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Inside and Outside the Cage – spottedtoad
"School, as I’ve said a number of times, serves this purpose already. I’ll sometimes encounter people who treat the idea that kids learn relatively little in school, that it’s a pointless hamster wheel that doesn’t get anyone anywhere, as some kind of scandal or shock. Maybe, but have you seen adult life lately? Is what kids do on an average school day so much more pointless and lonely and anomic than what you did yesterday- not than your ideal of what a ten year old or thirty year old should be doing, but what you actually, personally did? American parents are insanely competitive and push their kids and their kids’ schools to do all kinds of pointless shit, because we literally don’t have any other idea how to fill their and our days. They’re already staring at screens for nine hours a day. It could get worse. Four times as many young women 25-34 years old overdosed last year as in 1999. I don’t think school is the problem.

Maybe it’s a Tragedy of the (Missing) Commons. Maybe if you, and you, and you, and you, all pulled your kid out of school, tuned in, turned on (to Jesus or Allah or John Dewey or whoever), and dropped out, let them run around and build forts and make out or read Dante or whatever, maybe they can reinvent society on better grounds. The Benedict Option, like Rod Dreher says.  I’m not saying it’s impossible, and maybe we all need to be more utopian on our home turf even while being less so on other people’s. The ideal- or at least our own ideals- might be more within our grasp than we think. Maybe.

Or maybe what limited store of self-reliance we have is going to be destroyed, utterly, by the next wave of technology, or the next, and the best we can hope for is a benevolently paternalist technostate, the FitBit vibrating on our wrist to tell us to stop being inert, urging us to less self-destruction than we’d otherwise tend, telling us, whether we’re ten or fifty, to turn in our homework next time they see us and to remember to put our names on our papers if we want to get credit on the test."
education  homeschool  2017  unschooling  deschooling  commons  johndewey  benedictoption  roddreher  utopia  self-reliance  individualism  schools  schooling  freedom  technology  via:ayjay 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Bay Area Disrupted: Fred Turner on Vimeo
"Interview with Fred Turner in his office at Stanford University.

http://bayareadisrupted.com/

https://fredturner.stanford.edu

Graphics: Magda Tu
Editing: Michael Krömer
Concept: Andreas Bick"
fredturner  counterculture  california  opensource  bayarea  google  softare  web  internet  history  sanfrancisco  anarchism  siliconvalley  creativity  freedom  individualism  libertarianism  2014  social  sociability  governance  myth  government  infrastructure  research  online  burningman  culture  style  ideology  philosophy  apolitical  individuality  apple  facebook  startups  precarity  informal  bureaucracy  prejudice  1960s  1970s  bias  racism  classism  exclusion  inclusivity  inclusion  communes  hippies  charism  cultofpersonality  whiteness  youth  ageism  inequality  poverty  technology  sharingeconomy  gigeconomy  capitalism  economics  neoliberalism  henryford  ford  empowerment  virtue  us  labor  ork  disruption  responsibility  citizenship  purpose  extraction  egalitarianism  society  edtech  military  1940s  1950s  collaboration  sharedconsciousness  lsd  music  computers  computing  utopia  tools  techculture  location  stanford  sociology  manufacturing  values  socialchange  communalism  technosolutionism  business  entrepreneurship  open  liberalism  commons  peerproduction  product 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Black Mountain College: "The Grass-Roots of Democracy" - Open Source with Christopher Lydon
"Our guest, the literary historian Louis Menand, explains that B.M.C. was a philosophical experiment intent on putting the progressive philosopher John Dewey‘s ideas to work in higher education. The college curriculum was unbelievably permissive — but it did ask that students undertake their own formation as citizens of the world by means of creative expression, and hard work, in a community of likeminded people.

The college may not have lived up to its utopian self-image — the scene was frequently riven by interpersonal conflict — but it did serve as a stage-set to some of modern culture’s most interesting personalities and partnerships."
bmc  blackmountaincollege  rutherickson  louismenand  teddreier  theodoredreier  sebastiansmee  taylordavis  williamdavis  2016  robertcreeley  jacoblawrence  josefalbers  robertrauschenberg  annialbers  davidtudor  franzkline  mercecunningham  johncage  charlesolson  buckminsterfuller  johndewey  democracy  art  music  film  poetry  cytwombly  bauhaus  experientiallearning  howwelearn  education  johnandrewrice  unschooling  deschooling  schools  schooling  learning  howelearn  howweteach  pedagogy  christopherlydon  abstractexpressionism  popart  jacksonpollock  arthistory  history  arts  purpose  lcproject  openstudioproject  leapbeforeyoulook  canon  discovery  conflict  artists  happenings  openness  rural  community  highered  highereducation  curriculum  willemdekooning  small  control  conversation  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  mitmedialab  medialab  chaos  utopia  dicklyons  artschools  davidbowie  experimentation  exploration  humanity  humanism  humility  politics 
october 2018 by robertogreco
At MoMA, Bodys Isek Kingelez Finally Gets the Retrospective He Deserves - Artsy
"Due to Kingelez’s “lack of known art historical precedents,” Suzuki writes in the catalogue, “[the work] evades the genealogy that we love to document and trace.” While there are no artists known to have made anything quite like Kingelez did, however, there is also no shortage of associations with the visual culture of Kinshasa, the capital of what is now the DRC. “I draw my ideas from Africa,” Kingelez once said. And as indicated in catalogue texts by Suzuki, British-Ghanaian architect David Adjaye, and Chika Okeke-Agulu, a Nigerian artist and art historian at Princeton University, Kingelez must be understood in the postcolonial context of the history and culture of Kinshasa."

[https://www.moma.org/calendar/exhibitions/3889
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RB4jgBx16vY
https://news.artnet.com/exhibitions/bodys-isek-kingelez-1308167

“Without a model, you are nowhere. A nation that can’t make models is a nation that doesn’t understand things, a nation that doesn’t live." –Bodys Isek Kingelez]
bodysisekkingelez  congo  utopia  art  architecture  cities  models  modelmaking  classideas  africa  zaire  jeanpigozzi  okwuienwezor  sarahsuzuki  drc  democraticrepublicofthecongo  uban  urbanism  sculpture  davidadjaye  chikaokeke-agulu  chérisamba  moké  kinshasa 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Cory Doctorow: Things that happen in Silicon Valley and also the...
"Anton Troynikov: [https://twitter.com/atroyn/status/1014974099930714115 ]

• Waiting years to receive a car you ordered, to find that it’s of poor workmanship and quality.
• Promises of colonizing the solar system while you toil in drudgery day in, day out.
• Living five adults to a two room apartment.
• Being told you are constructing utopia while the system crumbles around you.
• ‘Totally not illegal taxi’ taxis by private citizens moonlighting to make ends meet.
• Everything slaved to the needs of the military-industrial complex.
• Mandatory workplace political education.
• Productivity largely falsified to satisfy appearance of sponsoring elites.
• Deviation from mainstream narrative carries heavy social and political consequences.
• Networked computers exist but they’re really bad.
• Henry Kissinger visits sometimes for some reason.
• Elite power struggles result in massive collateral damage, sometimes purges.
• Failures are bizarrely upheld as triumphs.
• Otherwise extremely intelligent people just turning the crank because it’s the only way to get ahead.
• The plight of the working class is discussed mainly by people who do no work.
• The United States as a whole is depicted as evil by default.
• The currency most people are talking about is fake and worthless.
• The economy is centrally planned, using opaque algorithms not fully understood by their users."
ussr  russia  economics  siliconvalley  disruption  politics  indoctrination  centralization  policy  2018  currency  planning  conformity  conformism  drudgery  work  labor  humor  tesla  elonmusk  jeffbezos  wageslavery  failure  henrykissinger  us  government  governance  ideology  experience  class  collateraldamage  elitism  antontroynikov  consequences  space  utopia  workmanship  quality  accountability  productivity  falsification  workplace  colonization 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Michael Hardt On Revolution And Democracy - YouTube
"Revolution then today refuses that dialectic between purgatory and paradise. It’s rather instigating utopia everyday."
michaelhardt  democracy  revolution  everyday  utopia  paradise  examinedlife  capitalism  hierarchy  elitism  politics  philosophy  vladimirlenin  lenin 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Thread by @ecomentario: "p.31 ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… p.49 ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… ecoed.wikispaces.co […]"
[on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ecomentario/status/1007269183317512192 ]

[many of the captures come from: "From A Pedagogy for Liberation to Liberation from Pedagogy" by Gustavo Esteva, Madhu S. Prakash, and Dana L. Stuchul, which is no longer available online as a standalone PDF (thus the UTexas broken link), but is inside the following document, also linked to in the thread.]

[“Rethinking Freire: Globalization and the Environmental Crisis" edited by C.A.Bowers and Frédérique Apffel-Marglin
https://ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A.+Bowers,+Frdrique+Apffel-Marglin,+Frederique+Apffel-Marglin,+Chet+A.+Bowers+Re-Thinking+Freire+Globalization+and+the+Environmental+Crisis+Sociocultural,+Political,+and+Historical+Studies+in+Educatio+2004.pdf ]
isabelrodíguez  paulofreire  ivanillich  wendellberry  subcomandantemarcos  gandhi  2018  gustavoesteva  madhuprakash  danastuchul  deschooling  colonialism  future  environment  sustainability  cabowers  frédériqueapffel-marglin  education  campesinos  bolivia  perú  pedagogyoftheoppressed  globalization  marinaarratia  power  authority  hierarchy  horizontality  socialjustice  justice  economics  society  community  cooperation  collaboration  politics  progress  growth  rural  urban  altruism  oppression  participation  marginality  marginalization  karlmarx  socialism  autonomy  local  slow  small  capitalism  consumerism  life  living  well-being  consumption  production  productivity  gustavoterán  indigeneity  work  labor  knowledge  experience  culture  joannamacy  spirituality  buddhism  entanglement  interdependence  interbeing  interexistence  philosophy  being  individualism  chiefseattle  lutherstandingbear  johngrim  ethics  morethanhuman  multispecies  humans  human  posthumnism  transhumanism  competition  marxism  liberation  simplicity  poverty  civilization  greed  p 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Article: Notes On An Anarchist Pedagogy – AnarchistStudies.Blog
"But, at this particularly dark moment in our nation’s history, I feel the need to act inside the classroom in a manner that more readily and visibly embodies the important and insightful critiques and guideposts of critical pedagogy,[2] perhaps in a manner, inspired by Graeber and Haworth, that rejects and abandons (education) policy, and more demonstratively and communally embraces the liberatory and transformative power of education itself, free from the bondage of neoliberalism.

Early on in Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology, Graeber offers us: “against policy (a tiny manifesto)”. Graeber tells us:

The notion of “policy” presumes a state or governing apparatus which imposes its will on others. “Policy” is the negation of politics; policy is by definition something concocted by some form of elite, which presumes it knows better than others how their affairs are to be conducted. By participating in policy debates the very best one can achieve is to limit the damage, since the very premise is inimical to the idea of people managing their own affairs.

(2004: 9)

And, as the people I have identified in these notes thus far all document, policy (education reform) is little more than a “governing apparatus which imposes its will” on teachers, students, administrators, and entire communities with high stakes testing, the deskilling of teachers, the cuts to and diversion of funding for public education, and the imposition of the corporate model to direct and control all “outcomes”. And, following Graeber’s pushback to “policy”, I want to enact, to whatever degree possible, “an anarchist pedagogy” to acknowledge, confront and overcome the very dominating and authoritarian dynamics at work in the classroom today from kindergarten right on through to graduate school.

I want to evoke and provoke the issue of anarchy as a counterforce and impulse to the “governing apparatus which imposes its will on others”. I want to engage education as the practice of freedom methodologically, and not just ideologically (of course, I would agree that a genuine embracing of education as the practice of freedom ideologically would axiomatically mean to embrace it methodologically as well – as I believe Paulo Freire and bell hooks demonstrate, and many others also successfully participate in such engaged pedagogy).

But for my musings here, I want to consider enacting freedom directly and in totality throughout the classroom. This is the case, in part, because I want to challenge myself, and to some degree many of my colleagues, to once again consider and reconsider how we “are” in the classroom, living and embodying education as the practice of freedom, and, in part, to accept the need to acknowledge, confront and address the reality that we “operate”, however critically, within the very “governing apparatus which imposes its will”. As a result, I am, for the sake of these notes, forcing myself to fully embrace freedom, and, to whatever degree possible, attempting to reimagine and recomport myself toward promoting education as the practice of freedom.

As good a “critical” pedagogue as I believe I am and have been, for me these notes are a call to identify my beliefs, habits and pedagogy, not unlike Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy were for him. These notes are a consideration of how I embrace and enact those beliefs, habits and pedagogy, and represent a challenge to improve upon my pedagogy. I have decided that rethinking my own pedagogy in light of an anarchist pedagogy might prove the most challenging, informative and constructive mediation on pedagogy I could contemplate and enact at this moment."



"As many of us directly involved in the “field of education” (working as teachers and administrators from kindergarten through twelfth-grade, or those working in schools of education and on various education initiatives and in policy think-tanks) have witnessed (and sometimes promote and/or confront), there is much emphasis on a “best practice” approach and on “evidence-based” support for said practices. As a result, so much of education research and teaching is “data-driven”, even when the data is suspect (or just wrong). And, still more harmful, there exists a prejudice against “theory” and against a theoretical approach to teaching within a social/political/cultural context that emphasizes other aspects and dimensions of teaching and learning (such as the history and legacy of racism, sexism, class elitism, homophobia and biases against those with abilities and disabilities that render them “problematic” or outside the mainstream of education concern). All of this leads to an obsession with “information”, to the detriment of teaching and learning (see Scapp 2016b: Chapters 5 and 6). We also wind up with no vision or mission – education becomes little more than a “jobs preparatory program” and a competition in the market place. This is what leads us to the litany of reform programs (from the Bush administration’s “No Child Left Behind” to Obama’s “Race to the Top”, never mind the practically innumerable local initiatives attempting to “fix” education). The results are proving disastrous for all.

At the same time, even though someone may employ a theoretical stance and perspective, this doesn’t guarantee a successful classroom dynamic. We need to remember that how we are (a concern of these notes from the very start) is just as important as what we are presenting, and even why. We need to establish trustworthiness and a sense that students have the freedom to explore, challenge, work together, and even be wrong. Of course, I recognize that the classroom dynamics will look different in elementary school than in a graduate seminar, but for the sake of this meditation on pedagogy, I would like to posit that while acknowledging the differences that exist at different levels of instruction, the essential character of “education as the practice of freedom” ought to be manifest at every level, and at every turn. The hard and important work of good teaching is helping to create and establish that freedom."



"There is a long tradition of attempting to create such an “other space”. Feminist pedagogy has argued for and provided such other spaces, at times at grave personal and professional cost (denial of tenure, promotion, as well as ridicule). So too have disciplines and perspectives as diverse as Ethnic Studies and Queer Studies, and Environmental Studies and Performance Studies offered challenges to the constrictive traditional learning environment (space) and also offered new possibilities of reconfiguring those spaces (in and outside the classroom). In his essay “Spaces of Learning: The Anarchist Free Skool”, Jeffery Shantz rightly notes that:

Social theorist Michel Foucault used the occasion of his 1967 lecture, “Of Other Spaces”, to introduce a term that would remain generally overlooked with his expansive body of work, the notion of “heterotopia”, by which he meant a countersite or alternative space, something of an actually existing utopia. In contrast to the nowhere lands of utopias, heterotopias are located in the here-and-now of present-day reality, though they challenge and subvert that reality. The heterotopias are spaces of difference. Among the examples Foucault noted were sacred and forbidden spaces which are sites of personal transition.

(in Haworth 2012: 124)

It is precisely this effort to help create another kind of space, a “heterotopia”, that leads me to disrupt the distribution of the syllabus as the first gesture of the semester, and to solicit and elicit contributions and participation from the class toward this end.

Part of the reason that complying with the “syllabus-edict” is problematic is that it fully initiates and substantiates “the banking system” of teaching that Paulo Freire so astutely identified and named, and so thoughtfully and thoroughly criticized (as oppressive). Participating in the automatic act of handing out the syllabus (hardcopy or electronic) constitutes the very first “deposit” within the banking system, and renders students passive from the very start: “This is what you will need to know!”. So, the very modest and simple gesture of not distributing the syllabus initiates instead the very first activity for the entire class, specifically, a discussion of what the class will be.

Of course, such a stance, such a gesture, doesn’t mean that I would not have thought through the course beforehand. Certainly, I envision a course that would be meaningful and connected to their program of study. But, what I do not do is “decide” everything in advance, and leave no room for input, suggestions and contributions to the syllabus that we create, to enhance the course we create. This offers students a (new?) way of interacting in the class, with each other and the teacher, a way of engaging in social and educative interactions that are mutual and dialogic from the very start. As Shantz claims:

Anarchist pedagogy aims toward developing and encouraging new forms of socialization, social interaction, and the sharing of ideas in ways that might initiate and sustain nonauthoritarian practices and ways of relating.

(in Haworth 2012: 126)

I am claiming that the simple and modest gesture of extending a welcome to participate goes a long way “toward developing and encouraging new forms” of teaching and learning, new forms of mutual and dialogic interaction that are both respectful of the subject matter and of the students, and, if successful, does create the very “heterotopia” Foucault and Shantz describe.

I also ask students about the ways we might be able to evaluate their work and the course itself, evaluate the success of the teaching and learning, and my ability to help facilitate successful teaching and learning. The results vary, but students always come up with interesting and innovative ways to evaluate and … [more]
pedagogy  anarchism  anarchy  deschooling  decolonization  unschooling  learning  teaching  bellhooks  ronscapp  paulofreire  freedom  liberation  neoliberalism  capitalism  lucynicholas  postmodernism  michaelapple  angeladavis  henrygiroux  roberthaworth  descartes  stanleyaronowitz  stephenball  pierrebourdieu  randallamster  abrahamdeleon  luisfernandez  anthonynocella  education  dericshannon  richarkahn  deleuze&guattari  gillesdeleuze  michelfoucault  foucault  davidgraeber  jürgenhabermas  justinmuller  alanantliff  kennethsaltman  davidgabbard  petermclaren  alexmolnar  irashor  joelspring  gayatrichakravortyspivak  colonialism  highereducation  highered  cademia  politics  2018  resistance  corporatization  betsydevos  policy  authority  authoritarianism  howweteach  government  governance  colonization  homeschool  power  control  coercion  félixguattari  conformity  uniformity  standardization  standards  syllabus  heterotopia  lcproject  openstudioproject  tcsnmy  sfsh  cv  utopia  collaboration  evaluation  feminism  inclusion  inclusivity  participation  participatory  mutu 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Critical Design Fictions CSPL 225
"Design fiction involves the deliberate use of diegetic prototypes to suspend disbelief about change. Through practices of estrangement and defamiliarization, and through the use of carefully chosen design methods, this course experiments with the creation of provocative scenarios and imaginative artifacts that can help us envision different ways of inhabiting the world. The choices made by designers are ultimately choices about the kind of world in which we want to live--expressions of our dreams, fantasies, desires, and fears. As an integrated mode of thought and action, design is intrinsically social and deeply political. In conversation with science fiction, queer and feminist theories, indigenous discourses, drag and other performative interventions, this course explores speculative and critical approaches to design as catalysts for imagining alternate presents and possible futures. We examine a number of environmental and social issues related to climate change, incarceration, gender and reproductive rights, surveillance, emerging technologies, and labor."



"Readings include: Anthony Dunne & Fiona Raby, SPECULATIVE EVERYTHING: DESIGN, FICTION, AND SOCIAL DREAMING and Patrick Parrender (ed.) LEARNING FROM OTHER WORLDS: ESTRANGEMENT, COGNITION, AND THE POLITICS OF SCIENCE FICTION AND UTOPIA, along with selections from Carrie Lambert-Beatty, Julian Bleeker, Paul Preciado, Bruce Sterling, Darko Suvin, Samuel Delany, Elizabeth Grosz, José Esteban Muñoz, Ursula LeGuin, and Octavia Butler, among others.

Examination and Assignments:
Participation and collaboration, short assignments in conversation with readings, midterm and final projects. Students will design and prototype a series of objects, scenarios, and characters as devices to explore alternate presents and possible futures."

[see also:
https://www.are.na/barbara-adams/
https://www.are.na/barbara-adams/channels
https://www.are.na/barbara-adams/speculative-design-1519962911
https://www.are.na/barbara-adams/misc-design-1519956499
https://www.are.na/barbara-adams/sensory-ethnography
https://www.are.na/barbara-adams/ethnographic-design-films
https://www.are.na/barbara-adams/design-methods-1519961030

http://www.wesleyan.edu/academics/faculty/baadams/profile.html
http://newsletter.blogs.wesleyan.edu/2017/10/23/taylor-07-teaches-design-thinking-workshop-at-wesleyan/
http://wesleyanargus.com/2018/02/02/fellow-barbara-adams-talks-design-ideas-minor/
http://www.wesleyan.edu/ideas/faculty.html
http://www.wesleyan.edu/ideas/index.html
http://www.gidest.org/barbara-adams/
https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/design-as-future-making-9780857858399/
https://nssr.academia.edu/BarbaraAdams ]
barbaraadams  design  designfiction  2018  classes  anthonydunne  fionaraby  patrickparrender  carrielambert-beatty  paulpreciado  brucesterling  darkosuvin  samueldelany  elizabethgrosz  joséestebanmuñoz  ursulaleguin  octaviabutler  speculativefiction  speculativedesign  scifi  sciencefiction  utopia  julianbleecker  dunne&raby  wesleyan 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Invisible Labor and Digital Utopias
"So I’ve been thinking a lot, as I said, about “permissions” and “openness.” I have increasingly come to wonder if “permission-less-ness” as many in “open” movements have theorized this, is built on some unexamined exploitation and extraction of labor – on invisible work, on unvalued work. Whose digital utopia does “openness” represent?"



"I like to remind people that with all this sweeping rhetoric about revolution and transformation, that John Perry Barlow wrote “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” in 1996 in Davos, Switzerland, at the World Economic Forum. I don’t know about you, but that’s neither a site nor an institution I’ve never really associated with utopia. Indeed, perhaps much of this new technology was never meant to be a utopia for all of us after all."



"When we think about “open” and labor, who do we imagine doing the work? What is the work we imagine being done? Who pays? Who benefits? (And how?)"



"Ignoring racism in the technological imagination does not make it go away."



"What do machines free us from? Not drudgery – not everyone’s drudgery, at least. Not war. Not imperialism. Not gendered expectations of beauty. Not gendered expectations of heroism. Not gendered divisions of labor. Not class-based expectations of servitude. Not class-based expectations of leisure.

And so similarly, what is the digital supposed to liberate us from? What is rendered (further) invisible when we move from the mechanical to the digital, when we cannot see the levers and the wires and the pulleys."
audreywatters  2018  utopia  technology  labor  resistance  permission  open  openness  opensource  exploitation  copyright  creativecommons  johnperrybarlow  freedom  class  leisure  work  servitude  liberation  digital 
may 2018 by robertogreco
OCCULTURE: 57. John Crowley & John Michael Greer in “The Slow Decline” // Talking Crows, Pocket Utopias & the Future of Storytelling
"John Michael Greer joins the show to chat with author John Crowley about his latest novel, “Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr”, as well as Frances Yates, creative writing, pocket utopias, the future of storytelling and the slow decline of industrial society."
johnmichaelgreer  ryanpeverly  johncrowley  occulture  decline  2017  crows  corvids  literature  fiction  occult  storytelling  birds  animals  stories  myth  mythology  utopia  pocketutopias  animism 
february 2018 by robertogreco
How Black Panther Asks Us to Examine Who We Are To One Another
"While interviews with Coogler reveal he based Wakanda on Lesotho, a small country surrounded on all sides by South Africa, it has become clear that most discussions about the film share a similar geography; its borders are dimensional rather than physical, existing in two universes at once. How does one simultaneously argue the joys of recognizing the Pan-African signifiers within Wakanda, as experienced by Africans watching the film, and the limits of Pan-Africanism in practice, as experienced by a diaspora longing for Africa? The beauty and tragedy of Wakanda, as well as our discourse, is that it exists in an intertidal zone: not always submerged in the fictional, as it owes much of its aesthetic to the Africa we know, but not entirely real either, as no such country exists on the African continent. The porosity and width of that border complicates an already complicated task, shedding light on the infinite points of reference possible for this film that go beyond subjective readings."



"How then does one criticize what is unquestionably the best Marvel movie to date by every conceivable metric known to film criticism? How best to explain that Black Panther can be a celebration of blackness, yes; a silencing of whiteness, yes; a meshing of African cultures and signifiers — all this! — while also feeling like an exercise in sustained forgetting? That the convenience of having a fake country within a real continent is the way we can take inspiration from the latter without dwelling on its losses, or the causes of them. Black Panther is an American film through and through, one heavily invested in white America’s political absence from its African narrative.

When Killmonger goads a museum curator early on in the film, calling out a history of looting, it is condemnation that falls squarely on Britain’s shoulders. Rarely must the audience think about the C.I.A.’s very real history in Africa. The fact that viewers were steered, at any point, into rooting for Martin Freeman, a British actor playing an American C.I.A. operative who attempts to purchase stolen resources from a white South African arms dealer, means that even a cinematic turducken of imperialist history gets a pass."



"Nonetheless, Black Panther is an undeniable joy to watch, even it if it is, at times, hard to experience. I can tell you that one of the most important things I saw, in a film set in Africa in 2018, wasn’t just the film’s lack of whiteness, but the almost complete absence of China, a country whose economic expansion throughout the continent has been singular and complicated. What’s more, for all of Killmonger’s liberation talk, Black Panther is also about the unrooted feelings of first-generation Americans, which for all intents and purposes Killmonger is. People, who despite knowing their origins, know that they will to some extent always be lost to them. Killmonger’s Wakandan-American rage and potential liberation comes from a uniquely complicated place, but we’ve yet to conjure a word for the pain of that proximity. Understandably, Black Panther only has room for so much politics, but it is important to acknowledge that it is in this selection that it reaches and abandons so many people. The film was never going to be everything to everyone — even if it meant everything to everyone. The film’s righteous anger is grounded in a real America with real problems, while its hopes lie in a fictional country distinctly removed from the reality of Africa.

