Fiona Hill says that WW III has already started, and we're in it. Remember her? She was a truth talker at Trump's impeachment hearings. She got a makeover before appearing on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. She didn't look so Soviet grim, and her rhetoric was trimmed of all the incendiaries.
My long-distance one-way correspondent Indi says the oxygen in the coal mine has already gone, and that his people on Sri Lanka are the canaries. No wonder we don't think twice about driving our cars Indi, when the global military dwarfs civilian desecration.
Jonathan Franzen is vilified for suggesting that since we're not going to do anything about global warming, we should at least do those things that we can and maybe will do, to save some birds, some habitat, some bits of nature which many of us still require.
I sure won't do anything. What is there to do when you still have to slog past weirdly happy advertisements to see the newreels from Ukraine? That's just way too much cognitive dissonance for me to bear.
There is no point in trying to change minds. Humans won't be doing anything different. I know I won't. I wouldn't know what to do. I'm tending toward the Marcuse camp; woke to the fact that being presented with pre-steeped-in-money choices does not a democracy make.
But it's far more than that. Herbert Marcuse and Walter Benjamin cross in the arena of aesthetics. Marcuse' One-Dimensional Man describes a life desublimated, where the transitive value of a concept has been reduced to the fixed, denotative, and even imperative nature of noun as thing, embedded not in an aura of contingency, but in a rational cosmos of fixed meanings.
Marcuse struggled mightily, and likely failed, to rid Marxist Dialectic of the trap that history would always be written in a progressive direction. As if history would move with the same inevitable progression that global capital does. He replaces the inevitability of progress with the built-in draw of concepts, which belong to the province of thought, toward a future where actual things remain free to move toward essence, if not toward ideal.
And yes it is mechanical reproduction writ large and populating even thought, which enacts the desublimation. Marcuse' nightmare is an instrumental world where 'what is' gets replaced with 'how to.'
Along with Marcuse, we remain in the thrall of authenticity, now projected onto NFTs and the blockchain, as though that doesn't demarcate the final solution and never something ameliorative. It is the end and not the beginning when highest trust is also mechanical.
You must protect and own your passcode, which Trumps your identity. Your identity, authentic or not, can only exist in that aura of contingency; those know you who can identify your body after death. And even then there must be circumstance for habeas corpus. It was never your body that mattered. It was your body enlivened in the direction of life.
There is only the concept of number which requires desublimation. There is no essence to number but the number itself. And now our rational oppressively administered world is defined by digital everything. Our freedom is complete. History ends.
It is not science which is indifferent to ought in the place of is. Only nature is indifferent. And we must not cheer for the lion or the lamb. Nature is not God. God is love, which is also the direction for life's evolution in nature. This is not something to cheer. It is something that we must align with, as with the flow of a river, or the wind which fills our sails.
Instrumental or mechanical rampage against nature can only inflame the fight, and when we turn to the art of war, war as art, the battle is already lost, for we have become irrelevant. No different from any other species disappearance.
I don't and won't do Facebook for a bejillion reasons, some political, some as protest about how its business model lives on the corpse of our political system, but mostly because it has replaced all personal contact. I'd rather be stark raving alone than to be forced into that fake public space.
I'm certain that my problem with Facebook is that expressions of emotion always seem performative to me. Facebook changes the performance, in at least the sense that real emotions - the kind you simply can't hold back - will never appear on Facebook. You post there after bouts of extreme joy or sadness or terror. Real emotions require real contact.
The limits to what you may say on Facebook precisely disallow improper condolence or snark against a "friend." And this is precisely what allows you to forward and promote falsehood. If science is neutral, then so is falsehood. And I will not be shamed for my ignorance of the sanctioned ways.
Nature will do its thing, in any case. I know I should have embraced Zoom meetups during the depths of the pandemic, but it just reminded me of what was missing. I try not to drive my car, but sometimes I just have to. And when I do walk, which is most of the time, I'm still almost the only one on the street. Although the airport parking lots have filled again. What? The virus has won. Just like Al Qaeda had already won when we went all military on their demand. Performative emotion cubed. Dubya said we had no choice but to be enraged, and Hilary cheered.
When I observe that private cars will be gone within ten years, folks think I'm nuts or just plain cranky. I'm not reading any tea leaves; I'm just stating the obvious. The earth won't stand for it. I mean, I gaze at the vehicles passing by and wonder which one I should buy next, to support the mobile lifestyle that I miss. I'm right in there will all the others that the ads target. I'm just not as excited as the ads make me think I should be. As I guess everyone else is about buying shit.
The only place and time I see books advertised is when I'm reading on my Kindle. At least they don't interrupt my reading. Just sayin'
I'm not watching for what to do any other more than the Ukrainians were watching out for what they should be doing when Putin would inevitably send his forces in. Now they're just doing it, as we all will be doing it when nature sends the forces in. It's not like I'm really OK with that, but I guess I have to be. I try to be at least mentally prepared.
