous momentum. I am no historian, but my vague sense is that in recognizable form in the Euramerican sphere it goes back to things like the New Model Army and the aftermath of the French Revolution: the establishment of a bureauracy, i.e. a system of applied governance with accountability built in as paperwork and defined responsibilities, as opposed to something at best hollowed out like a nest of sticks inside feudalism.

And when I see bureaucracy around me doing things like getting all fetishistic about a piece of paper, I have to remind myself that yes, this is imperfect, but the point is that we enshrine the word, something roughly permanent and widely legible, as opposed to worshipping the squire, i.e., whatever he feels like today, that we can’t even examine directly to mutually identify and begin to debate whether it’s good. A whig history but I’m a whig."

[Related: http://masochuticon.com/2006/05/24/
via: https://twitter.com/annegalloway/status/484597685396045824
in this thread: https://twitter.com/annegalloway/status/484483973767110656
follow-up http://tinyletter.com/vruba/letters/6-16-america-again ]
complexity  canon  interconnectedness  seasteading  frontier  waldronisland  bureaucracy  2014  charlieloyd  slow  change  purpose  purposefulness  civilization  interdependence  seeing  noticing  separateness  libertarianism  capitalism  globalization  materials  systems  systemsthinking  siliconvalley  laws  governance  government  society  nealstephenson  simplicity  distractions  bighere  dependencies  supplychains  legibility  illegibility  coffee  waldron  interconnected  interconnectivity 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Rebecca Solnit · Diary: Google Invades · LRB 7 February 2013
"there are ways in which technology is just another boom and the Bay Area is once again a boomtown, with transient populations, escalating housing costs, mass displacements and the casual erasure of what was here before. I think of it as frontierism, with all the frontier’s attitude and operational style, where people without a lot of attachments come and do things without a lot of concern for their impact, where money moves around pretty casually, and people are ground underfoot equally casually. Sometimes the Google Bus just seems like one face of Janus-headed capitalism; it contains the people too valuable even to use public transport or drive themselves. In the same spaces wander homeless people undeserving of private space, or the minimum comfort and security; right by the Google bus stop on Cesar Chavez Street immigrant men from Latin America stand waiting for employers in the building trade to scoop them up, or to be arrested and deported by the government. Both sides of the divide are bleak, and the middle way is hard to find."
rebeccasolnit  2013  siliconvalley  culture  technology  colonialism  gentrification  cities  class  via:Preoccupations  sanfrancisco  techsector  invasion  frontier  californianideology 
february 2013 by robertogreco
this is the frontier.
"The Lone Ranger is dead.

We are a generation that no longer rides alone into the sunset. We are an era of collaborators, a union of communities. We are redefining what it is to be.

But the frontier is still here, it has always been here; it is the only constant. It is we who are changing, redefining, re-articulating.

So I ask you: What is the frontier?

THIS IS A COLLABORATION.

You can do one or both of the following:

OPTION ONE: Submit a word or phrase which answers the above question. When you participate, you will see other efforts of this kind. If you leave an address, I will send you a piece of our collaboration.

OPTION TWO: Click HERE and see what others have submitted. You can choose a word or phrase that someone else has submitted, maybe something that you resonate with, maybe not, and make something with it. There are examples. The idea is to redefine, articulate, invent an discover."

[Videos hosted here: http://vimeo.com/10357234 ]

[The two options: at http://www.thisisthefrontier.org/about/ AND http://www.thisisthefrontier.org/frontier/ ] [Via: http://flaneursociety.tumblr.com/post/5155960095/ ]
collaboration  frontier  exploration  genrations  classideas  video  photography  interactive  community  change  society  loneliness  togetherness 
july 2011 by robertogreco

Copy this bookmark:





to read