***

In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, Black Panther spent its opening weekend sold out five times a day out of a possible five showings. A question I repeatedly found myself asking is where Africans watching this film fit within the Afrofuturist possibility of Wakanda? How do you watch the dream of Africa, set within the real Africa, created by filmmakers in the diaspora, and then emerge to martial law? How hollow does Killmonger’s posturing and desire for a bloody uprising of the masses come across to a viewer living in the throes of one?

I know that when I leave my theater in Oakland, a disabled elder and real Black Panther will be on the verge of a no-fault eviction from her home. Five months will have passed since I watched the premiere of an Oakland-based web series about the racialized disaster of gentrification in the Bay Area at the Grand Lake Theater, the same place where Coogler made an appearance on the opening night of Black Panther. It is worth noting, that the word “capitalism” does not appear once in Black Panther, despite its focus on black liberation. Killmonger’s slash-and-burn approach to freedom, and T’Challa’s future coding boot camp for black American youth, both fail to address how oppression, particularly in the 21st century, is systemic."



"Analyzing the film’s antagonist is more complicated. Killmonger is written as pure rage, and it’s hard for a man written as pure rage, however justified, to be a good villain. What’s impressive about Black Panther is that it asks us to examine the grey area of that designator. Unfortunately, the Killmonger we see on screen is one who has read the Baldwin line “To be black and conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage,” and ignored Audre Lorde’s “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” The film is an ode to the exceptionalism of black American rage that, while singular, cannot speak for the majority of the diaspora. There is no precedent for worldwide liberation.

What’s more, Killmonger’s politics completely ignore the ways power structures overlap to oppress individuals. He is the type of man who would shoot down the concept of intersectionality if he met it in the streets. He kills his girlfriend. He brags about killing people of color in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as his own brothers and sisters in Africa. He is quick to assault an unarmed priestess who questions his orders. He delights in killing one of the Dora Milaje. In truth, I can only see him as a sympathetic victim if I squint hard enough at the past that made him instead of his actions on-screen."



"Black Panther may be a Disney product, but it would be foolish to see a film of this historical significance as intended solely for casual consumption. “This is not just a movie about a black superhero; it’s very much a black movie,” wrote journalist Jamil Smith for TIME. That blackness is global. Its very existence — Coogler’s singular execution of its $200 million budget — is a declaration of self-worth, an act of defiance aimed at an industry that has long undervalued black creatives on both sides of the camera. The film as a statement on black virtue should be celebrated, its examination of black possibility exalted, and its disparate philosophies parsed to the extent the viewer wishes.

The fact that my focus in this piece was less about the film as product and more about its politics is itself an accomplishment, a signifier of its exceptional quality. Every frame in Black Panther felt like a gift. A beautifully lit, well-moisturized, spectacularly choreographed gift. What I will remember about Black Panther’s opening weekend is the tragic relief of arguing the ideological calisthenics of a fictional African country instead of whether it is a shithole.

Black Panther’s audience hears the question “Who are you?” repeatedly over the course of two hours. The Queen-Mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett) shouts at T’Challa, “Show him who you are!” when M’Baku has the upper hand at Warrior Falls. It is the question Killmonger, bound by Wakandan chains, begs the king’s council to ask him when they first meet him. Indeed, it is the line that ends the film, uttered by a young black boy in Oakland peering up at a king no longer in hiding. That we have spent the week that follows asking ourselves the same question is the film’s lasting gift. Not only reflecting on who we are, but who are we to each other. T’Challa never apologizes to Killmonger for what his father did, for everything that was taken from him, and it is the film’s most damning omission. There is no healing that can come without the voiced expression of empathy. And I hope those who navigate the waters of their identity can eventually be greeted at a lasting shore with just that."
rahawahaile  blackpanther  2018  film  africa  utopia  diaspora  us  geopolitics  capitalism 
february 2018 by robertogreco
stabra (I am writing you from the future to remind you to...)
"I am writing you from the future to remind you to act on your belief, to live your life as a tribute to our victory and not as a stifling reaction to the past… We have the world we deserve and we acknowledge everyday that we make it what it is… We shifted the paradigm. We rewrote the meaning of life with our living. And this is how we did it… We let go. And then we got scared and held on and then we let go again. Of everything that would shackle us to sameness."

Alexis Pauline Gumbs, “Evidence,” Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements
vi:fantasylla  alexispaulinegumbs  socialjustice  utopia  resistance  life  living  change  changemaking  belief  history  sameness  difference  reality  revolution  activism 
january 2018 by robertogreco
“My Working Will be the Work:” Maintenance Art and Technologies of Change – The New Inquiry
"In 1973, Mierle Laderman Ukeles staged a series of art performances at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Connecticut. In Transfer: The Maintenance of the Art Object, she took over the duties of the museum’s janitor and used his tools to clean a glass case containing a mummy. When she was finished, she stamped her cleaning tools and the mummy case with a rubber stamp, branding them “Maintenance Art Works.” She then transferred the cleaning duties to the museum’s curator, who alone was allowed to handle and conserve artworks. In another performance, Keeper of the Keys, Ukeles took the janitor’s keys and locked and unlocked various offices and rooms in the museum. Once Ukeles had locked an office, it became a Maintenance Artwork and no one was permitted to enter or use the room. Keeper of the Keys created an uproar, as it drastically impacted the work lives of the museum’s staff who pleaded to have certain floors exempted from the project so they could work undisturbed. Ukeles’ performances, examples of conceptual art called “Institutional Critique,” surfaced the hidden labor of maintenance in the museum setting, and the subsequent visibility of this labor proved to be incredibly disruptive to the institution of the museum.

Recently within the history of science and technology, scholars have focused an increasing amount of attention on the maintenance of technology and systems. Maintenance has been long overlooked in favor of a focus on innovation and design practices; the very beginnings of technology have always been more appealing than their often messy or disappointing longer lives. One important aspect of this “turn” to maintenance histories is that the un-and-underpaid labor of women and marginalized people, who are disproportionately relegated to maintenance work, has again become an important site for articulating the history of technology. A similar turn was initiated by scholars, like historian of technology Ruth Schwartz Cowan and others, in the 1980s.

Even before these early efforts, however, art historian and curator Helen Molesworth has argued that women artists, like Ukles and Martha Rosler, were making significant contributions to a discourse about public and private life, and the hidden labor that sustains both. Ukeles and Rosler, despite often being marginalized as “feminist artists,” were in the 1970s making strikingly political art about labor and gender, about technology and potential violence, and about the ability of art itself to sustain and renew utopia and revolution.

In her video piece The Semiotics of the Kitchen (1975), Rosler appears behind a table laden with kitchen tools, with the refrigerator, sink, and cupboards of her kitchen as backdrop. The artist works through her collection of kitchen gadgets one by one, alphabetically: A is for apron, K is for knife. But her gestures clash with the setting. Instead of using the knife to mime cutting food, she stabs violently at the air. She ladles invisible soup, but then flings it over her shoulder. Rosler’s deadpan stare and her gestural subversion of the audiences cooking-show set-up expectations make a mockery, or perhaps even a threat, out of the labor of the kitchen. Her misuse of the tools of the kitchen has the effect of stripping the technology of its meaning, making it more “thingy” and, thus, somehow threatening or alienating.

Helen Molesworth has used Ukeles’ performances and Rosler’s video pieces to unpick a largely unquestioned binary had existed for much of the 1980s and 90s between “essentialist” feminist art and the more theory-driven works, which succeeded them in critical estimation. Essentialist works focused on more straightforward imagery of the feminine and the female — of this school, Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party (1974-79) is considered emblematic. Theory-based works are represented in this debate by conceptual artist Mary Kelly in the Post-Partum Document (1973-79), which consists of text and artifacts that document and analyze Kelly’s relationship to and experience of mothering her son. Molesworth shows that by adding Rosler and Ukeles to this longstanding binary, we can see that all four artists are actually working in an expanded field that investigates maintenance and other forms of hidden labor.

We might venture to expand the field once more, and place these maintenance artworks in a more explicit story about technology. In her influential book More Work for Mother: The Ironies of Household Technology from the Open Hearth to the Microwave, Ruth Schwartz Cowan takes pains to remind us that the modern industrialized household is intimately dependent on the large technological systems of modernity. No plumbing, electricity, gas means no housework. No access to the manufacture of tools and appliances, textiles and packaged foods means no dinner on the table. These artworks show us how the larger technological world as the public sphere, which Ukeles and Rosler contrast with a degraded private sphere, is itself intimately dependant on the invisible labor and technological systems of the home and the invisible labors of maintenance.

Recontextualizing of the labor and tools of housework, and the slightly unsettling effect this has on audiences, is the most important feature of both Ukeles’ and Rosler’s works. They give the viewer a little glimpse of the power that has, ironically, been vested in the home and its laborers by the public sphere that insists, indeed depends, on the private remaining private. These caches of unseen power, levers that can move an economy in their numbers, are also technological levers that rely on tools and systems that have been degraded and devalued because of their connection to maintenance labor.

Ukeles and Rosler remind us the invisible labor of women and marginalized people ensures that those permitted in the public sphere, white able-bodied men, are properly clothed and housed and supported and separated from waste so that they can innovate in comfort. By surfacing this labor and critiquing the ways it has been made invisible, Ukeles and Rosler prefigure scholarly critiques about the labor of women and marginalized people and the hidden histories of maintenance technology that support a public culture of innovation.

In an interview for Artforum, Ukeles talks about how two of the most famous Minimalist artists of the 20th century, Richard Serra and Donald Judd, made artworks that “skimmed the surface” of the industrial, technological world of the public sphere. The universalism of their work depends on the labor of making them which remains invisible and only the artwork itself is available for critique. Meanwhile, Ukeles felt that as both an artist and a mother her labor had become all about care and maintenance. Her decision to commit to an artistic practice of maintenance was an investment in the personal and political act of melding her artistic self to the aspects of herself that were defined by care-work. “My working will be the work,” she declared in her Manifesto for Maintenance Art 1969!.

Ukeles’ radical intervention was to name this invisible work of cleaning, repairing, cooking, and mending Maintenance Art, and to force this labor into spaces that had always privileged the result, not the work that sustains it. Rosler’s critique of the labor of the kitchen is enacted through her alienation from kitchen technologies, a transformation of the object that was mirrored in Ukeles’ branding of the cleaning rag as an artwork and her taking possession of the building keys. These are technology stories, but not the kind we may find most familiar.

Obsession with innovation over preservation is an obsession with those who are allowed to innovate and an indifference to those who are made to maintain. It’s not just an aesthetic matter of what kind of labor seems more appealing; it’s a power structure that requires the domination of others in order to “maintain the change” created by the innovators. Yet, Ukeles meant “maintain the change” in a much more utopian sense, a thread that Molesworth notes in her expanded field of feminist-informed art. The maintenance needed to preserve positive change is itself a worthy and humanistic pursuit and deserves the same status as change itself. The technologies and labors of maintenance, wielded and performed by the marginalized, have the power to disrupt as much as they have the power to sustain.

Further Reading

Helen Molesworth, “House Work and Art Work,” October vol. 92 (Spring 200): 71-97.

Ruth Schwartz Cowan, More Work for Mother: The Ironies of Household Technologies form the Open Hearth to the Microwave (Basic Books, 1983). "
art  maintenance  criticaltheory  feminism  annareser  2017  1973  mierleladermanukeles  performance  science  technology  care  caring  caretakers  ruthschartzcowan  1980s  martharosler  1970s  utopia  revolution  resistance  work  labor  productivity  gender  violence  1975  kitchens  helenmolesworth  judychicago  marykelly  ruthschwartzcowan  richardserr  donaldjudd  innovation  preervation 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Athi-Patra Ruga | WHATIFTHEWORLD/ GALLERY
"Athi-Patra Ruga is one of the few artists working in South Africa today whose work has adopted the trope of myth as a contemporary response to the post-apartheid era. Ruga creates alternative identities and uses these avatars as a way to parody and critique the existing political and social status quo. Ruga’s artistic approach of creating myths and alternate realities is in some way an attempt to view the traumas of the last 200 years of colonial history from a place of detachment – at a farsighted distance where wounds can be contemplated outside of personalized grief and subjective defensiveness.

The philosophical allure and allegorical value of utopia has been central to Ruga’s practice. His construction of a mythical metaverse populated by characters which he has created and depicted in his work have allowed Ruga to create an interesting space of self reflexivity in which political, cultural and social systems can be critiqued and parodied.

Ruga has used his utopia as a lens to process the fraught history of a colonial past, to critique the present and propose a possible humanist vision for the future."

[See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athi-Patra_Ruga

"Athi-Patra Ruga is a South African artist who uses performance, video, textiles, and printmaking to explore notions of utopia and dystopia, material and memory.[1] His work explores the body in relation to sensuality, culture, and ideology, often creating cultural hybrids.[2] Ruga was recently included in the Phaidon book ‘Younger Than Jesus,’ a directory of over 500 of the world’s best artists under the age of 33.[2] In 2014 he presented at Design Indaba Conference in Cape Town."]

[via: "Hapticality in the Undercommons, or From Operations Management to Black Ops," by Stefano Harney https://www.academia.edu/6934195/Hapticality_in_the_Undercommons_or_From_Operations_Management_to_Black_Ops

"I want to take just two examples, very different. The first is the performance artist Athi-Patra Ruga. The second is photographer and filmmaker Zarina Bhimji. I don’t intend to read these artists nor to place them in a school or tradition. I want to say instead that they inspire me to think about the line today and its killing rhythm, and to think about the ways this line runs through us, and how it bypasses subject formation at work. But most of all I want to look at their work to think about what Fred calls Black Ops, and the undercommons their work invites us to feel around us.

When Athi-Patra Ruga stages his synchronised swimming in a bath bathed in bright coloured lights, or when he or his models appear in balloon suits, or in helmets of black hair and high heels, or naked with a white boy kabuki mask, climbing police stations or strolling down dusty roads or painting studios with their bodies, there is no question of ‘who am I’, There is nothing chameleon here, no subject in transformation. Instead there is a kind of militant access to the materials, to light, bright colours, hair, but also to flesh, intelligence, movement, liveliness. Ruga offers a practice of what runs through but is not based on the protocols of work, or a killing rhythm. This is a practice that helps me to see that access is already granted by the time it is granted, that what is found to be beautiful, erotic or painful, or mournful is what is already conducted, transduced in the flesh and the intellect before the arrival of the performance, the figure, the bursting embroidery of the painting. This is the line before the line that makes us vulnerable to abuse, and always more than that abuse.

The rhythm of the line is unsettled by such practices not because these practices unsettle the subject, something about which capital could not care less today, one way or the other. Ruga unsettles with what passes through, what recombines, what mocks and dances around the social factory in plain sight, late at night, on the lunch break, in the undercommons, in a differing rhythm. The line may speak of its innovation, entrepreneurship, and logistical reach, but it appears like the dull rhythm it is next to Ruga’s work, next to the hapticality that lets us feel our own access."]
athi-patraruga  southafrica  art  artists  uncommons  stefanoharney  hapticality  rhythm  performance  utopia  dystopia 
december 2017 by robertogreco
my friend pokey — futures market
"(ed. note: stephen died while writing this, may his sinful heart now rest in peace)

I think that every work implies an audience, i think that projected audience will be perpetually dreamlike and strange since it’s drawn not from human consciousness but from a form of same which has been distorted through embodiment in alien material. Refracted by some “medium” and then existing as a transferable, reproducible object and living an object life separable from the human circumstances by which it was produced. And I think that when we evaluate a work part of what we evaluate is this audience and the prospect of belonging to it, the possibility of a community with those assumptions and those values. The saying “give people what they want” always confuses me in this context because surely part of what they want is the possibility of wanting something else, of being a person who wants something else. Advertisements famously sell not just a product but also the prospect of being the kind of person who likes that product. Even the most conservative works pull a bait and switch in this regards in that part of what they suggest is the prospect of being a person who already knows what they want, of having character and qualities that persist in time rather than being a shapeless blob of experiences.

Avant-garde work could be said to be that which prioritises the formation of new audiences, or the possibility of forming new audiences, above any actual qualities which those audiences would have. It draws on the utopian aspect of creating new social structures, new communities, where whatever form they ultimately end up taking the fact that they can be made at all is in some way a celebration of agency and the possibility of new futures. But the other side of things is that even as the appeal of these imaginary communities comes partly from their distance from our real ones, they’re also evaluated on the basis of their feasibility - their power comes not just from a list of bloodless alternities but from possessing a transformative quality, the real possibility of enactment which is used to make demands on the contemporary. Not just a future but one already germinating in the present. And though I like and respect a lot of these works it’s also hard, for this reason, not to feel a little uneasy about them - because the imagery of an imminent, transfigurative break from the present has been so co-opted as a way to conceal the fundamental limitations and eerie inertia of capitalism that I think it’s hard for anything drawing on that tradition to escape lending credibility to it, even when its interests are directly opposed. 20+ years of an increasingly threadbare neoliberal consensus in the face of problems which grow more and more obvious mean the notion of an unexpected, miraculous shift in the causal order grows more and more central, from the vague sense that someone will invent, like, a moss or something which will stop global warming in the nick of time to the idea that the same clumsy, stupid videogames we’ve been bonking against invisible walls in for decades now will any minute now transmogrify into the effortless freefloating virtual lucid dreams of legend. And in fact videogames provide a constant running example of just how profitably this perception can be managed - - from a medium which from inception built upon a certain futuristic quality coming both from the historically new level of consumer access to computer technology and from decades of science-fiction representations of same, and which leveraged that into a perennial suggestion that the bright new day was always just around the corner - that by playing videogames now you were securing a kind of early-investor bragging rights to the media singularity to come. If there’s anything historically new about videogames it’s the extent to which the very suggestion of potential developments to be had later on was finally recognised as more profitable than any intrinsic qualities of the form itself.

And I think all this raises some problems when we think about avant-garde and experimental videogames, not just because in replicating some of the assumptions of the industry they risk being assimilated by it - you can’t game-design your way out of late capitalism, there are no final aesthetic solutions to economic problems etc - but because by repeating those assumptions they risk being judged by the standard of contribution to this same monolithic vidcon future, and then discarded accordingly when “the future” changes according to stockholder diktats. I mean that when you see these works as yet more expressions of “the medium” it’s harder for them to survive when that status is taken away again, and that at this point it’s difficult to conceive of a future of videogames that doesn’t in some way just flow back into the orthodox one still being sold.

Why does this matter. I think the videogame market will crash again because that’s what markets do, and when it does I believe it’ll be blamed on small engines, on unity and rpgmaker, on asset-flipping and joke simulators and walking games and political games rather than e.g. the incessant boom-bust cycles of capitalism or the fact that the particular interactive media singularity that videogames have invested so much image, money and energy into identifying themselves with looks more and more dated and less likely to happen. I think there’ll be more gamergate bullshit from people who invested in the stupid, stupid videogame dream and got told by youtube millionaires that it was being undermined from within by sjw fifth columnists making pug dating games. I think that just as places like YouTube have shown a willingness to quietly cut down on who’s able to make money through their service places like Steam will do the same thing, particularly after already raising the prospect of exponentially increasing the cost of using the store for small developers already. I think middlebrow columnists at the Atlantic will cash checks saying well, a lot of those games weren’t pushing the medium forward anyway, and that the whole thing will end up being recast as a morality tale about an overcrowded, overdiverse market, and that a lot of valuable work people are doing now will be just wiped from the record in the same way as a lot of pre-2007 indie games were, or flash games, or interactive CD-ROMs, or whatever the fuck.

I think that when this happens experimental games or avant garde games or alternative games will be seen less as possible alternatives to the mainstream tradition than as offshoots of it which got pruned, and I’m not sure how much help they will really be to anyone trying to figure out ways to make these things without getting pulled into the endless churning blood rotor of existing videogame culture.

I’ve written before that the game scenes which interest and excite me most are things like FNAF fangames, Undertale fangames, Unity horror games, RPG Maker games, hyperspecific utility pieces like the Prosperity Path orbs, less for any particular aesthetic or design qualities than for them being videogames which manage to escape some of the awful binary of Producer/Consumer and the ideas of “importance” which evolve later to help justify that perverse dynamic. Like what does it mean to experience a game if it’s just part of a big stack of almost interchangeable things and anyway you’re only absently going through it when searching for more stuff to steal for your own interchangeable thing. Which is healthier and more interesting than “art”. But I think part of it too is the sense of having a specific audience to bounce against, even if it’s just of people looking to take your Secret Of Mana midis, and the way that the concreteness of that audience helps defuse the kind of creeping tendency towards cultural speculation that comes with the belief in a big medium-wide payout somewhere down the line that’d justify the time and energies of everyone involved. I don’t think it’s enough to say people should make an effort to criticise games for what they are as opposed to what they might be, or whatever, insofar as that’s even possible. I think being able to appreciate what they are is dependent on recognizing that they have an audience which is similarly settled, similarly “just there”. And I think working towards constructing that kind of space would mean, yes, a sort of concession of “the future” to the stockholders of industry, renouncing the right to eventually reap that dread crop. But in the process being able to better engage with the present and all the disparite forces and strands within it who have similarly been lopped off that grand narrative, or were never part of it to begin with, and navigate all the ambiguities and potentials of that space. I think the future of videogames is the same kind of desperate, self-willed dream as those years worth of Twitter shares, for a company which has never actually been profitable, or the horrible locked-down image of infinity that sees new Rocket Racoon movies coming out every year til 2099, I think those dreams are ones that emerge and grow stronger as the actual basis for them either materially or affectively grows ever more decrepit, I think however overwhelming they get they can only really be strangled in the present.

As they say… no futur-what! what are you doing in my house! no-aieee!! (manuscript abruptly cuts off)"
via:tealtan  videogames  capitalism  avantgarde  audience  audiences  potential  invention  utopia  games  gaming  media  neoliberalism  2017  possibility  transcontextualism  alternative  art  future  markets  economics  alternities  transformation  change  fandom  agency  moss 
october 2017 by robertogreco
A Manifesto – Evergreen Review
"We devise and concoct ways to make each other beg for the most meager of resources. Death, which should simply be something that comes to us, is instead an instrument of dominion and torture. We have perfected instruments of death-making. We extend such deathery even to our social systems, creating ways to ensure that the poorest and most vulnerable among us will die because the rest of us don’t believe they deserve the methods and technologies by which we keep ourselves alive."



"And yet, even in our imagination, we cannot conceive of a world where abundance is enough. We can literally create anything we want and live without want, but we still want more.

In this imagined new world, we are still at war with others, crisscrossing space to divide it up into sectors and grids, cutting up even empty air into parcels the way we do patches of land. We make the vast and incomprehensible universe malleable by exerting our history of dispossession onto it. Our thirst for possession is as boundless as the universe we inhabit. Even our imagination is limited by avarice. This is why, dear aliens, I feel no real pain or sadness at the thought of what you might do to us. The sorrows and suffering we have inflicted upon each other, the degradations, the humiliations, the pain, the contrasts in resources and the creation of need—nothing in the universe can match what we have already done."



"Like the utopias they bring forth, manifestos are birthed in the possibility of failure. They succeed not in the audacity of hope but in the audacity of despair. What is the present and the future we need to keep imagining? What is a utopia? What is the nature of our utopias? Do we still dare to have any?"



"No one is outside ideology. Yet, too many Americans believe they are, and prefer to focus on how they feel: a particularly American problem is the preponderance of affect in politics. But when it comes to politics—to anything that calls itself justice—we should only pay attention to two questions: what do people need, and how do we get them what they need without having to beg? Yet our political programs are neither initiated nor sustained by the will to redistribute our ridiculously ample resources. Rather, we obsess over whether the people who receive them are worthy of our care. We ask questions we never ask the well-off: Are you deserving? Do you have the proper moral character? If we give you this money, how do we know you won’t spend it on cigarettes? If you buy food, will it be junk food or apples? But wait, how can we be sure you won’t blow it all on lobster?"



"If you want our help, then make us weep for you.

In that, the left has failed miserably. The left can barely articulate what it stands for without weeping for forgiveness for its own existence. This manifesto is an attempt to instantiate the left. How do we learn to be the left fearlessly, without either shame or arrogance?"



"No doubt, dear aliens, you will have found in your exploration of our debris or our archives (who knows in what state you encounter us) rants from leftists about “identity” or “identitarianism.” It has been difficult to convince this kind of activist that a true left finds a way to think about getting people what they need without erasing the material realities of their lives, but without capitulating to the essentializing of gender, race, ethnicity, and sexuality. Yet, even now, in most left organizations, it is women who do the emailing and the cleaning up, while the menfolk spout on about the revolution."



"A true left abjures philanthropy, which only enables the concentration of wealth by providing the super wealthy with fantastic tax breaks. A true left fights for a society where housing is not a matter of investment linked to the survival of an economy but simply a right. It fights for a world where prisons don’t exist to extract life from those whose failings, real or imagined, we cannot confront and whom we would rather shut away forever."



"
Such focus on Trump’s xenophobia ignores the fact that the millions of undocumented in this country became such under Bill Clinton. Two pieces of immigration legislation, in 1994 and 1996, made many simple misdemeanours into felonies only for non-citizens, and created the three- and ten-year bars on re-entry, which pushed undocumented people, now afraid of not being allowed to return if they should leave the country, into the shadows. Arguably, Trump has fine-tuned such mechanisms, but the tools for expulsion and removal were left there by Democratic administrations and are simply being sharpened and honed by this one."



"Resistance, like the heart, is a muscle, and needs to be constantly exercised. Instead, it’s become a buzzword. It’s made people think that somehow they’re soldiers now, fighting on every front. Ongoing work gets rebranded as “resistance” as if magically, due to the presence of Voldemort, everything changed overnight. The press plays up a collective sense of impending doom, making it seem like our lives are now unfolding like a scene from The Deathly Hallows."



"To liberals and lefties, this August 2016 exchange was evidence of Trump’s madness and his dangerously childish naivete. But in fact Trump’s response revealed the idiocy of nuclear weaponry and exposed the irrationality at the heart of American foreign policy: that somehow there is nothing wrong about possessing nuclear weapons."