I don't want to get involved in debates about what nature means. Artifice versus nature kind of thing. Art versus schlock. Nature doesn't mean anything. Nature just is.
In my usage here, nature means the real. The real is that part of understanding that science might approach but will never reach. The real is what's always beyond us, but always there. Pretty much by definition ignorance will exceed knowledge, no matter how instrumentally powerful our science makes us feel. And science barely touches people, politics, and the weather when those move at world-changing pace and scale.
Humans have quite simply exceeded any proper scale in our homebuilding. Escape velocity leads only to the end of us.
I suspect the changes will happen a lot faster than we could ever anticipate. Faster even than the results of a nuclear war - that is if we manage to avoid nuclear war. China may be our truest friend if it comes to that brink, but somehow the only thing that both sides of our two-party political system agree on is the singular assessment that China is our greatest threat. As if being handed pre-cooked choices defined by money about whom to elect defines democracy. Sheesh.
We would and will know what to do if nuclear war breaks out. We declare emergency and then work like hell to retrieve whatever we can that comes closest to what we now have, before the fall.
But there are also possibilities for the reconstitution of both scientific and political/social understanding which are, collectively, far more powerful than any bomb or any virus. Understanding of Einstein's equation of mass with energy enabled us to realize the release of 'mass quantities of energy' in only a few short years of engineering implementation. We still struggle to contain and make that energy useful. That also is both a political and scientific struggle for engineering to accomplish.
We won't know what to do when the economy fully collapses. Based on climate change, or a new pandemic, or mass migrations, or crop collapse or sea level rise, there won't be any going back to normal, and we have no models for a new normal.
Nuclear war would also be force majeure, an act of God, an act of nature. Just as I am at fault for all my inaction, humanity will feel our failure. We will feel that this has been an act of man, and we will perform our grief before nothing but God. Nothing less can be worthy to accept our contrition.
And anyhow how would fighting in the direction of forcing humans to do what they should and even must do make one virtuous? I wonder how many Chicken Littles were running around Ukraine last year? Our Chicken Littles call out China, because no harm can come from that, or at least the harm is minuscule compared to the political gains for whatever upcoming election. What does bankrupt mean again?
I'll tell you what the new normal had better be. It had better be us getting back together as families and as a people not as a nation. It had better be the scrapping of the style of capitalism that triggered our collapse. Where we drive off the edge of the earth like a self-driving car that's lost its electronics. Capitalism, as we've allowed it to craft us, is running on automatic and it won't stop before it ends.
That's not a prediction. That's a fact, and we'd better prepare for it. But we won't.
Thing is that it's hard to know what to believe and even harder to know what to do. The QAnon Trumpers are my exemplar of the nightmare of waking up and realizing that you've bought a pack of lies. It could happen to any of us. Which is why we, right alongside the QAnon nutjobs, need the insurance of agreeing with those closest to us. They can't all be wrong. That's pretty much how politics works anymore. You elect someone who's willing to say out loud in public from a position of power something which reinforces a set of beliefs that you know somewhere in the recesses of your mind might not be true. Or it might be actually insane. But you need them to keep your belief alive that the other side is insane.
That something in you wants or needs it to be true, just to end your confusion. We're all insane together now. In unison across the globe.
The biggest comeuppance of all would be to realize that your version of God was never true. That priests are not good, or that scientists can sell out as easily as any class of people.
It has long since been the case that the scientific method demonstrates that humanity must take responsibility for reality or perish. Not by engineering implemented according to what we can prove that we do actually understand. Rather, by being chastened by our more recent understanding that as subjects, we are part of and not apart from what is out there.
Obama worked for the Oligarchs as a semi-closeted neoliberal. Says the Maoist from Austin Texas fighting on the Russian side against the Ukrainians who are just working for Obama too. Then Bratton Tweets this:
An actor playing the President who is elected President who may die for the symbolic value of the position he holds is what living in a simulation means.— Benjamin Bratton (@bratton) February 25, 2022
How is one even to parse this? Posted just before Bratton's Strelka Institute is shuttered in solidarity with Ukraine. Couldn't the same quote apply to Trump? Is that how Bratton meant it?
We are living in a simulation, and we're glad we had it for how it helped us to survive COVID-19.
But I, for one, don't want to live in a simulation, I want to live in the real. Just not so real as where that guy from Austin is living. Just not so real that God is my copilot. I just don't want to be duped. No matter how powerful are the powers that be, they are drunk with their power and I won't be duped.
So I'll keep as quiet as I can. Until someone else notices that the truths we all live by are no longer true. Nature, so called, will give the lie. Nature is also within each of us. The boundaries shall dissolve.
We've crossed a line with what we think it means to understand something. We know what understanding means when it guides our actions and the result of those actions is what we wanted. When we take it to the vast abstraction of "living in a simulation," there's absolutely no chance that we will prove our understanding.
I'm not denigrating Zelenskyy. He has inhabited his role and become real. May it happen to each of us before it is already too late.