"Neoliberalism is in fact capitalism made familiar, which is why I describe it as the endless privatisation of everyday life. It survives on vectors of intimacy, transforming capitalism into an emotional matter rather than an economic one, even though its incursions and devastations are deadly and long-lasting precisely because of the way it serves to insinuate itself into the machinations of the daily world."



"This is not to wax nostalgic about “neighborhoods” or to imply that everyone needs to be an “ethical gentrifier,” but to point out that the economic structure in relation to something as basic as housing is entirely set up to benefit the banking and finance industry. Meanwhile, Chicago resolutely and proudly refers to itself as a city of neighborhoods. The question is: who gets to belong, who gets phased out?"



"how neoliberalism operates upon various vectors of intimacy, and how that intimacy cuts across lines of class, race, and gender with varying effects."



"Over and over, Chicago and other cities fetishise their “neighborhood feel,” creating “community” out of displacement, demanding that the displaced then return only to satisfy the cravings the new residents refuse to acknowledge or to perform the jobs beneath the newcomers’ pay grade. Home ownership is what Americans, gay and straight, are expected to do as married people and the intimacy of married life brutally occludes the covert and hidden intimacies of transactions that keep underground economies flourishing.

Neoliberalism seduces us with its intimacy. Intimacy with our workplace, our occupation, the idea of having to “love” what you do: our work becomes our lover. Neoliberalism feeds off our sense of constant economic precariousness by convincing us that we must never demand more from the state or corporations, that what we label “sharing” economies are somehow community-based endeavors. And so people everywhere distribute their labor almost for free, in workplaces that are described as “mobile” and to which they “commute” as free agents. But these are in fact far more onerous than regular workplaces, and are mostly unregulated enterprises, and offer neither benefits nor protections (the field of “left publishing", including this publication, consists almost entirely of such labor).

But what they do is put us in touch with our own labor as something we control, birth, operate. We work with the illusion of control, but we are compelled, all the while, to cede it. We believe that having no control over the circumstances of our lives yields an intimacy that we cannot get elsewhere.

Neoliberalism survives as well as it does because its machinations allow people to express dissent even as they in fact only echo support for its worst effects. During Occupy, it was incredible to watch so many take to the streets, finally critical of how capitalism had wreaked its havoc. But as I wound my way through the massive crowds and their signs, it also became evident that the palpable anger was not so much at the system but that the system had failed them. Signs everywhere said, in effect, “I did the right thing for years, and I was still screwed over.” Everywhere, there was an anger at the ruling classes, certainly, but I couldn’t help but recall yet again those words about America’s “temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” The subsequent bailouts only confirmed a widespread sense that if we just fix the system, we can make it all better, when the system itself is the problem, and “fixing” it only serves to concentrate resources and power in the hands of fewer and fewer people."



"Capitalism flows unimpeded."



" Western analysts take their own social freedoms for granted—average Americans have, for many decades, left their parental homes in their late teens—but when it comes to other and what they fondly imagine as “more traditional” cultures, would prefer it if everyone just stayed transfixed in quaint old ways, please.

Neoliberalism fills the immediate needs of people in ways that other systems cannot—because, yes, that’s how capitalism functions, by dismantling our existing structures, and creating a need for new ones that provide the illusion of stability but in fact cause more harm. Consider schooling, at least in the US. We first eviscerated public education by defunding it, except in the wealthiest districts, and then created a demand for (exploitative, ruinous, substandard) … [more]
yasminnair  2017  society  manifestos  left  love  compassion  justice  socialjustice  utopia  ideology  charity  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  charitableindustrialcomplex  government  excess  abundance  hunger  healthcare  gender  race  racism  sexism  homophobia  neoliberalism  capitalism  feminism  systems  sytemsthinking  socialism  communism  migration  immigration  donaldtrump  barackobama  hillaryclinton  resistance  future  climatechange  neighborhoods  gentrification  chicago  privatization  class  classism  poverty  sexuality  intersectionality  compromise  change  organization  economics  power  control 
october 2017 by robertogreco
SOLARPUNK : A REFERENCE GUIDE – Solarpunks – Medium
"Solarpunk is a movement in speculative fiction, art, fashion and activism that seeks to answer and embody the question “what does a sustainable civilization look like, and how can we get there?” The aesthetics of solarpunk merge the practical with the beautiful, the well-designed with the green and wild, the bright and colorful with the earthy and solid. Solarpunk can be utopian, just optimistic, or concerned with the struggles en route to a better world — but never dystopian. As our world roils with calamity, we need solutions, not warnings. Solutions to live comfortably without fossil fuels, to equitably manage scarcity and share abundance, to be kinder to each other and to the planet we share. At once a vision of the future, a thoughtful provocation, and an achievable lifestyle.
In progress…"

[See also:
http://solarpunks.tumblr.com/post/165763925033/solarpunk-a-reference-guide-solarpunks

"This page is an attempt to open up the optics of the Solarpunk community/genre for newcomers and others looking for references. A lot of the early discussions happened on tumblr dot com from 2014 onward after @missolivialouise‘s character concept post took off — with a core community of stewards who know who they are.

What follows is not meant to be an exhaustive list but hopefully will increasingly become one. We’re also aware that we are missing almost all of the art references from this list. :(

We also didn’t include any posts from us here at http://solarpunks.tumblr.com

Please get in touch (DM) with art and their references as a lot of content has lost their attribution  — @thejaymo"]
solarpunk  reference  speculativefiction  art  fashion  activism  sustainability  civilization  utopia  dystopia  optimism  kindness  future  futurism 
october 2017 by robertogreco
We’ve Hoped Our Way Into Our Current Crisis | On Being
"Those are some of my oldest memories, my literal “dark night of the soul.” The heightened turmoil we’re living through these days echoes my despair from that time. I think of it when so often we’re urged to embrace hope as an antidote. Hope for a brighter day. Hope for justice. Hope for peace. Hope that compassion will win out. But speaking for myself, I’m giving up hope.

Not that I don’t understand the impulse. It’s tempting to think that looking to the future will get me through hardship. But in my life’s struggles, hope hasn’t worked out that way. Too often hope has hardened into anticipation and expectation for specific outcomes. At times, I’ve believed that if only I could reach that next achievement — an age, a job, a relationship, a house, a car, an academic degree, a lifestyle — then I’d be content.

Similarly, our culture encourages us to believe that reaching the next societal goal will create the utopia (or a reasonable facsimile) that we crave. Getting this court decision, passing that law, having this candidate elected will mean we’ve finally arrived. We’ll become in reality the country we’ve always pretended to be.

But I think we’ve hoped our way into this current crisis. Rather than facing the hard truths about our historical and continuing inequality and doing the hard work of examining our institutions, our traditions, and ourselves, we’ve floated along hoping things would inevitably get better. We’ve lived too much in the rosy future and far too little in the messy present. And we’ve allowed the hope-turned-expectation of progress to blind us.

This oblivious hope explains why so many were blindsided by rising racist rhetoric, by the videos of police shootings, by last year’s election, and by the national dissension that has exploded since November. People marginalized by racism, misogyny, homophobia, ableism, and other forms of oppression have tried to get the nation’s attention for decades.

The response? “We’re America. Have hope.” Before our eyes, that view is being unmasked for the fantasy it is.

But if not hope, then what? Do we let ourselves wallow in bitterness and despair, throw up our hands and resign ourselves to injustice and oppression?

I have no one-size-fits-all prescription; that’s been part of our problem — and part of the problem with hope. It encourages us to think that if we do certain things, take certain steps, achieve certain milestones, we will get the outcomes we want. It assumes that we have the solutions and we can control the future.

That’s not how the universe works. Nothing we can do will give us complete control. If history has taught us anything, it should have taught us that. Hoping and despairing about what we can’t control only distracts us from what we can: our actions in the present. Right now.

When I recall the asthmatic child I once was, I remember that though I had hopes and dreams about the future, that’s not what kept me going. I read incessantly: books and newspapers, my mother’s Ladies Home Journal and Redbook, Catholic missionary magazines and comic books. I began writing stories and journals while in elementary school. I watched films, inhaling the structures of narrative, the music of language. I listened to how people talked: their accents and inflections, their changes of register and style, their ways of arguing, praying, cursing. I thought about why people did what they did, what motivated them. I spent time alone, walking in nature, reflecting on and wrestling with myself.

At the time I didn’t know I was making myself a writer. I just responded to what called me.

Parenting, too, has taught me about hope. Like so many parents, I’ve indulged hopes about how my children will be at a given point in their lives. But, children being children, things turn out differently. Eventually I learned that I feel calmer and parent better when I focus on what they need in the present. I spend less time mentally playing sepia-toned, soft focus futures of achievement, and concentrate on clothing them, feeding them, and giving them boundaries and the love they need right now. I realized that if I valued being a good parent, if I loved them, I had no other choice.

You see, whether I get what I want turns out to not actually be my business. This insight came as quite a surprise, living as we do in a culture of control (not to say domination), a culture that deifies power over people, nature, possessions, aging, time, even death. But I don’t control whether I get what I want because I don’t control the universe; I live within it.

So I don’t need hope (or control) to act. I don’t need hope to figure out what I should do and how I should live. I have values. I have beliefs. I can examine whether they’re grounded in reality. And I can use those values to ask myself with each choice, “Am I being — right now — the person I believe I should be? Am I acting in line with truth, with reality, with the way I think life should be lived?”

If I believe in justice, do I express that belief? Do I work against injustice? Do I choose to undermine oppression or further it? Not because I know I’ll “win” or “succeed,” but because I’ve committed myself to living the way I think I should live.

At my best, I answer what each moment and my values call me to do. Sometimes it’s to rest, to reflect. Sometimes it’s to play. Sometimes it’s to connect with friends and loved ones. Sometimes it’s to struggle, critique, speak out. Sometimes to listen. Sometimes to celebrate. Sometimes to grieve. Each moment makes its demand, and I’m seeking the kind of life where I hear and answer that need as often as I can.

Contrary to our control-obsessed culture, the alternative to hope isn’t passivity or despair. It’s living. It’s being humble and real. It’s being here."
miguelclarkmallet  hope  everyday  passivity  despair  2017  life  living  engagement  justice  integrity  control  domination  power  humanism  parenting  achievement  injustice  oppression  marginalization  us  utopia  society  progress  progressivism  present  presence 
september 2017 by robertogreco
some thoughts on the humanities - Text Patterns - The New Atlantis
"The idea that underlies Bakhtin’s hopefulness, that makes discovery and imagination essential to the work of the humanities, is, in brief, Terence’s famous statement, clichéd though it may have become: Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto. To say that nothing human is alien to me is not to say that everything human is fully accessible to me, fully comprehensible; it is not to erase or even to minimize cultural, racial, or sexual difference; but it is to say that nothing human stands wholly outside my ability to comprehend — if I am willing to work, in a disciplined and informed way, at the comprehending. Terence’s sentence is best taken not as a claim of achievement but as an essential aspiration; and it is the distinctive gift of the humanities to make that aspiration possible.

It is in this spirit that those claims that, as we have noted, emerged from humanistic learning, must be evaluated: that our age is postmodern, posthuman, postsecular. All the resources and practices of the humanities — reflective and critical, inquiring and skeptical, methodologically patient and inexplicably intuitive — should be brought to bear on these claims, and not with ironic detachment, but with the earnest conviction that our answers matter: they are, like those master concepts themselves, both diagnostic and prescriptive: they matter equally for our understanding of the past and our anticipating of the future."
alanjacobs  posthumanism  2016  humanities  understanding  empathy  postmodernism  postsecularism  georgesteiner  kennethburke  foucault  stephengrenblatt  via:lukeneff  erikdavis  raykurzweil  claudeshannon  mikhailbakhtin  terence  difference  comprehension  aspiration  progress  listening  optimism  learning  inquiry  history  future  utopia  michelfoucault 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Apocalypse, Now - On The Media - WNYC
"Science fiction has always been an outlet for our greatest anxieties. This week, we delve into how the genre is exploring the reality of climate change. Plus: new words to describe the indescribable.

1. Jeff VanderMeer @jeffvandermeer, author of the Southern Reach Trilogy and Borne, on writing about the relationships between people and nature.

2. Claire Vaye Watkins @clairevaye talks about Gold Fame Citrus, her work of speculative fiction in which an enormous sand dune threatens to engulf the southwest. 

3. Kim Stanley Robinson discusses his latest work, New York 2140. The seas have risen 50 feet and lower Manhattan is submerged. And yet, there's hope.

4. British writer Robert Macfarlane @RobGMacfarlane on new language for our changing world.

Throughout the show: listeners offer their own new vocabulary for the Anthropocene era. Many thanks to everyone who left us voice memos!"
robertmacfarlane  kimstanleyrobinson  clairevayewatkins  jeffvandermeer  sciencefiction  scifi  speculativefiction  anthropocene  humans  nature  multispecies  language  tolisten  economics  finance  cli-fi  climatechange  utopia  names  naming  silence  pessimism  optimism  hope  dystopia  anthopocene  deserts  natue  change  earth 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Monstrous, Duplicated, Potent | Issue 28 | n+1
"On first read, I was dazzled and bewildered. Desperate to impress the organizer, who I thought brilliant, I strained over it line by line in hopes of insight. In the end, I mumbled through our meeting. I didn’t understand the Manifesto until I’d read it three more times. In truth, I probably still don’t. But for a young woman struggling to understand the world after Hurricane Katrina and a global financial crisis, Haraway beckoned. She offered a way to make sense of the things that seemed absent from politics as I knew it: science, nature, feminism.

The Manifesto proclaims itself to be against origin stories, but its own is hard to resist. In 1982, the Marxist journal Socialist Review — a bicoastal publication originally titled Socialist Revolution, whose insurrectionary name was moderated in the late 1970s as politics soured — asked Haraway to write five pages on the priorities of socialist feminism in the Reagan era. Haraway responded with thirty. It was the first piece, she claimed, she had ever written on a computer (a Hewlett-Packard-86). The submission caused controversy at the journal, with disagreement breaking down along geographic lines. As Haraway later recalled in an interview, “The East Coast Collective truly disapproved of it politically and did not want it published.” The more catholic West Coast won out, and the Manifesto was published in 1985 as “A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the 1980s,” though it has been known colloquially as the Cyborg Manifesto ever since.

In one sense, Haraway did what she was asked: she outlined the contemporary state of political economy from a socialist-feminist perspective. Her reading of the shift to post-Fordism was loose but lucid. The rise of communications technologies made it possible to disperse labor globally while still controlling it, she noted, scattering once-unionized factory jobs across the continents. The gender of industrial work was changing too: there were more women assembling computer chips in East Asia than men slapping together cars in the American Midwest. Automation was lighter and brighter: in place of hulking industrial machinery, our “machines are made of sunshine” — but this light, invisible power nevertheless caused “immense human pain in Detroit and Singapore.” Family structures were changing: mothers increasingly worked outside the home and headed up the household. The result was what Haraway, drawing on Richard Gordon, called the homework economy — a pointed term for what’s euphemistically and blandly called the service economy.

The Manifesto offered a new politics for this new economy. Prescient about the need to organize the feminized, if not always female, sectors, Haraway explicitly called leftists to support SEIU District 925, a prominent campaign to unionize office workers. She also criticized the idea of a universal subject, whether held up by Marxists (the proletarian) or radical feminists (the woman). A new politics had to be constructed not around a singular agent but on the basis of a patchwork of identities and affinities. How, then, to find unity across difference, make political subjects in a postmodern era, and build power without presuming consensus? “One is too few, but two are too many,” she wrote cryptically. “One is too few, and two is only one possibility.” Acting as isolated individuals leads nowhere, but the effort to act collectively cannot leave difference aside. Women of color, Haraway suggested, following Chela Sandoval, could not rely on the stability of either category; they might lead the way in forging a new, nonessentialist unity based on affinity rather than identity.

This is where the metaphor of the cyborg comes in. For Haraway, the cyborg is a hybrid figure that crosses boundaries: between human and machine, human and animal, organism and machine, reality and fiction. As a political subject, it is expansive enough to encompass the range of human experience in all its permutations. A hybrid, it is more than one, but less than two.

In place of old political formations, Haraway imagined new cyborgian ones. She hoped that “the unnatural cyborg women making chips in Asia and spiral dancing in Santa Rita Jail” would together “guide effective oppositional strategies.” Her paradigmatic “cyborg society” was the Livermore Action Group, an antinuclear activist group targeting the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a nuclear-weapons-research facility in Northern California. The group, she thought, was “committed to building a political form that actually manages to hold together witches, engineers, elders, perverts, Christians, mothers, and Leninists long enough to disarm the state.”

What set the Manifesto apart from other reconceptions of feminism was its embrace of science. The cyborg was a figure that only a feminist biologist — herself an unlikely figure — could imagine. While by the 1980s many feminists were wary of biological claims about sexual difference, evading charges of essentialism by separating sex from gender (biology might give you a certain body, but society conditioned how you lived in it), Haraway argued that failing to take a position on biology was to “lose too much” — to surrender the notion of the body itself as anything more than a “blank page for social inscriptions.” Distinguishing her attachment to the body from the usual Earth Mother connotations was its famous closing line: “I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess.”

Who wouldn’t? The cyborg’s popularity was no doubt fueled in part by the vision of a bionic babe it suggested — a Furiosa or the Terminator — though it couldn’t be further from her meaning. Asked what she considered a true moment of cyborgness in 1999, Haraway responded, “the sense of the intricacy, interest, and pleasure — as well as the intensity — of how I have imagined how like a leaf I am.” The point was not that she shared some biological commonality with a leaf, or that she felt leaves to be kindred spirits (though she very well might have). What made her giddy was the thought of all the work that had gone into producing the knowledge that she was like a leaf — how incredible it was to be able to know such a thing — and the kinds of relationship to a leaf that such knowledge made possible.

Despite her frequent reminders that it was written as a “mostly sober” intervention into socialist-feminist politics rather than “the ramblings of a blissed-out, techno-bunny fembot,” many still read it as the latter. Wired profiled her enthusiastically in 1997. “To boho twentysomethings,” they wrote, “her name has the kind of cachet usually reserved for techno acts or new phenethylamines.” (More recently, the entrepreneurial synthetic biologist Drew Endy deployed the Manifesto in support of his bid to label synthetic biological products as “natural” under federal guidelines to increase their appeal to cautious consumers.)

Its Reagan-era coordinates may have changed, but the Manifesto remains Haraway’s most widely read work. The cyborg became a celebrity, as did Haraway herself, both serving as signifiers of a queer, savvy, self-aware feminism. Yet she has grown weary of its success, admonishing readers that “cyborgs are critters in a queer litter, not the Chief Figure of Our Times.”

Somewhat counterintuitively, it’s Haraway herself who sometimes seems the Chief Figure. There’s no Harawavian school, though she has many acolytes. She does not belong to any particular school herself, though many have attempted to place her. You can’t really do a Harawavian analysis of the economy or the laboratory; other than the cyborg, she’s produced few portable concepts or frameworks. Her own individual prominence runs counter to her view of intellectual work as collectively produced. Yet for thirty years she’s been ahead of intellectual trends, not by virtue of building foundational frameworks but by inspiring others to spawn and spur entire fields, from feminist science studies to multispecies ethics. Her work tends to emerge from problems she sees in the world rather than from engagement with literatures, thinkers, or trends, yet it manages to transcend mere timeliness.

Her new book, Staying with the Trouble, is a commentary on the most pressing threat of our era: catastrophic climate change. It’s hard to think of someone better suited to the task. Climate change requires ways of thinking capable of confronting the closely bound future of countless humans and nonhumans, the basis for certainty in scientific findings, the political consequences of such knowledge, and the kinds of political action that such consequences call for. If Haraway has long practiced such hybrid thinking, that also means the problem best suited to challenging her thought — to testing its mettle, and its usefulness to our political future — has decisively arrived."



"Under Hutchinson’s supervision, she wrote a dissertation heavily influenced by Thomas Kuhn’s 1962 landmark The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn had caused an uproar with his argument that rather than steadily progressing toward truth, the production of scientific knowledge was marked by conflict and upheaval. What scientists had once been certain was true would eventually be considered wrong. Each emerging framework was often incommensurable with what had come before. Kuhn called this phenomenon a “paradigm shift.” A classic example was the transition from Newtonian physics to Einsteinian relativity."

[See also: "Cthulhu plays no role for me"
https://www.viewpointmag.com/2017/05/08/cthulhu-plays-no-role-for-me/ ]
donnaharaway  2017  science  scientism  feminism  cyborgs  serviceeconomy  economics  academia  philosophy  1982  1985  california  ucsantacruz  queerness  biology  nancyhartstock  marxism  fredericjameson  hueynewton  angeladavis  historyofconsciousness  teresadelauretis  climatechange  anthropocene  naomiklein  blockadia  rustenhogness  kinstanleyrobinson  cyborgmanifesto  jamesclifford  histcon  alyssabattistoni  blackpantherparty  bobbyseale  jayemiller  historyofscience  radicalism  radicalscience  multispecies  animals  praxis  gregorybateson  systemsthinking  language  storytelling  politics  intersectionality  situatedknowledge  solidarity  perspective  thomaskuhn  epistemology  reality  consciousness  primatology  theory  empiricism  octaviabutler  sciencefiction  scifi  patriarchy  colonialism  racism  ignorance  objectivity  curiosity  technology  biotechnology  technofuturism  companionspecies  dogs  ethics  chthulucene  capitalocene  ursulaleguin  utopia  mundane  kinship  families  unity  friendship  work  labor  hope  sophielewis  blackpanthers 
may 2017 by robertogreco
'Capitalism will always create bullshit jobs' | Owen Jones meets Rutger Bregman - YouTube
"Rutger Bregman is the author of Utopia for Realists and he advocates for more radical solutions to address inequality in society. His ideas include the introduction of a universal basic income, a 15 hour working week and, one which will be hugely popular on YouTube, open borders.

When I went to meet him, he told me politicians have failed to come up with new, radical ideas, instead sticking to an outdated, technocratic form of politics. He argues this has allowed politicians like Geert Wilders and Donald Trump to slowly shift extreme ideas into the mainstream."
rutgerbregman  bullshitjobs  consumerism  utopia  work  labor  davidgraeber  universalbasicincome  2017  inequality  purpose  emotionallabor  society  socialism  leisurearts  artleisure  boredom  stress  workweek  productivity  policy  politics  poverty  health  medicine  openborders  crime  owenjones  socialjustice  progressivism  sustainability  left  us  germany  migration  immigration  capitalism  netherlands  populism  isolationism  violence  pragmatism  realism  privatization  monopolies  ideology  borders  ubi 
march 2017 by robertogreco
An Elegy for the Library - The New York Times
"Computers are much too costly for many families. Even books remain out of reach. The library’s website lists “uninterrupted lighting” as one of its services — a real draw in a city that suffers from frequent power cutoffs. This is a place of refuge. It offers a respite from the heat, from office life, from noisy households, from all the irritations that crowd in.

It also offers the intangible entanglements of a common space. One of my favorite descriptions of the public library comes from the journalist and academic Sophie Mayer, who has called it “the ideal model of society, the best possible shared space,” because there “each person is pursuing their own aim (education, entertainment, affect, rest) with respect to others, through the best possible medium of the transmission of ideas, feelings and knowledge — the book.”

Libraries may have their idiosyncrasies, but the fundamentals of their ecosystem are universal. They are places of long breaks, of boredom and reverie, of solace and deliberation. They offer opportunities for unobtrusive observation, stolen glances and frissons, anticipation and nudging possibilities. And when the sensible realization strikes that a thrilling plan is better left unaccomplished, they might also become sites of abandonment."
libraries  maheshrao  refuge  society  utopia  pocketsofutopia  boredom  reverie  2017  solace  liberation 
february 2017 by robertogreco
Parable Of The Sower – Not 1984 – Is The Dystopia For Our Age – Nnedi Okorafor
"Following US President Donald Trump’s inauguration, George Orwell’s classic dystopia 1984 jumped to number one on Amazon’s list of best-selling books, just the latest sign of the genre’s current popularity.

But Nigerian-American World Fantasy Award winner Nnedi Okorafor said 1984 is not the dystopia that feels most relevant to her at this point in history. “After everything that happened, I’m not reading 1984, I’m not reading Fahrenheit 451, I’m not reading A Handmaid’s Tale. I’m reading Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. I feel like if we’re looking for any answers or where we’re going, it’s definitely in Octavia’s work.”

Speaking to The Stream on Al Jazeera, Okorafor read from the African-American novelist’s 1998 sequel, the Nebula-winning Parable of the Talents, which features a presidential candidate, Andrew Steele Jarret, who rises to power by promising, like Trump, to “make America great again,” and whose supporters are known to form mobs to burn and feather and tar those who don’t “quite match Jarret’s version of Christianity.”

Okorafor added that “the definition of dystopia depends on the group of people.” The Stream host, Femi Oke, used the regular power cuts in Nigeria as an example, saying, “Not having regular power could be the end of civilisation if you live in Brooklyn but not if you live in Abuja.”

New York Times bestselling Chinese-American author Marie Lu agrees. She lived in Beijing at the time of the Tiananmen Square protests, a period most in the West would have described as dystopian, but says during her time there it felt “like that’s just everyday life.”

Utopias for some are normally dystopias for others. Ron Charles, the fiction editor for The Washington Post, recounts a conversation with a professor of American-American literature. “She said what’s so interesting to her is that white people always think of dystopias as looking forward into this scary future, but black Americans can look back. They’ve already come through their dystopia. They had 200 years of horror and slavery. All the kinds of things we imagine the future dystopia being like are what black Americans already went through.”

Lu takes this further, saying, “There has never been a time in which we have not been living through a dystopia.”

Okorafor’s novels have been described as both dystopian and Afrofuturism, but she doesn’t see a contradiction in the terms. “Afrofuturism isn’t always upbeat,” she says. “A lot of it is in response to the darkness and trying to show the light but a lot of it goes dark… Afrofuturism is very diverse, so pinning it down to being focused on upliftment and being positive is a little short-sighted.”

Asked about what she’s currently working on, Okorafor said she is editing a “not so dark” novel called Remote Control, set in the future in Ghana, dealing with both technology and mysticism.

Watch the full discussion, which also features Dakar-based photographer Fabrice Monteiro, at https://fabricemonteiro.viewbook.com/ "

[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQpdYT3jByM ]
dystopia  nnediokorafor  marielu  roncharles  afrofuturism  fabricemonteiro  femioke  2017  present  future  optimism  utopia  1984  georgeorwell  octaviabutler  parableofthesower  civilization 
february 2017 by robertogreco
David Byrne | Journal | A Society in Miniature
"How does one learn to think different?

The Tate show is wonderful, even if it only covers a smattering of Bob’s prodigious output. The curator, Achim Borchardt-Hume, met my friend and I, and we began to ask about the place where Bob spent some of his formative years, Black Mountain College, in western North Carolina, near Asheville. We were curious what sort of place would nurture the innovation and free thinking of someone like Bob, as well as that of host of other writers, artists, architects, composers and choreographers who passed through that place. Ultimately one wants to know, can that spark be re-ignited, in a contemporary way?

That tiny place in Asheville North Carolina seemed to possess some magic ingredient during its relatively short life—pre- and post-WWII—that produced an incredible number of ground-breaking creators in a wide range of fields. It almost seemed as if everyone who was touched by that place, by their experience there, went on to a have a major impact in the 20th century, and beyond.

It was established in 1933, during the depths of the economic depression, and by the time the war was in full swing the faculty included an amazing group of people. Here is a partial list: Josef and Anni Albers, he a teacher and artist from the Bauhaus in Germany, she a textile artist; Walter Gropius, the innovative German modernist architect; painter Jacob Lawrence; the painters Elaine and Willem de Kooning and Robert Motherwell; Alfred Kazin, the writer; Buckminster Fuller the writer and architect—he made his dome there in ‘48; Paul Goodman, the playwright and social critic and poet Charles Olson. Poet William Carlos Williams and even Albert Einstein eventually joined the staff, as well.

The students were a hugely influential and innovative bunch, too. As word spread others visited there during their summer sessions to create new work—in 1952, John Cage came down and staged his first "happening" here while students Rauschenberg and Merce Cunningham assisted him with what later became known as performance art. There were painters Cy Twombly, Kenneth Noland, Dorothea Rockburne, Ben Shahn, Franz Kline, film director (Bonnie and Clyde!) Arthur Penn, writer Francine du Plessix Gray and poet Robert Creeley.

What kind of place could attract and nurture this diverse group of people?

One can’t help but wonder if there was a formula and if the kind of radical innovation that happened there and that was carried out into the world can be repeated. What was that formula? Was it the teachers? The location? The philosophy? The students—the self-selected types who opted to try that kind of experiment?

Here are the basics of the school’s philosophy. John Rice, the founder, believed that the arts are as important as academic subjects:

1. There was less segregation between disciplines than what might find at a conventional school.
2. There was also no separation between faculty and students; they ate together and mingled freely.
3. There were no grades.
4. One didn’t have to attend classes. During break sessions the faculty trusted the students, and, as a result—without the top down rules—the students worked harder than during normal class times.
5. Here’s what now seems like a really radical idea—manual labor (gardening, construction, etc) was also key. Try that at Harvard!. No one had outside jobs; they they all chipped in to build the actual school and to help serving meals or doing maintenance. The schools finances were somewhat precarious, so this was an practical economical measure as well as being philosophical. In order to allow for these daytime activities and work, classes were often scheduled at night!

A Society in Miniature—Created by its Members

It was also believed that the school community should be a kind of miniature society and to that end it should be democratic and communal. Students were on the school board and they chimed in on hiring and all the other decisions. All of these things—the work, play and learning balance, the non separation of disciplines and the self determination—were believed by the founders to be equally important. Students, Rice believed, learned better through experience than from the passing on of rote information. It was not a top down kind of education—it was non-hierarchical in that sense—and one was encouraged to discover things for oneself. Not all students are cut out for this (some kids do need discipline!), but the ones that did thrived. Needless to say, that also meant that as a result collaboration, experimentation and work across disciplines was all encouraged. The idea was less to turn out clever academics, but rather to help students find themselves and become a “complete person”. You weren’t learning a trade, but learning how to think, how to collaborate and cooperate.

The overarching theme as I see it (but maybe not explicitly expressed) is that students—with the help of the faculty—were here to create a kind of society in miniature. THIS was the deep and rich experience that they would take with them—something far more profound than specific lessons in creative writing, engineering or color theory.

I asked the curator, Achim, if these new ideas about progressive education and their implementation were what was primarily responsible for the explosion of creativity in this tiny school. He said, yes, those factors were influential, but just as much were other factors—the fact that many of the faculty were refugees (those pesky immigrants!) from the rise of nationalism and intolerance going on in Europe at the time. So you had this influx of some of the best and the brightest. The little college reached out for talent and they came to this little tolerant oasis in the Smoky Mountains. Oddly they did not end up at the big name universities—they gravitated to the mountains of North Carolina. (Though later some did end up at Yale and elsewhere.)

Rice himself asked Josef Albers to create the arts curriculum (though Philip Johnson made the recommendation), as the Bauhaus was being shuttered as Nazi influence grew across Germany. Albers was key in mixing disciplines in the arts department; there was little distinction made between fine and decorative arts (Ani Albers made nice rugs), as well none between architecture, theater, music, dance and writing. A writer in the literature deparment developed the pottery program. I personally find Albers artwork boring, but as pedagogical aids (and demonstrations of how our eyes and brains work) they are gorgeous. There’s an interactive tablet app version of his course available now—lots of fun.

Rauschenberg was very receptive to Werklehre, Albers's teaching method that incorporated design elements. In his teaching, Alber used various non-traditional art materials like paper, wire, rocks and wood to demonstrate the possibilities and limits of those various materials. He would have his students fold paper into sculptures so that they might understand the three dimensional properties of what is ordinarily seen as two dimensional. He had them solve color problems by devising situations in which colors are perceived differently in different environments. For a comparison, this was not about learning oil painting techniques

Bob hated Albers—he was too didactic for Bob’s freewheeling sensibility. But to his credit, Albers realized his limitations and brought in others who were very different in sensibility than he and his wife. He allowed for difference. Bob too adapted, he recognized the value of the discipline that Albers espoused.

Achim pointed out that these innovative artists allowed the Black Mountain students to experience the most innovative ideas that had been emerging in Europe firsthand (see learning by experience above). They were getting this stuff before many others and in a more visceral way. Intolerance was draining the sources of innovation from large parts of Europe and they would find roots in this odd corner of the New World.

The place Asheville was and still is an island of open mindedness and tolerance in a state that is fairly conservative. Other southern colleges were still quite segregated, but Black Mountain bravely bucked that tradition. They admitted Alma Stone Williams, the first black student to attend an all white educational institution in the South. I’m going to propose that the atmosphere in Asheville might have helped to allow these things to happen; in other southern towns Ms. Williams would have been hounded and possibly driven out. (That said, some of the locals thought the school as all about wild behavior and orgies.) The school wanted to bring the (NY-based black) painter Jacob Lawrence to visit, but busses, as we know, were segregated at the time, so they had a car drive him all the way down from NY. Homosexuality was tolerated there, as well, which, given that word of this tolerance might have gotten out, all of this may have encouraged young men who didn’t fit in to attend this college—a place where they wouldn’t be viewed simply as perverts and freaks. In this too I’d argue that Asheville had a tolerant hand.

Bob continued to be active post Black Mountain, and, though we might consider the idea naive, he believed in the power of art to bring people together. His series of international collaborations—ROCI—produced some wonderful work, but maybe just as important, his presence in many countries kick started a whole generation of younger artists in those places around the world.

Is This a Model for Today?

Are you kidding? Yes, in all ways—in the collaborations and the innovative work, in the tolerance and welcoming of the persecuted and unappreciated. We need to look to this place and time as a model for today—and boy do we need it now more than ever!

Why should we emulate this? Well, because it works! The ideas that flowed out of this place changed the course of 20th century innovation in a wide range of fields, and the influence is still being … [more]
2017  davidbyrne  bmc  blackmountaincollege  via:austinkleon  sfsh  education  thinking  learning  society  pocketsofutopia  utopia  roberrauschenberg  anialbers  josefalbers  achimborchardt-hume  jacoblawrence  diversity  johnrice  segregation  integration  agesegregation  hierarchy  horizontality  grades  grading  bauhaus  refugees  werklehre  asheville  almastonewilliams  alberteinstein  inclusivity  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  johncage  process  tcsnnmy  progressive  johndewey  work  community  democracy 
february 2017 by robertogreco
John Berger remembered – by Geoff Dyer, Olivia Laing, Ali Smith and Simon McBurney | Books | The Guardian
"Ali Smith

I heard John Berger speaking at the end of 2015 in London at the British Library. Someone in the audience talked about A Seventh Man, his 1975 book about mass migrancy in which he says: “To try to understand the experience of another it is necessary to dismantle the world as seen from one’s own place within it and to reassemble it as seen from his.”

The questioner asked what Berger thought about the huge movement of people across the world. He put his head in his hands and sat and thought; he didn’t say anything at all for what felt like a long time, a thinking space that cancelled any notion of soundbite. When he answered, what he spoke about ostensibly seemed off on a tangent. He said: “I have been thinking about the storyteller’s responsibility to be hospitable.”

As he went on, it became clear how revolutionary, hopeful and astute his thinking was. The act of hospitality, he suggested, is ancient and contemporary and at the core of every story we’ve ever told or listened to about ourselves – deny it, and you deny all human worth. He talked about the art act’s deep relationship with this, and with inclusion. Then he gave us a definition of fascism: one set of human beings believing it has the right to cordon off and decide about another set of human beings.

A few minutes with Berger and a better world, a better outcome, wasn’t fantasy or imaginary, it was impetus – possible, feasible, urgent and clear. It wasn’t that another world was possible; it was that this world, if we looked differently, and responded differently, was differently possible.

His readers are the inheritors, across all the decades of his work, of a legacy that will always reapprehend the possibilities. We inherit his routing of the “power-shit” of everyday corporate hierarchy and consumerism, his determined communality, his ethos of unselfishness in a solipsistic world, his procreative questioning of the given shape of things, his articulate compassion, the relief of that articulacy. We inherit writing that won’t ever stop giving. A reader coming anywhere near his work encounters life-force, thought-force – and the force, too, of the love all through it.

It’s not just hard, it’s impossible, to think about what he’s given us over the years in any past tense. Everything about this great thinker, one of the great art writers, the greatest responders, is vital – and response and responsibility in Berger’s work always make for a fusion of thought and art as a force for the understanding, the seeing more clearly and the making better of the world we’re all citizens of. But John Berger gone? In the dark times, what’ll we do without him? Try to live up to him, to pay what Simone Weil called (as he notes in his essay about her) “creative attention”. The full Weil quote goes: “Love for our neighbour, being made of creative attention, is analogous to genius.”

Berger’s genius is its own fertile continuum – radical, brilliant, gentle, uncompromising – in the paying of an attention that shines with the fierce intelligence, the loving clarity of the visionary he was, is, and always will be.

***

Geoff Dyer

There is a long and distinguished tradition of aspiring writers meeting the writer they most revere only to discover that he or she has feet of clay. Sometimes it doesn’t stop at the feet – it can be legs, chest and head too – so that the disillusionment taints one’s feelings about the work, even about the trade itself. I count it one of my life’s blessings that the first great writer I ever met – the writer I admired above all others – turned out to be an exemplary human being. Nothing that has happened in the 30-odd years since then has diminished my love of the books or of the man who wrote them.

It was 1984. John Berger, who had radically altered and enlarged my ideas of what a book could be, was in London for the publication of And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos. I interviewed him for Marxism Today. He was 58, the age I am now. The interview went well but he seemed relieved when it was over – because, he said, now we could go to a pub and talk properly.

It was the highpoint of my life. My contemporaries had jobs, careers – some even owned houses – but I was in a pub with John Berger. He urged me to send him things I’d written – not the interview, he didn’t care about that, he wanted to read my own stuff. He wrote back enthusiastically. He was always encouraging. A relationship cannot be sustained on the basis of reverence and we soon settled into being friends.

The success and acclaim he enjoyed as a writer allowed him to be free of petty vanities, to concentrate on what he was always so impatient to achieve: relationships of equality. That’s why he was such a willing collaborator – and such a good friend to so many people, from all walks of life, from all over the world. There was no limit to his generosity, to his capacity to give. This did more than keep him young; it combined with a kind of negative pessimism to enable him to withstand the setbacks dished out by history. In an essay on Leopardi he proposed “that we are not living in a world in which it is possible to construct something approaching heaven-on-earth, but, on the contrary, are living in a world whose nature is far closer to that of hell; what difference would this make to any single one of our political or moral choices? We would be obliged to accept the same obligations and participate in the same struggle as we are already engaged in; perhaps even our sense of solidarity with the exploited and suffering would be more single-minded. All that would have changed would be the enormity of our hopes and finally the bitterness of our disappointments.”

While his work was influential and admired, its range – in both subject matter and form – makes it difficult to assess adequately. Ways of Seeing is his equivalent of Keith Jarrett’s Köln Concert: a bravura performance that sometimes ends up as a substitute for or distraction from the larger body of work to which it serves as an introduction. In 1969 he put forward Art and Revolution “as the best example I have achieved of what I consider to be the critical method”, but it is in the numerous shorter pieces that he was at his best as a writer on art. (These diverse pieces have been assembled by Tom Overton in Portraits to form a chronological history of art.)

No one has ever matched Berger’s ability to help us look at paintings or photographs “more seeingly”, as Rilke put it in a letter about Cézanne. Think of the essay “Turner and the Barber’s Shop” in which he invites us to consider some of the late paintings in light of things the young boy saw in his dad’s barber shop: “water, froth, steam, gleaming metal, clouded mirrors, white bowls or basins in which soapy liquid is agitated by the barber’s brush and detritus deposited”.

Berger brought immense erudition to his writing but, as with DH Lawrence, everything had to be verified by appeal to his senses. He did not need a university education – he once spoke scathingly of a thinker who, when he wanted to find something out, took down a book from a shelf – but he was reliant, to the end, on his art school discipline of drawing. If he looked long and hard enough at anything it would either yield its secrets or, failing that, enable him to articulate why the withheld mystery constituted its essence. This holds true not just for the writings on art but also the documentary studies (of a country doctor in A Fortunate Man and of migrant labour in A Seventh Man), the novels, the peasant trilogy Into Their Labours, and the numerous books that refuse categorisation. Whatever their form or subject the books are jam-packed with observations so precise and delicate that they double as ideas – and vice versa. “The moment at which a piece of music begins provides a clue to the nature of all art,” he writes in “The Moment of Cubism”. In Here Is Where We Meet he imagines “travelling alone between Kalisz and Kielce a hundred and fifty years ago. Between the two names there would always have been a third – the name of your horse.”

The last time we met was a few days before Christmas 2015, in London. There were five of us: my wife and I, John (then 89), the writer Nella Bielski (in her late 70s) and the painter Yvonne Barlow (91), who had been his girlfriend when they were still teenagers. Jokingly, I asked, “So, what was John like when he was 17?” “He was exactly like he is now,” she replied, as though it were yesterday. “He was always so kind.” All that interested him about his own life, he once wrote, were the things he had in common with other people. He was a brilliant writer and thinker; but it was his lifelong kindness that she emphasised.

The film Walk Me Home which he co- wrote and acted in was, in his opinion, “a balls-up” but in it Berger utters a line that I think of constantly – and quote from memory – now: “When I die I want to be buried in land that no one owns.” In land, that is, that belongs to us all.

***

Olivia Laing

The only time I saw John Berger speak was at the 2015 British Library event. He clambered on to the stage, short, stocky, shy, his extraordinary hewn face topped with snowy curls. After each question he paused for a long time, tugging on his hair and writhing in his seat, physically wrestling with the demands of speech. It struck me then how rare it is to see a writer on stage actually thinking, and how glib and polished most speakers are. For Berger, thought was work, as taxing and rewarding as physical labour, a bringing of something real into the world. You have to strive and sweat; the act is urgent but might also fail.

He talked that evening about the need for hospitality. It was such a Bergerish notion. Hospitality: the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors or strangers, a word that … [more]
johnberger  2017  geoffdyer  olivialaing  alismith  simonmcburney  marxism  capitalism  migration  soundbites  hospitality  storytelling  hope  hopefulness  utopia  hierarchy  consumerism  compassion  unselfishness  questioning  skepticism  simoneweil  creativeattention  attention  goldenrule  humanism  encouragement  relationships  friendship  equality  giving  generosity  solidarity  suffering  seeing  noticing  looking  observation  senses  kindness  commonality  belonging  ownership  thinking  howwethink  care  caring  blackpanthers  blackpantherparty  clarity  money  communalism  narrowness  alls  difference  openness  crosspollination  hosting  hosts  guests  strangers  enemies  listening  canon  payingattention  audience  audiencesofone  laughter  resistance  existence  howtolive  living  life  howwelive  refuge  writing  certainty  tenderness 
january 2017 by robertogreco
crap futures — A Crap Futures Manifesto
"Challenge #1: reverse this statement

‘We must shift America from a needs, to a desires culture, people must be trained to desire, to want new things even before the old had been entirely consumed. We must shape a new mentality in America. Man’s desires must overshadow his needs.’

Paul Mazur, Lehman Brothers, 1927

Challenge #2: reclaim the means - stop obsessing with the ends

‘Modern anthropology … opposes the utilitarian assumption that the primitive chants as he sows seed because he believes that otherwise it will not grow, the assumption that his economic goal is primary, and his other activities are instrumental to it. The planting and the cultivating are no less important than the finished product. Life is not conceived as a linear progression directed to, and justified by, the achievement of a series of goals; it is a cycle in which ends cannot be isolated, one which cannot be dissected into a series of ends and means.’

John Carroll

Challenge #3: (as things become increasingly automated) facilitate action not apathy

‘[W]hen it becomes automatic (on the other hand) its function is fulfilled, certainly, but it is also hermetically sealed. Automatism amounts to a closing-off, to a sort of functional self-sufficiency which exiles man to the irresponsibility of a mere spectator.’

Jean Baudrillard, The System of Objects

Challenge #4: bring an end to this vacuous celebrity designer BS

‘My juicer is not meant to squeeze lemons; it is meant to start conversations.’

Philippe Starck

Challenge #5: interrupt legacy thinking and product lineages

‘All inventions and innovations, by definition, represent 
an advance in the art beyond existing base lines. Yet, most advances, particularly in retrospect, appear essentially incremental, evolutionary. If nature makes no sudden leaps, neither it would appear does technology.’

Robert Heilbroner

Challenge #6: rather than feed the illusion of invincibility, work from the reality of uncertainty and transience

‘Everywhere gold glimmered in the half-light, transforming this derelict casino into a magical cavern from the Arabian Nights tales. But it held a deeper meaning for me, the sense that reality itself was a stage set that could be dismantled at any moment, and that no matter how magnificent anything appeared, it could be swept aside into the debris of the past.’

J.G. Ballard, The Miracles of Life

Challenge #7: set aside the easier work of critique and take up the more difficult challenge of proposing viable alternatives

‘It is true that I can better tell you what we don’t do than what we do do.’

William Morris, News from Nowhere

Challenge #8: ask yourself (before putting things in the world): am I qualified to play God?

‘It’s not right to play God with masses of people. To be God you have to know what you’re doing. And to do any good at all, just believing you’re right and your motives are good isn’t enough.’

Ursula K. Le Guin, The Lathe of Heaven

Challenge #9: design ecologically

‘One merges into another, groups melt into ecological groups until the time when what we know as life meets and enters what we think of as non-life: barnacle and rock, rock and earth, earth and tree, tree and rain and air. And the units nestle into the whole and are inseparable from it … all things are one thing and one thing is all things – plankton, a shimmering phosphorescence on the sea and the spinning planets and an expanding universe, all bound together by the elastic string of time. It is advisable to look from the tide pool to the stars and then back to the tide pool again.’

John Steinbeck, The Sea of Cortez

Challenge #10: adopt a khadi mentality

‘True progress lies in the direction of decentralization, both territorial and functional, in the development of the spirit of local and personal initiative, and of free federation from the simple to the compound, in lieu of the present hierarchy from the centre to the periphery.’

Pyotr Kropotkin

Challenge #11: be patient for the quiet days

‘Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.’

Arundhati Roy

Challenge #12: start building the future you want, with or without technology

‘People ask me to predict the future, when all I want to do is prevent it. Better yet, build it. Predicting the future is much too easy, anyway. You look at the people around you, the street you stand on, the visible air you breathe, and predict more of the same. To hell with more. I want better.’

Ray Bradbury, Beyond 1984: The People Machines"
manifestos  crapfutures  paulmazur  desires  needs  anthropology  johncarroll  means  ends  jeanbaudrillard  apathy  action  philippestarck  celebrity  legacy  robertheilbroner  invention  innovation  evolution  invincibility  jgballard  uncertainty  transience  ephemeral  ephemerality  critique  williammorris  viability  making  ursulaleguin  ecology  environment  johnsteinbeck  khadi  decentralization  function  functionality  arundhatiroy  patience  quiet  raybradbury  future  futurism  technology  utopia  resistance  peterkropotkin 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Participation is an invitation: Citizen, Citizenship, Participation DVD | Reggio Children
"During the meetings, as the children used different expressive languages to investigate and interpret the themes and meanings of community and citizenship, their words and ideas emerged more and more clearly.
 
It was immediately visible (and audible!) that we were building a sort of alphabet, a lexicon that inventoried the value of citizenship, participation, city, public places, migration, rights, duties…

The children’s reflections represent a special occasion to re-launch, also in other contexts, the themes of welcome, borders, and democracy, and to elicit, we hope, new stories and new opportunities for listening."
reggioemilia  utopia  pocketsofutopia  environment  education  preschool  children  learning  openstudioproject  lcproject  sfsh  tcsnmy  everyday  being  cv  culture  presence  togetherness  citizenship  participation  community  civics  democracy  listening 
november 2016 by robertogreco
The Times of Time | Reggio Children
"an interweaving between the learning experiences of the adults, the experimentation of the children, and the photographic images, highlighting an approach to the visual language that is constructed in a context of many relationships"
reggioemilia  utopia  pocketsofutopia  environment  education  preschool  children  learning  openstudioproject  lcproject  sfsh  tcsnmy  everyday  being  cv  culture  presence  togetherness  relationships  photography 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Everyday Utopias DVD | Reggio Children
"Here we present two videos that are part of The Wonder of Learning - The Hundred Languages of Children exhibition.
 
They describe a day in an infant-toddler centre and a day in a preschool: the everyday-ness of being together, the strength of a way of organizing that is designed but light, knowledgeable but flexible; a special care for the environments and the way of being at school, the idea that the infant-toddler centre and preschool are places in which culture is created.
 
Our hope is to “raise normal children as the result of a hard-won and everyday utopia” (Loris Malaguzzi)."
reggioemilia  utopia  pocketsofutopia  environment  education  preschool  children  learning  openstudioproject  lcproject  sfsh  tcsnmy  everyday  being  cv  culture  presence  togetherness  lorismalaguzzi 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Bat, Bean, Beam: The school as utopia
"What might a radically more just society look like? How would its decisions be made, and by whom? What would its economy look like, whom would it trade with and how? Even radicals may not always have ready, concrete answers to these questions. Contrary to Jameson’s famous quip, it’s not the end of capitalism that is especially hard to imagine – science-fiction writers do it all the time – but rather the connections from the present to any of our available futures.

It is customary to attribute the current dearth of utopian thinking to the historical defeat of the great anti-capitalist ideology, particularly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, coupled with the runaway financialisation of the most advanced capitalist economies. I’m rather more inclined to credit the second part of the equation than the first: for even if socialism – or whatever you want to call it – could still be imagined outside the form of the nation state (as it most certainly can), what is fast disappearing inside it are opportunities for alternative, concrete forms of self-determination and emancipation. There can be no factory councils without factories. There can be no workers’ rights not just without unions, but without a common, unifying notion of what labour is. Reduced to a life-long state of precarity that mimics grotesquely the dynamics of the most profitable trades, or of professions such as the lawyer or the physician – everyone is a contractor, everyone is their own boss – many if not most workers have been successfully alienated from their class, therefore from the ability to organise and articulate a common experience.

Which is what makes the few remaining spaces in which the utopian imagination can be exercised all the more precious.

Over the past two weeks I reprinted as many translations of texts from a historical past in which schools were viewed as the incubators of a new, more equal society, or alternatively as the first in a series of institutions designed to imprison, subdue and mould the citizen-subject to be to the needs of an oppressive one. I can think of my own education as falling a little under column A, and a little under column B. At any rate, there is always a real-world tension between those two pictures. Do our schools teach creativity or conformity? Do they produce obedient workers or autonomous citizens? When they strive for equality, in whose image is their model student created? And what or whom does that image leave out?

This tension notwithstanding, public education in most countries is a playground for practical utopias. Almost universally, the principal, stated goal of compulsory, state-funded education is to remedy the accident of birth, that is to say strive to ensure the same outcomes between children of different backgrounds. I say “stated” for a reason: in practice, this goal can be compromised upon and co-opted in a variety of ways. But that rhetorically even the political right should agree that the task of state education is to make up for economic disadvantage is something to hold on to. And to build on.

You could even say – hell, I’m just about to say it – that a state school is a little proto-socialist society, in which everyone receives according to their need and gives according to their ability. Furthermore, this society insists on pursuing recreation and the liberal arts, often in the face of pressures to narrow its teachings to what will be ‘most useful in life’. This latter demand, which intensifies as students get older, ultimately reveals the other objective of the school system, which is to serve the needs of the economy. In this double articulation we glimpse again the tension exemplified by the writings of De Amicis and Papini. At one end, there is the school that creates a society of equals; at the other, the school that trains children to take orders and habituates them to the hierarchies of the adult world.

Regular followers of this blog will know that one of my preoccupations over the years has been to advocate for inclusive education, meaning an education that expands to accommodate all children, with their full range of learning abilities. This was not always part of the mission of state education, whose history the world over was long marked by the total removal and exclusion of disabled children. Segregation is still very common in Aotearoa, in residential schools but more often through special schools and units. However, significant progress has been made over the last two decades, thanks to the self-advocacy of disabled people and their supporters, and as part of a global movement, to include all children in the ‘regular’ classroom: a progress sadly countervailed by the reluctance of the neoliberal state to properly recognise these rights and provide for full participation.

The situation therefore is one in which, even in the proto-socialist societies I’ve described, children with disabilities are second-class citizens, subject to diminished access to the buildings and the curriculum, and to borderline-obsessive rituals of verification and assessment that their peers are spared. A cruel inversion of the competitive principle of school choice forces these children and their families to move from public school to public school, hoping to find one that will ‘choose’ them.

The struggle against this oppression continues. But – and this is the main point I want to make today – the vision for a truly inclusive school system has a secondary but crucial value, which is to expand our utopian imaginary. An inclusive school is not just a regular school, only with children with disabilities in it. An inclusive school is a school in which the notions of citizenship, democracy and participation are radically expanded. It is a school in which the built environment, the curriculum, the teaching and the social relations challenge the limits of what children can achieve, therefore of what society can be.

It is often said that having children with disabilities can politicise you. For our part, I can say being able to work with and support the inclusive local school that our children attend has been a lesson in utopia-building. It has been our concrete playground, a place where to realise forms of participation and belonging that we didn’t know existed.

The problem, of course, is not just how to protect our little island, or how to replicate its experience elsewhere, but also how to prepare ourselves and our children for what comes after: that is to say, the transition to a society that has stopped aspiring to the most elementary principles of equality, security, participation and inclusion. Yet in this respect, too, the utopian school comes to our aid: for it sharpens the demand, and arms us with the knowledge that an alternative is both necessary and possible. "
giovannitiso  schools  utopia  education  inclusivity  2016  socialism  citizenship  civics  democracy  participation  curriculum  teaching  howweteach  future  society  children  equality  security  inclusion  segregation  self-advocacy  disability  disabilities 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Radical imagination is a necessary, sustaining force of black activism
"The life of an activist can be mentally and emotionally exhausting. When you're dedicated to fighting inequality and injustice, you're signing up for a battle with the very forces that produce them — and it's a battle not easily won.

When I chose to become an activist for the lives of black people, I didn't realize just how much it would require of me. By December 2015, when a grand jury declined to charge the Cleveland police officer responsible for killing 12-year-old Tamir Rice, the harsh reality of this work hit me especially hard — the weariness, hopelessness, powerlessness. After protesting, organizing and lobbying, black children will still have their lives stolen, and no one will be held accountable.

It's not just me — these feelings are widespread among those who give so much to the movement and get so little real change in return.

That became especially clear after Feb. 8, when Black Lives Matter activist MarShawn McCarrel took his own life on the front steps of the statehouse in Columbus, Ohio. While we can't assume a single cause for someone's suicide, McCarrel's death sparked a conversation within the activist community about the depression and anxiety that come with this work.

Where can we find hope? How can we maintain the resilience needed to keep the movement for racial justice going? 

I believe we need to be more steadfast in looking toward the future — envisioning the world we want to see, and taking concrete steps to create it. We need to rekindle the spirit of radical imagination that fueled so many black activists before us.

We can trace radical imagination back to historical movements, like the Civil Rights Movement, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is one of the best examples. His celebrated "I Have A Dream" speech is the epitome of finding a dream in the midst of weariness, as both an activist and black person living through injustice:
Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you today, my friends, though, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream ... This is our hope.

The revolutionary and even idealist nature of King’s speech cannot — and should not — be understated. Although we celebrate his words without hesitation today, many of King's peers "deemed it hackneyed to the point of cliché" at the time. Even the most “radical student activists were dismayed to hear a black leader dreaming of a far-off future."

King's dream was too big and too distant for a lot of people to understand and accept. But he didn't allow their lack of imagination, nor the dark conditions of the present, to prevent him from envisioning a brighter future.

Robin D.G. Kelley, a professor of American history at UCLA and author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination, emphasizes the power in our collective dreams.

"Oftentimes dreaming gets reduced to the individual process of envisioning something different," Kelley tells Mashable. "Dreams can have transformative impact, though, if we put in the work." "



""The more well-read and imaginative we become, we start to use grandiose terms that aren't accessible to some people. Liberation is for everyone, so we have to make sure that things are translated in a way that will have immediate and long term effects. The dream has to be accessible," she says.

"Hope can be fuel if we let it be," she adds. "It matters a great deal to our ability to be resilient in the face of opposition."

Resilience is a vital part of activism — but a long, difficult road doesn't mean we should be weary of taking it on, or be willing to settle for less.

To create a revolution that turns systemic racism and institutionalized oppression on their heads, we must first dream, and then put in the work. Packnett, for example, doesn't see Campaign Zero as a final goal, but a step "on the road to that radical and revolutionary ending."

If we would all be bold enough to take a step on that road, think of how far we could go. We have the capacity to dream — and we have the power to turn those dreams into plans and policies that can completely change the world."
activism  imagination  socialjustice  hope  robindgkelley  savonneanderson  2016  inequality  injustice  revolution  utopia  racism  oppression  burnout  radicalism  future  change 
march 2016 by robertogreco
crap futures — counter-constraint #1: non-progress dogma
"The world’s fairs also offer their insights into this dichotic system. For example, Futurama’s hidden agendas are strikingly revealed in E. L. Doctorow’s novel World’s Fair (1985). As a family leaves the exhibit, the father says: ‘“When the time comes General Motors isn’t going to build the highways, the federal government is. With money from us taxpayers.” He smiled. “So General Motors is telling us what they expect from us: we must build them the highways so they can sell us the cars.”’

Bel Geddes’s vision of super-highways largely came true, but so did various dystopian imaginaries that were generated out of the Futurama vision. In ‘Futurama, Autogeddon’, Helen Burgess describes the way in which ‘a messy, always-under-construction, polluted highway system, beaming cheerfully forward into the future, is reflected back to us in the second half of the century as a degraded landscape in J. G. Ballard’s Crash and The Atrocity Exhibition. In these tales,’ Burgess writes,

Bel Geddes’ optimistic narrative of the Interstate has collapsed … because the Interstate system is unsustainable - both narratively and ecologically. The ghosts of the highway call back to us from these future narratives, reminding us that death is just around the next bend.

Progress dogma as an eternally recurring phenomenon

The progress boosterism in the West of the 19th century was followed by two highly regressive world wars. Yet the postwar period saw an almost immediate return to … optimism! Progress dogma was reborn! America, isolated from the worst ravages of the two World Wars, kept blowing the trumpet for progress, and the other western countries followed. The lessons of history continued, and continue, to fall on deaf ears.

Designing counter-constraints

We realise now that we’ve not set ourselves an easy task. These are massive, complex systems that are more easily identified and critiqued than challenged with alternatives. But inaction is no solution. So we’ll go on, inspired by historical examples of how critical approaches have impacted on specific research directions and undermined progress dogma. The public inquiry into genetically modified food development in Europe and the consequent demonising of an entire scientific area (‘Frankenstein foods’) led by certain newspapers is one example of technology being steered away from its intended trajectory. In that case, however, the approach was problematic because the debate was simplified as a contest between good and evil, dystopia vs. utopia, rather than being an open and constructive dialogue. As this article suggests, the reality is often more nuanced and complex than a simple binary opposition can express.

So how do we move toward a more constructive approach to counter-constraints?
Here, as a discussion starter, are some first steps:

1. Stop assuming that, through technology, the future will be better than the present.
2. Be wary of too-positive presentations of technological future solutions.
3. Don’t assume that any of society’s problems will be solved by technology alone.
4. Do assume that for every benefit a new technology brings there will be unforeseen implications.
5. Remember to ask: ‘Progress for whom?’
6. And: ‘What in this specific case does progress actually mean?’
7. Remember that progress is easily confused with automation. Or efficiency.
8. Watch Adam Curtis’s The Century of the Self (and then watch it again).
9. Find ways of encouraging a critical perspective in others, without being a dystopian dick about it.
10. Actively start building the future you want, with or without technology.

One approach where we have first-hand experience and that begins to address point 10 is speculative design, which aims to facilitate a more critical and considered approach to future-formation. By countering the constraints that limit normative design to slavishly serving the market, speculative design is free to present futures that are neither explicitly utopian or dystopian. Using this approach we can explore possible scenarios when specific emerging technologies collide with everyday life. Or we can see what happens when we apply alternative configurations of contemporary technologies or systems to generate fresh perspectives on particular problems (a counter-constraint to constraint no. 2: legacies of the past, which we’ll return to in a future post). Speculation is time well spent.

We’ll give further thought to counter-constraints over a game of ping-pong on our rough-hewn autoprogettazione table, followed by coffee and toast. More, much more, to come. "
crapfutures  counter-constraints  futures  speculativedesign  design  2016  technosolutionism  technology  progress  progressdogma  automation  efficiency  normanbelgeddes  eames  productification  utopia  dystopia  resistance  richardbarbrook  processfatigue  eldoctorow  helenburgess  interstatehighways  cars  history  optimism  sustainability  boosterism  adamcurtis  thecenturyoftheself  statusanxiety  bladerunner  pollution  traffic  futurama  world'sfairs  1939  1964  ibm 
february 2016 by robertogreco
An American Utopia: Fredric Jameson in Conversation with Stanley Aronowitz - YouTube
"Eminent literary and political theorist Fredric Jameson, of Duke University, gives a new address, followed by a conversation with noted cultural critic Stanely Aronowitz, of the Graduate Center. Jameson, author of Postmodernism: The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism and The Political Unconscious, will consider the practicality of the Utopian tradition and its broader implications for cultural production and political institutions. Co-sponsored by the Writers' Institute and the Ph.D. Program in Comparative Literature."

[via: "@timmaughan saw a semi-serious proposal talk from Frederic Jameson a few years ago about just that; the army as social utopia."
https://twitter.com/sevensixfive/status/687321982157860864

"@timmaughan this looks to be a version of it here, in fact: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNVKoX40ZAo …"
https://twitter.com/sevensixfive/status/687323080088285184 ]
fredricjameson  utopia  change  constitution  2014  us  military  education  capitalism  history  culture  society  politics  policy  ecology  williamjames  war  collectivism  crisis  dictators  dictatorship  publicworks  manufacturing  labor  work  unions  postmodernism  revolution  occupywallstreet  ows  systemschange  modernity  cynicism  will  antoniogramsci  revolutionaries  radicals  socialism  imagination  desire  stanelyaronowitz  army  armycorpsofengineers  deleuze&guattari  theory  politicaltheory  gillesdeleuze  anti-intellectualism  radicalism  utopianism  félixguattari  collectivereality  individuals  latecapitalism  collectivity  rousseau  otherness  thestate  population  plurality  multiplicity  anarchism  anarchy  tribes  clans  culturewars  class  inequality  solidarity  economics  karlmarx  marxism  deleuze 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Sternberg Press - Benjamin H. Bratton
"e-flux journal
Benjamin H. Bratton
Dispute Plan to Prevent Future Luxury Constitution

With a foreword by Keller Easterling

Equal parts Borges, Burroughs, Baudrillard, and Black Ops, Dispute Plan to Prevent Future Luxury Constitution charts a treacherous landscape filled with paranoid master plans, failed schemes, and dubious histories.

Benjamin H. Bratton’s kaleidoscopic theory-fiction links the utopian fantasies of political violence with the equally utopian programs of security and control. Both rely on all manner of doubles, models, gimmicks, ruses, prototypes, and shock-and-awe campaigns to realize their propagandas of the deed, threat, and image. Blurring reality and delusion, they collaborate on a literally psychotic politics of architecture.

The cast of characters in this ensemble drama of righteous desperation and tactical trickery shuttle between fact and speculation, action and script, flesh and symbol, death and philosophy: insect urbanists, seditious masquerades, epistolary ideologues, distant dissimulations, carnivorous installations, forgotten footage, branded revolts, imploding skyscrapers, sentimental memorials, ad-hoc bunkers, sacred hijackings, vampire safe-houses, suburban enclaves, big-time proposals, ambient security protocols, disputed borders-of-convenience, empty research campuses, and robotic surgery.

In this mosaic we glimpse a future city built with designed violence and the violence of design. As one ratifies the other, the exception becomes the ruler."

[on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Dispute-Prevent-Future-Constitution-journal-ebook/dp/B01ABCB8FM/ ]
benjaminbratton  kellereasterling  borges  baudrillard  blackops  williamsburroughs  fiction  toread  books  future  futures  utopia  politics  security  control  propaganda  sciencefiction  violence 
january 2016 by robertogreco
The Banal Uselessness of the Utopian Binary Critique | Hapgood
"I was watching Jesse Stommel at NWeLearn this past week give an excellent presentation on grading. In it he suggested a number of alternatives to traditional grading, and outlined some of the ways that traditional grading is baked into the system.

And the end of the talk, the inevitable hand: “Your presentation seems so BINARY,” says the questioner, “Why is it so either/or? Why can’t it be both/and?”

Sigh.

I outlined my vision of a different approach to networked learning last week to a number of people at dLRN, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. But the negatives were very negative.

“I think it’s utopian,” they said, “You’re not going to eliminate all online nastiness with a different software format.”

I looked over my presentation to try to find the spot where we reached the Age of Aquarius via some Node server installs. I saw a lot of places where I said we could be doing much better, but couldn’t find the places where we cured all ills.

I was watching someone give a presentation on the struggles of the non-traditional student. After the presentation people were talking. I’m worried about the binaries here, they said. Why do we talk about non-traditional vs. traditional? Why can’t we just talk about STUDENTS?

I got some great feedback at dLRN. And I love cynical feedback more than anything. My favorite comment was from Justin Reich who said “So you show how this different, older, way could preserve complexity. But maybe we abandoned it because we hate complexity, right?”

That’s a great comment. I actually can’t get it out of my head it’s so good.

You know what’s not a great comment?

• “How does this solve world hunger, sexism, and inequality once and for all?”
• “Why is this so either/or?”
• “Why is this so utopian?”
• “We need to get past these binaries.”

These aren’t really useful questions, and I’ve come to realize they aren’t meant to be. The issue with Jesse’s call to action and mine is the same — we’re both arguing for things which are so far out of the mainstream of practice you have to squint to see them.

Saying “Why is this so binary?” when presented with an alternate, minority vision is simply a way of supporting the status quo, by not engaging with the reality that the dominant paradigm is NOT “both/and” but rather “almost entirely this”. The world of the person making the “utopian binary” critique is one where they get to ignore the existing disparities the binary calls to light — a trick most recently seen in the ridiculous #alllivesmatter hash tag: “But why single out *black* lives?”

The “utopian” critique is very similar —
Them: “If this cannot solve all problems, then how can we be excited about it?”

Me: “But I didn’t say it solved all problems!”

Them: “Aha! So you admit it doesn’t solve anything!”

Me: “Um, which one of us is utopian again?”

This approach suffers the same affliction, assuming that we must compare a proposed solution against the standard of an imagined perfect world rather than a screwed up current state.

I’ve come to realize that, no matter how many caveats you add to your writing, people for whom the status quo works will always reply that your ideas are interesting, but why are they so binary, so utopian? I used to take these critiques seriously, but I don’t anymore. It’s simply a rhetorical move to avoid comparing your solution with a status quo that is difficult for them to defend.

It’s like replying to a presentation on solar-powered cars with “But why can’t we have both solar powered cars AND gasoline cars?” Or with “But there will still be pollution from BUILDING the cars so you haven’t solved anything!”

It’s like replying to a presentation on scaling down the American military in favor of increasing foreign relief aid with “But why can’t we have both the American military AND foreign relief aid?” Or with “But foreign relief aid STILL doesn’t always reach the most vulnerable, so you haven’t solved anything!”

It’s like replying to a presentation on Global Warming with “But why can’t find a balance between controlling global warming and protecting business interest?” Or “But global warming is going to happen anyway, so you haven’t solved anything!”

There’s as little chance that the world is going to go overboard on Jesse’s Peter Elbow inspired grading models as there is that we’re going to veer too much toward addressing global warming or decreasing U. S. Military funding (appx. $2,000 per capita) relative to our foreign aid (about $70 per capita). There’s as little chance that our “Pull to Refresh” obsessed culture is going to go overboard with wiki as there is that solar-powered vehicles will result in a war against gas-powered cars.

People who make such objections are not serious people, or in any not case serious thinkers in that moment. The reason we make binaries in our comparisons is to show how unbalanced the status quo is. The “binary” of pitting military spending against foreign aid is to show how out of balance out priorities are, just as the “binary” of Jesse’s holistic grading against more rigid models is to show how little time we spend on the whole student. And the reason we posit the binary of the “nontraditional student” against the “traditional student” is that 90% of policy and conversation right now is directed at the latter, and separating these details can show this.

The Garden approach I outlined at dLRN might not work, and holistic grading might fail at the scale people need to use it at. That solar car may run up against physical and environmental realities that make it unfeasible. Our policies to help the nontraditional student may solve the wrong issues, or assume a political climate we don’t have right now. Foreign aid may be better directed at world hunger or medical research, or perhaps there are good reasons for spending $800 billion on a military. Perhaps, far from making things better, a set of proposals would make things worse in ways the historically literate can predict. All these are interesting points, and great follow-ups to presentations outlining potential courses of action.

Additionally, some binaries are ill-formed, and give a distorted picture of reality. That’s an interesting point as well. Is androgogy/pedagogy a more helpful lens on a particular issue than first-generation/nth-generation? Does the research support a division like “Digital Natives/Digital Immigrants”? (hint: it doesn’t).

These are great questions too.

“Why so utopian?” and “Why so binary?” Not so much.

Here’s my pitch to you, and it is always the same. I think we can do substantially better than we do now, in a way that benefits most people. I think it requires rethinking some assumptions about how we teach and how we tech. I think the positive impact is likely relative to how deep we’re willing to go in questioning current assumptions.

So, if you like the status quo, or think it’s better than what is proposed, then defend it! If you think my ideas will not be adopted or will make things worse, then show me why!

But to the Utopian Binary comment crowd: Stop pretending people like Jesse and I are making utopian, either/or arguments. It’s a lazy rhetorical move, I’m tired of it, and you’re taking time from people with real questions."

[via https://twitter.com/holden/status/658310638662356992
via https://twitter.com/rmoejo/status/658314942123085824
via http://rolinmoe.org/2015/12/09/hourofteach-or-will-the-last-philanthrocapitalist-turn-out-the-lights/
via https://tinyletter.com/audreywatters/letters/hack-education-weekly-newsletter-no-140 ]
mikecaufield  2015  utopia  criticism  critique  binaries  education  change  cynicism  jessestommel  tcsnmy  cv  unschooling  deschooling  utopianism  rhetoric  minorityview  statusquo  justinreich  complexity  falsebinaries  criticalthinking  grading  grades 
december 2015 by robertogreco
It Doesn't Know What You Want Until You Teach It
"So, I just got home from Tel Aviv, which, while I happened to be there, was hit by a massive sandstorm that swept across from Syria.

Now, sandstorms, or at least the one I saw, do not work like the ones in Mad Max. I woke up in my little hotel cocoon, threw back the blackout curtains and saw … nothing. Because that’s what sandstorms do: they make landscape into nothing. They disappear buildings and the sea and the horizon and even the sun. Beyond half a mile, everything fades into white-yellow nothing.

I went for a run up the beach until I got to an old crumbling stone jetty. An old shirtless man with a huge belly was fishing from it. All I could see was a few big hotels behind me rising into dust and this jetty with the man in front of me. And it was possible to imagine that this was all the world, that this little narrow spit of land was all that was left.

That’s the dystopian story.

But, at the same time, I could snap a photo of the sea and the sky and send it to my wife across the world and have her send me back a picture of our son. And I could go look up the sandstorm and see it from a NASA satellite. And Apple would put out a new version of their phone, and just down the road, hundreds of Israeli startups were building new things in the world. And as I wandered around Tel Aviv, the strange light of the sandstorm making every photo look as if it were taken in a dream, I thought to myself: there are so many futures happening at once.

When we imagine a utopia or dystopia, both represent a hope that human lives will somehow be less messy and complex in the future than they are now. Because, good or bad, that’s the most comforting lie we can tell ourselves about what’s going to come: that we might be able to process and understand it more easily than we do our own short moment.

It's good to be back."
alexismadrigal  sandstorms  future  futures  humanity  life  messiness  complexity  technology  2015  communication  photography  perception  utopia  dystopia  understanding  presence 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Solarpunk: We Are Golden, and Our Future Is Bright | F.W. Fife
"There are two forces at work here, and they’re found in the two words that make up this new idea.

First, SOLAR:

• Light. In direct opposition to the increasingly dark tone our fiction—and world—seem to be taking.
• Day. As opposed to the permanent night in which stories of cyberpunk and dystopia seem to take place.
• The Sun. A source of natural energy to support and power our future.
• Which is, of course, a much cleaner energy, the use of which will not harm our environment or selves.
• This is, then, a blending of nature and technology.
• And this is a gentle blend, not a subjugation of the earth by force through deforestation and polluting, harsh industry.
• Beneficial not only for the earth, but for the people who need it most.
• Healing and including marginalized people—like the physically and mentally disabled, the poor and homeless, people of color and immigrants, abuse victims, the chronically ill, LGBTQA people, all of the most vulnerable members of society.
• Essentially, HOPE.

And that note takes us to PUNK. Something you might be a little more familiar with, but depending on your age, might associate with loud music, outlandish hairstyles, and rude kids acting out. But I assure you, there’s not much to be scared of here. (Punk rockers can be nice too! We don’t bite. Horns up!)

PUNK:

• Rebellion. Going in a different direction than the mainstream. But in this case, that’s increasingly going in the scary direction.
• Counterculture. If our culture is pessimistic and self-centered, our counterculture will be made of hope, joy, and caring for one another.
• Enthusiasm. Ever been to a rock concert? When it goes right, it’s fun! Solarpunk goes after its goals with that same level of energy! Rock out!
• Individuality. Like the piercings and tattoos and spiky purple hair you might associate with the word ‘punk,’ it’s made to let everybody be who they are—especially those described above, who need safe places the most. As a chronically ill, queer kid, I really needed this growing up. Punk indeed!

So that’s the ideology. And you might have noticed the pretty pictures I included here! Worth a thousand words, I hope they help illustrate the more visual side of it. Solarpunk fits in with styles like art deco and art nouveau. Lots of gentle curves and swirling, bright colors, the antithesis of harsh angles and metal and stark, painful edges. Solarpunk is gentle and nurturing and welcoming.

You might say it’s also an artistic aesthetic. Like in Disney’s Treasure Planet with its gorgeous storybook ships that traverse the vast reaches of outer space with solar-powered sails on an earnest, hopeful search for hidden wonders.

Solarpunk is an architecture and building and living methodology. It’s shown in Hayao Miyazaki’s beautiful films with human society living in harmony with nature, as in the floating steel-and-tree city below from Castle In The Sky. And when humanity fails to respect and live alongside nature, it quickly learns that it must.

And it’s a philosophy and a way of life, about lifting up instead of oppressing. The spreading and sharing of resources instead of hoarding by an elite few. Good for all instead of only benefiting the very rich. A vision of a beautiful future is rebellion. In this increasingly grim, dark, gritty world, hope is a radical act of rebellion.

Solarpunk rejects the idea that because something is dark or pessimistic, it’s more meaningful. Just because a story has a devastating ending doesn’t make it somehow more profound as an art form. Just because something is optimistic doesn’t make it silly or trite. Hope is not something to be scoffed at. It’s the only thing that will keep the world functioning."

[via: https://twitter.com/Threadbare/status/639595474706558976 ]
solarpunk  2015  hope  optimism  dystopia  utopia  environment  hayaomiyazaki  nature  harmony  sustainability  punk  fwfife 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Life in the Garrison | The American Conservative
"To think in this way — to think seriously in this way — is to commit oneself to slow and incremental change, to what W. H. Auden in one of his poems calls “local understanding.” It is also to acknowledge that the order and value you crave will not be handed to you by your environment; rather, you must build it ad hoc, improvising as you go with like-minded people, as you can find them."



"A genuinely conservative — i.e., conserving — counter-culture of any kind, including the Christian kind, will be similarly improvisatory, small-scale, local, fragile. It will always be aware that “to inhabit an ecology of attention that puts one squarely in the world” is a task to be re-engaged, with more or less success, every day. Over its (imaginary) gates it will carve a motto, one taken from a late Auden poem, “The Garrison”:

"Whoever rules, our duty to the City
is loyal opposition, never greening
for the big money, never neighing after
a public image.

Let us leave rebellions to the choleric
who enjoy them: to serve as a paradigm
now of what a plausible Future might be
is what we’re here for."
whauden  poems  poetry  futures  utopia  small  presence  attention  slow  scale  improvisation  local  conservatiism  christianity  alanjacobs  2015  engagement  everyday  canon 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Critical Design Critical Futures - Critical design and the critical social sciences: or why we need to engagem multiple, speculative critical design futures in a post-political and post-utopian era
"We, anxious citizens of the affluent global North have some rather conflicted attitudes to futuring. In the broad realm of culture, "futures" have never been more popular. In the realm of politics, it is widely believed that those who engage in utopian speculations, are "out to lunch or out to kill[1].""



"Thoughtful reflections on widening inequality, class struggle, climate crisis, human-animal-machine relations, trans-humanism, the future of sexuality, surveillance and militarism can all be found in all manner of places. Consider Ronald Moore's Battlestar Galactica, the sci-fi novels of Ursula LeGuin, the Mars trilogy of Kim Stanley Robinson, films such as District 9, Gattica, Elysium or Snowpiercer, the graphic novels of Alan Moore or Hayao Miyazaki's stunning retro-futurist animations. All these currents – and many others – have used futures as a narrative backdrop to open up debate about worlds we might wish to inhabit or avoid.

In the "real world" of contemporary politics, no such breadth of discussion can be tolerated.

"Futures" once played a very significant role in Western political discourse. Western political theory: from Plato onwards can reasonably be read as an argument about optimal forms of institutional configuring.

For much of the twentieth century, different capitalisms confronted different vision of communism, socialism, anarchism, feminism, black liberation, fascism. Rich discussions equally took place as to the possible merits of blended systems: from the mixed economy and the welfare state to "market socialism", mutualism to populism, associationalism to corporatism. Since the end of the Cold War, it would be hardly controversial to observe that the range of debate about political futures that can occur in liberal democracies has dramatically narrowed.

Of course, it would be quite wrong to believe that utopianism has gone away in the contemporary United States. Pax Americana, The Rapture, or a vision of the good life spent pursuing private utopias centered around the consumption-travel-hedonism nexus celebrated by "reality TV" is all alive and well."



"Design is important for thinking about futures simply because it is one of the few remaining spaces in the academy that is completely untroubled by its devotion to futures. Prototyping, prefiguring, speculative thinking, doing things differently, failing… and then starting all over again are all core component of design education. This is perhaps why Jan Michl observed that a kind of dream of functional perfectionism [4] has haunted all matter of design practice and design manifestos in the twentieth century."



""Utopian thought is the only way of speculating concretely about a projective connection between architecture and politics. To design utopias is to enter the laboratory of politics and space, to conduct experiments in their reciprocity. This laboratory – unlike the city itself – is a place in which variables can be selectively and freely controlled. At the point of application of the concrete, utopia ceases to exist". [8]

Moreover, if we think of the utopian imaginary as disposition, as opposed to the blueprint, we might well get a little further in our speculations. Sorkin makes a plausible case for the centrality of a utopian, ecological and political architecture of the future as a kind of materialized political ecology. His intervention can also remind us that hostility to design utopianism or any discussion of embarking on "big moves" in urban planning, public housing, alternative energy provision and the like, can itself function as a kind of "anti-politics". It can merely re-enforce the status quo, ensuring that nothing of substance is ever discussed in the political arena."



"Whilst Wright never actually uses the word design to describe what he is up to in his writings, his demand for concrete programmatic thinking resonates with John Dryzek's call for a critical political science concerned with producing and evaluating discursive institutional designs.

Further points of convergence between design and the critical social sciences open up when we recognize that design is not reducible to the activities of professional designers. As thinkers from Herbert Simon, to Colin Ward have argued, if we see design as a much more generalizable human capacity to act in the world, prefigure and then materialize, the reach and potential of future orientated forms of social design for material politics can be read in much more interesting and expansive ways.

The writings of Colin Ward and Delores Hayden can be fruitfully engaged with here for the manner in which both of these critical figures have drawn productive links between design histories of vernacular architectures and the social histories of self built housing, infrastructure and leisure facilities. Both demonstrate that there is nothing particularly new about the current interest in making, hacking or sharing. There are many "hidden histories" of working men and women embarking on forms of self-management, building co-operative enterprises and networks of mutual aid. In doing so they have turned themselves into designers of their own workplaces, communities and lives [12]. Such experiments in what we might call "worker centred design" continue to resonate. Attempts by trade unionists to define new modes of ownership with socially useful production (as represented by the Lucas plan), and the recent spate of factory takeovers in Argentina, all indicate that workers can be designers[13].

All manner of interesting potential convergences between critical design, futurism and social critique can additionally be found in the many experimental forms that contemporary urban-ecological activism has given rise to. Consider experiments in urban food growing, forms of tactical or pop-up urbanism, guerrilla gardening and open streets, attempts to experiment in solidarity economies, experiments with urban retrofitting or distributed energy systems or experiments with part finished public housing (that can be customized by their residents). All these currents have the potential to draw design activism and design-oriented social movements into direct engagement with critical theory, political economy and the critical social sciences."
damianwhite  2015  design  speculativedesign  speculativefiction  designfiction  futures  future  futurism  socialsciences  colinward  deloreshayden  herbertsimon  criticaldesign  designcriticism  kimstanleyrobinson  ursulaleguin  hayaomiyazaki  achigram  ronherron  utopia  utopianism  capitalism  communism  socialism  anarchism  feminism  sociology  politics  policy  maxweber  emiledurkheim  patrickgeddes  designfuturism  anthonydunne  fionaraby  dunne&raby  tonyfry  erikolinwright 
may 2015 by robertogreco
SOLARPUNKS — “Solarpunk’s idealism is a feature, not a flaw”
"sunlitrevolution:
I like solarpunk because it’s hopeful. I like solarpunk because it’s optimistic. I like solarpunk because it’s inclusive. I like solarpunk because in a world full of bad news and pessimism and corrupt systems, it suggests that maybe - if we work together, if we organise and cooperate and support one another - we can build something better than we have now. We can turn aside the broken machine that’s been dragging us inexorably towards the brink for our entire lives. We can do things, we can change things, we can have a voice. Solarpunk’s idealism is a feature, not a flaw.

I want us to start living a more solarpunk life right now. We don’t have to wait for artificial intelligence or nanotechnology or cold fusion or FTL travel. We can use what we have in this moment, even if it’s just our wits and resolve, to move in a better direction. Put solar panels on your roof. Collect rainwater. Volunteer. Make your own compost. Plant flowers for bees. Talk to your neighbours. Grow your own food. Do something.

It doesn’t matter if people are attracted to solarpunk by the aesthetics or the fashions - it’s a gateway, and it encourages exploration, investigation, imagination. Someone starts out being intrigued by elegant neo-nouveau clothing and architecture, and from there they can find out about solar power, about guerilla gardening, about permaculture and sustainable living, about activism and collectivism.

I want people to tell solarpunk stories. I want people to imagine solarpunk societies and systems and strategies. I want people to think, “How could I make this more solarpunk?”. I want solarpunk to become mainstream, because the more people we have thinking about these beautiful solar-powered utopias - and about how to get there from here - the better chance we have of walking that path before it’s too late.


Yes yes YES. It’s a bridge and a lens; utopias ought not to be escapist, nor absolutist. At their best, they provide a means of keeping hope alight, a future to fight for, and a thing to point to when champions of the status quo ask, “so what is it that you want?”"
idealism  utopia  solarpunk  pocketsofutopia 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Why does Hollywood like dystopian LAs and utopian SFs? - Boing Boing
"Jon sez, "When conjuring up the future, why do writers and filmmakers so often imagine Northern California as an edenic utopia, while Southern California gets turned into a dystopian hellscape? While Hollywood, counterculture, and Mike Davis have each helped to shape and propagate this idea, Kristin Miller traces its roots back to the 1949 George R. Stewart novel Earth Abides. Her essay follows the north/south divide in science fiction films and literature through the decades, and explores how it's continued to evolve. In the accompanying slideshow, Miller photographs stills from sci fi movies filmed in California, held up against their filming locations, from 1970's Forbin Project to 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It shows not just the geographic divide in SF, but also how our futures have evolved, and how movies have the ability to change how we see our surroundings in the present."
Northern California-as-utopia, on the other hand, is strongly linked to the countercultural movement of the sixties, with its guides for technologically advanced back-to-the-land living. One can read Ernest Callenbach’s influential novel Ecotopia (1975) as the possible future seeded by Whole Earth Catalog. Ecotopia is a fictional “field study” of a future Pacific Northwest society that has split from an apocalyptic United States and is governed according to ecological principles. While much technology has been abandoned, the Ecotopians have selectively retained public transit, electric cars, networked computers, and improved recycling (Callenbach was a longtime resident of Berkeley). Ecotopia‘s themes were later picked up and elaborated in the eco-feminist tales of Ursula K. Le Guin’s Always Coming Home (1985), a cultural anthropology of latter-day Napa Valley-ites who have returned to indigenous ways; Starhawk’s The Fifth Sacred Thing (1993) about a pagan, nonviolent San Francisco threatened by southern biological warfare; and Octavia Butler’s Parable books (1993, 1998) where refugees from the LA wasteland grow a new eco-religion, Earthseed, in the forests of Mendocino.
"

[See also: http://www.boomcalifornia.com/2014/02/postcards-from-the-future/ ]
hollywood  mikedavis  california  dystopia  utopia  sciencefiction  scifi  sanfrancisco  losangeles  2015  kristinmiller  ecotopia  ursulaleguin  cascasia  pacificnorthwest  wholeearthcatalog  counterculture  erneestcallenbach  starhawk  octaviabutler  earthseed  georgerstewart 
march 2015 by robertogreco
JosieHolford on Twitter: "It's a way - an expanding set of thinking practices @MrBlendy for getting from where we are now to where we want to be. #dtk12chat"
“[Design thinking] It's a way - an expanding set of thinking practices @MrBlendy for getting from where we are now to where we want to be.”

“So basically - is design thinking about strategizing our collective futures? #dtk12chat”
https://twitter.com/JosieHolford/status/553016235374686208
josieholford  designthinking  utopia  speculativefiction  speculativedesign  future  futures  2015  howwethink  education  learning  schools  design  thinking 
january 2015 by robertogreco
kateoplis: "I don’t photograph life as it is, but life as I would like it to be." —Robert Doisneau
[various Robert Doisneau photographs]

"I don’t photograph life as it is, but life as I would like it to be." —Robert Doisneau
robertdoisneau  photography  change  imagination  utopia  resistance  life  optimism  hope 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Liberalism and its discontents – Zizek
"Here we encounter the basic paradox of liberalism. An anti-ideological and anti-utopian stance is inscribed into the very heart of the liberal vision: liberalism conceives itself as a “politics of lesser evil,” its ambition is to bring about the “least evil society possible,” thus preventing greater evil, since it considers any attempt directly to impose a positive Good as the ultimate source of all evil.

Winston Churchill’s quip about democracy being the worst of all political systems, with the exception of all the other, holds even better for liberalism. Such a view is sustained by a profound pessimism about human nature: man is egotistic and envious animal, if one builds a political system which appeals to his goodness and altruism, the result will be the worst kind terror (recall that both Jacobins and Stalinists presupposed human virtue).

The liberal critique of the “tyranny of the Good” comes at a price: the more its program permeates society, the more it turns into its opposite. The claim to want nothing but the lesser evil, once asserted as the principle of the new global order, gradually takes on the very features of the enemy it claims to oppose. In fact, the global liberal order clearly presents itself as the best of all possible worlds: its modest rejection of utopias ends with imposing its own market-liberal utopia which will become reality when we subject ourselves to the mechanisms of the market and universal human rights."
politics  liberalism  zizek  2012  winstonchurchill  democracy  evil  society  humannature  tyrannyofthegood  goodness  altruism  jacobins  stalinists  virtue  humans  humanvirtue  utopia  anti-utopianism  pessimism  humanrights  capitalism  via:ayjay 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Junot Diaz - Art, Race and Capitalism - YouTube
"Despite what we think, we're more isolated and atomized than ever before. […] The fact is that most poor people are more segregated and isolated than they've ever been. […] There's something really bewildering about the fact that we feel so rhizomatically interconnected to people, but we've never been more isolated. Classes no longer come into contact with each other in any way that's meaningful. I look at my mom and people are like “oh, she's that old generation.” My mom had more interclass contact than the average person has today. Because these great barriers — what we would call the networked society in which we live — hadn't been put into place yet. Think about how much public space my mother inhabited where she was going to encounter people from different cultures and different classes every day. There's almost no public space left at all. And any public space that we have is so patrolled and under so much surveillance and has been schematized and culturalized in certain ways that we're not really coming into contact with anyone who isn't like us. […] You basically encounter people in your network. So that if you are of a certain class, that's who you're encountering in the village. If you come from a certain educational background or from a certain privilege, that's who you're encountering in Williamsburg, these quote-unquote diverse spaces."

[via: http://botpoet.tumblr.com/post/103750710570/you-gotta-remember-and-im-sure-you-do-the

quoting these lines: “You gotta remember, and I’m sure you do, the forces that are arrayed against anyone trying to alter this sort of hammerlock on the human imagination. There are trillions of dollars out there demotivating people from imagining that a better tomorrow is possible. Utopian impulses and utopian horizons have been completely disfigured and everybody now is fluent in dystopia, you know. My young people’s vocabulary… their fluency is in dystopic futures. When young people think about the future, they don’t think about a better tomorrow, they think about horrors and end of the worlds and things or worse. Well, do you really think the lack of utopic imagination doesn’t play into demotivating people from imagining a transformation in the society?”]
junotdíaz  capitalism  race  class  segregation  dystopia  utopia  hope  faith  humans  2013  humanism  writing  literature  immigration  life  living  classism  activism  ows  occupywallstreet  punk  hiphop  compassion  identity  failure  guilt  imperfection  politics  self  work  labor  courage  howtobehuman  forgiveness  future  oppression  privilege  society  change  changemaking  futures  schools  education  business  funding  policy  resistance  subversion  radicalpedagogy  burnout  teaching  howweteach  systemschange  survival  self-care  masculinity  therapy  cultureofcare  neolithic  optimism  inventingthefuture  humanconstructs  civilization  evolution  networkedsociety  transcontextualism  paradigmshifts 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Why a radical geography must be anarchist | Simon Springer - Academia.edu
"Radical geographers have been preoccupied with Marxism for four decades, largely ignoring an earlier anarchist tradition that thrived a century before radical geography was claimed as Marxist in the 1970s. When anarchism is considered, it is misused as a synonym for violence or derided as a utopian project. Yet it is incorrect to assume anarchism as a project, which instead reflects Marxian thought. Anarchism is more appropriately considered a protean process that perpetually unfolds through the insurrectionary geographies of the everyday and the prefigurative politics of direct action, mutual aid, and voluntary association. Unlike Marxism’s stages of history and revolutionary imperative, which imply an end state, anarchism appreciates the dynamism of the social world. In staking a renewed anarchist claim for radical geography, I attend to the divisions between Marxism and anarchism as two alternative socialisms, where in the former positions equality alongside an ongoing flirtation with authoritarianism, while the latter maximizes egalitarianism and individual liberty by considering them as mutually reinforcing. Radical geographers would do well to reengage anarchism as there is a vitality to this philosophy that is missing from Marxian analyses that continue to rehash ideas— such as vanguardism and a proletarian dictatorship—that are long past their expiration date."
anarchism  marxism  socialism  anarchy  revolution  radicalism  2014  simonspringer  dynamism  pocketsofutopia  mutualaid  collectivism  decentralization  utopia  vanguardism  equality  authoritarianism  egalitarianism  liberty  individualusm  directaction  voluntaryassociation  radicalgeography 
november 2014 by robertogreco
BBC - Blogs - Adam Curtis - HAPPIDROME - Part One
"In the battle for Kobane on the Syrian border everyone talks about the enemy - IS - and the frightening ideas that drive them. No-one talks about the Kurdish defenders and what inspires them.

But the moment you look into what the Kurds are fighting for - what you discover is absolutely fascinating. They have a vision of creating a completely new kind of society that is based on the ideas of a forgotten American revolutionary thinker.

He wanted to create a future world in which there would be no hierarchies, no systems that exercise power and control individuals. And the Kurds in Kobane are trying to build a model of that world.

It means that the battle we are watching night after night is not just between good and evil. It is also a struggle of an optimistic vision of the future against a dark conservative idea drawn from the past.

It is a struggle that may also have great relevance to us in the west. Because the revolutionary ideas that have inspired the Kurds also shine a powerful light on the system of power in Britain today. They argue that we in the west are controlled by a new kind of hierarchical power that we don’t fully see or understand.

There are two men at the heart of this story.

One is the American revolutionary thinker. He is called Murray Bookchin. Here is a picture of Bookchin looking revolutionary.

The other man is called Abdullah Ocalan. He is the leader of the Kurdish revolutionary group in Turkey - the PKK

Here he is in 1999 after he had been captured by Turkish security forces and was on his way to a jail on a tiny island in the Sea of Marmara where he would be the only prisoner.

In his solitude he would start to read the theories of Murray Bookchin and decide they were the template for a future world.

Both men began as hardline marxists.

Murray Bookchin was born in New York in 1921. In the 1930s he joined the American Communist Party. But after the second world war he began to question the whole theory that underpinned revolutionary marxism.

What changed everything for him was the experience of working in a factory. Bookchin had gone to work for General Motors - and he realized as he watched his fellow workers that Marx, Lenin and all the other theorists were wrong about the working class.

The Marxist theory said that once working men and women came together in factories the scales would fall from their eyes - and they would see clearly how they were being oppressed. They would also see how they could bond together to become a powerful force that would overthrow the capitalists.

Bookchin saw that the very opposite was happening. This was because the factory was organised as a hierarchy - a system of organisation and control that the workers lived with and experienced every second of the day. As they did so, that hierarchical system became firmly embedded in their minds - and made them more passive and more accepting of their oppression.

But Bookchin didn’t do what most disillusioned American Marxists in the 1950s did - either run away to academia, or become a cynical neo-conservative. Instead he remained an optimist and decided to completely rework revolutionary theory.

Here is Bookchin in 1983 talking about how his thinking became transformed - and how his factory experiences led him towards anarchism. It’s part of a fantastic film called Anarchism in America - as well as Bookchin it’s got a great bit with Jello Biafra, and it’s really worth watching if you can get hold of it.

[video]



Watching these sections of the film does make you think that what is being described is spookily close to the system we live in today. And that maybe we have misunderstood what really has emerged to run society since the 1980s.

The accepted version is that the neo-liberal right and the free market triumphed. But maybe the truth is that what we have today is far closer to a system managed by a technocratic elite who have no real interest in politics - but rather in creating a system of rewards that both keeps us passive and happy - and also makes that elite a lot of money.

That in the mid 1980s the new networks of computers which allowed everyone to borrow money came together with lifestyle consumerism to create a system of social management very close to Skinner’s vision.

Just like in the mental hospital we are all given fake money in the form of credit - that we can then use to get rewards, which keep us happy and passive. Those same technologies that feed us the fake money can also be used to monitor us in extraordinary detail. And that information is then used used to nudge us gently towards the right rewards and the right behaviours - and in extremis we can be cut off from the rewards.

The only problem with that system is that the pigeons may be getting restless. That not only has the system not worked properly since the financial crash of 2008, but that the growing inequalities it creates are also becoming a bit too obvious. The elite is overdoing it and - passive or not - the masses are starting to notice.

Which makes the alternative - the vision put forward by Lewis Mumford in the film, and which inspired Murray Bookchin - and the Kurds, seem more interesting as an alternative.

Here is Mumford from the film. He starts by criticising the managed utopia - how it turns people into sleepwalkers. He has a great quote:

“You reward them. You make people do exactly what you want with some form of sugar-coated drug or candy which will make them think they are actually enjoying every moment of it.

This is the most dangerous of all systems of compulsion. That’s why I regard Skinner’s utopia as another name for Hell. And it would be a worse hell because we wouldn’t realise we were there.

We would imagine we were still in Heaven.”

Mumford then goes on to describe eloquently the alternative, a system of direct democracy where we would all awake and become genuinely empowered - able to take part properly in deciding our destiny.

It is a powerful and optimistic vision of a new kind of progressive politics. But it has one very serious problem.

It means we would have to spend a lot of time going to meetings."
anarchism  2014  kurds  iraq  kobane  isis  murraybookchin  abdullahocalan  labor  marxism  hierarchy  hierarchies  horizontality  anarchy  oppression  revolution  optimism  jellobiafra  capital  capitalism  wagelabor  work  power  control  bfskinner  economics  domination  exploitation  gender  socialism  liberation  lewismumford  utopia  politics  oligarchy  neoliberalism  elitism  conditioning  compulsion  autonomy  behaviorism  hermankahn  hudsoninstitute  technocrats  1983  technocracy 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Three Uncertain Thoughts, Or, Everything I Know I Learned from Ursula Le Guin | Design Culture Lab
"One.

In her 1969 novel The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K Le Guin writes, “The unknown, [...] the unforetold, the unproven, that is what life is based on. Ignorance is the ground of thought. Unproof is the ground of action . . . [T]he only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next.”

If the only certainty is death, then to deny uncertainty is to deny life.

My work (creative? social science?) is vital not in the sense of being necessary or essential, but energetic, lively, uncertain. In a short 2006 piece in Theory, Culture & Society, Scott Lash argues that the classical concept of vitalism has re-emerged in the face of global complexity and uncertainty, manifesting itself in cultural theory that acknowledges that “the notion of life has always favoured an idea of becoming over one of being, of movement over stasis, of action over structure, of flow and flux.”

In my research I take seriously the idea that what I am seeing, doing and making is emergent; I cannot know how — when, where, for whom or why — it will all end. I can only live with, and through, it. This means I do not want to convince others that I am right. (Have you ever noticed that Le Guin’s stories unfailingly explore ethics and morality without dealing in absolutes?)

I only — as if this were a small thing! — invite you to accompany me for a while, and see what we can become together. This is just — as if this too were a small thing! — one way of knowing the world.

Two.

In a 2014 interview for Smithsonian Magazine, Le Guin explains that the future is where “anything at all can be said to happen without fear of contradiction from a native. [It] is a safe, sterile laboratory for trying out ideas in, a means of thinking about reality, a method.”

My work makes things, and explicitly makes things up, in some near or far future. I practice different worlds.

Fictions and futures give me (you? us?) space to move, and be moved. This is the space of utopia, but not an idealist utopia set against a pessimist dystopia. Fictions and futures are literally no-places: real but not actual, and always vital. I feel as though I thrive in these spaces, both grounded and reaching toward the sky, open to the elements, potential.

But here’s something I’ve learned: I can’t make up anything and expect it to work. The stories need to resonate. And that means they need to be internally coherent and consistent, plausible. So I locate others and myself empirically, ethnographically. I look to the hopes and promises that bind us together, to the threats that rip us apart, and I look to the expectations that constrain and orient us along particular, but not certain, paths.

And then I imagine it (me, you, us) otherwise.

Three.

In her 2007 essay “The Critics, the Monsters, and the Fantasists,” Le Guin clarifies “although the green country of fantasy seems to be entirely the invention of human imaginations, it verges on and partakes of actual realms in which humanity is not lord and master, is not central, is not even important.”

My imagination has sought out this vital, “green country of fantasy” by focussing on possible futures for multispecies, more-than-human, agents. But I’ve yet to be successful in my quest to avoid anthropocentrism. (My dragons remain stubbornly human!)

Still: I follow Donna Haraway’s argument, in 2007’s When Species Meet, that “animals enrich our ignorance.” When I look at people and technology and design and everyday life with — and through — animals I am never more uncertain about what they all mean. To take animals (and other nonhumans) seriously forces me to let go of many preconceptions, even when I fail to imagine a plausible alternative.

But perhaps that uncertainty is only appropriate, too."
annegalloway  2014  ursulaleguin  unknown  uncertainty  unproven  certainty  death  life  scottlash  vitalism  complexity  culture  theory  morality  ethics  absolutism  knowing  unknowing  future  futures  fiction  worldbuilding  process  method  making  speculativefiction  designfiction  ethnography  imagination  utopia  dystopia  potential  fantasy  invention  design  anthropocentrism  multispecies  donnaharaway  ignorance  technology  preconceptions  posthumanism 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Make technological utopia easier with this one weird trick | Blog | Futurismic
"Now, as a card-carrying Harawayian, I am in no way averse to ascribing agency to non-human and/or artefactual subjects; what bothers me about these scenarios is that they largely remove agency from human subjects, being variations on the Software Salvationism which believes that all obstacles might be overcome through the addition of EVN MOAR ALGOS PLZ*, and assumes (falsely, I hope) that people would like less direct control over the way their world works rather than more. But it’s kind of inevitable, really: when you ask “how can technology make a better future?” you foreclose (whether deliberately or not) on the possibility of making that better future with anything other than new technology; this is one of the epistemological bear-traps of technological determinism, which Kelly and many other tech-centric futures people have been circling around for decades.

But it’s easily enough stepped out of; all you need to do is take the “technology” specifier out of the question, and/or avoid asking it of people who identify with technology in either a entrepreneurial or quasi-religious manner (no beer for you, Ray Kurzweil). By way of example, here’s my own late submission to Kelly’s call, a 101-word haiku describing a desirable future:
No one goes hungry. No one sleeps outdoors, unless they choose to. No one is conscripted as a child-soldier. No one is maimed by land-mines made on the other side of the world. No one is exploited for the betterment or gain of another. No one is a second class citizen to anyone. Nothing is wasted. Things – whether material or digital – are made with care and thought, and are made to last a long, long time. We appreciate a plurality of systems of value alongside the legacy cash-money system, which we keep going as a honey-trap distraction for the instinctively acquisitive.

If that’s not utopian and desirable, I don’t know what it is. And as implausible, unlikely and peacenik-pie-in-the-sky as you might (very reasonably) choose to call it, it is possible — because it doesn’t require us to make a single damned invention or piece of software we don’t already have. We have everything we need already; it’s just, as Gibson didn’t quite say, not yet evenly distributed. That means my little scenario above is intrinsically more plausible than any future that requires a technological novum to make it work, because [Occam's Razor]. And if you’re aching to say “but hang on, you’ll never get that to work because getting people to change the way they do things isn’t at all simple”, then congratulations –you’ve internalised the very point I’ve been trying to make all along. Have a cookie.

In short, then, and in hope of answering Kelly’s rhetorical question: the reason it is no longer possible/easy to write believable technological utopias is that we’ve had enough historical and personal experience with previous technologies failing to deliver on their utopian promises that we are no longer willing to take them at face value; we no longer believe that new technologies are an unalloyed good in and of themselves, and there have been sufficient charlatan futurists that we’ve started to assume they’re all charlatans until proven otherwise.

So perhaps we’re edging closer to utopia faster than we thought."
paulgrahamraven  2014  utopia  economics  donnnaharaway  transhumanism  humanism  technology  inequality  kevinkelly  future  futures  policy  politics  waste  environment  care  thought 
october 2014 by robertogreco
The Devil’s Bargain — Medium
"The question Graeber wants to put to us is this: To what extent are our imaginations shaped — constrained, limited — by our having had to live with the technological choices made by the military-industrial complex — by industries and universities working in close collaboration with the government, in a spirit of subservience to its needs?

Or, to put it another way: How were we taught not even to dream of flying cars and jetpacks? — or, or for that matter, an end to world hunger, something that C. P. Snow, in his famous lecture on “the two cultures” of the sciences and humanities, saw as clearly within our grasp more than half-a-century ago? To see “sophisticated simulations” of the things we used to hope we’d really achieve as good enough?"



"As I noted earlier, this seems to cover a very different subject than his meditation on flying cars and the absence thereof — but it’s really about the same thing, which is: the impact of economic structures on imagination. For Graeber it could scarcely be accidental that a world devoted to utility-maximizing, acquisitive market-based behavior would create a theory that animals, indeed the very genes of creatures, invariably behave in a utility-miximizing, acquisitive way in the Great Market of Life."



"For those whose ideas have been shaped so thoroughly by the logic of capitalism, people like Prince Kropotkin who see mutual aid as a factor in evolution, or who would go still further and see play as simply intrinsic to being alive — Graeber doesn’t cite J. Huizinga’s Homo Ludens here, but he should — are just nuts. They’re not seeing the world as it obviously really is.

But, Graeber suggests, maybe what’s obvious from within the logic of late capitalism isn’t so obvious from another point of view; and maybe what’s nuts according to the logic of late capitalism is, again from another point of view, not necessarily nuts. Maybe there is more in heaven and earth, Professor Dawkins, than is dreamt of in your evolutionary biology.

In a famous passage from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek — the much-anthologized chapter called “Seeing” — Annie Dillard cites the naturalist Stewart Edward White on how to learn to see deer: “As soon as you can forget the naturally obvious and construct an artificial obvious, then you too will see deer.” That is, you have to learn to pick out certain now-and-for-you-insignificant elements in your visual field and reassign them to the realm of the significant. And this is true, not just for the visual but also for the mental field. But it is also and equally true that our constructions of the artificial obvious are not invariably reliable: sometimes they are wrong, and if we then forget that they are our constructions, and think of them as the natural obvious, as the way things just are … we’re screwed.

This is Graeber’s point. And you don’t have to agree with him about the playfulness of worms to see its importance. Our social and economic structures prompt us, every day and in a hundred different ways, to see certain elements of our mental field as significant while ever-so-gently discouraging us from noticing others at all. And when it comes to the constructions of our mental worlds, as opposed to our visual fields, we might be missing something more lastingly important than a guy in a gorilla suit.

All of these reflections started with my reading of a 1945 article about the entanglements of the arts with universities, at a time when universities were in danger of becoming what they have since largely become: “social and technical service stations.” Let’s try now to get back to those concerns."



"My point is: I don’t like seeing journalism being drawn so consistently into the same self-justifying, self-celebrating circles that the American university itself was drawn into during and following World War II. As R. P. Blackmur rightly feared, the intimacy between universities and government did not end when the war ended; it only intensified, and the fact that those universities became our chief patrons of the arts, especially literary writing, at the very moment that they crawled permanently into bed with government and industry, cannot be without repercussions for artists.

The best guide to the rise of creative programs in particular is Mark McGurl’s The Program Era, and it’s fascinating how McGurl repeatedly walks right up to the edge of a clearly articulated critique of this system without ever crossing it. In the penultimate sentence of his book he writes, “Is there not more excellent fiction being produced now than anyone has time to read?” Then he starts a new paragraph before giving us the book’s last sentence: “What kind of traitor to the mission of mass higher education would you have to be to think otherwise?” Oh clever man!

Yes, there is a great deal of skillfully written post-World-War-II fiction available to us, indeed more than we could ever read. But how much of it embodies the kind of imaginative otherness that, as David Graeber reminds us, our social/cultural/economic contexts militate against? How much of it, shaped as it is in institutions that owe their continued existence to their affiliation with the military-industrial complex, envisions ways of life radically other than the ones we now experience? How much of it offers more than increasingly sophisticated simulations of worlds we already know, can predict, feel comfortable in? How much, in shirt, is conducive to genuine hope?

I guess what I’m asking for is pretty simple: for writers of all kinds, journalists as well as fiction writers, and artists and academics, to strive to extricate themselves from an “artificial obvious” that has been constructed for us by the dominant institutions of our culture. Simple; also probably impossible. But it’s worth trying. Few things are more worth trying.

And I am also asking universities to realize and to reconsider their implication in those dominant institutions. I don’t demand that schools sever their ties with those institutions, since that would be financially suicidal, and economic times for higher education are hard enough as it is. But there need to be more pockets of resistance: more institutions with self-consciously distinctive missions, and within institutions more departments or even just informal discussion groups who seek to imagine the so-far unimaginable.

Finally, I am asking all this of myself. I’m fifty-five years old. I’ve probably got twenty or so years to think and write at the highest level I’m capable of, and in those years I want to surprise myself. I don’t want merely to recycle and redeploy the ideas I have inherited. I know that this is easier for me, a white American man with a secure job, than it is for many others. But then, that’s all the more reason for me to do it.

Fifty years ago, Jacques Derrida gave a lecture that would become very famous, and created a stir even as he presented it. When the talk ended, the first questioner was Jean Hyppolite, and he asked Derrida what his talk was “tending toward.” Derrida replied, “I was wondering myself if I know where I am going. So I would answer you by saying, first, that I am trying, precisely, to put myself at a point so that I do not know any longer where I am going.”"
2014  alanjacobs  education  culture  highereducation  highered  davidgraeber  whauden  rpblackmur  louisalthusser  adamkirsch  militaryindustrialcomplex  power  funding  academia  creativity  play  economics  imagination  richarddawkins  canon  corporatization  corporatism  mutualaid  peterkropotkin  homoludens  johanhuizinga  seeing  stewartendward  anniedillard  californiasundaymagazine  technology  siliconvalley  capitalism  latecapitalism  journalism  writing  jacquesderrida  jeanhyppolite  markmcgurl  context  resistance  utopia  pocketsofresistance  courage  possibility  transcontextualism  paradigmshifts  althusser 
october 2014 by robertogreco
The Gerrard Winstanley Mobile Field Center, New York City Chapter | Dismal Garden
"The Gerrard Winstanley Radical Gardening Space, Reclamation Mobile Field Centre and Weather Station, (European Chapter). 2000
 
A custom made bike trailer that, when in transit, becomes a compact, weatherproof, lockable unit; roadworthy and user-friendly. It is designed to travel between allotments, parks, playgrounds, schools and squares, where it is parked, quickly assembled and made ready for action.
 
When stationary the trailer opens to reveal a small photocopier, a library of books available for photocopying and a small weather station. On top is a solar panel which harvests solar energy while the trailer is outside. (A full battery is enough energy to make one copy.)
 
The library consists of a unique collection of books on DIY culture, permaculture, urban gardening, alt/energy systems, utopias and issues of gentrification. The bike is named after Gerrard Winstanley, the leader and spokesperson for "the Diggers", a group of 17th Century indigent peasants who tried to defy the enclosure of common land by private interests: occupying it en masse, digging it up and cultivating it for food."

[See also: The Gerrard Winstanley Mobile Field Center, European Chapter, 2000
http://www.dismalgarden.com/projects/gerrard-winstanley-mobile-field-center-european-chapter

and http://clconleyarhs4973.wordpress.com/2013/04/06/sustainable-structures-41-43/
http://www.temporaryservices.org/mobile_struct_rsrce3.html
http://www.frieze.com/issue/article/free_radical/ ]
2000  nilsnorman  mobile  bikes  biking  gardening  openstudioproject  lcproject  diy  unschooling  deschooling  permaculture  urbangardening  urban  urbanism  utopia  pocketsofutopia  weather  weatherstations  nomadism  cityasclassroom  nomads 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Utopias Of SoCal, A Guide From Llano Del Rio Collective | Los Angeles, I'm Yours
"I would call Los Angeles a utopia. It’s so grand and open and friendly and calm while being constantly sunny that it just feels like a dream environment. It’s no wonder that so many idealistic communities and thinkers have been born out of the city: all we know is the perfect and the wonderful—and we’d hope to spread that enlightenment to others.

Llano Del Rio Collective, a guide making group of artists concerned with expanding the minds of Angelenos, has tapped into this idea and has mapped it in a very special way. They’ve created Utopias Of SoCal, a fold out illustrated map that details past and present (and maybe even future) points of utopian attraction. The piece serves to capture the culture of local idealism and point you toward finding this peace around town.

Utopias features illustrations by Erin Schneider with texts from the collective (and Erin as well). The idea of this guide comes from the group’s finding the book California’s Utopian Colonies by Robert V. Hine. The book highlights cults, communes, and intentional communities in the state and defined what they really were, that they shared similar ways of thinking and relied on the land in a way others were not. Llano has put out this publication in the hopes that you will be able to find out about these utopias and that you can “start your own ideal state.”

The collective also have found such a vast, perpetually topical subject in utopias. They’ve found the Gay Liberation Front and Highland Park Chicana/o Arts. There was even something called The Hog Farm, a hippie community who created light shows and (literally) liked to clown. A few notable entries will catch the eye, like CalArts, the Self Realization Fellowship, and The Source Family. You’ll also look twice when you see Llano del Rio on the list: the group borrows their namesake from a 1914 to 1918 group of utopians that swelled to a thousand members at one point and dedicated themselves to “cooperation rather than competition.”

Utopias Of SoCal is a brilliant little local map and certainly a celebration of local oddity. It definitely will definitely have you learning about the city and seeing a bunch of new things that you probably didn’t know existed. The work is available, for free, to locals at many stores or you can email Llano to get a copy of your own: learn more about that here. The group also have a residency at SMMOA, where they are doing various programs around this map: learn about that here."
losangeles  utopia  maps  mapping  socal 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Allies, Friends, and the Value of Utopian Visions | tressiemc
"I am fortunate to claim economist Sandy Darity as a friend and mentor. I asked him once, after a barn burner of an academic lecture on reparations, why in God’s name would he go all in on something that doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of ever happening. “That’s what they once said about abolishing slavery,” he said.

I shut up.

And, I got to thinking.

For about six years now, I’ve been thinking about what it means to go all in on the improbable.

Ta-Nehisi Coates reintroduced the subject of reparations to public debate recently. I’m no Coates or Darity but I’ve been around just long enough to know how these debates are often truncated and misconstrued by the well-meaning and nefarious alike. I saw it happening in the responses. I jotted off a thing about how education is the exact wrong prescription for cumulative denial and violent extraction of capital from black lives. The Washington Post ran that thing. I stand by it.

I stand by it knowing that tomorrow I will read the latest scholarship and policy on education and access and inequality and I will do my damn job. I will see us moving the same ball and I will do my job. I will even, most days, enjoy my job. I will read supposedly sober critiques from disciplined conservatives that pull every slight of hand to look serious while avoiding taking any real stance. I will ignore the emails, social media taunts and thinly-veiled threats.

I will do it knowing that no one is about to go all in on reparations legislation this week or even this lifetime.

This is how these things work. Until they don’t.

Sometimes, all of the Times that have mattered actually, a conversation will meet a moment will meet a movement. And, our collective social evolution relies on the zealots who took a stand from time to time.

I’m not saying I’ll be one of them. But I am saying I won’t stand in their way.

Can we say that for our allies? The ones who are fine with reparations in theory but cannot go so far as to deal with its practical application for living victims of apartheid. They, the ones who are happy to talk about slavery given the comfort of space, time, and probability statistics but go silent when reminded that there are living victims of Jim Crow or new victims being made in places like New Orleans as we speak? Can we say the same for friends of equality who cannot imagine justice for people “like you” in an alternate reality even when the stakes are so very low? I mean, if its so ridiculous, so improbable this idea of reparations why can so few allies and friends and progressives and liberals be bothered to even venture utopian futures where black folks have something akin to justice?

It is not unlike creative geniuses who, with the power of CGI and a billion dollars, can imagine green extraterrestrials and shimmering vampires but not black people.

Anyway, I wrote a thing about reparations. I know it won’t matter but that is why I wrote it.

In the meantime, I’m headed to New England to bump up against some bright brains as I work on the here and now of inequality regimes, social media, digital geographies and credentials. It’s my job. I like it.

You can catch me at the Berkman Center in July and mostly here on the blog as I hand a book over to my publisher, usher some pubs through brutal revise and resubmits, and dream of allies and friends."
conversation  utopia  tressiemcmillancottom  small  multiplicities  multiplicity  2014  allies  writing  whywewrite  thinking  probability  improbability 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Energy That Is All Around | Art Practical
"But the exhibition’s linchpin is tucked into one of the vitrines devoted to correspondence, snapshots, and other ephemera. It is a page from one of McCarthy’s sketchbooks, in which she paraphrases Walter Benjamin: “Aura=relationship of distance/time and space.”3 Benjamin laments the “passionate…inclination to bring things close” (emphasis his) that spurs reproduction but strips a work of its aura.4 For the group of artists represented in this exhibition, the capacity to encounter their work without the attendant baggage of the Mission School moniker is almost impossible. But bringing the artists back to the place where they were students both collapses and expands the distance around the work, historicizing it even as we encounter anew its vibrancy, earnestness, and disruptive spirit. The gap of twenty years is felt in the juxtaposition of paintings that are heartbreaking in their youthful fervor with those that are sober with the received wisdom of age.

The ephemera also remind us why “school” was an applicable term for these artists’ activities. An academic institution indoctrinates certain ideological leanings and refutes others. The aesthetics of the Mission School reflect a conscientious rejection of modernist trajectories, and its collaborative activities corresponded to the predominant economic and social conditions of the Mission district at the time. As an ideology for San Francisco, the Mission School is still relevant even as its namesake neighborhood has radically transformed and derivative works have diminished the politics that informed the aesthetic choices of the original artists. If we remember why Glen Helfand coined the label in his 2002 article—to describe a group of artists committed to utopian ideals “about the power of fellowship and the possibility of being lifted up,” to resourcefulness in the face of economic hardship, and to radical personal politics—there are still lessons to be learned here.5"
missionschool  art  sanfrancisco  sfai  2013  aliciamccarthy  rubyneri  chrisjohanson  marharetkilgallen  barrymcgee  natashaboas  ephemeral  ephemera  ideology  education  academia  aesthetics  rejection  modernism  collaboration  glov  srg  edg  glenhelfand  fellowship  resourcefulness  personalpolitics  radicalism  aura  walterbenjamin  youth  utopia  time  distance  space  ephemerality 
april 2014 by robertogreco
What I’m working on lately: Practices of the minimum viable utopia (long) | Speedbird
"In the fusion of each of these three archetypal processes, el Campo de Cebada, Godsbanen and Unto This Last, we can see the outlines of something truly radical and terribly exciting beginning to resolve. What can be made out, gleaming in the darkness, is a — partial, incomplete, necessarily insufficient, but hugely important — way of responding to the disappearance of meaningful jobs from our cities, as well as all the baleful second-order effects that attend that disappearance.

When apologists for the technology industry trumpet the decontextualized factoid that each “tech” job ostensibly creates five new service positions as a secondary effect, what they neglect to mention is that the lion’s share of those jobs will as a matter of course prove to be the kind of insecure, short-term, benefits-lacking, at-or-close-to-minimum-wage positions that typify the contemporary service sector. This sort of employment can’t come anywhere close to the (typically unionized) industrial-sector jobs of the twentieth century in their capacity to bind a community together, either in the income and benefits they produce by way of compensation, in the conception of self and competence they generate in those who hold them, or in the sense of solidarity with others similarly situated that they generally evoke.

At the same time, though, like many others, I too believe it would be foolish to artifically inflate employment by propping up declining smokestack industries with public-sector subsidies. Why, for example, continue to maintain Detroit’s automobile manufacturers on taxpayer-funded life support, when their approach to the world is so deeply retrograde, their product so very corrosive environmentally and socially, their behavior so irresponsible and their management so blitheringly, hamfistedly incompetent? That which is falling should also be pushed, surely. But that can’t ethically be done until something of comparable scale has been found to replace industrial manufacturing jobs as the generator of local economic vitality and the nexus of local community.

So where might meaningful, valued, value-generating employment be found — “employment” in the deepest sense of that word? I have two ways of answering that question:

- In the immediate term, I believe in the material and economic significance of digital fabrication technologies largely using free and open-source plans, deployed in small, clean, city-center workshops, under democratic community control. While these will never remotely be of a scale to replace all the vanished industrial jobs of the past, they offer us at least one favorable prospect those industrial jobs never could: the direct production of items immediately useful and valuable in one’s own life. Should such workshops be organized in such a way as to offer skills training (perhaps for laid-off service-sector workers, elders or at-risk youth), they present a genuinely potent economic and social proposition.

There are provisos. The Surly Urbanist correctly suggests that any positions created in such an endeavor need to be good jobs, i.e. not simply minimum-wage dronework, and my friend Rena Tom also notes that the skills training involved should be something more comprehensive than a simple set of instructions on how to run a CNC milling machine — that any such course of instruction would be most enduringly valuable if it amounted to an apprenticeship first in the manual and only later the numeric working of materials. I also want to be very clear that, per the kind of inclusive decision-making processes used at el Campo de Cebada, such a workshop would have to be something a community itself collectively thinks is worth experimenting with and investing in, not something inflicted upon it by guileless technoutopians from afar.

- In the fullness of time, I believe that the use of relatively high-technology techniques to accomplish not merely the local, autonomous production of everyday objects, furnitures and infrastructures, but their refit and repair, will come to be an economically salient activity in the global North. In this I see a congelation of several existing tendencies, logics or dynamics: the ideologically-driven retreat of the State from responsibility for stewardship of the everyday environment; the accelerating attrition and degradation of the West’s dated and undermaintained infrastructures, and their concomitant need for upgrade or replacement; increasing belief in the desirability of densifying urban infill; the rising awareness in the developed world of jugaad, gambiarra and other cultures of repair, reuse and improvisation; the emergence of fabricator-enabled adaptive upcycling; the circulation of a massive stock of recyclable componentry (in the form of obsolescent structures as well as landfill-bound but effectively nondegradable consumer items), coupled to the emergence of a favorable economics of materials recovery; broader experience with and understanding of networked, horizontal and leaderless organizational structures; the creation of a robust informational commons, including repositories of freely-downloadable specifications; and finally the clear capability of online platforms to facilitate development and sharing of the necessary knowledge, maintain some degree of standardization (or at least harmonization) of practice, suggest sites where citizen repair might constitute a useful intervention, and support processes of democratic decision-making."
utopia  2014  adamgreenfield  openstudioproject  pocketsofresistance  resistance  institutforx  godbanen  aarhus  madrid  spain  españa  elcampodecebada  untothislast  london  making  makerculture  economics  production  fabrication  democracy  labor  upcycling  collectivism  collaboration  repair  furniture  agency  denmark  davidharvey  postcapitalism  sharingeconomy  sharing  libraries  lcproject  community  communities  cooperatives  anilbawa-cavia  renatom  airbnb  couchsurfing  kintsugi  seams  minimumviableutopia  douglasmeehan  idealism  practicalism  jeremyrifkin  self-reliance  murraybookchin  jugaad  fabbing  gambiarra  fixing  maintenance  cv  repairing 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Who Really Owns The Internet? - The Awl
"Can we solve the issues that you talk about without radically reorganizing the economy?

No. (Laughs) Which I think is why I’ve been so active. I’ve been thinking about this in connection with all these writers who are coming up who found each other through Occupy, and why all of us were willing to participate in that uprising despite all the problems and the occasional ridiculousness of it.

But the economy can be revolutionized or the economy can be reformed, and I don’t discount the latter option. That level of social change happens in unpredictable ways. It’s actually harder to think of a revolutionary event that has had a positive outcome, whereas there have been lots of reforms and lots of things that people have done on the edges that have had powerful consequences. Would I like to see an economic revolution? Definitely. But I think there are a lot of ways to insert a kind of friction into the system that can be beneficial.

This book is about economics, and the amazing, probably very American ability to not talk about economics—particularly with technology, which is supposed to be this magical realm, so pure and disruptive and unpredictable that it transcends economic conditions and constraints. The basic idea is that that’s not the case.

To a lot of people this is self-evident, but I was surprised at how outside the mainstream conversation that insight was. When money is brought up, there’s this incredible romanticism, like the Yochai Benkler quote about being motivated by things other than money. But we’re talking about platforms that go to Goldman Sachs to handle their IPOs. Money is here. Wake up!"



"When I defend institutions in this book, I knew I might provoke my more radical friends. The position that everything is corrupt—journalism is corrupt, educational institutions are corrupt, publishers are corrupt—sounds great. And on some level it’s true. They’ve disappointed us. But we need more and better—more robust, more accountable—institutions. So I tried to move out of the position of just criticizing those arrangements and enumerating all their flaws and all the ways they’ve failed us. What happens when we’ve burned all these institutions to the ground and it’s just us and Google?"



"Do you have advice for what people—people like me—who write or produce other work for the Internet can do about this situation?

I’m encouraged by all these little magazines that have started in the last few years. Building institutions, even if they’re small, is a very powerful thing, so that we’re less isolated. When you’re isolated, you’re forced into the logic of building our own brand. If you build something together, you’re more able to focus on endeavors that don’t immediately feed into that. That’s what an institution can buy you—the space to focus on other things.

What would help creators more than anything else in this country are things that would help other workers: Real public health care, real social provisions. Artists are people like everybody else; we need the same things as our barista.

I quote John Lennon: "You think you’re so clever and classless and free. One thing we need is an end to artist exceptionalism. When we can see our connection to other precarious people in the economy, that’s when interesting things could happen. When we justify our position with our own specialness…"
2014  astrataylor  internet  economics  occupywallstreet  ows  ip  intellectualproperty  universalbasicincome  marxism  miyatokumitsu  precarity  davidburrgerrard  interviews  small  institutions  scale  art  artists  markets  capitalism  automation  utopia  andrewblum  vancepackard  plannedobsolescence  libertarianism  edwardsnowden  freedom  socialmedia  libraries  advertising  benkunkel  publicbroadcasting  quotas  propaganda  technology  web  online  jessemyerson  utopianism  labor  work  artlabor  strickdebt  ubi 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Spike Jonze's 'Her' a refreshingly original take on a future L.A. - latimes.com
"Critic's Notebook: Spike Jonze boldly bucks the retro trend in creating a vivid future L.A. in 'Her,' a thoughtful meditation on tech and culture."



""Her" bucks the retro moment by jumping enthusiastically, and blindly, into a future that is neither utopian nor dystopian but — like our own era, and like every era —somewhere in the slippery in-between. The film is set in the Los Angeles of two or three decades from now; the year is never specified.

The city has dense clusters of tall towers and a mass-transit system to rival London's. Cars seem to have been banished. The thoughtful but hopelessly needy hero, Theodore Twombly, lives in a large and serene apartment in a downtown high-rise and either walks or takes the train everywhere."



"Alternating between scenes shot in Los Angeles and Shanghai gives this limbo cinematic form. The city is stuck between two realms just like Theodore, with his feet on the ground in Los Angeles and his mind and heart in a digital reverie.

Those gestures by Jonze and Barrett turn "Her" into an extended and surprisingly kindhearted meditation on how we grapple with major change — personal, cultural, technological and architectural.

The reason the culture has become creatively stuck, endlessly reusing our own recent past, is not only that it has become so easy for artists and consumers to call up old material. It is also because we are in the midst of a dramatic and profound digital upheaval that is remaking our personal and professional lives.

We have had a tough time moving forward in part because we haven't had a chance to make any coherent sense of what this digital revolution means culturally.

The question seems so huge and unwieldy, so existential, that it has been easier to turn our backs and find either comfort and inspiration in the newly accessible past.

This retro turn hardly kills creativity; it has produced some energetic and important work, a lot of which seems to fully inhabit and animate past styles rather than simply ape them. This is particularly true of records and novels by artists in their 20s and early 30s, digital natives who effortlessly give fresh energy to discarded or antique genres.

Think of "Days Are Gone," the addictive 2013 debut from three twentysomething sisters from the San Fernando Valley in the band Haim, which shamelessly borrows tricks from '80s pop and still manages to sound fresh. Or "The Luminaries," the Booker Prize-winning novel by Eleanor Catton, a 28-year-old New Zealand writer who mines Victorian fiction for inspiration.

In architecture, too, the ease of looking backward has made looking forward tougher or simply more rare. Younger architects are relying on historic pastiche to a degree not seen since the heyday of postmodernism in the 1980s. Consider the work of the recently disbanded London firm FAT (Fashion Architecture Taste), which in recent years rescued tongue-in-cheek historicism from the margins of architectural practice.

Or the newly opened Ace Hotel on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles; occupying the ornate 1927 United Artists tower by the firm Walker & Eisen, the hotel has interiors remade by the Los Angeles design firm Commune as a loving tribute to 1920s architecture, with nods to Rudolph Schindler, Frank Lloyd Wright and the Viennese modernist Adolf Loos.

Like "The Way Way Back," which is essentially set in the 1980s and the present day at the same time, the hotel's design scheme is comfortable mixing historical eras: Layered atop the throwback architectural details are artworks by contemporary L.A. artists, including pencil drawings on the walls by the Haas Brothers.

At a certain point, though, we are going to have to confront the growing gap between the relentless pace of innovation in the high-tech world and the ever-faster cycle of rehash and rediscovery that dominates the cultural one.

"Her" is one of the first high-profile efforts to do so. Jonze sidesteps the retro riptide that has trapped so many of his peers. And he eagerly takes on the question of what it might mean to live in an era when nearly everything is capable of being delivered (and theoretically improved) in digital form — not just newspapers, music, novels and architectural blueprints but love affairs too."
her  losangeles  future  spikejonze  2014  elizabethdiller  dystopia  utopia  cities  christopherhawthorne  retro  culture  history  architecture  design  film  lizdiller 
january 2014 by robertogreco
The True Literature of California is Science Fiction
[Also posted here: http://www.boomcalifornia.com/2014/01/kim-stanley-robinson/ ]

"Kim Stanley Robinson is the author of many works of science fiction, including The Three Californias, a trilogy of novels about southern California; the Mars Trilogy; 2312, a novel about climate change; and his most recent novel, Shaman.

Robinson is one of California's best-known and well-loved, living science fiction writers. A prolific writer, author of two trilogies and several other novels, he is one of the few science fiction novelists who still dares envision utopia—not the static and socially constrained utopias of Thomas More or Edward Bellamy, but dynamic, complex, multicultural societies that always have to struggle for and reflect on their own futures.

Robinson earned a Ph.D. from UC San Diego, where he worked with the legendary postmodern literary scholar Fredric Jameson and wrote his dissertation on science fiction writer Philip K. Dick. He cares deeply about California and is actively involved with the Sierra Nevada Research Institute at UC Merced and the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination at UC San Diego.

Robinson is also a generous conversationalist. When not holed up at home in Davis, California, working on his next book, he can often be found out in the world these days talking about climate change and political change, and thinking out loud with scientists, activists, writers, and readers about the future.

We spent a leisurely afternoon conversing with him at his garden writing table in Davis. This interview was originally published on Boom: A Journal of California and was conducted by Boom's editors."



"So, Pacific Edge was my attempt, a first attempt, and I think it's still a nice vision of what Southern California could be. That coastal plain is so nice. From Santa Barbara to San Diego is the most gorgeous Mediterranean environment. And we've completely screwed it. To me now, it's kind of a nightmare. When I go down there it creeps me out. I hope to spend more of my life in San Diego, which is one of my favorite places. But I'll probably stick to west of the coast highway and stay on the beach as much as I can. I'll deal, but we can do so much better."



"Do you love where you were when you were growing up? Well, yes—especially if you had good parents, a happy childhood, a beach. But I've found you can actually outlive nostalgia itself. I didn't know you could do that, but I have."



"I like thinking California is one place. It's big. It's various. It's an entire country. It's an entire planet."



"California is a terraformed space."



"California could maybe handle sea level rise better than a lot of other places. Its coastline is not a drowned coastline like the East Coast, so although the Delta would be in big trouble, most of the California coastline is steep enough to take a lot of the projected sea level rise—although the beaches will be in trouble. Right here we're about fifty feet above sea level. So the maximum sea level rise projected for the next couple centuries would remain a ways over there to the south."



"I've run into young environmental philosophers who say, "Be realistic, Stan. We're headed for a five-degree rise in temperature; we have to adapt." But this I think is a pseudo-realism. Think about mass extinction: how do you adapt to that? It would drive us down; we might not go extinct too, but we would suffer so badly. No. We need mitigation. We need to fight the political fight. We need a carbon tax; we need everything except giving up. To say we've lost the battle already is just another science fiction story. It's saying that we will lose. But beyond 2013, nothing has happened yet. Path dependency is not the same as inevitability.

People are way too chicken when faced with the supposed massive entrenchment of capitalism. It's just a system of laws, and we change laws all the time."



"My story here is that from the very start science and capitalism were very tightly bound together, like conjoined twins, but were not at all the same, and indeed were even opposed systems of thinking and organization. They were born around the same time, yes; but if you regard them as identical, you're making a very bad mistake. Capitalism's effect on humanity is not at all what science's effect is on humanity. If you say science is nothing but instrumentality and capitalism's technical wing, then you're saying we're doomed. Those are the two most powerful social forces on the planet, and now it's come to a situation of science versus capitalism. It's a titanic battle. One is positive and the other negative.

We need to do everything we can to create democratic, environmental, utopian science, because meanwhile there is this economic power structure that benefits the few, not very different from feudalism, while wrecking the biosphere. This is just a folk tale, of course, like a play with sock puppets, like Punch and Judy. But I think it describes the situation fairly well."



"I think we're a working utopian project in progress, between the landscape and the fact that California has an international culture, with all our many languages. It's got the UC system and the Cal State system, the whole master plan, all the colleges together, and Silicon Valley, and Hollywood. It's some kind of miraculous conjunction. But conjunctions don't last for long. And history may pass us by eventually, but for now it's a miraculous conjunction of all of these forces.

So I love California. Often when I go abroad and I'm asked where I'm from, I say California rather than America. California is an integral space that I admire. And we're doing amazing things politically. I like the way the state is trending more left than the rest of America. And San Francisco is the great city of the world. I love San Francisco. I think of myself as living in its provinces—and provincials, of course, are often the ones who are proudest of the capital. And many of my San Francisco friends exhibit a civic pride that is intense, and I think justified.

So there's something going on here in California. I do think it's somewhat accidental; so to an extent, it's pride in an accident, or maybe you could say in a collective, in our particular history. So there's no one thing or one person or group that can say, ah, we did it! It just kind of happened to us, in that several generations kept bashing away, and here we are. But when you have that feeling and it goes on, and continues to win elections and create environmental regulations, the clean air, the clean water, saving the Sierra, saving the coast: it's all kind of beautiful. Maybe the state itself is doing it. Maybe this landscape itself is doing it."
kimstanleyrobinson  california  sandiego  scifi  sciencefiction  2014  interviews  literature  landscape  raybradbury  robertheinlein  ursulaleguin  philipkdick  frankherbert  jackvance  poulanderson  robinsonjeffers  ecotopia  ernestcallenbach  history  climatechange  capitalism  environment  globalwarming  politics  change  nostalgia  johnmuir  law  legal  policy  santabarbara  orangecounty  sanfrancisco  utopia  diversity  jonchristensen  jangoggans  ursulakheise 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Libertarian enclaves: Bitcoin paradise | The Economist
"A GROUP of self-described anarchists, libertarians and Ron Paul supporters fleeing the crumbling world economic system have founded Galt's Gulch, a community in Chile inspired by Ayn Rand's “Atlas Shrugged”—and with an economy based entirely on Bitcoin. Or that's the goal, anyway.

"Our farm workers and suppliers still want to get paid in pesos,” Ken Johnson, the project’s founder and managing partner, explains. "But Bitcoin as the John Galt coin? Why shouldn't it be?”

If the world economic system "goes sideways," as Mr Johnson puts it, residents will retreat to their self-sufficient gated community, where they will enjoy a shooting range, equestrian facilities, and spa and fitness center. The 6,874-hectare site (pictured) also includes a 100-hectare farm, although it is not clear who will pick the lettuce when the world ends.

Galt's Gulch Chile—a name impossible for local Spanish-speakers to pronounce—will also boast an innovation centre, where expatriate libertarian dentists and chiropractors may ply their trade. In exchange for Bitcoin, of course.

In the event the world economic system fails to collapse on schedule, however, Mr Johnson has a plan B—his new trademark, Galt's Gulch Organics. "The farm came with 65 hectares of lemons," he says. "The US and Japanese markets pay a premium for organic, non-GMO produce." Plans are in the works to plant herbs, spices, fruit, nuts, and vineyards, and organic certification is not far off.

A quirk of Chilean law makes land, mining and water rights independent of each other. Mr Johnson made sure to acquire all three, particularly the water rights. "In the future, wars will be fought over water," he says. Two rivers border the land, and the community sits atop 56 known water wells. Galt's Gulch bottled mineral water may soon be in the offing. Mr Johnson is also building guest haciendas to house not only prospective buyers, but also, he hopes, tourists.

Set in a secluded valley 17 kilometres from Curacavi, Chile, on the road between Santiago and the luxurious beach resort of Viña del Mar, Galt's Gulch is a mere forty-five minutes by car from the Santiago airport, but, as Mr Johnson says, "it feels like you're at the end of the Earth." Yet his goal is not isolationist, he adds. "We're not trying to hide from the world. In fact we want people to find us.”

Indeed, of the 430 lots for sale, only 12% have sold so far, and Mr Johnson is marketing vigorously to the libertarian and Bitcoin communities. Lots are priced in both dollars and Bitcoin, with big discounts for buyers who pay in that crypto-currency. Many early adopters of Bitcoin find themselves sitting on small fortunes, and Mr Johnson hopes to tempt them to diversify into real estate. So far nine clients have paid in Bitcoin, totaling around $1.5m in revenue.

Mr Johnson, a former California real estate agent and evangelist of water ionizers (devices supposed to slow aging and prevent disease, but derided as snake oil by many scientists) has become something of a celebrity in libertarian circles. Authors such as Ben Swann, Josh Tolley, Luke Rudkowski, Bob Murphy, Angela Keaton, Tatiana Moroz and Wendy McElroy have visited the site of his future utopia, and a television production company is pitching a documentary series on the community.

Most buyers so far, he says, are expats or second-home buyers. For Mr Johnson, the appeal is easy to explain. "It's like California, only forty or fifty years ago. Feels like you've stepped back in time.” Mr Johnson plans to break ground in 2014, and estimates five years to fulfill his vision of a place where he can "live and let live, thrive and let thrive.”

Why does he think his project will succeed where similar schemes have failed? "We're a freedom-minded community, but we're not trying to create a sovereign state," he explains. "We pay our taxes, we obey the law. Our goal is to lessen the effect of the rest of the world without telling the world to go take a flying leap."

As for Ayn Rand, just how much have her ideas influenced the community's design? Mr Johnson admits he never finished “Atlas Shrugged”. "I'm not actually much of a reader," he says. "Watched the movie and skimmed the Cliff's Notes, though. Good stuff.""

[Shiver at this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJyafOxDOeE ]

[See also: http://galtsgulchchile.com/
http://dollarvigilante.com/blog/2013/5/27/ayn-rands-vision-of-galts-gulch-has-become-reality-as-of-tod.html
http://dollarvigilante.com/blog/2013/9/3/galt%E2%80%99s-gulch-chile-%E2%80%93-where-the-world-is-coming-to.html ]

[Update: http://www.thedailybell.com/editorials/35591/Wendy-McElroy-The-Fate-of-Galts-Gulch-Chile/

"Unbeknown to most purchasers, dramatic changes had occurred behind the scenes. Through maze-like transfers of cash and authority, Jeff Berwick was shoved out of the project and Ken Johnson was in control. I have sorted out most of the obfuscating tangle and I may soon be writing a history of the labyrinthine matter. For the moment, suffice it to say there is basis for various lawsuits; some are being pursued.

There will be no zoning for the 1.25-acre lots or other arrangements of less than 10 acres. Lots over 10 acres are beyond my ken. GGC is an environmentally protected area and it would take the political movement of heaven and earth to allow a community based on small lots to be officially approved. I had the opportunity to ask a question of the salesman who showed my husband and me "our property." I claimed it because I fell head over heels for the most beautiful tree I've ever seen. I felt an instant connection as though the two of us were old souls who had found each other. I could believe it, I could see it... waking up each morning and having coffee under that tree, telling it about my plans for the day. Months later, in a Skype conference, I asked the then-GGC-alienated salesman, "When you 'sold' us the property, when you printed out a photo from your phone that read 'Wendy's tree,' did you know you could not legally sell us the lot you were offering?" He said, "That is correct."

I suppose there is some comfort in being fleeced in good company, in being in the company of some of the smartest businessmen in the movement. I am not reassured. Perhaps it is because I am an Irish peasant and what reassures me is owning the land under my feet.

But something reassuring is happening. For a few months now, what I call "the founding fathers" have been trying to purchase all rights to GGC and to reboot. It is not just a financial investment to them. They want to live in a community with like-minded people; they want the promise of freedom. I don't know if they can succeed but I support them.

There are genuine problems that should discourage all and any from currently investing in GGC. For example – and just one of many, many examples – GGC owes immense debts to vendors in the closest town of Curacavi. Brad and I spent two weeks there and fell in love with the people, the town, the experience. But GGC owes hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars to hardware stores, service providers... ordinary Chileans who are acutely harmed by the project's malfeasance. They will be and should be first in line for repayment from any legal actions. GGC is heavily encumbered with no good outcome in the near future.

I remain a friend of Jeff Berwick. I continue to admire the founding fathers of GGC and I do nothing but wish them success. I hope to be part of the resolution. But no one, no one should invest their hard-earned money in this venture before a resolution is clear. I don't want to have you on my conscience."]

[Update II: http://dollarvigilante.com/blog/2014/8/27/the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly-on-galts-gulch-chile.html ]
aynrand  chile  libertarianism  libertarians  bitcoin  objectivism  galt'sgultch  kenjohnson  curacavi  benswann  joshtolley  lukerudkowski  bobmurphy  angelakeaton  tatianamoroz  wendymcelroy  utopianism  utopia 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Wed 8.14.13 | Memory and the Radical Imagination | Against the Grain: A Program about Politics, Society and Ideas
"Global capitalism, far from being only an economic phenomenon, affects and influences how we think, including what and how we think about the past. Max Haiven reveals how neoliberal-era initiatives frame human cooperation and collective action; he also emphasizes the importance of what he calls "commoning memory.""
capitalism  memory  economics  maxhaiven  neoliberalism  cooperation  collective  collectiveaction  collectivism  commoningmemory  2013  history  radicalimagination  radicalism  well-being  labor  work  commodification  colonization  conviviality  biopoliticalproduction  via:caseygollan  walterbenjamin  communism  politics  utopia  possibility  past  present  future  humans  human  optimism  society  imagination  complexity  unfinished  pessimism  fascism  courage  1968  patriarchy  socialmovements  revolution  change  activism  utopiandream  struggle 
august 2013 by robertogreco
COHEN VAN BALEN
"Revital Cohen and Tuur Van Balen run a London based experimental practice that produces fictional objects, photographs, performances and videos exploring the tensions between biology and technology.

Inspired by designer species, composed wilderness and mechanical organs, they set out to create posthuman bodies, bespoke metabolisms, unnatural animals and poetic machines."
art  design  cohenvanbalen  revitalcohen  tuurvanbalen  via:bopuc  animals  biology  artificial  bacteria  biotech  biotechnology  bionics  biosensors  sensors  blood  bodies  body  human  humans  brain  memory  cellularmemory  science  choreography  cities  clocks  cooking  cyborgs  documentary  dogs  eels  electricity  ethics  exhibitiondesign  exhibitions  families  genetics  gold  goldfish  heirlooms  immunesystem  immunity  implants  installations  language  languages  leeches  lifesupport  life  machines  numbers  organs  performance  phantoms  pharmaceuticals  pigeons  birds  placebos  poetics  posthumanism  sheep  psychology  rats  prozac  suicide  soap  spatial  serotonine  superheroes  syntheticbiology  video  yeast  utopia  yogurt  translation 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Lebbeus Woods 1940—2012: Tributes to a fearless creator of worlds - Architecture - Domus
Neil M. Denari: "To know Lebbeus was to know a real human. A person who did nothing more than live, which most of us do not. Essentially he lived for others, even as he perpetuated the myth of the singular figure. He worked to communicate, not to satisfy. He loved the fight, not out of righteousness, but out of principal. He loved pleasure, not out of hedonism, but as a shared experience. In his form of living, the world was a massive, inexhaustible cybernetic organism, and he described it through his drawings, his ideas, his writing, and in his love for humanity. He lived his work and his work lived him. He made you live deeper. While Lebbeus was always obsessed with the metrics of things, the way systems and phenomena could be measured, the one thing that could never be quantified was his own life. Lebbeus Woods lives on."

Christoph A. Kumpusch: "In one of our last conversations, Lebbeus said, "Christoph, the biggest problem you can have in life is not having a problem." …"

Geoff Manaug: "Lebbeus Woods was utterly unique and entirely irreplaceable, a full-scale terrestrial force for rethinking architecture's relationship not only with the earth and with gravity, but also with all of grounded philosophy, with any belief in stability, in calm. Lebbeus dove headlong into war, seismicity, urban collapse and even deep space, where perspective and horizon mean nothing, not to celebrate groundlessness but to help us all think through and discover new ways to belong, to build, to find a plane of reference worth trusting (if there can be such a thing). That is architecture at its very best and most urgent — and the relentless Lebbeus will be dearly and heroically missed."

Thom Mayne: "Lebbeus. A man of huge integrity and an insatiable inquisitiveness to explore what he saw as the potentialities of an architecture — works of his mind untethered, unwilling to succumb to the contingent, the compromises inherent in our discipline. There was an equally powerful and balancing commitment to the political/cultural critique that was essential to his project as an architect, teacher and writer. He was, above all, interested in values: what is architecture for? His ethical understanding of our work gave him a moral authority which affected generations of architects. His search was for an authenticity of the present — to build the unbuildable, characterised by the ambiguities of time, the ephemerality of the durable, weight (gravity), physicality and an emotional content embracing a critical optimism with a sense of melancholy. …"

Eric Owen Moss: ""I will forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race. And I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using for my defence the only arms I allow myself to use: silence, exile and cunning." So said Joyce's Stephen Dedalus. I don't know that Joyce's goal is attainable. But it's the most moving advocacy I know for Dedalus's heroic aspiration. That aspiration also resonates in Lebbeus Woods's voice. That is the Woods archetype. Silence. Exile. Cunning."

Michael Sorkin: "Lebbeus Woods was an authentic genius. His intelligence was radical and his work at once intense and effortless, filled with revolutionary joy. Such is the ineffability of genius: it works in the absence of will. … "

Hans Ulrich Obrist: "…Over almost half a century, Woods offered us portals to other always unexpected dimensions. Woods, for whom architecture was an open gate to possibility, envisioned new and alternative forms of utopian thinking. Ernst Bloch defined utopia as "something that's missing". Similar to the late Édouard Glissant, Woods's utopia was quivering, trembling, because it transcended established systems of thought and subjected itself to the unknown. Glissant has inspired generations of architects with a deep philosophical commitment to architecture. Once he told me that it must be said from the start that trembling is not uncertainty, and it is not fear; that every utopia passes through this kind of thought. Utopia is a reality where one can meet with the other without losing oneself. In a text on utopia, Lebbeus asked, "Have we reached the end of utopia as well as the end of history? Let us listen to, and watch, the more ambitious and idealistic of the coming generation. Only they have the answer."

Anthony Vidler: "…someone… whose ethical compass and staunch resistance to the consumerist spectacle was a guidepost to us all."

Kenneth Frampton: "Lebbeus Woods was an enigma who lived his life in defiance of the society into which he had been thrown and by which he was besieged. It was not an easy passage for someone of his rough ethical sense. "What are poets for in a destitute time?" could have been applied more aptly to him than to many others. Hence the unremitting dystopia of his vision, compulsively laid onto paper in one distressed stroke of his talented mind's eye after another. With him it was Blade Runner all the way; the prophetic mise en scène of a world reduced to meaningless rubble, the crashed spaceships and tubular rail bridges of a doomed escape. Hephaestus mocked by the repelling hubris of his own poetic astral technology that even Lebbeus could be seduced by. Yet through all this he remained the passionate advocate of the creative spirit, and it is this that made him into an inspired teacher and a passionate and articulate nurturer of the tyro architect. He was an anarchic romantic to the core, which made him intolerant of unreconstructed erstwhile "New Deal" critics like myself. As he put to me during a review of student work at the Cooper Union, "You are preaching in the wrong church here." This was about it: a rebel without a cause versus a socialist without a country."
lebbeuswoods  neildenari  architecture  2012  2013  domus  toaspireto  thommayne  geoffmanaugh  christophkumpusch  ericowenmoss  jamesjoyce  stephendedalus  utopia  michaelsorkin  hansulrichobrist  anthonyvidler  values  purpose  life  living  morality  ethics  teaching  kennethframpton  canon 
february 2013 by robertogreco
Self-Improvement Kick | This American Life
"A perfectly normal guy gets rid of everything he owns, changes his name, says goodbye to his friends — and begins walking. In the name of peace. And Honduran government officials try to heal their corrupt country by starting a perfect city, from scratch. For the new year, we bring you stories about how far some people go in hopes of a better life."
honduras  paulromer  politics  utopia  change  economics  startingfromscratch  startingover  resets  primingthepump  cities  2013  octaviosanchez  self-improvement 
january 2013 by robertogreco
Toward Independence – Indiecade 2012 | Molleindustria
"There is a practical way to conceptualize the immensity & absurdity of this continuum. I borrow it from the Utopian & Anarchist thought.

Utopia is by definition unattainable but it provides a direction.

Utopia is a tiny flickering mirage at the horizon.

By the time you reach it Utopia already moved forward…yet an utopian idea is fundamental because it provides a direction.

It encourages you to a constant tactical engagement with the status quo. It pushes you to continuously break away from the forces & entities that make us miserable & are screwing up the world.

This is how I like to think about independence in gaming and in culture.

Not a status but a tension and a direction to pursue.

And the corollary is that we should not be here at these indie festivals to celebrate our little club, to exchange tricks on how to milk the indie brand for profit.

No: we should be here to conspire about how we can be *more* autonomous. About how we can move another steptoward independence."
freedom  independent  indie  corporations  post-fordism  alienation  creativework  automation  capital  autonomy  fordism  history  paolopedercini  cv  improvement  purpose  values  utopian  utopianism  utopianthinking  indiegames  anarchism  control  power  economics  videogames  molleindustria  2012  direction  vision  utopia  capitalism  labor  creativelabor  creativity  making  gamedesign  games  purity  vectors 
december 2012 by robertogreco
Soulellis - Eco and Boff—a riff.
"Leonardo Boff: The dead is only invisible, not absent. [http://twitter.com/leonardoboff_/status/195369054926675969 ] There is a great spiritual void in humankind. A good theologian has to go through the temptation of atheism. What would happen to sailors and astronauts without the stars to guide them and give them courage for the journey? I live in utopia, like stars…we never reach the stars, but what would happen to our nights if they didn’t have stars? Paulo Freire, who was also one of the founders of liberation theology, noted that the poor must be the agent of his/her own liberation. We don’t want a theology of development; we want a theology of liberation. A good theologian has to go through the temptation of atheism. The challenge will be to learn to divide the few resources we’ll have fairly, so this community of peoples will have enough to survive. One day we’ll all be socialists, not because of ideology, but because of statistics…we do not have another earth, ours is a small planet with limited resources. To live together with all our differences in a ‘communal house’ with scarce resources, for that’s all we will have. One day we will have an earthly democracy, a planetary democracy where human beings will have to learn to survive together. Humankind is headed for great suffering, one that will cause us to change and learn… As Hegel argues, ‘we learn from history that we do not learn from history;’ and I say that we learn not from history but from suffering…

Umberto Eco: I do not want to draw a hard and fast line between those who believe in a transcendent God and those who do not believe in any supra-individual principle. [http://twitter.com/umbertoeco_/status/195953965035302912 ] Remember, Spinoza’s great book was called Ethics and opened with a definition of God as cause of Itself. This Spinozian divinity, as we well know, is neither transcendent nor personal; and yet even from the idea of a great and unique cosmic Substance into which we shall one day be reabsorbed, there can emerge a vision of tolerance and benevolence precisely because we all have an interest in the equilibrium and harmony of this unique Substance. We share this interest because we think this Substance must, in some way, be enriched or deformed by what we have done over the millennia. What I would hazard (not as a metaphysical hypothesis, but as a timid concession to the hope that never abandons us) is that even from this point of view you can postulate once more the problem of some kind of life after death…Who knows if death, rather than an implosion, might not be an explosion, a re-formation somewhere in the vortices of the universe, of the software (which others call the soul) which we fashion in the course of our lives, and which is made up of memories and personal remorse (and therefore incurable suffering), or of a sense of peace at duty fulfilled—and love."
life  substance  spirituality  leonardoboff  spinoza  umbertoeco  development  utopia  liberation  atheism  communalism  theologyofliberation  theology  paulofreire  environment  socialism  2012  paulsoulellis 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Postcards from Portfoliopolis: Observatory: Design Observer
"I've begun to collect the postcards from Portfoliopolis that pile up in designworld, winning contests and filling exhibitions and blogs — and of course portfolios — with their seductive visions. Judging by the proliferation of the evidence, it’s a place that grows faster than any 21st Century mega-city — but always “smart”-ly, neatly anticipating environmental catastrophe and never beset by the ad-hoc peripheral slums so familiar to us here on Earth.

The road to Portfolioplis, I imagine (and obviously I can only imagine) is paved with the creative solutions. It is designworld’s El Dorado, constructed, or perhaps I should say fabricated, from the best of intentions. It often draws its power from the clean grid of potential career advancement, the ultimate renewable resource…

Portfoliopolis seems so promising, but of course it’s nothing of the kind. Postcards from Portfoliopolis never promise: Instead they suggest, they inspire, they beguile, and they distract…"
highline  postcards  italocalvino  invisiblecities  architecture  design  urban  urbanism  utopia  2011  renderghosts  portfoliopolis  robwalker  postfordopolis 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Urban guides for cyberflâneurs - Reading Room - Domus [Review of Kati Krause's, A Smart Guide to Utopia and P. D. Smith's City. A Guidebook for the Urban Age]
"With a renewed understanding of the concept of city as a living organism…and focused on the power of small actions beyond large-scale urban planning, the book offers a comprehensive tour through spatial practices, diy networks, guerrilla activism and urban farmers, among others. More than a guide to discovering a city, it is a guide about how to make cities more liveable through small, simple interventions. Some of these actions embrace a new technological approach, such as the use of smartphones to enhance the urban experience."

"The book also talks about urban life, religion, street art, waterfronts, traffic jams and many other things that shape our urban experiences, despite the fact that we may often think they are disconnected from each other. As Smith points out, this is the age of the Edge City, where the age-old distinctions between urban and suburban are disappearing, leaving us immersed in a landscape without boundaries where distance is only a subjective feeling."
history  pdsmith  urbanexploration  baudelaire  cyberflaneurism  petercook  mariapopova  adamgreenfield  toread  cities  activism  technology  interventions  urbanfarms  urbanfarming  networks  diynetworks  diy  2012  landscape  place  edgecity  ethelbaraona  utopia  urbanplanning  benhammersley  flaneur  urbanism  urban  books  katikraus 
july 2012 by robertogreco
DAILY SERVING » Summer of Utopia: Interview with Ted Purves
"I feel like a project is successful if we have had substantive encounters with people, if we have created spaces where a kind of exchange—whether it’s family history, or talking about why something should or shouldn’t be in an art museum, or sometimes it’s just swapping recipes—some form of animated or engaged dialogue comes out, or some sort of story emerges. It means we learn something, a story can be brought forward from that, that’s when things are successful. Another high-five moment comes when there is something compelling to look at. A lot of times when you see a social practice show, it’s either a room full of crap to read, or it looks like a place where they had a party and you didn’t get to go. I’ve been to a lot of those, and they’re not satisfying! You either wish they had just printed a book you could take home and read in your own chair—because it’s not very comfortable to sit in a museum—or you wish that you’d been at the party."

[via: http://randallszott.org/2012/05/25/ted-purves-aesthetics-social-practice-personal-economies/ ]
urbanism  rural  cities  urban  suburban  suburbia  suburbs  belief  via:leisurearts  democracy  alteration  change  perception  lemoneverlastingbackyard  wrongness  weirdness  glvo  openendedness  seeing  art  aesthetics  fruit  dialog  publicspaces  publicspace  workinginpublic  disagreement  decisionmaking  debate  negotiation  unplanning  thebluehouse  temescalamityworks  susannecockrell  sharing  2010  overlappingeconomies  capitalism  economics  utopia  thomasmore  socialpractice  tedpurves  dialogue 
may 2012 by robertogreco
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